Shasta Nelson

5 Videos to Help You Make New Friends

I’ve been making more videos lately than I have been blogging (come join me on my YouTube channel to be notified when a new video goes up!) but here on one page you can see a collection of short videos I did to help inspire you to make the friendships that are crucial to your health and happiness!

xoxo

1) 3 Ways to Meet New Friends

We know we have to meet people before we can potentially become friends, but where exactly are we supposed to go to find new friends? While most common advice makes a list of places, that unfortunately isn’t super helpful to most of us if we don’t go to those places they suggest! Let’s brainstorm the places and ways that will be most helpful to each of us specifically! At the end of this video you will have a personalized list of the best methods for YOU!

2) How Many "Potential Friends" Do I Need to Make a New BFF?

We know we can’t just go out and simply place an order for a new best friend, but that rather we have to go meet a bunch of people first. But how many people do we need to meet? How do we go looking for a new BFF? How many people does it take to find one new friend?

3) How Important is Chemistry to a New Friendship?

Do you wish you knew exactly who you might bond with? Do you think you know who you’ll get along with best and feel like you’re on the look for a very specific person? Do you wonder what actually helps determine who we bond with? Here I lead us through looking at how friendships are developed and what healthy expectations will serve us as we meet new people! At the end of this video you’ll know the one thing we can practice that matters more than chemistry!

4) How Long Does It Take to Make a New Friend?

Do you find yourself wanting to feel close to people right away? Do you wonder whether you should be able to predict instantly whether the two of you will be friends? Do you want to feel close to people but then find yourself not wanting to put in the time? So often what we want is to meet someone with whom we instantly feel close but what we usually find is a stranger that we have to get to know, and it never feels as fun and easy and familiar as we want it to feel. Here I lead us through looking at how friendships are developed and what healthy expectations will serve us as we meet new people. At the end of this video you’ll know how much time it typically takes for you to make new friends!


5) How Can Introverts Make New Friends?

Do you worry that it’s harder for you to make new friends because you’re an introvert? Do you feel anxious when it comes to reaching out to others? Do you hunger for connection but feel weary and exhausted at how to get those needs met? At the end of this video you’ll have all kinds of tips and ideas for how to maximize your friendship time and decrease the energy output as much as possible.

Top 10 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2016

Every year I round-up my top ten most popular friendship articles and share them once more.  Many of you joined us half-way through the year, missed a post here-or-there or just want to re-read some of the best ones to see how they resonate with you now. 1. In Sickness and in Health: 5 Things I Wish My Friends Knew About Friendship and Illness

With nearly 1 in 2 of us suffering from some form of chronic (often invisible) illness, we all want to become more sensitive and thoughtful in how we interact with one another. This blog talks about how to make and keep friends when energy and health often feels limited, challenged or uncertain.

2. How much do you REALLY want good friends?

What price tag is friendship worth to you?  Unfortunately, the actual process of making friends includes activities and feelings most of us would rather avoid.  This blog challenges us to ask ourselves how much we value friendships and what we are willing to invest for the outcome we desire.

3. The 7 Verbs for Better Sex, Works for Friendships, Too

The acclaimed “sex therapist”, Dr. Esther Perel, offers 7 verbs for healthier relationships and these apply to platonic friendships too!  This is the perfect blog post for reflection on the year 2016.  Ask yourself how comfortable you are at practicing these verbs, how hard or easy these actions are for you, and what you want to work on in 2017.

4. 2 Ways to Respond to Friends Who Annoy or Frustrate

This amazing video blog talks about how to respond to frustrating friendship experiences and taking steps to build upon what you have rather than giving up and walking away when your needs are not met.   While these steps won’t fix every situation, they are certainly the first two steps we should practice in our attempts to repair or enhance a friendship that isn’t feeling super meaningful.

5. Do You Talk Too Much?

Your friendships are at risk of not reaching “frientimacy” when your friends aren’t practicing speaking up or when you’re not listening as much as you’re sharing.  This blog post helps us identify if we are giving our friends the space they need to be seen and provides over-talkers with 5 practices to pave the way for deeper and more meaningful friendships.

6. How to Respond to a Friend’s Pity Party

I think it is safe to say we have all had moments where we feel our inner mean girl come out and our self-doubt, fear, personal gaps and a general feeling of failure takes over our brains.  In this blog post, Shasta shares how her friend responded when she felt under-attack by herself so we can all feel inspired to show up for each other.

7. A Practice for “I Don’t Have Time for Friends”

Lack of time for friendships is one of the most common complaints when it comes to doing what we know would develop our friendships toward greater fulfillment.  We know that time together bonds us, but where does one find that time?  This blog post talks about an ancient practice called Sabbath and invites you to re-orient your life.  Cease and desist for one day to focus on you!

8. The Cost of the Constant Catch-Up Cycle

Are your friendships caught in a vicious cycle of not spending enough time together to feel really meaningful?  This blog post helps us understand the price of the Constant Catch-Up Cycle and invites us to move beyond just catching up and achieve the frientimacy we crave.

9. The Other 3 Most Powerful Words

These 3 words can open up repairing conversations with a friend where we might feel some tension, distance, or frustration.  Therapist, Tricia Andor, reminds us how simple and easy it can be for all of us to take on an awkward or uncomfortable conversation that may help deepen the friendship and grow our emotional muscles.

10. The Verdict: Can Men and Women Be Close Friends?

Our lives can be enhanced from all types of relationships.  The goal isn’t to limit what type of love and community we can create in our lives, but rather to do so in ways that are healthy and honest.  This blog post challenges us to reflect on your cross-gender friendships and take a deeper look into how meaningful and supportive they are in your life.

A huge thanks to all my GirlFriendCircles.com members and readers of my blog!

May we continue in 2017 to honor all that is right with friendship, committing ourselves regularly to the practices of healthy personal development and relationship joy.

- Shasta

p.s.  As always, I welcome your comments!  Share with me which one is your favorite!

p.s.s  Want more popular articles?

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Article of 2015

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Article of 2014

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Article of 2013

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2012

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2011

Save

How to Transform Disappointment into Feeling Loved

In my last video post I talked about how we can feel more loved.  It's SO important, because if we don't take the time to really articulate what makes us feel loved, then the outcome is DISAPPOINTMENT.  :( In this 4-minute video I talk about how we can transform our disappointment, and unmet needs, into clarity and fulfillment by sharing a ritual that I do on my birthday every year (and when I facilitate my annual New Years retreat) to help identify how I most want to feel.

When we articulate what feeling "loved" or "successful" means to us--because it actually feels different on each of us and can change at different times of our lives--then we can better collaborate with shaping our lives to result in the feelings we most want.

In my relationships, I assume that my friends and family DO love me... if I'm not feeling loved, then what do I need that is different from what I am receiving?

I want, more than anything, for you to KNOW what makes you feel loved and to focus your life saying yes to the things that will bring you closer to the love we all want.

xoxo

If you know what feeling leads you to feel loved, how can you see that helping prevent disappointment for you? What can you do to help facilitate that feeling?


 

 

When Our Friends Disappoint Us: What We Can Do

I listened to a client tell me a story last week about how hurt and disappointed she felt when her friends didn't rally around her after a recent surgery. I empathized with her, expressed regret with her that they didn't wow her and love her in a meaningful way, and then asked, "Do you think they knew that you needed anything from them?" "But it was a surgery!" she said, as though that answered my question.

"Yes it was," I concurred.  "But tell me how you talked about the surgery with them before and after the event.... Did you ask for help? Did you express your fears? Did you tell them what you thought you might need?"

When Our Friends Aren't "There" For Us

I continued, "In other words, if I called your friends now and asked them what they thought you might be needing or wanting, would they be able to tell me?"

After a few more minutes of conversation, her narrative--that many of us can probably identify with in one form or another--emerged:

  1. We want our friends to automatically know our need. She held a belief that if they were really her friends, or even just good people, then they should know what she might need without her needing to tell them.
  2. Even if we haven't yet articulated our needs. Yet, when I asked her what help she needed, she didn't have a ready answer and acknowledged that if she couldn't even articulate it to herself, that it might be asking a bit much to have others guess it.
  3. Even when we know deep inside that they aren't unwilling to help. She acknowledged that chances were high that most of them assumed she didn't help because her husband was taking time off, her adult daughter was home, and she had lots of friends. And admitted that while it hadn't been meaningful to her, a few had said to her, "Let me know if you need anything."
  4. Because we give to them, this is the least they could do.... But she couldn't shake the feeling of betrayal by her friends since she felt like she was always giving to them and this was "the one time I needed them."

Unmet expectations in our friendships lead to massive disappointment, hurt feelings, grudges, and worst of all-- the feeling of not being supported. And if we can't count on our friends, then we feel very alone and vulnerable. We feel betrayed because we thought we had friends and now wonder if it was all a mirage or a waste of time. We feel used... thinking about what a good friend we've been, and wondering what the point of it is if we can't count on the in return.

We Must Learn To Express Our Needs

There are a thousand conversations we can have on this subject (and my book Frientimacy actually has several chapters in it that teach these concepts!)-- including,

  • being in touch with our feelings to know what we actually need (my client didn't actually need help as much as she needed to feel thought of and loved),
  • being willing to let our friends see us with needs and feelings, especially if the pattern of our friendship has mostly been with us looking like Super Woman (possibly calling up a friend and when she asks how you're doing, be willing to be seen: "Well, I wouldn't recommend a regime of being un-showered for 4 days, laying in bed in pain, and watching soap's as a recipe for feeling hopeful. ha!  I'm actually pretty lonely and the days are feeling so long it leaves me wondering if I'll ever recover!"
  • and learning to ask for what we want and need.  Which could look like either telling friends ahead of time "I'm worried that I'm going to go crazy or feel so alone that first week after my surgery.  Any chance you'd be willing to come over for a bit--better yet if you come un-showered--and hang out so I have something to look forward to?" Or even after the fact, "I'm going crazy and miss you.  I wish I could offer to come see you, but since I'm still not leaving the house much-- any chance I could entice you to come over here and hang out, if I were to order a pizza for us?"

Help My Friends Love Me Well

But what I really want to address is our fear that if we have to ask for something that it then defeats the purpose.

My client said as much, "But if I have to ask for it then they'll feel pressure or just do it from obligation or guilt."

Speaking Our Needs Doesn't Make Their Help Less Sincere

And to that I say:

"Actually, in my opinion, the friends who are willing to hear what we need and try to do it, if they can, are the best friends in the world. It's the most sincere expression of love to hear a need and attempt to respond to it.  And the most effective and strategic use of their energy and time, that has the highest chances of feeling fulfilling and meaningful to me, means that we both are as clear as possible what would be helpful. True friends don't read minds-- heck, we don't even read our own minds half the time!-- but rather they say "Yes!" when we reach out."

The goal is to feel loved.  And we can help our friends do that for us if we are willing to help tell them what that looks like. That they then step up is the highest proof that we are supported. It's our job to be in touch with what we need and communicate that to those in our lives who want to love us well.

Pssst: my next post gives meaningful ideas for how we can ideally show up for our friends without them having to ask us!  :)


 

p.s.  Want to learn more about preventing unmet expectations and practice speaking your needs?

We have a brand new virtual class titled "Preventing Expectation Hangovers in our Friendships" that features Christine Hassler, author of Expectation Hangovers, who teaches us how to communicate our needs to our friends to prevent disappointment and unmet expectations. Included with the 1-hr audio class is a worksheet, a monthly challenge to practice, and inspirational mantras!

August_2016_Bundle_GraphicOthers who took the class already said things like, "This class was illuminating. I learned so much!" and "This changed the way I view my friendships in life-changing ways. I can't even begin to describe how helpful this material was to me." and "I listened to this class three times this month just because there was so much I needed to keep hearing."

Buy this Friendship University class here and listen at your convenience!

Note: If you were an active member of GirlFriendCircles.com in August 2016 then you automatically received this class as part of your membership!

Save

3 Tips for Successfully Making New Friends

I've got good news and bad news as I share my 3rd video in our series this week.

The good news is that with practice I am getting better:  it's shorter and I don't think I use any of the words that I apparently have a tendency to overuse: "abundantly", "just", or "right?".  :) The bad news is that I didn't shower and my hair reflects it! haha! oh well!?!

If you haven't had a chance to watch the other two videos this week then I'll catch you up today! This one covers it all!!

In this video I reveal:

  1. Which of the 3 Friendship Benefits Matters Most to You.  I remind you of the three biggest benefits that we covered in our 1st video, plus I share which one was overwhelmingly the most important to all of you based on all your comments! (Thank you! It was so fun to hear from so many of you!)
  2. Which of the 4 Type of Loneliness is the most Common to You.  In a poll that we took after this video-- there was a very clear front-runner to which of the 4 types of loneliness is the most common one.
  3. And, My 3 Tips If You Want to Successfully Make Better Friends.  I share three expectations or things to encourage you to do if you want to make sure that you actually make better friends and not just say you want to!  (I expect that you're not doing at least one of these!)

If you're willing, please leave a comment and share with me which tip is the hardest one for you!  Which one do you find yourself most resisting or refusing to believe?

May we all stay open and willing to doing whatever it takes to create meaningful connection,

Shasta

CEO, GirlFriendCircles.com

p.s. We are re-opening GirlFriendCircles.com THIS Tuesday, July 19! Get ready to say "yes" to greater connection in your life! Watch your inbox for your personal invitation!

p.s.s. Not sure if the new GirlFriendCircles.com will provide what you most need and want? Watch today's video to find out what's coming!

The Four Most Common Types of Loneliness

Hello GirlFriends!

I am more convinced than ever that the vast majority of us are suffering from loneliness. And it's not that we're hermits or socially awkward individuals as much as it's a combination of:

  1. We're exhausted and distracted with our lives.  Some of us are, in fact, around people all day long and serving people in every direction, but still feeling lonely because there's a difference between being networked and feeling like we have a support net under us. We're lonely because we don't have the energy to engage more meaningfully.
  2. We haven't been taught how to connect with others. We feel like intimacy and connection should come automatically to us, but few of us have ever studied the subject, practiced new relationship skills, or been inspired by amazing modeling. This is a subject that we can learn and improve with intentional focus! We're lonely because we don't know what to do to change it.
  3. We've been told that our friendships are a luxury when in fact they are very much a necessity to our health. More important to our health and happiness than our marriages, children, exercise, or work and money is whether we feel like we are supported and loved.  We're lonely because our life is full with everything else and we haven't prioritized our sense of community.

In this 11 minute video, I want to talk about loneliness, what it looks like in our lives, and how I want to address those needs by helping you meet new friends and make better friendships.  Here's a glimpse:

  1. Why friendship is the most important health issue of our time. Wait until you hear the quote I share by Dr. Dean Ornish!  Amazing!
  2. Why admitting our loneliness is important and what the statistics show us about how few of us feel we have someone with whom to confide. If you don't feel like you have a close friend-- you will soon realize you are not alone!
  3. The four most common types of loneliness so we can recognize the needs in our own lives.  Which one most accurately reflects your current, or recent, experience?
  4. And how GirlFriendCircles.com can help women meet new friends and make better friendships.  We're getting ready to re-open our doors to a new community that wants to provide resources and inspiration for all four types of loneliness!

At the end of the video I invite you to leave a comment and share with all of us which of the 4 areas of loneliness speaks most to you?  Which need do you most need to pay attention to meeting?

With so much love and a desire to transform our lives from that gnawing loneliness into fulfilling connections,

Shasta

p.s. This video is the 2nd in a series of 3 so watch for my next one on Saturday when I teach how we can grow our sense of connection! (And in case you missed the first one.)

p.s.s. I am re-opening GirlFriendCircles.com next Tuesday, July 19! Get ready to say "yes" to greater connection in your life! xoxo

Three Biggest Reasons We Need Friends

Hello GirlFriends! GirlFriendCircles.com is getting ready to re-open on July 19 with a bigger vision and a more beautiful interface! Woohoo!

I want to share with you WHY we're going through all this effort to revision and relaunch our community for women's friendships, so I made a 12 minute video to share with you:

  1. The Two Friendship Problems I see in our world that are stirring me to action and inspiring me to brainstorm solutions for connecting us in meaningful ways.
  2. The Three Biggest Possible Reasons Why We Need to be Connected as pretty much every other benefit falls under one of these three!
  3. Some of the Excuses We Use for giving up or not committing ourselves to action and learning... and how those objections aren't serving our needs.
  4. A Glimpse of My Vision and Hope for All of Us as we commit ourselves to creating better friendships in our lives.

 

At the end of the video I invite you to leave a comment and share with all of us which of the 3 BIG reasons for better friendships speaks most to you today?  (Of course we all want all three of them, but which one feels most valuable or urgent to you?)

p.s. This video will be the first in a series of three so watch for my next one on Thursday when I want to remind us all of the 4 most common types of loneliness!

The 10 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2015

Every year I round-up my top ten articles from the year and share them once more!  Many of you joined us half-way through the year, missed a post here-or-there, and or may just want to re-read some of the best ones to see how they resonate with you now. I didn't blog this last year as much as I have in previous years (in part to writing a book most of this year--Frientimacy comes out March 1, 2016!) and I missed it.  I love interacting with all of you in this way!  So huge thanks to you for all your comments and questions and I look forward to writing more in the year ahead!

Here are the Top Ten:

1.  To My Non-Posting Friends on Facebook

I riled up a few of you with my unconventional post encouraging more Facebook updates!  But so many of you wrote me confessing that you so enjoy reading others that it makes sense you might want to post a bit more, too!  In this post I tackle some of the most common excuses for not post on Facebook.

2. Ten Steps to Starting Friendships

While my upcoming book Frientimacy is all about how to deepen our friendships, for many of us we need to first be meeting potential friends and gathering up people to befriend.  If meeting people is on your to-do list then here's a quick list of my best advice for creating new friendships!

3.The Friendship Formula

Is there a formula to love? Yes indeed there is! We know what bonds people and what behaviors help two people feel close to each other!  I've since built this model out but it's still pertinent and helpful even with the two required ingredients I list.  Are you doing these two things?

4. I Almost Unfriended Someone on Facebook Yesterday

I only wrote about Facebook twice this year but both posts made it into the top ten!  I've long been asked how one might know when it's time to unfriend someone on social media and while my answer may not be the right one for you, it hopefully gets you thinking about why you use Facebook and what type of relationships you're prepared to develop!

5. If my friend really liked me then she’d initiate more…

Oh it's so easy to get our feelings hurt by the perceived negligence of our friends: their not calling, not reaching out, or not inviting us to things.  It's easy to create a story that we are being rejected-- that this is their way of saying that we aren't important to them.  But that would be a mistake.

6. When You’re The Only One Making Time for Friendship

Someone wrote in and asked for my advice as she feels like everyone is too busy and unable to make the time for friendship that she is.  So while we can't just wave a magic wand and make a ton of free time for everyone, here are some tips I have for what we can do to help initiate and inspire more meaningful and consistent connections with others.

7.  Top Three Tips for Making New Friends

So many women are looking new friends but frequently are trying to do so without following these three guidelines!  Far too many people leave friend-making to chance and don't understand that they can't develop good friends without following this advice.

8. On Being Willing to Disappoint People 

It's hard to say no to people, especially friends, but I am a strong champion of our need to practice saying no when we need to.  In fact it's intimately connected to our need to ask more clearly for what we need from people.  We need to get better at both.  The two are linked-- as we practice saying no, we tell others it's okay to do that too, and we'll both feel more comfortable asking for what we need when we can trust the other to say no if they can't.  In this post I share how I learned to say no.

9. Advice: Drifting Apart: Give Up or Try Again? 

Someone wrote in and asked for my advice about whether I thought it was worth her trying to salvage a friendship that hadn't felt particularly meaningful or high priority to her former best friend.  Read her question and see what advice you'd give her, and read my reasons for why I weighed in how I did!

10. With Whom Should I Be Vulnerable?

So many of us resist sharing vulnerably with others, often because we feel we've been burned before when we did.  We don't want to put ourselves at risk unnecessarily so we tend to clam up instead of open up.  But maybe the problem isn't whether we share or how we share, but rather making sure that who we're sharing with is the right people?  Here;s my litmus test for deciding how much risk to take with others.

Thanks for being a part of this community as a woman who is committed to being a healthy friend in this world! It's been an honor.

With gratitude for a year where we all grew in our maturity and loved more deeply,

Shasta

p.s.  As always, I welcome your comments!  Share with me which one is your favorite! Or what you hope I write about more in the year to come!

p.s.s  Want more popular articles?

Top 11 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2014

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Article of 2013

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2012

Top Three Tips for Making New Friends

In nearly every media interview I am asked, "What are your tips for making new friends?" and the reporters often are looking for specific ideas like joining clubs, hanging out at the dog park, or volunteering. But those aren't tips for making friends; they are just places to meet people. And there is a vast difference between meeting people and making friends.  Truth be told, most of us probably know enough people, we just don't feel close to enough of them. Even if we don't yet know people in a certain location, it's not because we don't know where people work, live, or hang out that we aren't meeting them, but rather because we don't know what to do once we meet them.

new friends

So as a friendship expert who has been thinking all things friendship for nearly seven years, here are the real tips.  You do these, assuming you're a decently nice and healthy person, you will have friends. Promise.

1)  Be Open.

Be mindful that research shows that we aren't all that good at predicting who we will bond with so be open to the possibility that your new friends don't need to be your same age, same relationship status, or a certain horoscope sign.

Let yourself be surprised by staying open and hopeful about women you're used to dismissing as not your type. My rule of thumb is to delay deciding whether someone is BFF material and just move the friendship as far as one can, as long as there are no big red flags (i.e. stealing from you).

I've matched up complete strangers and turned them into friends in my workshops and research bears out that bonding has less to do with being matched up with a certain person and more to do with how those two people interact-- so you can assume that most of the people you meet could be a good friend even if they have kids and you don't, even if they are single and you aren't, and even if their personality is opposite yours.

If this one tip were taken seriously, we would have a far less lonely world. (See also: The Myth that Keeps You Lonely for more on this)

2) Initiate.

Most of us are meeting people. Everywhere. Work especially. But also everywhere else you go in life.  And most of the people you are meeting could potentially add great meaning and joy to you life if you two really knew each other and spent time together.

To do that, you have two choices: get to know them in a setting where you both automatically are present (like work, church, a club--all the places that reporters want us to list as tips) OR you have to initiate with them in order to get that time logged.

Initiating means to be the catalyst to making the time together happen: striking up conversation, suggesting time together, and following up with specific ideas and dates.

Yes, it can feel awkward. Yes, it's hard if you're shy. But honestly, there is no way to build friendships without spending time together so someone has to make that happen. You're the one who sees the need so it's your job to do what you need to do to start the friendships you ultimately want to enjoy.

3) Repeat.

Falling for the myth that "if she likes me then she'll initiate next time" will kill the potential of many relationships. Instead, believe, "If she likes me then she'll say yes and try to get together when I invite her."

We all have stories of meeting someone we liked who didn't become a friend for no other reason than neither woman really followed up to make the time together happen repeatedly.

When it comes to romantic dating we intuitively understand that meeting for lunch once a month isn't going to be enough time together to really get to know one another, and yet that's all the time we often give to new friends! It will take a loooong time to feel close and supported in a friendship with someone we only connect with occasionally. Our goal is to eventually more toward familiarity-- becoming more of a regularity in each other's lives than a rare exception.

It takes most of us about 6-8 interactions with someone before we will usually start feeling like friends so the sooner we get those 6-8 times scheduled, the sooner we will be able to reap the rewards of our time!

Of course there are countless tips I could give in explaining each of these tips, but suffice it to say: every friendship you have ever formed has followed these three steps.

Don't be someone who just keeps meeting people; be someone who knows what actions to take to develop those people into friends.

-------

p.s.  And remember, GirlFriendCircles.com is a great way to meet new friends in your city since everyone who is a member is a friendly woman who values making new friends!

The Friendship Formula

On Sunday I sat at the front of the room, with my phone in my hand keeping time, and I looked out a room-full of women laughing, talking, and leaning in toward each other. Only an hour earlier they had arrived as strangers, here they were looking a lot like good friends.  I knew that given a few more hours... I'd see women hugging each other good-bye with words like "See you next week!" excitedly hanging in the air.

Friendship Accelerators Bonding Women

There are actually few things more gratifying than facilitating Friendship Accelerators. Undoubtedly, speaking and writing are two of my favorite things since I love communicating and teaching, but the Accelerators give me a chance to go beyond inspiring and instructing an audience to actually helping cultivate the very connection people crave.  They're magical for me. All the motivational speaking in the world can't deliver friendships to people... but the Accelerators can; and for those results, I love them.

I, in fact, have joked that I feel a bit like a scientist in a lab inventing friendships.  Like any passionate scientist who might pour a little of this concoction, a dash of that, and a sprinkle of something else to create something greater than all the individual elements, I have learned that the very high possibility of meaningful friendships is something I can create.  Over the years I am perfecting the recipe, but the fact that the results are more predictable than ever has never dampened my glee when I watch it work, again and again.

Is there a Formula to Love?

Perhaps because I've been vocal over the years that I believe there is more of a formula to friendship than most of us want to believe, several women sent me the recent article in The New York Times titled, "To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This" and said variations of "This reminds me of what you do with friendship!"

In the article Mandy Len Catron shared the story of falling in love with someone through answering the same 36 questions that researchers had used in a study to analyze what helped people feel close to each other.

In that study, they developed a list of questions that were designed to help two people self-disclose in increasing intensity and included questions that helped the subjects talk about their relationship and each other.  The connection to each other was big enough for the researchers to conclude:

"One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure."

Notice that the basis of the connection is self-disclosure and sharing, but that it also has to be consistent, mutual, and incremental.

Just as interesting as what did work in bonding people in a lab is what didn't work that they also tested:  1) leaving two people to engage in small talk for 45 minutes didn't work, 2) being matched with people who agreed with you on important views didn't result in an increased connection, 3) being told the goal was to feel close didn't make a difference in helping the pair reach the goal, and 4) being led to believe that mutual liking was expected based on them being a good match didn't help it pan out.

Think about how much of our dating includes those four things: hoping it will work, believing we're a match, both having the goal of finding someone, and spending time on a date talking... but none of those factors lead to intimacy as much as intentional and personal self-disclosure that escalated incrementally.

Is there a Formula to Friendship?

Similarly, while their research was more focused on romantic intimacy, it confirms what I have long known to be true in friendship, as well:  There are actions we can take to foster a bond.

In other words, it's not just "chance" that will determine whether we'll feel a connection, nor is it only if the other person proves to have the "right" qualities we think we want in someone.  Bonding has far more to do with the verbs we engage in with someone than the adjectives they possess.

It's why the women who join GirlFriendCircles.com attend ConnectingCircles: small groups of 3-6 women who gather at a local cafe and pick questions off a list of Sharing Questions to ask and answer.  We have found the success rates of women feeling connected to others increases when they engage in sharing questions about themselves rather than just let the conversation drift from movies to men to jobs.

And it's why I developed the Frientimacy Triangle which teaches that all relationships start at the base of the triangle and bond when they increase both their time together and the self-revealing they're willing to do. (Read another post or buy book for more explanation.)

Regular time together (leading to commitment) and increased vulnerability is what will help two people bond.

What's so encouraging is that these actions are within your control!  You can 1) initiate time together with people you want to bond with and 2) you can ask questions and share about yourself in a way that helps the two of you bond.

It has far less to do with you both needing to be moms with kids the same ages, both needing to be retired, or both single 30-somethings-- you can build a close connection that is meaningful with far more people than you believe you can.  I've seen it time and time again.

And that's why the Friendship Accelerators work: they commit to a whole day together that I facilitate to help create intentional sharing and then they commit to 4 weekly get-togethers where they will increase their time together and continue to share their lives.

Last summer I was invited to attend the one-year anniversary of a Friendship Accelerator group who was still getting together weekly 52 weeks after they met. I went to a birthday party last month where three women there had all met at one of my Accelerators a couple of years back.  I regularly see Facebook photos of another group who seemingly gets together all the time for fun stuff all over the city.

Last week I received an email from a woman who had been in one of my Friendship Accelerators a couple of years ago who said, "Two of the friends I met at our Accelerator 3 years ago are still very dear to me and an important part of my life.  Even though one moved farther away, we are still in regular contact and get together often.  In fact, I had dinner last night with one of those friends and the 3 of us are going to the theater to celebrate the other one's birthday next week. Thank you!"

The Two Necessary Ingredients in Bonding

Indeed, whether it's romance or friendship-- they both are built upon helping bond people-- we all too often expect more from the things that don't work and are too busy or too nervous to try the things that do.

If you want meaningful connections:

Time together + Intentional Self-Revealing = Feeling Close to Others.

---------------

p.s.  If you want me to come to your city to lead a Friendship Accelerator you can add your email and zip code to our list to be notified when we schedule one in your area!

 

Losing Weight VS. Gaining Love

As I just read about how losing weight is the number 1 New Years resolution, I wanted to come in with my relationship pom-poms and sweetly remind you that what you May we care more about how much love we feel than how much we weigh.

want even more than weight loss is to feel loved. Your brain may even actually think those two things are correlated, but they are not.

I'm all for being healthy, but if what you really, really, really want is to belong, to be "enough," to be loved, to be in meaningful connection-- then go straight for that.  No need to chase something else and leave to chance the feeling you really want!

This year, let's be women who focus on inviting more love in our lives, even when awkward, even when scary, even when we're tired.  I can't think of anything worth more celebrating a year from now than to be able to say, "I feel more loved than ever."

Standing on the Scale of My Love

It’s not about how much physical space I take up in this world, but about how much I’m willing to shine brighter and stand taller on behalf of others.

It’s not about having six-pack abs but about knowing how to hear my gut.

What size of clothes I wear pales in comparison with the size of my heart.

How many diets I’ve been on isn’t as important as how many gratitude entries I have in my journal.

My BMI doesn’t even come close to telling me as much about my health as the joy of the relationships around me does.

How fast I can run a mile doesn’t impress me nearly as much as how quickly I can forgive someone who has disappointed me.

How I feel about my thighs is of waning importance compared to how I feel about my purpose and calling in this world.

How much fat I can pinch on my waistline doesn’t even begin to rank with how many people I hope will hug me each day.

That I laced up my shoes to run this week is fabulous, but when was the last time I stopped and asked myself the far more important emotional question: “What in my life am I running from?”

We’ve been taught to care so much about the read-out on the bathroom scale; but I confirm today that it’s far more important that love weigh more than fear in my life.

I am a woman dedicated to inviting far more love in my life this year.

Top 11 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2014

I typically round-up my top 10 articles, but this year there was a tie between two of them so it's my top 11! Thanks for being a part of this community as a woman who is committed to being a healthy friend in this world! It's been an honor. For all of you who joined us half-way through the year, missed a post here-or-there, or just want to re-read some of the goodies to see if they speak to you where you are now,  here are the 11 most read, popular blog posts from the last year:

1.   The 5 Biggest Mistakes Women Make In Their Friendships

I want meaningful friendships for you.  So very much, I do!  But we have to come to the table with healthy expectations and thoughtful beliefs, rather than with hopes, myths, and limiting beliefs that sabotage us from creating substantial relationships. Here are the five most common beliefs that are damaging you and your friendships.

2.  The Power of Women in Circle: Ideas for Women’s Groups

In this post I share with you several of the Circles that I have participated in-- each one feeding different parts of my life-- so that you can see how those groups got started, what happens at each of them, and which ones you might crave inviting into your life!

3. The Problem: My Friend Doesn’t Ask Me About My Life!

If you have relationships where you feel like you’re always the one doing most of the listening and question-asking, I challenge you today to consider how you’ve contributed to that imbalance and what you can do to show up in a way that builds the relationship and better supports you.

4.  How to Not Feel Judged

While it was my high school reunion that prompted me to worry about being judged, the way I showed up differently this time may be of service to you in any setting where you are prone to feel insecure, unaccepted or judged.

5. Men Really Need Intimate Friendships, Too

Are men's and women's friendships all that different?  And if they are, is it because they're hard-wired to be different or is that cultural influences shape them differently?  This article showcases some fabulous research that you'll want to share with the boys and men in your lives!

6.  Do You Feel Like People Pull Away From You?

Some of us might have intense personalities-- lots of energy, words, and enthusiasm that can sometimes overwhelm others.  We are who we are so it's not about changing us or saying that there is anything wrong with us... but we do have to learn how to use our energy in meaningful, helpful, and mature ways!

7.  5 Tips for Planning a Girls Weekend There are few things more bonding than time away with friends that extend beyond a dinner or an afternoon together.  Throw in an overnight experience and the bond factor goes waaay up!  Here are practical tips for planning and inviting women in your life to an adult slumber party.

8. We’re giving the wrong advice for “toxic” friendships!

Friendship experts commonly encourage you to get rid of any friendships that are toxic, stressful, or negative.  I have a caveat that I want to add to that!  This article shows why we can't simply get rid of people we have called friends without trying to improve the relationship first.

9. Quiz:  Am I a Good Friend?

We put a lot of focus on what we'd like to fix or improve in how our friends treat us, and here's a good quiz for helping us hold up the mirror in our own lives to see where we might be able to practice being a better friend!

10.  5 Types of Vulnerability: It’s Way More than Skeletons in Your Closet!

What is vulnerability?  We all hear this buzz word all the time but often mistakenly think it means we have to get better at sharing our shameful secrets with people... This blog post covers 5 different types of vulnerability that will help deepen any relationship as you practice them more regularly!

11.  The Myth that Keeps You Lonely

When we’re feeling that little nagging angst of loneliness– it’s for her that we want.  It’s for the fantasy best friend that we know would be the Thelma to our Louise, the fork to our spoon, the laughter to our jokes.  She would be the finisher of our sentences, the reader of our minds, and the affirmer of our hearts.  Our time together would be effortless, easy, safe, and comfortable.  But then we meet a whole bunch of candidates who aren’t quite good enough to fit our BFF opening so we quietly reject them and keep looking, albeit somewhat disillusioned. This post will help you see the pattern that might be preventing you from feeling more connected!

With gratitude for a year where we all grew in our maturity and loved more deeply,

Shasta

p.s.  As always, I welcome your comments!  Share with me which one is your favorite!

p.s.s  Want more popular articles?

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Article of 2013

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2012

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2011

Friendships Don't Just Happen - for Guy Friends

From Shasta:  I've long-held that most men crave more meaningful friendships and while I don't have the same expertise and experience in teaching men as I do to women (that won't stop me from trying though! ha!) I have been long interviewing men about their friendships because I think there is a lot there that we aren't yet talking about, and need to be.

Greg Tjosvold has preferred friendship with women much of his life but is grateful to be exploring meaningful friendships with men now.

One of the men whose opinions and experiences on this subject has impressed me greatly is Greg Tjosvold, a middle-school teacher, husband, father, and author living outside of Vancouver, Canada.

Greg's story is poignant... as he comes to have faith in other men wanting and willing to grow in closer friendship with each other.  I hope that as we keep modeling men having deeper friendships and giving more permission (as a culture) to men to get together to talk and share life (without sports being the only acceptable excuse) that we will see that frientimacy is something that enhances all of our lives, regardless of our gender.

Huge thanks Greg for sharing the story of the Barley Brethren with us!  :)  Love it!

----------------

Friendships Don't Just Happen - for Guy Friends

by Greg Tjosvold

He stopped trying to shove my head in the toilet when I started to cry. Grade 8 boys weren’t supposed to cry, but it worked.

Most of my interactions with guys have been like that. Until I was 14, I was very small for my age. I was an easy target for wannabe bullies trying to establish themselves. I was not athletic, so I was always picked last, if picked at all. And if I was on the team, invariably the captain would call me out in front of my peers for my less than stellar play. Being small gave others the chance to be “big.”

As a teen, I didn’t drink, tinker with cars, or “chase tail” - the favorite activities of most of the guys I knew in my small Canadian logging town. I was attracted to solo adventures like fly-fishing and astronomy. Those were safe for me. And so were girls.

My best friends have always been women.

In school, the girls I hung out with never attempted to give me a “swirly.” In fact they told off people who tried. I was always included by my amazing girl cousins whom my family visited frequently. My best friend in high school, a wonderful young woman of Japanese heritage, always kept a seat free and a meaningful conversation ready for me on the bus ride home. I played flute in band, but rather than shunning me, the cool girls in the band, the “Fearsome Five-some” I called them, made time for me. Girls were there for me; guys were not.

Things have not really changed much for me as an adult; by comfort and profession, I am still surrounded by women. My wife is my absolute best friend and soul mate. My BFF is a former teaching partner; I was her “man of honor.” As a teacher in the lower grades, I once found myself working in a building where everyone other than me, from janitor to principal, was a woman. And I was OK with that. I still feel safest in my female connections.

So I was as shocked as anyone when I said yes to an invitation from a colleague to join the founding chapter of “The Barley Brethren.” I am the rebel seventh – the lone non-drinker in a group of men coming together each week to share each other’s journeys over a six-pack of quality craft beer. For the first time in my life I am hanging out with guys and enjoying it.

What happened? This new adventure, this new friendship experiment, is a happy byproduct of navel-gazing, need, and Shasta.

Navel-gazing

As I approached my 50th birthday, I became very self-reflective. One of my realizations? That it is hard being a married, middle-aged man with female friends. On more than one occasion an outside observer has assumed I’ve been up to something. Or that I’m gay. Sometimes, I just don’t fit in with my friend’s activities (e.g. having a guy at a bachelorette party is lame!). Still other times, my offered friendship has left the other person's spouse feeling threatened and jealous. I’ve even had people tell me outright that married men should not have close female friends. Period.

All of these things do not just affect me; they also affect any potential female friend. While I have to believe that I'm worth it, it is a special lady indeed who is willing to take on such a challenging friendship. In light of that realization, I started to toy with the notion that, if I was going to need a new friend, it might be better (albeit scarier) if that person was male.

Need

It turns out that I did find myself needing new friends. My best friend and teaching partner moved to the other side of the continent (following her husband's employment) and I had a rather painful falling out with another very good friend at nearly the same time. The full weight of my needs for companionship and camaraderie all of a sudden fell almost exclusively on my wife's shoulders.

Shasta

Fortunately, in the midst of all of this, I came across Shasta Nelson, friendship expert, via Twitter. While her company and mission, girlfriendcircles.com, wouldn't be any help to me, her book, "Friendships don't just happen!" was a timely godsend. So much of the book resonated with me, especially:

  1. Friendships come and go. Shasta references research that shows we are now replacing about half of our friends every seven years. It was reassuring to know that what I was going through was not unusual. It's hard on the ego to admit you need new friends.
  2. There are different types of friends. For many people, I suppose Shasta's five Circles of Connectedness are largely self-evident. However, for me, it was life-changing revelation. As someone who had very few friends growing up, I just assumed that the very definition of friend was someone who was a BFF - a "committed friend" per Shasta's terminology. I distinctly remember times in my life when the phrase "Everybody's pal, nobody's friend" hung over me like a black cloud of loneliness and unworthiness. I had never really considered the importance of my "left side" friends on the continuum - how they can be the seeds of deeper friendship and who are no less important to a rich life of connection all on their own.
  3. Friendships don't just happen. I spent most of my life with the unspoken assumption that people just connected or they didn't. The book challenged me to look back at the best friendships I had in my life and understand that they were the byproduct of gradual progression. More importantly, it made it clear to me that this progression was something that could be replicated; that I could start with "contact friends" and, given time, consistency and gradually increasing intimacy, there was hope I might be able to move friends from the left side of the friendship continuum to the right.

Enter the Barley Brethren

Retired school principal Phil Ballard started the Barley Brethren to a meet a perceived need; the need for men to have the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way.

Per his early notes, he envisioned the Barley Brethren as a "club of like-minded gentlemen in search of spiritual coherence. Membership in the Double B would involve a commitment to become a connoisseur of quality craft beer and would require the sharing of 'cicerone' duties for the weekly gathering. While quaffing their favorite brew, the brothers would discover meaning for their own lives while sharing in each other’s journeys. Meetings would be convened on the “MV Kairos,” a 45 ft. motor yacht."

While we couldn't come across any group photo-- this is supposedly Phil's hand holding one of the lucky beers.  Ha!

The concept of bros and booze in a man-cave should've sent me running, given my history. However, my desire to establish male friendships and the concepts in Shasta's book give me a framework for courage.

My BFF had moved (my committed friend would soon become a confirmed friend), so when a respected colleague (a "contact friend" worth investing in) asked if I was interested in joining a group planning to meet weekly (ingredient: consistency) to learn about beer ("common friends") and discuss life (ingredient: intimacy), what might have looked scary before, I now recognized as the perfect recipe for developing friendship. The fact that founding father Phil was a "confirmed friend" with whom I had lost touch over the years seemed serendipitous.

Note from Shasta: Greg, Gold stars for making the real life application to the concepts!  Love it!

Each week during the school year we meet.

Beer pours at 7:30 sharp. We spend time reviewing the beer, its history, and its characteristics. As a non-drinker, but a life-long learner, it has been fascinating learning the terminology of surrounding craft beer. I also know what sort of beer to bring to a gathering if I am asked.

The rest of the evening is a little less structured. In theory there is a go to study we listen to or read, but just as often as we just talk about what needs to be talked about. We talk, laugh, and yes, even cry about the things that are affecting our lives. Marriage, children, death, illness, work, retirement, faith... we all bring different perspectives and wisdom to what is important in the moment.

The Barley Brethren have been meeting for two years now... at least our first group. Somewhat ironically, the friend who initially invited me became the leader of a second group when the success of the idea and the need to open the concept up to more members became self-evident. (I see this friend outside the group now though.) For the first time in my life, I am hanging out with men on a regular basis. I still have my uncomfortable flashback moments... I'm overly sensitive to teasing about my beer selections, for instance... but I am so thankful for the growing friendships in the group built on vulnerability and sharing that, frankly, I didn't believe was possible among men.

Apparently friendships don't just happen. It's an important concept for guys too.

---

While "just a group of guys," for more information, there is a site under construction: http://www.barleybrethren.com, they are on Twitter @barleybrethren, and here's their un-official theme song that sort of encapsulates the Barley Brethren: Brother, by Need To Breathe.  :)

From Shasta: Bravo guys!  Well done!  May your willingness to engage be contagious! :)

Feminism is a Team Sport

Something magical happens when women gather in circle. Many of my best ideas over the years have happened in connection with others; when I get to hear myself think out loud, when they say something that resonates, when their brainstorms inspire, and when I feel the energy of validation.

Such was the case last January as I spent a retreat day with one of my mastermind groups, a group that has been meeting monthly for almost three years now.  We began this year by sharing some of the promptings we were each feeling in our hearts for where we were feeling called and led in the year ahead.  I was speaking to my conviction that I want to be a part of women trusting each other again, cheering for each other more, and working alongside each other as we step into our own personal power.

Wearing on the outside the hope I have on the inside!

While processing out loud, I said something along the lines of: "we need to realize that feminism is a team sport, not something we each do alone." And Kimberly, sitting across the Circle from me, said, "You need to put that on a t-shirt."

And so I did.  :)

Feminism Needn't Be Scary

Here's why:

Several years ago I wrote an article for the Huffington Post that they titled, "Feminism: How I Finally Came Out as an Advocate for Women" where I shared a bit of my struggle over the word feminism, specifically; and my own ignorance with the movement, more generally. It wasn't that I hadn't wanted to be an advocate for women, it was more that I had been avoiding being an advocate for feminism-- I saw them as two separate things.  I mistakenly thought you could be for one without being for the other.

Many women still shy away from the word, wondering if we still have need of it.  This word has been used to help us win the right to vote, to fight for reproductive and sexual rights, to make a path for women to work outside the home in any profession of their choosing, and to give us permission to make our own life choices around marriage and motherhood, among many other things.  We appreciate the fruits of movements-past, but so badly want to believe that we have arrived.

Deborah Spar, president of Barnard College and author of Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, said this when I went to hear her speak last year:

“Feminism was meant to remove a fixed set of expectations; instead, we now interpret it as a route to personal perfection. Because we feel we can do anything, we feel we have to do everything.”

Now we may not have the same laws that keep us down, but our chains of who we think we're supposed to be can feel just as heavy.

In my travels and connections I see just how exhausted, weary, guilt-ridden, fearful, unhappy, and lonely women are, and I am convinced that the call to feminism is still relevant. And needed. It may just need to look a little different from the image seared in my memory of seeing women burning bra's in front the capital.

If I could pick a new image for feminism, it would be women sitting in circles, supporting each other.

Feminism Together

Because it's only when we're in tribe, connected to each other, sitting shoulder-

feminism is a team sport

to-shoulder, face-to-face, in relationship with others that we can practice embodying the equality that we long for.

What we crave is each others acceptance. Why can't we give that fully and easily?

What we long for is for someone to tell us that we're doing enough, we're okay, we're good moms and wives and daughters even if we can always think of more we could do, and that we're making a difference. Why must we keep competing as though only a few of us deserve to hear those words?

We need each other to help us hear our own worth. We can do that!

We need to stop feel judged, and instead feel cheered on.  What a difference that would make in this world!

It's only in relationship to each other that we practice offering love even when we risk rejection; and just as importantly, practicing the receiving of gifts and time without feeling like our lack reflects poorly on us. No, we can't do everything. Yes, we need help. Thank you.

These power house  women live with vulnerability, courage, and conviction; modeling for me the actions I am committed to keep practicing.

It's with my friends that I practice shining my biggest and best self, speaking of my strengths and owning my accomplishments so that I feel more comfortable doing that in a world that isn't as practiced yet.  And it's where I want them practicing for themselves, as well.

Only in relationship do we learn the coveted skills of saying "yes" when scared, and "no" when tired.  It's with each other that we should be able to practice those hard words so that we are more at ease speaking our truth in other crowds.

Who we want to be, must be, need to be-- requires us practicing those skills in relationship. We don't become more confident, loving, patient, and empathetic in a vacuum; we do it in connection with each other.

Feminism now is inviting all of us to love ourselves, our bodies, and each other, just as we are. That's not to say that the external circumstances are equal, for they aren't.  But just as significant, is us feeling our worth on the inside and reflecting that to each other.

Feminism Practiced

I believe so much in being in circle with other women that I have committed to it as a regular practice in my life.  In addition to my friends and social life, I belong to three "mastermind" groups.  Two of them are weekly, via Skype and telephone; the other is a monthly in-person gathering.  Each of them functions differently, but behind every one of them is a circle of women cheering each other on.

I want you to be in circle with women who see your value, your worth, and your joy.  I want you to keep practicing being a woman who cheers others on, judges less, and loves more.

------------------------

Two Resources for Cheering Each Other On!

  1. Buy the T-shirt in our store:  I've been gifting these to some of the women

    You can get this t-shirt at www.ConnectedGifts.com

    who have been supporting me saying, "Thanks for being on my team!" Wear yours and spread the love!

  2. Join www.GirlFriendCircles.com:  GirlFriendCircles.com is a women's website that matches amazing women to new local friends.  We believe women are better when connected!  Join us today and meet other women who value having good friendships and are open to meeting new people!

 

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.

 

-------------------------

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

Top 10 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2013

For all of you who joined us half-way through the year, missed a post here-or-there, or just want to re-read some of the goodies to see if they speak to you where you are now,  here are the most read, popular blog posts from the last year: 1.   Is "Get Rid of Negative People in My Life" Good Advice?

This post beat out the second place by 3 times!  Fortunately, it seems we are feeling a little conflicted with how much we keep hearing that we need to surround ourselves only with positive people.

2. How To Respond to a Friend in Crisis

The diagram in this post has served me over the year as such an incredibly helpful visual-aid for understanding how to help those in crisis without putting them in the place of having to comfort us, even though they're pain undoubtedly impacts us.

3.  Five Questions to Ask Before Ending a Friendship

If we're starting to entertain the idea of our friend being toxic or our friendships with someone feeling unhealthy, it's often because we haven't yet articulated our expectations and needs.  This post provides a thoughtful approach for making sure we've done our part to contribute to the possibility of a healthy relationship before ending it.

4.  Making New Friends in a New City

Christy Mims wrote this guest post about moving to a new city and having to start all over as she made new friends.  Most of us know that experience!  She shares candidly her feelings and the actions she took to develop the friendships that matter to her.

5.  What Do I Do With My Toxic Friend?

The concept I share in this post could save many a friendship from ending!  It's super important to clarify the 3 different entities in every relationship: her, me, and us; and step back to see if we can shift the friendship by focusing on the 2 entities we actually have some control over.

6.  Friendship Break-Ups 4: Letting Go or Holding On

Most of our friendships will end with us "drifting" apart from each other as life circumstances change.  This post helps ensure that we're not a victim to that process, but rather being women who choose to courageously and intentionally make choices about which friendships to be at peace with letting go, and which ones to invest the energy needed to survive the transition.

7.  This Friendship Is Going Negative: What Do I Do?

In this post I offer up two different frameworks for helping assess our friendships:  the 5 Circles of Connectedness and the definition of friendship.  Both tools can help us articulate what is wrong in the friendship, and based on what type of friends she is, can help us decide what approach might best serve our friendship.

8.  Reflections on My Katie Couric Interview

A highlight in 2013 was definitely being invited to appear on Katie Couric's afternoon talk show.  While filming it, I just kept thinking about all these comments I wanted to make as I listened to Katie and the other guests talk about their friendships.  But since they didn't ask me to comment on everyone else... I share those thoughts on my blog instead.  :)

9. Christmas Card Conundrums: Send They? Why?  How Many? To Whom?

We're past the season now for sending out our annual holiday cards, but bookmark this one for next December!  We're all trying to find that sweet spot between letting friends know we're thinking of them while not adding to our own exhaustion, guilt, or stress.

10.  Many Introverts are "Coming Out"

Reflecting back over an interview I did with Sophia Dembling, author of "The Introvert's Way," I am encouraged with all the press, validation, and visibility that introverts are getting.  We must keep seeking to understand how we (and our friends) are wired energetically.

** And I always pick out a bonus post to add to the list-- a post that may not have made the top ten, but that I personally think is important.  This one actually may have been one of the most "liked" post on Facebook and I think contains helpful sample scripts for learning How to Ask for What You Need in Your Relationships.

 

Want more popular articles?

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2012

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2011

Throwing Myself a Birthday Party of Gratitude!

My birthday was last week and I lived it up this year with a retreat-day (complete with a massage, soaking in a rooftop infinity hot tub, and journaling), an afternoon of shopping with my husband, 3 days of play, America's Cup races, and yummy food with my parents who came into town, and on the actual day of my birthday I threw myself a little birthday party with some of my girlfriends. One or two people made comments like "You shouldn't have to throw your party!" but I smiled and said, "That's what I want to do!"  And indeed it's exactly what I wanted to do.  Why leave it to chance? Why risk it not being fulfilling in the ways that only I could possibly know I need? Why not create the evening I most wanted to experience?  Besides, life has been full with so many different events and groups the last couple of years that so many of my friends hear me talk about each other but haven't actually had the privilege of meeting each other. I could think of nothing I wanted more than to be surrounded by some of my friends and showing them off to each other, possibly even launching a few new friendships among them!

We live in a world where there is only a 50% chance that any two of our closest friends know each other! It's so easy to meet people from here-and-there, giving us the feeling, at times, of having lots of friends but not really having a "group" of friends.  I've realized recently that I have several amazing groups of friends, but that my worlds hadn't collided in a little while.  It was time! A birthday is a fabulous excuse to bring the people we love together! (And with my birthday being on 9/11 I feel an ever greater joy and honor to spend that evening celebrating life and friendships!)

So I made my dream list of local friends. They were quite varied: one has been a friend for the entire 8+ years I've lived in San Francisco and another I just met in May; one was in her early 30's and another in her early 60's, one came in fierce stilettos & fashion garb and another one was make-up free and walking around in her socks; one is traveling around the world on a mission with her life-changing book and another one who isn't quite sure what she'll be doing next; one who has created and celebrates her financial abundance and another who isn't exactly sure how to pay next month's rent; half are mothers, half are not; one has been married over twenty years, another is happily single... And those are just some of the differences between those who could come!

The night was SO very special. I kept the planning easy (tacos!) so that hosting was a breeze.  I wasn't there to impress anyone with my party throwing skills as much as I was there to make sure everyone felt loved!  I don't think anyone who came knew more than 2 other people, some didn't know anyone but me.  But by the end of the evening, I couldn't have been more blessed by the loved felt in the room.  Email addresses were being exchanged, photos texted to each other, and I just sat their gleaming in pride at how amazing my friends are!

That's me in the white tank--the little black lines read love...love...love...:)-- surrounded by some of the women I'm lucky enough to call friends.  Call me a grateful birthday girl!

In fact, one might think that to sit in a room with amazing women who are showing up in this world in such big, beautiful, authentic, and deep ways might be intimidating.  But on the contrary.  As I went around the circle describing each friend to the others I kept hearing myself use words such as "truth speaker," "strong," "independent," "a fierce protector of causes and people," "living out her mission," and "generous." Those words kept coming up over-and-over, and I slowly realized that even while we all couldn't be more different from each other, in other ways we lived out the truism that "You are the sum of your friends."

These ladies have rubbed off on me... been contagious in their courage.  I've not only been more inspired to be those things I admire because of watching them be those things, but it has given me permission to be those things without fear of failure, judgment, or jealousy.  We see each other all doing our best to be the blessing in this world we feel called to be and we cheer each other on. They give me confidence.

My take-aways for you:

1) Throw your own party! I am proud of myself for planning the party I most wanted.  And I ended the night with satisfaction that I was surrounded by the women I wanted around me and that I could run the party how ever I wanted! (complete with sharing questions and stories about each woman!)

2)  Show your gratitude!  I actually named mine a Girlfriend Gratitude Birthday Party, went around the room and bragged on each women in front of everyone, and sent them each home with a card telling them what I admire about them.  (You can get more ideas from my book on page 134-135.)

3) Don't be afraid to collide your circles! I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I felt a small pang of worry the afternoon of the party wondering if my circles of friends  were just too different from each other to really connect, but deep in my heart I knew they'd all rally and fall in love with each other, just as I had.  And it was magical!  Now I feel more joy knowing that many of my friends have met each other.  (And it makes me want to throw myself a monthly birthday party just to do it all again!)

The season of thanks is coming!  So you don't need a birthday to plan your own little soiree.  Just pick a date in early November for a Girlfriend Gratitude Party of your own, make a list of girlfriends and start inviting!  :)

 

 

The Friendships You've Always Wanted: Selecting the Friendship Faculty

So what a very interesting experience I've had in the last three weeks as I was interviewing the leading relationship experts in the country! No surprise that even I had a lot to learn! The Back Story....The Vision

It started because I had this almost-vision-like picture of hundreds of women all committing to focus on their friendships in the same month.  At first I dismissed it as a silly and fluffy and over-dramatic idea... but it kept feeling important.  It reminded me of being a pastor when we'd gather everyone for prayer-meeting. Even without understanding how prayer really works, there is something powerful about everyone doing it together, in purpose, in solidarity.  There is just a different energy that everyone feels in those moments that is very different from the experience of praying alone.  So anyway, I began to listen to that voice and ended up committing to invite all the women I know to join me for one-month of focused attention, hope, and learning in the area of our friendships.

Then... as I looked at my calendar to see which month I should aim for... International Women's Friendship Month jumped out at me and I just knew it was meant to be.

So then I had the vision and a date.  But because I'm what StrengthsFinder calls a Maximizer-- someone who takes something good and wants to make it excellent (trust me, it can feel like a curse at times!)--I started to brainstorm a gazillion inspirational ideas that convinced me I wanted to offer not just my own voice to this month, but I wanted to collaborate, invite, include, and connect with other experts. I made my dream list....

The Doubts and Insecurities

But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to sometimes being jealous of some of these experts--for their big book deal, their opportunities, their contacts, their credentials, their research, their niche, their angle, etc.

Here I am with the wealth of books I selected to feature in this month's "The Friendships You've Always Wanted!" friendship course!

And on the flip-side (because insecurity and arrogance are two sides of the same coin), I wondered if I'd like some of their answers and approaches as well as my own.  I cringe to admit it for I definitely don't think I'm more valuable than anyone, but sometimes it's easy to judge others within our own industry and feel like they should have the same approach I have.  I've been known to think critically of others as "too academic sounding," or for "giving advice that seems so trite or appears to be dumbing-down," or for getting caught up in the labeling of unhealthy friendships, which isn't my style.  I guess it's human nature to be trying to figure out where we each rank next to each other.  But it's not the person I want to be.

My fear definitely reared its little head.  But I knew, to my core, that I had much to learn from all of them, and that you would, too.  And I knew that we were all on the same page about helping you foster the best friendships you can... and that you'll learn better from different voices and styles. (Funny how sometimes we fear even what we know is right and good and truthful!)  But my conviction that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that friendships around the world will be better because we collaborated, pushed me through my insecurities and I reached out with the invitation to share them with my audience.

All that to say I am super proud of the "faculty" that I pulled together for this course.  Really, really proud.  When Ori Brafman wrote me back on Twitter and said he'd give me an interview (I quote his research from Click in my own book!)-- I squealed with delight!  When I interviewed Dr. Paul Dobransky--whose definition of friendship will help you know clearly which ones to end--about how we can set better boundaries, I was taking notes myself, amazed at how he was explaining things.  When I read Sophia Dembling's book The Introverts Way-- I was convinced I'd find her and beg her for an interview, which she happily agreed to give.  I could go on-and-on.  I secured a dozen amazing teachers.

I interviewed twelve amazing experts-- sociologists, psychologists, a university professor, many NYT bestselling authors,  an organizational consultant, a women's leadership coach, a marketing executive, and so many more roles.  What they all have in common is a wealth of wisdom that pertain to our friendships.

Here's a sampling of what you can learn from these teachers:

  • Why needing new friends is normal—and how to show up with less guilt, anxiety, and shame.
  • The one thing more important to friendship than chemistry
  • The best ways to make friends in a way that is congruent to your personality
  • Is it true that we are the sum of our five closest friends? If so, in what ways are you being impacted and influenced?
  • The five science-based accelerators that deepen our friendships
  • How many people you need to meet to actually find the number of friends you want
  • The biggest obstacle to friend-making and how to best respond
  • The three most effective tips for making new friends
  • How to determine healthy expectations for different levels of friendship
  • The biggest red-flags to watch out for and what to do when you see them showing up in your friendships!
  • How you can prevent friendships from being ruined by jealousy and competition
  • The boundaries that you need to set to ensure that you participate in mutually reciprocated friendships
  • The three most important practices you can add to your life to attract more love
  • Which of the five types of friends you already have and which ones you want to find
  • An exercise to help you feel less judgmental and jealous of your friends.
  • How to tell the difference between what friendships can be saved and which ones need to end

But I learned so much more than that list can convey.  I learned that even when my advice would be very different from someone I was interviewing... I heard the wisdom in their approach and knew it would be exactly what someone needed to hear.  My ego certainly likes me to think that my approach is healthiest, or best; but what is clear is that while none of us has every answer to your every friendship woe (because every circumstance and person and relationship is just sooo different!), we all also have expertise that can shine in different areas.  How we each speak to this subject and approach it is just so different, and so beautiful.

It has been a gift to work on something as comprehensive as this project. (Where else is there a friendship program featuring so many teachers and subjects?)  I'm really proud of the work.  And I so hope that you are one of the women I saw in my vision who was willing to say "I will focus on my friendships for one month. Count me in."

I hope you can join us.  Hundreds of women coming together to make the world a better place by making sure we're each supported, connected, and loved in ways that matter.

With love,

Shasta

p.s.  To learn more about the program and to sign-up to join us, visit www.FriendshipsWanted.com.

An Interview with Urban Campfire Founder: Melody Biringer

One of the upcoming events where I'm speaking is in Seattle next month.  I'm so looking forward to Urban Campfire, not just because it's in an airplane hangar, but because we get to roast marshmallows and sit around campfires with small groups of other women!  Fun!  The idea is so creative that I wanted to interview CRAVE founder and the Urban Campfire brainchild, Melody Biringer, about women and connections.   I interview the genius behind the fun-- Melody Biringer!

Melody, you have a long history of being passionate about women's friendships, and your latest brainchild is proof of that!  Urban Campfire is such a novel idea… tell us what it is!

Melody: "Urban Campfire is an all day event intended to engage women in authentic conversations about business, relationships and life. We encourage them to ditch their heels and don theirs sneakers as Urban Campfire prepares to engage them in a high-octane, unique, and meaningful experience. This isn’t a conference, it’s a fire. We plan on igniting the spark that has flickered within you. We promise to delight and inspire with a star-studded line-up of TED Talk style speakers and a veritable who’s-who in Seattle and beyond attendee list."

You have an awesome line-up of speakers including Danielle LaPorte, the catalyst for our desires and vision, Jen Louden, the self-care queen, and Sue Bryce, a woman we all hope will one day be our photographer for a session! But what I love, even more, than the inspirational line-up is your idea of women coming together in small groups, around campfires to share their own stories.  What do you hope is felt by the women who are sitting around these campfires sharing themselves with other women?

Have you been to an event with this lay-out yet? Super fun to not only be listening to speakers, but then sharing and connecting with a small group!

Melody: "There is something about the conversations we have around a campfire... we are more vulnerable and open to sharing. I want everyone to experience this kind of authentic openness through Urban Campfire. By sharing stories and making meaningful connections, I hope women are able to rekindle their flame! This isn’t the type of conference where you sit back and half listen while multi-tasking. It’s the kind of event where your critical thinking skills are engaged and your heart is opened."

You are undoubtedly a connector of women.  What is a driving memory for you that propels you to bring women together for connecting?

Melody: "I didn't seek out girlfriends til after I turned 30.  (what is up with that?) When I finally saw the light that I needed the connection of women for all kinds of things-- magic seemed to happen.  My favorite pastime is going on walks or hosting dinner parties with like-minded women; telling and listening to each others stories throughout the entire spectrum of life.   Especially walking, there is something about the heart pumping while telling stories that helps you get more authentic and juicy."

The other thing I love about this one-day rendezvous you have planned is your interest in women of all ages connecting. Tell me about two of your friends-- one who is older and one who is younger-- and what you enjoy about those women.

Melody: "I have a friend who is 25 that sometimes I forget how young she really is.  She is in start-up mode with her business and I LOVE to talk business.  It is so refreshing to listen to her stories, her fears, and her excitement about life.  I learn so much from her and she makes me feel like I have a lot to offer her too, so the feeling is mutual.   My older-than-me-friend just gets everything, we can talk for hours about nothing and yet if feels so satisfying.  We never have an agenda or feel like we need to solve anything.  It just feels good to be doing nothing together."

And because of your vast experience in women's networks, I'd be curious to get your take on what you see happening with women's relationships today.  What is one thing that discourages you and one thing that encourages you that you are hearing, seeing, and experiencing?

Melody: "I find it discouraging when women view each other as competitors and not collaborators. I wish we could we have a more collective feeling of togetherness. I think that is changing with time and it encourages me that more collaborations are happening."

And last, in keeping with your theme that you're giving all 10 speakers that day, of which I'm honored to be one, “If you had ten minutes to tell the world what you’ve learned, what you know to be true…what would that be?”  what would be the message of your talk?

Melody: "I would talk about knowing yourself and to try not to be in too many downward spirals throughout life.  I would much rather be on an upward spiral because magic happens when you are positive and just try to make things happen.  It is about the forward movement that makes me happy and when I am stuck I go into down mode. Remembering when I am down to pick back up and do something, put yourself out there, again, is the joy of life.  The outcome is not as important as the game you get to play while trying to get there.  Plus it is way more fun to hang with like-minded friends along the way that can cheer you on as you also are their biggest cheerleaders.  And don't forget to take time out to make a s'more every once in a while and remember what your marshmallow really is. #whatsyourmarshmallow"

Melody-- I just want to applaud you for your vision.  I think it's beautiful! And I want to make sure everyone has all the info so they can decide to join us.  This is a great excuse to fly to Seattle to visit a friend and attend this unique event.  :)

What: Urban Campfire When: Tuesday August 13 2013. 1pm to 9pm Where: Hangar 30 in Warren G. Magnuson Park, Seattle WA Highlights: Fireside chats, food trucks, dance party, s'mores. Cost: One ticket = $95 / Two or more tickets = $75 each Website: http://thecravecompany.com/urbancampfire/

And one final detail for all the readers of my blog... buy your Urban Campfire ticket here and save $35!  That way it's only $60 instead of $95!  Hope to see you there!!!  Come introduce yourself to me so we can be sure to meet!  xoxo

From Strangers to Friends: Our Travel Circle to Cuba

After we had all checked in at the Miami airport on June 16 for our charter flight to Cuba, I remember thinking, "Oh wow, I hope this works." And by this I meant, 15 women who had never met each other deciding to travel for 10 days together in a foreign country. It could go one of three ways: 15 women traveling beside each other but not really connecting as a group, 15 women getting sick of each other and whining and judging the whole time, or 15 women ending up feeling the bond of friendship.

In this photo we don't yet even know each others names... but the trip ahead of us is going to be amazing!
In this photo we don't yet even know each others names... but the trip ahead of us is going to be amazing!

I looked around at our group of strangers spread apart in age from 22 to 67, with one trying to figure out if she had time to get a manicure at the airport and others looking like they had never had a manicure in their lives, and observed how seemingly different we all were from each other.  While trying to remember each others names you could tell we each had our questions about how this experience would yet play out...

My Top 5 Take-Away's

  1. We don't have to be like each other to like each other.  No doubt we were all so very different: some women looked like they had stepped out of fashion magazines every day of the trip while others seemed to be wearing the same outfit in every photo; some women undoubtedly came with unlimited budgets while others were rationing out their CUC's with worried eyes; some looked like they were ready to dance anytime a tune was heard while others needed to put their feet up and rest in the van; some never turned down an opportunity to drink the island rum or local beer while others seemed much happier with water the whole time. We were an eclectic group to be sure. I say all that only to help highlight the beautiful truth that we all really, really, really liked each other. From day one all the way to day ten.
  2. One of my favorite aspects of the trip turned out to be the age span of the group.  It was SO enriching to build relationships with women you might not hang out with back home. What wisdom!
  3. Friendships are meaningful no matter how different they might look.  For some, this trip will simply be the starting point of their friendships: some women stayed up late into the night whispering with their roommates, others rented the classic old cars together for adventures where they spent the whole afternoon laughing and sharing. For all of us though, even if we didn't come home with new best amigas, we know we have new friends. Without being asked, we simply sat in different seats in the van and switched who we joined for meals-- making sure we all got to know each other in ways that mattered. We're all writing each other this week mentioning the withdrawals we're all feeling from not being together, sharing our photos, and planning a reunion dinner next month for those who can make it!  I expect to feel close to these women for quite some time.
  4. Toasting new friendships with one of many mojitos!
  5. Group travel encouraged stimulating conversations and sharing. We all too often go on a trip and get lost in our own thoughts; but in a group, we were able to hear different view points, externally process our own thoughts, ask questions, and honor our shared curiosity.  As we all tried to make sense of the impact of the U.S. embargo, how grateful Cubans were for Fidel Castro when most of us Americans had heard only negative things about him, and what socialism looked like in reality-- I was ever grateful to have a group of wise women each processing the same. Several of us walked through the Museum of the Revolution together trying to make sense of the history, my roommate shared with me some background to the political system, our local guide kept revealing how Cubans see their own experience, and all of us kept processing what we were learning in ways that served each other.  At lunches we'd often talk at tables about what we had learned in the mornings and dinners were filled with us sharing our highlight moments.
  6. IMG_1218
  7. Learning makes my travel mean so much more! I've traveled to Mexico to lay on a beach without giving any thought to how their government is structured, gone to Italy to eat pizza without caring about their women's movement, or ridden a camel in Morocco without grasping what causes they are currently struggling with. In order to travel to Cuba legally, though, we had to apply for educational/professional/people-to-people visas which means we had to put in 40 hours of learning. That translated to sitting down with a university professor of gender and African studies to better understand the cultural shifts they've experienced and are still undergoing.  It meant visiting a neighborhood community center and dancing and singing with the locals.  It meant meeting an artist and having him share with us what his work means to him.  It meant meeting with the Federation of Cuban Women and hearing the history of the women's movement in that country.  It meant walking away with a greater appreciation not just for the country as a tourist experience but really understanding and admiring who that country has been and is today. Not every GirlFriendCircles.com Travel Circle itinerary will be as full of learning as Cuba needed to be... but I'm convinced I want to do a little more of it than simply sight-seeing and relaxing!
  8. IMG_1149
  9. Women rock!!! Did you know that Cuba is ranked #3 globally in women's political participation with 48.9% women holding seats in their Parliament? (U.S. is ranked #79 this year!)  Not just are we committed to traveling as groups of women, but we want to learn about the women in the country we're visiting, too! So in Cuba that meant eating dinner in the home of the Three Anna's (a mom and her two daughters who rent out rooms to travelers) in Cuba de Santiago and asking them what it's like to be female entrepreneurs.  It meant dance classes and perfume making!  It meant looking at how free education and free healthcare leveled the playing field in that country for women and minority groups.  It meant that when we were guided through the fine arts museum that the female guide focused on women artists, the women who inspired the male artists, and how women were objectified or seen at different times.  Fascinating!  I loved being reminded of our connection with our sisters in another country.

Cuba was thought-provoking and fascinating.... the embargo means no Coca-Cola, McDonalds, or Starbucks. Where else have you been where you've seen that reality?

Easily the most famous face in Cuba... Che is one of about five revolutionary heroes.
Easily the most famous face in Cuba... Che is one of about five revolutionary heroes.

The whole country is like a land caught in a time warp where it may be decaying, but you can see the grandeur of their history since it hasn't yet been bull-dozed for condos or replaced with corporate skyscrapers. The people have dance and music running through their veins, along with big doses of idealism, love, and generosity.  While we uphold movie stars and singers, they revere their revolutionaries.  It was a city of dichotomy where the vision of who they want to be is so spectacular and yet how it plays out can sometimes leave you feeling pangs of sadness... (which is true of the U.S. too.) What a trip!

A huge thanks to the fourteen other women who made my trip so meaningful and memorable.  You each added such a special essence to our group chemistry.  I wouldn't have wanted it without a single one of you.

One of my favorite photos almost captures the whole group as we head out for an evening in Old Havana!
One of my favorite photos almost captures the whole group as we head out for an evening in Old Havana!

And to those who feel the tug to travel... We invite you on one of our upcoming trips this fall!  We have Egypt from Sept. 26-October 6, Iran from Sept 26-October 6, Peru from Sept. 29- October 11, and Cuba from Nov. 3-12.  So whether you want to cruise down the Nile in Egypt, behold Machu Picchu in Peru, see the Persepolis in Iran, or salsa in Cuba-- we will take good care of you and introduce you to new girlfriends who are drawn to travel! All our trips are for women, by women, about women.  You are so welcome to join the magic!