Update on Summer Friendship Endeavors


Summer so far has been a whirlwind of family visits, hectic finals, and frantic attempts to fit time for friends in between work, travel, house projects (we built a pergola!), and my efforts to remember how to cook (buy food, prep food, cook food? Who has time for that?!)…

Progress on the (Ohio) Friendship Meter has been slow, as much due to my schedule as to those of my friends, but the season has not been wholly unproductive in terms of the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor.

Counting the Blessings in Life

There are never enough minutes in the day (or days in the weekend!) to get as much done as I would like. I am a miserable Facebook contact, I seem to have forgotten what phone calls are, and I still haven’t sent my thank-you notes from Christmas (so snail mail communication is pretty much out of the running for keeping in touch). Regardless, I have had some wonderful developments this year in the world of friendship.

I have also read that counting your blessings can improve your outlook on life and even keep you healthier. So instead of whining about how I never get to do as many social activities as I would like or moaning about how modern life is too busy to allow new friendship bonds to form, I would like to count my friendship blessings from the last month or two.by BrianHolm, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Meat_g88-Grilling_Steak_On_BBQ_p87171.html

  1. Close friends from AZ visited for several days in June; we laughed, we played Scattergories, we drank craft beer. Who could ask for more?
  2. Another AZ acquaintance of mine (high school friend of my hubby’s) got a summer internship in the area, and I will benefit from her limited local social network by being able to show her around town. In fact, I can use her visit as an excuse to see more of the city myself, since I’m still pretty new!
  3. Wedding bells, they are a-ringin’. Three friends tie the knot this summer. The wedding we already attended allowed us to explore Lake Geneva, WI with some great buddies from AZ, while celebrating the union of two other great buddies from AZ! The two weddings to come will be a nice reminder that the FFFE has been successful enough to earn me an invite to a very important day for two new friends. I suppose that is proof-positive of progress on the Friendship Meter.
  4. We bought a grill. I am aware that this is not a friendship blessing on its face, but so far we have used it as an excuse to BBQ with the neighbors and a few school friends, and even hosted a get-together for the 4th of July. Oh, sweet grilled meat and corn, to you do we owe our summer friendship successes.

And so, it is with a grateful heart that I report these few, but special, events in the Friendship Endeavor’s summer session. The final phase of the year-long endeavor has gotten off to a pretty decent start.

June, July, and August will complete the year’s endeavor, so I will draft up the plans and get them out ASAP. Things are looking up, and I don’t see why the FFFE shouldn’t continue on indefinitely!

The Friendship Meter Beyond FFFE


So I was doing some review of my site to find out how on earth I ended up getting ANYBODY checking out my blog, and it turns out quite a few of my visitors come for the term “friendship meter.”

As it turns out, mine is not the only one (and probably not the most interesting one, either!).

There’s an App for That

Apparently, Facebook has a friendship meter to help you keep track of who posts on your wall or interacts with you on Facebook the most. Doubtless, this will be an infallible guide to who your most intimate friends are.

Friendship Information from Tarot Cards

If Facebook isn’t a trustworthy enough guide for who matters to you, perhaps the stars can provide the answer. Astrological predictions for who your true friends are can be used on a variety of websites and are invaluable to those who want a neat horoscope-based read about compatibility.

Online Games and Friendship Meters

The Sims fans among you will also be familiar with friendship meters – aka Sims Social – for computer games that measure who you associate with online and how friendly your characters are with each other.

The Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor’s Friendship Meter

Perhaps bland in comparison, the FFFE’s Friendship Meter tracks me on my journey toward finding and keeping friends of the lifelong quality. If it had a visual representation, it would look like a fundraising thermometer, but with all of the measurements in single digits! Perhaps like this:

I am sorry to say, it certainly would not look like this!:

Making lots of friends!

So alas, if you have come in search of one of the other friendship meters, I am sorry to have to direct you elsewhere. My Friendship Meter comes from the world of Microsoft ClipArt Galleries.  But I’m happy with it all the same!

Coffee and Parties and Lunches, Oh My!


I was on a roll for a bit, with hosting two parties in two weeks (one was the ladies night of wine and chatting, and then we hosted a party for my husband’s law school classmates, a few of whom have some potential for the FFFE as well. The only problem there will be how to get them to hang out when they ever have any time!

In addition to the parties, I was grabbing Sunday coffees, doing mid-week biostats phone consultations with some friends, and generally living it up for a while – effortlessly doing the FFFE thing, living the goal (or trying to) of networking and meeting people on a regular basis and building relationships based on that.

But now what?by ZirconiCusso

Where has my time gone?  Where have the invites gone?  Where has the will gone to keep checking MeetUp.com for a chance to spread my wings a bit?  And again, where has my time gone?  Work, school, an internship, some volunteer work, a house, a husband, and a dog are surely time consuming enough for two people, but before it was working out relatively well…right?

Taking Stock of the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor

I am proud overall of my January accomplishments in terms of improving relationships, going the extra mile to get to know people, hosting parties, and just socializing in general.  But reviewing my progress since last September, it’s hard to tell if I would have been any worse off just by being my usual (less outgoing) self…I have never had trouble getting along with people, and despite all of my efforts, life just seems to be so busy at times that having regular time with friends doesn’t even seem realistic.

Maybe its the midterms, I’m-going-crazy frame of mind talking, but I feel like I will have to give myself a major reminder of why it’s worth it to work so hard at friendships if no one gets to see each other anyway!

I hope this down-in-the dumps, laissez faire attitude wears off quickly, because I do enjoy going the extra mile to hang out and build friendships – it’s just tough work.

Maybe another party is in order…

A Party in Summation


I was nervous – and rightfully so!  We had our first major snow of the season, most of the invited guests were unable to attend due to short notice, hectic work schedules, and prior plans.  I cleaned and prepped and planned and slaved over ridiculous appetizers, not to mention the fact that I spent three weeks worth of grocery money on the wine and snacks…

And of course, as any self-conscious newbie in the world of friendship would, I suppose, I worried that people would change their mind at the last minute, due to weather or perhaps a better offer for a way to spend their Friday night.  I fretted and stressed and sent my husband off with his guy friend for the night to spare myself the embarrassment of  having to watch him feel awkward for me if no one showed up.

Luckily, the party was a sweet success!

Exactly the number of people I suspected showed up.  We ate, we drank, we chatted, we played Catchphrase, and we had a great time.  Suddenly we discovered it was already 1am, and everyone was sorry to head home.  Now that’s what I wanted to experience!

I am happy to report that my first attempt at hosting a group of potential Forever Friends at the house was full of fun, and that I got the chance to know many of them much better than school and casual chats between classes or at lunch ever afforded us.  Spending time with people outside of work or school makes quite a difference in how you perceive them and what you learn about them (and how quickly!).

In terms of the main goal for January accomplishments on the Friendship Meter, the event was a success. In addition, I am pleased to say that I have a standing coffee date with a friend every weekend to review homework and catch up on each others’ lives.  It is nice to have a friend that I enjoy seeing regularly and who is interested in taking time to spend with me on a regular basis as well.

Now, onto the next goal for the Friendship Endeavor: MeetUp.com!

Lots of Friends for Mommies


But what about the rest of us?

With all of the networking sites for moms, it cannot be news that
there are myriad opportunities for some women to connect.  I
understand the strain motherhood can put on a social life and even a
woman’s personal mental health, but I think it’s time to expand the
opportunities for other women to network and connect in much the same
way!

Where is it written that only moms have no social lives?!  I am only
slightly self-conscious in declaring that I have a limited social life
right now as well.  Granted, that’s part of being in grad school and a
new city, but I still think it is important to acknowledge that ALL
women can improve their social circle by putting themselves out there
a bit, even seeking out entirely new people to bring into a network of
friends.
by Photostock

The problem is that – despite the many webpages devoted to connections
for mommies – there are limited options when it comes to general
social networking for women in general, especially those looking to
make local connections with real-life, going-out potential!

For those of you who are mothers, I have nothing against you and your
kick-ass networking abilities and options!  I think the plethora of
social opportunities you are creating for yourselves and other
overworked moms is wonderful (I’m just jealous!).  I wish the rest of
our sex could hop on the connection boat, though, and start a social
connection site for local communities of women to test the waters and
plan real-life get-togethers for the purpose of finding friends and
expanding social opportunities.

To promote friendly gatherings of mothers everywhere, here is a short
list I compiled of a few sites devoted to getting moms connected to
kindred spirits:

www.mommiesnetwork.org

http://moms.meetup.com

http://sahm.meetup.com

www.momtomomchat.com

www.cafemom.com/moms

http://www.babble.com/mom/health-and-relationships-momance-befriending-other-moms/

www.circleofmoms.com

Why can’t I have some of that?!  No joke – how about a
20s-30s-something-network?  Or a CafeFriendlyLadies?  Besides Craig’s
List, which sort of strikes me as a kind of sub-optimal (and slightly
creepy?) way of forging into the unknown world of random friend
opportunities, I would love to see an entire site specifically
designed for ladies to meet other women who are in search of
friendship.  Searching by theme and location at meetup.com is a great
start, but I know people are out there, waiting for friends to join
them, and a specific site devoted just to ladies forming friendships
could hit a wider market with a bigger impact.

So let’s see what happens.  I wish I knew more about html and website
design in moments like these!  In the meantime, I will have to take
what I can get.  I have decided to attend a social activity on
meetup.com, although the theme and time is yet to be determined.  In
the mean time, I have made a bit of progress on my November plans:
I’ve set up a girls night of Italian food and holiday ballet!  This
way I get to kill two birds with one stone: taste-testing the best
Columbus has to offer in Italian cuisine and checking out the fine
arts theater for the first time!  It should be fun.  Plus, the best
part is that I don’t know four or five of the ladies attending, so
there will be plenty of opportunity for more progress on the
Friendship Meter.

Hooray for networking with new ladies, online or otherwise!

Coffee is Good for You


And your friends! And you when you’re with friends!

I am happy to report that I have gone out for coffee with two awesome ladies recently. I knew one from college and the other from high school, and we are all in the same city now, so I figured it was time to reconnect!

Not only did we have a great time catching up, but I am happy to report that in addition to social time being good for women, so is coffee.

Coffee has health benefits

Not only do the antioxidants, natural chemicals, and caffeine provide certain heart-healthy benefits, but there are studies that also indicate that moderate coffee drinkers also have lower rates of depression and even diabetes. Women may also be able to reduce their risk of heart disease by sipping up to four cups per day, and some research demonstrates a small decrease in the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer in regular coffee drinkers.

For those of you who are nervous about the caffeine, decaf and other caffeinated drinks will confer the desired health benefits for certain conditions, but not for all. To minimize the negative effects of caffeine, try drinking most of your coffee by early afternoon to give your body plenty of time to process it before you go to sleep.

For the rest of us, this is good news to drink up, and an excellent excuse to grab a coffee with the girls.

In terms of progress on the Friendship Meter, things are going well – two invites and two events down. I’m getting over some of the awkward things by just sucking it up and talking or inviting anyway. It’s working! I’m happy to report my confidence is building and I am enjoying myself A TON in the process. Hooray!

Once you get the ball rollin’…


It’s hard to stop!

I am quite fortunate to have started the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor at a time in my life when I had the opportunity to meet tons of new people all at a similar point in their lives – meaning they could all be potential Forever Friends.

College and university life opens new doors to social opportunities than almost any other time in life, I believe, even for people who had previously been shut away behind their career doors or in the close-knit everyday world of raising a family.

This month’s progress on the Friendship Meter is going much better than last month’s! Fortunately, with everyone trying to get to know people, there have been plenty of invitations. I am thankful that a potential friend I had been more interested in getting to know wanted the same; we went out to dinner with our respective significant others and had a blast.  We got along so well I think I would actually feel comfortable calling her out of the blue to grab a coffee or go to a local event. Don’t know that we’re quite ready for the shopping test (I have a particular shopping style that few but my sister truly understand!) but we’ve got time!

In addition, I contacted an acquaintance I had known in AZ, and we got together for coffee the other day.  We fell into easy conversation, and although we were never close despite having mutual friends, it’s nice to have the potential there of getting to know her better and to have a friend available in case the “fit” hits the “shan,” if you know what I mean!

So all in all, a successful and productive week on the Friendship Endeavor project.  What’s better, it feels like this is just the beginning!  Once I opened myself up to meeting people and deciding to make friends, the calls, texts, and invites forged by my own deliberate attempts at friendliness started paying off, and I feel happier and healthier for it already.  Onward!

Finishing one project before starting another!


So I made an unpublished vow to finish my September Friendship Endeavor work before starting on October, and last night, I did!

I called two separate friends I hadn’t spoken to in far too long – one from AZ and one from PA.  The phone calls went just as I had hoped – before long we were laughing and chatting about everything we had missed in each others lives.

We played catch-up and joked and empathized and planned together.  And now, one of them is coming to visit soon!

Thankfully, I will officially be able to wrap up my September Endeavors with a full Friendship Meter. And most of all, I am happy and thankful to report (to the universe?) that procrastination didn’t pay off, but getting into gear and calling old friends did.  Oldies but goodies is the phrase, and in this case it held true. I didn’t realize how much I missed their company and small talk until I got to enjoy it again.

So here’s to friendship, and here’s to finishing the first month of the Friendship Endeavor with a lot of happiness to show for it.

 

September Re-cap on Making Friends


So the three goals for September were:

1. To chat with 5 new people – DONE! I’m glad to report that with starting a new degree, there were tons of people to meet, and many people were in the same boat as me (an endorsement for taking classes of any sort to meet people, I think!). Lots of potential lady friends, although I’m already starting to see that some have more potential for forever friends than others!

2. Reconnect with 3 old friends – not quite done….unfortunately.  The first attempt left a little to be desired, and even though I am still very eager to chat with a few old girlfriends, I admit I am so stretched for time that it has become a huge hurdle.  The only free time I have seems to be late at night!  Regardless, this will have to be a carry-over for October.

3. Learn something new and/or interesting about a few classmates or co-workers. I didn’t pay much homage to this topic in my posts, but I did (inadvertently) complete this one as well – DONE!  I found out that one lady I never would have expected was born and raised abroad until her early teens (very cool!).  Another lady has a child with autism and has worked everywhere from the military to a doctor’s office.  And lastly, I found out that one potential friend enjoys chocolate and wine about as much as I do.  Very promising!

Despite my shortcomings this month, I can already tell that just by making this online commitment (to myself? the universe? the blogosphere? anyone?) is pushing me to go a bit out of my comfort zone.  It is working as a constant reminder and inspiration to put the effort into making friends and meeting people.

Every time there is a break in classes or when I pass someone in the hall at work, I am starting to see it as an opportunity to meet someone new and potentially special. I am seeing the beauty in the possibility of a spontaneous, new, and lifelong friendship in the people around me, and I like it!

On to October Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor goals!

 

In all friendship, there is room for failure…


So just in the nick of time, I reconnected with an old friend with whom I had been out of touch for quite a while.  I was looking forward to speaking with her again, anticipating sharing our life changes and stories since the last time we’d talked.

And then I remembered why I have been so remiss in staying in touch.

Our friendship has a fatal – or at least potentially fatal – flaw.  It is unbalanced, and with each passing year it is less based on shared understanding and mutual appreciation, and more on a unilateral need to dominate the conversation at all times.

Let’s just say I’m not the one dominating the conversation, or the friendship in general.  I suppose this failing in our friendship is as much my fault as hers, but I’m not sure she even realizes the state I believe our relationship has entered.  To her, I think, things are much as they ever were.  I could be taking a big leap, here (but no one’s reading this anyway!), but I imagine to her I appear the same semi-flaky, interested but busy friend.  She is even busier, I think, but she finds the time to call and talk at least.  The problem is, she is the only one talking.

If I felt more comfortable, or closer to her, I might try to fix this uneven tendency in our relationship, but I think it has almost always been there – I just didn’t notice it as much when our time together lasted long enough for me to get a word or two in edgewise.  I should have acknowledged it and addressed it when she dampened my wedding day, but hindsight is twenty-twenty, after all…

So I feel that I may end this first month of the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor on a sour note – a note of failure.  A sad recognition of the fact that maybe not all friendships are worth saving, rekindling, nurturing.  Maybe sometimes there are unhealthy relationships, friendships that don’t promote the growth, happiness, or well-being of either party, and these relationships are better left to fade away.  Perhaps this could be a lesson that not all friendships are intended for the “forever” status; it might be best for both of us to let it confine itself to Christmas cards and school reunions.

Despite my attempt to reconnect with this friend, I can’t help feeling like this particular experience was a bit of a failure.  At best it was a difficult lesson learned in friendship.  No progress on that measure of the Friendship Meter, it seems, but at least I have one day left…

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