• Circle of Friends

    Yesterday was my knitting group meeting!

    It was my turn to host!  As I prepared I got to thinking ...

    Social contacts ...  in the bullet list of a healthy life style for seniors, a circle of friends should be #1 - ahead of medications and shots, ahead of a healthy diet and an exercise regimen.  Ahead of just about everything.  After all ... who really knows what contributes to a long life - but whatever minutes we have in that life, it should include regular time with friends.

    I didn't read that idea in a book or hear it on a TV show.  I watched it play out in the real lives of 3 elderly relatives.  Friends would move away or die and the social circle would shrink until sometimes there was no one left.  I remember my mother-in-law talking about her 'friends:' the cab driver who took her to the grocery store every week, the grocery store checker whose line she always waited for so she could 'visit,' the hair dresser who gave her a wash and set every week for years.  These folks were her 'friends' toward the end of her life.  It made me sad and a little uncomfortable knowing just how common this situation is.

    So I have made it a priority to take a different path as I got older.

    The second Monday of every month 6 of us get together and knit for about 3 hours ... well, it is more like knit, laugh, snack, share .... repeat!  We take turns hosting this group in our homes.  We make time for each other.

    Our small group was drawn together by a share interest ... knitting.  The idea of a private knitting circle was birthed through a public knitting circle that I frequented for many years.

    In 2010 I joined a new local drop-in group called Columbia Sip and Knit.  When I joined there were only 7  members.  The group met in public places and was open to all.  Because it was held in a public place, folks passing by would often stop and talk with us.  Over time the membership grew from those casual encounters.  Initially we had only one meeting option a week.  Last time I checked the membership stats for that group have grown to over 1000 and there are 5 or 6 choices of meetings each week - different times and locations - something to suit any schedule.  The growth of this group was directly related to the growing popularity of knitting over the last 20 years.

    My first Tuesday morning knitting group in 2010.
    Early on I volunteered to be the organizer of a Tuesday morning session. I believe that group still meets at a local restaurant.

    Beautiful days in our local shopping center court yard.
    Three years ago I got restless.  I wanted different things from my knitting group experience.  I wanted stability - not new faces every week.  I wanted true friendships - not acquaintances.  I wanted to develop these friendships into lasting relationships - where not only light casual conversation happened, but where serious and sometimes sad sharing could be safely expressed.  A circle of friends that were committed to each other, made time for each other and not just committed to knitting.

    I reached out to another member and shared my idea for this new group.  She felt the same way and before you knew it, we had identified 8 members.  All were excited to start anew within a private framework.

    That was 3 years ago!  We have shrunk from 8 to 6 members when 2 of our group moved out of state.  But 6 is good number and we are open to new faces should the opportunity present itself.

    I pondered all this as I was setting out the munchies for our gathering yesterday.  Thinking back to our beginning I realized how well it has turned out.  We care about each other - we have shared many things sitting around the kitchen table knitting and we have developed a support system of sorts.

    I think it is still evolving and who knows what the future holds.  But a circle of caring friendships is as important to my wellbeing as taking that morning vitamin or going for a daily walk.

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