Yesterday I went to my book club meeting up in Ben Lomond. It was a gorgeous day, nearly 70 degrees which is a change after a week or so in the 40s. Our hostess prepared an amazing (actully closer to mind-boggling) gluten-free, vegan spread. This round we attempted to read and discuss "The Rise and Fall of Prohibition" by Daniel Okrent. While interesting and full of detailed facts, reading it reminded me and other members of the club of slogging through research articles in college. Fascinating, but hardly readable. No-one could get more than 100 pages through the nearly 500 page tome. Nonetheless, we still found plenty in the first fifth of the book to inspire hours of conversation.
As a group of women, we tend to be interested in feminism and women's rights issues, so much of our discussion centered on the impact of the Suffrage movement on the Prohibition movement, and parallels between the passing of the Thirteeth Amendment and this most recent Presidential election. We also spun off into discussions about mental health, gun control, legislating morality and education.
When I first put this group together in June of 2011, reading books was just one of the intentions. I really formed it to create a place where women of diverse ages, occupations, and viewpoints could discuss interesting matters of the day and of their lives and develop deeper friendships with other women. I have always envisioned this group as more Salon than Book Club. Thankfully, the group has surpassed my wildest expectations and is still growing and evolving. I think one key to this group's success is my clear intention as to what the group is about, but it is also guided by the influence of its members and that is a great reminder to me that I don't need to control every aspect of every thing that I'm involved in. In fact, that would be counterproductive to growth and new ideas.
I think forming this group was one of the fundamental steps in my own "Happiness Project". As Gretchen Rubin suggests, joining a group is an effective way to boost happiness. Setting the goal of having a group, defining the intentions regarding the purpose of the group, and then calling people to action around a common interest has been very rewarding and given me ample fodder for self-reflection and increased self-awareness, as well as deeper, more satisfying friendships.