How to Make Friends

How to Set A Monthly Friendship Goal

I asked the women of GirlFriendCircles.com last week what their friendship and connection goals were for the month of January and their answers were so inspiring that I thought I'd share a few of them with you just in case you want to set an intention, too! 

I've repeatedly found that those of us who are most able to move our desire for meaningful connection into actions we can take tend to feel more empowered, hopeful, and effective. I encourage you to join us and name an intention that you feel will lean you toward the frientimacy you ultimately want!  

Here are tips and examples from our members:

Keep the goal do-able!

  • "Setting the bar nice & easy for January. 1-2-3... 1 in-person, 2-calls, 3 notes." -- Linda
  • "It looks like a busy month for me but I'll call people if I can't meet up and even just a few quick "Hi how are you" texts would be good.  And then once my schedule clears a bit,  I'll plan some meet-ups." -- Katherine

Be specific.

  • "My January goal is to attend 4 social activities where I can make new contacts." -- Jennifer
  • "I am going to schedule two friends dates."-- Dana  
  • "I am going to make plans with at least 2 different people to grab coffee/a meal this month." -- Julianna

Hold a hopeful and open attitude: 

  • "Start saying yes to more things!"  Elizabeth
  • "I will attempt to reach out to potential female friends instead of presuming they aren't looking for new friendships." Jodi
  • "To be willing to share openly and authentically despite fear of attack or rejection." -- Shelly
  • "I am going to be less guarded with the moms of the students I teach." -- Cynthia 
  • "I'm going to remind myself that connection is the opposite of loneliness. Sometimes a conversation on the phone with a friend can improve my whole day! Trying to consciously stay in contact with friends is important to me and a focus point this month." -- Candice

Choose to Take Charge of your Connection

  • "I'm starting a book club! Yesterday I emailed more than a dozen friends from all over my city (I have lots of individual friends I don't see very often) to be a part of it and have already had a bunch say they're in. Now I might have to figure out how to manage if there are too many people." -- Esther
  • "Continue to take initiative to invite people to get together - with current friends, as well as organizing in-person social support groups for a couple of illness groups I'm part of." -- Elizabeth
  • "I can sign up for an art class and go to the sessions to meet women who enjoy creative making, ceramics, and other crafts. I can host a potluck of crafting." -- Sharon  

Value the Long-Term Growth, Skills Training, and Practice!

  • "I started attending Toastmasters as a guest this week. I can work on improving my communication skills." -- Denise
  • "To express more of my friendship needs to my friends." -- Faith 
  • "Keep up with the Year of Frientimacy course and take one action step suggested in the book for January." -- T.

What a list!!  If you haven't yet named your goal-- it's not too late to do so! Name one for yourself!  Share it in the comments or join GirlFriendCircles.com (it's free!) and add it to our growing list! 

Speaking of GFC-- here are a couple things we have going on in our friendship world this month in case any of them would serve you in your goal!

  1. Join GirlFriendCircles.com for FREE to meet women near you and to stay encouraged in your friendships all year long!
  2. Join our "2018: Year of Frientimacy" --a 13 week program where you read Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness and evaluate all your relationships and put together a strategic plan for better friendships!
  3. Attend Shasta's New Year's Retreat in Santa Cruz, CA Jan 26-28, 2018
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May we all feel inspired to do one thing this month that we feel will strengthen our friendships!

xoxo

When You're The Only One Making Time for Friendship

Dear Shasta,

I’ve been binge-reading your blog and very happy I discovered it. I think what you are saying mostly makes a lot of sense, but I’m struggling with something: It is so very hard to meet people who are open to new friendships. On the rare instances that I find people who seem like they are, it’s almost impossible to find people who have the *time* to get together regularly. It’s hard to move friends down the pipeline, so to speak. Everyone seems just so very busy.  I can’t find anyone to say yes regularly enough to build meaningful friendships. Heck, it’s hard to get anyone to say yes at all. What do you suggest in situations like these?

Dearest Willing to Make the Time:

First, kudos to you and your awareness, intention, and willingness to foster friendships!  It's awesome and it WILL serve your life.  I promise!  Guard that commitment-- don't let others who are less aware steal it; don't let anyone saying no rob you of it; and certainly don't let apathy drain it from you.  What you know to be true: that friendships are worth the time, will benefit YOUR life.  Regardless of the outcome or of anyone's responses-- you know the truth and it will bless you.  Stay with it.

In fact it's your super power!  Not everyone knows they have it.  You're lucky you do.  SO many women are lonely (and the busier she is often means the lonelier she can feel!) and they don't have the energy, know-how, or motivation to change it-- but you do!  The ability to initiate repeatedly is a super power that will ensure you build meaningful friendships.

What Won't Work

Let's just be clear that what you secretly hope for isn't going to work:

  • Their schedules aren't just going to open up.  If I could wave a magic wand for you, I would, but it doesn't work.  So we can't wait for them to "not be busy."
  • Just because you initiated last time doesn't mean it's their turn.  A thousand potential relationships die every day because someone believes this myth.
  • Taking their silence, their no's, or their forgetfulness personally will never lead to friendship.  And the good news is that in the early stages of friendship-- we don't need to take these as a sign that the person isn't good friend material. No one can make everyone a priority in their schedules.  As your time together (even if it's at your initiation every time) becomes more meaningful, so will it get easier for her to commit her time to it.
  • Resenting them for not "stepping up." You're not initiating for their sake, but for yours! It's not a gift to them, but to yourself! So you don't ever need to resent them for not reciprocating-- this is your goal and need so you just keep leaning into friendships... and you will get what you crave.
  • Focusing all your energy on 1-2 people isn't enough.  Cast a net, not a fishing line, and be open to who might surprise you as a great friend down the road!

    Shasta and her friends

Ideas to Try for Building Friendships with Busy People

Instead of hand picking a couple of people and casually asking them to do something "sometime" and then hoping that *poof* a friendship will develop from that-- what we need to do is try everything and anything that will help us connect with as many women so we can eventually see who is responding with their occasional yes:

  • Extend an invitation to everyone you know for a standing girls night every Tuesday and be happier with the few who show up each week than disappointed with the many who don't.  But keep inviting the whole group each week (and tell them to bring a friend with them if you want more there!) and you'll see that those who show up most often will feel most close by Christmas!
  • Start a 4-week book club (long enough commitment to develop some friendships, but short enough for no one to feel stuck) as the excuse to gather everyone together. (My first book has a free 4-week guide, is written to help the group get to know each other, and has the extra bonus of reminding everyone how important consistent time is together!)
  • Ask for a commitment from a friend who says no. If she can't make the time we suggest, then follow it up with a "When works best for you?  Give me a date or two and I'll do everything I can on my end to make it work." Don't let the ball drop.
  • Build a relationship with unscheduled time. She's too busy to commit? Then just make a note to randomly call her every so often-- call her the first time with a follow-up reason: "Just wanted to call you real quick and hear how x went!" Another time call her "I'm just on my lunch break so only have a few minutes but was thinking of you and wanted to just catch up and hear how x is going!" Another time: "Hi! Hopefully this will just take a few moments but I had a question for you..."  Keep the calls short, ask a specific question to get the conversation started, and let her know you're thinking of her.  This does facilitate bonding and can ultimately make get-togethers more meaningful.
  • Try for spontaneous.  I've found that a lot of my friends feel overwhelmed with their schedule when they are looking at their calendars a week or two out, but that my odds go up if I am willing to try for day-of opportunities every so often. Text her-- "Hey any chance you're up for a 30 minute walk after work tonight?  I'm feeling the need for some fresh air and friendship!"  Or, "Hey, I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow near your office-- any chance we can sneak away for a bite to eat before or after my appointment?"  Or, "I know this is so last-minute... but just thought I'd try to see if there was any chance we could just stick our kids in front of a movie tonight for 45 minutes while we drink wine in the kitchen? Ha! You in?"
  • Invite on social media.  We may not want to post "I need friends.  Help!" but we can certainly post to our local friends: "I want to do x next week, anyone up for joining me?" Or "I'm tired of my walking route and am looking for someone who will take me on theirs! Ha! I'll drive to you!" Or "I'm thinking of having a decorating cookie party this holiday season-- who wants to come?" This helps expose you to possible friends who may not be on your radar, helps you see who might make the time, and shows you as an open and fun person who values friendships and enjoys life.

Do you see the patterns in those ideas?  Initiation With Many + Repeat As Often As Possible, with a Sprinkle of Fun and Lightheartedness = You Soon Having Friends.

The more we can call you "Making the Time" the sooner we can call you "The Girl With Healthy Friendships!"

Good luck, much love, and thank you for being a woman who prioritizes friendship!

Shasta

Update on 11/5: For more on this subject, in part inspired by some of the comments from this post, see the follow-up post: "If my friend really liked me then she'd initiate more..."

Ten Steps to Starting Friendships

I've been consumed with researching and developing content for my next book, Frientimacy (so cannot wait to share with you what I'm putting together to help us bridge the gap between the intimacy we have and the intimacy we need and want!) which will come out, most likely in the Spring of 2016. But as I've been focused on what it means to deepen friendships--really, really, really, deepen them-- it reminded me today that I also need to keep talking about how to start friendships!  If you're in a place where you need to be gathering up people to befriend, then here's a quick list of my best advice for creating new friendships!

The Ten Steps to Starting Friendships:580791_10151421238572435_941490495_n

  1. Own the Opportunity: Value friendship enough to do something about it! Be proud of yourself that you're responding to your truth that you were made for more connecting!
  2. Use Your Resources: Offer to help someone local host a dinner party with their friends. E-mail your friends from across the country and ask them if they know any fun women in your area they can connect you with since you're new! Look through your friends' local friends on Facebook and introduce yourself. Follow locals on Twitter and see what events they're inviting people to attend. (For more ideas, read chapter 5 of my book!)
  3. Practice Friendliness: Even if you're shy, you simply have to decide what places feel authentic for you to be practicing friendliness: association meetings, lectures, networking events, the dog park, church, poetry readings, cafes, classes, and so on.
  4. Affirm Her: No need to talk about the weather! Start conversations with the things you noticed about them: their hair, their outfit, their confidence, their laugh. We like people who like us.
  5. Invite: Just making small talk with someone in the locker room after yoga is hardly the same as making a friend. As you meet women that you want to get to know better, you have to take the friendly chat to the next level. Try this: "Want to get a drink after class sometime next week?"
  6. Be Specific about your Availability: The disease of "we should get together sometime" can ruin the best of potential BFFs. Instead, try, "I'm usually available for happy hour most nights or for Sunday morning brunches. What works best for you?"
  7. Ask Personal Questions: By personal, I don't mean private, but make sure conversation is about the two of you. Don't risk an entire evening wasted on celebrity gossip, the latest movies, and hairstyles-gone-bad. These subjects feel temporarily bonding, but you haven't shared yourself. Ask her why she appreciates where she works, what she's got coming up that matters to her, what she loves to do in your new city, or what her highlights have been in the last few weeks.
  8. Share the Positive: It's a proven fact that we want friends to improve our happiness and health, not to bring us down. We haven't earned that right yet to cry on each other’s shoulders. For now we will be warm, positive, and open-minded—someone she wants to spend more time with.
  9. Follow Up. If it were a new romantic relationship, we'd be less than thrilled if he didn't call for a week after our first date. Give the same respect to the women you connect with by writing an e-mail or text of thanks, expressing interest in getting to know her better.
  10. Follow Up If it were for work or romance, we’d suggest the very next opening on our calendar when we could pull off another rendezvous! Why delay for friendship? Let's just say it takes 6-10 times of connecting with someone before we feel "close" to them. Why spread those out over a year if you can make a friend in two months of weekly get-togethers? Momentum helps the bond—keep getting together as frequently as possible.

Hopefully this list helps inspire you to be intentional as you're meeting people and serves to remind you that waaaay more important than simply meeting people is how you treat the people you're meeting and how you're following up with them.  Most of us actually meet enough people, we're just not thinking of them as potential friends and doing something about it!

I'd encourage you to pick the step that is hardest for you-- step #1 of actually admitting the need?  Step #5 of initiating some time together? Step #8 of focusing on adding value and joy to your time together? Step #10 of repeating the get-togethers a few more times and trusting that with each time your friendship will feel better?-- and focusing on practicing that one!

Are you willing to share with us in the comment section which step you find most challenging? :)

This list is an excerpt from my book Friendships Don't Just Happen: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends, found on page 125.

I Believe in Making Friendships Happen

I believe in making friendships happen. To me, that means:  I will be brave.

Brave enough to believe, to hope, and to admit that I want meaningful friendships that support my life.

Betsy from Dallas believes in making friendships happen!  :)

Brave enough that I can acknowledge when I'm lonely and see that as an invitation, not an indictment.

Brave enough to look in the mirror and say, "I am worthy and capable of creating intimate friendships."

Brave enough to initiate.  And then to do it again.  And then to not take it personally when she can't, or won't, or doesn't.

Bravery means showing up when it's scary because we believe in something that matters more.  And I do.  I believe in making friendships happen.

To me, that means: I will foster my joy.

I want my joy to first sustain me.  I will foster a joy in my life by growing, seeking, creating, playing, learning, praying, and laughing.

In fact, I want to laugh more.  God, help me to laugh more.

GirlFriendCircles t-shirt

But I also want-- deeply want-- my joy to nourish others. That when they leave my presence they feel more hopeful about their lives, more loved for who they are, and more joyful for what we experienced together.  May my quiet joy remind me to show up with love to give, rather than with attention to steal.

Because I believe that what you seek is what you find.

And I want to find joy.  So may I remember to look for joy in my relationships.

I believe in making friendships happen.

 

Which means acknowledging that they don't just happen.

I swallow bravely, and then I whisper what I know is truth: "I make them happen."

They don't happen to me.

Nor would I want them to...I am not a victim in this process. No.

I am a powerful, capable, strong, loving person who creates my destiny, invites community, and facilitates the relationships I crave.

Now instead of a whisper, I speak with volume, my voice getting stronger in my conviction.

I will be a creator, a maker, a sustainer of that which matters to me.

And friendships really matter.  Romance isn't enough to capture all the laughter, joy, and memories I want to share.

I will courageously set aside time for friendships.

Courageous because it means no longer falling for the scarcity myth, pretending that I don't have enough time.  For I do.

I have all the time in the world; it's mine to spend, it's mine to savor, it's mine to prioritize, it's mine to invest in. And I choose to invest in people, and moments, and laughter, and honesty.

I will own the fact that if I want relationships then I must initiate.

And then do it again.  And then not take it personally when she can't, or won't, or doesn't.

I will intentionally ask questions.  And listen to the story she weaves.  Not listening

GirlFriendCircles t-shirt

just until it triggers another story for me to tell.  Not listening while judging her for her choices.  Not listening to look for differences between us.  Just listening with a curiosity; seeing her as another wonder in this world.

Oh and I will share... and I'll practice doing it with vulnerability.  I say practice, because few of us do so with ease.  But I will practice showing up with less pretense, less need to impress, less agenda, less PR-mode, less worried about how I am coming across, less committed to an image.

It's scary... but that's the kind of friendships I want to make happen; so I know it's the kind of person I need to be.

I believe in making friendships happen.

And this girl, this woman, this queen-of-my-heart, lover-of-life, powerful and sacred vessel-- yes, I am all that more... and I am going to make my friendships happen.

A-men.  And it is so.

 

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This cute t-shirt is available at www.ConnectedGifts.com

If you're a member of GirlFriendCircles.com then that means you also believe in making your friendships happen!  YAY!  Take a step today to remind yourself you believe this-- call someone, RSVP to a ConnectingCircle, send a friendly email to another woman in our community-- let's make our friendships happen!

Want a t-shirt?  You can get it for free if you're an active member of GirlFriendCircles or you can buy one here at www.ConnectedGifts.com.  Welcome to the movement!  xoxo

Making New Friends in a New City, by Christie Mims

Note from Shasta: I've been writing so many guest blogs to celebrate my new book "Friendships Don't Just Happen!" that I decided I may need to have a few women guest blog for me until I have more words to share!  :)  Soon, I'm goingto start blogging about any questions you have as you read the book, concepts you wish I would unpack more, or anything you wished I would have highlighted-- post those questions on our Facebook page and I'll answer them here! For now, this is Christie Mims-- a brand new mover-and-shaker here in the San Francisco area. (Her bio is at the end.) Christie Mims

 

Making New Friends in a New City, by Christie Mims

I like to think of myself as a fairly cool person who is easy to get to know. I shower regularly, I smile often, I like dogs (I distrust people who don’t like dogs), and I have a passionate love for 1981 (3?) killer movie: “Staying Alive.” There may have only been about five actual pages of dialogue, but boy do the large hair and hand gestures make up for it. John Travolta, you have my endless thanks.

I also love my friends.  Friendship, for a long time, has been one of my most important life values. My friends are like my family. They are my sanity, and the people who give me joy. I try to write, reach out, communicate, drink, and play with my friends as often as possible. And even when they are scattered all over the world,

I will travel to see them when I can. They matter to me.

So, when I decided on a bit of a whim to uproot my revolutionary Career Coaching business from DC to San Francisco, I thought I would be fine.  My business is global, so it would be easy, right?

Sure, a lot of my friends were in DC, “but - I’ve got friends all over the world!” I thought to myself jauntily as I packed up my car, fresh from a trip to Germany to see some of said friends.

“I’ll be fine!” I said as I drove across country with my mom “I’ve got two amazing friends already in SF, plus all the people I’m sure I’ll meet. It’ll be great!”

“I’m good at staying in touch over email!” I said as I unpacked my stuff, alone in my new apartment for the first time.

“I’ll hang out with my friends here all the time!” I thought, as I sat around wondering what to do with myself...knowing that one of my friends was a new mom, and the other was deep in the throes of an all-consuming start-up.

Making New Friends isn't as Easy as it Sounds

And then it hit me.

I was alone in a new city, far from home and in an inconvenient time zone.  When I was lonely at night in my new home, my east coast friends were fast asleep (to say nothing of the Europeans).  And my friends here, while AMAZING, are pretty busy and not that close to me in terms of location. The bay area is bigger than I realized (I’m really terrible with geography...I blame the US school system. Also, who needs algebra? Really?).

The truth is that it was awful.

Weekends were the worst - I had full days stretching in front of me with nothing but time, and no one to share that time with.  And, I was also working hard on my business, stretching out of my comfort zone, building up my visibility in San Francisco, and learning about the city and the culture.  It was exhausting, and at the end of the day, I just wanted to be with someone who knew me. Who would come over for a glass of wine and watch bad tv and talk about boys or shoes.

I was lonely.

I was sad.

And I felt so lost.

But I Made My Friendships Happen!

So I did what I know how to do.  I networked (I’m from DC, it’s what we do). At events with women.  Hoping that maybe I would meet someone cool, and at minimum I would make business connections.  I reached out.  I introduced myself awkwardly and invited people to lunch or coffee.

I stalked some people over email if I thought we would hit it off.

I signed myself up for Shasta’s Friendship Accelerator (Note from Shasta: see below for description of these workshops!), hoping that I would at least kill some time on a lonely Saturday, and thinking it would probably teach me something interesting. I told myself I needed to smile a lot and enjoy the city that I chose.

And I kept doing it.

It was not easy.  Most of the time, especially in the beginning, it wasn’t even particularly fun.

But I was open to it.  And cognizant of the fact that friendship has to start somewhere - and I needed to keep pushing myself out there so I would go from random coffees to full on friends.  Friendship, as Shasta sagely says, is based on consistency and intimacy.  You need to have both to have close friends.

So I threw myself into weekly dinners with my accelerator group.

I set up regular card nights with old and new friends (trying to integrate groups!).

I asked friends to introduce me to their friends in the area.

I joined new meetups and  organizations such as A Band of Wives (abusing google search in my attempts to find all possibilities).

And I kept going back.

I’ve been in the Bay Area now for roughly four months.  My social life, which felt a little like a broken puzzle when I first arrived, is now starting to snap into focus.

I’ve got friends, and plans, and some consistency with the friends and plans in my life. It matters. I remember when I had a week in the fall where I spent time with old and new friends almost every night, and at the end of it I felt like a new person.  It honestly impacted my health, and made making friends here an even bigger priority in my life.

I feel like I finally made it...and I’m so grateful to be building a life.

I know how difficult it is to just land, so, if you are new to the city - shoot me an email, I’m happy to have a glass of wine and say hello!  And if you are in another city, spend some time to get out there and connect with interesting new people.  Most importantly don’t give up - you’ll get there.  I did (and if I did, anyone can do it. I mean, I love Stayin’ Alive, so that is one strike against me :))!

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About Christie:  Christie holds a BA from the University of Virginia, a MA from the University of Kent, Brussels School of International Studies, and is a certified mediator and certified professional coach. Feeling stuck in your job and want free concrete ways to get UNstuck? Get Christie’s free kit here at The Revolutionary Club! And see what else she’s doing that is unprecedented over here!

About Friendship Accelerators: I (Shasta) facilitate Friendship Accelerators which are small groups of  women that I've matched for potential friendship who commit to attend seven hours of a friendship-workshop and group-bonding day, followed by 4 weekly get-togethers as a group. In one month, these groups experience more bonding than what most of us can do over a year with women we've met. They've been fabulously successful with the majority of women saying the value of the workshop alone was worth it, but how thrilled they are that nearly 80% of the groups are still meeting months after their commitment ended!  This is by far the most effective way I've yet seen to introduce women to each other and give them the best chance ever to foster local friendships that matter. I'm considering possible Accelerators in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle the coming months-- but will decide bases on where I have the most interest so sign up here to indicate your interest in being notified if I host a Friendship Accelerator near you!

 

"Friendships Don't Just Happen!" is Available for Purchase!

Happy February 5! Book Tour: Hey GirlFriends! I decided on my way to LA to record a short video for you, my community. If you can't join me for one of my book readings in LA, NYC, or CHI this week then I read a bit to you in this video.  :)

Buy on Amazon: Today is the BEST day to buy your copy of the book on Amazon Buy a copy today and send your receipt dated 2/5/13 to Maci at Service@GirlFriendCircles.com and she'll send you for FREE the brand-spankin' new 21 Day Workbook that I wrote to go along with the book.

In my opinion, this book would make for an incredible Valentines Day gift to a few girlfriends where you could send a note that says, "Thanks for helping make our friendship happen!  Love you!"It's also great for our mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts-- so help spread the friendship love and buy a couple gift books, too!

Post a Photo to Win! When your book arrives, don't forget to take a picture to post it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn to win an iPad!  Contest rules here.

Help Spread the Word: And last, but not least, if you can post this on Facebook, too then I'd be ever grateful:

Finally Shasta Nelson's book, "Friendships Don't Just Happen!" comes out today!  I just ordered my copy.  Can't wait to read it.  Great gift idea: http://tinyurl.com/ShastasFriendshipBook

To all the friendships we're making happen in our lives and others,

Thank you!!!!

Shasta

p.s.  Here's the Amazon link one more time: http://tinyurl.com/ShastasFriendshipBook.

New Friendship Making in NYC: Two Real Stories

Note from Shasta: This week's blog highlights two short pieces from actual members of GirlFriendCircles.com in New York City.  They have hosted events on our calendar and started many new friendships, including with each other. I asked them both if they would share a bit of their experience for you.... My Experience With GirlFriendCircles.com

This post is written by Laurie Wicksman, an active member of GirlFriendCircles.com.

Wow, I met Shasta Nelson (who's a knockout by the way) at a Channel 7 news interview, along with Kelly (aka. Nashville) and Michelle.  Besides her successful career as a life coach, Shasta is responsible for connecting me and thousands of others with some talented and sincere women, such as Michelle (a PHD student), Laurence (a French Professor) and Larice (Coordinator at Prominent Broadcast Cable Company).  Unlike, Kelly and Michelle, I wasn't starting over in a new city.  I longed for quality friends, not simply the people I was friends with purely because we had a shared history.  My boyfriend, Tim, and I had gotten "pre-engaged" for our four year anniversary in September.  At last, I had found love.  Now, I needed a real friend.

Michelle, Kelly and I originally met at the first event I had attended.  Although my palms were sweaty and I was nervous, it opened doors to a whole new world.  Being that my fiance, Tim (my mad scientist), is away quite often at MIT, he suggested that I throw an event of my own.  As mentioned on my GirlFriendCircles.com profile, Max Brenner's is a NYC hot spot.  He asked me, "What do women love?"  That was obvious.  "Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate."

Using her great social and organizational skills, Michelle brought a successful turnout of an event to life, at my favorite restaurant. Thanks Michelle, for making it happen!  For those of you who don't know, Max Brenner's specializes in chocolate dishes, including cocktails.  So of course, as I had said to my fiance earlier, nothing comes between a girl and her love for chocolate.  There was nothing more thrilling for me than seeing thirteen women from very diverse backgrounds come together, sharing two common interests: dessert and finding friendship. I finally felt like I was part of something fun and exciting!

At the end of the day, however, what truly matters isn't who did or did not come to the party and why.  Nor is it, marital status, religion, or income level that is relevant.  But, meaningful relationships are inspiring one another to be the very best that we can be and not letting each other down.   That's what friendship means to me.

Laurence, a lovely woman of French extraction, attended my Serendipity event as well, and loved both events!  These are two amazing women that I've met through GFC, and hope to stay in touch with for a long time.  This was just the tip of the iceberg, however.  GFC has opened the door to countless other possibilities and friends for me.

Most importantly for me, it's about sharing those life experiences, that although alienating and painful, ultimately, have changed my life.  What I've learned from GFC is that we're not alone in our unique situation.  Whether you've lost a loved one or suffer from chronic pain, like myself, there is someone out there who has gone through it too.  Somehow, you meet that person who brings you out of the isolation to simply let you know that you're not alone in your physical or mental challenges.  They can provide you the strength to go forward.  I am reminded of a quote from my friend Larice, who inspires me everyday by overcoming obstacles, achieving success and persevering in her own life.  “The deeper your scars, the more room there is to fill them up with love.  Don’t hate your scars, appreciate their depth.”

What’s next in the chapter of life?  I don’t know but, GFC has certainly helped me along.  How many of us have a true friend?  "A diamond in the rough" is priceless and difficult to come by.  You just have to keep looking and you'll get lucky.  I did.  Thanks, GFC!  I'll never forget you!

Note from Shasta: It was a privilege to meet you Laurie! I'll never forget that you brought me a bag of yummy snacks (including chocolate!) while I was traveling-- your heart is made of gold. Thanks for sharing.

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A Year After GirlFriendCircles, I Have Real Friends

This post is written by Michelle Scott, an active member of GirlFriendCircles.com.

Last year was the most challenging year of my life for a number of reasons. I moved from the Midwest to New York City to live with my husband, who had already been living and working there for two years. I moved away from a home and life we had built together. I left a fulfilling job in which I felt valued and needed. I left wonderful neighbors, long-term friends, and family. I knew life in the big city would be different. I knew selling and giving away the majority of our possessions in order to live in a small, furnished NYC apartment would be quite an experience in surrendering and adapting. I knew making new friends would be a critical part of enjoying my new life in this new city.

One surprise was my first-ever challenge in finding a job. With a graduate degree and over halfway through a PhD program, I thought landing a job would be a cinch. Enter the importance of encouraging friends. When I preferred not to express my frustrations to my husband, I could seek the advice, comfort, and encouragement of friends. They helped with networking and shared stories of how they and their friends had struggled and succeeded in the Big Apple. It was a camaraderie that I did not expect. While my friends “back home” were encouraging, there is something unique about leaning on those who live and strive in this city that never sleeps.

Almost a year after the move, I am working various jobs, nearing the finish line of my education, and am better settled in New York. I now have several circles of friends I can call on to meet for coffee, share a laugh, or ask for prayer or advice. Unless you have lived in New York City, especially Manhattan, you cannot understand the pull for and limitation of time. As a student, working multiple jobs, volunteering and attempting to maintain friendships can be challenging. How does one find enough time and energy for everything that is important?

My main goal this year is to be more generous with my time and my heart. I believe Woody Allen is credited for saying “90% of life is just showing up.” While showing up is extremely important, it is not always enough. I need to be able to give of myself to others. It is possible to show up and still be stingy with our time. It might come through with checking our watches or phones, giving the impression that something or someone else holds a priority over the current activity or person with whom we are engaged.

A secondary goal for this year is to become more organized. Glancing through the 2012 IKEA catalog, I came across a small quote: “Fika (fee-Ka) is something all Swedes love to do. Simply put it means grab a friend, some coffee or tea, and something sweet to nibble on.” This little quote jumped out at me in the midst of the kitchen section. I’ve never been to Sweden, but I think this is what we long for: joining a friend for coffee, a sweet, and a time of togetherness. No matter your challenges or what you hope to achieve this year, let’s join together in our intentionality to show up for our friends and treat them and ourselves to the joys of great friendship.

Note from Shasta:  Michelle-- thank you for being a Connector in New York City, a woman who joined and immediately started scheduling events and reaching out to other members. Thank you for helping foster friendships right where you landed.  Best to you in your goals for the upcoming year!

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If you aren't yet a member of GirlFriendCircles.com we invite you to join! And if you already are-- I hope you'll go RSVP for an event (even if you're nervous like Laurie admitted she was) or that you'll jump in and host an event like Michelle did!

Top Ten Friendship Articles of 2011

In the spirit of celebrating another year lived and shared, I'm doing my first-ever Top Ten list. Here are the most read, popular blog posts from the last year: 1.   The Mistake that Cost me a New Friendship

This post re-proves that we all learn to love from the mistakes of others, mine included. It's a lesson I still hold in my memory bank--how easy it is to not initiate from a place of personal insecurity.

2.  To the Oprah-Haters and Other Women Who Devalue

This posting inspired lots of comments as we all wrestled with our temptation to devalue others, hoping it makes us feel better about ourselves.  I come back to this theme often-- trying to encourage us all to cheer for other women, that we might feel it for ourselves, too!

3.  Today is National Best Friend Day: How to Make a BFF

I share my Frientimacy Triangle with hopes of reminding everyone that Frientimacy (friendship intimacy) has to be developed, not discovered.

4.  5 Stages of a Friendship

We have a lot of language and understanding when it comes to the various stages of dating someone (i.e. the difference between "going on a date" vs. "we're dating"), but we forget that a friendship has stages too!  Here I describe the five--from curiosity to frientimacy-- I think are most helpful.

5.  Admitting We Need Friends

It's easy to be in denial about our need for friends-- too much pain and stigma in whispering the truth sometimes.  But hard to really do anything about it if you don't start with the first step: admitting the need!

6.  Nothing Kills a Potential Friendship Faster

A romantic relationship would never get off the ground if the two of you went out for a date, then ended the evening saying “That was fun… we should do it again next month.” And yet we do that with potential friends all the time!  Give the gift of momentum to your friendships!

7.  Used-to-be-Friends or Still Friends?

This one struck a raw nerve with many of you.  Just because we have had good friends over the years that we could call if we needed to, doesn't mean we have the good friends around us that we really need and want.

8.  Friendship Challenges that Come With Age

This post validates that indeed every decade brings its own challenges to our friend-making career. When I started GirlFriendCircles.com (my women's friendship matching site) three years ago I assumed it would be most popular with those in their 20's and 30's.  Who knew that the women who would love it the most would be our mothers and grandmothers? No matter our age-- we need to keep replenishing our circle of friends!

9.  The Flywheel of Friendship

The toughest part of friendship is that we all crave the BFF who just knows us and makes it easy to connect, but we hate that there is a long road to that comfortableness!  This post will inspire and motivate you to keep putting in the work now.  It does pay-off and get easier!

10.  It's Hard to Maintain Friendships Through Stress & Change

It's so easy to withdraw from people when we're tired and stressed.  These are some of the reasons it's hard for me to engage, and some of the ways I do it because I know it's good for me.

* And a bonus one!  This one was my personal favorite: My Prayer: Who I Want To Be

A huge thanks to all my GirlFriendCircles.com members, readers of my blog, and comment-ers who have shared the journey!

May we continue in 2012 to honor all that is right with friendship, committing ourselves regularly to the practices of healthy personal development and relationship joy.

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I'd be honored to have you share this list on Twitter or Facebook:

Top 10 posts of 2011 from Shasta's Friendship Blog re: personal growth & relationship health by @girlfrndcircles.  http://wp.me/p1n4Bw-7l

New to the Area: No Friends Yet, by Katrina Emery

Note from Shasta:  This is a guest blog from... (drum roll please).... my little sister, Katrina Emery! She's a fabulously talented writer (see her blog link in the bio at the end) and her experiences going from having tons of friends in Portland to knowing no one after a recent move overseas are feelings we all know well!

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In April this year, my husband was accepted to study at the University of Amsterdam in Netherlands, a long way from our hometown of Portland, Oregon, USA. We packed up and arrived here in August, quickly falling in love with this city of canals, looping bridges, water, and bikes.

Jesse and I have been here for two months now, and I can sputter a sentence out in Dutch, find my way without a map, rattle off my favorite cafes, and giggle if someone confuses a coffeeshop for a cafe (coffeeshops serve the stuff you don't tell your boss you tried). I've developed a taste for gouda and Dutch gin. I've almost mastered the graceful bike dismount. I judge tourists that stand in the middle of the bike path.

I haven't made any good friends.

Shasta likes to point out the health risks of being lonely and not having local friends, and while she means for it to motivate us, usually it just scares me. Great. I can't speak the language and I'm going to die young. It's a lot of pressure! We're only here for a year, and we're already two months in. That leaves only 10 months to find a friend, get to know her, have the time of our lives, and cement best friend status before I leave next summer. Ideally, she would have family in Sweden and invite me over for a Scandinavian Christmas celebration where we would eat homemade food, drink mulled wine, learn to say "cheers," laugh, knit big sweaters, and have that long happy movie-montage moment. I've got it all planned out.

While walking around a few weeks ago, I saw a girl that seemed nice. She was sitting on the steps in the sun, reading. Possibly Swedish. I went through the scenario in my mind:  "I see you're reading. I like to read. May I sit by you? And could we be friends?"

I kept walking. Sweden for Christmas seemed a bit further away.

Another option was a girl I'd met in Portland, who, of all things, was also moving to Amsterdam so her husband could study. It was meant to be, I knew it. When we arrived and felt settled, I sent her an email....and never heard back. "Maybe she didn't see the email. Maybe she's just busy right now. Maybe she's preparing a surprise party for me," I told myself, thinking about the likelihood of pinatas at the party. Then my husband said, "Maybe she's just not that into you." Oh. Right.

Not having friends just doesn't fit in my plan of being here. I'm here to create solid friendships with people who live all over Europe, thus ensuring free places to stay and awesome company for all my future travels. And I've got those all planned out, too, along with my weekly meals and what restaurants I'd like to try in town. A friendship is just one more thing that fits into that plan, right? Not so far. And imagining it hasn't helped yet.

So instead of dreaming, I'm trying to relax. I'm trying to stop counting down the months, worrying about the health risks of being lonely, and instead enjoy my time here, the people and friends I do have, and all those Belgian beers that I get to try. While I do that, I'm trying to smile, be friendly, and talk to people without worrying about what they think of my mono-language upbringing.

Instead of sitting at home planning, I'll get out there more. I'll rely on time, happy coincidences, repeated invitations, and slightly lower expectations. Maybe I won't find a best friend, but I could find someone who'll show me the best Indonesian restaurant in town, or help improve my Dutch vocabulary, or admire Van Gogh paintings with me. And those are the things, amazingly, that are slowly happening in between the time I spend planning.

Just yesterday as Jesse and I were sitting in a cafe, our table-neighbors heard us speaking English and struck up a conversation. They're from Montreal, and visit Amsterdam every year. We're going out for a drink with them later in the week.

And two weeks ago, I forced myself to go to an expat hiking group. I had almost backed out due to nerves and feeling shy, but it turned out to be a beautiful day, and I met a lovely couple from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Which is pretty close to Sweden.

Not that I'm planning or anything.

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Katrina Emery enjoys writing, traveling, cooking, sewing, and riding her bike. Currently she is doing all those things, Dutch-style, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. You can find her musings on her blog at The Penny Farthing.

Last Week to Sign Up for the August "Assess & Attract Friendship" Journey!

This has been an eye-opening experience for most participants since so few of us ever actually have been taught much about friendship! Whatever was modeled to us or was part of our own experience tends to be all we know. Sign up for this 1-month tele-class to actually better understand what friendship is, how it's defined, what types of friends there are, what type you are, and how to create more meaningful community in your life!

Enter Discount Code "Blog" for $10 off!

Details and Sign-up: http://augustfriends.eventbrite.com/

 

8/1/11 UPDATE:  The next one will be in September for Friendship Month!  Send me your email or leave a comment here if you want to be notified of when the details are available.

How Annoying People Can Grow Me

Call the Holy Spirit your still small voice, your intuition, your wisdom, your highest self, your conscience, your place of peace, or whatever it is that guides you, but don't miss the profundity of this upcoming statement.  Marianne Williamson, in her bestseller book, A Return to Love reminds us that we are not centered on what matters if the actions of others continue to dictate how we feel and show up.

"We're not aligned with the Holy Spirit until people can behave in any way they choose to, and our inner peace isn't shaken."

That's the kind of statement that our heads can agree with, but is simply so hard to practice, isn't it?

In our day-to-day lives, it is far more tempting to fall for the deceptive thought that others determine our mood, that circumstances dictate our peace, and that the behaviors around us require our reaction.  But that would be a victim mindset, a belief that leaves us feeling as though we are at the mercy of others, dependent on their whims. It's a defeating belief to feel we can't find peace until everyone, and everything, is fixed to our liking. Which is why our peace can be so hard to come by if it relies on our bosses, our kids, our romantic partners, our colleagues, our friends, and our in-laws all being in peace first!

Hard to Hold Inner Peace

Applying that statement to my own life, asking myself "where do I sometimes give away my peace because of others?" I found a few whispered answers.

  • Moods of Others: My husband and I work in the same office in our house which can create a fabulous synergy most of the time.... but it also means that we're at risk of stepping under each others black clouds.  Sometimes when our wireless modem takes him offline, I feel the stress that he expresses.  I can't fix it and it only makes matters worse if I try to "inspire" him (apparently it feels controlling and judgmental to him? Who knew?) to react differently.  How to hold my own peace even when he feels anything but that?
  • Judging Others: I've been working consciously the last several months to resist making judgments about others... it's amazing though how automatically those thoughts seem to jump into my head during first impressions or various conversations!  Ugh!  It's far too easy for me to attach a value to the statements and choices of others.  And as I judge them, I subconsciously feel they are judging me which moves me to try to impress them rather than just see them. An inner peace is hard to hold when we're judging and feeling judged!
  • Filtering Their Stories: Our default thinking process is to run the stories of others through our filter of "how does it make me feel?"  So their stories (i.e. their achievements, their break-ups, their stories about their kids, their insecurities) somehow start making us feel something about our lives.  It's so difficult to simply let their story be their story.  I find that I can start to feel intimidated, jealous, sad, fearful, and disappointed even when we're not talking about my life!  It's one thing to enter into their feelings, it's quite another to change how I feel about myself based on something about them! How's a girl to feel peace if every conversation risks her feelings changing?

How Others Can Grow My Inner Peace

Seeing the list above (and I could name so many more!) makes me understand why some people are tempted to go be in solitude in order to connect with their spirituality. Bumping into each other invariably pushes our buttons.  This is true whether we're talking about the people we live with, or the women we're meeting at a ConnectingCircle for the first time.

It's hard to hold our own peace around others.  They either aren't living up to our expectations or desires which disappoints or angers us.  Or they exceed our expectations and standards which triggers our insecurities and fears.  Hard for every person to stand on the little line we have for them, without falling into the ditch on either side! (Not to mention the remote possibility that we're not the best judges of where to draw the line!)

Clearly, we have to learn to hold our own peace and let others do their thing.

But Marianne takes it one step further, inviting us not to just tolerate others, but to be grown by them:

To the ego, a good relationship is one in which another person basically behaves the way we want them to and never presses our buttons, never violates our comfort zones.  But if a relationship exists to support our growth, then in many ways it exists to do just those things; force us out of our limited tolerance and inability to love unconditionally.

It's a concept I'm holding to.  I've been very mindful in recent months about trying not to attach judgements and values on the decisions of others, which does result in more inner peace.  But to actually show up, across from someone who annoys me or frustrates me, and see it as a way to grow me, expand me, teach me patience and deepen my ability to love?

It reminds me that even if we spend time at a monastery, an ashram, a church, in a sacred text, or on a quiet walk in nature for our spiritual centering-- those are only the classrooms for learning.  It is in our connections with others that we are on the practice field for personal growth. All my prayers are in vain if I'm not showcasing more patience for the people I meet.

So if you're annoying, bring it on!  :)  I have lots of room to grow!

Is Showing Up the Hardest Part?

One of the hardest parts about friendship seems to be simply showing up for it. That sounds silly, but I've been engaged in this subject long enough to know that showing up truly seems to be the defining issue between those who have a circle of friends and those who don't.

It's the difference between Intention and Action. Desire and Doing. Hope and Reality.  The little thing that differentiates between your heart whispering that you're lonely and your soul feeling fed and connected.

The Importance of Showing Up

It's much easier to sit on the couch wishing I was in better shape than to show up at the gym to make it a reality. 

It's much easier to say I want a better job than to take the risks necessary to pursue that career fulfillment.

And, it's much easier to say I want friends than it is to meet strangers who have the potential to become those confidantes.

We simply want the results: the lean body, the dream job and the circle of friends without being willing to keep showing up along the journey.

Sometimes we muster up our courage and buy new running shoes, update our resume and sign up for a women's friendship matching site.  Which is a great first step.  But it's not showing up for the dream.

Showing up means to be present. To commit. To be on time. To RSVP. To walk in the door to meet a group of potential friends. To risk feeling silly. To be tired and do it anyway.  To want the end result enough that it's worth the present energy expenditure. To follow up because it's important to you.  To schedule another get-together to build familiarity. To not only show once and expect to see results. To show up again.

Showing Up Doesn't Guarantee Immediate Results

Yes, getting on the treadmill is tiring and defeating when your body doesn't seem to change. Yes, sending out that resume is discouraging when you don't hear back.  Yes, a ConnectingCircle is scary to RSVP for since you don't know who else will be there and chances are high that you won't leave with a new best friend.

You have to show up again.  You have to go to the gym 3 times this week.  And you have to send out hordes of resumes before you get a call back.  And you have to meet several women at least 3-5 times before you'll feel the bond of familiarity.

And sometimes you'll go to the gym faithfully for a month and not see the scale move.  And sometimes you'll look for a job for months and not see doors open.  And sometimes you'll attend a ConnectingCircle where you didn't like anyone you met.

But that doesn't mean it was in vain.  Your showing up is moving you closer.  When it's easy to give up-- you have to keep showing up. Our bodies do get healthier, our jobs do change and we do build friendships. All require you to show up though.

Our Showing Up in GirlFriendCircles.com

It's intriguing to me how many women sign up and pay to participate in GirlFriendCircles but then seemingly never attend a ConnectingCircle.  Fortunately, the vast majority do.  And of those who do, nearly 90% of those who have attended at least 3 ConnectingCircles have reported that they are now following up with at least two potential friends.  Three nights of your life-- meeting somewhere between 6-12 women-- and they now feel that they have 2 friends.  Those are some good odds!  Way better than the lottery or romance!

  1. But you have to show up.  Which first starts with RSVP'ing for a ConnectingCircle in your area.  Even if it's ten miles away.  Even if no one else has signed up yet.  Even if you're nervous.
  2. And then you have actually show up.  Follow through on your RSVP.  Feel the hesitation in the parking lot and still walk in the front door.
  3. Then you have to show up with specific women after meeting them.  Writing them a follow up email.  Deciding to all RSVP for another ConnectingCircle again. Scheduling a brunch.
  4. And you keep showing up.  That's how it works.  :)

Showing Up or Saving the World

In January we implemented a Show Up or Save the World campaign where we decided we'd make donations every time we didn't show up when we said we would. And I'm pleased to announce that it reduced our no-shows and cancellations.

The cool thing is that even if you didn't show up-- no matter the reason-- you contributed to our non-profit pot.  Thank you!  Thank you for not whining, but engaging & giving!  For letting the small $3-$5 donations inspire you and help us do something together. Thank you!

To that end, because in three months so few of you didn't show or cancel, I'm going to match the amount raised to give double our amount.  GirlFriendCircle members contributed $183 in our first quarter.  CARE, our chosen non-profit for this quarter, can train a teacher to provide hundreds of girls with an education for $170.  You bought one.  I'll buy another, on your behalf.  :)

That amount won't teach the whole world, but it leans us into what's important to us.  And we'll show up again this way.  We know that one donation doesn't make all the difference.  But we do believe that showing up each quarter with a check to a different non-profit will slowly change us to be more generous and will compound the results on the other end. We showed up.  And we'll do it again next quarter.

I want to show up where my company gives back.

You want to show up for friendship.

Let's show up!

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I welcome all suggestions for your favorite non-profits that give to women.  I'll be picking the next one soon!  And, I hope I wasn't too hard on you in this post...I know it's easier said than done! Courage!

 

 

 

 

The Flywheel of Friendship

A Few Years Ago... During my first year in San Francisco I felt exhausted by the lack of comfortable and meaningful friendships.  Moving away from phenomenal friends in Southern California left me knowing what I was missing in my new city.  And certainly I was meeting people, but we all know how different it is to carry a conversation with friendly people versus hanging out with friends.

The best friends in the world may always be only a telephone call away, but that very act of calling means that we are left updating each other about our lives more than we are ever able to simply live life together, creating new memories.  A vast difference exists between calling to announce a pregnancy, a new romance, a heartbreak or job promotion versus attending a shower, meeting the new love interest, sharing ice cream on the couch or toasting the latest achievement.

But knowing that a circle of friends does more for giving us a sense of belonging in a new city than having a home or job, doesn't mean that friendships just happen. Two immediate problems surfaced for me in my friend search that first year:

  1. More Energy Spent: The first, it takes way more energy to connect with someone I barely know than it does for me to connect with a tried-and-true pal.  After a long and exhausting day, if given the choice to call my long-distance friend or go meet a new one, it was obvious which one I'd choose if left to my mood.  Surely it takes less exertion to converse with someone I know I already like than to spend time trying to audition others for the role. Plus, way easier to chat on the phone while I make dinner or surf facebook giving thumbs up than to stop somewhere on the way home, extending my day.
  2. Less Fulfillment Received: The second challenge was that even in the lunches-here-and-dinners-there with new acquaintances it was never as fulfilling as the conversations with my friends who already knew my history.  The lacking depth, comfort and ease with acquaintances just couldn't compare to what came naturally with those who had already lived life beside me.

One can see quite quickly how tempting it would be to simply rely on our former besties or our only friend than to try to expand the circle.  If ever given the choice between something familiar and something unknown-- it's human nature to stick with the former.  My potential friends couldn't compete.  They would inevitably always fall short-- through no fault of theirs other than I was measuring them against women who had an unfair advantage.

The Flywheel.

From the business cult classic book, Good to Great, comes the concept of the Flywheel. The author, Jim Collins, describes it perfectly:

Picture a huge, heavy flywheel--a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds.  Now imagine your task it to get that flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and long as possible.

Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first.  You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn.

My Flywheels

You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. You keep pushing in a consistent direction. Three turns... four...five... six...the flywheel builds up speed... seven...eight...you keep pushing... nine...ten.. it builds momentum...eleven... twelve... moving faster with every turn..twenty...thirty...fifty...a hundred.

Then, at some point--breakthrough!  The momentum of the thing kicks in your favor...it's own heavy weight working for you. You're pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but he flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort.

Now...

My Friendship Flywheel now has a momentum that cannot be stopped, an intensity that produces more energy than it requires. It wasn't always this way.  But it is now.

I still get together at least once a year with my girlfriends from Southern Cal and try to call them occasionally, and now I am also surrounded by amazing women who know my day-to-day life, who cheer for me when we get together regularly, who remind me that I am decidedly not alone in this city.

The first few turns of your Friendship Flywheel may feel like too much work.  You may think it's not worth the awkwardness and exertion.  You might be tempted to think it's not meaningful enough to sacrifice time and energy to push.  It may feel like the movements are imperceptible right now.

But believe.  Believe in the investment.  Believe in the Friendship Flywheel.  Believe that it will get easier, stronger, faster.  Believe that what feels unnatural this year will feel natural next year.  Believe that every turn of the wheel pushes you to greater chances of being surrounded by community in the future. Believe that showing up at a ConnectingCircle this weekend may be but one push to ensure that you have a good friend in your life next March.  It all counts-- believe.

What is the hardest thing, in your opinion, about making new friends? What takes the most energy? When are you tempted to feel it's not worth it? What motivates you to keep trying?

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p.s.  Just wanted to share that I'm now a Huffington Post blogger for women's friendship. Yay! You can sign up on their site get an email alert when I post a new article each week, if interested. (I'm trying to post both here and there once a week each.)