Tag Archives: friendship

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

2014 Collage

Happy Holidays Everyone!

May your homes be filled with peace and love. May you be surrounded by all those you call family. May you enjoy quiet moments and uproarious laughter. May you be thankful for all you have, and share with those who have less. May your new year bring only as much struggle as what will help you grow, and two times as many joys. May you be inspired to create and share your talents with the world. And may you get to sleep in at least once this week.

Love to All this Holiday Season,

Jess & Joe

When the Going Gets Tough, You Gotta Have Your Girlfriends

I’m dedicating this Throwback Thursday to all the ladies out there! 😉

When the going gets tough, you gotta have your girlfriends. Life has a way of throwing curveballs at us. I don’t know about you, but if I’m gonna take a hit to the head, I want my best girlfriend around to see it, pretend I did it on purpose, and tell every other joker in the place that it was the most badass thing she ever saw!

I’m fortunate to have a friend like that.

This is my bestie, Cat.

cat and jessi's bdayShe’s the photogenic one.

Cat just had a total curveball thrown at her. And that’s putting it mildly. She’s in a place of deep hurt right now, and I would love it if you would give her a little shout out in the comments! She’s the toughest, most talented, most vibrant, best dancer, so comforting, hardworking, sassy little latina I know! And I just love this woman immensely.

Please send your peace and healing thoughts her way!


And now for a walk down memory lane. Cuz it’s Throwback Thursday after all!

January of last year. Cat agreed to be a part of my last minute 80’s theme party. Clearly, no regrets there.


This is Cat and I pretending to be Oscar Girls at the 2012 Academy Awards. We are now forged eternally as “Sisters in Sequins.”


This is Cat on her wedding day. I was so honored to be the officiant for her and her husband.

Photo credit: Kelly Ottesen Photography

Photo credit: Kelly Ottesen Photography

This is Cat at Circus World in 2011. Yah, she’s the one who witnessed me smashing my face into an animal cage.


Here we are out for Halloween 2010. She was Amelia Earhardt and I was Mrs. Peacock.


THIS photo was captured on Cat’s birthday in July 2010 when we all went to see Little Kiss.
I believe the word you are searching for is…EPIC!

Little Kiss

This is Easter 2010, when I was still very much in Corporate America and couldn’t take time off to go home for the holiday. Cat invited Joe and I, and her husband’s family, and the group of us made the best makeshift Easter brunch ever!

Easter 2010

College. 2007. I had just crashed my car after having it about a month.
Cat and I had just become close friends.

College 2007

Girlfriends. Gotta love them. Gotta have them.
Gotta lift each other up.

You’re the best, Cat P!
(made ya laugh, didn’t I?)


Who are the important girlfriends in your life? What makes them stand out?
How have you supported one another?

Was Santa Good to You?

Happy Early New Year Everyone!

I’m feeling very blessed these last few days of 2013. Joe and I spent Christmas Eve with my family, made it back to La Crosse safely for Christmas day with his extended family, and spent friday night with his family for a Christmas pajama party sleepover! Over the weekend, one of my best friends, who I’ve known since high school, came with her boyfriend to stay the weekend with us!

And bonus of all bonuses, this was the first Christmas in 6 years I didn’t spend in retail during the ho ho horror of the holidays! Yaaaaaaay!


*Note: Shopping online is AWESOME!
I know for many of my WANA friends, this has been a difficult year. So many of you have suffered losses in the form of both people and things, be it jobs, manuscripts, and health. I’ve reminded myself often that this was a year for growing. Quitting my job was the right thing to do, and it resulted in a fantastic new job and the time necessary to complete the first draft of my book. But several months of unemployment definitely took their toll. I’m still paying off credit cards and loans I needed to use in order to make do. I often felt (and ok, still sometimes do) embarrassed by this fact, but you all have been so supportive and I must say THANK YOU!
Thanks for being a part of my happiness project in 2013! I mean it when I say that your comments are verbal gold! They fuel my spirit, and definitely give me happiness!
But enough of the gushy stuff! I want to know what your favorite Christmas present was!!
Who was the person that gave you the most thoughtful gift? Or the funniest one? What surprised you most? Or even what made you cringe?!
My favorite gift this holiday season came from my soon to be sister-in-law in the form of Clue themed espresso cups and matching dish towel!
photo 1
You all know how much I love Clue right?
It was Mrs. Peacock in the Billiard Room with the Wrench!

It was Mrs. Peacock in the Billiard Room with the Wrench!

So Clue, originally called Cluedo, was created in England in 1949 and is quite possibly my favorite board game. A whodunnit mystery with quirky suspects and unlikely murder weapons! Hidden staircases you say? What’s not to love?!!

photo 2

That was my favorite gift this year! What’s yours?
Happy New Year!!!

Susie Strong: Sending Pink Vibes Your Way

This is Susie. I think she is beautiful.

Today my blogger friend, Susie Lindau, goes in for breast cancer surgery.

If you don’t know Susie, you should click over to her blog – Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride – right now. Go ahead! You’re going to love it there!

(But please come back here at some point.)

You loved it didn’t you? Susie Lindau is a Wild Child. Her zest for travel, humor, and the writer’s life is contagious.

Even the way she’s dealing with cancer is funny! She’s been keeping us all posted in blogs titled The Boob Report.

But today she’s going through something pretty scary. She’s having a double mastectomy. And so many of us bloggers are sending Pink Vibes her way and praying that the surgery goes well.

The journey isn’t over. She’s got lots more wild rides to go on. One example, the reconstructive surgery. Who knew there was so much to think about? Nipples? No nipples? Tattooed nipples? These are serious and seriously funny questions for a woman to ask. I’m voting for the flower pots. She should walk around with those all the time. She’s gorgeous.

But please, take a moment today to wish Susie a safe surgery and speedy recovery. Send her a quick prayer, or make her laugh, at the twitter hashtag #SusieStrong.

Go, Susie, Go! We’re all thinking of you today!

To make a donation to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, click here. Any amount helps put us that much closer to finding and providing a cure for breast cancer.

Thank You For Being A Friend

Welcome to another edition of Tuesday’s Featured Writer Posts!  The fun was kicked off by thriller writer CJ West and you can still find out why Dexter Morgan might be CJ’s best friend or what his Top 10 Chocolate Guilty Pleasures are!

Today, I’m chatting with Patricia Sands, author of her mostly true story, The Bridge ClubAnd guess what?!  She’s giving away a FREE E-Book Copy to one lucky commenter!  To better your chances of winning, just tweet this post about friendships and I’ll enter you for a SECOND chance to win!

E-Book Cover

For more than forty years, the mantra of the eight women in the Bridge Club has been one for all and all for one. Beginning their monthly soiree in the psychedelic Sixties, unpredicted twists of fate weave through the good times and strong friendship they share as the years pass. The constant from one decade to the next is loyal and nonjudgmental support, even when agreeing to disagree is the final solution. From the exhilarating cultural changes of their early times together through the zoomer years, their connection never falters.

As they celebrate turning sixty (give or take a year) at a group birthday weekend, each woman recalls a challenging time in her life when the Bridge Club came to the rescue.  After tossing around ideas mixed with a generous helping of common sense and a large dose of laughter they decide to refer to that time as their SOS. Eight chapters document each one’s story.

Paperback Cover

Everything is put into perspective and the strength of their friendship is truly tested when one of these women faces a life-altering decision. Her choice profoundly affects all members of the group, pushing the limits of their beliefs and values. The unique alliance they share is confronted with a crisis none of them might have imagined.


Let’s begin!  Girlfriends.  You got ’em?  You know, those women in your life who are there when you’re having fun, and even more so when you’re not.  Long lasting female friendships are hard to find.  In today’s world and economy it’s likely you’ll move around looking for jobs, lose touch, or maybe you remain friends, but it’s only a random birthday message on Facebook once a year.  I have more conversations waiting in line at the post office!

So what makes a good friend? 

I think for me it’s total acceptance.  It’s about knowing someone has flaws, but loving them unconditionally so they know they can say anything to you, and you’ll both survive.  I have 3 good female friends that fit this bill.  My dear friend, Amy, whom I visited in South Korea this past April, my friend (and someday sister-in-law) Jen, who’s asked me to be a flower girl in her wedding (Yep, flower girl!  And I’m totally excited!), and Cat, who is also getting married and asked me to perform the ceremony!  You can probably all start calling me Pastor Jess now.

But I have another great group of women in my life whom I met just last year August.  My book club.  We recently took a book club getaway to Madeline Island, which is part of the Apostle Islands, to tour a bunch of sites that were in the books we read, Moon Over Madeline Island and Back to Madeline Island.  This is us.  *Note: We are missing 4 members who couldn’t make it.  😦

L to R: Pat, Sharon, Dorie, Candy, Nan, Me and Mike. We’re wearing our matching Madeline Island t-shirts!

Many of these women have been friends for upwards of 20+ years.  Coincidentally, they all lived on the same block while their kids were growing up.  Though all but one has moved from that street, they still get together for book club, and bunko, and wherever friends are needed.  I was invited into the mix by Candy, who works with me and knows how much I love to read.  These wonderful and inspiring women invited me in and now brag to other book clubs that they have a “token young person.”  I’m not sure I can speak for everyone in their mid-20’s, but I sure do love chatting with these women!

So when I read Patricia’s book, The Bridge Club, and listened to the stories of the women in her life, I imagined my book club.  I feel so honored to hear their stories each month because they’ve all gone through so much and come out stronger.  That is exactly the kind of friendship that Patricia lives, and oh yah, she writes about it too!

Take it away, Patricia!

Patricia Sands

Thanks for inviting me to hang out with you on your fabulous blog, Jess! Who wouldn’t want to spend time in the Happiness Project and when you suggested we talk about friendship … well … what could be better?

I was SO delighted to hear about your book club! Who knows where it might lead?

As you know, I’m all about friendship. It’s what prompted me to write The Bridge Club and I am certain the connections women share will always be the underlying theme of anything I write. I’m excited to report I’ve just finished the first draft of my next novel and have sent it off for editing. I’d love to tell you the name but still haven’t decided on a title. Yikes! I’ll keep you posted!

The whole premise for TBC was indeed the awesome friendship the 10 women of my real-life bridge club still share after more than four decades. That calls for another “yikes!” – time flies, my friend, so treasure all of it! And ten for bridge? Don’t ask. That’s another story! As it says on the book cover, “it was never just about the cards”.

From our days in the psychedelic 1960’s as hip, liberated twenty-somethings (or so we thought) to our present day status as “zoomers’”, vibrant, active sixty-somethings, our connection has been a constant.

Although we are all the same age give or take a year and share the same values, that’s about all we truly have in common. We have very diverse personalities, opinions, sizes, shapes, hairstyles, careers, bank accounts, and families. Yet at the same time, we are one.

The Bridge Club (That’s Patricia in the middle)

We share a history full of memories that range from deliriously happy to devastatingly sad and encompass everything in between. It’s been quite a ride made all the more meaningful by knowing each one of us is “there” for whatever we need. It hasn’t always been everyone responding at the same time but rather whoever had the best to offer the situation. No matter what, we are always all in the loop and ready to bring what we can.

Honesty, trust and reliability define the best of friends. You know when friendships are real and unconditional. They are the voices that unselfishly celebrate your successes, pick you up when you are down, give you honest feedback (particularly on early writing drafts!), and make you laugh out loud when you need it most. You do the same for them. It all goes without saying.

Who can’t find time to be a good friend? Women’s friendship supports, empowers and inspires. We share our dreams with each other and encourage success, helping however we can. Women “get it”.

Since publishing TBC, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving e-mails from women of all ages (the youngest being 24 and the oldest 82) writing about the valued connections they share with other women. It’s such a buzz to hear what readers have to say about their own experiences and how they relate to the story.

I’ve been fortunate to have great friendships throughout my life and I hope that somehow I inspire others to treasure the ones they have. On occasion I hear from readers who tell me they have never experienced true friendship. As sad as that is, it’s never too late. Take a deep breath. Take a chance. Connect.

Whether you are 15, 35, 65 or 85, girlfriends are girlfriends … if friendship is honest and true some things never change. To have a good friend, you must BE a good friend. It’s as simple as that!


Thank you so much Patricia for hanging out at the Happiness Project, and Thank You For Being a Friend! 

Be sure to follow Patricia and her upcoming new book!  You can find her at Patricia Sands’ Blog, on twitter, and on Facebook!

And now, to serenade you, a favorite song of Patricia’s!  Tune in and tell us about the friendships you’ve made in life, or the ones you’re still hoping to form!

If it says it brings you happiness, you can bet I’ve tried it.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — The Declaration of Independence.

You know, our Forefathers really had this whole foreshadowing of the future thing going on.  They knew, even back in 1776, that people weren’t going to be born happy, all they could do was pursue it.  Kind of makes you wish you could go back in time and clock John Hancock on the head, doesn’t it?  Old mousey wigged, know-it-all!

The constant quest for finding happiness gives me this image in my mind.

(image courtesy activerain.com)

I’s going to get you!

Achieving happiness isn’t the same as a math equation, although I’d be equally in trouble if that WERE the case.  You can’t say that just because someone Earned a Degree + Married + Had 2.5 kids = Happiness.  The standards and desires of each person are different.  But still, we try to make it formulated!  We read articles, we join clubs, we go on juice diets, we hang out in a certain crowd, we buy skinny jeans and then don’t wear them.

Here’s a list of things I’ve done in hopes it would bring me happiness:

1.  Bought and wore on the same day matching clothes as my best friends. 

  • Admit it, some of you have done this too!  It was the absolute hype of middle school trends in my day.  And I have photos where we’re all sporting the same corduroy overalls, “bibs” to the hip crowd.  And I believe there was another incident with matching chartreuse turtlenecks.  Yah, those photos aren’t going online.

2. Dated some boy I didn’t like.

  • I’m sorry but he was an absolute turd of a human being who chewed way too much gum, and then had our mutual friend in band call me to tell me he was maybe-sorta-thinking about breaking up with me.

(image courtesy thirtysomethingsingle.com)

3.  Played Truth or Dare at any age.

  • First off, why did someone invent a game where the ultimate goal is to dig up dirt on your friends?  And second, who in their right mind ever selects ‘dare’?  This stupid game has made me give my pocket money to strangers, steal plates from Pizza Hut, drink water from the toilet, and quote lines from Young Frankenstein while dancing in a leaf pile on campus at some ungodly hour of the night???  And now, I sit back and eagerly await the search engine terms that will link to my blog.

(image courtesy funnycorner.net)

4. Spontaneous sex.

  • Oh sure, it starts out all romantic, you’re sneaking onto the rooftop of an abandoned factory, looking out over the city lights and traffic below.  You start kissing, the kissing leads to clothes coming off, and what’s that…the rooftop is made of fiberglass?!

5. Join an intramural sports team.

  • It’s supposed to be fun, that’s what the people told me who got me to sign up for intramural badminton.  Back to back games with international Asian students kicking our a$$es!  And then, my partner sprained her ankle and I got tendonitis.  For reals.

(image courtesy cybersalt.org)

But then are things that really do bring me happiness!

Despite the pitfalls of fashion trends and a dieting faux pas, there are tried and true things that bring us joy.  I started up this blog to test them.  Some of my particular favorites are:

1.  Movie marathons

  • Having been a video store clerk for 5 years, there were times where I wouldn’t go a day without watching at least one movie!  Reuniting with favorite characters and quoting lines from your favorite flicks is a comfort thing for me.  I love vegging out and having theme movie marathons.

2. Giving and receiving surprises from your friends.

  • You can’t beat girlfriends.  There’s just nothing like them.  It makes my day when a friend surprises me with homemade spring rolls on my porch after a long day at work.  And I felt good surprising a friend who was injured after a bike fall with an accessory box – all the fixings to get dolled up and still wear pants, plus a ticket to the new Sex and the City movie!

(image courtesy fyessexandthecity.tumblr.com)

3. Visiting the library.

  • I am a library groupie.  I love the library.  I rent all my movies and books from here and visit at least once a week.  It’s a place to relax, browse new titles, stock up on as much as you want, and chill in a variety of sitting areas and furniture!

4. Simple dinners at home.

  • You know what my favorite kind of date night it?  Cheese, crackers, and wine at home.  I love laid back, romantics evenings.  Cooking at home or grilling out, making a meal together is fun.  Put on Pandora and enjoy each others’ company.  A favorite recommendation:  making southwest food and listening to zydeco music, then eating alfresco on the patio.

(image courtesy sivanidesigns.com)

5. Going for a walk.

  • It’s not rocket science, it’s fresh air.  Taking a walk is good for you.  I’m lucky to live in an area where there’s a marsh and bluffs to walk or hike in.  I think nature reminds us to slow down.  To literally STOP and smell the roses.

Your turn!  What are the things you’ve tried in the pursuit of happiness?  And what things have you found that truly bring it?  Got a happiness tip for me to try?  Share it!

Rules for Life: A Guest Blog by Lyn Midnight

Hey All!  It’s another round robin of Life List Club advice and fun!  Be sure to spend your holidays de-stressing with us and staying on track with your goals.  Today, I’m happy to feature Lyn Midnight from Against the Odds who gives us her rules for life.  And I’m sharing all things to be thankful for over at Pam Hawley’s Hawleyville!  See you soon!

Lyn Midnight’s Rules for Life

Have I mentioned I like to make lists?

I usually use my super list-making powers for mundane things: people’s birthdays, grocery lists, and guest-posts. Only recently have I realized I’d need a whole other kind of list too. Let me explain.

There are things I know that I want. Then there are things I suspect that I need. Finally, there are things I may want and/or need but absolutely know they’re bad for me. Anyone relating so far?  Basically, I made a Rules for Life list. That way, whenever I need some perspective or reminding, the list does both for me. If I’m tempted to do something I shouldn’t do, I look at the list. Granted, sometimes I do it anyway… live and learn, right? But at least I can’t say I didn’t warn me.

To show you what I mean, I’ve included my list below. Feel free to share your own list of Rules for Life or comment on mine. Some items have been omitted for personal reasons. Some other items should have been… maybe. Also, you might notice that the reason I made this list of rules was because of a guy… or a series of ‘wrong guys’ to be exact. Come on, everyone should have related by now!


1. NEVER fall for the same guy twice. NEVER go backwards.
Obviously, I don’t want to go back. Falling for someone and having my heart stomped on once is enough, thank you very much. Moving onto the next heartbreak… at least it’s a step forward.
2. Do NOT fall (or sleep with) a friend.
Ahem. I might as well stamp ‘friend whore’ on my forehead. Let’s just say I’ve been known to fall for my guy friends… which probably has some Freudian explanation I don’t feel like sharing here. However, I do realize I must break the pattern. Friendship should be more important than love/sex. Period.
3. Do NOT dwell on anything.
As you may know, I have my degree in Psychology. This one time I read a paper about men and women’s different styles of coping. If something bad happens, women jump into analyzing what went wrong and venting, while men just ignore and push it aside while they look for appropriate solutions to their problems. To be honest, I’d like to be a guy for this reason alone.  They don’t over-analyze or get stuck in over-thinking loops of madness. And this is where I remind myself that I can actually LEARN to do the same. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten better at it with practice.
4. Only consider available guys.
One would think I know this already. Alas, my super self-sabotaging powers override my super list-making ones. Not sure where the desire to humiliate and hurt myself comes from, but it’s very important to keep the emotionally stunted boogie monsters at bay. List-worthy.
5. This item has been omitted. Bloody good one though.
6. Do NOT bring your phone on a night out.
Whoops, I’ve been breaking this rule. I keep hoping that I can keep my phone on me when I go out, and then I make a blunder such as calling or texting someone I should not be calling or texting.
7. Do things as soon as you can.
Postponing’s my bitch. And we’ll live happily ever after…
8. Sleep 8 hours, eat healthy, and stay energized.
Let’s see… I’ve been sleeping 10 hours (bitten by the unemployment bug… or is it called the crisis bug now?). I’ve been eating nothing but Subway, beans, and sweets. Apparently, they mix well together. And I have been stoked on Coca Cola instead of making coffee like a normal person. Sigh.
I really wish I didn’t have to include this in the list…
10. Turn every negative thought into a positive one.
This is the big one. If I could do that on a regular basis, I know I’d live a happier life. (Duh.) Even though it’s not as easy as it sounds, the rewards are huge. And lasting. Just ask Dr. Seligman, the foremost specialist in Positive Psychology. I’d definitely give his books a read if I were you.

Now then… give me YOUR rules. I always love good company in list-making!

     Lyn Midnight writes in various genres and formats (fantasy, scifi, poetry), and likes to blog about anything her heart desires over at Lyn Midnight Against the Odds. She is currently working on a scifi novel and managing another blog – The Burning of Innocence – where she posts fantasy flash chapters. The person behind the handle is a Psychology graduate and eternal nomad, trying to make her big break somewhere in England. Long live the Queen! And long live our dreams.

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