Fun Summer Activities to Do with Friends


Looking for something fun to do this summer? Make a “Summer Bucket List” of sorts and see how many items you can cross off by the time Fall rolls around!

Summer photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On my Summer Friendship Activity List (June-August Friendship Plans!):

  1. Check out a live outdoor concert
  2. Buy yummy produce at a farmer’s market
  3. Take a nature walk/hike/bike (maybe all three!)
  4. Throw a BBQ Bash (with veggies from the garden!)
  5. Make some jam/pie/salsa with fruit from my peach tree
  6. Celebrate a wedding (hooray!)  :)

That should be good for starters…I’m not even sure how many of my friends are staying in town for the summer. The weather has been great, and the season promises a host of great outdoor activities that I’m willing to try – summer should be the time for friendship fun!

What are your plans for summer activities with friends? 

Guest Post: The Importance of Healthy Eating for Cancer Patients


I am pleased to introduce FFFE’s first guest blogger, Jillian McKee. Her fabulous post reminds us how important it is to hold onto (or start building!) healthy eating habits when cancer rears its ugly head.

Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

As an addition to the great information below, social support can also be crucial for cancer survival. In a study of women diagnosed with breast cancer, those with higher social support ratings were significantly more likely to recover and less likely to have a recurrence of the disease. One more great reason to find and keep some Forever Friends

Here’s Jillian!:

When you are diagnosed with cancer, it can be a life-changing experience that affects many different aspects of your routine. During cancer treatment, there are a number of things that you can do to improve your chances of beating the disease and living a healthy life. Eating healthy is one of the most important things that you can do in this situation. Why exactly is eating healthy important when you are diagnosed with cancer?

Healthy Food photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.netImprove Quality of Life

Eating healthy will not necessarily cure your cancer, but it will improve your quality of life. Many people who are going through cancer treatment lose weight, and feel very weak throughout the process. This often leads to discouragement and a negative attitude for the patient. If you take the time to eat a diet full of healthy foods, you will generally feel better. Going to your treatment may not seem so bad when you have a good attitude. Eating the right foods can make you feel better and keep your treatment up.

Boost Your Energy

One of the problems that many cancer patients have to deal with is a lack of energy. They don’t feel up to doing a whole lot of anything. If you make a conscious effort to eat healthy, you’ll be able to improve your energy levels and do more with your time. People who eat right are able to enjoy lifestyles that aren’t that much different than they were before. When you have more going on in your life, you have more to live for, and you can fight the cancer harder.

Avoid Malnutrition

Most cancer treatments can be very hard on your body. If you don’t eat the right types of foods, you may eventually suffer from malnutrition. When you suffer from malnutrition, your cancer treatment may lead to a number of problems. Many who are going through cancer treatment have weakened immune systems. If you have a weakened immune system and you are suffering from malnutrition, it will be very easy for you to get sick. By eating healthy foods, you may be able to avoid sickness and improve your chances of survival. For example, the mesothelioma survival rate is much higher with people who eat right because it reduces the risk of other complications.

Overall, there are a number of benefits that come with eating a healthy diet when you are a cancer patient.  Eating right could be the difference between losing the fight and ultimately beating the disease.

Coffees 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, 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?

Busy, Busy, Busy

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?

Is it too much to ask to have time for friends and everything else?

Taking Stock of the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor

How feasible is it to have routine outings with friends when life is so hectic? I feel like this project has helped me adapt to a new city and find friends perhaps more quickly than I otherwise would have. At the same time, however, trying to plan and organize the endeavor of finding and making friends can add stress to an already overwhelming schedule.

So after all of my hemming and hawing, I want to know what you all think about undertaking a concentrated, organized effort to be active in the friendship world. Enter Quiz #1 for the FFFE.

Missed Opportunities for Friendship


To catch you up on the last few weeks, I must report that in the friendship department, things have been going along swimmingly. We’ve done a few dinners and a coffee outing or two, but some of the interactions I’ve had with other students and some of my husband’s friends have led me to consider something rather unpleasant.

Perhaps by focusing on the Friendship Endeavor in the way that I have (searching for female friends almost exclusively), I have missed opportunities for rewarding friendships with men.
In the past, I have found that some of my strongest friendships have been with men; they are generally easy-going, friendly, and often very funny. Unfortunately, a troubling incident based on mistaken understanding by a male friend’s wife led me to be extremely cautious in forming new friendships with men, married or otherwise. I suppose I reasoned that women are the most appropriate and least risky option for friends.

Can Men and Women Be Just Friends?

by photostock
Friendships between men and women seem to be forever at odds with platonic behavior, at least in the media and pop culture. Consider the fact that entire movies are based solely on this issue: think When Harry Met Sally. In spite of the fact that, historically, men and women can’t be “just friends,” I find that some of the friends I have most consistently identified with have been men.

And yet, what did I do upon embarking on my mission for lasting, rewarding friendships? I left men out of the picture! The fact dawned on me when I realized how many of the girls in my classes at the university had become good friends with the guys; they had taken an effort I had entirely neglected.

The full realization of what I had done truly sank in when we started socializing more with some of my husband’s friends from law school – at least half of whom are women.

“Reverse” Sexism: Guilty or Not Guilty?

What had I been thinking? That only women could become my lifelong friends? That it was only safe or appropriate to be open to friendship with women, men be damned? That it wasn’t even worth my effort to develop friendly acquaintances with men because of the potential for awkwardness? Did I have a subconscious idea that spending time developing friendships with men wasn’t going to help me reach my goal of abounding in rich friendships?

In the first two quarters I have been at school, I have perhaps inadvertently snubbed half of the students in the degree program simply because of their gender! What a shame, to think of all the time I wasted fretting over the next girls’ night when I could have been developing equally satisfying friendship with some of the guys in the program.

So I here vow to be prejudiced no more; to not be averse to conversation, jokes, and friendship with men; to not allow the world of pop culture to dictate my relationships; and to not let the past detract from my future.
I want a life full of friendships, and I don’t care what background or gender my friends have. I am determined to renew the Friendship Endeavor with acts of sociability to men and women alike. Maybe I can make up for lost time – if not, there’s always next quarter!

The Days of Wine and Chocolate


So my resolution to have another party came true.  It was small, yes, but it was delicious.

In my post-Debbie-Downer phase, I decided to put together a tasting party for the two things I most enjoy: wine and chocolate.  Yum.

I have never done a tasting party of any sort, let alone one that people might expect to be well-planned and put-together, so I started feeling the pressure immediately after I invited a few friends.

What?  Did I really just commit myself to coming up with a menu of paired wines and chocolates?

To the drawing board!

Wine and Chocolate Pairings

After a lot of research at Lindt.com for learning how to “taste” chocolate and then reviewing a billion sites to get recommendations for pairing wine and chocolate, this was the tasting menu:

Sweet Champagne with White Chocolate that had Dried Strawberry by Matt BanksChunks

Sweet Moscato with a Swirled White and Milk Chocolate bar

Riesling with Milk Chocolate with Caramel Filling

Dry Sherry with Milk Chocolate with Toffee Chunks

Fruity Cabernet Sauvingon with Medium Cocoa Chocolate with Dried Cherries

Shiraz with Dark Chocolate spiced with Chiles

Merlot with 79% Cocoa Dark Chocolate

Deeee—-LISH!

My favorite pairs were the sweet champagne with white chocolate and strawberries, the Sherry (I was so surprised!) with the toffee chocolate, and the Cab with the chocolate with cherries – and normally I only eat dark chocolates!

Anyway, the night was a success, and I have already been asked to repeat the pleasure…I am thinking of hosting a 2nd evening of wine and chocolate over spring break. The words “wine and chocolate” seem to be all that is necessary to secure attendees, which is now a “note to self” for future Friendship Endeavor events.

by Simon Howden

Now if I can just convince the MeetUp.com group to go for wine and chocolate, I can keep perfecting my tasting skills!

 

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 Friendly End to a Friendly Semester


Finals are over and I once again have claim over at least some of my time! Spurred on by my numerous attempts to socialize, meet people, and make friends, I have recently participated in or arranged multiple gatherings with potential forever friends. Then again, I have also passed up a few outings to celebrate the quarter’s end. I did so regretfully, but I passed them up nonetheless.

Despite my brief bout with post-exam antisocial angst, I have already scheduled a tentative round of drinks on the town and an outing to dinner and the Nutcracker with a few new friends from school and church.

Today, however, I hatched a crazy idea.

My December task for the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor will be to host a party. Not just any party – a party with all of the best potential friends doing all the best things: eating, drinking, and being merry.

Considering I do have the continued need to work for a living, a commitment to a school/work internship, the frantic holiday traveling to look forward to, and all of my Christmas shopping to do, it will be quite a feat to organize and host a party within the next couple of weeks, but I dare say my newfound devotion to fostering friendship opportunities will serve me well – motivation and a healthy dose of stress can be a wonderful thing.

I craftily even used my decision today to not attend recent outings as an opportunity to shoot a few ladies a text about tossing back a few glasses of wine at my place sometime in the next week or two.

So now the December To-Do List kicks in:

1. Pick a day for the fearsome fête
2. Buy some wine
3. Choose some snacks
4. Send a few casual invites
5. Clean, clean, clean
6. Party hearty
7. Report on the successful progress on the Friendship Meter!

 

Host a party for friends!

Mine won't be quite this fancy!

All in all, I think I’ve had a great start these past few months toward finding potential Forever Friends. Granted, it has been easy to meet people at school – it is the perfect opportunity to find other people who are also looking to make new friends, and I hope that I am taking well enough advantage of the chances my new degree program has given me.

So beginning the next phase of my journey toward lasting friendships, I will host a party and head to the ballet. After that I foresee some of the general December to February Friendship Plans: 

December – February: Getting into the Swing of Things & Finding Some “Regulars”

I think I have made fair progress on this already for this month, but putting myself to the challenge of being the person responsible for inviting specific people and hosting a party is a bit of a big step.  It means I have to select some potential “regulars!”  Well, here goes!

A Day of Thanks for Friends and Family


Happy Thanksgiving!

What a beautiful sentiment for a holiday: giving thanks for all that you appreciate.  For me, my friends and family take center stage.  Despite my many moans and complaints on here, I must acknowledge that indeed, I do have more than my share of fun and quality relationships.

I have much to be grateful for:

  • A wonderful mother, who taught me the importance of honesty, hard work, dependability, love, and kindness.  She is everything a mother should be, and anything I know about conducting myself with grace, keeping love in my heart, and being open to what the world has to offer, I learned from her. She is the type of woman I aspire to be.
  • A terrific father, who taught me the importance of humor, sensitivity, determination, flexibility, and patience.  He is the model all men should follow, and I know how rare good dads are, so he gets extra kudos.  His unending generosity and love gave me the support and confidence I needed to pursue my dreams and love myself for who I am.
  • An inspiring brother, who is carving a wonderful life for himself out of the fallen tree that life placed in his path.  His courage in following his dreams and working hard to make his goals become reality are encouraging to those of us just beginning to make our way without the security of an employer to tell us what to do.
  • A marvelous sister, who makes every occasion a special one just by being present.  Her brave decision to pursue her dreams for love – not money! – make her a tribute to her profession, and her kind, open personality and fabulous sense of humor make sure there is never a dull moment.  She is always there when I need her, and I am so blessed to see her becoming the type of woman she wants to be.
  • A splendid husband, who never fails to teach me the true meaning of love.  His constant support, understanding, and affection shows me what it really means to put someone else before yourself, and I only hope that at some point in our marriage, I will be able to learn from his selflessness so that I can reciprocate his effortless devotion.  He makes generous love seem so easy!

In addition to a wonderful immediate family, I am truly blessed to have excellent in-laws and two beautiful and sweet nieces, who I am busy missing and thinking of this Thanksgiving. Also, thanks can’t be complete without mentioning my sweet puppy, who always cheers me and who tolerates my dancing, no matter how bad it is.

And last but not least, a post on the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor could not be complete without talking about the many friends I have been blessed to have in my life.  They are people who have lifted me up when times were tough, pushed me forward when I wanted to stop or run away, challenged me to improve when I slipped into complacency, brought me goodies when I invited them over or bought me a beer when we went out together, calmed my fears when life was uncertain, and shared their joys, triumphs, fears, and failures with me, too.  I hope that I have been half as good a friend to you as you have been to me.  Even if we are apart now, spatially or emotionally, I want you to know that I treasure the friendship we shared, and that I will always appreciate the joy you brought to me.

I cannot thank God enough for all the blessings in my life.  I hope that today and every day you can experience the same love and happiness that I feel as I write this.

A Toast to Friends and Family

Here’s a toast to a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, a day to give thanks!

Jane Austen on Friends


I hereby admit that I am an unabashed and full-fledged Jane Austen fan.  I have read the novels and seen pretty much every single silver screen and TV version of her books (even the old-school ones!).  She pretty much rocks on every account.

Instead of focusing on her general fabulousness, I have decided to make a brief analysis of her treatment of friends in her books.  Yay, Jane and friends!

The Books of Friendship

Sense and Sensibility: In life, as in fiction, sometimes sisters can be the best (and worst) of friends.  It is no secret that I love my sister like – well, a sister – and that at certain times of my life, she has been the best friend a girl could ever ask for.  From our twenty-minute sobbing hug before I went to Spain for a semester to her wonderful speech as the maid of honor at my wedding, my sister has always been and will always be the perfect Forever Friend.

Scene from Austen's Books

Pride and Prejudice: Lizzie and Charlotte have a friendship, perhaps strengthened by convenience, that allows them to remain friends even after one of them gets married to the man who first proposed to the other!  How many ladies do you know nowadays that would still be cool with visiting their friend and her new hubby when that was hanging over them?

Mansfield Park: Another sisterly tale here, wherein even the distance, education, and circumstances separating Fanny from her younger sister couldn’t erase their bond.  It seems that sometimes the falsity of other friends or acquaintances can make us appreciate the stability and permanency of our siblings all the more.

Emma: Not only do Emma and her old governess maintain a wonderful friendship that surpasses the boundaries of age, class, and separation, but Emma somehow manages to save her friendship with Harriet after they both vie for the love of the same man.  If Emma’s misguided matchmaking attempts hadn’t alienated her poor and simple friend enough, winning the prized gentleman would typically be enough to part them for good.  But true to JA’s happy endings, their friendship remains intact.  Score.

Northanger Abbey: Unfortunately for Catherine, her first tale of friendship is unhappy and brief.  After all, girls can be catty, petty, conniving, and crude.  Thank goodness her young suitor’s sister is the model of a Forever Friend!

Persuasion: Contrary to popular preference, I absolutely love this book.  It also happens to be a delightful account of friendship against all odds on two accounts: that of Anne with Lady Russell (old, proud, and contrarian!) and that of Anne with Mrs. Smith (poor, gossipy, and ill!).

When Jane Austen Writes About Friendship…

Lady A

No matter their station, no matter their situation, Jane Austen had a wonderful way of capturing the many ups and downs of female friendships.  At their best, girlfriends can be our soul sisters, our second selves – true companions during hardship and true joys when life is good.  At their worst, girlfriends can be disingenuous, backstabbers behind smiles – false friends and even true enemies.

It is no coincidence that Jane Austen’s novels covered the best and the worst of women’s relationships, because her novels detailed the best and the worst of human nature.  Although I personally have been most able to identify with her humorous and kind treatment of the sisterly bond, I have also been fortunate to avoid the worst in her stories.  I don’t know if this is because of lack of experience with female friendships (maybe one is less likely to be betrayed if one never gets close to anyone…), or if is simply a blessing I have been granted.  Whatever the cause, I am grateful to have a host of good books, a growing number of potential friends, and a wonderful sister.  I wish all of you the same.

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!

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