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Praise for the Power of the Girlfriend

photo by Roya Ann Miller on Unsplash

March 2023 was my first bout with COVID. In personal terms, it was disruptive. In a larger context, connection to the reality of our circumstances magnified the crumminess. (That is: UGH. This is happening to all of us). Part of the disruption was fixed by changing an itinerary, allowing a long-awaited trip south. The larger experience was framed and calmed by current medical knowledge and guidance. The virus cleared. Travel afterward became a journey into warmth—that of another climate, and into the healing space of female friendships.

It Takes All Kinds

There are so many kinds of girlfriends. Workplace comrades, lunch buddies, peeps you can count on. The inner circle. I love them all. For me, there are others:

Hiking Friends

In the height of the pandemic, these were the only available real-life contacts outside the house. But there have been hundreds of instances—before that time and since—of meeting in a parking lot, relacing our boots, and donning our packs. We walk into the expanse of the woods and conversations open; some are as big as the terrain, some as small as a newt in the path. In the end, every word dissipates into the atmosphere, the trees breathing in all we have breathed out, recycling the energy of it all, holding us to nothing.

Fellow Travelers

Office work gave me colleagues. Some were brilliant, some lovable, most of them highly creative. My days with work girlfriends are over, but similar relationships are coming by way of volunteer work, a yoga class, and an online coaches’ group. Shared concerns knit us together. Time with each other comes and goes on a schedule; relationships and communal knowledge evolve.

This little girl has the basics of female friendships down already. She shared meals, couch talk, and fun experiences with me. Besties forever, I hope.


Precious and few are those with whom you can curl up on a couch to drink tea or eat ice cream. Often, it’s the end of the day. Throw pillows carve out a sacred space; it’s time for truth telling. Openness thrives here, advice can be sought and offered, laughter lights the way.

Others Matter

My transition to new work during COVID hasn’t always been easy. There is a lot of time in the house by myself. Lack of direction and structure challenge me. Many solutions are based in learning to split my time between tasks, allocate my resources, and divide my attentions effectively. Split, allocate, divide.

Share means to split, allocate, or divide between two or more people. What a great feeling it was to flex days with others.

There is beauty in falling comfortably into preparing a meal or doing some gardening chores together; magic in finding a shared pace, whether on an ambling walk in a museum. Inviting someone to show something they’ve done, something they love, or something they are making is generosity of the heart. Hearing and seeing each other brings us a bit more alive.

All this is the basis of my female friendships, and a significant part of my feeling better in all the big experiences we’re having on this planet. The warmth of these days magnified appreciation for all the women in my life—those I visited, and those I have returned to.

Much love, ladies.

Susan McDowell is a personal coach and mindful outdoor guide based in Central Vermont.
Read more of her blog here.