Using Positivity to Boost your Relationships

Using Positivity to Boost your Relationships

...because our friendships are one of the only relationships we choose (unlike co-workers, neighbors, and family), we are going to choose to be with people who make us happy. And we're only going to want to do the other two requirements of friendship with people who make us feel good: we won't be as consistent with people we don't enjoy spending time with and we won't feel safe sharing openly with people who don't leave us feeling accepted and validated. At the end of the day, our job as a friend is to add value to the lives of those we love.

So today's post is super important as we learn from one woman who exudes positivity: Colleen Braun, a volunteer GFC Connector for GirlFriendCircles in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota! She compliments everyone on Facebook regularly, laughs quickly when you're interacting with her, and shows up ready to support and cheerlead on our GFC member pages.

I asked Katrina Emery to interview her so we can all be a bit inspired this week with how we might increase the joy around us.  People like to be with people who make them feel good about themselves!  -- Shasta

Shasta's Tips for Starting Women's Groups

I love few things as much as gathering women together.  There's often more laughter in groups and more diverse sharing and feedback. Plus, it also saves time being able to connect with a handful of friends at once, and it's more of a sure thing even if 1-2 people end up not being able to come. But there are so many kinds of groups to start! Your first question to answer is: What do I want the focus of the group?

  • Our Lives: This is one of my favorites-- basically we know that we are getting together in order to stay in touch, support each other, and invest in our relationships. We are the subject and ideally each person has time to share with everyone else what matters most in her life right now.  These groups should be started when you primarily want to bond by sharing your lives with each other.
  • A Theme/Subject: This category is one of the most popular types of groups because it includes such things as book clubs, support groups, entrepreneurs circles, mom's groups, Bible study groups, and political gatherings. These groups should be started when you primarily want mental stimulation, resonance in shared interests, and advice or support in a specific area.
  • An Activity: This category of group is primarily for gatherings where an activity is the focus whether it be a cooking club, a dining out group, a hiking group, or a group dedicated to training for an event. These groups should be started when you primarily want support/accountability in doing an activity, to experience new things, meet people with similar activity interests, desire more fun and socializing in your life, or to expand our horizons.

Of course there can be some cross-over, but it's important to be clear what desire is prompting your group.  If the focus is on hiking then one is less likely to leave feeling disappointed if no one asked her about her life, or if the focus is a mom's support group then we can put less attention to coming up with new activities and changing locations and devote more planning to conversations that matter to mothers. Knowing the priority serves as a filter for planning!


Another question that must be answered: Who is this group for?

  • Is there an ideal size? A minimum? A cap? If it's conversation-based it may help to be small enough to give time to everyone to share. If it's meal-based, do you want everyone to fit around a table? If it's networking based then maybe the more the merrier?
  • Is there something that everyone has to have in common in order to attend? Do they need to live in the neighborhood, have kids, or attend a certain church?
  • Is this an open or closed group? Can attendees invite others to come with them? Do you want to keep meeting people or go deeper with the same people?
  • What level of commitment is needed? Can attendees simply come when they want or is the intention that they come regularly?

I'll make a note to write more specific blog posts addressing some of the different types of groups since they will each have different needs.  But here are some of my overall tips:

  1. If you already have a few specific people in mind that you want participating-- then invite them to give input to such questions as 1) What type of group interests you the most? 2) Do you have others you'd like to invite? 3) Knowing we'll feel closer the more often we meet-- how frequently would you be willing to commit?
  2. Unless the focus is specifically to "try new restaurants in the city" or "explore new hiking trails" then keep the location as consistent and easy as possible. Every time you "switch" places it takes more brainstorming, planning, and communicating; plus attendees will be more likely to cancel if it feels like it will take a lot of energy.
  3. Similarly, come up with a "routine" and repeat it as often as possible.  People want to know what is expected of them and what to expect. My girls group "routine" is to chit-chat and catch-up while everyone arrives and before we put dinner on the table, but once we all have food on our plates then we switch gears to "going around the circle and each person sharing their highlight/lowlight." Maybe your book club talks about the book and then ends with mingling? Or is it the other way around? Aim for consistency.
  4. Keep the dates set even if someone can't attend.  Groups turn into a logistical mess when we start trying to change dates to accommodate different people. In general, it's best when the group can set their dates ahead of time (either the same day/time every week/month OR set their dates far enough out as a group so that everyone can plan around them) and then stick to them.  Every time you change for one, you risk messing it up for another, plus add to the communication weariness.
  5. Make sure everyone is given time to "be seen."  I'm a big fan of "going around the circle" so that each person has a chance to share--whether it's as small as an introduction before an activity or as big as giving each person 15 minutes to share on the topic of the evening.

What other tips do you have that you think would be helpful to others who are planning group gatherings?

Or, what other questions about group events do you have that I might be able to answer in a future post?

Tips for Deeper Holiday Conversations

For as many of my friends who have confided angst at the idea of sitting around a holiday table with family who voted opposite of them in the recent election, there are also those who have just shrugged and said, "I can only wish my family talked about something that actually mattered!"

Two Ways to Go Deeper

Whether you're gathering with those who you are struggling to love and understand or those who tend to stick to small talk, here are two of my favorite ways to invite more sharing and love:

 1) Feature Affirmation: 

With a tendency for family members to feel judged, misunderstood, or left out-- let's make sure that no one leaves our tables not feeling valued!

My favorite way is to put table-tent name cards at each place and ask every family member to write one quality they admire and love about each person inside their name card.  During the meal, leave time to go around the table and have each person read their words out loud.

Here's one of my name cards from a previous year... a gift of love to take home!


2) Go Past the Updates:

Whether you're gathering with family and friends you see often, or people you haven't seen in ages, ask a sharing question that allows everyone to go around and share a bit about their lives.

My favorite open-ended questions are those that invite vulnerability while allowing the person sharing to pick specifically what they feel comfortable sharing.


  1. What has been a highlight (something you're proud of, something that felt good) and a lowlight (a stress, a loss, a disappointment) in your life in the last year?
  2. What is one big thing that has happened in your life recently, and how did you feel about it? And one thing coming up in your life, and how do you feel about it?
  3. What is one thing that has changed in your life this last year, and in what way(s) are you grateful for it?

I always suggest that after each person shares, the best response from everyone else is simply, "Thanks for sharing!" so that we can acknowledge each other without risking advice-giving or getting off track from our sharing.

And bonus for doing this activity as soon as everyone has gathered so it helps set the tone for the whole day/weekend!  Maybe gather everyone around in the living room for an hour during morning coffee or appetizers?

What If It Feels Forced or Awkward?

But it's usually not for lack of actual ideas that we don't facilitate these conversations as much as it because we feel stupid, silly, or awkward leading them.

Chances are high that if your family doesn't typically gather and connect in these ways that you'll get eye-rolls from those who think it's "cheesy" or sarcasm from those who are uncomfortable.  But I'm of the mind that just because something is awkward doesn't make it bad.

I really do believe that everyone wants to be seen.  Sometimes we're afraid of it if it doesn't feel safe or if we fear rejection for who we expose ourselves to be.  But that doesn't take away the need and hunger to belong, it simply reminds us that one of the requirements of healthy relationships: "being seen" (vulnerability) has to be in tandem to another of the requirements: positivity. (You can order my book here for more about all 3 of the relational requirements and how they work together.)

Our family can trigger us like no other because we have a lot more "consistency" with them-- meaning we have history.  That history can lead us to assume more about each other, take things more personally, or not show up with as an open of a mind about how people might be different.  We have expectations and patterns and norms.

Therefore, the only way to get a different outcome after our time together is to change those patterns and norms, a bit.

So, yes, it will feel weird, awkward, or uncomfortable.  But that's only because it's not normal. Yet. And just as we go to the gym and expect to sweat and be out of breath because we value the outcome of being physically healthy; so, too, do we show up at the emotional gyms and push ourselves a bit because we value deeper relationships.

It is my hope, that one week out, you will make a decision to be someone at your holiday gathering who helps everyone share deeper, learn more about each other, and affirm each other in meaningful ways. Whether you're in charge and can set the tone, or perhaps talk to the host/hostess ahead of time and see if they're open to you helping facilitate something, but either way, you can be someone who shows people that they are seen and valued. It's simply a muscle to be strengthened-- you can do it.

May your presence at any gatherings this holiday season help foster more love, depth, and gratitude.





The 10 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2015

Every year I round-up my top ten articles from the year and share them once more!  Many of you joined us half-way through the year, missed a post here-or-there, and or may just want to re-read some of the best ones to see how they resonate with you now. I didn't blog this last year as much as I have in previous years (in part to writing a book most of this year--Frientimacy comes out March 1, 2016!) and I missed it.  I love interacting with all of you in this way!  So huge thanks to you for all your comments and questions and I look forward to writing more in the year ahead!

Here are the Top Ten:

1.  To My Non-Posting Friends on Facebook

I riled up a few of you with my unconventional post encouraging more Facebook updates!  But so many of you wrote me confessing that you so enjoy reading others that it makes sense you might want to post a bit more, too!  In this post I tackle some of the most common excuses for not post on Facebook.

2. Ten Steps to Starting Friendships

While my upcoming book Frientimacy is all about how to deepen our friendships, for many of us we need to first be meeting potential friends and gathering up people to befriend.  If meeting people is on your to-do list then here's a quick list of my best advice for creating new friendships!

3.The Friendship Formula

Is there a formula to love? Yes indeed there is! We know what bonds people and what behaviors help two people feel close to each other!  I've since built this model out but it's still pertinent and helpful even with the two required ingredients I list.  Are you doing these two things?

4. I Almost Unfriended Someone on Facebook Yesterday

I only wrote about Facebook twice this year but both posts made it into the top ten!  I've long been asked how one might know when it's time to unfriend someone on social media and while my answer may not be the right one for you, it hopefully gets you thinking about why you use Facebook and what type of relationships you're prepared to develop!

5. If my friend really liked me then she’d initiate more…

Oh it's so easy to get our feelings hurt by the perceived negligence of our friends: their not calling, not reaching out, or not inviting us to things.  It's easy to create a story that we are being rejected-- that this is their way of saying that we aren't important to them.  But that would be a mistake.

6. When You’re The Only One Making Time for Friendship

Someone wrote in and asked for my advice as she feels like everyone is too busy and unable to make the time for friendship that she is.  So while we can't just wave a magic wand and make a ton of free time for everyone, here are some tips I have for what we can do to help initiate and inspire more meaningful and consistent connections with others.

7.  Top Three Tips for Making New Friends

So many women are looking new friends but frequently are trying to do so without following these three guidelines!  Far too many people leave friend-making to chance and don't understand that they can't develop good friends without following this advice.

8. On Being Willing to Disappoint People 

It's hard to say no to people, especially friends, but I am a strong champion of our need to practice saying no when we need to.  In fact it's intimately connected to our need to ask more clearly for what we need from people.  We need to get better at both.  The two are linked-- as we practice saying no, we tell others it's okay to do that too, and we'll both feel more comfortable asking for what we need when we can trust the other to say no if they can't.  In this post I share how I learned to say no.

9. Advice: Drifting Apart: Give Up or Try Again? 

Someone wrote in and asked for my advice about whether I thought it was worth her trying to salvage a friendship that hadn't felt particularly meaningful or high priority to her former best friend.  Read her question and see what advice you'd give her, and read my reasons for why I weighed in how I did!

10. With Whom Should I Be Vulnerable?

So many of us resist sharing vulnerably with others, often because we feel we've been burned before when we did.  We don't want to put ourselves at risk unnecessarily so we tend to clam up instead of open up.  But maybe the problem isn't whether we share or how we share, but rather making sure that who we're sharing with is the right people?  Here;s my litmus test for deciding how much risk to take with others.

Thanks for being a part of this community as a woman who is committed to being a healthy friend in this world! It's been an honor.

With gratitude for a year where we all grew in our maturity and loved more deeply,


p.s.  As always, I welcome your comments!  Share with me which one is your favorite! Or what you hope I write about more in the year to come!

p.s.s  Want more popular articles?

Top 11 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2014

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Article of 2013

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2012

I Almost Unfriended Someone on Facebook Yesterday

Yesterday my hand hovered over the Unfriend button on Facebook.  Having only unfriended once before, I'm a bit of a Unfriending Virgin so it didn't come easily or naturally.  I felt my blood boiling and a thousand justifications to go through with the impulse:

  • He was, what I would consider, rude on my most recent Facebook update.
  • He then went and commented three more times, shaming my friends who were commenting.

    My original Facebook post that invited an unwelcome outburst. I also posted the content at the end of the post.

  • His politics and world view are clearly far from my own.
  • And to boot? I don't even know the guy! We have mutual friends but this was my first interaction with him so not much to lose by unfriending him, right?

But I paused.  I made a silent deal with myself that I'd at least not do it from a place of anger and give myself the day to think through what I want my grounds to be for unfriending someone.

In the meantime, I wrote him back laying down my ground rules, modeling kindness, and showing my willingness to protect my friends:

"The purpose of this post is to invite those who want to give to do so... I ask you to honor those of us with that intent without needing to argue. And please don't insult my friends who have good intentions. We are all doing what we can in all kinds of situations here and around the world. If you want to write me personally please do but this post isn't for your politics. Thanks!"

What prompted his outburst? You can see my original post at end of this blog post-- it was regarding something politically charged but it was the first time I had posted on this subject, the first time in months I've posted on anything happening in the news, and I thought I had worded it in such a way where I was clear I wasn't trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking. Nonetheless, it hit one of his nerves.

Reasons I Don't Want to "Unfriend"

Google the terms "Reasons to Unfriend" and you'll get pages of everyone's advice ranging from their 5 to 10 reasons to unfriend, all the way up to one post of 35 reasons to unfriend! Certainly I'm not opposed to others unfriending as we all use Facebook for different reasons, have different standards for who we want to add as a friend, have different capacities for what we can handle at different times, and just because I haven't yet had an ex, a stalker, or an abusive person in my News Feed, doesn't mean others haven't!  So I get the need for unfriending.

And yet....  here are a few personal reasons why I don't want to unfriend too easily:

  • Disagreeing views: The action of unfriending someone who comes from a different worldview contributes in a small way to the global problem we have of not being able to hear each other. Why should I expect my leaders and others to reach across the aisle if I can't even stand reading a few sentences? It's really important to me to be exposed to all beliefs either to practice finding common ground or at least keeping me from only hearing what I already believe.
  • Jealousy:  The action of unfriending someone because their posts make me jealous (whether b/c they have other friends, do more fun stuff, or seem more successful) would imply that they are the problem instead of seeing the reaction as something I need to examine. The big goal isn't to get rid of all triggers in life, but to learn how to feel peace and self-worth even when triggered!  It's really important to me to own my own stuff and not hold other people accountable for how I feel.
  • Lack of Friendship: Certainly if you only have close friends on FB then that's one thing, but I made a decision a while back that, for me, FB was about interacting with my wider circles and meeting new people so in my case just because I don't know someone, or the friendship didn't develop where I hoped it would, or we aren't as close as we used to be--I still think they are valuable people to follow and learn from. It's a small way for me to keep my "finger on the pulse" of what people are talking and caring about.  It's important to me that remember that I can learn from anyone, even if we're not close in real life.

Again, I get that if your goal is just to have the 100 people in your News Feed that you know-- then that's awesome.  For me, Facebook is more like a town square where I go to interact, connect with friends, and learn what's going on around me; like a big party, I expect there will be some I like more than others but I don't feel a need to eliminate them nor do I fear exposure.

Primarily I just don't want to unfriend out of any un-examined feeling of anger, jealousy or sadness without looking at where it's coming from inside of me. I want to learn, as much as I can, to move through life without seeing others as obstacles, annoyances, problems, or enemies.  I want to challenge myself to try to see the valuable humanity of every single person, trusting that they are amazing, even if I don't see it easily.

Why I Will Unfriend

So yesterday I ate lunch with my husband who helped me wrestle with when I do want to unfriend a specific person, namely the person who had posted rude comments on my wall, in response to my post.  I didn't want to remove him just because he disagreed with me, but I concluded that if he persisted in using shame and disrespect in his comments, especially toward my other commenters/friends-- that to protect them, I'd remove him.

For now persistent shame is top of my list.

There are possibly other reasons I will, too... I'm leaving the door ajar.  But I am challenging myself to think each situation through-- owning as much as I can, not doing it impulsively, and trying to at least engage kindly before I do.  My mantra in friendship is always to lean in before pulling away, when possible.

So before lunch I had written him back kindly asking him to refrain-- stating honestly what I expected on my wall.

I concluded that if he continued to antagonize I'd most certainly unfriend him.

What Happened?

He wrote me a note last night:

I am sorry if I offended you. But I am really upset with what is going on. You can re-post and I promise not to interfere.

To which I responded:

Thank you for this note-- it means a lot. In a day and age where many people just unfriend each other, I'm glad we can practice staying connected and being respectful of each other. Have a happy thanksgiving!

And then he wrote again:

I KNOW that you meant well. You just caught me at a bad time. Good Luck! with you effort to help people who need it.

Isn't that beautiful?  I love it!  If I had simply unfriended him when I was tempted to do so then:

  1. I wouldn't have had the privilege of practicing kindness toward people who frustrate me (and I need to keep building up that muscle!)
  2. He wouldn't have had the privilege of healthy feedback letting him know the effect of his words, giving him the sacred privilege of deciding how he wanted to engage.
  3. We wouldn't have had the chance to connect and wish each other well.
  4. I would have ended yesterday still mad at him instead of grateful and sympathetic.
  5. Now I'm guessing that as we go forward, he'll be a lot more thoughtful when leaving comments on my page since I set the tone of what I allow and don't allow.

I am fine with all of you unfriending more often than I do and I don't think we need to keep everyone on there.... BUT I do want to invite each of you to think through your own reasons for why you'll unfriend, what that means to you, and what you might be missing out on when you do it.

I, perhaps naively, dream of a world where we all get along with each other... but I think that means we each have to be willing to practice it in our own back yards (or News Feeds) as much as we possibly can.

With love,


p.s.  Unfortunately, I don't think you can add me as a friend, but if you want to follow me on Facebook, then welcome!

p.s.s.  This is what I posted yesterday:

"No matter where we each stand on whether we want refugees in our states... I hope we can all agree this is a crisis with real human beings needing the aid of others. This morning Greg and I went to make a donation to the International Refugee Committee and saw that they have a feature for a DIY campaign. Not that we have all this extra time on our hands but because we have the most generous and loving friends, we thought "Let's invite others to join us!"

We would be honored to have our friends and family make a tax-deductible donation to the IRC with us, giving us all a chance to put some money where our hearts and words already are: http://diy.rescue.org/refugeelove"

(I'd love to add 20 more women who are willing to each donate $50 if you're up for being one of them! I'll be sure to write you my personal thanks!)

Do You Feel Like People Pull Away From You?

A couple of years ago I was searching to find a fun photo of my sisters and me for a calendar I was working on for our parents.  In looking at multiple photos, I noticed something about one of my sisters that I had never noticed before when I had only seen them one at a time: when my head was leaned toward her, hers was leaned away from mine. What?!?!?  Could it be?  I searched for more photos!  Why is she pulling away from me? She loves me!  I love her!

three sisters

When I pointed it out, she laughed and sarcastically said, "Well I have to do that to stay upright sometimes with you leaning so close to me!"

It's now our joke when posing for photos. I tease her, saying "I don't bite, you can pretend in this photo that you like me!" And she'll tease me saying, "I think this is my space, give me room to breath!"

In our case, the relationship is well-established, loving, mutual, and honest-- it's more about personality differences, love language preferences, and our own personal boundaries for personal space. (And I'll go on record saying that in searching for a recent photo to illustrate this point-- I couldn't find any!--so it's possible we've exaggerated the story just a bit or that she's finally been trained to lean toward me?! ;) Ha!)

But it's a good illustration because it shows with our bodies what we sometimes are inclined to do with our hearts and minds.

Our Intensity or Personalities Aren't an Excuse

I actually prefer deep conversations, don't need much personal space, and love leaning in (physically and emotionally) to relationships.  But I don't believe that's an excuse to do that with everyone, all the time.

In fact, I think personal growth means that I have learned to listen and ask questions as much as I talk.  I think learning to not jump into every conversation just because I can is maturity.  I think that understanding social norms and expectations is respectful.

Sometimes I hear people say things like:

  • "Well I'm just intense, people need to accept that."
  • Or, "Well I don't like small talk so if they don't want to talk about things that matter then I don't need to be friends with them."
  • Or, "I love talking.  I'm a talker.  I'm not going to apologize for that!"
  • Or, "I can't help it if I overwhelm people-- that's their problem."
  • Or, "It's just my personality to be loud, they need to get used to it."
  • Or, "Well I just have a lot of problems in my life right now and I need to stay real.  I'm not going to hide the truth.  If they can't take it, then they aren't the kind of friend I'd want anyway!"

Yes, it may be some of our personalities or habits to act the way we do.  And it may also be a dog's nature to jump up, clobber someone, and lick them profusely, but that doesn't mean we wouldn't prefer the dog to be trained, right?  And if we don't yet know the dog as friendly, then we definitely don't want to feel attacked or cornered.  We need to have trust built up first, feeling safe and knowing that the dog isn't out-of-control. We love dogs and people who have energy, know how to love profusely, and can be a force-to-be-reckoned with; but we also love them when they know how and when to use their energy wisely.

Even those of us with high energy have stories of being around others whose energy and intensity can exhaust us.  I remember the first time I thought, "Wow, is that what others feel like when they're around me?" and there is where personal awareness, and eventually personal growth would begin.

We are train-able!

  • A talker's life calling is to learn how to invite others to talk.
  • Someone with high energy and intensity can learn to also sit, receive, and be; knowing when to use that energy to inspire and uplift.
  • Our personality isn't a set point; it can look different based on whether we're in stress and unhealthy or if we're seeking health and integration.
  • Someone who prefers deep conversation can learn how to be in relationship with "small talk" while that trust is built to contain the vulnerability that will eventually come.

To feel others withdraw can be painful and tap the deepest fears in our memories of being rejected or unloved. Our tendency is to either increase the intensity and lean waaaaay in even more, (often causing that person to run and hide with the needy-ness!) or to lean waaaaay out, where we put up our defensive wall that says "well that's their fault" as though that protects us.

The secret that no one tells us about defensiveness is that it's a form of attack.  It is no more noble, necessary, or helpful than a head-on attack.  Every time I act defensively, I am increasing the fight, real or imagined.

Self-acceptance doesn't mean we use our behaviors as excuses, weapons, or barriers.  Self-acceptance means not needing to defend ourselves, because we recognize that we're not in danger of losing ourselves-- we accept our worth regardless of anyone elses opinions.

Invite Others to Lean In

One of my favorite scenes-- and there are many hilarious moments!-- in the movie Hitch, where Will Smith plays New York City's greatest matchmaker, is where he's teaching his client Albert Brennaman how to kiss a woman.

Making Albert practice how he'd kiss his date at the end of a great evening is priceless!  Albert can't just close his eyes and pucker his lips, waiting, and he shouldn't just go straight for the kill.

Those of us who could possibly be "too much" for others can give huge gifts to relationships-- moving them along, adding depth, keeping up the momentum, and bringing joy; but only if we do the personal growth work to learn these two valuable lessons from Hitch:

  1. Be aware of the signs:  Notice that Alex Smith tells his client that if his dates wants a kiss she'll fiddle with her keys on the porch; whereas if she doesn't want that next step, she'll go inside.  We have to be observant, present, and at peace so we can tell when our energy is wanted, and when it's too soon.  (And I ALWAYS tell my guy friends-- it is WAY better to kiss her one date too late and make her want it more, than to kiss her one date too early and risk her wishing for less.)
  2. Use your energy to invite, not force.  Alex, then says, "The secret to a kiss is that you go 90% of the way... and then hold... for as long as it takes for her to come the other 10%."  If you sense that others tend to pull back or lean away a bit, I invite you to ask how it might look different if you were to use your energy or intensity not to drown, exhaust, overwhelm, or burden the other; but instead how you can use it as a gift in the relationship to go 90% with the invitation extended to let them come the other 10%.  To withhold some of us gives space to the other to meet us.

This is a hard post to write because there are SO many variables with all of us acting from different places on the healthy/unhealthy spectrum.  But I hope the principles help all of us who might have a tendency to rush in.  Our desire is a gift, but we have to be mindful that sometimes small talk, slow growth, and listening can be tools that will lead us to what we crave, in ways that respect others and build up greater trust.

With big, big love,


p.s.  Chapter 8 in my book "Friendships Don't Just Happen!" shares my Frientimacy Triangle as a reminder of how much to share and when to share with others. When you're just meeting people, online or offline, you are at the bottom of that triangle with them no matter how much you like each other. Which means we err on the side of sharing less as an acknowledgement that the two of us don't have a mutual relationship built on shared consistency or vulnerability yet. Every relationship has to grow-- we should rarely be treating new friends as confidantes....


20 Friendship Moments I CRAVE

I was talking on the phone last month to Melody Biringer who was telling me all about her latest vision:  Urban Campout- (think awesomeness combining life coaching + marshmallows + small groups of new friends + learning) and how much fun she's having leading her peeps (she's also the founder of the Crave Company and Urban Campfire--with events coming up in D.C., Denver, and Seattle!) to put their vision (#100ThingsICRAVE) onto Pinterest.   She said, "You'll love it!  Just start with 20 photos of things or people you crave!" Ms. Melody Biringer who is inspiring us all to know what we crave!  #100ThingsICRAVE

Those of you who follow my blog will know that I am wee-bit word heavy (Massive understatement! Ha! This girl cannot seem to write 300-5oo word posts no matter how many professionals tell her that's advised!) so I thought it would be a fun change of pace to post more photos this time around! I took her up on her challenge.

And I loved it!

Which should come as no surprise since we know the power of vision boards: our brains actually start looking for resources to support what we see and say is important.

For me, I decided to turn my CRAVE board into things I have and love and want to keep making time for: friendship moments!

Friendship: 20 Friendship Moments that I CRAVE

20.  Introducing my friends to each other!  This photo is from my birthday party where I invited friends from different parts of my life to meet each other!

That's me in the white tank--the little black lines read love...love...love...:)-- surrounded by some of the women I'm lucky enough to call friends.  Call me a grateful birthday girl!

19.  Masterminding with other amazing business women where we support each other as CEO's of our dreams.



18. Meeting up for get-away weekends with my long-distance girlfriends once a year!



17. Rallying for causes together! (This is a group of us "rising up against violence to women" for V-Day a year ago.)



16. Meeting women at my book signings and speaking events! I'm convinced that because I attract women who value their friendships that my events are filled with some of the best women in the world.Chicago group


15.  Traveling with new friends! I wasn't sure how I'd feel about group travel, but now I am a-believer in every way!


14. Playing dress-up! We're never too old for pretend play.  :)  It reminds me of high-school where we used to get ready for banquets and dances together!

women playing dress up in saris

13.  Having friends visit me in San Francisco!



12. Getting emails from GirlFriendCircles.com members showing me the friends they've made through our website!!!

4 new friends

11.  Going on retreats together!  Really, any retreat, but this one was spirituality + painting.  Oooh!

Shasta Nelson, Christine Arylo


10. Acting silly together. (In case it's not obvious, we're imitating the cow. Ha!) And this picture is with a friend who I talk to on the phone every week but only see about every 2 years-- so even sweeter!



9. Enjoying the friendship of sisters.  We may not have always gotten along, and if we weren't related we probably wouldn't have chosen each other as friends-- but I thank God for these two women every day that I have them as sisters, and as friends.

Shastas sisters


8.  Double-Dating!!!  I'm always talking about how much I love women, but I love me the guys, too!  Let's meet for dinner!



7. Having history.  These women are some of my longest-friendships here in SF.  We may not go back decades, but consistency over 7-9 years ain't nothing to sneeze at!



6.  Meeting new friends!  I know so many people that I have to be super careful to prioritize my time to the women I know best, but I still love meeting new friends-- I'm always thrilled with seeing how beautiful and bright others are shining their lights!


5.  Going on walks!!!!!  Love, love, love talking and walking... good for the heart and the body!

walking by Golden Gate Bridge


4. Having friends in other cities.  GirlFriendCirlcles.com has helped me meet women in all the cities where I travel-- now every time I go to NYC on business, I have friends to meet for dinner!


3. Sharing hearts, dreams, and desires.  If we're going to spend time together, let's go all the way!  I love the deep and honest sharing... add in journaling and painting on windows and you've got fabulousness.


2.  Sneaking my hubby into my BFF spot.  I am a big fan of having girlfriends, not just family, but I've never said your rockstar hubby can't also be your BFF.  :)


1.   Eating around the dining room table! There is absolutely nothing I love more than gathering friends around a table... something about it seems almost rare and sacred.  Nothing beats eating like family.

friends eating dinner around the table


Let's be friends on Pinterest.  I've posted these all to Pinterest.  Are you on there?  Have a friendship board you want to share with us? We'd love to see it!

An Ode to the Powerful Friends Who Invite Me To Shine

A friend forwarded me an article titled 4 Reasons Why America Is Afraid of Women With Friends which broke my heart to read.  The author of the article published in Salon.com makes the case that women who band together threaten the status quo of our culture. She says, "Our brains are bombarded from birth by images and stories of male fraternity and solidarity. Whether it’s school hallways plastered with photos of past presidents, legions of elves and dwarves making their way through Middle Earth, every major animated film made by Pixar, or sports teams that represent their cities, most of our images of collective effort and fellow-feeling are male."

She goes on to talk about how most of our public portrayals of women tend to either show them as isolated in a male dominated world or participating in cat-fight-like interactions.Just reading all the examples she gave made me literally heart-sick for if there is anything in this world I believe in, it's the power of healthy female friendships.

In trying to understand why we put up with this very one-sided slant in our coverage and history, she asks the question that haunts me: "What’s the benefit of telling children than powerful women can’t work together (despite the obvious untruth of this), that women don’t help one another (when they clearly do) and that they are destined to be dependent and peripheral (when they are so clearly struggling not to be)?"

The question cannot be answered by me.  And yet, my answer is required.  As is yours.

Because we must start telling different stories. True stories of just how powerful, easy, and possible it is to have healthy female friendships. We have to make sure that the media aren't the only ones getting to portray who we are and what we can do together.

My Shining Invites Others to Shine

I'm weary of the stories of envy, competition, and comparison. Let's tell other stories of truth that are far more prevalent.

My Ode to Powerful Female Friends

This Valentines I stand up with gratitude for all the women in my life who have showcased their power, bigness, strength, courage and transforming love.

I have many stories of us having fun, witnessing each others tears, and being goofy together.  But the stories that most need sharing are the ones where we women remind other women that we can contribute to each others lives in ways that help us show up brighter.  We need the stories of us working together to make the world a better place.

So, while this ode isn't comprehensive with names, nor complete with all that they each offer, it is a place where I publicly attest that my female friendships are powerful forces that are making the world a better place. (I dream of each of you leaving a comment with the name of one powerful female friend in your life and telling us how it has blessed you!)

To Ayesha for inviting me to speak to your community long before we became friends... for choosing to raise up another woman and give her a platform.  And for continuing to do so.

To Kat for sharing your own journey around running a business and leading a movement with such honesty and grace. When you have said, "I have to learn to not leave money on the table" you planted a seed in me to make that same self-promise.

To Daneen, who ate breakfast with me the morning after I woke up with the idea of GirlFriendCircles.com, and leaned across the table and affirmed, "This is a million-dollar idea."  I haven't yet come close to that, but your interest in my business all along the way has spurred me on.

To Christine, you intimidated me upon meeting you.  I remember you saying, "I am meant to be on TV" and at the time I remember thinking, "Are we supposed to say things like that?" Ha!  You were so confident of your calling and message that I was invited to step out of what I called humility but was actually insecurity.

To Kerry, I was gifted a sister who not only humors my big dreams, but rolls her sleeves up to help make them happen. What's interesting is that as a little kid I have memories of mom encouraging me to not paint so that could be your thing, giving me the message subconsciously that I needed to stay out of your way for you to shine.  I'm ever grateful that you know how to shine in your way without ever needing me to shine differently.

Picture of my Playing Big group

To Kati, you may be my baby sister, but you mentored me in many ways. You were reading feminism books far before I liked that word, and you have confidently walked your own walk.  Your courage to be you, even when counter-cultural, gives permission to everyone else to make their best choices, too.

To Leila, the woman who *roars*.  :) You are a force to be reckoned with, the woman that we'd all be honored to have fighting on our behalf.  Your guts in stating your opinions still leaves my mouth hanging open, but only because it shows me that there's a piece of me that wishes I didn't care so much what others thought.

To Christine, a woman who could have been a competitor but chose to be a friend, proving again the silly illusion of competition.  I credit you, powerful woman, with metaphorically reaching across the table with generosity when I was still trying to figure out if our businesses were competition to each other.

To Angela, the woman who has made famous "Give, give, get" for thousands of women.  When I stated that my goal this 2014 was to get a brand sponsor for GirlFriendCircles... your response was a quick "I want to help you get that!"

To Sher for creating a safe place every week for both of us to not only share our insecurities and exhaustion's, but for also making sure it's a conversation filled with us recognizing our strengths and talents.  What a gift to not have to play coy with what we're each capable of contributing to our worlds.

There are so many others... women's faces are racing through my mind.  Each face attached with memories of how your shining invited me to become more comfortable with my own.

When research came out years ago stating that power and likability are positively correlated for men, and negatively correlated for women, it gave words to my secret fears.  I have so long cared that others like me that it would inevitably lead to me believing that I had to play a less powerful game, act more humble, or come across more demure in order to not threaten anyone or incite jealousy.

But you, GirlFriends, I credit you for helping me shine my brightest these last few years.  You not only proved that you could love me no matter what power I chose to step into, but more importantly, you modeled standing in your own.  You have proven that recognizing we are special not only doesn't make us arrogant, but actually helps us also see how special everyone else is.  It's an honor to be in this world watching you each shine your lights in ways that benefit others and energize you.

Stepping into our power together might all look very different.  On some of you it looks like increasing fame and/or finances; on others it is a life of politics, becoming a zen yogi,  pushing your physical limits, raising amazing full-hearted kids, or starting new businesses.  Whatever it is-- you inspire me.

May we keep shining with the prayer that it does for others what you did for me.  May the shining invite others to join us.


Please, please practice lifting up your female friends by leaving a dedication to one of them in the comments section. How have you stepped into that which makes you special because of one of your friends?  Share with us!

Top 10 Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2013

For all of you who joined us half-way through the year, missed a post here-or-there, or just want to re-read some of the goodies to see if they speak to you where you are now,  here are the most read, popular blog posts from the last year: 1.   Is "Get Rid of Negative People in My Life" Good Advice?

This post beat out the second place by 3 times!  Fortunately, it seems we are feeling a little conflicted with how much we keep hearing that we need to surround ourselves only with positive people.

2. How To Respond to a Friend in Crisis

The diagram in this post has served me over the year as such an incredibly helpful visual-aid for understanding how to help those in crisis without putting them in the place of having to comfort us, even though they're pain undoubtedly impacts us.

3.  Five Questions to Ask Before Ending a Friendship

If we're starting to entertain the idea of our friend being toxic or our friendships with someone feeling unhealthy, it's often because we haven't yet articulated our expectations and needs.  This post provides a thoughtful approach for making sure we've done our part to contribute to the possibility of a healthy relationship before ending it.

4.  Making New Friends in a New City

Christy Mims wrote this guest post about moving to a new city and having to start all over as she made new friends.  Most of us know that experience!  She shares candidly her feelings and the actions she took to develop the friendships that matter to her.

5.  What Do I Do With My Toxic Friend?

The concept I share in this post could save many a friendship from ending!  It's super important to clarify the 3 different entities in every relationship: her, me, and us; and step back to see if we can shift the friendship by focusing on the 2 entities we actually have some control over.

6.  Friendship Break-Ups 4: Letting Go or Holding On

Most of our friendships will end with us "drifting" apart from each other as life circumstances change.  This post helps ensure that we're not a victim to that process, but rather being women who choose to courageously and intentionally make choices about which friendships to be at peace with letting go, and which ones to invest the energy needed to survive the transition.

7.  This Friendship Is Going Negative: What Do I Do?

In this post I offer up two different frameworks for helping assess our friendships:  the 5 Circles of Connectedness and the definition of friendship.  Both tools can help us articulate what is wrong in the friendship, and based on what type of friends she is, can help us decide what approach might best serve our friendship.

8.  Reflections on My Katie Couric Interview

A highlight in 2013 was definitely being invited to appear on Katie Couric's afternoon talk show.  While filming it, I just kept thinking about all these comments I wanted to make as I listened to Katie and the other guests talk about their friendships.  But since they didn't ask me to comment on everyone else... I share those thoughts on my blog instead.  :)

9. Christmas Card Conundrums: Send They? Why?  How Many? To Whom?

We're past the season now for sending out our annual holiday cards, but bookmark this one for next December!  We're all trying to find that sweet spot between letting friends know we're thinking of them while not adding to our own exhaustion, guilt, or stress.

10.  Many Introverts are "Coming Out"

Reflecting back over an interview I did with Sophia Dembling, author of "The Introvert's Way," I am encouraged with all the press, validation, and visibility that introverts are getting.  We must keep seeking to understand how we (and our friends) are wired energetically.

** And I always pick out a bonus post to add to the list-- a post that may not have made the top ten, but that I personally think is important.  This one actually may have been one of the most "liked" post on Facebook and I think contains helpful sample scripts for learning How to Ask for What You Need in Your Relationships.


Want more popular articles?

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2012

Top Ten Most Popular Friendship Articles of 2011

How To Ask for What You Need in Your Relationships

If a psychiatrist sums up his best therapeutic wisdom as "Figure out what you want and learn to ask for it," then my last post was more on the "figure out what you want" part and this post is geared more to the "and learn to ask for it" part. I've discovered in most relationships that end up incurring our frustration, we usually deem it "small enough" that we don't want to go through the effort and awkwardness of having the conversation about it.  We are quick to talk ourselves out of it, in part, just because we can't picture it.  We get all sick to our stomachs just thinking about having some uncomfortable "we need to talk" moment.  So we try to convince ourselves it's not a big deal, but then we find ourselves slowly moving away from the relationship, resentful that she does x or doesn't x like we think she should.

So first, you need to know what you need.  See the last blog post for helping you to identify that.  If it's a feeling or need that is repetitive, then it's to our advantage to figure out what need isn't being met (and often it's not her fault that we have that need, we just subconsciously get mad at her for not being able to fulfill the need).

I'm Not Loving How She is Responding to Me

But there are times when we're in conversation with a friend, that it's not until we're getting what we don't want, that we become aware of our unmet need. For example, have you ever been telling a story to a friend and then they start problem-solving for you (or one-upping, or starting to talk about her self, or giving advice)?  And you find yourself feeling misunderstood or unheard or defensive or frustrated? Typically we'd just walk away and blame them in some way, "She never listens... I felt judged," and a chasm begins....

But what if, in that moment that she begins problem-solving, we actually were able to feel ourselves not appreciating her approach, and asking ourselves, "How is it that I actually wish she were responding?" and then asking her for that, instead?  So it doesn't have to be some big, awkward, "we need to talk, my needs aren't being met" conversation, but instead just be one moment where you're helping her help you, telling her what you need to feel connected.  Because chances are awfully high that that is what her intention is, what's she's trying to do.

Asking for what we need while in conversation, in the midst of not getting what we want, increases our chances of 1) walking away receiving what we needed, 2) modeling to her that it's okay she asks for what she needs in the future, and 3) possibly teaching her in the long-run how you typically prefer her to support you.

Sample Scripts for Asking for What We Need

  • When you need EMPATHY instead of PROBLEM-SOLVING: "I so appreciate you trying to solve my problem, and I may get to that point when I need that.  But right now it's not so much that I don't know what to do as much as I just need someone to empathize with me and tell me they understand why I am frustrated with my boss!"
  • When you need ACCEPTANCE instead of a SERMON:  "I can only imagine how horrible my feelings/actions must sound to others... I'm not proud of myself for doing them... but what I really need now, if at all possible, is just someone who can listen to me and accept me even though I'm far from perfect.  You don't have to like what I did, but can you help me still see the good in me?"
  • When you need APPLAUSE instead of ONE-UPPING: "Thank you for sharing that story... I definitely want to hear all about x in just a moment.  But before we go there, I was hoping you'd celebrate my success with me so maybe we can toast my victory for a few moments and then toast yours?
  • When you need LISTENING instead of ADVICE:  "Thank you so much for offering that advice. But right now, I'm guessing I'll know what to do when I need to know, but that to get there, I just need a safe place to talk through it our loud.  If you're willing to help me, I'd love it if you just asked me questions so I can better process what feels right to me?"
  • When you need ACTIONS instead of WORDS: "That means so much to me that you said that.  You've always been so supportive and encouraging-- thank you!  As I face this challenge in my life, what makes me most nervous is feeling like I'm facing it all alone.  I certainly don't want to ask too much of you, but I was wondering if you'd feel comfortable, during this season of my life, in helping me in some tangible ways? It's so hard for me to ask for what I need, but my gut tells me that I'll regret it if I don't surround myself with some visible support. If so, maybe we can brainstorm 1-2 ways that you'd be able to help me feel more nurtured during this time?
  • When you need VULNERABILITY instead of GUARDEDNESS:  "Thanks for listening to me share that.  It's sometimes really hard to be that open.  In fact, now I feel kind of vulnerable!  Any chance you have a story you can tell of a time you've felt something similar so I can feel reminded that I'm not alone in this feeling!"
  • When you need VALIDATION instead of CHEERING UP:  "You are always so very good at looking on the bright side!  Thank you!  I so often need that.  But right now, I think I just need permission to feel hurt and/or to grieve this one.  If I promise you that someday I'll see the positive side of this, will you just join me on the negative side and tell me it's okay for me to be sad for now?"
  • When you need to TALK instead of LISTEN: "Hey before we go, I wanted to give you some updates on my life, too.  Do you still have some time for me to share some of what's happening in my life?"

Hopefully you get the idea?  My formula for speaking my needs tends to include the following:

  1. Be appreciative.  Chances are high that her intentions are good. Most of us want to help, we just don't always know how.  We give in the ways that have been modeled to us or in the ways we think we'd want someone to respond to us.
  2. Own the feeling. It's not her fault for not responding how we want.  There isn't always a right and wrong.  How she responded might be perfect with another friend or at another time.  Only we can know what we want, what would feel good. So no need to blame her or tell her she did it wrong.
  3. State what would feel good.  And then, simply tell her what would feel the best to you right now, trying to leave it open as a question or suggestion so it honors that she gets to have a say in whether she can give to you in that way or not.

Let's be GirlFriends who help our friends love us well, and in turn, give them permission to make sure we're loving them well, too!

For more, read chapter 9 and 10 of my book, Friendships Don't Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of GirlFriends


Many Introverts are "Coming Out" :)

"I am an introvert.  And there's not a damn thing wrong with me." So says Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World on the second page of her book that boasts chapter titles like "I Like People, Just Not All People All the Time," "Hell Is a Cocktail Party," and "Science Says We're Not Necessarily Shy."

Huge thanks to Sohpia Dembling for the good work she's doing for Introverts everywhere!

I had the privilege of interviewing her recently for an entire hour where I asked her all things related to friendship and introversion.  In my work around female friendship, you can appreciate that how we're wired will play a huge role in how we go about fostering friendships. (She's just one of a dozen amazing authors I interviewed for "The Friendships You've Always Wanted.") It was a delightful and thought-provoking conversation where she shared her own illustrations about friendships in her life, while also giving voice to the growing number of introverts who interact with her via her blog on Psychology Today, called The Introverts Corner.

Introverts Coming Out Everywhere!

Fortunately, there has been such a growing awareness and education process around this subject.  We've so needed it!  Our culture has all too often idealized extroverts in our world, often leaving introverts feeling like there is something wrong with them.  (My favorite chapter title of Dembling's is "Introverts Are Not Failed Extroverts".)

In defining introversion, it was often seen as the opposite of extroversion--which was always described with these culture-valued words like outgoing, sociable, and fun--leaving introversion with words that sounded like they were missing something. We've too often confused introversion with a lack of friendliness or people-skills, which simply isn't so.

While I've long understood extroverts to be those who are energized by being around people, needing more external stimulation; and introverts as those who get re-energized primarily by decreasing the stimulation, often by needing to withdraw from people, it does seem to be a definition still in progress.  But there is a fast-growing list of characteristics and descriptors going around that seem to be resonating with a lot of people.

Whether it's Susan Cain in her TED talk that went viral, conferences like the World Domination Summit starting to put Hang-Out Hammock Lounge's in places where introverts can go re-charge away from the crowds, Facebook links with familiar titles like "23 Signs You're a Secret Introvert," or books like Dembling's that validate the introvert life-- the world is waking up to the fact that we are all wired very differently. Hallelujah! Popular bloggers, speakers, and well-known experts are being way more open and vulnerable about their own introversion.  All of this is helping way more people to self-identify with this name and own the parts of them that haven't always been well received.

And I do mean a lot. Following my Facebook news feed has been a bit like a coming-out party with all kinds of people posting articles and blogs about introverts and then saying things like "I finally feel understood!"

In fact, I've had that feeling too.  While listening to Dembling talk during our interview  about introverts preferring a small group to a large crowd, not enjoying small talk, and choosing email over the phone; I found myself thinking, "check, check, and check."  But trying to tell someone in my life that I might be an introvert is a little like trying to sell an igloo in the desert-- my friends and family just roll their eyes and laugh.

And to be fair, I'm definitely not a true introvert, as much as I'm probably more of what some people are now calling an "ambivert" with characteristics of each, sitting somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between extroversion and introversion.  Though I definitely don't feel "middle-of-road" as much as I feel like a person who has some extreme extrovert tendencies and some extreme introvert tendencies. Or, as I listened to Dembling talk about the extrovert/introvert scale, I was intrigued when she also mentioned the separate shy/non-shy scale which is entirely different.  Her descriptions left me wondering if maybe I was a somewhat shy extrovert since I hate walking into a room full of people, can feel anxious about attending conferences, and don't ever talk to people in lines or on airplanes. (Whereas my husband is probably a non-shy/introvert--someone who can carry a conversation with anyone, on any topic, with amazing people-skills, but will then need to come home to re-charge.)  Or maybe, as they keep studying, they'll find the category where I belong.  :)

Introverts and Friend-Making

But regardless of what labels we identify with, or which descriptions best capture who we are; what is clear is that we all need to know ourselves well and be responsible for our own energy management.  We can breathe deeply knowing that there is nothing "wrong" with us, that we're wired how we're wired, that we all have some tendencies that make certain tasks easier than others, and that we each have gifts that are valuable to others.

During my interview with her, we talked about which aspects of friend-making might come easier to extroverts and which ones might come easier to introverts, how we can make friends based on our own preferences, and what's important for us to know about each other as make friends with people who are wired differently from us.

For what is abundantly clear from all research is that no matter how you're wired or what behaviors might be most natural to you-- the truth is that we all need meaningful relationships.  So we're in it together... each of us stepping in to friend-making with our own temperaments, our own style, and our own energy.

How about you-- was it easy for you to identify yourself as an extrovert or introvert? Have you always known or has it been a process of learning?  I'd love to hear your own journey!


To listen to the interview, join us this September as we embark on a whole month focused on friendship growing: "The Friendships You've Always Wanted."




The Friendships You've Always Wanted: Selecting the Friendship Faculty

So what a very interesting experience I've had in the last three weeks as I was interviewing the leading relationship experts in the country! No surprise that even I had a lot to learn! The Back Story....The Vision

It started because I had this almost-vision-like picture of hundreds of women all committing to focus on their friendships in the same month.  At first I dismissed it as a silly and fluffy and over-dramatic idea... but it kept feeling important.  It reminded me of being a pastor when we'd gather everyone for prayer-meeting. Even without understanding how prayer really works, there is something powerful about everyone doing it together, in purpose, in solidarity.  There is just a different energy that everyone feels in those moments that is very different from the experience of praying alone.  So anyway, I began to listen to that voice and ended up committing to invite all the women I know to join me for one-month of focused attention, hope, and learning in the area of our friendships.

Then... as I looked at my calendar to see which month I should aim for... International Women's Friendship Month jumped out at me and I just knew it was meant to be.

So then I had the vision and a date.  But because I'm what StrengthsFinder calls a Maximizer-- someone who takes something good and wants to make it excellent (trust me, it can feel like a curse at times!)--I started to brainstorm a gazillion inspirational ideas that convinced me I wanted to offer not just my own voice to this month, but I wanted to collaborate, invite, include, and connect with other experts. I made my dream list....

The Doubts and Insecurities

But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to sometimes being jealous of some of these experts--for their big book deal, their opportunities, their contacts, their credentials, their research, their niche, their angle, etc.

Here I am with the wealth of books I selected to feature in this month's "The Friendships You've Always Wanted!" friendship course!

And on the flip-side (because insecurity and arrogance are two sides of the same coin), I wondered if I'd like some of their answers and approaches as well as my own.  I cringe to admit it for I definitely don't think I'm more valuable than anyone, but sometimes it's easy to judge others within our own industry and feel like they should have the same approach I have.  I've been known to think critically of others as "too academic sounding," or for "giving advice that seems so trite or appears to be dumbing-down," or for getting caught up in the labeling of unhealthy friendships, which isn't my style.  I guess it's human nature to be trying to figure out where we each rank next to each other.  But it's not the person I want to be.

My fear definitely reared its little head.  But I knew, to my core, that I had much to learn from all of them, and that you would, too.  And I knew that we were all on the same page about helping you foster the best friendships you can... and that you'll learn better from different voices and styles. (Funny how sometimes we fear even what we know is right and good and truthful!)  But my conviction that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that friendships around the world will be better because we collaborated, pushed me through my insecurities and I reached out with the invitation to share them with my audience.

All that to say I am super proud of the "faculty" that I pulled together for this course.  Really, really proud.  When Ori Brafman wrote me back on Twitter and said he'd give me an interview (I quote his research from Click in my own book!)-- I squealed with delight!  When I interviewed Dr. Paul Dobransky--whose definition of friendship will help you know clearly which ones to end--about how we can set better boundaries, I was taking notes myself, amazed at how he was explaining things.  When I read Sophia Dembling's book The Introverts Way-- I was convinced I'd find her and beg her for an interview, which she happily agreed to give.  I could go on-and-on.  I secured a dozen amazing teachers.

I interviewed twelve amazing experts-- sociologists, psychologists, a university professor, many NYT bestselling authors,  an organizational consultant, a women's leadership coach, a marketing executive, and so many more roles.  What they all have in common is a wealth of wisdom that pertain to our friendships.

Here's a sampling of what you can learn from these teachers:

  • Why needing new friends is normal—and how to show up with less guilt, anxiety, and shame.
  • The one thing more important to friendship than chemistry
  • The best ways to make friends in a way that is congruent to your personality
  • Is it true that we are the sum of our five closest friends? If so, in what ways are you being impacted and influenced?
  • The five science-based accelerators that deepen our friendships
  • How many people you need to meet to actually find the number of friends you want
  • The biggest obstacle to friend-making and how to best respond
  • The three most effective tips for making new friends
  • How to determine healthy expectations for different levels of friendship
  • The biggest red-flags to watch out for and what to do when you see them showing up in your friendships!
  • How you can prevent friendships from being ruined by jealousy and competition
  • The boundaries that you need to set to ensure that you participate in mutually reciprocated friendships
  • The three most important practices you can add to your life to attract more love
  • Which of the five types of friends you already have and which ones you want to find
  • An exercise to help you feel less judgmental and jealous of your friends.
  • How to tell the difference between what friendships can be saved and which ones need to end

But I learned so much more than that list can convey.  I learned that even when my advice would be very different from someone I was interviewing... I heard the wisdom in their approach and knew it would be exactly what someone needed to hear.  My ego certainly likes me to think that my approach is healthiest, or best; but what is clear is that while none of us has every answer to your every friendship woe (because every circumstance and person and relationship is just sooo different!), we all also have expertise that can shine in different areas.  How we each speak to this subject and approach it is just so different, and so beautiful.

It has been a gift to work on something as comprehensive as this project. (Where else is there a friendship program featuring so many teachers and subjects?)  I'm really proud of the work.  And I so hope that you are one of the women I saw in my vision who was willing to say "I will focus on my friendships for one month. Count me in."

I hope you can join us.  Hundreds of women coming together to make the world a better place by making sure we're each supported, connected, and loved in ways that matter.

With love,


p.s.  To learn more about the program and to sign-up to join us, visit www.FriendshipsWanted.com.

Top 10 Friendship Articles of 2012

For all of you who joined us half-way through the year, missed a post here-or-there, or just want to re-read some of the goodies to see if they speak to you where you are now,  here are the most read, popular blog posts from the last year: 1.   The Judgment of Weight

This post revealed the results from a Glamour Magazines poll about how we stereotype each other based on our weight. And it's not just one weight group judging another; it goes both ways, and we are even negatively judging others who share our same weight. Relationships cannot help but be impacted by this judgment.

2. Shaping Serendipity as Way to Make New Friends

This post about the three levels of pull was so popular that I expanded it into a portion of my new book "Friendships Don't Just Happen!" since the break-down of actually how we can go about strategically attracting more friendships into our lives is so helpful.

3.  Three Things I Wish I'd Said To Kathie Lee and Hoda on the TODAY Show

I barely made it to the TV station in time, but once I did those 5 minutes of airtime went all too fast!  There was so much more to say so here's what went through my head but didn't get said on national TV this time.

4.  Required Reading for Women Looking for New Friends

Rachel Bertsche wrote a bestseller last year called MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend and it was a witty, helpful, and honest memoir filled with social research that could assist anyone in their friend-making process.  My post about it gives a couple quotes from the book so you can get the feeling of just how good it is!

5.  Friendship Break-Ups 3: "Was She Really a Friend, Anyway?"

This post was triggered by a woman who claimed that since her fridnds hadn't stayed in touch with her through some big changes that they must not have really been friends.  I kindly disagree.

6.  Help! Should I Tell My Friend that her Husband is Cheating on her?

Quite possibly one of the toughest posts I've written, this one keeps getting so much traffic that I can only hope it's helpful in saving some friendships through this very difficult decision!  (And, re-reading it, I see that I promised a post about what to do when it's our friend who is cheating. Gulp! I will keep my word.)

7.  How to Find a Best Friend

Friendship has so long been this airy-fairy search where we are left feeling like it's up to fate to introduce us to our BFF's.  But that's simply untrue.  In this post I tell you exactly where you will find your future best friends.

8.  A Moment of Honesty About Forgiveness

I shouldn't have been surprised that confessing my failures to you would be popular!  LOL! I can teach forgiveness but that doesn't mean I'll do it well all the time!

9. What We Need Are More Women, Fewer Girls

My first post of last year hit a nerve when I basically invited us to "Grow Up!" It's a good read whenever you need a little motivating kick in your pants to pull your big girl panties up. I talk about how to show up as women when we feel the fears of judgment, of not being good enough, or of being rejected.

10.  Friendship Break-ups 1: A Drift or a Rift?

With women replacing half their friends every seven years, we have to become just as practiced at letting go of friendships as we do in making new ones.  This post helps walk you through the common experience of a friendship drifting apart.

* And a bonus one!  This one was my personal favorite: All Those "Unhealthy People" Drive Me Crazy since it reminds us how important it is to ask for what we need from each other!

A huge thanks to all my GirlFriendCircles.com members and readers of my blog! I love it when you leave comments and feedback-- thank you!

May we continue in 2013 to honor all that is right with friendship, committing ourselves regularly to the practices of healthy personal development and relationship joy.


Looking for more top articles?  Here are last years highlight: Top 10 Blogs of 2011

Last Week to Sign Up for the August "Assess & Attract Friendship" Journey!

This has been an eye-opening experience for most participants since so few of us ever actually have been taught much about friendship! Whatever was modeled to us or was part of our own experience tends to be all we know. Sign up for this 1-month tele-class to actually better understand what friendship is, how it's defined, what types of friends there are, what type you are, and how to create more meaningful community in your life!

Enter Discount Code "Blog" for $10 off!

Details and Sign-up: http://augustfriends.eventbrite.com/


8/1/11 UPDATE:  The next one will be in September for Friendship Month!  Send me your email or leave a comment here if you want to be notified of when the details are available.

Used-To-Be Friends or Still Friends?

We all know those fabulous women we have loved over the years, the ones where our shared history with them puts them in that special category of proven friends. When we talk to them, we  pick up right where we left off.  They're the kind of women we don't have to explain ourselves to, apologize for the time lapse or call them all the time to know we're still loved. So certainly it pains me to pop that bubble of idealism, but sometimes it must be said: Just because you can call her and know she'll be there for you doesn't mean you do.

One of the most common traps that keeps us in denial about needing more friends is that we used to have good friends.  And, the greatest risk happens when we think of them still as our closest friends.

Used-To-Be-Friends Or Still Friends?

This trap throws off the best of us.  We can quickly name 5 amazing women we call friends, and often feel better with our sense of connectedness. But then we still hear that nagging voice whispering that we think we need more friends. We feel lonely.

If you’re only sending Christmas cards, seeing each other once a year, calling every couple of months and giving little sentence updates on facebook—that may be why you still feel a sense of loneliness?

Risking redundancy, it stands to be pointed out that your current loneliness is not because you haven't had amazing friendships before. Rather, it's because you may not be engaging in them now.

I know for me, when I moved to San Francisco, I pushed away my awareness that I needed to make new friends by telling myself how awesome my friends were.  And yet, even though they were only a phone call away.  They were still a phone call away.  A phone call I didn't make with most of them frequently enough to keep it intimate and easy.

southern cal girls

And I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't have these "former" friends.  (And by former, I only mean that the intensity & consistency may have been more in the past than the present.)  My girlfriends from Southern Cal lived through some of my worst and best moments with me-- I will always want to stay connected with them.  Those friends give to us in many ways by knowing who we used to be, giving us a sense of a wider net in our lives and helping us feel less alone in this world.

It's life-changing to know you have these friends you can call if you are diagnosed with cancer. You need to know you have people you can count on in the "big things."

However, I often talk myself out of calling these friends because while I know I can pick up where we left off... that's part of the problem.  I have so much updating to do with them to catch them up to life right now, that I often decide I don't have the time for a long conversation.

What Do We Most Need to Add to our Connectedness?

But what most of us crave are the kind of friends you can call to just ask her what she's making for dinner. Or how her day went. Or what she bought over the weekend. Or whether she wants to go get drinks tomorrow night. The "small things."

We usually feel more intimate with the people we can talk about nothing with as easy as we can talk about something with.

For the truth is, fortunately, that we make dinner more than we get cancer.

No matter how many women you used to be close to—you can still feel lonely now. And sometimes just knowing that you can call isn't enough. To abate loneliness we actually need friends we can go live life with, not just report life to.

SF girls

I ended up having to start over with local women.  It doesn't mean I don't still meet up with my used-to-be-friends every year for a weekend together.  Or that we don't call when the big things happen.  But it means I now have friends to call for the small stuff.  The small stuff that actually feels more important on a day-to-day basis.

So by all means, love those used-to-be women for the history they hold and the way they make you feel known, and by all means stay in touch with them!  But I invite you to own the fact that your loneliness may be your hearts way of saying “I would like some women who can journey with me more regularly.”

And perhaps 1-2 of them can step into that role. I called up one of the women in this circle for me a few years ago, told her how much I missed her and asked if we could schedule a weekly standing phone call to live life together a bit more.

But maybe that's not enough.  Maybe you still need new friends?

But either way, don’t confuse who used to be your best friend with the fact that you might need additional ones (or rekindled ones?) in that place now.

Join Me on a Tele-Course Journey for More Meaningful Friendships

Event Announcement: I heard Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food & God say it again today, "Having an ah-ha moment isn't life changing.  You have to practice something for at least 21 days for it to change the way your brain thinks."

We know there are no instant fixes.  Yet we often find ourselves simply saying that we hope we make more friends and then not doing anything about it.  I invite you to step into 21-days of a journey with me!  Starting next week-- participate in a daily workbook journaling exercise designed to help you invite more meaningful friends into your life.

I'm including amazing coaching sessions with hopes of enticing a few of you to step into this.  I know it's not as obvious as weight loss, as crucial feeling as your finances or as appealing as romance-- but seriously friendship is in the same league in importance!  I hope you'll consider a fun and meaningful month-long journey of inspiration with me.

$10 off Code: Blog

For more information and to sign-up: http://apriljourney.eventbrite.com/

UPDATE:  This event is past. I've scheduled the next 21 Day Friendship cycle and invite you to RSVP.  I limit group size.  Hope you can join us!