There are these women I hang out with, who are not really my friends. I see them once a year, for three days, and very little in between. We are girlfriends.
We came together ten years ago because of a gathering called a Girlfriend Party. I invite my girlfriends, who invite their girlfriends, and we got together to take a break by giving one another presents and drinking wine. Silly. Then someone said, “You know, these woman are pretty remarkable! What if we got together in a more intentional way, and harnessed some of this power?” We have gone away most years since then, and have learned immensely from one another. Some of us are relatives, or former roommates, or neighbors, or mentors to one another, but there is a widespread bond that we cherish.
The one big thing in common is that we are all committed to letting God’s light shine in our lives. We practice many different types of the same faith – the kind that urges us to commit, every day, to being who we feel God has called us to be. We are not a church group and no one, at any time, reads from anyone’s holy book.
Still, each of us brings our gifts to girlfriend retreat, whatever they might be at the moment, and sometimes we share them by teaching, one woman to the others. Over the years we’ve learned yoga poses, acupressure, and good recipes. We’ve created things like stepping stones for a garden, or paintings. We’ve also learned financial planning, started small businesses, balanced work with family life…
The most remarkable element of the whole experience is that we often heal one another-quite by accident. We spend time smoothing out the rough edges that life sometimes chips into our tender skin. We make things like plans and dreams and joy.
Sometimes someone sings, sometimes we cry.
The best part is that we share our hopes – and it is so exciting to see us get into action around the trusting anticipation of another woman. We never know what someone will say when we are together:
“I think I’m ready to start thinking about thinking about having a baby.”
“I hope my cancer never comes back, and I want y’all to walk with me to raise money for a cure.”
“I’m leaving him.”
“My refrigerator just broke, and I left my family home with just a cooler for the weekend. We just shelled out big bucks for summer camp.”
And presto, refrigerators turn up, our team raises money for cancer research, babies are born, broken relationships are replaced with a real love of self and all that life has to offer. We don’t spend much time together on ordinary days- there is so much to do. And yet, when we see one another again in spring, everyone remembers the dreams that the other was working on when we were last together and insists that we press on.
One time I said, “I want to write a novel or three.”
One girlfriend said, “I’d be happy to edit for you.” Another told me the name of a good printing house. Another said, “If you’d work half as hard for yourself as you do for others, there’d be no stopping you!”All of the others, without hesitation said, “Don’t be afraid.”
So that is what we do for one another (aside from strategic and tactical work we do together). We say to one another the most important thing we can.
“Don’t be afraid. We’ll stand with you. No matter what, don’t be afraid enough to stop.”
And now, it is here. I am launching the first of my novels or three, and the Girlfriends will be there to celebrate. It’s going to be in an art gallery, because the book has a lot of art and artists. One of the Girlfriends’ husband has a band that will play for us. Another recommended an outstanding caterer, who agreed to make chicken and dumplings (not a menu item) on his day off because he doesn’t want us cooking on a big day.
It is remarkable what encouragement and support can do. We can remodel homes, and decorate our souls at the same time. We can support someone who’s not feeling well, split babysitters, plan retirements and fry ‘em up in a pan.
Not exactly friends. Girlfriends.
For more information about the novel and to find an author event near you, please visit my website at http://mmdobbs.com/
If you’d like to start a Girlfriend weekend of your own, find a golf resort near you (off season) invite some talented friends, and see what you can build!