This was originally posted on my other website that is no longer active so I moved it here for posterity.
Connecting with Friends…
It is no coincidence that Leigh Anne and I met through our homebased business that helps people connect and tell the stories of their lives. I know I can speak for both of us when I tell you that it is our privilege to help people make and preserve those connections through stories and pictures.
My connections through friendships is on the short list of what’s really important in my life…faith, family, friendship and food. That’s really all I need.
“Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.”
Staying connected and making time with friends is something I take very seriously.
I think this is, due in part, to the fact that we moved a good bit when I was growing up. I was an incredibly shy child – why does no one believe that when I tell them?
By the time I got to a small college in the Midwest, it was my 9th school. We moved from Indiana to Michigan to Illinois because of my dad’s job and after college I moved to Florida and finally settled in Georgia where I’ve been for 18 years.
While I was never very outgoing or in the popular clique crowd, I have made deep and lasting friendships in all the places I’ve lived and worked hard to stay connected with my friends.
I want to share a way that I celebrated the connections I’ve kept with my girlfriends through the years. I hope it will inspire you to do something similar – whether you do it on a much smaller scale or a much grander scale – that’s up to you. What I can tell you is that it was truly one of those “once in a lifetime” events that I still treasure.
Five years ago, this was my simple birthday wish…
I wanted to spend my 40th birthday with the friends of my heart who made a difference in my life by simply being my friend.
I invited friends from all parts of my life one year in advance to come to my favorite beach to help me celebrate my birthday.
My favorite beach is Destin, Florida and this is the view from the balcony of the house I rented for my week long party. Yes, it was a week long celebration – a weekend just didn’t seem long enough when the beach is this beautiful and uncrowded in September.
There were 14 of us in total though we did have a few “halfers” that only came for 1/2 of the week. California, Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Georgia were represented. A diverse group including a friend from high school, three sorority sisters, four mothers of twins and a few who didn’t fit in any “category” all came together.
The most common question I was asked was if I worried that everyone might not get along? Not only did I not worry – I knew everyone would get along because when I put the guest list together the only requirement was this: You had to be fun and you would not become offended by anyone else’s definition of fun!
As you can see, we all have different definitions of fun. Luci and Peggy had never met but they connected immediately. It just seemed natural that the three of us should try on some of the costumes at Wal-Mart and walk around the store. Because this is what you are suppose to do when you turn 40.
I won’t bore you with the details of the planning but if you need any help with a 70’s-80’s party theme complete with goodies for the guests, awesome music and fun prizes you can email me.
A thank you card for the most amazing birthday ever just seemed too small. I was so honored that they gave me the gift of their presence and time! I put together a thank you book that included pictures, recipes and everyone’s addresses and phone numbers because some old friends re-connected and there were many new friend connections.
From beginning to end, it was so much fun and we still talk about the memories we made that week.
My best tips for planning a special event to connect with your friends…
- Be flexible – don’t make a schedule. Everyone has a different definition of relaxing. I made it clear that everyone could do whatever they wanted but I would love it if we all had dinner together. It worked out perfectly so people could sit on the beach, read, sleep, golf, shop or even exercise.
- Set your boundaries and stick to them – my only rule was that there would be no complaining and once announced, everyone called each other out on anything that remotely sounded like whining!
- Don’t wait for the perfect “milestone” birthday – it doesn’t even have to be your birthday. Just plan a day, a weekend or a week with special friends who you wish you could see more often. Your only regret will be if you talk about doing it but don’t ever actually DO IT!
Having friends from different parts of my life and different parts of the country all gathered together and connecting was pure joy for me.
In the birthday album I made for myself, I sprinkled favorite quotes throughout the pages. The one at the beginning and this one are both included in my album…
“These are the little scraps of magic & when you paste them together you get a memory of something fine & strong, she said. Sometimes it takes till you’re 40 to see it though”
I hope you’ll connect and make some fabulous memories with your friends! And when you do, please tell us all about it!
Comments from the original post dated 9/23/2008
Kim » Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 8:18 am #1
I want to be back in Destin!!! What a “memory maker” you are Sherra! Hope you and Leigh Anne have a great day…looks like the blog is going well!!! Hugs to both of you!!! KIM
Tammy » Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 8:23 am #2
What a beautiful story, Sherra! I wish I had been along for the fun – especially the Walmart costume party! I am certain you know how blessed you are to have so many wonderful women friends to share that memory with! Not all of us are so blessed!
Cyndi » Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 9:33 am #3
Sherra, That was a great story and reminds me much of a group of women I get together with regularly, and sometimes not enough! I feel like I know you even though we have never met. Thanks for sharing yourself with us!
Peggy » Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 11:20 am #4
OMG!! When I scrolled down to see the picture of us in our costumes I almost wet myself again (that is yet another joy of being over 40!)!! We laughed so hard that week- I had such a great time! Thanks for connecting and inviting me along!
Nancy » Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 6:11 pm #5
Peggy-how the heck are you, and your WILD, MANIAC kids? I laughed out loud just seeing your name, you funny girl!
Yep, great party, great memories, except for the
“allergic reaction to the sun” (who’s ever heard of that for someone from California).
Let’s go again! 🙂
Melinda » Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 7:13 pm #6
Sherra, Peggy, and Nancy, so wonderful to read all about that wonderful trip here. Of course we all KNEW what her best birthday ever was because we were there. I just wasn’t there long enough. I was just glad to be there for the couple of days I could make it. My hubby isn’t always as “nice” as Sherra’s, lol! Wish I could do a week sometime. The most I’ve ever been able to do was 5 days ( a Wednesday thru a Sunday) but I have gotten a lot more regular about taking trips. In fact I’m doing one down to my dad’s lake house (remember that, Sherra?) next week. I can hardly wait.
I’m with you, Nancy, let’s go again.
Elaine » Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 7:11 am #7
What a great memory…(Can’t believe it’s been FIVE years!!) I talk to others about this trip often — and believe me, I DO plan to plan one myself. (Am thinking for #50 — sooner if budget/kids will allow! 🙂 Like anything else, if you don’t plan it, it won’t happen. Appreciate the effort it took for you Sherra to make this trip happen — and the privilege to meet friends from your other “lives”!
Terry » Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 12:21 pm #8
Wow its been 5 years since that awesome party. Happy birthday Sherra. I am the friend from highschool…so have known her the longest but unfortunately not the best anymore. Wish we lived closer so we could have more good times together. I came to that party sicker than a dog, lost my voice , couldnt hear for two days and coughed all night long for the 5 nights I stayed. This said it was still one of the most fun times I have ever had. Yes lets do it again!!!!
Sherra » Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 3:29 pm #9
Okay, you all appear to be planning a birthday party reunion. Who is in charge? Please invite me too and I’ll be there!!!
Whenever I need to laugh I just get my BBB album and remember how much fun we had…Pictionary pictures are the best…Nancy’s PRONG, Terry’s BEAN or was it SNAP? And Peggy cheating with me & Luci.
Love you all! 🙂