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!

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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!

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 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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