Friday Five

1. I’m a winner! Nina Badzin was hosting a book giveaway on her blog and I was one of the winners. Honestly I can’t remember ever winning a raffle before. The book is MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. When Rachel moved to Chicago to be with her husband, she hadn’t considered one important thing: how hard it can be to make new friends. Instead of leaving it to chance, she approached meeting new friends in the same way one might look for a mate (in 2012 anyway). Rachel went on 52 “friend dates” – one for each week of the year – and compiled her experiences, along with research from the latest studies on friendship, into this book.

Thank you, Nina, for sending me this book. I’m looking forward to reading it.

 

2. On her blog, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin often talks about friendship as one of the pillars of happiness. She says, “Strong social ties are a key — arguably the key — to happiness. You need close, long-term relationships; you need to be able to confide in others; you need to belong; you need to get and give support. Studies show that if you have five or more friends with whom to discuss an important matter you’re far more likely to describe yourself as ‘very happy.'”

She points out time and again that in order to have friends we have to make an effort to nurture our relationships. It sounds obvious of course, but in our busy lives, that’s something that can often fall by the wayside. Women tend to require more interaction from their friend relationships than men. (Rachel describes women’s friendships as face-to-face, as in meeting over coffee or dinner, while men’s friendships are side-by-side, as in watching a baseball game together.)

I just started Rachel’s book, but I’m struck by how hard, read: how much effort, it can be to make new friends and maintain existing friendships as we get older. I think it’s because there’s so much going on in our day-to-day lives, making new friends is not something on our to-do list. Watching my friends who have young kids, it seems to be easier because they’re usually involved with other parents and automatically have something in common. What if you don’t have kids, or your kids are grown?  A few months ago, Gretchen posted 8 tips for making friends, one of which is to say nice things about other people because you’ll be linked to that quality. (All of you reading this post right now are the nicest, most hilarious, most beautiful people I know!) She also has 8 tips for maintaining friendships.

Do you think it’s more difficult to make new friends as you get older? Or have a life shift (marriage, baby, new city, etc)? Do you have any tips maintaining or making new friends? 

 

3. Tip of the week: When renewing your passport, do not, under any circumstances, compare your new photo to your old photo from ten years ago. Exception: you have a bag of M&Ms and a box of tissues standing by.

 

4. Looking for a family saga that is complex and rich and makes you think that your own family isn’t all that bad? Read Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan. I listened to this audio book on my drive to Tennessee and had moments when I was tearing up, then laughing, then shaking my head. I’m sure people pulling up next to me thought I was losing it.

Here is a bit from the jacket copy: For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano at night. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface. As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

I was struck by the author’s deftness of characterization. The book alternates between four points of view and each woman has a distinct voice with her own wants and needs. They each have their own complex emotional pull. You can open the book to a random page and immediately know the character speaking, that’s how well defined they are. The last time I remember reading a novel with that kind of richness was The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.  Some reviews have called this a great summertime read.  (Maybe because it takes place over one summer? That could be why some readers were mislead into thinking this was a lighthearted, beachy novel. It’s not.) No matter when or where, I thought it was a great any-time read.

Read chapter one here.

 

5.  Or maybe you’re looking for something that will make you feel uplifted and positive after the latest episode of The Bachelor? I Am is a documentary written and directed by Tom Shadyac. You may be familiar with his other work such as Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty and The Nutty Professor. Tom lived in a 70,000 square foot mansion in Malibu and lit his fireplace with crisp dollar bills. Maybe the last part isn’t entirely true (he used tens), but you get the picture. A terrible bike accident shifted his perspective and he gave it all up to live a more authentic life. Along he way he decided to interview some of today’s most educated minds, including scientists, philosophers, historians and spiritual leaders, two burning questions: What is wrong with our world, and what can we do about it?

Building on Einstein’s words, “Humanity is going to require a new way of thinking if it is to survive,” Tom Shadyac realized that our current way of thinking is based on notions of separatism. Many of us operate under the assumption that we are separate from each other and separate from the natural world. But really we are all connected. I Am was affirming and it made me feel hopeful. The answers to the questions above might just surprise you.

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Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

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24 comments

  1. Well…we already knew you were a winner, dear. You are, after all, Reggie’s mom!

    Speaking of which, my only complaint with this wonderful post, and line-up of recommendations I am adding to my weekend, is the lack of Reggie shots. Tell him I loved reading about all of these goodies, but that Olive wants more Reggie next time.

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    1. I had a talk with Reggie’s agent. He was laying low this week. You know how celebrities feel about overexposure. “Always keep ’em wanting more,” he says. Tell Olive he’ll be back showing off his new squeaky toy soon.

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  2. Love this post. I moved to a new (tiny, tiny, TINY) town right after I left my job and became a stay-at-home mom. Having everything change so quickly and drastically was tough, and not having that built-in support of friends nearby was a major bummer. I’ve made friends slowly but surely, although the friend dates approach might’ve come in handy!

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  3. It’s hard to make friends when you move to a new town, especially a small town. There aren’t as many options for social gatherings.
    I think I would be just as lame on a “friend date” as I am on a regular date. 😛

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    1. Jackie, you would absolutely not be lame!

      I’m curious to read MWF seeking BFF. When I first moved to this town, I thought I would die! It was very difficult to meet and make friends, but I now have a wonderful group of friends made through book clubs, dinner groups, tennis, jobs and children. But my old friends are to be cherished! My besties are still the gals who knew me when I had pimples on my face and still had brown hair! 😉

      I just updated my passport. The first thing I did was compare pictures. There were some positive and negative findings.

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      1. Do tell about these positive findings on your new passport photo! I’m so jealous.

        I bet you and your besties have a lot of great memories. There’s nothing like pimples and braces to bring girls together. That reminds me of the book The Girls from Ames.

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  4. really enjoyed this post. making friends is not always easy, and for me, moving to a new place, in the country, has made it a bit of a challenge. since we don’t have children, i’ve learned to be the best friend-aunt to their children, and the best listener i can be. now I can say i am building upon some amazing friendships.
    I am going to look those books up on my Kindle, so thank you for suggesting them!

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    1. I know it’s hard to make new friends here in the city because most people keep to themselves. But it must be even harder when people live much farther apart. I love that you mentioned being a good listener. That is so easy to forget but something that is important to building quality relationships.

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    1. I think you and Sara would really like I Am. It’s a very simple premise: we’re all connected. Then it takes that concept and digs much deeper. It leaves you on a positive note.

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  5. My TBR pile is groaning under the weight, but I’ll have to add “Maine” to it.

    The documentary sounds like something I would like a lot–thanks for the heads-up.

    I can totally relate to number three. Oh, it hurts!

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    1. I know the feeling, Carole. The stack of physical and virtual books will take me years to get through, I think! (At least I’m not confronted by the virtual books mocking me from my nightstand every day.) 🙂

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  6. I really would love to read that book. It is soo hard to make friends, in new cities, new situations and to keep them… I think it’s a funny idea to write a book about 52 friend dates.
    I read Courtney Sullivan’s first book two years ago and loved it and got Maine right when it came out, just didn’t have the time yet. I’m glad it’s good.

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    1. I’d love to hear your take on her new book, Maine. I’d read some mixed reviews from readers, but I think they must have been anticipating a different type of story – more like a beach read. I thought the characters were well developed and interesting.

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  7. All of these sound very interesting, but that first book seems like such a great idea! Of course, I’d be an ‘awkward’ for sure.
    Potential new friend: “Funny… you look nothing like your potential friend profile photo…”
    Me: “Uh… M&M?”
    🙂

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    1. Oh, me too!
      It sounds a lot like online dating. What would I put in my profile?
      “Likes sharing popcorn at movies, macrame and paint by numbers.” 😉

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    1. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed I Am. It’s not preachy. The people interviewed were unusual choices for this subject matter. I think you’ll really find a lot of value in the documentary.

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