Monday, June 30, 2008

Friendships - Woman to Woman

My nightstand reading stack, as opposed to my other reading lists in the house, is top heavy. Books, the smallest ones, usually sift up to the top of the stack, middle-sized next down, etc. with printed articles getting a real "smashed" treatment on the bottom. The printed articles usually fall in the categories of - torn from magazines, received from friends with underlines, church bulletins, internet articles. I often print out a blog that is of particular interest to me, or one that I believe deserves more than a cursory read between email messages, art projects and my own blogging. So, the stack rises and falls at my whim.

Leafing through the stack last week, I found an article entitled, UCLA Study on Friendship Among Women, An alternative to fight or flight by Gale Berkowitz. If you check it out, you'll note the author is credited for her summary presentation of a 2002 study.....the article has not been on my nightstand for 6 years:)

At any rate, it was Gale's turn at the reading bat for stirring up my imagination, my ardor, her one chance to kindle my sleepy, summer evening, pre-night-night brain. She succeeded in the kindle - she confirmed and sent me off to dreamland contented but more determined to care for the female friendships that are so rewarding to our well being.....according to the UCLA analysis.

Often a writer's ability to inspire me is her/his accuracy in pinpointing an idea that I find close to my heart. Friendship is one of those hot buttons that when pressed fires off declarations of devotion to my friends and to the well-being those friendships bring into my life. But after the button is pressed and I've made my declaration, a bit of reflection might be in order. How seriously do I take my woman to woman friendships?

Ms. Berkowitz suggests "friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are.

Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. The landmark UCLA study (of which Berkowitz is writing) suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It's a stunning find that has turned five decades of stres research--most of it on men--upside down......"

The article goes on.....but her concluding paragraph, once more hits close to home for me - "Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women. We push them right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have non-pressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a very healing experience."

So, if you're a male reader, (which if he was he probably stopped reading this post paragraphs ago) my apology for the single slant posting today. But if you are a woman, take a sec and think about when it was you allowed yourself the luxury of a lunch date with another woman, a movie, a walk....if it's been a while, pick up the phone and make that date.

I had the luxury of just such an event last week and we spoke together, over lunch, about the affirming significance that woman to woman friendships bring to our lives. We need to protect and honor those friendships, besides being fun, it appears as though they are definitely beneficial to our health and well-being!

IPhoto - "Stopping to smell the roses" - SS

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