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!

Having Friends Benefits Your Kids, Too


Friendship isn’t just fun and convenient.  It is perhaps one of the most enjoyable ways to stay healthy, sane, and safe.

What’s more, research shows that not having friends during times of acute stress in your life may not only impact your own health, but also that of your children.  According to a 2008 study by Mickelson and Demmings, women who need social support the most are least likely to have it, and their kids may be paying a high price for it.

Low-income women are more likely to face stressful life events and to have inadequate social support.  Because they do not have as many traditional friends or family members as support to rely on during stressful times, they are more likely to lean on their young children for emotional support.  According to the study, when kids are expected to fill the role of more mature emotional supporters, it can have a negative effect on their wellbeing.

Mother Hugging Son, By David Castillo Dominici

Substituting a child for the role of a traditional supporter is not only less effective at improving the mom’s coping ability, but also contributes to a decrease in health status for her and her child, making both worse off.  In short, the situation becomes a perfect storm, wherein those most likely to experience stressful events are least able to lean on an appropriate support network.  Those who have the least social support then lean on their children, negatively impacting the health of themselves and their kids.

Studies also show that having a variety of social relationships is also important. Be active in volunteer activities, go to a happy hour event after work, chat with your neighbors, socialize after church, join an activity group, whatever. Just do it!

If the information above doesn’t make a tragic case for making friends and improving your social support network, then I don’t know what will.  If you have the means and opportunity to make friends or be social, then do it.

Your health – and that of your children – may depend on it.

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!

My Friendly Fortune Cookie


So my husband and I have an ongoing joke about the fortune cookies we get.  His are always vague, even un-fortune-ish, saying things along the lines of “You are a good person” instead of “You will win $1 million.”  Clearly, he would prefer the latter.

My fortunes, on the other hand, always seem to predict future happiness, wealth, success, or all of the above.  And often times, they are highly relevant to my current situation.  Some of us are just blessed, I guess!

Anyway, after a very delicious Panda Express lunch today, we cracked open our fortune cookies and, alas!  Mine was delightful (his was rather unremarkable, yet again… 🙂 ).

by Daniel St.Pierre

My Fortune Cookies Rock

 

A friend will be important to you and your forthcoming success.

No lucky numbers necessary for this one to be good.  See what I mean about my fortunes being relevant and super positive?!  Not only did I get a kick-ass meal of Beijing Beef and Sweet Fire Chicken, but I also got a warm and fuzzy feeling about this blog, which – thanks to some kind bloggers allowing me to guest post – has just begun to substantially pick up a few more visits.

Maybe a successful blog is not out of the question after all!  Could I possibly avoid being doomed to obscurity, in friendship as in the blogging world?  Might my fortune contain some truth, some nugget of hope about a future where everything is painted in rosy hues?  I will dare to hope!

So in the spirit of friendly blogging, here is a shout-out to my two best referrers so far!

Style Me Swanky and Lil’ Veggie Patch: check them out, as they are two awesome blogs that are super cool, with very friendly and talented leading ladies.

What is best of all is I feel I am making great online connections, and I am pleased as punch that, according to my fortune cookie at least, gaining friends can be as good for my writing endeavors as it can be for my personal well-being.  So welcome, readers everywhere! Let’s celebrate all that friends, food (I guess you have to read my guest posts to see what I mean, here, so check them out!), and fun do for us – and be happy that bringing joy to one area of our lives affects many other areas as well.

Although I have yet to see who this particularly important “friend” is, I am happy to report that the possible number of ladies this “friend” could be seems to be growing.  The more, the merrier!  The Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor is having far-reaching effects, and I am already seeing its impact in multiple areas of my life.

All in all, a great fortune, a great message, a great reminder that life is looking up – friendships, blogs, and everything else.

What an astonishing effect a happy prediction can make!

 

 

Top 5 Cheesy Girlie Friendship Movies


Ain’t nothing better than a bag of kettle corn, a cheesy, happy chick flick, and no place to go!  Call me crazy (or lame?) but I have to say I can’t get enough of these girlie friendship movies:

5.  Clueless. Despite ditzy mishaps and a loosely based Valley-inspired version of the Jane Austin novel Emma (my passion of passions!), you have to admit it makes you happy to see the three ladies back in each others’ good graces after the dust settles.

4.  Thelma & Louise.  If you’ve got a sistah you would drive off a cliff with, you’ve got it made.  Yes, I just said that.

3.  Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. There is no way those jeans fit them all, but whichever friend sneakily made the size exchange between each handover was a genius and a true friend to the others’ self-esteem.

2.  First Wives Club. Yes, I remember the words to the “You Don’t Own Me” song, and it is purely because of this film. When the fit hits the shan, there’s nothing like having your ladies have your back. All the way to the bank!

1.  Steel Magnolias.  I know, I know, two movies about middle-aged women (and older) in a row, but I’m not an old lady – I swear!  It’s just that sappy friendship movies don’t get much better than this.

 

The November Mission: Last Official Chance for “Meeting People & Creating Friendship Opportunities”


Clearly this title is not exactly true, but (true to form), now that we are a week into November I figure I should detail the November plan.

My mission, which I decided I have no choice but to accept, is to finish the first stage in finding some potential Forever Friends.  For the next few weeks, I will specifically focus on creating friendship opportunities.

Having recently begun a new graduate degree program, meeting people has been no great difficulty.  Creating friendship opportunities – however straightforward it may sound – is a bit harder, though.  What does it even mean?

I think it means opening the door to new possibilities, taking the step after introducing yourself and reaching out to give both you and the other person the chance to develop a friendship.  It means paying attention to what people are saying (listening for real!), taking the time to be thoughtful in your comments, your questions, your invites.  It means thinking about creative and non-creepy ways to open the door to friendship.  After all, people don’t typically become best friends in a single day.  Developing friendships takes time, shared experiences, getting to know each other and understand each other beyond the whole “I see you everyday so I know a little bit about you” type of relationship.

So here are the November plans to create friendship opportunities:

1.  Have meaningful conversations with 3 acquaintances (beyond the usual “how are you?” or “what’s the homework?”).  After all, I will never know if they are potential Forever Friends if we don’t start talking more!

2.  Get coffee or have lunch with someone I haven’t socialized with yet and who I did not know as of three months ago.

3.  Text two new people.  Yes, this will be awkward and a challenge for me, believe it or not, as I dislike using my phone and prefer to do almost anything over sending text messages.  Plus I never delete anything and my text inbox is always full, which makes receiving timely texts a problem…

Anyway, that is the November plan.  As a parting thought, here is a beautiful reflection on the joys of friendship from two characters supremely qualified to give such a presentation:

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