Amanda, are you reading this? I hope so because you’re the one who’s prompted much of my recent thinking about the importance of friends. In a recent blog entitled “Widen the Circle,” I mentioned that Amanda and I had talked about the adjustments we both had to make in moving to new areas. Both of us realized the importance of making new friends, and both of us stepped out of our comfort zones to do so.

How did we do it? For one thing, we both became involved in book clubs. Before I moved back home, I asked DH what I would do with my time when not working or hanging out with him or cleaning my house…er, make that “homecaring.” I told him I thought I might start a book club. “Surely there’s someone like me in good old historic Southern Town USA,” I said. He looked at me and declared that no, there was no one like me anywhere. Gotta love the guy!

He was wrong. After being “home” for three months, I started a book club at the two-year college where I’m employed. That was nearly seven years, and it’s still going strong. There are months when only three of us have attended, but for the most part, it’s an active group of about seven or eight. We usually meet in a restaurant of the facilitator’s choice, and it seems to be working well. In response to the LDS Church’s focus on literacy, some friends and I started a book club, a.k.a. reading group, which grew out of our association in Relief Society. That was five years ago, and we’re still meeting regularly in a different member’s home each month.

Because of these associations, I’ve read books that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, AND I’ve met some phenomenal people. Quick case in point: Kristi is quiet and demure at church, but I discovered quickly that she and Michelle LOVE Pride and Prejudice, the book and the movie. I’m thinking of one night when the two of them, with great passion, shared a movie clip of that misty morning on the moor with the rest of us. Speaking of people, Amanda too is part of a reading group in Atlanta. Since Paul has Tuesday and Thursday night classes, she decided to “widen her circle” by joining a reading group, and I’m extremely interested in a book she was telling me about, something to do with women and geography.

About the books themselves, we have some guidelines that we go by. Basically, we stick to novels, and in the church related group, we don’t read what one member referred to as “trash.” Of course, we all have different definitions of that so if someone is offended by a selection, then she doesn’t have to read it. What a wonderful way to get to know others better. We exchange ideas, socialize for a bit, and go away feeling a bit more knowledgeable.

A couple of months ago, I began attending a Bible study on Esther at First Baptist, and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s over now, and the facilitator has begun another one for the Wednesday night crowd called “Wising Up,” a study of Proverbs just for women. I’m loving it. I’ve always enjoyed learning, and this is great because there are no tests and no papers to write. Plus, I enjoy the camaraderie and exchange of ideas with the other women there. I discovered last week that I’m probably the oldest gal there, but that doesn’t matter. I enjoy being with young and old and all ages in-between.

One motive for writing this blog was to encourage people who are reluctant to move outside of their comfort zone to do so. Look in the newspaper for local events or happenings and GO. If someone asks you to join a book club, and you like books and people, say yes. Amanda did, and so did I.

Another motive was to write something that would fit Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote about people being interesting. Here it is: “If you approach each new person you meet in a spirit of adventure you will find that you become increasingly interested in them and endlessly fascinated by the new channels of thought and experience that you encounter. I do not mean simply the famous people of the world but people from every walk and condition of life. You will find them a source of inexhaustible surprise because of the unexpected qualities and interests which you will unearth in your search for treasure.”

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