Real Women Don’t Do Book Clubs | The BridgeMaker

Real Women Don’t Do Book Clubs

By on Sep 20, 2012


We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. – Dalai Lama

As a full-time working mother of two, my days and nights are a swell of activity. Sandwiched between lunches and laundry, homework and after-school activities, are the moments I salvage for self-nurturing, catching up with friends and of course spending time with my husband.

Along the winding path of my self-care journey, I discovered the longing for female camaraderie and friendship.

Waiting for the inevitable

A few years back on an inspired evening in June, as the days grew longer and summer settled in, with school out of session and after-school clubs adjourned, I entertained the notion of falling between the pages of a summer novel.

And then it happened…the great idea! Just a few women whom I’d like to get to know better and a good book to muse – the perfect summer book club! I made a few phone calls, we chose a book and we were on our way.

Our first pick was a 500-page novel, so we shaved off about 200 pages with another choice. After all, we still had to go to work and take care of our families, so creating stress was not the objective here. The goal was to complete the book by the end of the summer and then get together at my house for an evening of wine and cheese.

As all summers do, this particular one seemed to slip through my hands. Business trips, summer camp….I thought summer was supposed to be lazy! I soon found myself gazing at a blue moon in August chanting a mantra, “the last 2 weeks of vacation, yes, that’s when I’ll have the time to read the book.”

And here we are – September.

Staring at the cover of this now well-traveled book, it told another tale. That of the many times it had been picked up, dumped in a beach bag, shoved in the bottom desk drawer, flipped on the patio table and yet, still only half read.

How did this happen? This was all my idea in the first place! And then the next thought put me in a spin. “What would these women think of me?” With my positive self-talk operating in diminished capacity, I did what the only honorable thing I could think of – I skulked and avoided any contact with my co-book club readers!

And then the inevitable happened. Outside the doors of school one morning, I found myself face to face with one of the women in the book club. I was even wearing sunglasses! But she recognized me anyway.

I could barely get out “hello” when I began a litany of apologies and excuses. Suddenly, she stopped me. She confessed that she hadn’t finished the book!

Her book, too, still grasping the last sands of the season, was only half read. We shared a great laugh and acknowledged each other with a familiar kindness.

I soon found out that I was only one of the group who had actually finished the book.

A lesson of self-acceptance

Thinking back on this, I am reminded that self-imposed “have to’s”, “should haves” and “supposed to’s” are stress inducing and don’t serve us well. While setting goals can help keep us focused and drive achievements, being flexible and realistic is key.

I also learned an important lesson of self-acceptance.

Consider these ideas the next time you feel anxious about not being able to keep a commitment or need to re-arrange a project timeframe:

  1. Be aware of what words you choose. If you hear yourself say “I have to”, it is a red signal to stop and evaluate the situation.
  2. It may be helpful to go back to your initial planning or purpose.
  3. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that would happen if I don’t complete the task?” (In most cases, the world won’t come to an end!)
  4. Share your situation with others. You may find different possibilities and solutions and the support you need.
  5. Re-adjust your own expectations and treat yourself with understanding and compassion.

Remember, we are all a masterpiece in progress and sometimes we need to re-mix the paint, change the scale or get a new canvas.

Paula G. Rosario is the founder of On The Edge of Greatness Coaching & Consulting: “It is my joy to support others as they find what Oprah has forever dubbed the "AHA" moment. This is the place where I want to be...this is the place where I thrive!” – Paula Rosario

  • You had me at the title! So perfect since I am now trying to do what? Start a book club! The Joy Book Club, to be specific. Maybe it will never get further than the title, but I will definitely go forward with your experience in mind. Thank you in advance for paving the way!

    • Paula G. Rosario

      Hi Galen,
      I’m so glad to be inspiration for your new book club! I actually have some friends who really enjoy the experience and have formed a nice bond together. Good luck with your efforts! All the best, Paula

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk

    Hi Paula,

    I can certainly relate to your post. I’m also in a book club. My kids are grown, so no excuses, but sometimes still feel the push to get the book read at the last minute before the meeting. It’s a good lesson for anything we do. Giving ourselves a break once in awhile is definitely a positive move. Thank you for the great post.

    • Paula G. Rosario

      Hi Cathy,

      I know exactly what you mean about procrastinating and then speed reading through! Yes, I have to always remind myself to take it easy on myself! All the best, Paula

  • Hugs! Paula. You’ve no idea how happy I feel to read this. Okay, I just took the battered book out of my bag and put it back in the bookshelf. I have a stack to read and review and I think it is the deadline that freaks me out. Normally, I’d curl up with a book after dinner and not sleep until I finished it because my daytime is club-sandwiched between the kitchen, office, family and ahem! the Internet. Often, I plan a long list and actually get 80% done, then beat myself up over the 20% because I am my own worst task master. I’ve only recently learned that it is OKAY to slack off a bit, every now and then. I am lucky to have a family that forces me to do it.

    This post could easily have been about me – right up to the meeting another parent outside school – except I wear glasses constantly – although my most favorite fantasy is to wear sunglasses and perch them on my head, just so, and look stylish. Maybe I’ll get a pair now. Hugs again. Loved the post. That lady in the photo at the beginning of the post is gorgeous. Who is she?

    Thank you, Alex. You know what I am going to say. So happy to be here. Love, Vidya

    • Paula G. Rosario

      Hello Vidya, Thanks so much for your comments! I really appreciate your thoughts….and yes, look at the 80% percent that you HAVE accomplished and celebrate! Hugs right back at ya! All the best, Paula

    • Paula G. Rosario

      Oh, one more thing…….The Bridgemaker chose the photo…isn’t she beautiful!!

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