What is a living room picnic?
A living room picnic is a small-group conversation that begins around a particular topic and then goes where it goes. Friendly digital get togethers where you can reflect, relax and have a candid conversation, even about challenging topics. Anyone can hold a living room picnic.
At UNDERMININGnormal, living room picnics are a space where women can have conversations they don’t usually get to have. We talk about all kinds of things.
A living room picnic runs for an hour. We meet via Zoom. You learn of the topic beforehand, in the invitation that I email out a few days before with some initial thoughts about why it interested me and what I thought we might explore together. Sometimes I include links to a reading or visual art, maybe a podcast. Though, there’s never any preparation required. You can skip it all, register and just come.
A day or two before I send a continuation of the invitation, with the discussion prompts and breakdown the flow, so you’ll know what to expect. My intention is that we get some time in that space where thinking out loud and talking together mix, where there is no agenda other than to get to know each other and ourselves, we complex humans living the experiment of our lives, a little better.
We surprise ourselves and each other, sometimes subtly, sometimes deeply, but pretty much always —because there is no way to know where an open-minded, open-hearted conversation like this will go, no matter the discussion prompt. Like a picnic, we bring what we bring, there may be ants and weather and we deal with it. We plan for trees and earth, bring what we like to sit on, and hope for breezy sun.
Attendance varies, though there are some regulars. Diversity of mood, point of view, history, experience, interests, know-how and bodylife are all expected and welcomed at a living room picnic. We are on-camera, but this is not a performance. It’s not recorded. It’s a shared experience. You are invited to come as you are and to take good care of yourself throughout our picnic time together.
I incorporate a little bit of journaling, which is private and you need not share any of it, so that we can slow down enough to hear ourselves think for a bit in ways we may have not been able to do on our own lately.
We don’t do takeaways at the end. There is no intellectual destination we’re trying to reach, though insights, discoveries, affirmations and learnings often emerge. You’ll have the opportunity to keep going with this topic, as well as to direct message fellow picnickers, inside the community forum.
There is no rush.
This is both an unhurried conversation about a particular topic and —a practice of including the messy, the in-between, the unsorted complexity of being human, of being female in a world where the default is male. By picnicking together, we are already there.
At the end of the hour, we close with a moment to gather ourselves before we head back into our respective landscapes. Nourished, heartened, awakened, a little more open, relaxed (I hope!) for having taken this kind of time together. Just an hour. But if you’re like me, for most of my life, I didn’t let myself take this kind of an hour, let myself see that I need this kind of self-care, this kind of self-expression (and more) and that I cannot give it to myself on my own. That getting together in conversation spaces that take chances on each other, that trust the conversation in the room every time.
If you’d like to receive invitations to living room picnics, you can sign up here. This is for you if you’re a deep-thinking, change-seeking, creative woman.
Next post: I’ll introduce some of the topics we’ve picnicked on.