Five years ago, about six months after my son was born, I became desperate to find people to hang out with during the day. Being at home all day with a baby and having little other social contact was beginning to wear me down. My solution was to do what I normally do… search the internet for help. I quickly found and joined a local mothers club, but didn’t quite connect with the activities or any of the individuals within the group. So my search continued… until I found meetup.com, the answer to all my social problems.
If you aren’t familiar with the website, check it out now… www.meetup.com. Put in a search for activities that interest you (business networking, knitting, running, moms, photography, etc..) within a 5-30 mile radius of your home. Find anything interesting?
OK, at first it wasn’t all rosy. I joined groups that, again, I didn’t feel that I quite fit into. Again, the activities offered by the groups I joined weren’t what I thought they’d be. I wasn’t finding other moms who wanted to get out and walk or hike or take our kids outside to play. And I wasn’t interested in what they were doing… moms nights out, book clubs, gourmet club, taking the kids to the local indoor play spot. But then I had an epiphany. I could start my own group! I could find my own kind… if I built it, I hoped others with similar interests would appear.
That’s when I started Striding Strong: The East Bay Hiking Group for Women. It’s morphed a bit in concept since I originally started the group. At first, it was primarily a walking group, with many of the members being mothers with young children in strollers, work-from-home ladies, and retired women. Today, the members are still similar… stay-at-home moms, work-from-home ladies, and retired women. But it’s expanded to include more… working women who join us for weekend events and sometimes college students. I wanted to create a group where all women could feel welcome to join, whether with children or without, employed or unemployed, married or unmarried. Today, the activities offered by the group have become more focused. We’re primarily a hiking group. I’ve experimented with walks and runs, but hiking seems to be what members are most attracted to. And I’ve limited our geographic range. Our hikes primarily take place in a select few cities in the San Francisco East Bay… Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon, and Danville. I started the group in August, four years ago, and am so happy with the friends I’ve made. After our beautiful hike this morning at the Pleasanton Ridge, I felt the need to write something about meetup and my group!
But since then, I’ve met so many other wonderful people through other groups I’ve joined and another group I started (Nature Time! The Bay Area Outdoor Playgroup). I love the social connections I’ve made for both myself and my son. I treasure the connections I’ve made through other groups I’ve joined recently. As my interests change and evolve, I go to meetup to look for others who share the same interests. What a great resource!
P.S. This isn’t just a U.S. thing… there are meetups throughout the world. And, no, I’m not endorsed by meetup in any way. I just wanted to share something I love!