It’s important to recognize a piece of yourself in your friends.
When you feel twin-like compatibility you are open to hearing their message. You trust their thoughts, their answers. As a woman over 50, I know from experience that this is true.
Lessons learned from marriages, moving, widowhood, blending families, travel, volunteering, career, disappointments, education, illness and from my friends and my group have all contributed to my strength. Now that I am a woman over 50 I think of myself as a maven, an expert, and much of that has to do with the many positive interactions I have had with women.
What I find fascinating is how consistent I am in my choice of friends. With the worldliness, I have acquired over the years as a woman over 50 you would think I would move the needle — widen the circle — in my taste in women friends. I am pleasantly surprised that the needle has not budged.
I shouldn’t wonder why. Nor should you. We all chose friends who share our values, our pleasures, and our souls. These women also have a personal distinctiveness that we find appealing and valuable.
Life Is My Greatest Teacher
Before I begin writing about lessons learned from a few of my friends and groups, I need to say that my greatest teacher has been life itself. I believe you feel the same.
As a woman over 50, I have met sensational and diverse women from all over the world. And, oh, what I have learned from them! And, oh, how grateful I am! The group meetings I hold in my home proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that women need other women in their lives. And, life lessons have catapulted me far beyond my expectations.
- FLORENCE: Without saying a word, my French friend, Florence, taught me how to dress with style. Simple style in clothing and accessories with sass is the ultimate in style. An American woman will wear a light grey suit with black or grey heels and handbag. Not a French woman. She will wear the same grey suit but accessorize with pink shoes and handbag. That’s sass and true style, darlings.
- NORMA JEAN: Southern women have charm. They flaunt their femininity in a demure manner but trust me, darlings, they are tuned in. My friend Norma Jean taught me how to secure the hotel room of my choice. She walks up to the desk clerk, tells him her needs and then in her Southern drawl says, “Hi. I am looking forward to a wonderful stay at your hotel. I don’t want to take up your time going from room to room so please find the perfect room for my stay, on the chart!“ It works, darling, it works. When my ultimate concierge and I travel he does the talking, inserting “my wife….”
- BARBARA: Barbara is a woman of great depth and warmth. Her values are of the highest standards, beyond reproach. I hang on to her words. She mentioned this quote from Edgar Allan Poe after an in-depth discussion. “Believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear.” I understood what Poe meant. The quote is harsh but filled with wisdom. He wrote it to “encourage skepticism.” This is very insightful, darlings. How many times have you been fooled?
- PARNANI: I met this young woman in Bali. We spent a week together. The Balinese practice the Hindu religion, which teaches its followers the importance of discipline. Hindus are taught from childhood to hold their tongue in times of frustration and anger. As she eloquently explained, “We never know when we may need our next door neighbor.” Great advice.
- MY MOTHER: I am my mother’s daughter. I treasure her wisdom. My mother’s lessons are unending but if I had to choose one lesson it is to never fear a challenge. To question, to test, to dare, to explore opens the doors to a worthwhile and fascinating life.
- Groups: There are 10 of us in our group. We have one rule. The issues we discuss are kept within the four walls of my home. The group is made up of women who are not best friends or even close. Our commonality is the desire to discuss issues that concern us with other women we respect. We discuss everything including sexual and monetary issues. No one has left the group. I am in the process of setting up another group in California because women need to share, to learn. I have a Chicago group that will be ready to go this summer.
All Friendships Do Not End Happily Ever After
I have had my disappointments with women. The breakups I am speaking of, save for a few, were wounding. I recognized a piece of myself in each of these women. In simple terms, most, not all, were fabulous women. I chose them because I recognized within them, a piece of myself. After a while, though, I realized I had misread something that was important to my happiness. No one was at fault and I entertain no hard feelings.
I know I sound callous when I tell you I don’t concern myself with women who disappoint me. I erase them from my life. If a woman I know walks by me, sees me and does not say hi, I swear I could care less. And you should feel the same.
How Many of Your Friends From Yesteryear Are Your Friends Today?
Last night six of us, husbands and wives, went out for dinner. What fun we had! One of the women mentioned she had 50 women to her 50th birthday. I asked her,
“How many of those women are your friends, today?”
There was a pause. We knew the answer. And it was OK, darlings.
I believe that each of those 50 women left my friend with a memory and a valuable lesson.
And, that is how we should look at the women who come and go in our life. Some will be with us forever, but most will float in and out, leaving their memory. Most good, some bad, but “all a lesson.” That is why I mentioned in this musing that our greatest teacher is … life.