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.

Ideas for Finding Time for Friends


If any theme exists in this blog, it is likely that of too little time – too little time for meeting new people, too little time for trying new things, too little time for blogging!

In an effort to find more time in the day, I rounded up these time-saving strategies.  Enjoy!

by HealingDream

Ways to Save Time During the Day

1. Learn to focus. Stop multi-tasking or leaving yourself open to distractions when you are working on something important; concentrating on what you are doing cuts down on time spent getting into and out of your activity. Reducing start-up time means you start and finish without delaying yourself for unimportant activities, and have the chance to accomplish more in less time.

2. Make technology time count. Don’t mindlessly browse the Internet, slow your progress with school work by half-listening to the TV, or text non-stop while you try to get something (anything) done – back to the multi-tasking idea. If you are going to use technology, use it for what you planned to do and only that – checking out one site or status update after another ends up equaling a whole lot of wasted time.

3. Learn to say “No.” Being overcommitted and never saying “no” to offers and requests fills your time quickly and unnecessarily. Prioritize and only agree to participate, volunteer, or step up to the plate when you can realistically accomplish the task without stressing you or overwhelming your schedule.

4. Delegate. Whether at work or at home, don’t feel like you have all the responsibility. Make the kids wash the dishes, ask the hubby to take out the trash, and don’t do unnecessary work at the office. Above all, don’t do others’ work for them – if it is someone else’s job to print reports or answer the phone, don’t make a habit of picking up the task for them.

5. Prioritize your activities. If you can’t convince yourself that drinks with friends is worth another day of an un-mopped floor or that lingering over dinner is more important than hand-washing the stemware, then don’t complain about having no time for friends!  Sometimes a healthy response to a houseful of clutter is to leave it while you go dancing – after all, it’s not going anywhere, so it can wait!

6. Stop procrastinating. No excuses, no delays. If you can get it done now, do it. This especially goes for quick tasks – save yourself from adding them to your to-do lists the next five days by just crossing it off right now. Breathe easy with a new sense of accomplishment and all of your extra time!

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!

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.

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