Friday, January 20, 2006

Back in the High Life... again!

I don't get out enough. I don't get together with women friends nearly enough. I am a full-time, at home, homeschooling mother, and I don't get out enough. So this morning I got out. I went out. I worked out, showered, got dressed, put on my boots, climbed into my new car (Happy Birthday to me!), and drove to the home of a complete stranger to spend two hours with women I barely know.

Sounds odd, I know, but I'm a member of a group here in Charlotte called the South Side Sisters. It's a group of about 40 black women that gathers one Friday morning each month to talk, laugh, tell stories, recommend doctors, gyms, and great places to shop. We tell each other's what's going on, who's doing what, and whose husband has changed jobs. We tell stories of our recent travels, travails, and triumphs. Some of us are real estate agents, Mary Kay ladies, doctors, teachers, computer consultants, jewelry designers, volunteer fundraisers, and professional shoppers. Now that I think about the fine threads we all were wearing, I suspect that we all fit into that last group.

We are all married women. Most of us are mothers, and all of us are determined to make the best of the blessed lives we lead. Every month there are newcomers, new residents of Charlotte, or newly moved into South Charlotte - which I why I know very few of them very well. The women in the group invite their new neighbors, friends from church, fellow parents at their children's schools, and we come together simply to celebrate our lives. No agenda. No political discussions. No religious debates. Just sisters on the South side of Charlotte befriending other sisters. Eating good food, drinking good coffee, and having a good time.

Adrienne, the woman who hosted the Sisters this morning, lives in a beautiful home overlooking a beautiful golf course and is the mother of three beautiful children. She has a scrapbooking room in her basement (there aren't many basements in Charlotte... they must have paid a sizeable chunk of change for that house!) that inspired us all to work harder to make the time and claim the space to do what we love. One woman told of numerous volunteer opportunities in and around Charlotte. Another woman asked for help in planning a middle school social event so that our pre-teen children can get to know and care for each other just as we, their mothers, know and care for each other. The computer consultant of the bunch and one of the real estate agents approached me and asked if I'd be willing to do some freelance writing for their businesses.

More than once during the course of the morning, I looked around at the women there. Manicured nails. Meticulously made-up faces. Carefully coiffed hair. Nearly every earlobe, neck, wrist, and finger glittered with something. Leopard print bags and pointy-toed boots. Chanel. Ralph Lauren. St. John. Eileen Fisher. Leather this. Suede that. Diamond the other. Fur trim abounded. In the driveway and on the street was yet more bling: BMW. Jaguar. Land Rover. Escalade. Decadent. Rich. Lush. It was over the top. The sum total of the wealth represented there this morning had to approach $50 million. And there I was, soaking it all in, listening, joining in with the laughter, telling stories of my own, and awash in gratitude.

I am grateful to live in a place where such extravagance is the norm. I am grateful to know so many strong, intelligent, and strikingly beautiful women. I am grateful that every one of those women was black; it may sound strange, but before coming to Charlotte and joining this group, I had never been in a room with so many black women who were so well off. I really like not being the "only fly in the buttermilk." On yet another gorgeous January day in Charlotte, I am grateful to be alive, healthy, strong, and surrounded by so many women who look and live a lot like I do.

I was honored that before we ate, they asked me to pray. To give God thanks for the bounty that we take so much for granted, to ask Him to keep us mindful of all that He has done and all that we can do because of all that we have. My prayer was and is that we never lose sight of what is possible when we work hard, when we are good stewards of what we have, and when we take the time to enjoy the benefits of work well done and a life well-lived. May we never lose sight of the inestimable value of new and old friends, of shoulders to lean on in tough times, of ringing, loud laughter in the good ones, and of the great pleasure of living well through it all.

In a world that is being torn apart by war, poverty, hunger, pain, and fear, for a few hours this morning we came together in the pursuit of peace, fullness, jubilation, relaxation, exhiliration, and getting a glimpse of the magazine-worthy home of yet another South Side Sister.

I definitely need to get out more.
Here's to a great life!

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