The World Wise Beauty ‘Passioneer Series’
Excited to present my next featured ‘Passioneer’ and to include her newly released book ‘Frientimacy’ to WWB’s Passioneer’s Library. Shasta Nelson, M.Div has previously been featured here at World Wise Beauty when I selected her as WWB Icon in 2013
. If you don’t know what M.Div at the end of her name means here is a quick overview
for you. In short she has a Master’s degree in religion. Regardless of your religious affiliation, you will discover through Shasta’s books, that she is one very ‘soulful’ woman who is deeply committed to improving our intimate connections to one another.
Shasta’s first book, a runaway bestseller ‘Friendships Just Don’t Happen’
, was so inspiring to women because she helped so many of us realize how important friendships are to our health and well-being. Beyond her book, she also created tools via her Girlfriend Circles
website to help women around the world connect and make new friends. In addition to being featured at World Wise Beauty, Shasta has been on the Today show, Katie Couric’s show Katie, The Early Show, and on Fox Extra. She’s been consulted on friendship matters by writers and reporters from such magazines as Cosmopolitan, More, Real Simple, Redbook, and Good Housekeeping and from such newspapers as The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle. On her way to being the world’s best friend, let’s learn more about Shasta’s new book and why the word ‘Frientmacy’ is so meaningful to us all in today’s disconnected world.
Lauroly Opening: Welcome back Shasta! I am so pleased to have you back at World Wise Beauty. I enjoyed our last Q&A featuring your first book “Friendships Don’t Just Happen!’ so much and remember thinking “what a great friend you must be!” I selected you back then as a WWB Icon because your work and focus is driven by insight and wisdom, and you truly are advancing wellness culture. The truth is you are now becoming a good friend to women around the world, through your books and your Girlfriend Circles community. What a great mission you have to inspire friendships around the world! You really believe healthy friendships can save the world? Tell us why…
Shasta Nelson M.Div, Author of ‘Frientimacy’
Shasta Nelson: I do! Healthy relationships are the most important health issue of our times— physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Loneliness is strongly correlated to cognitive decline, increased stress, a weakened immune system, unhappiness, and a shorter life. When we are in healthy relationships with others we are truly healthier and happier. Plus, as I teach in my new book, our relationships are where we do most of our personal and spiritual growth so they are not only the method for greater health and vitality but also the vehicle for greater maturity and peace. For example, you can read a book on boundaries or listen to a sermon on forgiveness— but it’s only in our relationships where we get to practice those life growing habits. Our friendships are like the health clubs of our souls!
Lauroly Q- What a great term! Health clubs for our souls. I loved your title for the book too too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more of us used your term “Frientimacy’ rather than ‘Frenemy’. Frenemy is such a cynical term and really says something about how our society is giving into superficial relationships and connections. Yes, we do have to get along with people we don’t like in the real world, but we don’t need to collect them as friends. Your quote in the book “Most of our loneliness isn’t from not knowing enough people, but from not feeling close enough to a few” is so profound. It gets right to the heart of intimacy gone missing in our friendships. You share in the book the idea that our culture isn’t really conducive to developing good friendships that would foster intimacy. Sounds disheartening, but that’s why your book and personal mission is so very important! Expand a little on our cultural challenges and how they can create what you call intimacy gaps in our friendships…
Shasta Nelson: Exactly. There should be no such thing as a frenemy; if we’re in relationship with someone where there is more pain than reward, then it is not a friendship! In fact positivity is one of the three requirements of friendship— if the relationship isn’t satisfying then it needs to be either repaired or acknowledged as being something other than a friendship. And that in itself is one of the challenges of our culture is that we prefer to avoid conflict instead of lean in with the hopes of improving things. We often choose to put up with things as long as we can and then end it when we can’t tolerate it anymore, but the path that leads to greater intimacy usually involves some disappointment and hurt that have been worked through at some point. But probably the biggest culprit of our culture not being conducive to intimacy is that our time with others feels so limited; we live in a world where we are so busy, where productivity and efficiency are prioritized, and where stress leaves us exhausted. For too many of us, scheduling in time with friends simply becomes one more to-do item on our task list.
Lauroly Q- Another great quote from your book is “we don’t need better friends, we need better friendships’. I think this is just so very wise, and the meaning behind it relates to all our relationships. When you are living in a ‘me focused’ and ‘everybody is replaceable society’ you are not really doing a lot of self-reflection work. How many of us ask ‘How can I be a better friend’? A good portion of your book focuses on obstacles to intimacy and there is so much wisdom to be found on every page. You say when one feels a lack of intimacy, the first thing to explore is ourselves. Surprise to many I am sure! You used a metaphor of ‘intimacy as exercise’ which resonates so much with me. It is true that so many people think “intimacy should come easy without sweat, effort or ache.” You invite your readers to not avoid emotional or relational sweat. Why should friendship be hard?
Shasta Nelson: It’s not that it should be hard, but rather that it’s impossible to be in relationship with someone else and not bump into unmet expectations, disappointments, or frustrations at their actions and choices. So what can feel hard is figuring out how to respond to those very common experiences. Our tendency is to take things personally, to blame them, or to stuff our feelings. Intimacy as exercise reminds us that our relationships are an invitation to practice new skills and grow more healthy. We go to the gym understanding that we’re going to sweat and feel sore, but we do it because we value the results. Likewise, it’s my hope that we’ll lean into moments that might feel awkward because we value the intimacy that is on the other side of honest conversations, shared feelings, and forgiveness. That’s not to say friendships should be hard or that pain has to be a part of every relationship, but we’ll inevitably face challenges in every relationship and those are our moments to practice new skills that can lead to better results.
Lauroly Q- I will keep saying this–there is so much wisdom and insight in this book. You have tackled many important topics when it comes to human connections. You really emphasized the importance of ‘vulnerability’. To understand what that means we only have to think of that expression ‘she has seen me at my worst and loves me anyway.’ To be vulnerable is to expose parts of ourselves that aren’t picture perfect. In a society that has become so obsessed with the illusion of perfection, how do people learn to let their guard down and be vulnerable? When is it safe? I think you address this so wisely in your book.
Shasta Nelson: Yes it was really important to me to talk about how to do vulnerability in a safe way, which means essentially to do it in conjunction with the other two requirements of friendship. I teach something called the Frientimacy Triangle which gives us a visual understanding of how to reveal and share in a way that is incremental and intentional. In a nutshell— we can’t just keep telling people to go be vulnerable or to think that the way to intimacy is vomiting our life story on new friends. We want to share ourselves in a way that feels good to us and builds the relationships deeper!
Lauroly Closing: Shasta I hope everyone can see why I selected you as a WWB ICON. You are truly a World Wise Beauty! We just touched on just some of the wise ideas you share in ‘Frientimacy’. There is so much more in the book. It really is very thought-provoking book while also being very digestible. This impressed me in particular, because you took a very big subject like ‘intimacy’ and help us really understand it through the lens of friendship. You walk us through the hard and messy stuff and also share authentic parts of yourself, which makes you all the more endearing. The world has found a real friend in you, and we are lucky to know you! I of course encourage everyone to buy her book and join her in the mission of making the world just a little bit ‘friendlier’! 🙂