As September draws to a close, I want to introduce you guys to a new monthly segment I am starting here called “Long Distance Coffee Date”. Every month I’ll pose a question to myself and three of my dearest friends and we’ll share our stories and hard won wisdom. Some months will be more serious than others, but these women have been with me through so many ups and downs in my life and I am better for having their insight and guidance to help me navigate this crazy thing called life. This month I wanted to do a bit of a meet and greet, have the ladies introduce themselves and share a little bit about how we met and the course of our friendship over the years. I’ll admit they got me a little misty eyed this time around 🙂
I’m a Florida native, where I married my college sweetheart, John; received my Masters of Public Administration from Florida State University; served children and families as a substitute teacher and Children’s Ministry Assistant Director at Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church; and adopted a rambunctious, but sweet yellow lab. Since moving to Charlotte, NC four years ago, I’ve welcomed my most important role as mom and decided to embrace home making for a season. My husband and I are raising our two daughters, Abigail (4) and Claire (2) through Christ’s love. I enjoy reading, travel, artsy-craftsy adventures, the beach, and grilling out with friends and family. I’m a member of Fort Mill Mother’s of Preschoolers (MOPS), Harrison UMC, and the YMCA.
I’m thrilled to be a guest with you! I met Julie as a freshman in the study of FSU’s Smith Hall. She was one of the first people I met in our new home away from home. We lived in that study for several nights with the water fountain and wall of windows until dorm rooms became available to us. I wish I could say it was a “meet cute” if I may reference The Holiday; where she was looking for a bottom bunk and I a top bunk. It was not. We were both emotional messes! Lol! I can say that encounter was a blessing! We were fast friends. We even chose to rent off-campus housing together (with Octavian 😘) the following year. I miss our craft nights and Project Runway marathons! Julie and I had each other’s backs no matter what, then and now. I just love her and that we’re friends!
My name is Verhanika and I’m a work from home mom to my one year old son, Ronan. I live in the Emerald City, Seattle, Washington and spend most of my days chasing around my toddler, working with organizations as a consultant through my business, Willhelm Consulting, and spending as much time as I can with my husband, who is a stagehand at one of the big theatres in town. I’m really into fitness (as I type this I’m dressed for a workout I’m going to do while my son naps) and then moving as little as possible by reading a lot. I love a chocolate chai latte and a pastry as a mid-morning, mid-afternoon, or evening treat. I work hard to love my body for exactly as it is and am active in the Health At Every Size movement. My biggest goals in life are to be happy and healthy, raise my beautiful son to be a caring, compassionate, strong man, and to make work a place most people want to be by making organizations function better.
When I think back to the day I met Julie I get a little embarrassed. It was the first day of a Sociology class I had signed up for as a freshman at Florida State University. I walked into a giant lecture hall and saw a sprinkling of people already inside. Rather than find an empty seat far away from anyone else, which is what I would have normally done and would probably do today, I sat right next to Julie. I think we sat in silence for about 2 minutes before I turned to her and said, “Hi, I’m Verhanika.” If that’s not what actually happened, then Julie can totally correct me, but I remember feeling brave at the time, when now I realize I probably came across as a total weirdo.
Fortunately, Julie is forgiving of weirdos and it started one of the best friendships I’ve had in my entire life. I call Julie my best girlfriend to anyone I talk to about her. She is my go-to for seriously girly things like fashion, make up, boy trouble (because you can still have boy trouble when you’re married) and part of my board of advisors for really tough choices.
We’ve shared many meals together, she made my veil for my wedding and fixed my bustle on my wedding gown when it wasn’t laying how I thought it should on the day of my wedding. Hell, she even literally zipped me into my wedding gown when my other helpers were panicking that it wasn’t going to zip. I remember being really nervous since I had gained about 10 pounds since I had bought my dress and it was feeling really tight at my last fitting. When the friend who had her hands on the zipper said, “It’s not going up,” Julie hip-checked her in the most polite way possible and said “Breathe in…and out,” and zip! Just like that I was dressed for my wedding.
I would take her into battle with me. She is amazing in a crisis both for her ability to make stuff happen and because she knows how to cut tension with a well-executed sarcastic comment. Since she wants the world to be pretty, she also knows how to find beauty in the things I overlook and is frequently reminding me that I am a badass and that I can always afford more time for stopping to smell pretty flowers.
I miss her so much some times living in opposite corners of the country. It’s always during my almost-weekly calls with her that I remember how badly I want a teleporter made so we can have tea together and go lipstick shopping.
I am so excited – and SO grateful – for the opportunity to contribute to this space. It really is surreal waking up one day and realizing you are 31 years old, and your closest friends (you included) are fully functioning adult people with awesome jobs, hobbies, families, etc. We are finally past the stage of “planning” for the future and on to the “doing” of life. What else can we focus on but pure delightful gratitude? Gratitude for life, gratitude for lasting friendships, and in this crazy competitive, judgmental, often unkind world, gratitude for simply having what we need – and most times even a little more than that. 🙂
For me, there are few things higher on my gratitude list than this amazing friendship that Julie and I have. It has survived distance, diversity, and now 26 years of growth/change/metamorphosis into what I know will undoubtedly be a lifelong sisterhood. I do not take it for granted, as I know that MOST people grow into adulthood without the anchor of a lifelong friendship. There is so much value in having that one person that is, has, and will always be there. Here are 3 Lessons in Friendship that I learned from my BFF…
- Share: Share everything. Share your best ideas, your deepest secrets, your talents, etc. I can’t begin to say how many of our weekly phone conversations have been spent emptying our minds of every fantastic idea that we have (and even the ones that haven’t been so great – I.e. that relationship I let go on way too long, or those jeans I shouldn’t have bought that made my butt look flat as a pancake… hey, live and learn right?) I still remember when Julie told me she wanted to start this blog space – and the countless hours thereafter spend discussing ideas, angles, post topics… And the time I decided (quite literally on a whim) to quit my job and move 300 miles away to pursue my life dream of teaching/living/breathing Yoga full time. Every major decision I have made in the past 10 years has been filtered through the eyes and ears of my BFF, and her unfaltering support has brought me farther than my own timid heart ever could.
- Be There: This one is super simple. Friendship is a full-time job… Make the time! Whether we were living across the yard in the same apartment complex, or 300 miles away, there has never been a time that I needed guidance or support that she wasn’t there. When I call, she answers. Every time. Granted, probably wondering if I am going to be eager to share a funny story or crying hysterically over some ridiculous life drama (what can I say, I’m a crier!) but nevertheless READY to put on that BFF hat and jump right in. Unfortunately, due to my ridiculous need to keep my phone volume off, I miss way more calls than she does, but I always try to get right back. It’s never kind to keep a good friend waiting.
- Show GRATITUDE: My favorite, always! A good friend will go out of their way for you at every turn – and you should do the same! But just like in every relationship, showing gratitude and appreciation is key. It’s the water that keeps the soil moist so that beautiful flowers can grow. Julie has supported me in every way possible over the years – emotionally, spiritually, sometimes financially (has YOUR BFF ever held a mini bake sale to collect funds for your corgi’s ridiculously high vet bill?) and it is so important to me that she knows how much it means. Sure, our birthday/Christmas gifts are often times on a 6-month lag, but we always take the time to think of each other in the most caring and thoughtful ways.
So now here we are almost 3 decades later. Julie is a lifestyle blogger with an amazing husband, a beautiful home, and a gigantic heart. Her creativity far exceeds that of anybody else I know and she shares it with the world daily, changing every person she comes in contact with for the better. And I am living a true dream teaching Yoga full time, working with children, building an awesome family, giving back to my community whenever I can. At this point I can’t recall where we actually met… The bus stop? The cafeteria? Outside our kindergarten classrooms? But I can say with complete confidence that we would not be as bold, outgoing, adventurous, and all around confident in this journey to finding our BEST lives if we hadn’t had the love and support we’ve provided each other over these years.
If you have a lifelong BFF, give them a call right now and tell them you love them and you couldn’t do this crazy life journey without them. If you haven’t found that soul sister companion just yet, don’t fret! It’s never too late. And to my BFF, let’s chat this week about what baked goods we can create that will best kick off the holiday season when I come up that way in the next few weeks. I’m thinking spiced pumpkin bread… 😉
Namaste, Vylette readers!