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!

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!

 

 

(Wo)man’s Best Friend, or Ode to Nanuq


Best Dog Ever

My Super-Duper Puppy Dog

There is just something special about dogs.  No matter what, they are there for you.  Especially my Nanuq – the cutest, sweetest mutt ever!

I must admit, when I met Nanuq at the pound, it was love at first sight.  He was penned with an Alaskan malamute that was hyper as can be, and he was just sitting there, like “I’m chill.  I’m cute.  You know you want me.”  I did.  So I brought him home (much to my husband’s chagrin).

A year and a half later, I still love him – even after the many accidents on our beige carpet, the time he ate my shoes and pooped out the part that said “made in China,” the multiple electronic items he ate or destroyed (think DirecTV remote and brand new friend’s cell phone), the times the AZ pavement was so hot he hopped from shady spot to shady spot, or the time he ate everything in my husband’s wallet except the cash (bless his little doggy soul).

Nanuq traveled across the country with us, and even though he isn’t as calm as he appeared that first day in the pound (turns out an ear infection and a certain “boy doggy” operation will suck the energy right out of a puppy!), he has turned into a flat-out awesome canine companion.  I also must say he is the most expressive dog I have ever had – he protests when you tell him to do something he doesn’t want to by howling or making a low (but friendly!) growl.  Plus, he is smart as can be – he just chooses sometimes to pretend like he isn’t…

Anyway, this is my tribute to my favorite puppy dog friend – a model companion.  He speaks his mind but is always there to comfort me, run around like crazy, dance like a fool to the “That’s My Dog” song, and in general be one cool cat – pardon the pun.  All in all, I say thank God for making doggies (wo)man’s best friend.  🙂

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!

A super creative blog with a super “friendly” story!


So I stumbled upon this blog when Neeks commented on my other WordPress site, and found out that with just a few words, she writes an original poem or short story – way cool!

The one I somehow managed to find right off the bat was “Best Friends For Ever!” that clearly fits with the gist of this blog. Super cute story, super fun link. Putting it on the blogroll!

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