Fair and foul weather friends

Two Women’s Stories: Foul Weather Friends

What a gift we have been given in this holiday season.
For several years we have encouraged women to write to us about
their own experiences in midlife. We have also encouraged the
use of support as a coping technique to help women through
transitions. Recently we received a letter from two women
that validates both the importance of support and the creativity
of our readers. Here is their story as they both speak.

From Sally:

“Do you ever marvel at divine intervention where God quietly
takes you by the hand and says, ‘Go this way.'”

I first met Debbie Harwell at our husbands’ company conference
in June 2000. I, Sally Fugazi, suggested we “keep in touch”
via e-mails when we returned to our respective homes in
different cities. Thus began our unlikely journey from
corporate wives to best friends and, ultimately, authors of
a women’s e-zine and book.

“Life is too short to be miserable!”

Odd but true, we became friends over the cyber waves within weeks.
Through e-mail conversations, we shared our joys & traumas as
midlife family women: teenage children, elderly parents,
grandchildren, hormones, biopsies, loose skin, and even clinical
depression–to name a few daily issues! Progressing to the more
intimate, honest language of best friends, we mentored each other
through the dark and light times.

From Debbie:

“…amazing growth can come from the most devastating events…”

Just three months into our trade of friendly e-mails, I began
suffering from depression/anxiety brought on by the stress of
caring for my aging parents and my father’s death. Panic attacks
prevented me from even walking out the door. When I confided this
to Sally, she responded with the most comforting words I’d ever
heard, “I have been where you are.”

Knowing Sally had survived depression/anxiety to live a normal
life again gave me my first ray of hope. Mentoring me via our
e-mails, Sal offered guidance on how to find the right medical
help; she provided “comic relief,” making me laugh on days I
thought I’d never laugh again; and she encouraged me to develop
my long-buried spirituality. Having a friend’s support gave me
strength. Humor kept life in perspective. Spirituality provided
comfort and the confidence to know I could handle future

Surprisingly, even during the worst days, I was able to give
something back to Sally in return, making her smile and offering
advice for her own midlife struggles. I was her sounding board:
the listener who could give her encouragement and a new
perspective. We became “candles in the darkness” for one

Today, midlife transitions continue to arise and test us
physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Sally’s
son is an Army Specialist manning an Abrams tank in Iraq.
My husband lost his job to corporate downsizing just as my
youngest child was leaving for college. Being two very different
women, I safely operate “inside the box” while Sal thrives
working “outside the box.” Our common ground is our continued
reliance on friendship, humor, & faith as valuable tools for
surviving the latest transitions with a positive attitude and
a smile on our face!

From Sally:

“…if you think we should share this pile of blah, blah, blah
with other women…”

When Deb discovered she had inadvertently saved all our e-mails,
it took her months to convince me that we should compile them
into a book with the goal of helping other women on their
journey. We chose 1 PM, Sept. 11, 2001, to begin our editing.
After our world was rocked that morning, we felt the spirit of
being “candles” was needed more than ever and decided to keep
our appointment and to dedicate our book to helping others
through darkness. The following spring, we launched
www.candlesinthedarkness.com, an e-zine to share information,
ideas and inspiration on topics of interest to women.

Fast forward 3 years: our true story is now a book.
Candles in the Darkness, released in April 2004, is proving Deb
right: our women readers are laughing, crying, and identifying
with our experiences, and now, asking for a sequel! We’ll have to
check our e-mails…


Stepping Stones: The Path They Following in Building
a Relationship

This dialogue from Debbie and Sally, newly published authors,
suggests several means of dealing with our own life transitions.

1. Debbie and Sally are open to new experiences and willing to
get on the information highway. In this high tech era, e-mail
offers easy, instant and inexpensive communication. It frees
them from time and place constraints. There is no need for
answering machines, no worry about missed messages, no concern
about changes in time zones or long distance rates. Sally and
Debbie take advantage of this modern miracle and continue to
reap its benefits.

** Who are the people you could re-connect with through new
** How could your life be enriched by learning and applying
new technology?

2. They were strangers when they met, yet they felt an instant
connection. Both took a risk and trusted each other with
intimate details of their lives. They shared feelings of anxiety,
depression and fear. The risk paid off! They found a treasure of
mutual support and friendship that gave them strength through
difficult times.

** Is there someone you have been reluctant to ask who could
help you through difficulties?
** Could you allow yourself to share your own anxieties and
trust that someone could listen and understand?

3. After experiencing losses, these women used the powerful
coping tools of humor and spirituality to enable them to find
both meaning and closure.

** What methods have helped you cope in the past?
** How could you expand your coping tool kit now?

4. Both Sally and Debbie profit from the contact with each other.
Although they function differently, they celebrate their
differences and still find common ground. They recognize the
mutuality of a friendship and both women grow from the infusion
of new energy.

** Who are the people in your life whose differences can
enrich you?
** In what ways does your life change when you support a

Both Sally and Debbie have the wisdom to realize that transitions
are constant – that change is the only certainty in life.
They know that with practical coping tools, including their
friendship, they can maneuver through their transitions now and
in the future.


Recommended Resources: Websites to Explore

Sally and Debbie have mined their own experiences, their e-mail
relationship, and started a new chapter in their own lives.
They are now published authors of “Candles in the Darkness” and
operate a stimulating website, www.CandlesInTheDarkness.com.

We invite you to re-visit our website, www.HerMentorCenter.com,
and the article on support. While you are there, you can click
on the “Archives” and re-read some of the Stepping Stones
Newsletters. Perhaps these stories could provide support as
you experience your own transitions.

As a meaningful holiday gesture for your “friends who have
everything” why not suggest that they subscribe to our
newsletter for new ideas, effective techniques, and support.


Our Invitation to You

Do you have your own transition story? We invite you to
share it with our readers for the benefit of women who
themselves may be dealing with similar changes. The skills you
used may be Stepping Stones for others. If you are interested,
please e-mail us at mentors@HerMentorCenter.com

(c) HerMentorCenter, 2004. All rights reserved. The above
material may not be copied to another web site without the
express permission of HerMentorCenter.com.