Girlfriends Matter

 

Welcome to Kathleen Pooler, who has joined us today to discuss the nature of friendship.  It is a subject of considerable interest to me, as the protagonist of my novel has never had the kind of girl friends that Kathy describes here and in her novel.

 

Some women pray for their daughters to marry good husbands. I pray that my girls will find girlfriends half as loyal and true as the Ya-Yas.”                               Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

I have plenty of awesome male friends whom I respect and admire but there is something unique and special about girlfriend relationships.

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Carol Bodensteiner, Kathy Pooler, and Mary Gottschalk in Osceola, Iowa

I have always valued my girlfriends from every phase of my life. Together, we have experienced the joys and sorrows, the frustrations and challenges, the ruts and growth spurts of our lives. As I age, I find that I value them even more—both the old and new friends.

In the words of a popular Beatles’ tune: “I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.”

Martha tried to convince me not to marry when she listened to my doubts. Sharon coaxed me up the stairs and out the door the day I left my first husband because of his drinking. Judy supported me before, during and after both my divorces. Eileen opened my eyes to God’s presence in my life. Mary Sue and her family became my family away from my family. Meredith and Denise rallied around me when I escaped from my second husband for fear of physical abuse…

These are a few of many who stood by me—steady and true—through my life challenges. I had to find my own way in my own time but their presence in my life made a positive difference in helping me move forward.

Therefore, it came to no surprise to me when I read this UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women posted by Gale Berkowitz in 2002:

“This landmark study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage and help us remember who we really are”

And the friendship phenomenon is research-based.

As stated in the article, this study came about when two women scientists, Dr. Laura Klein and fellow researcher Shelley Taylor discovered in a casual conversation over coffee in a lab at UCLA one day that “when men get stressed, they hole up; when women get stressed, they make coffee, clean the office and bond, ‘tend and befriend’.” This spearheaded a movement to include women in stress research and the results confirm what we already know:

 “Women live longer than men and friends help us live longer.”

In the same article, The Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that

The more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life.”

I am fascinated by this study even though it confirms what I have already experienced throughout my entire life—girlfriends matter. And the older I get, the more they matter. As we age and face more hardships—physical decline, loss of family and friends—we need each other more than ever.

In my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, I show how my girlfriends give me strength and help me to move forward in my life. When I sat down to write this story, I had no conscious intent to include them. They showed up in my writing as they had shown up in my life to counsel and guide me.

And the many friends—YOU– (girls and guys) I have had the pleasure of bonding with on my writing journey are on the top of my list of people who matter and have made a positive difference in my life.

I will admit to being partial to girlfriend time—to bond in ways only girlfriends can bond. Who else can I go shopping with, spend hours on the phone or over coffee, get honest opinions about fashion trends, giggle over silly memories or whine over minutia with without getting a glazed-over look?  Just saying….

How about you? How have you experience girlfriend relationships?

KathyPoolerBrighterAbout the Author: Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28.2014 and work-in-progress sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments:  domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com

You can reach Kathy at:

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Goodreads

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Kathleen Pooler/Memoir Writer’s Journey (Facebook)

Comments

  1. I worked in a male-dominated business for much of my career, with little time or opportunity to develop female friendships. Only later in my career and since leaving the 8-5 world have I found and nurtured my women friends. Now I can’t imagine my life without them; they’re priceless to me.

    • Mary Gottschalk says

      I had the same experience until I was in my 40’s … now I don’t know how I’d cope without women friends.

  2. Hi Carol, other than the fact that my career was female-dominated, I wholeheartedly relate to your comments. “I can’t imagine life without (my girlfriends); they’re priceless to me.” Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Thanks, Mary for participating in my Wow Blog Tour and being such a gracious host. I always enjoy being your guest. It’s an honor. What’s even better is that you, Carol and I were able to meet in person. The photo you included captures the memory of that special day. Yay to girlfriends!

    • Mary Gottschalk says

      Kathleen … thanks so much for this lovely piece … and I was delighted to be able to do my bit to promote your memoir. And yes, getting to meet in person was a special treat!

  4. I agree, Kathy. Girlfriends are wonderful. Right now, in fact, I am sitting in the comfy chair of my friend Janet a day after she officially announced her engagement. She’s sponsoring a little book talk for me at her church tomorrow, and soon another friend and I will travel to Chicago just so we can sit and talk for hours about our lives.
    I have two groups of girlfriends who have traveled my life’s path with me for decades.
    And, like Mary, I have to give a shout out to the blessings of online author friendships. I’m still glowing from having spent hours with Carol Bodensteiner (pictured above) yesterday.

    Kathy, I’m getting a kick out of the 101 ways you have of spinning themes out of your memoir on these blog posts. They all work! You go, girl.

    • Mary Gottschalk says

      Shirley .. thanks for stopping by … I only wish I’d been there with you and Carol in Iowa City. And I agree that Kathy has an amazing ability to find important themes in her memoir. I’ve tried to do that with A Fitting Place, and managed to keep it going for a year (but only with the help of thought-provoking contributors. Would you consider being one?

  5. One of my muse’s, Melody Beattie, once wrote, “Friends are a reflection of the issues we’re working on.” And indeed, haven’t we all found that as we collect new social media friends as a result of the “issue” of getting our books out there. And I’m so glad we have. Here’s to friendship. Thank you Kathy for your gift of friendship to me over the past few years; you are so generous with what you have learned. And thank you Mary for the promise of friendship to come. I think we may have been sisters in a past life. And thank you Carol for the reminder that friendship needs nurturing too. Group Hug

    • What a fascinating quote and so true, Janet. Our common goals and struggles certainly have helped forge some strong bonds. I, too, feel enriched by our friendship and all the ways we grow and expand our knowledge through our connections. I had never even heard of Kazakhstan before I met you and now I feel I’ve been there and met the people through your stories! Priceless.

    • Mary Gottschalk says

      Janet … I like the idea of being sisters in a past life …. I think we should explore that more. And I relate so much to the idea of friends that fit the moment (the subject of a recent blog that I did). I only wish it were more possible to hold on to some of those “for the moment” relationships, which were so lovely at the time.

  6. Thanks Kathy and Mary for this lovely post. Where would we be without girlfriends. As you’ve illustrated, Kathy, we’d be in some trouble. Thanks to both of you for your encouragement and friendship! I’m so glad you’re out there. Maybe someday we’ll meet in person!

  7. Oh, Shirley, I love these girlfriend stories–both in person and online. And I agree with you about meeting online friends in person. Meeting Mary and Carol in Iowa this September for the first time and feeling like we’d known each other all along was magical. I hope you and I get to do the same someday. As far as the “101themes”, it is rather amazing how many themes can pop up from one story! Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Hi Joan, I’m glad you’re out there too and I hope we do get to meet someday. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Mary Gottschalk says

    Nice to see you here, Joan … and yes, I do look forward to meeting in person!

  10. In a world where so much negativity is tied to bad relationships or sexual hook ups as setting the bar for deeper emotional connections…isn’t it SO VERY TRUE…the ones who stand by us tend to be the ones titled not by papers of the courts of laws…but by bonds of admiration based on this struggle that’s called life…from the trivial to the exceptional…the cataclysmic to the mundane…our friendships hold is up….through the torrents and narrow gates…where some lovers absolutely leave us stranded. Praise for recognizing that girlfriends Matter and detaching that idea from it meaning one in pursuit of a ring…or a title one carries only when coupled!! ( Hmmmm)

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