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Group lights way to inner truths

Created date

February 23rd, 2010
MA_0310_discussion leader_SIDEBAR
MA_0310_discussion leader_SIDEBAR

[caption id="attachment_8358" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Mickey Ratte facilitates a small discussion group, which often meets at members apartment homes at Brooksby Village. (Photo by Setarreh Massihzadegan)"][/caption] At Brooksby Village, niche activity groups run the gamut from current events to ping-pong to crocheting. But in Mickey Ratte s small discussion groups, philosophical conversation is the common thread. Tolerance, forgiveness, aging, success, and fear have found their place at the center of group sessions, which begin with thought-provoking exercises and proceed to discussion. Over the past few years at Brooksby, Ratte has facilitated multiple groups, which meet in eight-session rotations. She continues to lead, with a current group that began meeting in January, and encourages others to facilitate their own discussions. There s a wealth of opportunity here, Ratte adds, speaking of the disparate stories and viewpoints each group member has to offer. Part of the delight of the group, she says, is that here not many of us have experienced those things together.

Open minds, open discussion

[caption id="attachment_8350" align="alignright" width="280" caption="The cast of Brooksby s The Old Sports Show visited TD Banknorth Garden, home of the Boston Celtics. Mickey Ratte was the show s first female. (Photo by Brandy Sales)"][/caption] Ratte was part of a similar such group through her church in Beverly, but the Brooksby discussions are not inherently religious in nature. Ratte uses the same discussion materials, created by a couple in Maine, which draw from a list of about 45 topics. One group meeting, on the concept of forgiveness, began as a discussion of the positive power of forgiveness and eventually became a discussion of where one draws the line between what is forgivable and what isn t. It is very, very interesting to see how different personalities think about different things, says Jan Guilbault, who has been part of a few of Ratte s groups. It s enlightening in terms of how others think and also in terms of [knowing] how I feel.

Connecting people

Since she started facilitating the discussions, Ratte has encouraged many people to connect, inside and outside of her groups. She has been part of Brooksby s Performing Arts Committee and is former chair of its Let s Dance Committee. She also appears regularly on Brooksby s sports talk show. I have a lot of interest in people. I like to meet them and talk to them, Ratte says. It makes me happy to communicate with people. In her professional life, Ratte started as a bookkeeper but found she wasn t satisfied. She felt her need to be with people; so at age 43, she headed back to school for a master s degree in education and counseling. As a high school teacher for 14 years, Ratte taught life skills and says she was more of a facilitator than a teacher. She continues to share her skills through small group discussions, which have allowed participants to grow and get to know one another. You come to respect others in their lives, she says. And for those of us who live here [at Brooksby], it created an atmosphere of warmth, inclusion, and opportunities for people to make friends.