This week, I did something I’ve been waiting to do since April 13th, 2014: I registered for the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop (EBWW). EBWW only happens every other year and when the last one ended in 2014, I knew I would be going back in 2016. Why? Because in 2014 I found my tribe of funny, big-hearted, midlife women. And in midlife, it can be tough to find your peeps.
In your earlier years, life readily presents opportunities for tribe building. For example, high school, for all its turmoil, provides an instant microcosm for self-selecting your group of choice. For me, I made lasting friendships, many of which extend to today, with my geeky debate team compadres. There was also an overall collective sense of belonging to a particular class – mine being the Twin Lakes High School class of 1981.
College also provides an opportunity to expand your universe and affiliate with new groups as you hone your beliefs as well as become comfortable in your own skin. My allegiance to Florida State University, and the guys of AEPi fraternity, remains as strong today as it did in the early ‘80s. Sporting my lucky garnet and gold sweatshirt, circa 1985, instantly identifies me as a member of one of the greatest college tribes: GO NOLES!
Often, our next stage of tribe building occurs as part of our entry into the workforce. My experiences as a young and then mature adult working in the criminal justice field helped me build a strong network of co-workers, colleagues, and friends who shared a passion for the law and social justice.
So to recap, for most of my first 40+ years, I operated within the comfy bubble of social networks and supportive tribes being easily available. I actually didn’t give it much thought: you work, you have friends, you have family; it’s easy, right?
And then, I stumbled a bit.
In 2008, for an extensive list of reasons we can discuss over a beer or three someday, I opted to enter the world of private consulting. My consulting work experiences for the past seven have been great: the flexibility of working from a home office has afforded me the opportunity to devote more time to writing for fun as well as work. However, I wasn’t truly ready for “Writer Kimba, Tribe of One.”
There are writers that thrive in their solitude. And whereas I do need peace and quiet during the act of writing, I soon realized that I needed to interact with other writers. But this required a huge step out of my comfort zone. I would have to go out and seek my writing tribe, it was not going to come find me.
This was how and why, in 2013, I found EBWW. A friend sent me the link to the workshop website with this note:
“These are the women you’ve been looking for.”
I came up with every excuse I could conjure: I couldn’t take the time away from the job that pays the bills; I couldn’t afford the registration; I wouldn’t learn anything useful–all complete BS. With a lot of encouragement from the Hubs, I signed up for the workshop. These were the three goals I set for myself:
1. Make at least one new friend. A genuine connection, someone to stay in touch with after the event.
2. Never talk about myself first, always ask questions of others in a group and REALLY listen to their answers.
3. Sit with a different person at each meal.
I met and exceeded these goals and by the end of EBWW 2014 I was no longer a tribe of one.
I met authors, bloggers, copy editors, freelancers, and columnists who, every last one of them, were funny as hell. Wild midlife women in pink boas and plastic tiaras drinking shots at the bar. Brilliant women speakers and panelists who all took the time to stay after every presentation and talk to anyone who needed advice. And so, I’ll be back in Dayton, OH this coming March. I’ve got a few months to find my tiara and stock up on tequila.
Have you had difficulty finding your group in midlife? What have you done to branch out and make connections?
PS: I’ve got a special holiday gift for my readers: A group of writers I work with has created a wonderful holiday gift basket that will be given away to one lucky winner. Total value is over $200! It includes gift cards, books signed by the authors, cookies, and other treats. I hope one of you wins! The deadline for entering is December 11th: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e282fdf72/ GOOD LUCK and please let me know if you’re the winner!
Hubs saysDecember 8, 2015 at 9:27 am
Wild and crazy at EBWW2016 !!!! 🙂
Julia @ Frantic Mama saysDecember 7, 2015 at 2:49 pm
This was so great! It’s very true that early in life, there are plentiful ways to find your tribe– school, etc. It does get harder to form friendships and supportive groups as an adult. Good for you for finding yours! Finding writers and artists as friends has been a huge help to me as a writer over the past couple of years.
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 13, 2015 at 6:34 am
Julia, some of the best writing advice I received early on was: find a writers group that you love and trust. If you can’t find one, create one. Glad to hear you’ve found a group of creative friends as well.
Nathalie saysDecember 6, 2015 at 8:19 pm
Loved your post Kimba! I can truly relate 100%. For the past 8 years I’ve been painting and exhibiting my work here and there but It felt lovely at times. I recently started to facilitate painting workshops and the past year has been amazing! I am so happy for you and for your new adventures with your tribe. This all sounds so exciting! I would LOVE to meet you and some of your new friends sometimes. 😉 Great share, thanks!
Kimba saysDecember 7, 2015 at 8:52 am
Hi Nathalie. Hope you know that I consider The Women Of Facebook part of my midlife tribe! Thank you for all that you do to help all women find support and friendship.
Marquita Herald saysDecember 5, 2015 at 5:01 am
The conference sounds wonderful Kimba. Under the heading of “be care what you wish for” conferences used to be a regular part of my work life having to attend at least 3 a year. I always ended up energized from the experience but the preparing and crowds (anywhere from 400 to 5,000 – tough for an Introvert like moi) was always stressful. And so I used to long for the day I’d no longer have to deal with them. Now of course I find myself missing the whole thing so I’ve been thinking about including a conference in my plans for next year. You’ve inspired me to take that a little more seriously now. 🙂
Kimba saysDecember 7, 2015 at 8:53 am
Marty I think you would make a wonderful keynote speaker! I wish we lived closer to each other so we could find a conference we could both attend!
Mary saysDecember 5, 2015 at 12:57 am
Sounds like a wonderful conference. It is hard making friends at this stage in my life. I’m lucky to have a few great friends.
Kimba saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:03 am
I do hold tight the women who have been with me for most of my life. Having a few great friends is a gift for sure.
Carolann saysDecember 4, 2015 at 9:20 pm
Love the three goals for sure. What an awesome giveaway too! I wish there were a workshop like that around here. Sounds like a fab group!
Kimba saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:07 am
The Erma gals are a wonderful group. Not sure where you re in the world Carolann – I’m sure we could find some wild women for you!
Trish saysDecember 4, 2015 at 8:40 pm
Thank YOU Kim, for sharing. I’m very impressed with your 3 goals. We could all stand to adopt #2 “Never talk about myself first, always ask questions of others in a group and REALLY listen to their answers”, in which we’d find ourselves in a better world.
Kimba saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:11 am
Hi Trish. Although I’m extroverted, I find that I’m not so good at small talk. So, asking questions of others really seems to help me break the ice.
Suzie Cheel saysDecember 4, 2015 at 8:12 pm
Great points to remember the next time I go somewhere new. thanks Kimba. xxoo
Kimba saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:16 am
Aw Suzie, I have a feeling you make friends everywhere you go!
Nancy Davis Kho saysDecember 4, 2015 at 5:19 pm
It’s such a fabulous feeling to find those connections. I went to EBWW in 2012, was a great experience – sorry we missed each other!
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:32 am
Hope some time in the future our conference attending will align – would love to meet you.
Lois Alter Mark saysDecember 4, 2015 at 4:50 pm
I can’t wait to spend time with you at Erma 2016! We are DEFINITELY sitting together for a meal – or two. Or three 🙂
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:37 am
Absolutely! Can’t wait to see you in March!!
Roz Warren saysDecember 4, 2015 at 4:47 pm
Inspiring! You’ve given me a terrific reason to consider going to ERMA, but more important, a terrific opportunity to focus on (and appreciate) exactly who my tribe is. An important part of my tribe as a working writer at age 61 is the supportive community of writers like you that I’ve found on Facebook. You can be in my tribe if I can be in yours.
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:43 am
We are sister tribeswomen for sure Roz! And, I think you would really like EBWW.
WendysHat saysDecember 4, 2015 at 1:29 pm
Fun! I always thought it would be fun to go to that too! I loved meeting my mid life bloggers tribe last year. Hey I graduated in the class of “81 too!
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:44 am
Hey, 1981 twins! Where did you meet your midlife blogging tribe last year?
Cathy Sikorski saysDecember 4, 2015 at 11:23 am
I SOOOO wanted to go to ERMA this year. I started reading her as a kid in my local newspaper and loved her ever since. I checked out all her books from the local library and I”m sure she was one of my biggest influences to make my humor writing my second life career. But, I’m not going for happy reasons…my daughter is getting married. So Erma will have to wait til next time. I love my internet Mid-Life Women Bloggers and will be there with you in spirit.
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:46 am
You have the best reason ever to be skipping EBWW2016 – congrats on your daughter’s upcoming nuptials!
Vicki saysDecember 4, 2015 at 11:14 am
I can remember when I retired @ the relatively young age of 56 after having daily work contacts for 30 yrs, how would I keep some of those friends & make new ones for my “golden years”. The growing-up friends & co-workers remained, but I found many new ones thru the wonderful world of volunteers! Life is good, family is well & I have the smartest grandson in the world.
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:47 am
You are an inspiration my dear – and yes, your grandson is indeed the smartest in the world.
Molly Stevens saysDecember 4, 2015 at 10:50 am
Kim, I registered to go to the EBWW too! I am so excited and reading your post today sends me into the stratosphere. I am facing a job loss, and I’ve been sad about our working team breaking up. In the meantime, I’ve made new writer friends, and am looking forward to connecting with even more in OH this March. I have my hotel, my flight is booked and I am psyched for a weekend of awesomeness.
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:48 am
Yay! Can’t wait to meet you Molly! EBWW2016 is going to be epic.
Carol Cassara saysDecember 4, 2015 at 10:43 am
Funny women go to Erma’s conference, it’s clear. Aha. Umm. I am also a “nole. A double Nole….2 degrees….and we are a Seminole family, hubby did law school there! I lived in TLH for 12 years, actually!
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 9:57 am
Hey Carol – GO NOLES! How are yalls feeling about playing Houston in the Peach Bowl? I get down to TLH at least once a year, you ever get back?
email@example.com saysDecember 4, 2015 at 9:31 am
I love your 3 goals, Kim. Great for any of us to try!
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 10:00 am
My favorite is making at least one new friend – I’ve met several women who I now consider #galpals4life.
Carla saysDecember 4, 2015 at 9:18 am
That has been on my bucket list for a while now. Two years from now. I need to make it happen.
Kim Dalferes saysDecember 7, 2015 at 10:04 am
You won’t regret it Carla – EBWW2018 or bust!