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An Interview with Tiffany: Why I Love GirlFriendCircles.com

In talking to Tiffany this fall she kept crediting GirlFriendCircles with giving her a circle of friends who helped her through a health crisis. I'd say all credit goes to her for fostering friendly people into friends, but her story was so inspiring, I asked her if she'd be willing to share it with all of you! Tiffany was a member of GirlFriendCircles.com in San Francisco, CA for nearly 2 years and is still a huge advocate and ambassador.

So, Tiffany, this particular part of your story begins this last September...

Yes, it was right after Memorial Day and I ended up needing to go to the hospital because I was in so much pain.  I couldn't have guessed upon arrival that they would be telling me that not only were they keeping me there, but also that I needed emergency surgery.

And how did you respond? 

Well I immediately called two friends of mine (one whom I had met through GirlFriendCircles.com) and they put out the word about where I was and what had happened.

The response was unbelievable.

Anne, Julia, Tiffany, and Maurine-- once strangers, now good friends because of GirlFriendCircles.com

Three of our friends, who we had also met through GirlFriendCircles.com (GFC), came and spent hours with me in the emergency room so I wouldn’t have to be alone.  (What makes this even more special is that one of them is an avowed germaphobe who avoids hospitals!) My surgery ended up becoming a 3 ½ day hospital stay.  And there was honestly not one day that went by that this amazing group of women did not call, visit, text, etc. I am convinced that the love and support from them is what made the healing process go so quickly.

I spent two weeks recuperating at home and the “amazingness” continued.  People visited, called, texted, brought me food, took me to doctor’s appointments, stayed with me when I needed it…. It was a truly humbling experience to be on the receiving end of that much love.

Before all this happened, I had in my head that these women were my “village” and it was gratifying to know that it translated to real life!

Take me back to that moment when you realized you actually had friends who were supporting you through this crisis… what did you feel?

I felt incredibly blessed and grateful.  I met all these women through GFC.  The women who show up to GFC, and are intentional about making friends and building community, really do make the world a better place to live.

As a single woman who doesn't live near family, I basically lived through a crisis that would have been so much worse had it happened a few years ago, before I had built up a circle of friends.  We've all had times where we've wondered, "Who would I call in an emergency situation?" and this time, I knew the answer.

Oh that makes me so happy to hear! How did going through this together impact your friendships? 

The ultimate impact of this was that my FRIENDS became my FAMILY in the truest and best sense of that word.  Even though I was the one who was sick, we all now know that we have each other’s back when the chips are down.  We have a community where we lean on each other and celebrate each other’s wins.  We've proven it to ourselves!

It truly was an amazing experience to be a part of.  To me, it's not too big of a statement to say that none of it would have been possible without GirFriendCircles.com. To meet women who were ready and willing to develop meaningful friendships literally gave me a support system, a tribe in this city.

Anything else you want to say?

My take-away is that it is so worth it to invest the time and energy into building a network of female friendships.  I am convinced they are the root of a happy and successful life!

I hope I've been able to convey how amazing and special this group of friends is / has become and that none of it would be possible without us all meeting through GFC. I am so grateful.  Thank you Shasta for starting this...

You're so welcome Tiffany.  Thank you for jumping in, meeting people, and taking the time to foster friendships-- that's where the magic was!

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Tiffany attended 8 Connecting-Circles & 1 Friendship Accelerator during her membership in GirlFriendCircles and that combination of involvement has given her a strong circle of local girlfriends.

Membership deal: Until Dec. 2, women can save 20% off a GirlFriendCircles.com membership, ensuring that your 2014 is filed with invitations to local ConnectingCircles. Promo Code: UPGRADE

Friendship Accelerator: And if you, or someone you know, lives in New York City, San Francisco, or Las Vegas-- I'll be in those cities in early 2014 offering Friendship Accelerators! More info here.

 Want more inspiring stories from real GFC members:

Advice & Encouragement from GirlFriendCircles.com Members

When I interviewed Shoshana a few weeks back about her personal experience in GirlFriendCircles.com down in the L.A. area, I discovered that a group of 11 women from GirlFriendCircles.com all went on an overnight trip together to San Diego, a couple of hours away. I was so thrilled at the idea of a group of women building their friendship in such a way that I immediately asked if a few of them would share their experiences with all of us so we might just see what is possible!  :) Not the best photo quality but at least all 11 of us are in this one!

How did this trip come about?

Shoshana: "I can't remember exactly how the San Diego trip came about, but after talking about going to Santa Barbara and maybe renting a house for the weekend, we ended up landing on San Diego since most of the girls could only do one night. I then created a Facebook page for the trip and invited everyone to join. Another one of the girls made the suggestion to take the train and we were off. I reserved rooms for us at the Hard Rock Hotel and for our dinner, collected everyone's money through Paypal or checks, and posted on our Facebook page all the info that everyone needed, including which train to buy their tickets for. We got seats together and talked for 3 hours the whole way there and back. It was definitely a great way to travel with 11 girls. I'm not so sure our neighbors on the train would agree!"

Dinner was so much fun after having talked all afternoon on the train!

What did you all do together on this trip?

Shoshana: "We hung out by the pool, had a great time eating dinner together, and basically just hung out together.  A highlight was definitely dinner! We were seated in front of a big window on a busy street so a lot of men enjoyed dancing for our big group of women in front of the window or ripping their shirts open which produced a lot of fun laughs. (We were in San Diego's Gaslamp district so it's a very fun scene.) After dinner we went to a place for dancing for a little while before hitting up a rooftop bar. But my favorite part of the trip was getting to know the girls better during the train ride down and back where we could all just talk.  The going out and pool part was fun, too, but the activities mattered less to me than the time I got to spend connecting with these great women."

Okay, bringing in a few other GirlFriends-- tell me what you were feeling on your way home from this weekend!

Yana: (a member since Dec. 2012, who first went on a one-on-one and then started meeting others through ConnectingCircles)  "On my way home from San Diego as I looked around at this group of women, I felt..... like part of a community and grateful to have these amazing women in my life! Why? It was such a diverse collection of women of all backgrounds/ages/professions and yet we all took the initiative to get together and go on an overnight trip. Eleven girls traveling could be a recipe for disaster but everyone had such a good time eating, dancing, and socializing."

Kelly: My first event with GFC was last October. I signed up for the site after Googling "how to make friends in LA." Moving from another state, I found it really hard to connect with people in this city.  But on my way home from San Diego, I felt really happy knowing I'd met an awesome group of women who are all interested in making friends and sharing new experiences. Looking at the group of women that spans the age range of 26-44, its amazing we all met over the past 6 months and have become friends that hang out all the time.  I've finally connected!

Nina: I feel like I'm super lucky to have gotten to know such a lovely group of women. Each and every one of them has been committed to developing friendships. They are an open-minded, kind bunch of girls who simply likes to have fun and experience life together. I moved to LA 7 years ago, and up until this point... I had really struggled with forming close friendships with women in LA. I had girlfriends, but hardly any of them were local. Now I have this group of supportive SoCal women in my life that I couldn't be more thankful for.

As for specific memories from the San Diego trip....when we were eating dinner, we kept drawing attention to ourselves b/c we were such a big group of women sitting by a window. People kept waving at us. A little boy even kept coming up to our table to perform dances for us. It was super fun to get away and spend time just chatting/ really getting to know the girls that I roomed with.

A few of us waiting for the others while enjoying drinks!

Stephanie: My first event with GFC was only a month or two before this trip! I went to a happy hour in Venice, organized by Shoshana, in the first part of June and met half a dozen women, most of whom came to San Diego.  On my way home from that trip... as I looked around at this group of women on the train with me I felt a few things:  Very proud of myself that I had reached out, risked being vulnerable and asked for friendship, and also lucky to be in the company of women who are making their way with courage, openness and a sense of self that just nice to be around. We had all had fun in the group as a whole, but some of us had broken off into smaller groups and done our own thing.  It seemed like everyone was content with the weekend happening whatever way made everyone comfortable. We all had each other's backs at the clubs and if someone needed out of a situation, there was someone there to extract them.

Shoshana: Yes! One of the important things we learned about group travel was to give everyone the freedom to do things in their own way.  For example, the distance from the train to the hotel was about was a mile so some of us walked and some of us took a taxi. We then all had a late lunch all together, but then again some of us lounged by the pool while some went to go get manicure and pedicures. At around 6pm we all headed to our rooms to nap/relax/get ready. And again, a few of us were ready first so we went downstairs to sit outside and grab a drink before the others joined us. The wonderful thing about a group that size is that we don't all have to do everything together, but that we could break into smaller groups when appropriate!

So many of us would love to go on a trip with friends... what so you think specifically helped you build these relationships?  In other words, how did you get to this place?

Yana:  I moved to L.A. due to a long distance relationship and a year and a half later still found myself unable to make the city my home. I took the initiative to search for websites to find friends and dove right into making connections and going to events.

What specifically had to happen to create these friendships? Not being afraid of rejection and making the time and commitment to nurture and grow these relationships. I feel like at this point in my life (engaged, new puppy, planning wedding, working in finance) I just don't have the luxury of being in high school and surrounded by people also ready and willing to make that connection. As I didn't go the traditional going away to college and living on campus route, I don't have those 4 years to go back to for friendships. As I get busier and busier it's important to make time for building a foundation of friendship in a new place without the luxury of old friends and family to have my back.

Kelly: We got here because a lot of the girls in the group were proactive in creating their own group events on the GFC CalendarCircles. That made a huge difference. People started inviting other girls from the site they had met individually and pretty quickly there was a larger group of girlfriends.

Nina: My first event with GFC was a Connecting Circle in November at Cafe Gratitude in Venice, CA. I believe there was 5 other girls present, 4 of whom have become close girlfriends of mine. My first impression was something like "Wow! these girls are really nice and normal!"

I was pretty skeptical going into the whole process since I had previously tried to meet some girls in LA via craigslist and had some issues with flakiness, lack of commonality, etc. I was assuming GFC would be more of the same.  But I knew from the very first night that my experience with GFC would be different. The girls were intelligent, sweet, funny and truly open to making friendships. I reached out to a couple of the girls right away after my first Connecting Circle to meet up for coffee or dinner. I think this was the most important step I took, because it ensured that I began to form relationships with some of the girls.

Stephanie: I could see myself being friends with some of these women for a long time.  Some I will perhaps get closer to, and some will come and go.  I think acceptance of each other for who we are is very important, not having too many rules for others to follow, and knowing what my own expectations are from the friendships are important.  I didn't expect to come away with a new BFF - but I may have found a friend or two who I would like to travel with in the future or have other adventures with.  I really loved that so many of them were like me - okay doing things on their own but also happy to be in a group.  It's been a long time since I've had a weekend with women that I came home and felt like the whole thing was a great time.  A very nice memory and (hopefully) the beginning of some new friendships.

Any advice would you have for other women just joining GFC?

Yana: Sign up and reach out to people out of your age range/economic background/likes. It's a bit more difficult to do that in L.A. due to the city being so big and traffic dictating what one does during the week, but weekends are the best. Go to events and make events of your own and don't be afraid to mix your "GFC" friends with connections you've made outside of the website.

Kelly: Try to go to as many of the CalendarCircles and ConnectingCircles as possible because you will meet many different kinds of people and are bound to eventually find one or more new girlfriends you really connect with.

Nina: Even though I met amazing women at the first event, I also continued to attend ConnectingCircles to meet more girls. Once I started to get to know the girls more, I simply made sure that GFC and these ladies were a priority in my life, by attending as many group/ individual get together's as I can.  I even set a specific goal to make sure that I got together with at least one of my new GFC friends at least once/ week and chatted with other girls in between. After awhile, the friendships became more natural. I would definitely recommend taking initiative in reaching out to girls you click with. I also would make sure you make time/ prioritize your new friendships as well.

A huge thanks to Stephanie, Yana, Nina, and Kelly for being willing to share a little of your experiences, and a HUGE thanks to Shoshana for being a catalyst.  What a gift you gave, not just to yourself, but to all these women.  May we have more women like you who are willing to put events out there to help women connect.  There will be friendships formed because of your initiative.  THANK YOU! 

 

 

A Success Story: Shoshana is Making Friends in L.A.

From Shasta:  This is a blog post written by Shoshana K., a member of GirlFriendCircles.com, who is 30, lives in Venice Beach, CA with her boyfriend and two dogs. She runs two charitable foundations and volunteers her time with Big Brothers Big Sisters and developmentally disabled adults.  I think it's so important and inspiring to share our stories with each other! Searching for Friends Online?

While on vacation in Mexico last October celebrating my 30th birthday, my boyfriend and I were discussing how hard it was for me to not have my friends living nearby. I grew up in Orange County, but have been in Los Angeles for several years--it's amazing what a little distance can do to friendships. Between graduate school and working full-time for many years, with no time to go out or to meet people/foster new friendships, I was feeling the absence.

My boyfriend has nice friends who I enjoy spending time with, but I really felt like I should have my own friends as well. He jokingly suggested there should be a site that exists to make friends similar to a dating site (we met on Jdate almost 4 years ago). So I pulled my iPad out and searched on Google. I found GirlFriendCircles.com, liked what I saw, and decided that I would join when I got back to LA.

"This picture is from Isabel's birthday that celebrated at Malibu Wines with our GFC friends. We all brought components for a picnic and hung out there most of the day sipping wine and listening to music." --Shoshana (in the red dress, back row, far right)

I approached the whole experience in a positive and open-minded way. I knew I had a lot to offer potential friends and knew what I was looking for in a group of friends.

Getting Started on GirlFriendCircles.com

My first event was a ConnectingCircle [small group gatherings of women organized by GFC] at Cafe Gratitude in Venice a few blocks from my house. I was looking forward to meeting new women so I was excited, but definitely also a little bit nervous.

Once I got there though I was very comfortable and had a great time talking to the 5 other women I met. The event was a lot of fun, I found it easy to find things to talk about, and the whole thing felt really natural and relaxed.   Afterward, I was definitely looking forward to getting together with some of the women I met and also excited about attending another ConnectingCircle.

After my first event, I attended another ConnectingCircle.  It was at this one that a few of the girls reached out to get phone numbers and to meet up afterward. I ended up meeting one of those girls for dinner the following week (this was back in November) and we have been friends since. (Also, from my first ConnectingCircle, while we did not make immediate plans, there is one girl from my first meeting whom I see regularly and another I see from time to time.)

I think GirlFriendCircles.com clicked for me really quick. I have always had big groups of women in my life: girl scouts, teams, clubs etc. So it was very natural for me to meet women in a group setting. I have found that so many women are just looking to connect so GFC has been the perfect vehicle for me to make new friends. I will say that actually not being afraid to follow-up and call or text or e-mail another member is huge. I think getting over that initial fear of rejection is a big step.

My Friends Now!

"This is a photo of four of us who met through GirlFriendCirlces who joined a group of others to hike in Malibu together, followed by lunch at Neptune's Net. The hike was really challenging--I think it was about 7 miles--but we pushed through and finished!"

Now my friendship circle consists of about 13-15 women I have met from the site. There are a handful I have seen more frequently than the others. We have done hikes, fitness days, birthday celebrations, meals, and many more activities together.

When I first met with Nina for dinner after my second ConnectingCircle we had a long conversation about our love for reading and expressed that we both wanted to be a part of a book club.  She suggested starting one so we got a few other girls interested. We started with maybe 4 girls and have added a few more. She really was the catalyst that started all of this and she continues to maintain the Facebook page and list of potential books. Additionally, she just organized a comedy event and has also talked a group of us into doing a 5k with her in a few months!

I have put together a few fun nights out/in, as well. The first was just at a fun restaurant/bar that about 15 girls attended and then I had a wine night at my house. I am hosting another wine/game night in a few weeks that about 10 girls are attending so far.

It's just amazing to me that I met so many really great women through this community. I might not have everything in common with every single one of them, but I have more than enough things to connect on and we have had so many great times together. I feel like they are there for me and are understanding and supportive and most of all fun to be with.

The beauty of GFC is that we are all on the site looking for the same thing.  And we found it in each other.

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Want to inspire others? Share your friend-making story with us at shasta@girlfriendcircles.com! What has worked?  What hasn't?

Want to see other inspiring stories from our members? Here's one from an Ambassador in Chicago (we recently begged Kathy to become our Ambassador director in case you want to get more involved in that way!) and here's two real stories from NYC!

Note from Shasta:  Over 80% of our members who have attended at least 2 ConnectingCircles say they've made at least 2-3 friends.  The odds are good... what I love about Shoshana's story is that she went to more than one ConnectingCircle, found more success when phone numbers were exchanged and follow-up plans made, and she continues to post and RSVP to events where she not only keeps fostering her newly made friendships for herself, but also keeps giving the opportunity for others to join and connect!  Thank you Shoshana for sharing your story!

 

Reflections on My Katie Couric Interview

Four women who have made friends on GirlFriendCircles.com were interviewed, along with me, by Katie Couric nearly two weeks ago for a segment that aired TODAY, Tuesday, March 12, 2013 on ABC. Katieshot copy

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at What It's Like to Be on Katie Couric

If you're on my GirlFriendCircles newsletter list, you already saw my quick little video made a couple of days ago when I found out when this show was airing.  But if you missed it, I gave a little behind-the-scenes view at what it was like to meet Katie, the fun surprise that caught all of us a bit off guard when we arrived at the ABC studio, and a little glimpse into the VIP treatment of being a guest on a national talk show. So fun!

Reflections on the Entire Friendship Show Segment

But the blog post I really want to write is one I've been waiting nearly two weeks to write!   Since some of what I want to share was about the interviews of others on the Show, I had to wait and let you watch it without any spoilers.  But now that it's aired.... I'm not holding back!  :)

Since my heart is as a teacher, I wanted to point out some great friendship take-away's that came up in the stories of other women on the show.  Here is a list of seven lessons we can learn about friendship just from listening to others share their personal stories.

The other segments included: Katie and her BFF--Wendy Walker -- talking about their friendship since their 20's, the surprise arrival of Larry King to talk about his long ago date with Katie, gal pals and comedians Chelsea Handler and Kathy Najimy, and two women in their eighties (Thelma and Kay) who have been friends for over 75 years.

Seven Friendship Lessons Highlighted on Katie Couric Today:

  1. Everyone needs friends. The Friendship Show opened with a photo montage of celebrity photos, with Katie's voice reminding us that "Even the hottest stars need a shoulder to cry on..." Indeed.  I've witnessed that often it's the women who are the most successful, beautiful, famous, or talented among us are the ones who often are the loneliest.  We all want to belong. (Related blog: There's A Reason They Say It's Lonely at the Top.)
  2. There's value in giving each other a second chance.  One of my favorite lines came from Chelsea Handler when she described the "stink eye" that Kathy gave her when they were being introduced at a Hollywood party.  She was off-put at first, but then said to herself, "Oh yeah, that's probably because she doesn't yet know I'm a good girl." I love that!  I love that even when someone else is intimidated, worried, insecure, judgmental, or whatever else might be getting in their way of showing up with love, that Chelsea didn't take it personally and reminded herself that Kathy doesn't even yet know her, but assumed she would like her once she knew her.  (Related blog: What We Need Are More Women, Fewer Girls)
  3. We need more than 1 Best Friend.  Did you catch the title they gave Wendy Walker, the best friend of Katie Couric?  It said "One of Katie's Best Friends."  I hit this theme a lot in my book that we need more than one BFF. Most of us report being happier and healthier if we feel we have a couple of women in our Committed Circle.
  4. Happiness plays a starring role in our friendships. Chelsea and Kathy certainly have a lot of humor to their friendship, Wendy credits humor to attracting her and Katie to each other, the two older ladies certainly have kept humor as part of their glue with new adventures and "bottles of wine," and the Saturday Night widows kept hitting that theme over and over, saying the word "fun" countless times. While we celebrate friendship with phrases like "crying on each others shoulders," what we really want is someone to add joy to our lives.  I devote the entirety of chapter 7 in my book to the subject of positivity because it's just that important.
  5. Consistency cannot be overrated.  The moment I had the hardest time not interrupting during the show was when Katie asked Thelma and Kay what had kept them together for 74 years and they responded with "We don't really know."  But then did you catch what Thelma said next?  "Well... she comes over once a week... and she's on the top of my prayer list every day."  Oh how I had to restrain myself from not saying "You may not know how it happened, but I do.  It's that gift of regularity that friendships are made of."  (Related blogs: Nothing Kills a Potential Friendship Faster and The Flywheel of Friendship.)
  6. Personality has way less to do with friendship than you think it does. I wanted to jump in and interview the Saturday Night widows after their founder (and author of the book by the same title) Becky Aikman said , "When we first all met I thought it was huge mistake-- we were such a mismatch of personalities." And yet here they are, a group of meaningful friends. Research continues to reveal that we can bond with all kinds of people who we wouldn't normally think we would choose as friends.  As I highlight in chapter 5 of my book "Be open!"  Related blogs: Go Friend-Fishing with a Net, Not a Line! and Do You Have a Friendship Checklist?
  7. Friends from all 5 Circles of Connectedness are important!  I'd venture to guess that Chelsea & Kathy are Left-Side Friends since they're somewhat new to each other, that the Saturday Night Widows are more-or-less Common Friends since they all met to share one specific area in common with each other, that the military woman at the end may have been sitting with her Right-Side friends since they all live nearby, do lots together, and show up to support each other in tangible ways, and that Katie & Wendy are either Committed Friends if they talk regularly or at least Confirmed Friends if they stay-in-touch and can pick-up-where-they-left-off.  I'm only guessing to help show the wide spread of friendships that were highlighted-- each serving a beautiful and valuable purpose. (Related Blogs: How to Find a Best Friend and Frientimacy: The Intimacy of Friends)

Someday I'll be on a show where I actually answer questions, teach healthy friendship, and talk for more than 2 minutes.  But until then, I'll just keep blogging away, teaching workshops, and writing books.  :)

Huge welcome to all my new blog readers who found me today from the Katie Couric show-- I look forward to you meeting other awesome women in this community.