A 21st Century Candlelight

Remember sorority candlelights?

You'd get all the girls in the chapter together to stand around in a circle, sing sorority songs, and pass a  candle. Then, after the candle had been passed around the appropriate number of times, one of your sisters blew it out, signifying the big news in her love life. She'd been lavaliered, pinned, or gotten engaged. It was one of those quintessential college moments. And, for those of us who were single, or not serious about our boyfriend, or whatever the situation may have been, it was more than a little alienating. Most of the time, we were happy for the sister who had the good news. Many of us, and I certainly counted myself among these ranks, had no interest in settling down in our early twenties. Still, for all of us who weren't blowing out the candle, there was a moment of feeling left out.

A few weeks ago, my sorority sister Shannon had some really big news to share with us all. Shannon, an Owensboro native, lives in Minneapolis with her partner, Ruanita, and their three adorable children. After fifteen years together, Shannon and Ruanita can legally be married in their state. Even as a mother of three, Shannon has promised us, she's going to be a full-on bridezilla. She's certainly earned that right.

As Shannon kept us all updated on the status of the Minnesota same-sex marriage bill via Facebook last month, I joked that I would find a way to throw her a candlelight if the bill passed. I was thrilled when the Minnesota legislature upheld their end of that bargain, and some of us immediately began brainstorming a way to make a candlelight happen. We settled on one of those invitation-only Facebook groups, to which several of our sorority sisters were invited. 

Now, you can't have a candlelight without songs. We "sang" our old familiar songs by typing them out, verse by verse. It was a beautiful juxtaposition -- a group of retired Southern sorority girls upholding our oldest traditions, but with a decidedly 21st century twist. 

As the words of a traditional candlelight song came back to me -- "Phi Mu in a word is love" -- I realized that it didn't matter that the flicker of a candle had been replaced by the backlight of computer screens across the country. And, while it was monumental that we were celebrating our friend's long-overdue right to marry the woman she loves, we weren't really even taking a political stance. We were just telling our smart, funny, awesome friend that we're happy for her.

For once, it felt like a candlelight where nobody was left out.

{You can read more about Shannon's adventures in parenting on her blog, Chronicles of a Clueless Mom.}

Finding Inspiration in Friendship

The past few months have really kind of sucked. 

I've been hit with a lot of things that seem banal when they happen to other people, but when they happen to you they're epic. There have been days when it all seemed insurmountable. Days when I didn't know where or how to start fixing it all. Days when simply composing the to-do list took an hour, and I can't even talk about how long it would take to complete. I've desperately needed to get over it, tackle the things I can fix, and deal with the things I can't. 

These days, I realize, are when my girlfriends have kept me afloat. I've found my inspiration in my friends. Sometimes, a short, pithy, emoji-filled text message is all it takes. Sometimes, it's an email that answers my questions, or an in-joke Facebook post. Suddenly, I'm ready to do a round of sun salutations and tackle the day. 

I find my inspiration in my cousin, who's quite literally been my BFF since we were born, and in my college girlfriends, whose hilarious and heartwarming and always-entertaining group texts would make Regina George blush. I find inspiration in the friends I've made through my sorority, the Junior League, and the crazy world of blogging. And, I'm astonished every day at the inspiration I've found through the women who contribute to this blog - smart professional women who lend their time and talents to create a site we love. 

I love that I don't always have to thank these women for their friendship; I just know that they're there. I love that I don't always have to tell them the details of my problems; I can just say that things aren't going well. I love that I sometimes awake to 30 new text messages written in LOLCAT or peppered with a few wine-related typos. I love that I have an amazing network of female friends who inspire me every day. 

How do your friends inspire you?