The Brain Exchange
Women’s Drop-in Brainstorming and Networking Group
Second Wednesday of each Month
3:00 to 5:00 PM
Rinconada de La Aldea #29
All women are welcome!
No reservation needed
Women’s Brainstorming and Networking Group
By Susan Page
While ancient Greeks brought their pressing questions to the Oracle at Delphi, San Miguel women take their queries — with just as much faith and hope — to the Brain Exchange. At this monthly drop-in group, we seek practical solutions and new ideas for a wide variety of problems and questions.
Thirty-something Betsy can’t decide if it’s time for her to have a baby — or if motherhood would interfere with her writing career. At a recent Brain Exchange, Betsy received suggestions — lots and lots of them.
The group meets on the second Wednesday of every month (except February, April, and May, when we do not meet) and asks for a $100 peso donation.
Topics have ranged from “How do I market my business?” to “How do I find forgiveness in myself?” to “How can I convince my husband to move here.” When the questioner is satisfied that the group understands what she’s asking, a timer is set for five minutes.
The timer’s first tick has the effect of a starter pistol. The room explodes with rapid-fire tips and referrals. The idea is to give a brief recommendation or referral — and then stop talking. It’s not OK to tell stories or to discuss or rebut what’s said, and those who do this receive gentle but firm reminders: give only the recommendation, not the story behind it. The result is dozens of succinct answers to each question, ranging from the practical to the far-out.
For example: Betsy, the prospective mom, was advised to “realize there is never a perfect time to have a child,” to “read the book Operating Instructions by successful writer-mother Anne Lamott,” to “spend time around new babies before you decide to have one,” and to realize that “being a mom will make you tired whether you’re 18 or 64.” After a series of cautions, a cheerful middle-aged woman received lots of positive nods when she said, “With all the accomplishments and travel in my life, I consider my kids my greatest production. Go for it!”
A look of amazement crossed Betsy’s face as she whispered a nearly breathless, “Gee, thanks” when her turn ended.
Each comment is recorded on a computer by the recording secretary, Susan Robards. A few days later, everyone receives the whole list of brainstormed suggestions by e-mail. Of course, many of the suggestions are useful to everyone in the group, and the brainstorming suggestions can continue by e-mail, even from women who were not at this meeting.
The San Miguel Brain Exchange was started eleven years ago by Susan Page, who was a member of a similar group in the San Francisco Bay area. That group, now in its 26th year, has an informative website: www.thebrainexchange.com.