Ten Tips for Helping a Friend with Breast Cancer | Advice from Stacy Randall

Ten Tips for Helping a Friend with Breast Cancer | Advice from Stacy Randall

Helping Friends with Breast CancerCancer is a word, not a sentence.  ~John Diamond

Girlfriendology was founded partly because of two girlfriends dealing with cancer. I needed to be around my friends – not just them but my other female friends. I needed them for comfort and support. I knew that women do that – and we should celebrate girlfriendship.

Cancer is way too common. It happens to ourselves and our friends and family, WAY too frequently. As women, we want to take care of others and sometimes aren’t sure what to do. Guest blogger STACY RANDALL shares her insight into Ten Tips for Helping a Friend with Breast Cancer:

Finding out that a friend has breast cancer can be one of the hardest things in life. After the initial feelings of fear, confusion, and anger, you’re probably going to wonder how you can help. And although there’s no formula for how to act or what to do when you find out a friend has cancer, here are a few suggestions:

1. Don’t Compare
Although you might think it’s comforting to tell your friend about someone else you know who survived cancer, you might come across as insensitive. Your friend’s situation is very unique so don’t take that away from her.

2. Keep the Gossip on the DL (Down Low)
This one may sound obvious but if your friend is telling you about what she’s going through, don’t automatically think she’s telling everyone that information.

3. Say Anything
Sometimes when you are at a complete loss for words a simple, “I’m praying for you,” or “I’m thinking about you,” goes a long way.

4. Bring Flowers
Flowers can brighten your friend’s day. And sometimes cancer patients can lose their apatite so food isn’t always the best option.

5. Make Crafts
Depending on what stage of cancer your friend is in, making crafts together is a low key activity you can both enjoy. If she’s not up for it, making her something special will help you get your mind off what’s going on and make you feel better that you’re small gesture will brighten her day (because it will).

6. Water her Plants and Feed her Fish
Simply saying, “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help,” is too vague and winds up being unhelpful. Take the initiative by mowing her lawn, doing her laundry, watering her plans, and even feeding her goldfish.

7. Make her Laugh
Your friend will look to you to give her the funny details of life outside the hospital. If you’re not much of story teller, show her a funny e-mail, YouTube video, or card.

8. Give Distance
When your friend says she needs time to be alone, respect her. It’s nothing personal and it’s not a cry for attention either. She simply needs alone time, like we all do.

9. Take Care of yourself
Dealing with your own emotions and feelings in a healthy way will help you be the rock that she needs.

10. Shave your head
Shave your head to show support for your friend. Just like her hair will grow back so will yours.

helping a friend with breast cancerIn addition to being a great friend by supporting your friend who has breast cancer, you can also help raise awareness and help raise money to cure breast cancer every October (or year round for that matter). Participate in walks, fashion shows, marathons, pink ribbons or do any other outward act you want to support breast cancer.

STACY RANDALL is a writer for the Nebraska Medical Center. She enjoys writing on topics in the health field. The Nebraska Medical Center is the largest healthcare facility in Nebraska and is known for its cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, etc.) and heart treatment units as well as being the designated trauma unit three days a week.

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What are your tips for supporting a girlfriend who has been diagnosed with breast cancer?

Girlfriendology cancer quote, friendship quotesFor more girlfriend advice on dealing with cancer, see:

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Traveling with Friends | Girlfriend Getaway Advice from Maire Hunter

Traveling with Friends | Girlfriend Getaway Advice from Maire Hunter

Girlfriendology i love traveling, friendship quote“I love traveling with a friend and seeing places through her eyes too.” –Girlfriendology

Traveling with a girlfriend has all sorts of advantages. You have someone to play with, someone to watch the luggage while you take turns using the restroom, and (best of all) you get to spend time with a really great gal.

Guest blogger MAIRE HUNTER reminds us that a little bit of planning can make a vacation with a gal pal even better than you thought it could be! (Happy traveling, girlfriend!)

Vacations are a wonderful experience that many people enjoy. Vacationers take a wide variety of excursions and road trips to amusement parks, historic sites, different states, and sometimes different countries. About 58 percent of vacationers travel with their romantic partners, while 22 percent bring along family members or friends. Traveling with your girlfriends can be an unforgettable experience that you will talk about for years to come. However, to get the full enjoyment out of the trip, you have to plan it properly. Here are tips and advice for traveling with friends.

traveling with friends,girlfriend advicePreparing for the Trip

To have a successful trip, you have to prepare. Take the time out to write down everything you will need so that you will not forget something important.

  • Decide on a budget before you leave.
  • Write down the activities you plan to partake in and how much each activity costs. Factor in money for fuel, meals, hotel stays, souvenirs, and anything else you decide to spend money on.
  • You may want to consider travel health insurance in case you fall ill, and you will also need to obtain some type of auto insurance if you will be driving.

Pack your belongings as compactly as you can. Make sure you have enough clothing and personal items to last you the duration of the trip. Additionally, you should bring printed maps and have a fully charged GPS system on hand. Pack extra car chargers so you’re not stuck without communication.

On The Road

Once you get on the road, you have to make every effort to remain safe and stay on a steady path to your destination. Change drivers every few hours so the other drivers can get rest. Assign one person to map duty while the other drives.

Plan bathroom and food stops every four to five hours (NOTE: At Girlfriendology, we need to stop for potty breaks and coffee refills much more often!) Perform exercises with your travel mates during breaks to stay loose and relaxed. Listen to music, share stories, and talk about things that you have seen thus far in your travels. This is a great time to deepen existing friendships as you create memories together.

Mission Accomplished

Once you get to your destination, take it easy the first night. The next morning, bright and early, begin exploring the area. You can explore together or separately if you all have different plans and desires. Just be sure to coordinate a meeting place and stay in contact with your travel partners in case anyone’s plans change.

traveling with friends, towel artWhen exploring, remember the adage that there is safety in numbers, particularly if you are exploring an unfamiliar area. Not only will this deter potential criminals, it may even open up new adventures that you may have otherwise been unable (or unwilling) to do by yourself.

Traveling with friends can be a lot of fun if you take the right steps. Not only will you create new memories with some of the most important people in your life, you may even begin a tradition that will give you something to look forward to all year. So what’s stopping you? Get on the phone with your girlfriends and start planning!

MAIRE HUNTER loves to write, travel, and walk her Scottish Terrier, Pete.

What are your tips for traveling with girlfriends?

Because we girlfriends LOVE to travel:

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Helping a Girlfriend Deal with a Terminal Illness

Helping a Girlfriend Deal with a Terminal Illness

How to be a Friend to a Girlfriend with a Terminal Illness

Learning that a girlfriend has a terminal disease can be a devastating experience. In this beautiful and insightful blog, Kathlene Mullens shares her experience and tips for dealing with an ill friend.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  And boy, am I aware.  The issue of which I am aware, though, is of a girlfriend with a terminal illness that is not cancer.  Which disease she has is not important but nobody wants to hear that a loved one has a condition you’ve only heard of on House.  Her prognosis is sketchy beyond being horrible—nobody can tell her an expected timeframe for what “terminal” means for her.  But she cannot have kids.  Her mental and physical health will deteriorate in ways that are painful for her and for me to observe and contemplate.  In all likelihood, I will attend my friend’s funeral.

What do you do when a girlfriend comes to you with this news?  The answer is different for every girlfriend and every situation.  I can only share, with honesty and humility, how my girlfriend and I have handled it, and continue to handle it.

Know the stages of grief.  My favorite explanation is a cartoon giraffe in quicksand that illustrates the whole grieving process, which can take years, in under two minutes.  You’ll need to know the stages of grief to better understand your girlfriend, but also yourself.  As the girlfriend of someone with a terminal illness, you’ll have your own grief to which you must attend. Comprehension of the stages and their absolute normalcy will help you both.

Research. Knowledge is power, as our Schoolhouse Rock days taught us. As your girlfriend goes through her illness and decisions around it, you’ll be a more valuable friend if you know about the disease/condition, its prognosis and treatments, and ways loved ones can help.

Be realistic. In an effort to be supportive and positive, most people will adopt a focused “you’ll whip this, slugger” attitude towards your friend that in some ways denies her an opportunity to share the realities of what may be happening.  Being diagnosed with a terminal illness should color some of your life’s decisions and realities. There are challenges and issues that must be addressed. Refusing to acknowledge these is no help to your friend and will inhibit her in being able to confront her fears and disappointments and to take care of business that needs to be buttoned up.

Having said that, be supportive of treatments.  If my friend wanted to go to a faith healer tomorrow, I’d load up and go with her.  I am supportive of mainstream and alternative treatments that she wishes to try and talk over many of them with her, and have done enough research on her condition to be able to provide some intelligent feedback.  I believe in miracles.  My mantra is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Accommodate the changes she’s going through to make life as “normal” as possible.  My friend, for example, has more trouble getting around and driving. When possible, we walk on pavement instead of hiking trails.  I drive a lot more than I used to when we are together—and more than half the time.  These are small tweaks that allow us to maintain the normalcy that we’ve enjoyed for so long.

Help her plan. Legal documents like wills, living wills, and other directives, funeral arrangements, care plans, and anything else that she needs your advice on—help her work through these.

Be honest about your emotions. She’s your friend—she needs to know how you’re doing with all of this and that you care about her. You will cry with her and for her.  This is okay.  It’s part of loving someone.

Don’t act like she has an “expiration date.” We don’t know when my friend is going to die.  We don’t know for sure that I won’t go first through some twist of fate. But we are not spending our waning days of life together in mourning.  More than ever, life and health is a precious resource not to be wasted. But we still make plans and talk about the future as if it will happen because, as far as we know, she’ll be around for a while.

Be prepared for Beaches to tear you up ever more than it used to.  The reason that movie is so powerful is how honestly it deals with friendship and death.

Laugh as much as possible. Find the humor and bright sides where you can and help her see them as well.  CC and Hillary showed us how in Beaches.

Should you find yourself in the unfortunate role of girlfriend to a girlfriend with a terminal illness, hopefully these tips help you both.  Remember, though—this is what’s worked for us.  Every friendship and every illness and every woman is unique—be honest, act in love, acquire knowledge, have hope and be pragmatic. The rest will work itself out. Peace be with you both.travel advice girlfriends terminal illness

KATHLENE MULLENS, MLHR, SPHR is the founder and CEO of Female Equality MattersTM, The “No Glass Ceiling” Certification/Brand©. With over a decade of HR experience in four Fortune 100 companies, as well as a master’s and senior certification in the discipline, Kathlene is using that expertise in diversity, recruiting, line HR, employee development, and technology to help leverage the power of consumer spending to yield more women, with more equitable pay, in the C-suite and board rooms. Check out Kathleen on Facebook and Twitter.

What other situations between friends are difficult? Let’s share our girlfriend advice for those. Thanks! & THANKS Kathlene!

As Kathlene mentioned – October is International Breast Cancer Awareness month. Here’s inspiration you don’t want to miss:

More girlfriend advice for tough situations …

That’s why we’re here – to inspire you to BE A BETTER FRIEND – even, and especially, when life hands you or a girlfriend tough situations.

COMFORTING GIFTS FOR FRIENDS: HEALING BASKETS provides gifts to comfort and support the broken hearted. From sympathy, and loss to cancer, get well, divorce and caregiving. These gifts encourage, comfort and inspire.

What other tough situations would you like us to cover on Girlfriendology? PLEASE SHARE below!

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Not-so-black Friday | The Day After Thanksgiving

Not-so-black Friday | The Day After Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Black Friday quoteIt’s funny how during Thanksgiving we’re thankful for what we already have, but then we practically trample each other for stuff we don’t have on Black  Friday. – Unknown

I know that Black Friday got its name because it is the day many retailers go from being “in the red” to “being in the black.” I know black can be sophisticated, timeless, and chic. But for me, the day after Thanksgiving is less about black and more about…well, orange.

Much as I love my family and the Thanksgiving get-togethers, I treasure the day after. For me, it’s a day to catch up with girlfriends, find out how my “chosen family” is, and appreciate the wonderful women in my life that share their friendship every day of the year.  The day after Thanksgiving is a time for shopping (or enjoying the quiet of not shopping), for relaxing without the pressure to have the Pilgrim-perfect day, for enjoying leftovers. It’s a day for going to the gym, seeing a movie with friends, and eating leftovers. It’s a day of indulgence in things around the house, getting to projects I’ve put off for too long, and eating leftovers.

I am grateful for so many things: health, friendship, family…the list is so long. One day is not nearly enough time for all this gratitude. So I carry it to the day after Thanksgiving.

Also, I really love leftovers.

What are you thankful for on this day after Thanksgiving? Will you join me in being grateful for girlfriends and take a few minutes for orange Friday?

More Thanksgiving inspiration:

 

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Pumpkin Muffins Recipe | A Thanksgiving Tradition

Pumpkin Muffins Recipe | A Thanksgiving Tradition

friendship thanksgivingWhat are your Thanksgiving Traditions girlfriends?

Feasting with family and friends? Are you carbo-loading for Black Friday shopping? Relaxing at home (in parisian pajamas)?

Our fave friend, JUDI COGEN, shares her Thanksgiving Tradition – making this Pumpkin Muffins Recipe!

I have never been accused of being the world’s greatest chef. I have never actually set the house on fire, but I have caused the smoke detector to go off more times than I care to admit.

There are a few recipes I manage to produce consistently and flawlessly. Some of these have turned into family traditions.

One family favorite is mini pumpkin muffins. This is a recipe my mom discovered someplace. It has the advantages of

  • Being simple (even I don’t get confused)
  • Having just a few ingredients (shopping is a breeze)
  • Yielding zillions (which is good because everyone eats them even before they’re cool)
  • Tasting fabulous (need I say more?)

Because the recipe makes so many, there are plenty to serve the family with enough left over to make little packages of Thanksgiving muffin hugs for my girlfriends. Sometimes I wrap muffins in a piece of fun fabric and tie with a ribbon. Sometimes I place them in bright paper bags to deliver them. OK, fine. Both of those happen in my Martha Stewart fantasy world. Usually, how I deliver them is far less important than the fact they are delivered.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Mini Pumpkin Muffins Recipe

1 can (30 oz) Pumpkin Pie Mix (you know, the stuff in the orange can that lines grocery store shelves this time of year)

2 packages (17 oz) Nut Bread Mix (personally, I prefer making it with Date Bread mix because I don’t like nuts in my muffins. I’ve also used pumpkin bread mix in a pinch.)

1 egg, beaten

1 Cup raisins

Mix everything together (don’t you love how simple this is? Definitely my kind of recipe.)

Put batter in greased muffin tins (you can use regular sized muffin tins but then they won’t be mini muffins. I always use mini muffin tins).

NOTE: Yes, the muffin tins really need to be greased. Not just before you start baking but before you refill the tins. And yes, they still need to be greased if you use the silicon type.

Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (use a heavy hand).

Bake at 400° for 8 to 12 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the muffins you’re making and the cooperative nature of your oven.

Remove from muffin tins (I generally use a spoon to help ‘scoop’ them out if they are sticking).

Find someone else to clean the muffin tins, and try not to eat them all at once.

Enjoy!

thanksgiving recipe for friendshipHappy Thanksgiving everyone!

Judi is the Chief of Pumpkin Muffins at Girlfriendology.com. She can currently be found snarfing muffins and trying not to burn dinner.

And here’s our Thanksgiving Recipe for Friendship!

More girlfriend inspiration on Thanksgiving: (check these out for great Thanksgiving quotes and videos to share!)

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Losing the Girls | A Story About Breast Cancer from Girlfriend Survivor Anne Day

Losing the Girls | A Story About Breast Cancer from Girlfriend Survivor Anne Day

During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month we are featuring wonderful stories from girlfriends who have been touched in some way by breast cancer.

How to be a better friend to a girlfriend with cancerToday’s guest blog is by ANNE DAY. Her story will make you smile, maybe cry a little, and hopefully, it will remind you how important early detection is.

Ten years ago — January 9, 2005, to be precise — I lost two close friends. I’d known them all my life; we’d hung out and even worked together. It was a true loss, and life was not the same without them.

That’s the date when I had my double mastectomy.

Now, this was my second bout with breast cancer. The first had been when I was thirty-nine and my daughters were little. Like many women, I found that first lump myself. It had spread to my lymph nodes, so I had the full regime — lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation.

Denial was my main coping strategy. I wasn’t going to die; that just wasn’t an option. I simply had to get through this, and my life would continue as before. But of course it didn’t.

I learned a lot through those tough months and it was my girlfriends who got me through it. Taking me home after chemo, cooking meals, looking after my daughters, sending me cards and letters saying how much they loved me. I felt enveloped and cocooned in a sea of their love.

But some friends just totally could not handle it. They didn’t know what to say, were scared for me, and for themselves, and just disappeared. I decided that this was their problem, not mine, and I tried not to take it personally.

On the other hand, mere acquaintances just appeared with random acts of kindness. One neighbor would bring dinners for the family on days when I had chemo. My daughters so loved her cooking that they asked if she did breakfasts.

I chose to stay working. It gave our lives some normalcy. I didn’t want to be sitting at home having a pity party, and probably, on reflection, I also didn’t want to spend too much time really thinking about what was happening or, more to the point, what could happen.

But it wasn’t all bad either—it sure changes your attitude and makes you focus on what’s important. I tried not to sweat the small stuff. I also found out how much people loved me.

After fifteen years, I got lulled into believing I was safe. But I had forgotten that once you are a member of the exclusive C Club, your membership never really expires. And sure enough, in 2005, I had to pay my dues again. This time I had decided that I wanted both breasts removed. As I explained to my girlfriend, “I want a level playing field.”

Our breasts are very much part of our womanhood. At first I didn’t like seeing myself in the mirror; although, with both gone, I felt less disfigured.  But my body is not who I am; it is not my essence.

As someone who works with women, I felt I had a responsibility to speak out and share my news with Company of Women members. I wanted to encourage them to go for the mammograms, do the self-check, and show that having cancer is no longer a death sentence.

Injecting some humor into the situation, I talked about being “upfront,” making a “clean breast” of what was happening to me, and the fact that as a weight-loss strategy it stunk, because they only weighed two pounds at the most.

There was a hush in the room at first, as the women grappled with the news. Some cried; others looked horrified, likely reflecting on how they would feel if they lost their breasts. But there was laughter, too. As I was quick to point out, I was not planning to “check out” as I had too much to do.

I was later flooded with cards and letters of love from people. It was like hearing the eulogies at your funeral without having to die first.

So much of life we take for granted, but when it all could disappear just like that, you learn to enjoy the moment, speak your truth, and be who you are meant to be.

Plus, the really good news — no more mammograms!

ANNE DAY is the founder of Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. She is the author of Day by Day – Tales of business, life and everything in between. You can reach her at anneday@companyofwomen.ca or www.companyofwomen.ca or follow her blog at www.companyofwomen.blogspot.com

Thanks Anne for this touching story and wonderful reminder for taking care of ourselves, our girlfriends and our bodies.

Who has been there for you when you needed them? How could you be a better friend to a friend going through cancer? Share in the comments.

For more girlfriend advice on cancer and female friendships, check out these blog posts:

That’s why we’re here – to inspire you to BE A BETTER FRIEND – even, and especially, when life hands you or a girlfriend tough situations.

COMFORTING GIFTS FOR FRIENDS: HEALING BASKETS provides gifts to comfort and support the broken hearted. From sympathy, and loss to cancer, get well, divorce and caregiving. These gifts encourage, comfort and inspire.

What other tough situations would you like us to cover on Girlfriendology? PLEASE SHARE below!

A Free Resource Library of Great Girlfriend Advice?!

  • Celebration Ideas & checklists
  • Friendly Financial Advice
  • Tempting Travel tips
  • FREE eBooks
  • Coloring book pages
  • Quotes to share with Friends 
Female Friend
Girlfriendology Girlfriend Gift Finder

^Girlfriend Gift Finder for:

  • Birthday Gifts for Women
  • Holiday Gifts - Christmas Gifts, Mother's Day Gifts, Valentine's Day Gifts
  • Cheer up Gifts, Sympathy Gifts, Just Because Gifts, Congrats, Housewarming, Hostess Gifts & More!

<------- What's NEW in the Free Resource Library?

  • 150 Friendship Quotes
  • 3 FREE eBooks - including Resumes & Cover Letters
  • 2 Inspirational Quote Coloring Book Pages
  • JUST ADDED: Tips to make Grocery Shopping Easier
  • Girlfriend Trip Beach Recommendations
  • Money-saving Tips & Sites
  • & more!!