Book News: How to Make Friends

December 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm , by

Do you have friends? And might you, perhaps, be mine?

I know, these are questions I’m not supposed to ask, right? Of course you have friends! You were a Girl Scout, a glee clubber and a sorority sister, so you’re set. You might as well embroider yourself a “No Vacancies” sign to match your massive collection of friendship bracelets.

Right…? Or do I hear some murmurs of dissonance in the audience?

I just moved to New York, and my life-long friends are scattered across the country (sure, I’m proud of my friend who’s off bettering herself in grad school, but did she have to do it 3,000 miles away from me?), so recently I’ve found myself a little lonely and worried that I was, well, weird for craving a few more gal pals in my post-college life. That’s why I devoured Rachel Bertsche’s new book, MWF Seeking BFF (Ballantine), a memoir documenting her search for a new best friend.

It all started when Rachel and her now-husband, Matt, moved to Chicago, a new city for both of them. Even after two years there, she still felt like she was missing some local BFFs.

Her husband, though a great guy, didn’t get it (“I needed girl time; he’s just not going to re-hash a problem of mine for the eighth time”), and her work friends didn’t feel quite right for a last minute text to go to brunch (“We just weren’t there yet!”).

So Rachel made it her mission to meet people, challenging herself to go on one new “friend date” per week for a year, hoping to end up with some new girlfriends—even a best friend—by year’s end. (The introvert in me shudders at the thought, but Rachel thinks one date a month would probably also do the trick—and afford you a more manageable social calendar.)

“There’s this stigma against loneliness,” she says. “And we’re scared to say that we’re looking for new friends; that people will think we’re desperate. But, really, there are so many great women out there looking for people, too!”

Phew! That’s music to my ears, and realizing it helped Rachel truly shed her shell for her quest— MWF’s chapter on her fun and genuine experience online-friending at and her story about renting a friend (!) alone make the book a must-read.

And since she’s done it all—with success!—I had Rachel spill her soundest advice for friend-making (you know you wanna), even after the meet-markets of high school and college are long behind you.

Leave The House
“Say yes to all invitations that come your way, even if it’s something you’re not super excited about. I used to think, ‘Oh she’s just inviting me to be nice; she doesn’t really want me there.’ But really, inviting someone to be nice is a really good reason to do so!”

Be a Joiner
“It might be obvious, but just join something. Research shows joining a group that meets even only once a month can radically improve your happiness. I did an improv class, joined two book clubs and started a cooking club for all of the new women I was meeting—some of them are really close friends now, and even spend holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year’s together.”

Spread the Word
Tell people you’re looking for friends. People assume that you’re set with the friends you have, even if you move to a new city like I did. But people know people in a lot of places! So if you move to San Francisco, tell people you’re looking for friends there, and they’ll be happy to help.”

Assume The Best
“Going into my year-long project, I thought people would think I was weird, that they weren’t open to friendship, that they’re too busy, or that the world is just meaner these days—whatever. But I found that the opposite is true—you should assume people want friends, because they do!”

Photo of Rachel Bertsche by Jennifer Troyer Photography

Six Weeks to a Younger You: Week 5

September 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm , by

This week I’m filling in for Julie on our blogging project. Even though she’s on vacation in the sweltering (but still lovely) Dallas, Texas, I’m sure she’s still sticking with her Younger You habits. Are you?

I’ve been following along all month, so I’m happy I get to share. This week, we turn to the letter F, which I noticed stands for all four of our topics today: floss, phones, fat and friends. Okay, I cheated a little on the second one, but “the four F’s” sure makes our homework easy to remember this week!

You know you need to floss to keep your teeth healthy and your smile pretty. But did you know that the health of your gums could affect not only your mouth, but also the rest of your body? That’s right, recent research suggests periodontal disease—caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that leads to inflammation in your gums—can up your risk of heart disease, diabetes and respiratory problems. And to really rid your mouth of gunk, you have to get between the teeth with floss.

Showering, dealing with my hair and applying makeup takes up enough of my time in the morning, but there’s really no excuse to skip flossing at night. I’ve always flossed before bed. Oddly, this makes it easier for me to fall asleep—my mouth feels so clean! (Also, humble brag: I’ve never had a cavity. I think my commitment to flossing has a lot to do with it.) Instructions on how to floss, straight from the experts at the American Dental Association, found here.

My Blackberry is my life, so this one is difficult. I use it for everything from making calls to answering e-mails. I also don’t have an alarm clock, so I’m sad to admit that I’m one of those millennials that sleeps with her phone in her bed. But the risk is scary enough to make me re-think my habits. Even though the World Health Organization’s latest study on cell phone use and brain tumors was inconclusive, they still found enough evidence of possible harm to classify the devices as “possibly carcinogenic.” More studies need to be done, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt me to invest in an alarm clock and use the handsfree device that came with my phone. Experts say this should keep my exposure to any radiation at a minimum. (That’s me, above, chatting on my handsfree device. It doubles as headphones, often making me look like a crazy person while I talk and walk down New York City streets. Anything for my health!)

Read on for the next two F’s.

Read more

The Five Best Things You Can Do For Yourself This Weekend

April 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm , by

springtime walk1. Lay off the sweet stuff.
Give up processed or packaged foods with added sugar for one whole day. Sure, eat fruit, whole grains or other natural complex carbs—you need them for energy. But new research shows that extra sugar raises your bad cholesterol and lowers your good cholesterol. Step away from the cupcake—and you’ll feel better and lose the cravings soon.
2. Hug a tree.
Communing with nature is one of the best built-in stress-busters we’ve got. It’s glorious, blooming spring in most parts of the country now, so before you tackle your long list of chores and errands this weekend, write at the top of the list: Go for a walk in the park (or the woods, or along the stream or up the mountain). Smell the flowers, feel the bark of a tree, dip your toe in the water, listen to the sound of the wind in the pine needles. Breathe deeply and be in the moment.
3. Let it out.
Studies have shown that when women bond with their friends, it lowers their blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol. Had a rough week? Get it out and share! Then don’t forget to ask, “How are you feeling?” You’ll both be healthier.
4. Get it on.
Studies show that in a safe, committed relationship, regular sex improves intimacy, reduces stress, burns calories, and keeps you feeling young. It also helps you sleep better.
5. Hit the hay.
Writing down what’s keeping you up at night won’t solve your problems, but it does give you permission to set them aside to deal with them tomorrow. Get into bed early with a little notebook, write down what’s bugging you, then let it go and have sweet dreams!

Photo copyright AlienCat,