Tag Archives: Friends

Five Ways To Find Friends, Create A Village, And Possibly Creep Out Your Neighbors

June 24, 2015

I don't need another friend

We’ve been talking a lot about the village lately. I know it can been annoying, especially if you’re a cranky introvert with an aversion to small talk. But sometimes you have to suck it up for the sake of your fragile sanity that has been teetering on the edge of spilled cereal and long Wednesday evenings alone. Also, have you ever tried on skinny jeans in poorly lit dressing rooms? The older I get, the more I realize how much we need each other.

Some signs you might need a village:

1) You recently had a baby.
2) You have multiple babies/children/people asking for sandwiches.
3) You often find yourself hiding in the bathroom because it’s quieter there.
4) Your best friend is a fictional character who lives in Netflix.
5) Your spouse works long hours.
6) Your spouse works fine hours but is not willing to discuss the psychotic undertones of Gillian Flynn novels.
7) You are a human.

Here’s the thing, I’m not very good at making friends. But I have learned a few things as a husband in medical school, the realities of adulthood, and children have forced my hand.  Five ways to find friends, create a village, and possibly creep out your neighbors listed below. May our conversations move past our insecurities and right onto childhood terrors and the joys of night snacking. We are in this together.

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1) Research it.
Elaine

What’s the worst part about making friends? Actually meeting them! Believe me, no one wants to do this part. First friend dates are just as uncomfortable as romantic ones. What do I wear? What do I say? What do I do with my hands? Just as difficult: actually finding friends to date. You will never know if Karen is your new Chipotle champion if you never actually meet her. Ideas: Facebook groups, book clubs, mutual friends, church things, school parking lot, special interest clubs, the park, Zumba class, the mall bathroom. I’ve even met people on Instagram (hello Frances). It’s never easy, but when you find someone else who also loves HBO and hates off-brand cream cheese, it’s all been worth it.

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2) Create it.

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Parents aren’t the only ones who need a village, but they do fall under a specific category of needs. For example, the need to get away from their kids. Paying for a babysitter is always worth it, but if you’re like me and can’t afford all the help you need, babysitting swaps are a mother’s best friend. Some areas even have whole babysitting co-ops that use things like playing cards instead of money to keep track of hours. My friend Mo and I are starting one in our small town to provide free childcare for things like writing, self improvement, date nights, and solo grocery trips. Some ideas on how to start one here and here. Women helping women. There’s no better thing.

3) Theme it.

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Sometimes it’s easier to plan things with new friends if there’s a theme involved. Things on our rotation: Game nights, trivia nights, book club, movie club, and pool night. Totally nerdy but who doesn’t like creating complex trivia games with corresponding snacks? Book club is an especially great starting point because it gives you A) a reason to get together with B) something to talk about besides the weather and potty training. Ours is an open invite every month. We rotate houses, book genres, and welcome nursing babies with open arms. You don’t even have to read the book. Movie club is new and similar except we meet weekly instead of monthly as part of a 10 Step Program to surviving residency. We rotate houses, meet after our kids are in bed, and wear our pajamas. The host picks a surprise movie and sends out a snack hint the week before. So far we’ve watched Wild, Still Alice, and The Theory Of Everything.

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4) Schedule it. the-secretary-cant-book-a-flight-for-tomorrows-business-meeting-89585

Pro tip: “Let’s do lunch sometime” is not an acceptable way schedule a lunch unless you plan on never actually having the lunch. My college friends and I have been getting together twice a year for almost a decade because from the very first gathering, we’ve always picked the next reunion’s date before we leave. It will always be hard to coordinate seven family’s schedules, but it’s impossible without planning ahead. The same goes with local friends. If no weekly or monthly plans are set in place, it is much easier to hibernate in my house like a reluctant sloth. Putting things on the calendar is the only way busy adults see each other on a regular basis.

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5) Show up.

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Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the most awkward of them all? It’s me. I’m the most awkward. Over the past 30 years, I have come up with a gamut of excuses for getting out of interactions with people I don’t know. New co-workers in the lunchroom? I’ve got to get to an important financial meeting! Baby shower brunch for a long lost cousin? Sorry, sore throat and a touch of vertigo! But just like Reverend Carrie Bradshaw would probably say in one of her earth shattering monologues, “I’ve come to learn that showing up is half the battle.” If I wouldn’t have studied Spanish with Jen or started a book club with Mo, I wouldn’t have two of the most important circles of women to help raise my kids and give me advice on sports bras. We can do this.

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12 Truths On Female Friendship From Smart Women

June 2, 2015

Gloria SteinamAny woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke . . . She will need her sisterhood.
Gloria Steinem

oprah2Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
Oprah Winfrey

Sisters2There are people you are born with and then there are the people you find … I have found my people in the cubicle next to me, in the apartment upstairs from me, and in my book club. One morning one friend brings another friend running, and it sticks forever. Other times the funny stranger across the table at an industry lunch is just who you need in your life. Don’t get me wrong. There aren’t loads of Your People out there. That is why it is important to be on the lookout. Your People are hard to find.
Satellite Sisters

lamottTrappings and charm wear off… Let people see you. They see your upper arms are beautiful, soft and clean and warm, and then they will see this about their own, some of the time. It’s called having friends, choosing each other, getting found, being fished out of the rubble. It blows you away, how this wonderful event ever happened — me in your life, you in mine.

Two parts fit together. This hadn’t occurred all that often, but now that it does, it’s the wildest experience. It could almost make a believer out of you. Of course, life will randomly go to hell every so often, too. Cold winds arrive and prick you: the rain falls down your neck: darkness comes. But now there are two of you: Holy Moly.
Anne Lamott

glennon2The only meaningful thing we can offer one another is love. Not advice, not questions about our choices, not suggestions for the future, just love.
Glennon Melton

annaThe thing about old friends is not that they love you, but that they know you. They remember that disastrous New Year’s Eve when you mixed White Russians and champagne, and how you wore that red maternity dress until everyone was sick of seeing the blaze of it in the office, and the uncomfortable couch in your first apartment and the smoky stove in your beach rental. They look at you and don’t really think you look older because they’ve grown old along with you, and, like the faded paint in a beloved room, they’re used to the look. And then one of them is gone, and you’ve lost a chunk of yourself. The stories of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the tsunami, the Japanese earthquake always used numbers, the deaths of thousands a measure of how great the disaster. Catastrophe is numerical. Loss is singular, one beloved at a time.
Anna Quindlen

virginiaSome people go to priests, others to poetry. I go to my friends.
Virginia Woolf

babsThe friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.
Barbara Kingsolver


Lena-Dunham-by-Terry-Richardson-for-V-Magazine-OuttakesI think about my best friendship – which the Marnie-Hannah friendship in Girls is based on – as like a great romance of my young life.
Lena Dunham

Chelsea-Handler-hotIt’s been my experience that people who make proclamations about themselves are usually the opposite of what they claim to be. If someone is truly a loyal friend, then they wouldn’t need to broadcast it; eventually, people will figure it out. I have a lot of good friends and not one of them has ever introduced themselves by saying, “I’m a very good friend.”
Chelsea Handler

gretaI think that, definitely in your 30s and 40s and early 50s, a lot of women can lose sight of each other because the pressures of marriage and family can take over, but I’ve found that in my mom’s generation and for different women I’ve known in their 60s, they’ve seemed to really find each other again, in a significant way. Whether it’s that they got divorced or the kids are grown up, they have all this time again. I’ve known more women in their 60s who have traveled with each other or see each other all the time and hang out all the time. I feel like it can be rediscovered as a primary relationship, maybe later in life.
Greta Gerwig

The thing with friends when you get older — I mean this is not anything I haven’t written about — is they can’t be replaced. When you’re 30, you accumulate friends and you shed friends and you get closer at certain moments to some than others. And you have a huge bench of friends. And then that’s just not true.
Nora Ephron

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Here Is Where We Stay: Finding A Village

May 27, 2015

Village

A funny thing happens in your twenties and thirties, and this is especially true for millennial women with smartphones and Netflix, all of a sudden it becomes increasingly difficult to actually see each other. We’re busy, we’re tired, we already have our sweatpants on. Nobody wants to meet for coffee after pushing papers or listening to a two-year-old all day. We have our books. We have our phones. We are tired.

The problem with this is obvious, we are not designed to be alone. Work, children, marriage, our aging parents and arm skin–all of those things require support. Collaboration. Emergency meetings and carpooling. Eventually we need to find a village.

It can start in grade school or high school or in those tender years at college when you’re acting dumb but they hold your hair back anyways. But sometimes it’s harder than that. Sometimes it’s at the gym or on a walking path after months of awkward book club meetings when the gaps between small talk make everyone a bit nauseated. Sometimes you have to try, and that’s the tricky part. The vulnerable part. The part where things get weird before they get good.

When Austin started med school four years ago, I thought I would raise my babies alone. Instead I found a group of women who became family. It wasn’t easy at first. There were many brunches and group texts and picnics in the park when I couldn’t tell if it was going to work. But then slowly we opened up to each other. We shared our dark parts and weird habits and cried about our jobs. We did what you do when you keep showing up, we fell in love.

A few months ago my friend Mo sent me an excerpt from Kelly Corrigan’s book, The Middle Place. An ode to women and friendship found in the epilogue. It got me good and I wanted to share it with you, too.

This is for The Birds and The Circle. For B, L, and S. C & E. For my sister and family.

This is for the women who take the time to invest in other women. Our villages as they ebb and flow.

We are in this together.

I turned 40 a few weeks ago. I tried (twice) to make a toast about friendship but both times, I blew it. I wanted to say something about my mom and her friends, who call themselves “The Pigeons.”

There were once at least a dozen “Pigeons” (I believe the name was a self-effacing twist on Hens) but in the past few years, they lost two of the greats, Robin Burch and Mary Maroney, to cancer. On the pigeons go, though, like women do, limping one minute, carrying someone the next. They started in the 60s, in suburban Philadelphia, with bridge and tennis and chardonnay (ok, vodka) and, over time, became something like a dedicated fleet, armed ships sailing together, weather be damned.

For me and women of my generation, it started with playdates, cutting carbs and meeting on Monday mornings in workout clothes to do awkward moves with large colorful balls. And I can see exactly where it’s heading.

We’ll water each other’s plants, pick up each other’s mail, take each other’s Christmas card photos. We’ll confer about jog bras and contractors and pediatricians. We’ll gossip about babysitters, teachers, neighbors, in laws. We’ll speculate about who had a shot of Botox, who cheats on their taxes, who cleans until midnight. We’ll implore each other to read this book or see this movie or listen to this song. We’ll persuade each other to bake, sell, recruit, fold, stuff, paint, clean and write checks for our favorite non-profits.

We’ll celebrate each other’s achievements –opening an exercise studio, a corner store, a jewelry business. We’ll celebrate our kids’ achievements – making the traveling team, singing in the choir, learning to use the potty or speak French or play the flute. We’ll borrow eggs, earrings, extra chairs, galvanized tubs for a barbeque. We’ll throw birthday parties for each other and stain the rugs and shatter the wine glasses and mark up new counters with the odd slice of lemon. We’ll worry about who seems down, who looks tired, whose drinking more and more. We’ll say things we wished we hadn’t and have to find a way to regain each other’s trust. Things will break, they always do. Many will be fixed.

We’ll fret over our children—too shy, too loud, too angry, too needy. We’ll brainstorm ways to help them become more resilient, patient, forgiving, light-hearted. We’ll protect them—fiercely—pulling little bodies from the deep end, double-latching windows, withholding car keys.

We’ll bury our mothers and our fathers—shuttling our children off for sleepovers, jumping on red eyes, telling each other stories that hurt to hear about gasping, agonal breaths, hospice nurses, scars and bruises and scabs and how skin papers shortly after a person passes. We will nod in agreement that it is as much an honor to witness a person come into the world as it is to watch a person leave it.

People will drift in and out. Book clubs will swell and thin. We’ll write someone off and they’ll reemerge later and we’ll remember both why we loved them and why we let them slip away but we’ll be softer and we’ll want them back, for nostalgia will get stronger.

We’ll admire each other for a fine crème brule, a promotion, a degree, a finished marathon. We’ll commiserate about commutes, layoffs, mortgage rates, bosses, unappreciated toys. We’ll confide in each other about feeling anxious or angry or uninteresting or uninspired or how many pieces of Halloween candy we accidentally ate from our kids’ bags. We’ll confess that our husbands don’t really listen to us or that we should be having more sex or that we yell at our kids every day. We’ll admit that we believe in God, Jesus Christ, Heaven and Hell, or that we don’t.

We’ll give up things together—caffeine, catalogs, Costco, social smoking. We’ll take up things too—morning walks, green tea, organic dairy, saying grace.

We’ll throw potlucks and take each other to lunch and give each other frames and soaps and bracelets. We’ll check each other’s heads for lice and examine new bumps and moles and listen to lists of symptoms. We’ll diagnose each other’s brown lawns, torn muscles, basement odors. We’ll teach other how to set a ring tone, make a slide show, download a movie.

We will call and say “I heard the news” and whatever the news is, we will come running, probably with food. We’ll insist on taking the kids, finding second opinions, lots of rest and the best surgeon. We will face diseases, many kinds, and will—temporarily—lose our hair, our figures and our minds.

Eventually, someone whose not supposed to die will, maybe one of us, maybe a husband, God forbid a child, and all this celebrating and sharing and confessing will make certain essential comforts possible. We’ll rally around and hold each other up and it won’t be nearly enough but it will help the time pass just a hair faster than it would have otherwise. We will wait patiently and lovingly for that first laugh after the loss. When it comes, and it will come, we will cry as we howl as we clutch as we circle. We will transcend, ladies. Because we did all this, in that worst moment, we will transcend.

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The End Of Preschool

May 20, 2015

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When Waylon started preschool last year, I pretended to be confident in our decision when really I was just another sociopath mom suppressing nervous gas and ugly crying in the school parking lot. It was so hard to send my first baby off into the world. It didn’t help that the first few weeks we had to go through the Orphan Annie routine at drop off. You know, the PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME sobs followed by murder screams and sad, Disney eyes. It was a whole thing.

Then one day, a miracle happened. He stopped crying! They tell you it will happen, but like so many “it gets better” promises in parenthood, it’s hard to believe until you see it with your own eyes. A year later, and I saw the whole thing. I watched him want to get dressed in the morning and ask to stay for lunch. I watched him get braver, grow taller, and be a friend to everyone. A few months in and he even stopped looking over his shoulder to say goodbye. It broke my heart in all the best ways.

We know teachers are sent from baby Jesus, but there is a special VIP spot in heaven for preschool teachers who send you texts saying “He is having fun” and “Thank you for trusting us with him.” I will cry about it until the day I die. Women helping women.

I know I’m not the first overly sentimental mom to send my first, precious, newborn spawn to preschool, but I will never forget this first year of school. The feelings in my gut and the tears on my face. It was the start of something. The beginning of the very long process of letting go.

It’s a funny thing, to be in charge of a life. We hold it like a robin’s egg even though it’s more like the bird itself; wild, independent, slowly slipping away.

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Waylon is saying goodbye to his best friend Ginger next week. A look back on their four years together. There’s just something about that first best friend.

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Happy Galentine’s Day!

February 13, 2015

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Hello! Happy Galentine’s Day!

What’s Galentine’s Day you ask?

Only the greatest day of the year.

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Every year on February 13th, Leslie Knope fans gather together with their girlfriends to celebrate friendship and eat all of the things. Even if you don’t watch Parks & Rec, it’s a great holiday to adopt just for the sake of chocolate covered fruit and margaritas.

This year I threw myself head first into the festivities because celebrating women is one of my very favorite things to do. Gift bag goodies included nail polish, candles, hand towels, magnets, pins, Galentine’s Day cards, and even a Galentine’s Day shirt.IMG_2002

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I read once that building a community around you is the best thing you can do for your health. I didn’t know how much this would be true until I had kids.

It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to raise a mother. Today I celebrate the women who have helped me be a better woman and mama. To the family and friends close and far away, and also to many of you. Your comments, emails, and hand-written letters have inspired me to be a more kind and thoughtful person.

From the bottom of my very happy, weepy heart– thank you.

Happy Galentine’s Day, friends. There is no better thing than women helping women.IMG_2737

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Celebrate women by supporting shops run by strong, creative female business leaders.

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Shirt –> Fourth Wave Apparel Twitter, Facebook, & Shop
Each of Fourth Wave’s designs are based on vignettes from women’s history and pay homage to courageous women who refused to know their place. Shop owners Noelle and Anna believe in honoring the legacy of women who insisted on their right to vote, own property, access education, ride a bicycle, wear pants, etc. by inspiring today’s generation of women to speak up, stand up, and shine. Everything they make is screenprinted by hand in Boise, Idaho and 5% of all profits are used to give back to other women through Women for Women International, an organization that supports women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities.

Towels –> Viva Sweet Love Facebook, Twitter, & Shop
After being a mosaic artist for nearly two decades, Amy Fancher longed to do something different. So in 2006, she started exploring screen printing and acrylic painting, beginning the journey to starting her own business. In her shop you’ll find a magical assortment of original illustrations that have been screen printed onto soft tee shirts, flour sack tea towels and napkins, messenger bags, his and hers pillow cases, cushion covers constructed from natural hemp and organic cotton, and more. And the arrow onesie? Yes please. Make sure to use coupon code “KATEJBAER” for 10% off the shop!

Cards –> Carly Reed Designs Instagram, Facebook, & Shop
Print designer Carly Reed is inspired by simple and beautiful things. From wedding invitations to everyday cards and stationery, she has everything you need to keep your paper needs classy and unique. In addition to the collections and custom options, her designs are also for sale at Minted and carlyreeddesigns.com. Make sure to also check out her stamps and t-shirts. One of everything, please!

Magnets –> Turtle’s Soup Instagram, Twitter, & Shop
Shop owner Melanie (and Christopher!)’s goal was to make eco friendly and totally awesome pop culture and original art products for all to enjoy. Lucky for them, they are succeeding while also going to school full time! I don’t think I’ve ever ordered something off off Etsy that has made me laugh harder. Uteruses before Duderuses forever. Check out their other magnets/pins for more happy mail ideas. 

 Candles –> HollyBeeez Instagram & Shop
Holly from HollyBeeez loves yoga, coffee, and creating. She especially loves making candles and specializes in bridal and baby shower candle gifts. She currently lives in a small town north of Pittsburgh with her husband, three teenagers, cats and dog. Use coupon code “love10″ for 10% off the shop, and make sure to also check out her garlands!

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PS: Treat yo self to a free wardrobe for a year. 1,200 dollars worth of White Plum clothing, for free, in your closet. It’s a no brainer. All you have to do is join their mailing list. Easy peasy. Giveaway runs from February 11th to the 22nd.

WP Free Wardobe Giveaway