It’s International Women’s Day and Sarah Wayland over at thatspaceinbetween has invited me to another link-up post about being a woman…or what I know about women. Thank you Sarah.
Up there is a picture of my best friend, Gillian. I’m not sure I can write anything meaningful about being a woman but I can write something about my friendships with women. The following was sent to me by Gillian…I didn’t need this evidence from Stanford University but it’s an interesting read.
In an evening class at Stanford University the last lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps is to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of wellbeing. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very GOOD for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym. There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged? Not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health. Forward this to all your girlfriends to stay in touch, just like I just did! Thanks to all the girls in my life who have helped me stay healthy, happy, and feeling very loved.
I left Canada just over 13 years ago and honestly, I have made very few bonding friendships since. Last May, I returned “home” to visit family and friends and I was surprised how some of my old friendships stayed in tack. Sure, we stay connected through emails, Facebook and Christmas cards but it was in their presence that I felt like there had been no space, time or distance between us.
Let me tell you about each fabulous friendship.
Gillian and I have known each other since grade eight or so, which means 14/15 years old. We ran in the same circle of friends but we were not close at school. It was not until 1991 or so that we crossed paths with the thanks to a mutual friend. I ended up moving in to a 4 bedroom flat that Gillian lived in and we became roommates. She was a university student and I was a chambermaid; our social circles didn’t mix. But we shared interests and a true friendship formed. When I moved out west in 1993 we keep in touch via phone and letters.
I returned east after a break-up at Christmas 1995 and stayed in our old flat for 3 months before reuniting with my boyfriend and moving back in April 1996. Gillian also went through a break-up and moved west just before my return. We now lived closer but still too far for coffee catch-ups. But soon enough even that would change.
In 1997 when my relationship was deemed unrepairable, I moved further west and closer to Gillian. We now saw each other regularly and eventually got a flat together. It was during this time, a time of many ups and downs in both of our lives that a lifelong friendship was sealed, though I didn’t realise it then.
We’ve watched each laugh & cry, triumph and fail even at distances of damn near 20,000kms. When I went back to Nova Scotia (our home province where Gillian returned to in 2005) last May I really didn’t think we were that close anymore. Surely, we had moved on. There was so much time and distance between us that I thought maybe we’d be different. We weren’t. It was as if I had seen her the week before. We just picked up where we left off. This is what confirmed our lasting bond.
We are now planning to meet up in Bali for a “girls only” holiday. I cannot wait.
I met Lori in 1987 when I had run away from home. I was 16 years old and on the run with a much older man (I’ll use the term loosely). We lived above Lori and her then husband and 2 young boys. I remember one of the very first things Lori said to me. It was, “Are you pregnant?”
She just couldn’t understand why I was with that man and figured it must be because he had knocked me up. I was in a strange city with a strange man and in a very strange relationship. I was very far from home and had no one. Lori became my confidant, friend and saviour.
During the worst times, she suggested I get on a bus or train and go home. She even offered to pay my way even though she didn’t have any money. She was living in a mess of her own but yet she still powered on to try to keep me from being hurt and abused. It was only recently that I learnt that she was in the same situation as I was…she just hid it a lot better than I did.
I eventually returned home with the help of the “man”. Unfortunately that story didn’t end there but more happily, either did my friendship with Lori.
We kept in touch and when I was eventually on my own and working, I saved up to return to that big city for a holiday..more than once. She and her family even visited me in Nova Scotia a couple of times. It’s funny how meeting a certain someone can influence our own lives and change our path. Lori eventually separated from her husband and moved to Prince Edward Island (a province near Nova Scotia)….I like to think I influenced that positive change.
I had never been to the island (PEI) and with Lori living there, I knew it was time to go. We had not seen each other in 19 years!!!!
19 years! But again, it was like little time had gone by. She was the same: talkative, funny, shocking, friendly and caring. We’ve both come so far from those hardships of 1987. I know that PEI must be added to every Canadian itinerary even if another 19 years passes before I get there.
I was living in the Banff YHA (hostel) in 1993 when I met Yui. We shared a room. I was living there because I was down & out, she was there as a traveller who was keen to stay. I had an interest in Japan and wanted to learn the langauge. She was a good teacher and that was the start of our long friendship.
Yui played an important part to my life path in 1993.
One day, Yui came “home” and said she found a french couple who were looking to reduce the rent of their studio apartment. I was keen to leave the hostel and reduce my living expenses too. So, Yui and I moved in with the frenchies….4 of us in a one room apartment. It was short-lived because it just-so-happened that a very good-looking bloke I had been introduced to 2 months prior lived right across the hall and we hooked up quite rapidly.
I moved in with D and Yui stayed with the couple for a while. Over the next couple years, Yui came and went from Banff but it was home for both of us for a long time. On one of her returns, she even lived with D & I for a month with her boyfriend from Japan.
The thing I love about Yui is her bluntness. She says things like they are whether it’s hurtful or not. She doesn’t filter. And I can say that I love it now, but there have been times when I hated it. There have been times when I snapped at her but she always lets it roll off her. That’s inspiring.
My very last white Christmas was spent with Yui in Banff in 2000. She opened her home to me to stay with her over the holidays and it was a memorable time. We cooked together, partied together and she taught me how to snowboard. Yui is a very active woman and I know when I visit her, we will be out amongst nature.
So when I stayed with her in her new home in Revelstoke, BC I was geared up for 5 days of outdoor exploring: hiking, rock climbing, kayaking.
Yui is a fabulous cook too. She always makes me sushi and we often hang out in the kitchen.
Again, spending 5 days with her was easy, fun, active and like old times. I’m hoping she will visit me in Australia next…it’s your turn Yui.
So ladies, Happy International Women’s Day!! I salute you!