“I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends” A Q&A with Shasta Nelson Founder of GirlfriendCircles.com

Mar 28, 2013 by

 

WORLD WISE BEAUTY ICON

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2013 World Wise Beauty Icon: Shasta Nelson, Life Coach, Author of “Friendships Don’t Just Happen” and Founder of GirlfriendCircles.com

INTRODUCTION: We all have heard of on-line dating but who knew you could shop for friends on-line! It sounds cold and awful when I say it like this, but Shasta Nelson’s book and website are far from cold and detached. Put simply her book is all about making friends and keeping friends. The book “Friendships Don’t Just Happen” has received national attention by all the women’s magazines and just recently Shasta appeared on the “Katie Couric” show! I love the circle idea but must admit I find it difficult to navigate the circles and this where Shasta’s book is so useful. Her book is chock full of good advice on how to create and nurture lifelong supportive friendships which too many of us have not been taught or shown. I dedicate this post with love to my dear friends Shelly and Debs who have taught me the true meaning of “through thick and thin” constancy in friendship.

Welcome: Thank you Shasta for stopping by World Wise Beauty and for making friendship your mission! You are truly a World Wise Beauty Icon and I am thrilled to give the title! You join a few other outstanding women who like you, have made it their mission to encourage women to value and honor their inner lives.

Lauroly Q- I can personally say, as you age and life circumstances change, so do your friendships. When I was young in my mid-twenties, I was in a committed relationship and then married when most of my friends were single and hunting! I felt a little out of sync. Then as time would have it, I got divorced when everyone was getting married and having kids! To be honest I was kind of out of sync a good portion of my life. Let’s not leave out that most of my career I was traveling and I missed out on a lot of social rituals which would have nurtured my friendships. I am your perfect case for almost every friendship challenge! How important is “lifestyle” when it comes to making friends? I ask because as you have learned I just seem to be out of sync! Maybe others feel the same?

 

Shasta Nelson: Others definitely feel the same! We’re almost always “out of sync” with our friends because it’s impossible to fall in love, get married, have kids, find our meaningful jobs and all other life stages at the same time as someone else. And this stays true all the way up to retiring at a different age than our friends, becoming widows at different times, needing to move for grandkids, etc. The truth is that if we come to peace with living our own life, letting it unfold in its perfect timing, then we have to let go of the need that all our friends’ lives need to mirror ours. In the 5 Circles of Connectedness, there is only one Circle– that of Common Friends– that we might build up to support our current life stage. The rest of our friendships give us ample opportunity to find other things in common besides life stage. In fact, when research has been done to see what bonds us to each other, data shows that our bonds are just as strong if we both like the same music as whether we’re both moms. More important ultimately than having our life stage in common is finding 2-3 other commonalities that serve as glue to our friendship.

 

Lauroly Q- Your personal story is so interesting and I can’t tell you how much I related to your story about peering into a window watching a group of women laughing together and wishing you could just walk in and join them. You compared it to like being a puppy in a pound peering through the glass. You touched my heart with that story because it was so honest and you really showed vulnerability. Tell us more how you evolved from that lonely day and how you became our “friendship” expert.

 

Shasta Nelson: At the point of that story I was a pastor and life coach so I had long been teaching healthy relationships, facilitating small groups, and creating community, but it goes to show that, often, to no fault of ours, we will frequently find ourselves needing to make new friends. That time it was because I had moved and finally admitted I needed friends that weren’t all long-distance. But it can just as easily happen when we change jobs, go through a break-up or divorce, or move our youngest kid out of the house. So taking my own life experience, and that of so many others who shared their stories with me, I started to become way more fascinated with our friendships. Believing there had to be an easier way to meet other women who valued new female friends, I woke up one morning convinced I needed to start GirlFriendCircles.com to help us all find other local potential friends. And in that space, since I was reading everything there was about the subject, interviewing women about their experiences, and developing helpful relationship models, definitions, and diagrams, I became a teacher of this subject that is such an area of passion. I’m thrilled to see the subject of platonic friendship get more and more attention as I think we live in a culture where we need it more than ever but are having a harder time developing the depth of friendships we really crave.

 Lauroly Q- In your book you touch on an important necessity about friendship which doesn’t get discussed enough in our society. You share that experts assert supportive relationships improve our odds of survival by fifty percent. You cited a landmark study of 3000 nurses with breast cancer where they found that women without close friends were four times more likely to die from the disease than women with at least 10 close friends. If that doesn’t speak volumes on how mind, body spirit is interconnected I don’t know what would! So I think your billboard idea mentioned in your book “make a friend, save a life” is timely and sorely needed in our culture today. But back to the title of your book “Friendships Don’t Just Happen”, what are the three major steps we can take to improve our current friendships and develop new ones?

Shasta Nelson: Thanks for pointing those stats out. It’s SO important for us to realize the significance of our friendships so we feel more justified taking time for friends, initiating get-togethers, and being willing to be more vulnerable. One study points out that if we feel disconnected that it’s as harmful on our bodies as smoking 15 cigarettes and twice as damaging as being obese! And look how much energy we put to those areas of health! So the first three steps I’d suggest would be:

Step 1First, do your friendship evaluation using the 5 Circles of Connectedness– it’s like a check-up so you can see what types of friends you most need to cultivate right now. For some of us we’ll need to meet new people, whereas for some of us we may just need to deepen some of the relationships we’ve already started. Based on which Circle someone needs, the 3 first steps might be different.

Step 2

My second suggestion though would be, once you see which Circles you want to intentionally foster, one of the best ways to do that is by adding consistent time together. That regular time spent together was what made our school friendships feel so automatic. Now as adults we need to figure out the best way to see each other often enough that we can eventually go beyond “updating” each other into what I call “sharing.”

Step 3And third, if there is someone we need to forgive, then this is the time to do it. Our lack of peace with how we’ve been disappointed by other friends will bleed into our current experience. We want to show up now not just ready to create meaningful friendships but also grateful for those we have had and at peace with those that have ended.

Lauroly Closing- Thanks so much Shasta for sharing your work and creating an important conversation in wellness culture too. May your circles widen and deepen as you continue your journey in life…

I could talk to Shasta all day about her wise and enlightening work but I highly recommend you read her book “Friendships Don’t Just Happen”and also join her community called GirlfriendCircles.com. If ever there was a gift to give to yourself, these are two that should be at the top of your list. So don’t buy the designer bag and treat yourself to a good book and a friendship service that will lead you to a life full of love and nourishment. Objects will never bring personal fulfillment but loving friendships will. Just ask yourself—how is it that the cultures with the longest life expectancy generally are living in modest to low-income communities? Their secret is having supportive friendships and community. The research is there but we don’t need research to tell us what the Beatles already said “all you need is love and we get by with a little help from our friends”.

Truly Herself,
Lauroly

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