Finding joy in a new hobby

By June Greenlaw

Baby boy quilt

When I turned 50 a few years ago, it occurred to me that I might want to get moving checking things off my bucket list.  One of the things that has long been on that list is to learn how to quilt.  This past January, my best friend and I took a beginner’s quilting class.  We are now quilting fools!

I was amazed at how easy it was, considering I had not touched a sewing machine since home economics class in 7th grade.  Remember, I’m over 50 now, so that was a long time ago.  I have to give credit to the teachers of the class because they were very patient, but I do believe that anyone can learn to quilt in very little time.

Quilts for Veterans group

During the class, we were able to get the top of our first quilt completely done.  When a friend saw what we had done via facebook, she reached out to us and asked if we would consider making some quilts for Veterans in her hospice center.  Of course, we were honored to do something so small for folks who have done so much for us.  We hope these veterans will sleep half as comfortably under these quilts as we sleep under the blankets of freedom they have each provided to us.

Knowing about this opportunity, we wanted to share with others and touch as many lives as we could, so we coordinated a Quilts for Veterans event.  Many awesome volunteers came together and we were able to complete 24 quilt tops that day.  Those quilts are currently be finished by volunteers and will be presented to the Veterans very soon.

Since then, I completed that first blanket we started in our class and I gave it to my 89-year-old Aunt.  I also completed two baby blankets, one for a boss at work that had just become a Grandfather and another for a niece that is expecting her first child.  I was delighted to be able to give all of them something handmade, but the quilting journey has a few other adventures to report.

I mentioned above that my friend and I took this class together.  Well, that friend and I have a mutual friend that recently lost her Dad.  We received some of her father’s clothing in the mail from one of her relatives.  We were able to use his clothing to create a keepsake quilt for her to, one day, pass on to her children.

We were very proud of all of the quilts I have mentioned, but our favorite, and likely the one that will mean the most to us forever, is one that we created for a girlfriend that is currently receiving treatment for breast cancer.  The quilt was designed with the pink breast cancer ribbon in the middle.  As we told our friend, we know that this diagnosis does not define her, but we wanted her to be able to use this blanket to wrap herself in love while fighting this battle and, afterward, to use it as a reminder of her strength.

Checking this off the bucket list has been incredibly fulfilling already, and I’m excited about all the gifts I will be able to create in the future.  I currently have two wedding quilts on my agenda, and my daughter recently asked me to make one for her friend that is ill.  I feel very blessed that God led me to this hobby because it has given me the ability to do something unique for others.  The best part of making the quilts is always giving them away!

I encourage anyone that has thought about quilting to give it a try.  It’s been a rewarding journey so far, and, as an extra added benefit, it has given us something to do while we all keep our distance from others during this challenging time with the virus.  If not quilting, I hope you will check something off your bucket list soon.

The Importance of a “Best Girlfriend” No Matter Your Age

By Janet Prince

Women need to have a “best girlfriend” just as much as younger girls do.  You know, the type of friend you can call on at any time day or night and know she will be there for you.  I am very blessed to have several “girlfriends” in my life.

Recently, my best friend sat with my daughters while I had surgery and then helped them get me home and settled.  Gary was away on his “bucket list trip,” so it was up to the girls to take care of me until he returned.  Then, she was with me again on the day of our daughter’s wedding rehearsal and dinner when I had to go back to surgery.  We were supposed to be spending that day decorating for the wedding, not at the surgery yarn piccenter, but thankfully I was able to attend both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding!

Back to my best friend, Susan.  She always takes the time to pitch in and help me, and she is always there when I call.  She has prayed for me through many surgeries and challenges over the past 18 years.  I honestly don’t know what I would do without her in my corner.  Because I don’t have any sisters, I am thankful that God brought us together all those years ago at the MOM program at Holland Avenue Baptist Church.  We have watched each other’s children grow into young adults and teenagers and have shared many special events in the kids’ lives.  We are “family” in every sense of the word.

friends 1I also have my best girlfriends in GFWC-SC.  I am blessed and very fortunate to have four women in my life who I know are there for me and lift me up when I am feeling down.  When the decorations needed to go up for the wedding, Jackie was there with her husband helping Ashlan’s new mother-in-law, Marsha, and Gary make everything perfect.  Jackie and Tammy gave a wonderful brunch for Ashlan and her bridesmaids which I didn’t get to attend.  Tammy also helped the bridal party put makeup on the flower girls and made sure they looked beautiful. Most importantly, Jackie, Laurie, Marian, and Tammy weren’t only there to witness Ashlan’s marriage to Joe, but also to show their love and support for me.  The “Fab-Four” are my travel companions when attending GFWC conventions and board meetings.  We enjoy the meetings, but we more so enjoy the time friends 2we get to spend together talking and laughing.  We are true “girlfriends” in our hearts.

I hope you all are as blessed as I am with those special “girlfriends” in your life.  If you are, let them know how much your relationship means to you.  Plan a day of shopping, going to a play, or trying your hand at a new craft.  Make it fun and enjoy the laughs you have together!

What to Say?

By: Katie Austin 

I sat up late at night recently thinking about my friends that are fighting cancer. I read their Facebook posts and my mind wanders back to the time when I was fighting cancer. I started crying as I was reminded of the thoughtful, wonderful things that my family and friends did for me to keep me strong throughout my struggle to stay positive.

What’s crazy is that I find myself not being sure of what to say to my fellow survivors. I don’t want to say anything that might upset them in any way.

Then I remembered something. I read an article a few years ago that really helped. It was something that I wished I would have come across when I was fighting cancer. Something for me to give those close to me some insight and not to be afraid to talk about normal stuff.

I’ll provide you with a link to the article at the end but here are a few to get you started:

  • “I don’t know what to say but I’m here for you.” It’s ok not knowing what to say. Sometimes being honest about not knowing what to say keeps the conversation real/open. The person fighting cancer may not know what to say either or remember because of chemo brain…LOL.
  • “I’m here to listen.” This is always something that can be shared, as it is so reassuring to know that there is someone that can listen. Remember that they are sharing their feelings and that it will be good for them to get out any frustrations, which will help you to better understand where they are coming from.
  • “Let me help with…” This is a good one! It was always easier for me to say yes/no to something specific that someone was offering to help with rather than an open question, “What can I help with?” They may be too overwhelmed at the time and it may be too much pressure to come on with something specific on their own.
  • “How are things going with you?” or “How is your family?” Talking about things other than cancer was a relief. I wanted to just talk about normal stuff too and it was a break from the daily cancer treatments, doctor appointments, and everything else that came with it.
  • A simple text can mean the most. The littlest things do mean a lot. A simple text to say “I’m thinking of you” or “I’m praying for you” doesn’t require a response but lets that person know you care.

You can find more ideas here: https://www.whatnext.com/blog/posts/10-things-cancer-patients-love-to-hear.

Remember, that this is a journey not only for the cancer patient but for their family and friends as well. No matter what you do or say, it will help them to stay positive and they will know that you care.

Do you have an idea or quote that was helpful for your friend or family member?  If you do, post it here so that we can share with our Every Woman Blog family.

Working with Friends

By: Shannon Boatwright

I recently read an enlightening article called, “How Coworkers Affect Your Job Satisfaction,” written by Jacob Shriar.

In the article, I came across an interesting bit of information about the results of a 20-year study on the work environment in all sorts of different job fields. They expected factors like long work hours or having a mean boss to be a major factor affecting a person’s health. According to the article, “What they found instead, was that the factor most closely linked to health was the support of coworkers. The meaner a colleague was, the higher their risk of dying. According to the study, middle-aged workers with little or no “peer social support” in the workplace were 2.4 times more likely to die during the study.”

 Wowzers! Isn’t that crazy!? This was really eye opening for me, especially since lately I have felt especially thankful for my amazing coworkers. I am truly blessed to have colleagues that are not only supportive, but many of them are like family. We’ve created a special bond that has helped us all to better survive and make the best of our job situations. I always say, if it weren’t for them, I’d never last in my position in our messed up education system. We band together and lift each other up. We always have each other’s backs. We love and care for one another. The support is real and genuine. I can’t imagine my life without these people I’ve come to know and love.

Reading this article just added scientific back-up to what I knew in my heart already: having friends at work is truly important to our mental health. Check out the article link above and take stock of your own work environment. Do you have a friend at work? Do you have a family of fabulous colleagues? It really is important and can be so beneficial to your overall health! If you’re like me and are blessed to have an incredible support system at your place of work, thank those special friends. Let them know how much you appreciate them. As they say…appreciate the good people in your life. They are hard to come by!

To my family at CMS, I positively adore you all! I’m here for you and can’t thank you enough for being there for me in return. You fill my heart and lift my soul! Big smiles and millions of thank you’s!

Friends … Forever?

By: Jeanne Reynolds

 

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-9-03-49-pm

One of my dearest friends had a birthday a week ago. It was on my calendar (in two places). Did I send her a card or call or email or even text?

I’m really ashamed to admit it, but no.

I could blame the hurricane and the toll it took on our home near Beaufort, my time, energy and mental capacity, but that’s just a convenient excuse. The fact is, although we worked together for years and years, ran together and even travelled some together, nowadays we rarely see each other. A few years ago she left the company where I still work, so now it takes extra effort to keep in touch. Sometimes we do better than others.

 

forever friends

This got me thinking about the effect of changing work situations on friendships. All of us have had good friends who changed jobs or moved away or just aren’t right there every day any more. This is starting to concern me more as I near retirement and wonder what other friends might gradually slip away when they’re no longer part of my 8-5 routine.

Of course, it’s great to make new friends, too, and I’m doing that as my life patterns start to change. But there’s no replacement for friends who knew you back when … and still love you anyway. If you’re lucky, you have at least a few of these in your life. Forever friends.

How will I keep in touch? I have a few ideas, and I’d love to hear what’s worked for you.

  • Always celebrate birthdays, even belatedly, even if it’s embarrassing to admit the date got away from you. OK, I just texted an invitation to my friend and she’s replying as I write. Stay tuned.
  • Meet for lunch or happy hour now and then. Include other long-lost friends and reconnect with several people at once.
  • Sign up for a race or volunteer event together.
  • Get tickets to a concert or play together.
  • Take a class or Bible study together. My church has short studies around Lent and the holidays that aren’t a big time commitment but remind me why we connected in the first place.
  • Follow each other on Instagram. I’m not a social media maven and have neither the time nor inclination for constant Facebook check-ins, but it takes seconds to post a photo on Instagram. And a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

Now, I may find I’m the one who has to take the initiative to make these things happen. I can either let that bother me or accept it as worth the value of keeping someone wonderful in my life. If it gets to the point that it’s not, it’s time to let her (or him) fly away.

Oh, this just in: She said yes! We’re meeting for lunch tomorrow. Better late than never, especially when it comes to old (forever) friends.

Making Time for Friendship

By: Ashley Whisonant

friends

With school back in session and pumpkin everything starting to pop up, the signs are all there. Summer is coming to an end.

This summer has been filled with beach days, ice cream nights, and late-night neighborhood play sessions. With fall around the corner, I am making a promise to myself that I will make time for friendship. I tend to carve out specific time for my boys, husband, work, working out, and family. I need to do the same for my friendships as well.

Instead of the typical dinner out, I thought of a few other ideas:

  • Walking the neighborhood or Lake Murray Dam
  • Taking a cooking class together
  • Creating a jewelry swap group. Everyone brings necklaces, bracelets, etc. and then we swap!
  • Taking a cake or cookie decorating class at a local craft store
  • Strolling the outdoor market, Soda City, on a Saturday morning

I hope by making specific time for girlfriends, my soul will be rejuvenated! Any other events you would add to the list?

True Wealth…

By: Shannon Shull

I am rich. Not necessarily with money, that darn stuff that tortures us all and seems to be required to survive. No, I am rich with friendship and love. I have an incredible wealth of friends and loved ones that are here for me through thick and thin, who love me unconditionally, and care for me with all my imperfections.

best friends

When I really sit back and allow myself to think about the number of dear friends that I could call at any moment and would be there for me with an open heart, willing ears and a shoulder to cry on….whew… my heart truly swells. These friends I have do not judge me. They know that together we are human and I too will not judge them. These precious ones in my life know that the love and support is mutual.

What an incredible blessing! I mean really – to have the gift of true friendship is a priceless treasure.

Over the course of our lives, we make friends left and right, on different levels, of course, and in different circumstances. Some friends come and go due to our complicated lives getting in the way… and that’s ok. Though they may have moved on or you’ve lost touch for whatever reason, the memories will last and they’ll always have a special place in your heart.

There is a quote by Elisabeth Foley that states, “the most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” These are the friends, who best friendsfor whatever reason, you just never lose touch with, because no matter how far apart you live from one another or what opposite directions your lives may take you, you still have a bond that is so strong that no time, distance, nor circumstances can interrupt the bond that you have. Months can go by without contact and you get together and fall right into a beautiful, comfortable whirlpool of true friendship that soothes the soul, warms your heart and puts pep into your step. These are the friends that lift you up, allow you to open up, and engage in that deeper act of friendship that embodies the definition.

The Urban Dictionary states, “friendship is actually a form of love, and without such a form of love as friendship our societies would be unbearably dull and alienated from one another.” Don’t you know it!?! Can you imagine your world without friendships and without those key friends in your life who help you hold on to your sanity? I don’t want to dare imagine my life without my most precious, dear friends who are truly priceless treasures in my life.

When this blog entry posts, I will be celebrating one of my very best friend’s 40th birthday. She will have joined me in the ranks of middle age and we plan to not only celebrate turning 40 together, but we also will celebrate our friendship and the fact that it has withstood the test of time! We’ve been best friends since the 1st grade. Considering we’re entering our 40s, that’s an incredibly long time! I won’t go into all the ups and downs we’ve survived together, our many accomplishments, and our precious moments, but I will say best friendsthat we have an indescribable bond that truly upholds the definition of friendship.

 

They say you can always tell when two people are best friends because they are having more fun than it makes sense for them to be having. That is the case with my BFF. We are Shannon & Tammy…Salt & Pepper…Double Trouble…Liz & Tam…we are best friends. And I have no doubt that our friendship will last forever.

So here’s to the beauty and gift of friendships! Treasure all the friendships you have. I know I am ever thankful for them all, because they indeed make you a wealthy person. 🙂