Thursday, October 16, 2008

Women Need Women by Michele Ashman Bell

My most recent book A Modest Proposal is the first book in a new series about five women who went to high school together. Each year they have a reunion to reconnect with each other and celebrate their friendship.

The main reason I even came up with this idea was the fact that I’ve learned over the years that women need women. We need men too, I’m not saying that, but there is nothing that can compare to that bond of sisterhood and friendship that comes from other women. As I’ve done booksignings at Women’s Conference at BYU over the years, I’ve spoken to many women who tell me they come every year with groups of friends, or sisters, or neighbors, etc… I realized that this series would ring true for most women because of the support groups we naturally create for ourselves out of the need to have women in our lives for friendship, support and strength.

I have been blessed to have the example of strong, amazing women in my life. For the majority of my adult life I had both of my grandmothers with me. Several years ago I lost my matriarchal grandmother, but my dad’s mom is still alive, at 99! Both of these women were pillars of strength, vital, active women who shaped me and showed me how to face challenges head on and not back down. They taught me that a testimony acts as a life preserver during the storms of life.

My mother has also blessed my life immensely with her powerful example of Christlike love and devotion to family. She’s an amazing woman, who has raised four incredible daughters, and never waivered in her faith, no matter what we put her through. Her example continues to inspire me everyday.

My three sisters are my most valued and important friends in my life. I have to include my niece in that too, because she is like a sister to me. These women provide me with friendship, laughter, support and love. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend eternity with than these wonderful, crazy girls. When I think of stories like Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility it is the element of sisterhood that gives them such a profound and lasting quality to make them the classics they are. I feel this with my sisters, a thousand percent.

My daughters and daughter-in-law have forged this same bond. They are my children, but they are also my friends. Whether we are shopping in New York or watching chick flicks at home, we have more fun together than I can even begin to explain. There is a level of understanding and acceptance that allows us to be who we are and feel safe doing so.

I am blessed to have many friends in the writing community. I have met some of the most incredibly supportive and encouraging people through my career as an author. I can’t speak for the national market, I would imagine the competition is fierce, but in the LDS community, there is a wonderful and special bond we share and I am so thankful for the wonderful people I am able to associate with. The women of this blog are especially dear to me and have always been there for me whenever I’ve needed them. I love them as sisters and definitely as friends that will last for eternity.

And finally, the women I know where I teach aerobics. We spend several hours a week, at six a.m. together, and if that doesn’t forge a friendship, nothing will. I keep saying I’m going to retire someday (I’ve been teaching twenty-eight years), but these women are so important to me, I don’t want to ever lost that connection with them (plus the fact that I’d gain fifty pounds) so I keep teaching and, bless their hearts, they keep coming. We figure, we’re all growing old together so we might as well keep working out while we’re doing it.

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about; experiencing life, overcoming challenges, laughing, crying and growing old together?

To all these wonderful women in my life who bless me more than words could ever express, thank you. My challenge for you today is to take a moment and tell all of the wonderful, special women in your life how much you appreciate them and love them. And even better, eat some chocolate together.


Jeri Gilchrist said...

What a beautiful post, Michele. I loved reading it. I am grateful for the women who put up with me, support me, and pull me through the tough times too. There are those that I know will always be there and never let me down. What a truly great blessing they are in my life! I also have three older sisters besides me in our family and every one of us are as different as night and day yet I know if I were ever in need of anything, they'd all coming running. I had to laugh at the chocolate comment... at work if we have a "challenging day" it never fails, someone hands you a chocolate.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

So true, Michele. I love my sisters so much, and I have a dear friend I see almost daily whom I call the sister of my heart.

I wish I lived closer to you- I'd come and do aerobics with you at 6 a.m.!!

Cheri J. Crane said...

Amen, Michele. =)Sisters of the heart are crucial.