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From Cheerios to Cocktails

How Female Bonds Endure



They say friends are people who know you well, but like you anyway. When it comes to women, society tends to view them as a den of adversity filled with petty jealousies and cattiness. But is that really true?

I’ve certainly had my own experiences. I met my friend Melissa Tohill when our oldest daughters were nine months old at a Gymboree class. (The girls are now 13.) I see her almost every week. Then, there’s my friend Margaret Rieck. We’ve shared laughter and tears. And, I love it when she calls us “family, not family.”

That’s the thing about mom friends. When they click, they really click. Take Kelly Leatherwood, for example. She loves to talk about six women that are more than just friends; they’re family. Moving from San Francisco, the Leatherwoods arrived in Fairfield hoping to make new friends and after a few introductions at a Mommy & Me event at the Fairfield Public Library, their group was born. The kids, still friends despite different schools and interests, span from age 4 to 17. Like her friend Deb Placey says, they’ve gone from “Cheerios to college applications.” Leatherwood says she feels so fortunate to have such a tight-knit group of women. “I feel very blessed,” she explains. “It’s like I have a second set of sisters.”

According to social worker Nicole Zangara and author of Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, meeting new friends can elicit a major fear factor and many times women will settle for a “toxic” friendship rather than seek out a healthy one.

“Finding new friends is almost like dating, you make an emotional connection and communication is key,” she says.

Zangara also made the comparison between men and women. While men may have good friendships too, they’re built on action. They’ll get together and play golf. Women make deep connections and place more emotional investment in the relationship.  That’s why women tend to become more upset when the friendship doesn’t work out.

Lasting female bonds are a Fairfield norm. Like Leatherwood, Kelly Imschweiler, Sarah Puerini, and Sarah Lehberger all met each other through The Welcome Club of Fairfield and Easton. They ended up forming long-lasting friendships as a result.

For Imschweiler, having regular contact with women who understood the trials of everyday motherhood was like a breath of fresh air. “If I told everyone, ‘Oh great, another snow day!’ I wouldn’t have to explain myself.”

Puerini moved from Fairfield and now lives outside Boston. But for Lehberger, distance doesn’t matter. “We met when our girls were around 15-18 months old, and they were our first kids. So we got to experience a lot of the firsts together and bond over the craziness of it all,” she said. “What really made us close was her ability to really see me for who I was outside of being a mom or a wife. She appreciated me as a person despite all of my imperfections.”

But what happens when playgroups become a thing of the past? According to long-time Fairfield resident Jean Whitney, you just continue to foster good bonds. Whitney attends a knitting group at Trinity Episcopal Church in Southport. If you think it’s all for little old ladies, think again. “It’s just extraordinary to be part of this group of women of all ages,” she said. “There is a need for women to have a place to feel open and honest. At my age, I have as many friends leave this world as come into it!”

Trevor Crow, a marriage and family therapist in Southport and author of Forging Healthy Connections, couldn’t agree more with Whitney’s point.  “These are people who have your best interests in mind. They’re not judging you and you feel safe.”

In the frequently cited 2002 UCLA study on how men and women handle stress, there was a huge difference. Not surprisingly, men handle stress with an increase of testosterone in a “fight or flight” manner. But when women are under stress, they have an increase in oxytocin, which calms and renders them more likely to tend to children and bond with other women.

But even more compelling, the study showed that those who had the most friends over a 9-year period decreased their risk of death by 60%. And, that follows us through the aging process. Women whose husbands died were less likely to become sick afterward when they had a close friend to get them through the experience.

So, the next time you want a girls’ night out, just tell your husband your health depends on it.

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September 2017

The 30th Annual Bigelow Tea, 5K Run, 2 Mile Fitness Walk and Kid's Fun Run will take place at Wakeman Boys & Girls Club, Southport on Sunday, September 24, 2017 from 9:00 to noon,...

Cost: $10, $15, $25

Where:
BTCC @ Wakeman Boys & Girls Club
385 Center Street
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Bigelow Tea
Telephone: 203-330-2530
Contact Name: Elaine Gavoli
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Celebrate the colonial legacy of the honey bee and learn about beekeeping, enjoy sun tea and refreshments. Make family-friendly crafts and learn about the Colonial Kitchen Garden with volunteers...

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5 Adults, $3 Children, free for children 5 & under

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT
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See your favorite authors in person during Pequot Library’s on-going Meet the Author series. This month welcome Duff McDonald, author of “The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
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The harmonica wielding frontman of Blues Traveler, John Popper returns to FTC and in The Warehouse as a duo to share "The Hits, The Stories, The Experience." From 90s jam-rock stardom...

Cost: $45 Reserved/ $35 Standing Room Members Save: $10/ticket

Where:
The Warehouse FTC
70 Sanford St
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 120-325-91036
Contact Name: Box Office
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Over 20 farms and food producers will have everything you need for beach picnics, Sunday dinner, even your weekly shopping. Five CT farms, including Fairfield’s own Little River Farm,...

Cost: Free admission.

Where:
Sherman Green
1451 Post Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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The 2017 Progressive® Insurance Norwalk Boat Show®, the Northeast’s premier in-water boating event, docks at Norwalk Cove Marina September 21-24, 2017, offering water lovers an...

Cost: $15 for Adults, Free for Kids Under 15

Where:
Norwalk Cove Marina
48 Calf Pasture Beach Road
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Stepping Stones Museum Invites Event Planners, Families, and Vendors to Venue Rental Showcase Event Stepping Stones Museum is not just a wondrous place for children. It’s also a unique...

Cost: free

Where:
Stepping Stones Museum
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT
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Sponsor: Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Telephone: 203-899-0606
Contact Name: Meg Robustelli
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FTC Film Club continues this fall with 4 nights of film. Each film will be followed by audience Q&A facilitated by a member of the faculty from the Film and Television Masters Program (FTMA) at...

Cost: $5

Where:
FTC StageOne
70 Sanford St
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 120-325-91036
Contact Name: Box Office
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Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
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Dr. Ross Frank, Director, Plains Indian Ledger Art Digital Publishing Project, and Associate Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, UCSD, will deliver a lecture titled "Picturing History:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Diffley Board Room Bellarmine Hall at Fairfield U
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 203-254-4046
Contact Name: Lauren Williams
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Picturing History: Ledger Drawings of the Plains Indians will be on view at the Fairfield University Art Museum from September 27 - December 20, 2017; an Opening Reception will take place on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum Bellarmine Hall
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 203-254-4046
Contact Name: Lauren Williams
Website »

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Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

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Join Dr. Mara Davidson and Dr. Andrew Cummins of the Shalva Clinic in Westport to discover some of the causes of anxiety and digestive problems and natural ways to treat these conditions. Some of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

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Consider you and your plus one cordially invited to the Bridal Event of the season! Wedding OR Knot makes its debut at the beautiful Sheraton Stamford located at 700 E. Main Street, Stamford, CT on...

Cost: $10

Where:
Sheraton Stamford Hotel
700 East Main Street
Stamford, CT  06904
View map »


Sponsor: Clear Vision Productions
Telephone: 203-745-4946
Contact Name: Charlene Chiaro
Website »

More information

Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

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The New Canaan Historical Society announces the opening of its exhibit Waveny – Now and Then, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Town’s purchase of Waveny Park.  The show...

Cost: $25/Members $35/Non-Members

Where:
The New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
13 Oenoke Rdg
New Canaan, CT  06840-4195
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Sponsor: The New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203-966-1776
Website »

More information

Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

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Join education staff for coffee and learn more about docent opportunities at the Fairfield Museum. Docents are trained volunteer educators who present guided tours and other education programs to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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