Girl Group | Being An Expert | Wk 2 & 3

Girl Group strives to encourage our participants to exercise their flexibility, compassion, empathy and powers of self-care. These last busy weeks, filled as they were with professional and personal obligations, were a good reminder to practice what we preach. Our weekly follow-up went unwritten after session two of “Being an Expert.” Instead, we spent a little extra time with kids and spouses, nurtured a long term project and nursed our head cold.

Our second session of “Being an Expert” focused on flexibility and began with the poem “As a Hammer Speaks to a Nail,” by Jane Hirshfield.

When all else fails, Fail boldly Fail with conviction, As a hammer speaks to a nail, Or a lamp left on in day light.

Say one. If two does not follow, Say three, if that fails, say life, Say future.

Lacking future, Try bucket, Lacking iron, try shadow.

If shadow too fails, If your voice falls and falls and keeps falling Meets only air and silence,

Say one again, But say it with a greater conviction, As a nail speaks to a picture, As a hammer left on in daylight.

We talked about the idea of “failing boldly.” The girls always laugh when after three comes the word, “life.” They laugh harder when they hear “bucket” come after future. We talk about how the poet is using these seemingly unrelated words to look at a problem from different angles. She is more interested in movement than success. Fear of failure seems to be a common obstacle shared by many of our girls. We like the idea of “failing boldly” because it incorporates the “try” and the “do” without judgment.

We explored “doing” by giving the girls piles of Legos and asking them to build an item by following printed instructions. The catch is that the instructions (sometimes recipes, sewing patterns or Ikea manuals) have nothing to do with the Legos. How can we build when we don’t have all the pieces? How can we move forward when we are being asked to do the impossible? It was fun to watch the girls figure out how to create something from nothing.

Failing boldly was a big theme in our reading for Week 3 of “Being an Expert.” We read Hillary Clinton’s “Dear Hillary” excerpted from Teen Vogue Volume IV, 2017. In a letter to herself as a college freshman, she writes “Take risks and don’t be afraid to get caught trying. Do your best to embrace the excitement that comes with not knowing what’s next.”

We talked about what kind of advice we might want to give to our younger selves. “Don’t worry too much about what other people say,” one girl offered. Another said, “be yourself.” A third said “try to love your family and your dog and even your brother.” And a fourth offered the answers to a particularly hard math test. The older girls paired off with the younger girls and wrote letters to each other – each passing on expert advice based on their own experience.

“You’ll find yourself in plenty of rooms,” Hillary wrote, “were you’re sure everyone is smarter than you are – and sometimes they will be. But one of the best things in life is getting to know intelligent, inspiring popel who have something to say. Learn from them. Ask their advice. Support them and let them support you. After all, you’re plenty smart, too.”

Stay curious, open and be kind to yourselves.

All our best,

Wesley and Tanya

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