I had the opportunity of a lifetime this weekend:
- to dance and be a nut-ball without judgement
- to laugh at everything
- to go to the bathroom alone
Yes, my friends and I had a girls weekend.
What a weekend it was! Planes, trains and automobiles with flights from both coasts and a three and a half hour car trip from Chicago before these ladies arrived in my home state of Indiana. We ate an illegal amount of seven layer dip and laughed until we cried. I even hit my head a few times, falling back in laughter (worth it). I stayed up way past my bedtime and literally howled at the moon.
We squeezed the life out of every second, we really carpe diem’ed.
Like every great girlfriend though, if we had hung out in the K-Mart parking lot, there is no doubt we still would have had a great time.
Are you totally thinking of your tribe right now?
Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute.
Are you smiling? Awesome.
I met these ladies (we were definitely girls then) as a newlywed in a new town, in an almost-new state that I hadn’t really caught my footing in.
See, I’ve always been an Indiana girl. My home town streets run north, south, east and west. I can strike up conversations with strangers. Not much to say? Let’s chat about how much we need some rain.
Connecticut? Not so much.
My outsiders impression was that you needed to be trusted before you were worthy of eye-contact and you only made eye-contact with the people you trusted.
See the problem there?
Chit-chat is NOT the state pastime. And if you’re lost, it’s probably because you weren’t meant to find it in the first place. I understand that this is a huge generalization and I certainly met lots of kind and lovely people in time. But overall, it was a very difficult transition for me.
When we moved within Connecticut for the third and final time, I was so anxious to meet my neighbor (second sassy blonde to the right) and make her my friend. Someone to connect with! Someone to smile at in our shared driveway! Someone to talk to about how much we needed rain! We’re both blonde – so look – we have so much in common already!
eek. a touch stalker-ish when you type it out.
Luckily for me, stalker-ish or not, that new neighbor and I did eventually connect. And then…wait for it…
She invited me to girls night.
And I don’t mean just any girls night.
I mean GIIIIRLS NIIGHT – said in that Oprah sing-songy voice she uses just before she’s about to give the audience a car, kind of girls night! With a fierce and mighty hostess at its center (sassy brunette in the middle), as long as you brought yourself
and a bottle of wine, you were welcome.
Every month, with few exceptions, for the next few years, I was part of an ever growing and changing group of amazing women. We had a space to connect, eat and dance like fools. We usually laughed so hard and loud that I’m surprised police never showed up with reports of a disturbance. Other times, get togethers were small and intimate with us huddled around on couches talking about the things nearest and dearest to our hearts.
There are two hands that couldn’t make it this time (so we’re actually the Magnificent Seven) and somewhere along the line, this particular group of ladies became something more than part of girls night. Celebrating birthdays, meals in our homes, trips into the city, karaoke (I was a neutral observer), meeting significant others, weddings and then a new zip code for me and new zip codes for a couple more after that.
Through start-ups, divorce, babies, miscarriages, relocations, struggles with health, new homes, new everything, we have stayed connected.
Fast forward and it’s been almost three years since our last get-together. This time, it was my turn to host and we wasted zero time catching up. Gravitating towards the kitchen, we had about four separate conversations going on with the front door still open and half the suitcases still in the car.
What I love about good friends and this group of women in particular, is that we don’t need to wait a prescribed amount of time before the conversation can get real. There is no small talk. EVERYTHING IS BIG TALK! We each had struggles and doubts we were carrying. We each had joys and successes to share. A few bad puns. No one kept these things to themselves for very long.
TOGETHER we empathized and provided compassion.
bossed around problem solved and offered encouragement.
TOGETHER we celebrated victories.
Isn’t that the best stinking thing about friendship?
Now take a minute to think about these things we all do with our closest-friends: empathize, show compassion, encourage, celebrate.
em·pa·thize. verb. understand and share the feelings of another.
com·pas·sion·ate. adjective. feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others.
en·cour·age. verb. give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)
cel·e·brate. verb. honor or praise publicly
They are all action words that CAN NOT be done alone! Just recently, I wrote about love being a verb and now we can add these four to the bunch. Each word has community and connection at it’s center. (I mean, I sometimes try to offer some encouragement to myself in the bathroom mirror, but it’s a little weird.)
As our good friend Brene Brown reminds us in Daring Greatly, “We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”
So talk to your people today, send a random text with a pizza-eating cat emoji, pick up the phone, give a tight hug. Make a connection.
Because we are all, each one of us, ENOUGH.
But together, we’re so, so much more.