Time is precious and who we choose to surround ourselves with is an expression of our identity and the virtues we cherish. I have always known I was a girl’s girl and have revelled in the strength of female bonds.
International friendship day offers us an opportunity to express gratitude to the people in our orbit who have been there through the good and ugly. The women who have toasted our best days and held back our ponytails in our worst. Quality over quantity has been my motto but especially after I became a mom, trying to juggle a career and the needs of my family. Being plagued with guilty working mom syndrome, most of my free time was devoted to my family when my children were young. Girl time was infrequent, and I was never interested in transactional friendships. Girls nights out and girl’s trips offered delicious moments over bubbles, goofy stories and antics without judgement. As my closest advisors, they always provided nuggets of wisdom with my best interest motivating their words. On occasion, their advice was not easy to hear, but the ability to give and receive tough love defines a true friend.
My inner circle of girlfriends goes back 10 to 40 years, and in lots of ways we have grown up together. We have seen each other through graduations, promotions, marriages, divorces, illnesses, births and deaths. Time together offers powerful energy that fuels me and has gotten me through the most challenging moments of my life. It has been an honour to be there for my girlfriends in their moments of need. Seeing their vulnerability, strength and grace in adversity helped form deeper bonds over time.
Tragically I had to say goodbye to 2 of my best friends.
My favorite mentor who became one of my dearest friends for my entire adult life passed away recently after a 12-year battle with breast cancer and not a day goes by I don’t think of her. D and I had a special bond, the kind where we could finish each other’s sentences, picked out wedding dresses together, held hands in the hospital, spent Christmas eves together, showed up accidentally wearing the exact same outfit many times, and would laugh so hard our stomachs hurt. I was drawn to D’s faith and devotion to her family while at the same time she thrived as a CEO of a large retailer. She seemed to have it all, and she taught me about priorities. Selfishly I have remained close to her family as a way to feel her energy and have formed a special bond with D’s daughter.
Losing another friend around the same time for different circumstances gutted me. I met S at work both of us starting our careers at the same time. She was lovely and smart and slightly intimidating. We bonded over our shared ambition and independence. She introduced me to her brother who became my husband and the father of my children. We were each other’s maid of honours and morphed into sisters easily. Sadly, with the breakdown of my marriage, I lost my dear friend. Divorce is a black cloud of pain that impacted our immediate family along with mourning the loss of my marriage I had the added loss of my sister-in-law and former best friend.
There has been a pattern of women I gravitate to; Intelligent, driven, funny, accomplished, honourable, graceful, beautiful and independent. My closest friends are also devoted momma bears and have children and stepchildren. I have great admiration for these women, and they have helped inspire me to be my best self, and on occasion, I have not felt worthy. They have been there for me in immeasurable ways, and I know that if I made the call, they would drop everything and be there for me because they have…repeatedly. They have accepted my weaknesses, and they are low maintenance. I can go a few weeks without responding to a text, and they know when to pull me out of my cave when I go inwards. Some I don’t see as often as I would like but they live inside me always.
Over the course of time, there have been school friends, colleagues and acquaintances who have exhibited some of the petty female characteristics that breed negativity. Pragmatically because my window of time allocated for friends was so small that only the highest quality, loyal and positive women broke through my bubble and became a valued friend. There was just no time to cultivate a relationship with a woman I could not admire as shallow as that may sound. Women need to build each other up, and some still love to tear others down. I f women unanimously pulled together, we could rule the world.
The profile of women I have bonded with is a reflection of the women in my family who have inspired me my entire life. My mom, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins and my precious niece are a collection of smart, accomplished, beautiful, kind, interesting and independent goddesses. I founded my business thanks to the inspiration they offered. My mom and sisters live on a special pedestal. We have the rich history and stories only family can share. We have shared DNA and powerful friendships.
In honor of international friendship day, I pay tribute to: Donna, Erin, Ava, Lillian, Anne, Bebe, Joan, Lorraine, Frances, Marion, Barb, Sara, Susan, Valerie, Evelyn, Rowena, Marilyn, Maya, Jennifer, Debra, Suzanne, Kerry, Karen, Deb, Joyce, Nicole, and Jill. I am inspired, proud and so grateful to have you in my life.