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Women Friends are Priceless—and Vital

Barb Here

Those Special Friends Who’ve Helped us Become the Women We Are Now

Cathy and Kathy with me at Audubon’s Corkscrew Sanctuary

Those special friends—those pre-boobs “Friends-for-Life” and those post-boobs “Forever-Friends”. Most of us have one or two or, if we’re really fortunate more women who have remained our friends through thick and thicker (or thin and thinner); through training bras and losing our virginity; through weddings and marriages (not the same thing); through kids and menopause; through elderly parents, funerals, and empty nests. Those friends who may not have been physically in our corner for each of these events but who have never once left our corner and who have supported us always (even when they had to tell us we were wrong). Those special friends who’ve helped us become the women we are now—and those women we have helped in the same way—are priceless.

For me, they’re as necessary as breath, wine, and chocolate. (OK, I jest a bit—but just a bit.)

This is Not a First-World Phenomenon. This is Life.

Lynnelle and Rhoda off to an adventure in Austin

This week, all over the world, women gathered in the company of one or more of those special friends and laughed, cried, shared stories, revealed secrets, walked, shopped, cooked, cleaned, or campaigned together. This week, women collapsed in the arms of their Friend-for-Life as they coped with devastating news and this week, women cared for a toddler as their Forever-Friend nursed her newborn. This week, women met to celebrate huge victories and small blessings and this week, women served coffee, heated casseroles, and stayed to clean the kitchen after the last soft condolence was uttered at the door. It’s what we do.

If one counts wealth in terms of friendship, then I am one of the richest of women and I am so thankful for that. I’ve just returned from spending four days with my Pre-Boobs-Friend-for-Life, Kathy (over 50 years of friendship) and with our Post-Boobs-Forever-Friend, Cathy (whom Kathy and I met over 30 years ago in our freshman triple at UMO). Meanwhile, two other Forever-Friends, Lynnelle and Rhoda, are spending time together in Texas where I am absolutely positive that wine and chocolate have been consumed. How positive am I? They called last night to have a virtual “Surge Sisters” meeting and I had to put them on hold to gather wine and chocolate before we started. Again, priceless.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Wine and chocolate seem to be a factor with all of my friends. Does that mean it’s my fault?
  • Living near each other is not required.
  • Living thousands of miles apart means that we have missed significant moments, which means there is always something new to share.
  • Some of those new things will have occurred last week, others in the last century.
  • True friends support your life choices and celebrate your joys and accomplishments—even if they are not the choices or accomplishments they imagined for you.
  • Laughter is as therapeutic as crying. Acting silly together is a bonus. Supporting each other is not only mandatory but automatic and unconditional.

Here’s what I wish:

  • That I could spend more days like this with every blessed one of my forever-friends friends-for-life—at least every year or two.
  • That I had a bit more sleep this weekend.
  • That wine and chocolate were neither habit-forming nor calorie-laden.
  • That every woman has at least one friend as loving, strong, smart, and funny as the women—including those not mentioned here—who love me and whom I love in return.


Our Forty-Days of De-Cluttering is Nearly Over. How’d You Do?

We pledged to get rid of one item a day for forty days. For the Teva Diva, this meant a bag of stuff every week. I also found yet another new method of folding clothes. For me, storing things more neatly is is as important as getting rid of stuff.

Barb Here

Getting Rid of Stuff

I’ve been getting rid of stuff and during our 40-day de-clutter project have filled and removed three bags from the boat, plus I’ve taken assorted single things ashore to give away. I’m happy, but not done, and will try to take a 15-minute break every so often to walk away from the laptop and toss something or clean something.  Actually, I’ll commit to getting rid of stuff or tidying for 15 minutes every weekday. Call me on it.

While most of you don’t and will never live on a boat, some may take up the RV lifestyle, travel more, or simply downsize into a smaller space with less storage. I am often amused by the “Tiny House” movement as I believe that we cruising sailors invented this years ago. (We have met many who set sail 40 and 50 years ago, and I am delighted to follow in their wake and learn from them.) Still, we who live-aboard can learn from all the newbies on You-Tube.

Storing Stuff Neatly

Here’s my problem with the Kon-Marie method: I have been able to fold clothes nearly as well as she does, and freed up a lot of storage space for both me and EW. However, things don’t always stay folded. I travel ashore in the dinghy with my laundry bag and found that my compactly folded shorts, shirts, and pants frequently came undone on the return trip. Plus we have shelves made of netting to promote air circulation. It works great, but isn’t perfectly flat, so things can roll together and the neatly folded items come undone.

Recently, a Japanese folding video showed up on my Facebook timeline and it beats the Kon-Marie method all to heck. Plus I don’t have to “show each item my affection”. (It’s a Zen thing.) There is, just one small problem with the new method.

Yes, I am sure some of you (particularly Lynnelle) are rolling your eyes after watching this video. EW certainly did when he put his clothes away after the last laundry day.) But it works. Stuff isn’t wrinkled and stays folded. (Yep that’s a pair of jeans in that tiny roll.)

I can assure you that this is easy, things stay folded, they aren’t excessively wrinkled, and they take up much less space.

The Problem (Particularly with a Capsule Wardrobe)

So, once we have gotten rid of all things that don’t fit, aren’t useful for our lifestyle, or are the wrong color, most of us will end up with a capsule wardrobe consisting of many things that are like our other things. (Think of Lynnelle’s 7 pairs of black pants.) (And yes, I know she has a great closet and hangs her pants, but it’s a good example.) Once you roll up your items, it’s difficult to see which pair of black pants, or white t-shirt you are pulling out to wear. Now, again, for most of you, this just means you will have to re-fold the wrong item (which can be a pain).

However, I shower onshore and have twice discovered that I had packed the wrong black jeans and the short-sleeved white t-shirt instead of the long-sleeved one. Plus, EW and I have volunteered at a few music events and received the same t-shirt. So, when I fold the laundry in this fashion I can’t see the size of the shirt when I get back to the boat. It’s a tiny problem, but it can be a bit of a challenge. EW would not be pleased to find a too-small shirt in his shower bag.  Ah well. we are a work in progress.  This week I will fold EW’s T-Shirts so that they are a bit wider than mine. That works in his drawer and will help me assign them correctly back on the boat.

Confession: When I first started using the Kon-Mari method I placed a rectangular pattern in my laundry basket. The short side was the width of my folded knit shirts, the longer side for EW’s. At right, you’ll see some of my clothes: one brown sweat pant, three short sleeved t-shirts, one blue dress, and one long-sleeved tee. How neat is that?

I’m Committed to Getting Rid of Things and Storing Them Neatly

Yep, our 40-day project has allowed me to reach a new level of commitment. So far, I’ve not tossed anything we need and the closets and drawers are looking much better. How are you doing?

As for the “Featured Image” I’ve actually been using Martha Stewart’s sheet folding method for years. Fold both sheets and all but one pillowcase, and insert them into that pillowcase. Voila!

You’re welcome.





UFOs—Unfortunate Clothing Option

EW and I have a secret phrase when we see someone wearing a wildly inappropriate outfit. I’ll whisper, “UFO,” and tilt my head to indicate direction; EW will usually say, “UFO—Unfortunate Clothing Option?” and look.

Yes, it’s judgemental and snarky. Yes, I am sometimes ashamed. And yes, I have also been guilty—often. So pot, meet kettle.  (Also, as the thumbnail shows, even icons are not above committing a UFO. Sorry, Michelle.)

Barb Here

Did you always “get” fashion? I did not. This led to a whole lot of UFOs.—

Some of us are born with an understanding of fashion. At the very least, others of us soon understand what clothing looks best on us. And then there are those, like the 7th grader who proudly bought a new pair of flared jeans with white snaps and a COOL wide patterned blue and red vertical stripe. And then wore them to school to find that one of the actually cool kids had the same pants—the kicker? These “men’s” pants had also been purchased by one of the cool boys in my class, who was mortified that the awkward, inches taller, blond “smart girl” was wearing the same slacks he had proudly donned that morning. (He went home and changed at lunch.)

I really liked those pants. And frankly, they looked better on my long legs than they did on his shorter ones. I think I continued to wear them and always heard a few snickers. With my long legs in a small town, I was wearing women’s jeans long before it became popular.

My Wardrobe Has Always Been Hit or Miss

I can look fondly at some of my high school choices, like the wide-legged laced-up-fly jeans which  I wore with a ribbed navy-blue turtle-neck body suit. (No flab at 16.) I’m sure there were other things I wore that were flattering, but not the puffy bright yellow ski jacket or the round ski goggles. That outfit had “bug” written all over it. (Again, a shorter person figures into this story. The photo I remember is of me and my frequent ski partner, Wanda. She may have reached 5’2″ to my 5’8″. Our T-Bar failures were legendary. Still, she looked cool on the slopes. As for getting dressed up, for some reason, this strawberry blond, who now despises pink, wore just that color to two semi-formals in high school.

Even though I’m older and wiser and have been able to state for years what types of things look good on me, I frequently mess it up. There have been days in every year of my life for which someone could look at me walking down the street and say, “UFO alert!”

Why I Envy Lynnelle and Others Like Her

Here’s the thing—well two things:

  1. It makes Lynnelle’s hands sweat to pair down her wardrobe because she actually likes and looks good in most everything she owns. (Though she still doesn’t need 9 pairs of black pants.)
  2. She also knows that when she must seek a new outfit, such as a “beachy floaty dress”, that a) she’ll find one fairly easily and b) she’ll have shoes that match the freaking dress. (No, I did not gloat at all to hear she had left those raspberry Louboutins at home in error.) (That’s not a joke. I’m a friend. I did not gloat.) Do note that if I had left my shoes home in error, I would not have had another pair of heels to wear in their stead and would have had to buy some sequined or raspberry flipflops.

I, however, frequently feel that I have nothing to wear—and I’m frequently right. While I have some good things, there are too few of them. I know what I can expect to look good on me, but cannot find it and settle for what I can find.

This Dress With its UFO Color

I purchased this dress because I truly had nothing to wear for Jeff and Barb’s renewal of vows in St. Thomas. I paid too much for it. The style is lovely on me—though I’d rather the deep V neckline wasn’t quite that deep. The color– not so much. Yes, it does have “Barbara Blue”, Teal, and a lovely Green. But it also has way too much yellow. white lime green, and orange. It was not a flattering dress for me. Come to think of it, that pattern of fake quilting is horrendous. What was I thinking?

This dress is today’s offering to the give-away pile. I love the style and the length. I need this dress in “Barbara Blue, teal, bright navy, or turquoise. Heck, I need this dress in at least two of those colors and maybe black.

This dress has got to go.

Two Takes on a Capsule Wardrobe

Lynnelle is working on de-cluttering and adding a select few items when she’s done.

I am working on de-cluttering and making a list of the what I need and the styles/colors/sizes that I will accept. I know what works. Until I find it, I will keep wearing what I own. In a year, there will be no UFOs-Unfortunate Clothing Options in my locker or drawers.

That is my pledge to me.

(Oh, god. I may have to wear the same thing over and over and over again. Talk about a small capsule!)

Wish me luck.






P Stands for Presidents’ Day and Podcasts

Today’s Topic is brought to you by the letter “P” as in Presidents’ Day and Podcasts.

Barb Here. Well, hmm, Presidents’ Day. In our day (yeah, I said it) we celebrated Lincoln’s Birthday in school and made stove pipe hats or learned the Gettysburg Address; and we celebrated Washington’s Birthday with a holiday—after making posters about the whole (fictitious) Cherry Tree Incident (I can still see the artwork in my head: child, downed tree, little hatchet), or—as we got older—discussing the Crossing of the Delaware or the horrible winter at Valley Forge. NOTE: If you have not spent time at Valley Forge, add it to your list. Bring tissues. This was a horrible winter, Washington was criticized and offered to resign. Revolutions are not pretty.

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