Monday, December 14, 2009

Julie and Julia and Julieann

December 14, 2009

I absolutely love my good friend Julieann. She's silly and funny and fun, and has a beautiful spirit and zest for life. Every once in awhile, Julieann decides it's time for all her girlfriends to get together and celebrate friendship. Whenever one of Julieann's girls' nights is on the calendar, I know that she'll be going all-out to make it a memorable one.

Not long ago, Julieann saw the movie Julie & Julia and was so inspired that she wanted to share the experience as part of a theme night. Julia Child had an exuberant, passionate way of experiencing life and love. She was also completely smitten and committed to her life-long lover and husband. Julieann loved the example and wanted to remind us all of a life lived fully in the present.

At our screening of Julie & Julia, we all brought our favorite appetizers to share (in keeping with the spirit of good friends and good eating). Prior to our arrival, Julieann had printed out favorite pictures of Julia Child and her husband and posted them around the kitchen. She had also typed up some inspirational 'Julia' quotes. Each of us chose one to share aloud a la Julia (imagine the unmistakable pitch of her voice). After each, Julieann shared what she loved about the quote, and why she felt it was applicable to all of us, a room full of forty-somethings who could be inspired by the words of Julia.

Then, of course, we watched the movie, twelve or so of us laughing and enjoying not only learning about Julia Child's life, but the life of Julie, as well--the woman who was a little lost and floundering in life who decided to 'cook her way through' Julia's cookbook while blogging about her successes and failures along the way. (The movie, by the way, was based on a real-life woman who did just that.) It gave her a sense of accomplishment and purpose, gave her confidence to become a better her.

It wasn't just about the movie, though--it never is with Julieann. She was inspired by the fact that as successful as she was, Julia didn't even start cooking until after she was forty years old. Julieann challenged us all to push ourselves to reach out for something we had always wanted to do but never pursued due to fear, or circumstances, or merely perceived lack of support. We were asked to look beyond weight loss (common, predictable) or something for our spouses or kids (many of us already focus so many goals in these areas of our lives that we forget to give permission to ourselves to seek out new personal challenges to help us grow as individuals). We each filled out a reminder notecard for ourselves, while Julieann made a master list of our goals, which ranged from learning Italian to taking up golf to finishing a screenplay to completing a doctorate.

We will be a support network for one another as the year goes on, holding each other accountable for our progress and being necessary resources, celebrating successes and being encouragement during the inevitable bumps along the road.

Was it a great film? Perhaps not. It was a good movie, though, with a great message. Even more than that, Julieann's vision for how to share the experience with us, her girlfriends, was creative and inspiring and productive. In an ideal world, that's what we should take away with us when we partake of a movie or a book or a play--something that we can internalize, relate to, and learn to grow from in some way.

I've got to wrap it up now. I've got a goal to reach, and a few good friends who are cheering for me to get there. I have a feeling they'll be checking in on me soon.

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