My Own True North - Relationships

For Galentine’s  Day | My Favorite Female Friendship Moments on TV

The first formally named “Galentine’s Day” hit public mainstream thanks to Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope. Her (pre) Valentine’s Day celebration of female friendship struck chords with many women, especially those of us who have been lifting each other up for years before, during, and after Valentine’s Day.

My female friendships are such a profoundly large part of my identity. I’ve always been a girl’s girl, and my friends are, often times, my heroes and warriors who inspire and instill strength within me. Without my friends, I wouldn’t be close to half the woman I am on even my lowest days.

In honor of the eighth formally coined “Galentine’s Day,” here are a few of my favorite female friendship moments on TV. Err, well one day early. Because the TRUE Galentine’s Day should be the day before Valentine’s Day!

Sex and the City (Season 4, Episode 8 – “My Motherboard, My Self”)

Credit HBO SATC My Motherboard My Self

Credit: HBO – My Motherboard My Self

I came of age in the SATC era. I loved everything about SATC. Even wanted to be SATC. My first visit to Manhattan would occur toward the end of the series. I remember scouring the Internet to find as much information about filming locations and restaurants, planning my barely-out-of-college-budget for a SATC-inspired weekend in NYC. For the record, I always identified more with Miranda, and not only because we both are gingers.

Although my first reaction to this episode was how could Carrie reject the super cute MacBook Aidan bought her, the most significant event is the death of Miranda’s mother. This episode aired when I was still in college – I had one semester remaining, and 9-11 wouldn’t happen for another three months.

It was some years later that I could appreciate the profound significance of how Carrie, Samantha, and Charlotte show up for Miranda. In particular, despite Miranda throwing off offers of help, Carrie recognizes a need in her friend that Miranda, herself, may not have recognized. In the final moments of the episode, at the recessional, Miranda and Carrie see each other. Carrie steps out of the pew, into the aisle, and clasps her friend. Miranda does not need to walk behind her mother’s casket alone.

Aside from losing grandparents, I hadn’t known loss. Firmly held inside a relationship that was descending deeper into abuse cycles, I was estranged from nearly all of my friends, only having relationships with them through phone calls.

Years later, in my 30’s and much closer to the ages of Carrie and Miranda, I would come to know this deep love of friends. I have so much affection for this series and these four women, and while there are so many lovely episodes, this single moment in one episode stays with me.

Insecure (Season 1, Episode 8 – “Broken as F**k”)

To me, Molly and Issa’s friendship IS the show. Their friendship is that rare type that we cherish but sometimes take for granted. Whether wining down, calling each other out, boosting the other up, or sharing in all the little joys that day to day can bring, their friendship repeatedly captures what it is to be the best of friends. In the season finale of Insecure’s first season, Issa and Molly’s friendship is as bad as the title claims. Following a blowout of blowouts, they are barely even talking to each other, and through the course of a masterful episode, realize they are the two who still has each other’s backs. As the episode closes on devastating consequences of earlier actions, they are leaning on each other.


Grace and Frankie (Seasons 1 – 3, Netflix)

Okay, I cannot choose a best moment, but real-life BFFs Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are gut-bustingly funny as frienemies who come together out of hard need and become great friends. In the end of Season 2, they need to come to terms with some life shaking confrontations. They show a difficult way of showing up

Parks and Recreation (Season 2, Episode 16 “Galentine’s Day”)

Ann and Leslie have a sweet, endearing, and devoted friendship. Their friendship, and this show, has many moments of gorgeous woman building up woman warm and fuzzy feelings. Fun fact: I was so slow to get on the Parks and Recreation bandwagon, but now I love it.

This can be chalked up to consequences of pursuing a PhD while working full time, too. I do not recommend (that!)

To honor the genesis of what became a tradition of my own, hosting Galentine’s Day brunch in my condo (what a monstrous Pinterest explosion in my kitchen I made again and again), the episode that made it happen!

Happy Galentine’s Day to you, you beautiful land mermaids!



Galentine's Day Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash




How to Deal During a Friendship Breakup

Romantic breakups… they suck. Socially, we are better prepared to cope with the loss of a lover. When we lose a friend, particularly a close friendship, that sting of a friendship breakup is especially potent and lingering.

What do you do when a friendship breakup goes without warning?

In addition to losing the friend, chances are there are mutual friends, too. Maneuvering through the painful emotions of the loss of the friend is particularly tricky, in this case. Navigate wrong and you may also lose friends who feel (intentionally or accidentally) pressured to choose allegiances. Your circle of support may end up even smaller. Having been caught in the middle of a friendship breakup, it’s painful and awkward as hell to be in the mutual circle. 

“Female friendships can make us feel healthier, happier, less stressed and feel more beautiful,” according to extensive research collected by founder of Girlfriendology, Debba Hauper. It’s no surprise, then, that you can feel especially isolated at the loss of a close friendship.

When I experienced a particularly distressing loss of a romantic relationship I had a friend’s shoulder I could cry on. The same shoulder I leaned on when I unexpectedly lost my father. This woman was also by my side through a betrayal by a partner which sent my entire world on its axis. So when our friendship was threatened, and abruptly ended in quite a volatile and fast fashion, the loss was… palpable.

The person I would’ve normally gone to and talked with about my sadness was gone. 

friendship breakup

Image credit Evan Kirby @EvanKirby2

To a point, yes, I faulted her for the demise of the friendship. I was heartbroken. More so, even, than I was the romantic relationship whose breakup she nursed me through. I was angry because logically the situation was so absurd. To me. I didn’t “deserve” the fault and blame coming at me. By my perspective. I never had the opportunity to learn from her what her perspective was. But I was out of my mind with grief.

A friendship goes two ways and you can’t control the agency and filter by which another person views the world any more than you can change patterns of behavior of a person other than yours. You are allowed to feel hurt and mourn that loss. But be cautious with how you act out in your pain. Your pain is not an excuse to act out in a bad way.

I also knew then, as I do now, at the time of the fracture between us, she was responding to a perceived threat to her safety and wellbeing in the best way she knew how with the coping strategies that have served her to that point in her life. I responded in the way I needed to advocate for myself, knowing full well the potential for the fallout that occurred. Knowing what my hard line and boundary was and what action I was obliged to take even knowing what the reaction would be. 

I typically am of the choose to be in the relationship over righteousness mentality. In this particular instance, whereas previously I could let go of issues that arose and gave her the space to be “right,” in this case I could not. How I wished I could…. If in the midst of a conflict with your friend, consider what is more important?

Gut checking my responses and actions, I tread as carefully as I could. But, it wasn’t all about me. This was something she was very much experiencing and participating in, as well. There was a pattern of behavior I previously witnessed, and now I was experiencing. While my heart was breaking I also knew there was a particular pathology going on that wasn’t about me. That awareness did not make my pain any less but was valuable for me to begin to process the loss.

I’ve since come to terms with and moved beyond the end of the friendship. Weathered awkward (and at times downright rude) greetings and path crossings. From a distance watched her life evolve and be blessed with joys she was worried would elude her. Silently celebrated the wins I would hear about in her life, and on several occassions debated if sending congratulations and well wishes would be welcomed. Ultimately, I chose silence.

We even evolved to civil and “safe” conversations about work and life. But we are at the point in our lives, now. I have no interest in trying to rebuild the friendship. Based on what I see, there is no interest on her part, too. And that’s ok. From afar, I wish her so much happiness and well being. We had a beautiful friendship and she was a damn good friend to me when we were friends. 

I owned my role, but I can’t – and nor should you – take ownership for the work another person needs to do or the actions another person chooses to make. Because it isn’t always about you. It’s entirely possible, during a friendship breakup, especially if it’s messy, your friend is feeling intense pain, too. And could be operating from a place of pain. 

friendship breakup

Image credit Evan Kirby @EvanKirby2

What you can do in these moments is respond in a way that is healthy and authentic for yourself. Own what is yours to own and do not take on what is not yours to claim.

Some strategies I employed to help me cope with the breakup

After what I thought was a reasonable, although recent, cooling off period I sent an email requesting for us to talk about the outburst. She declined. I accepted her experience and wishes as I accepted the finality of her choice. Closure is really more of a concept than an outcome. Let it be. If your friend doesn’t want to talk it out or try to reconcile, honor her experience and her preference. It’s not all about you.

Practice kindness and compassion to myself. I reflected on what were lessons I could take from this? In the end, after a lot of self reflection and honest – safe – dialogue with people who knew my tendencies and character faults, I realized I would have acted the same if given a chance for a do over. I put energy into my other friendships, my voluntarism, my PhD work, snuggles with Edie… I put my energy and focus into all of the positive and awesome things I have and have going on in my life. Dogs make pretty much any sad scenario brighter and lighter. Don’t have a dog? Volunteer at a local shelter. They nearly always need people to walk and play with the pups. Not a dog person? Shelters have kitties, too. 

friendship breakup

Image credit Evan Kirby @EvanKirby2

Create space. For me this meant unfriending on social media. It seems dramatic and harsh but I needed to focus on my healing. That meant giving myself as much space emotionally and not seeing mutual friends’ tags and updates on her life. Seeing the reminders of ways in which I was no longer part of her life hurt me. Unfriending was not an act of passive aggression or punishment. I knew our friendship was over in the real world so ending it in Facebook, to me, was a natural progression and step. 

I cried and wrote about it in my journal. The loss hurt because that emotional investment in the deep intimacy of our friendship was something worth losing. I wrote out things I wanted to say to her – but if you do this, please do not send those letters! Like Dr. Seuss wrote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” But if you need to cry and you want to cry, cry. Then smile. Even though it’s gone, you had something beautiful. And probably have others, and you will have more beautiful babelicious friendships.

Okay, I could have been less petty. Even when I tried to own my emotions, if she came up in conversation, there were times I didn’t filter as well as I should have. And, wow, that created some awkward. Guess who looked like the petty, emotional fool? And, also, I wish I honored the past friendship and my former friend more. There are times when even if you’re not trying to be, petty can come out with realizing it. So watch yourself. 

My mom repeatedly told me as I was growing up a person’s perspective is their reality.

Never is that more observable when coping with conflict. Be as loving as you can be, to your friend and to you. Because, ultimately, you will serve your own experience best by acting with love. 

XO, Jennifer

friendship breakup



Choosing Courage to Ride the Wave of Vulnerability

“Rather than deny our vulnerability, we lean into both the beauty and agony of our shared humanity. Choosing courage does not mean that we’re unafraid, it means that we are brave enough to love despite the fear and uncertainty.” ~Brene Brown

Years ago, a man I was dating could sense I was holding back and my block was preventing us from moving forward. He said to me, “you know, it’s okay for you to be vulnerable.” You would think Thor directed a lightening bolt at our clasped hands because I bolted. Tucked my tail and ran like a terrified puppy. By the mere thought of sharing with him my battered heart and letting him see my pain. Mind you, I literally did make a quick exit, and there’s no way to elegantly hoof it when still wearing a walking cast. The hobble is not dignified or efficient.

He became the first man I ghosted. *I know, I know….* And it was brutal! I was such a coward. He’s a good man, and he treated me remarkably well, and he deserved far better than what I gave him. And it was painful for him. Both of us were clumsily trying to navigate dating, both having experienced similar trauma of discovering our significant others were unfaithful to us. Years later, we reconnected.

Funnily enough, he reached out to me after seeing a young woman hobbling on crutches which reminded him of our first date. We are friends…. after he read me the riot act for disappearing. Which I accepted. He’s happily married to a wonderful woman and they share a healthy, beautiful, blended family.

And then the day came,

when the risk

to remain tight

in a bud

was more painful

than the risk

it took

to blossom.

Risk ~ Anaïs Nin

And I’m often still that clumsy, scared puppy when comes the terrifying thunderclap or being called upon to share my intimate parts of me with others. However, here in Oaxaca, that’s more likely to be fireworks exploding overhead than actual thunder…..

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I’m currently dealing with a lot of vulnerability and exposure in a way that I normally tend to work very hard to avoid. I’m absolutely, definitely, without a question the person who will cut and run and avoid authentic connection in almost every scenario in effort to avoid being emotionally eviscerated again. Even though, so far, I’ve proven that you will be able to recover from every loss, broken heart, abandonment, and betrayal. It doesn’t always feel like that is possible, but I have a 100% recovery rate.

Here’s a rub, though: there are times during which channeling massive courage for authenticity and vulnerability will not be rewarded by receipt of the outcome you put yourself out on the very ledge of exposure for…. and it sucks so hard! Aaaaah, that feeling is the worst when you’re emotionally naked, and the lights are on, and… and… and… no.

A few years ago, when I was nearly hysterical from what I was then experiencing as a vulnerability exposure fail, a friend said to me, “it’s scary and it’s hard to show people our ugly.” Yes. It’s scary. And it’s hard. It’s hard to constantly live in your truth. Because when you’re being truthful and authentic all of your time, you’re going to turn off some people because they don’t tune in to that vibration. But it’s not easy, and again, the fear factor, for me, is intense.

Also, trust. Can I trust my instincts regarding this person? Can I trust this person? If I open up my heart, is this person going to take that vulnerability to hurt me? Because… that’s what happened before.

I’ve held myself back. I lose out on the possibility of the kind of connection I want, and I also deny someone the opportunity to receive all the weird, wonderful, quirky, and beautiful parts of me that lie beneath the surface of fear and anxiety. But the part of me that craves that connection and depth doesn’t call to me as loud as the part of me that begs me to stay closed to protect myself.

I learned that fear through a traumatic abusive relationship. I came to accept I wasn’t worth more than what he told me I was worth, through his hurtful words and his injury afflicting actions. Then, another one, this time a true wolf in a friendly skin told me I hadn’t come as far in my recovery and ability to protect myself from a predator (when you learn your ex is a convicted felon as he goes back to prison… yeah that happened). Trusting myself, and trusting others… that’s hard. It’s scary.

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I keep coming back to this picture from when I went on a (divine) yoga retreat in Costa Rica a couple of years ago. When my friend snapped this picture of me, I had no idea she was even there. I had just been wacked in the back of my head by my longboard on what was one of my most awkward falls I ever made when surfing – and just believe me when I say I wipe out better than I ride.

But my smile is so real. There was nothing anticipated or commanded. This sunburned mug is radiant with sheer joy. If I had let my anxiety and self-conscious nervousness about how not-good I am at surfing get the better of my earnest desire to ride those perfect baby swells (I know my limits of my skill level), I wouldn’t have ever known how delicious and fun Costa Rica waves are for long boarding.

One of the things about surfing – especially at the beginning, is learning how to read the wave and determine which ones, and when, are good to ride. Because I don’t get to surf often, I miss quite a few, and in the split second of hesitation, that wave is gone. But there’s more. There’s always more!

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ~Brene Brown

When you’re told repeatedly you’re not worthy of love and sincere affection without conditional approvals, your mind can hold onto those messages. Despite a hell of a lot of work I’ve done to reclaim myself and recover, I still have triggers. But those aren’t my truths – only as much as I want to allow myself to continue to subscribe to that story. I still have doubts. It’s like that song from Bob Dylan, Just Like a Woman.

Whether puppy or little girl, I have to willfully force myself to stand present in front of someone, whether a new friend – usually a man wanting to build an emotional connection – I have to resist and push down the initial reaction to run and choose to be courageous. I’m a good emotional runner. But a terrible physical runner. Too many ankle and foot fractures.

And so also goes with finding the courage to continue to take the exposure and painful anxiety of vulnerability. We get better at what we practice. Sometimes the ride will be good. Sometimes we get knocked in the head by a surfboard. Right now I’m feeling the knock in my heart. But I really don’t want to miss any more waves because I hesitated.

Vulnerability is not for anyone faint hearted! If you want to live authentically and with appropriate vulnerability, you have to be a warrior. A love warrior! And better yet, be ready for the ride.



Nosara Costa Rica Surfing Vulnerability .jpg

Lin-Manuel Miranda quotes galantine's day

“I think a lot about trying to meet the moment as honestly as possible, because I don’t pretend to have any answers. In fact, I have infinitely more questions than answers.” I can generally not get enough Leslie Knope, but on this Galentine’s Day, I’m all about feeling Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Galentine’s Day Spotify playlist he made for us ladies. It’s even better than when I came across an artist’s renderings of Leslie Knope quotes. Talk and dance about this is chock full of fantastic, empowering, and energetic songs from strong and sassy female artists and it’s all girl power.

Today is a day for ladies to celebrate ladies, and while my ladies are north of the border, so there’s no rose sipping and bruschetta noshing. But, thanks to international data plans and What’s App, I still was able to access some of my lady loves’ therapy sessions. I love my poetic land mermaids and rule breaking moths.

I firmly believe one of the reasons I don’t struggle with loneliness, despite an almost constant run of “Singleness,” is because of my epic circle of friends. I date, often, but rarely meet someone worth investing deeper into the sacrifice of my personal time to be with him so I generally choose to be alone. Fact is, there’s not yet been a single person I’ve been with romantically in which I feel like I received a net neutrality or gain compared to the sacrifices I had to make to be in the relationship. That’s not what I want…. I want to be with someone because my life is more colorful, peaceful, enriched because of what I share and experience with him. Not to miss time I could be spending doing other things because of what I’m giving to him. And that’s how I know I’ve never met my “lobster.” But Galentine’s Day is a fun day for celebrating my friendships.

It’s also an excellent day for me to not ponder so hard about a particularly confusing romantic “situation” (see some of above) and just enjoy… Oh, and write… and write, write, write. Always to write. Even though I cry – a lot – about my dissertation challenges, I know… I just know it will feel so good to be done. And it will feel good to give a smiling “fuck you” to my naysayers. There’s a list.

And because I’m having a particularly rough time of rewriting and reanalyzing my research data and I want to quit it all so close to the end, another push for stick to itness and perseverance. Anytime you write something, you go through so many phases. You go through the I’m a Fraud phase. You go through the I’ll Never Finish phase. And every once in a while you think, What if I actually have created what I set out to create, and it’s received as such?”

Pop a bottle of pink tinted wine, crank up your speakers, and enjoy this day – if you want, you can join me in a virtual dance party. Oh, and as a matter of fact, living deep in Mexico is not helping me improve my dance skills any better than sleeping with textbooks under pillows helped my knowledge of calculus in high school.

Centro Cultural San Pablo Oaxaca Mexico

By the way, what do you think of my new hat? I picked it up last week at Mercardo Benito Juarez. Hat hair for days. Which is beneficial being that my dueña can’t get the hot water to stay on in my apartment and hair this thick and long is a miserable washing experience in cold showers (I’ve been going over budget and visiting a salon for washes and blow outs). We’re also working on the pest situation because I found a scorpion in my room the other night operating as my head board.

Happy Galentine’s Day!

XO, Jennifer


How to Support a Grieving Friend This Holiday Season

Chances are, like me, you probably have someone close to you who is experiencing his or her first holiday season without someone dearly beloved and painfully missed. Cliches exist for a reason, and what they say about the holidays being an especially lonely time for many people certainly rings as true as the Salvation Army bells outside your local CVS, Winn Dixie, Galleria, you name it. If you have a friend who lost someone this year, a pretty sure bet is your friend is in some extra need of love and spirit this holiday season. But how, right? How can you support a grieving friend when navigating your own holidayness?

You’ve probably heard and read about “holding space” for someone. What does that really mean, anyway? Well, I’ve determined it means a lot! The gist of it is how you can support someone in need. Without judgment, no matter how well intended. But, here are four things you can do to hold space for your grieving friend and make his or her holiday season less like a vacuum and bring some love into that void your friend is surely feeling. Really, anything will be recognized and appreciated.

Ways to hold space for a grieving friend this holiday season

Snail mail. Send a card. Go ahead and send a standard holiday card in your big batch. But find another card – not a sympathy card – something more nondescript. Write out a brief note to let your friend know you’re thinking about her. The card is great because it’s physical. It can be touched and held. Reread if wanted. And doesn’t force your friend to face a conversation she may not want to have. I’ll tell you this: there were numerous times I wasn’t excited to talk to people, even people I dearly loved. It exhausted me when merely getting through a day exhausted me. But I loved, and for a loooooong time I held onto, every single card. Another reason the card works so well is because it’s a break from the influx of happy holiday cards. Don’t get me wrong; I loved those, too.


Invitations help. Perhaps my busiest holiday calendar ever was the Christmas of 2012. Planning my party attire and which cocktail dress I would wear for each party was an excellent antidote and distraction. Which I know contradicts what I wrote in Number 1! But it helped. I did not accept every invitation, but I sure as heck appreciated and felt included and loved with every invitation I received. When making an invitation, be specific. When someone would invite me for lunch I’d vaguely respond. But when someone said, “I’d like to take you to lunch on Tuesday, are you available at 11:00? I’ll pick you up and we can go to the hot bar at Whole Foods….” I accepted. What she did was she eliminated any burden for me to plan and also created a specific image for me to look forward to.


Doorstep treats. If you live in the same area, consider dropping by with a bouquet of fresh flowers or a pot of herbs (Trader Joe’s makes my flower world go round). There’s something about fresh botanicals in a living space that makes it feel more vibrant and beautiful. Not into flowers? How about a magazine, some baked treats from a cookie exchange, or a box of herbal tea. It would be acceptable to bring them by when your friend is home as well as dropping off on the door step to greet your friend when she returns home. If you don’t live nearby and you have the budget, a small something, whether a book, a gift card to take herself out for a cup of coffee or tea, flowers,…. Will go a long way. Something to encourage her self care.


Pick up the phone. Even if you leave a voice mail, and yes I dodged some calls because I was lacking energy, consumed with grief, you name it…. But for every voice mail I received those words embraced me as fully as a hug. Drop a quick line or send a text message to simply say, “I’m thinking about you.” You don’t need to be a close friend to reach out. In fact, some of the unexpected contacts were among the most touching.


I found the first year following my dad’s unexpected death excruciating and crushing, particularly that first run of weeks from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. There was not enough fudge, cookies, and wine to get me through the season. I was lonely, but I also wanted distance… my emotions were as volatile as winter weather and storm patterns. Too much time with anyone would render an eruption of some sort. Too much time alone lead to hours in an unmade bed, greasy hair, and well, you can see where I’m going with this. It wasn’t pretty. But those were all reasons why I needed to know from my friends that I still mattered to them and they were still standing by my side. I am grateful for my friends who understood I wanted to share stories one minute, then cry another, and needed to be alone the next minute and respected my needs… and understood my moods were not to be taken personally or a result of them.


I was then, and still am, terrible at asking for help. When I most needed gentle love, I was the least able to ask for it. The grief was too strong, and I was too focused on trying to look like I had my you-know-what together. I could see it in my friends’ faces. They were concerned and they wanted to love me and comfort me. I thank God for my friends who did not forget me during their holiday hustle. Your friend will fell and will remember the kindness and love you give.


Having deeply reflected on what could have been said or done to help me, I believe there is no “right” thing to say or to do. There’s no fool proof recipe – this isn’t a Toll House cookie. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can stand up – or sit down – with and support your friend who is grieving a lost loved one this season. Acknowledge the loss and the pain. If she opens up, listen. Just listen. If you know the loved one, share stories.


By being “there” and showing up to support a grieving friend in a way that is authentically you to offer your space, thoughts, and energy, you’re going to give one of the best gifts of the season.


Have a very merry and lovely holiday this year. Lots of love to you.


XO, Jennifer

Ways to hold space for a grieving friend this holiday season