In March of 2013 our family made a big move across the country, from suburban Oregon to rural northern Michigan. We left family, friends, church, job, and schools we loved to pursue the next step in our extraordinary life journey. One of my biggest struggles was finding girlfriends. I honestly didn’t realize how much I needed them or missed them until Joe and I attended Ultimate Leadership, a seminar in California earlier this year. At that seminar I came face to face with my resistance to and need for deep and serious — as well as fun and silly — girlfriend relationships.

girlfriendLesson #1: I need girlfriends.

It is easy for me to be the Lone Ranger. I am strong and able to figure things out on my own. Making friends in the area we now live was not particularly easy, so staying strong on my own seemed a good enough solution. However, I have come to realize the great need in my soul for connection. My connection with my husband is awesome and I am grateful for such a strong relationship, but I also need girlfriends. Finding girlfriends wasn’t as easy as I thought it should be, but avoiding those relationships didn’t make life any easier either.

Lesson #2: Finding girlfriends requires personal initiative.

It has been a number of years since I have been “the new girl” in town. No one in the area (kids’ school, church, etc.) was waiting with open arms to welcome me into their 20-years-in-the-making circle of friends. I actually had to take the initiative over and over again. I chose (most of the time) to let go of my care for what others think of me, be courageous, and invite myself into friendship with others. It was difficult and even painful at times, yet so worth it!

Lesson #3: Girlfriends understand you in ways that men cannot.

Joe and I faced a challenging situation recently. It was a private matter in our home and it was emotionally draining for both of us. There were many decisions to be made and challenges to be faced each day. Joe and I leaned on God and each other during this time. I also need the connection and care that can only come from a girlfriend. I am thankful that I took time to work on some of these girlfriend relationships so that I had a friend to call. We, women are very . . complicated . . and there are some ways that our souls can only be fed by another female.


Women: How are your girlfriend relationships? Are your girlfriends encouraging you to live an extraordinary life and have an extraordinary marriage? Are you contributing positively to the lives of other women?

Are you encouraging your husband to enjoy friendships, man nights, and man-cave time with his friends too? I am so grateful for the close guy friends that invest in my husband on a regular basis. It actually enhances our marriage in big ways.

Men: How about your man-relationships? Are you investing in and learning from other men in your life? Are you spending your man time building each other up and motivating each other to live extraordinary lives? Are you encouraging your wife to have girlfriends and invest in those relationships too?

The extraordinary life is not lived alone, but in the company of great friends.

Be Extraordinary!

The Big Move: One Year Later

move collageOur family made the cross-country move from Oregon to Michigan one year ago this week. Reflecting on this past year I have a few thoughts and lessons I have learned along the way.

1 Grieve the Losses
Leaving is sometimes difficult and it’s ok to admit it. One loss I had to grieve in our move was the kids’ bilingual immersion school and the ethnic diversity of our town. That loss was hard for me and I just had to let myself be sad about it.

connecting2 Embrace the New Life
I have seen people move to a new church, school, or town and everything in their life is constantly about where they used to live. They may even keep their dentist and hairdresser that is over an hour (or a state) away! On the flip-side, I have a friend who has moved her family to multiple states and I always see her embracing their new location quickly. I’m sure there is a time of grieving, but she doesn’t live there.

zip line3 Laugh and Have Fun
Finding the good, the laughter, and the fun is a good thing in life and an extra good thing when experiencing big change. The book of Proverbs says that laughter is a good medicine, and it is so true. A good laugh, some fun playing a game around the table, or a fun new tradition goes a long way in moving past the grief and loss.

4 Try Something New
In our new location there are many new things to try and enjoy. We have taken full advantage of the snow (like Buddy the Elf) in our new home tubing, walking, sliding, building forts, etc. We’ve visited new restaurants and created new traditions. This adds to the fun and has helped our family embrace our new life.

sharing the load5 Connect to the Community
Every community – church, camp, or town – has its own uniqueness. There are festivals, events, and local restaurants that help in connecting to a new community. In our new Village where we live (about 25 minutes outside the “big” town) we have become well-acquainted with the two local restaurants and the last-minute-stop-and-shop Lake Ann Grocery, aka LAG. By doing simple things (eating and shopping) within our community we feel connected.

building friendship6 Build a Relationship
I have changed schools, towns, homes, and states a number of times in my life and it is easy to keep relationships at arm’s length. When I do this I truly miss out on an opportunity to meet some wonderful people. I also miss out on an opportunity to serve others. The pain of moving away from close relationships is real and difficult, but never having those relationships in the first place is an even greater loss.

7 Enjoy the Moment
Be here. Be present. Don’t let the seasons – snow, rain, sunshine, and storms – pass without your awareness. There is beauty, wonder, laughter, tears, joy, and pain to be experienced. Be with those moments. The life we have on this earth is short and to live extraordinary is to be an active part of each day.

I would love to have you share a lesson from your journey in the comment box below. You can also read Joe’s (my husband and extraordinary companion on this journey) perspective by clicking here.

Be Extraordinary!