By Sandy Coughlin
Oregon author, blogger, entertainer
Reluctant Entertainer 
If I had waited for things to be perfect 5 years ago, I never would have started a Balcony Girls  group. Even though the group is different today, we still meet in my home and discuss virtues and girl-relationships, just like we did last Wednesday. I say that things are not perfect because honestly, every time I get ready for this group to come, my mind too often wraps itself around the imperfect. Like focusing on the things that have not been cleaned, the state of my house in general, or my inability to really nail down my lesson. I can be robbed with these thoughts that bombard me.
It takes some risk to step out of our comfort zones, to do something different, and to (gasp) open our homes. It started with 3rd grade girls who now are in the 8th grade. You can read more about the Balcony Girls  group and how to start one, HERE . You’ll see there is a BG E-Book available that includes 8 lessons.
My lesson this week was inspired by my friend Jyl, from Mom it Forward , whom I met at the fabulous EVO ’10 conference  in Park City this summer (Jyl actually put this conference on), and who also wrote a very inspiring post on friendships .
What’s the one thing you can do this week to be a better friend? I asked the girls last week. (We always sit around as a group, where we are not distracted and the girls are very respectful and listen.)
I then took Jyl’s post and made it work for 8th grade girls. (This lesson will be in the upcoming Balcony Girls E-Book 2).
One of the things we talked about was how friendships are mutually beneficial when we behave like Balcony Girls – building up and not tearing down. (BG motto)
-I challenged the girls to evaluate their friendships and ask themselves: If you are the company you keep, then WHO ARE YOU? And as Jyl says, is that the person you want to be?
-Taking it one step further: If your friends are the company they keep, who are THEY? And are they a better person because you are in their lives?
I loved the craft that we did last week. The girls are so creative. And more conversation takes place around the table when they are focusing on their project and talking at the same time.
Again, Balcony Girls  lessons are lessons for life for not only young girls, but great reminders for adults as well.
Don’t lose out on a blessing because your surroundings of your home are not perfect. If there’s a spark of interest, and you have a daughter, then just do it! Even if you don’t have a daughter but you feel called to “lead,” strong leaders are so needed today!
Have you thought about being hospitable and starting a girls’ group in your home?