The Evening Stars at Selwyn

For the last few months together with my colleague Ana Hiini, I have had the privilege of facilitating a group at Selwyn Village, a retirement community in Point Chevalier. We have a wonderful all women group of adventurous readers there. Each week I continue to be blown away by the openness of our discussions around the short stories and poems that we tackle. M tells me that when we age our inhibition slips away, we just say what we think and don’t feel fear of judgement any more. What a perfect atmosphere for shared reading. The women in this group approach the stories we read with both an intellectual curiosity, energy and passion I never saw in my 8 years at university! They bring personal experience and reflection to the table and model the most respectful and tactful listening and sharing that I have experienced.

We have come a long way in a few short weeks. In our second session, when we only had two people there, new participant M. boldly stopped the reading and stated firmly (after less than one paragraph) “No. I don’t understand it, and I don’t like it!” I was stunned. How could I respond to this?  I was immediately saved by the other participant R. who graciously responded with concern “Why don’t you like it? I think it’s very interesting.” She proceeded to discuss and unpack the questions and concerns, soothing ruffled feathers and we moved on to a very enjoyable session. Each week I learn more from the graceful, intelligent and caring way these ladies interact.

One week the subject of the stars came up. A. told us how when you get older you don’t sleep as much and you are awake at odd hours in the night. The women all nodded and agreed. They all shared the experience of gazing at the night sky in solitude enjoying the changes of light, the clouds and the sea, for those who have views of the water from higher apartments. R. said it may sound silly but she always greets the moon in the evening to which A. replied that she always says “Hello little star!” to the first star of the night.

We all look forward to our session each week. So thank you ladies for all the fun and the lessons I am learning in how to be not only a better Shared Reading Facilitator, but a better human too.

Here are some more of our experiences so far:

“The group leads to unexpected shared interpretations, conversation and laughter.”

“Kate endeavors to include everyone, is cool and collected and aware of what’s going on.”

“It takes your mind off your own problems- I look forward to the group every week.”

“The variation in stories holds us in suspense- we look forward to what the stories will be.”

“It’s relaxing.”

“I had the choice of this or a van trip this week, I chose reading!”

“The selection of stories is excellent- something everyone can identify with.”

“The way the poem is tied in with the theme of the story makes us think.”

“It’s interesting what people feel they can talk about, either something that helps someone else or by talking about the story but not ourselves directly.”

“We are very private people. Although we live in a village, we like to retain our privacy. The group allows us to be together while retaining privacy.”

“I love having the chance to talk about the good old days, my grandchildren don’t like hearing about the good old days!”

“The group has brought people together, it brings people out of the shell- I treasure meeting other real people.”

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