Sense of Connection: Cosmo Girls

It has always been important!
It has always been important!

When I lived in Rushford I was part of a group called The Modern Priscillas, and it was the oldest group in the history of Rushford, with its beginning going back to 1904, I believe. The women met weekly at that time, sharing a meal and sharing their talents or knowledge with each other. The group evolved to monthly meetings with dessert but maintained that learning component, as well as the traditional “roll call” at the beginning and “Collect for Club Women” at the end. .

After I moved, I realized I missed that monthly connection to women and reading Jeffrey Zaslow‘s book, “The Girls from Ames,” confirmed the reasons why. Research about women and friendships is pretty clear:

Consider these findings:

  • Longevity – Married men live longer than single men, yet women who marry have the same life expectancy as those who don’t. However, women with strong female social ties (girlfriends) live longer than those without them.
  • Stress – For decades, stress tests focused solely on male participants, believing that all humans would respond in the same manner. When these same stress tests were finally conducted on females it was discovered that women don’t have the same, classic ‘fight or flight’ response to stress that men do. According to the research presented in The Tending Instinct, women under stress have the need to ‘tend and befriend.’ We want to tend to our young and be with our friends. Time with our friends actually reduces our stress levels.
  • More Stress – A study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine found that when we’re with our girlfriends, our bodies emit the “feel good” hormone oxytocin, helping us reduce everyday stress. By prioritizing our female friendships and spending time with these friends, we take advantage of a very simple, natural way to reduce our stress.
  • Even more stress – Prairie voles, a monogamous rodent, have a similar response to stress. When a male vole is put in a stressful situation, he runs to his female partner. Female voles, when stressed, immediately run to the females they were raised with.
  • Self-esteem – A recent study by Dove indicated that 70% of women feel prettier because of their relationships with female friends. It’s no surprise that our self-esteem is highly influenced by our girlfriends; this is important to understand for girls as well as women.
  • The Health Factor – Women without strong social ties risk health issues equivalent to being overweight or a smoker – it’s that serious.
(The Girlfriend Instinct – The Value of Female Friendships: The Desire to ‘Tend and Befriend’ is Part of Our DNA, )

So knowing all this, in the summer of 2010 I sat down with some of my girlfriends and we brainstormed and wrote a letter to send out to more friends or people we’d like to know better. We set up the guidelines of the group – meeting first Thursday of the month, 7pm-10pm, 16 members (a nice number), September through May – and the women we contacted were tickled and said YES quickly. Below is part of the letter that we sent out. My friend Deadra is replicating the idea with modifications in St. Paul with tremendous results, as well!

As women, we know the value of our time together. Sometimes it just takes an organizer!

Off to read!

Cosmopolitan: (noun) a person who is free from local, provincial, or national bias or attachment; citizen of the world; cosmopolite. (adjective) 1. free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments; at home all over the world. 2. of or characteristic of a cosmopolite. 3. belonging to all the world; not limited to just one part of the world.

In our world where virtual connections are made every day, we would like to create a real-life support network of wise and wonderful women! A group of women committed to getting together monthly with the purpose of learning about each other and the world. We threw out a few names and when we looked up the definition of “cosmopolitan,” we thought it was the perfect name and perfect aim for our group – to be ‘of the world’ – and we can shorten it to the COSMO GIRLS!

If you like reading this blog…

I don’t think I’m going to continue linking my blog to facebook, so if you are enjoying my posts, please “subscribe!”  It’s simple – if you click through to the blog, there is a box in the upper right corner where you put in your email address and then the blog will be emailed to you as I post them.

There are other more complicated ways to read blogs regularly, but that is the simplest!

And if you like the blog, comment on it!  That’s another thing that brings me joy (see earlier post!)!  Getting comments from people!  🙂

I intend to keep posting about the five senses as well as random thoughts about books and movies.  Nothing too exciting but I’m having fun for now.

Off to read!

Sense of Direction: Joy

Once again, Friday’s post about having a sense of direction proves to be the most difficult to write.  It is, as I said before, something I am obviously spending a lot of time thinking about, but I am feeling pretty private and don’t want to spill all those beans all over this blog.  So if you want to know more about my thoughts about what I want, where I am going, how I’m going to get there, schedule some one-on-one time with me and we’ll discuss!

But what I do know for sure is that joy is something that I want to have in my life and that I will continue to seek out and to work toward. I don’t have a hard time finding joy in little things.

  • I find a lot of joy in my little townhome and the beautiful things that surround me.
  • I’ve been able to take three of the kids to school three days this week, and it’s fun to see their happy faces in the morning and drop them off with “I love you’s”
  • Getting up early and going to a 6AM Bible study has made Thursdays into super long days and I really think it’s pretty cool!
  • Rewatching movies from my movie shelves has been a lot of fun
  • Singing and reconnecting with Rushford friends on Monday has brought me a lot of joy this fall
  • Baking cookies and breads (and dinners!) for friends and family brings me joy
  • Participating in the Anna Karenina readalong with friends and lots of people I don’t know is a lot of fun, and books bring me lots of joy!

I could go on and on with my list, but I’ll stop there for now.  Below are some good quotes I found about joy and finding joy in your work.  I hope you enjoy!

  •  Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. Khalil Gibran
  • We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. Buddha
  • Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. Helen Keller

Read more:

Off to read!

Sense of Adventure: Saying YES

Cover of "Yes"
Cover of Yes

One of the things on my list of 40 things was to say YES more (right after saying NO more! Different reasons…).  Saying YES (to me) means being open to spontaneous adventures and experience and doing things outside my comfort zone.

Sunday my friend Sarah texted and asked if I’d like to come over and get my photo taken for a photo project to be exhibited at the Rochester Art Center.  I didn’t get ready in time but during a walk we found the photographer and it happened.  It wasn’t hard to say YES to having my picture taken but when the camera was walking towards me I did feel a little intimidated.  And it was an in-your-face-photo, so I thought he probably only got my eyes in the frame, but I guess the macro lens captured my entire face.

In Your Face

The photographer was asking random people and having a hard time getting people to say YES to having their photo taken so he was looking for people he knew to bring his numbers up.  Why would someone say NO to  having their picture taken?  Was it the thought of someone getting too close?  The thought of having it hanging on a wall outside of your home?

Well, I said YES and I’m excited to attend the opening of the exhibit tomorrow night*** and to see all of the other Rochester people who said YES.

Off to read!

*** I always write my posts the night before and set them to publish in the morning… so the art exhibit opening is TONIGHT – Thursday!  The exhibit runs for a while, but tonight is the opening night.  Just a clarification!

Sense of Humor: The Angry Dance

Footloose (soundtrack)
Image via Wikipedia

I went to see Footloose opening weekend – the revamped version – and it was good!  Really good!  It was a lot of fun to sing along and tap our feet to the beat of the familiar tunes, watching a familiar storyline and some incredible new dancing.  I laughed, I cried.  It was a good time.

And it reminded me of this scene from the final episode of Season 1 of Flight of the Conchords – Bret’s Angry Dance.

That iconic scene in Footloose was kind of dorky the first time and pretty powerful the second time – and really funny when Bret does it.


Off to read!


Sense of Self: What I know for sure…

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t like to be scared.

I never have.  I have vivid memories of older cousins creating haunted houses in the basement before Thanksgiving dinner (what’s up with that? couldn’t let go of Halloween?) and participating in hay rides with ghost stories and watching scary movies… none of them enjoyable to me.  I would participate (because I’m social that way) but it was never anything I looked forward to or enjoyed.  I remember going through the Haunted House at the MN State Fair one year and being rooted to one spot, refusing to move, as arms were reaching out to grab me.  How terrifying.

I’m so rational and grown up now (ha!) that I don’t have as many fears as I did when I was younger and irrational thinking could get the best of me.  But I still won’t enjoy scary movies or attending scary or risky events.

Halloween is coming up now, so talk about costumes and events is at the forefront.  I’m also not a big costume person, preferring to wear my own clothes and be comfortable rather than pretending to be someone else, so I haven’t dressed up dressed up for Halloween in a long time.  Last year I went as Facebook and simply carried around some tagboard with a hole cut into it for my profile picture.  It was fun to have people write on my wall all through the night.

Halloween 2010

Other years I put on black clothes and cat ears and call it good. Probably the last “costume” I wore was an old bridesmaid dress with a crown and sash proclaiming “Queen of Everything.”

This year I have choir on Halloween night, so I won’t even be home to dish out the goodies.  Who knows what the weekend will bring, but what I know for sure is that I will not be wearing a costume and walking through spooky forests looking for a fright!

Off to read…

A Sense of Connection: LaoTong

Cover of "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan:...
Cover of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel

Almost two weeks ago I went with my friend Cindy to see the movie “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.”  We are both Lisa See fans and read this book in preparation of seeing the movie this summer… and then thought we’d be renting it (ala “Jane Eyre”) but it came to Rochester with an Independent Movie Series!  Yay!

We both agreed that it was a beautiful movie, even with the modern storyline which wasn’t part of the book.  The book tells the story of two girls who are matched to be LaoTongs, or Old Sames, at a young age.  Wikipedia and Lisa See (the author) describe LaoTongs in this way:

Lao Tong or Old Sames was a more rare and formal relationship between women and was exclusive and life-long. Women of suitable birthdays, ages, backgrounds and birth-signs would be paired this way in a bond of exclusive sisterhood that would last a lifetime and would survive marriage, child-birth and widow-hood. A Lao Tong relationship would be rarely renounced or broken. (Wikipedia)

“A laotong match is as significant as a good marriage,” Lily’s aunt explained. “A laotong relationship is made by choice for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity. A marriage is not made by choice and has only one purpose – to have sons.” “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” is the story of such a friendship. (Lisa See)

I haven’t been paired with an Old Same since birth, but I do have friendships with amazing women that have survived (ha!) marriages and children and distance.  I also see great value in creating meaningful relationships and maintaining connections with them.  After I read “The Girls from Ames” I set out to create a group of women that meets monthly to create a real-life network of amazing women, to learn from each other and support each other.  We are in our second year and our time together is something I look forward to each month!

The Chinese women sworn to be Old Sames used a secret women’s language – nushu – to communicate with each other.  We use Facebook, email, or phone calls to maintain connection with those who live a distance away, or we use walks, dinners, or girls’ night out to maintain and grow connections with those we can have more frequent contact with. No need to send servants between villages and households with secret language written on fans, but we can write letters to be delivered by the US Postal Service.

With the release of the DVD on 11/1, many book clubs are having LaoTong Nights – groups of women getting together to watch the movie and discuss their female friendships and the things they do (or can do) to maintain connections.  Below is the information they are encouraging people to think about and discuss as they think about their friendships and watch “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.”

What would you add to the list below?  Have you ever planned a way to reconnect with someone you lost touch with?

Lily and Snow Flower had an intense friendship that lasted a lifetime.  Nushu helped them communicate and remain close, even in distance.  Everyone has that old friend they have known for a long time, yet find it hard to keep in touch.  Both get busy with their separate lives and don’t take the time to catch up with one another.  In honor of Snow Flower and the Secret Fancoming to Blu-ray and DVD November 1st, here’s a guide for keeping in touch with your besties, through whatever life may put between you.

Write Letters

There’s nothing like a handwritten letter to let someone know that you care and are thinking about them. Make a point of writing to your long-distance friend at least once a month, and giving them updates on what’s going on in your life, and asking what’s new in their life. If you’re so inclined, you can include photos or other small tokens of your friendship with your letters. This simple, heartfelt update will go a long way in making your friendship last.

Take a Trip Together

If it’s within both of your budgets, you and your bestie should take a trip together! Meet up in different places each year – places that are either meaningful to you both, or places that you two have always wanted to visit together. Have a weekend in Las Vegas, a week at the theme parks in Orlando, a glamorous trip to Hollywood, or a long, restful weekend in New England. Making new memories (or reliving old ones) will help keep your friendship vibrant.


One of the greatest inventions for modern day friendships is Skype. Making a weekly or biweekly “Skype date” can give you a chance to both talk to and see your long-distance friend on a regular basis. Best of all, Skype is free to use, even if you’re video-chatting someone internationally! Skype is great because, in addition to getting to hear your friend’s voice, you can also actually show them what’s new with you, or do something new together!

Start an Online Photo Album

There are so many different ways to share photos online these days, and you and your friend should take advantage of that! You can make a private album that only the two of you can access (you can do this on Facebook, PhotoBucket, etc.), and then you can both upload and comment on each other’s photos and keep up with what’s going on in each other’s lives.

Send Each Other Gifts

If you’re ever out shopping and see a little something that reminds you of your friend, or something you think your friend would love, why not send it to them? With USPS’ Flat Rate Boxes, you can send as much as you want to your long-distance friend for a small fee. Why not make a care package, filled with things you know they like (like homemade treats, or products specific to your area that they can’t get where they live)? If you exchange small gifts every few months, it will remind your friend that you’re thinking about them, and help you two stay friends forever.

Books: A Vintage Affair

A Vintage Affair: A Novel 

A Vintage Affair: A Novel

by Isabel Wolff (Goodreads Author)

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:  Every dress has a history. And so does every woman.

In Isabel Wolff’s captivating A Vintage Affair, a treasured child’s coat becomes a thread of hope connecting two very different women.
Her friends are stunned when Phoebe Swift abruptly leaves a plum job at the prestigious Sotheby’s auction house to open her own vintage clothing shop in London—but to Phoebe, it’s the fulfillment of a dream. In the sunlight-flooded interior of Village Vintage, surrounded by Yves Saint Laurent silk scarves, Vivienne Westwood bustle skirts, cupcake dresses, and satin gowns, Phoebe hopes to make her store the hot new place to shop, even as she deals with two ardent suitors, her increasingly difficult mother, and a secret from her past that casts a shadow over her new venture.

For Phoebe, each vintage garment carries its own precious history. Digging for finds in attics and wardrobes, Phoebe is rewarded whenever she finds something truly unique, for she knows that when you buy a piece of vintage clothing, you’re not just buying fabric and thread—you’re buying a piece of someone’s past. But one particular article of clothing will soon unexpectedly change her life.

Thérèse Bell, an elderly Frenchwoman, has an impressive clothing collection. But among the array of smart suits and couture gowns, Phoebe finds a child’s sky-blue coat—an item with which Bell is stubbornly reluctant to part. As the two women become friends, Phoebe will learn the tale of that little blue coat. And she will discover an astonishing connection between herself and Thérèse Bell—one that will help her heal the pain of her own past and allow her to love again.

Danette‘s review

4 of 5 stars

A sweet little story about how one decision can change your life and about living with regrets. Leaving behind her successful career at Sotheby’s, Phoebe opens a vintage clothing store. Ms. Wolff writes beautifully about the appeal of vintage clothing and the story is simply sweet and touching.

Sense of Direction


Well, it’s Friday and I blogged five days in a row.  I didn’t know if I’d get it done today, as I really feel under the weather.  It’s just a head/chest cold but makes thinking clearly a task.

So all I’m going to say about a Sense of Direction is that it is something that I have been thinking a lot about lately, probably obvious to all my friends and family.  What now?  Where do I want to be in the next few months?  What am I passionate about doing? What will this next journey in my life look like?

Deadra asked the other day if I had received my November O Magazine yet, and I have, but I am pretty lucky if I get the issue for the current month read in the current month, so I have just started October.  November’s issue is written for me, she says. 🙂  “Find your true calling.”  I can’t wait to start it!

Off to read!

Sense of Adventure

RedBull cliff diving world series championship...
Image via Wikipedia

The fourth Satellite Sisters’ sense is adventure.  It’s hard to say if I’m adventurous or not… I don’t like to take risks with my life, so I will never climb a mountain or ride a motorcycle over parked school buses or run with the bulls in Pamplona or scuba dive with sharks.  I have gotten braver over the years, but I still prefer safety nets.

So my sense of adventure is satisfied by going out on a limb and singing a solo or attending a party where I won’t know hardly anyone or spontaneously agreeing to the next great adventure.

I’ll have to stretch myself here… 🙂

Next week.

Off to read!