Butterflies Together © lynette sheppard

Butterflies Together © lynette sheppard

Here’s the final instructions for starting your own Menopause Goddess group. It’s not hard at all – and if you are worried about leading it or being in charge – just get one friend to co-create with you. That’s what Theresa and I did to start. Now all the goddesses participate. And you KNOW how much can get done when a group of women put their minds to it! So here goes, the final piece. We know you’ll come up with more – and hope you share them here.

5. Set Ground Rules – What Each Woman Agrees To Bring And Keep

None of us is sure that we verbally articulated each of these rules as such.  It seemed that they were just understood.  Looking back, we think it would have been a good idea to clearly state the ground rules as we saw them.  Our “rules” were essentially a set of values that we lived as members of the group

A.    Respect
Mutual respect and unconditional positive regard were a must.  This was pretty easy for us, and likely will not be difficult for any Venus group, but it needs to be understood.

B.    Confidentiality

Personal info that is shared stays with the group only, but the knowledge gleaned can and should be shared generally, especially with other women and our spouses.

C.    Safety

Trust is an absolute necessity for any Venus group.  We agreed to take the outer layers off and bare our souls. No envy, no cliques, no hidden agendas would be tolerated.  (and that included the book, which was secondary, even tertiary.  In fact, I didn’t even want to write a book, but my sisters prevailed upon my better nature after a couple of years.)

D.    Focus

Establish an agenda and focus, but allow the organic movement of the group.  Venus gatherings were not business meetings conducted with Robert’s Rules of Order nor was any agenda carved in stone.  Be focused but not rigid.

E.    Work Ethic
Show up to share and to work, as well as play.  As we said earlier, we’ve heard from so many women that they are members of “women’s groups” that never seem to grow or get anywhere as a result of their propensity to degenerate into bitch sessions. While we’d be lying if we didn’t cop to the fact that we occasionally enjoy a good “whine and wine” get-together every now and then, in our Venus group  we had some serious issues we wanted to tackle and we sure didn’t want to waste time.

Other than these five core values, we had no rules.  However, we did set some intentions in order to get the best from our efforts.

6. Set Intentions

A.    Compassionate Truth Telling

We would ask hard questions of one another with compassion and commitment to reflecting back what we heard to the group. We also would provide a reality check when a Venus was too hard on herself.

B.    Sharing and Examination of Dilemmas

We would hold nothing back.  We would indeed bare our souls.  No question was too weird or trivial to get our full attention.

C.    Sharing of Epiphanies Created By Our Synergy

We were committed to sharing all that we realized or learned without censoring or wondering if it was relevant.  Our entire raison d`etre was to share our bits of insight, cobbling together a whole of wisdom that might help all of us.

D.    Sharing of Remedies and Advice

It is our belief that the way in which women truly get their information about remedies and treatments is through the sharing of actual experiences with one another.  We intended to share it all sifting through the gravel for the gold.

E.    Mutual Compassion

Perhaps our most important intention, we would honor each goddess’s thoughts, feelings, ideas, and  stories.  We want most to be understood and heard, not simply ‘fixed’.  Especially since there seems to be no real FIX for menopause and midlife.  We need all the support we can get.

Our Venus group is like therapy with someone who loves you.  We are physician, homeopath, counselor, patient, sister, and best friend to one another.  As is the case with therapy, we contract to do some work:  exploring, accessing, shaping, and growing through our tears and laughter.  But our sisterhood extends beyond therapeutic relationships.  We’ve created a community that allows, no not allows, expects us to thrive. Thrive we have.  Individually and collectively, the Venuses are healthier and happier than we were just ten short years ago.  We’re still menopausal and we are still confronting challenges.  But together we’ve come a long way and we owe much of our progress to the synergy of our goddess group.

We wish you good luck in bringing together your own group of goddesses, though you won’t really need it.  All you need is desire and commitment.  If we can help at all, please let us know.  We can be found anytime on Facebook or here on our Menopause Goddess Blog.