_ A couple of years ago, I attended my high school reunion. To my surprise, I ran into a woman whom I hadn't seen in 40 years! We hugged, got teary-eyed with joy, and spent most of the afternoon together recalling all the fun and heartaches we'd shared as best girlfriends in high school. When we parted, we promised to keep in touch. What a great day that was! In one afternoon we were able to recapture that close relationship we had had in those important teenage years.
That encounter got me thinking about the importance of relationships, especially our relationships with other women. Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family, all are so valuable and bless our lives. It takes another woman to listen to and understand our woes. Perhaps because she is a woman, she feels it in her soul when we share ourselves with her!Husbands and boyfriends may come and go in life, but girlfriends always seem to stick by us. What is cozier than a night in with your girlfriends, watching a “chick flick” and passing around a box of Kleenex—and a box of chocolates!
A good relationship is based on mutual respect and trust. To be a friend involves sharing—sharing your time, your secrets, your support, and your life stories. You have to KNOW a person to be a friend. Sharing creates a bond with another woman and makes her special.
Close relationships enhance our lives and keep us healthy. A study done by Harvard researchers showed that people who have relationships of friendship, love, or other positive bonding, experience emotions that positively affect their immune systems. Strong friendships help to protect us against stress, depression, anxiety, and some forms of mental illness, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is known that people who frequently interact with others, whether face-to-face, or by phone, mail or email, live longer and healthier lives than those who live in isolation. Sociable people get sick less often and recover faster when they do fall ill.
Sometimes our relationships are interrupted when our girlfriends take different paths—get married, have children, or move away. Jeffrey Zazlow, in his book The Girls from Ames, followed the lives of 11 women for 40 years. He found that although these women moved apart, they managed to maintain their friendships. Not only that, their friendships sustained them through stressful times in their lives, such as battling cancer, losing a job, or going through a divorce. Again and again, they supported each other with phone calls, gifts, and emails.
Girlfriends are there for each other, no matter how much time and how many miles separate them.
Here’s to Meaningful Relationships!
Dominique Petersen is a graphic designer living in St. Thomas, Ontario, and is the author of the interactive book set, Girlfriends Forever!