Today I asked my friend Claire to send me some pictures of our four friends from her wedding. I am working on a garden project and want to use her colors and photos as inspiration. I'm super excited about the project! But as I started looking through the photos, another sort of inspiration started to creep up on me. I shall explain.
The weekend before I left for collage, a family friend reminiscently said to me, "You know, I met my best friends within the first forty-eight hours of being in the dorms. That will probably happen to you, too." It was a really nice of him to say, but I had never been the type to develop life-long friendships. High School wasn't necessarily my "thing" and I had considered myself more of a "floater" than a "groupie." Even now, I still try to meet as many people as I can. Limiting friendships, in my mind, is like limiting the best, creamiest, and most fattening ice cream... imported from France. Trust me, it's not a good idea.
But despite my slippery view on friendships, he was right. And I'm so glad he was.
Somewhere between the freshman escapades, sophomore heartbreaks, missions, graduations, marriages, births, and life accomplishments, I have formed an unbreakable bond with these girls. Who, might I say, are much, much more than just girls anymore. The amount that these women have accomplished is staggering, and they continue to inspire me daily.
Claire (the bride in the pictures above) is sweetest and happiest girl that everyone should know. She is now a fabulous photographer who has been featured on many popular blogs. Her creativity and talent put her in a class above the rest. She has this uncanny ability to make art wherever she points her lens. Not to mention her cute 'lil hubby Andy (the only man featured in the pictures) just won a "Spot On" campaign and bucket-load of and honor for a film me made (with her help of course). There's a super cool article about it here. And did I mention that she is a killer gardener and cook? My mom will forever thank her for being the one who convinced me to like vegetables. And I shamelessly admit that I've begged her to let me be her assistant.
Katie (the happy one with the camera) is full of plentiful and equal amounts of grace and ambition. Can I tell you that she has accomplished more in 23 years than most of us can hope to achieve in our lives? She is one heck of a beautiful, empowered woman. And in addition to having one heck of a beautiful, empowered husband, she is getting her Master's degree... and decided to write and publish a book, Downburst. I have mentioned Downburst before, and you should definitely read it. It is amazing, just like Katie. She was even featured in a news article. What has always amazed me about Katie, is that when she wants something, she just goes and gets it. I'm not kidding! You should have seen the way she could get guys to follow her around like puppy dogs. And I see why, I couldn't resist myself!
Linda (the adorable mug-faced belle standing next to me in the fedora shot) is a strong-willed friend with a ginormously soft heart. She quickly created herself a beautiful little family, and I quickly created a small Facebook stalking problem. Seriously, her son Luke's eyes are spell-biding. But what I really love about Linda is her knowledge of who she is as a woman and what she wants in her life. Her ability to recognize and address truth in things that matter touches me every time. She is always spot on with her observations and can engage anyone in a meaningful conversation (don't believe me? Check out her blog). And guess what? She loves all the good things in life, like Nacho Libre and Science. She told me once that she wants to write children's books about amoebas. Nothing - I say nothing, is cuter than that.
I didn't really intend on this being a "brag about my friends" post. And even if it was, I would need a loooot more eh-space. Mostly I wanted to share how inspired I am by these amazing women in my life. In a world that has objectified and belittled women in horrifying ways, it brings me hope to have mentors and women to look up to. And I guess my point is that we don't always have to look to those who have gone before us. Don't get me wrong, there are many women who have laid very important ground work, but it is the women who are here now that are shaping our current world. To have bonds with these intelligent and beautiful women is rare and precious to me. They have had a profound influence on my life and my choices, as have many other virtuous and lovely women.
So if you are looking for a friend, find someone who will inspire you to be a better you. Your memories will be sweeter, your bonds will be stronger, and your life will be richer. Find those who will increase your self confidence, who value education, and who can make you laugh hard - the kind that makes your belly hurt. Be your most vulnerable in those friendships. They have the biggest pay off.
So thank you to all of the amazing women in my life. You've lead me into womanhood with love and grace. I will never again underestimate the power of forty-eight hours.
And if and when I ever finish that photo-inspired garden, I'll let you know. Hopefully it will get me up on that list of accomplishments!