A Circle of Support is Like a Good Bra

When my son was learning to swim, he showed a slight fear of the water initially.
While his older sisters swam in the deep end like great white sharks, my son was
afraid to get his face wet at first. "I got you!" my husband would encourage. "I'm
not going to let you drown. I've got your back." With his chubby fingers gripping
his dad's shoulders, he would allow himself to be dunked into the water. Once
Brian, Jr. saw a younger playmate diving for the pool floaties, his fear dissipated
and now he's a good swimmer. Nothing like a little peer pressure to make fear
go away.
My son trusted that his dad would not let him go. As we mature, we exchange
the comfort and security of our parent's strong arms and laps for those of friends
and later we include significant others and spouses.
The Black Diamond Series' girls (Tanisha, Lori, Maria, Rashanda, Grace &
Justine) could best be described as a circle of friends. Girl power at its best. It's
a circle of trust that gets tested at times, but in the end, the circle remains intact.
In Boys, Beauty & Betrayal, a bitter betrayal tests the strength of the friendship
circle, but the circle proves resilient enough to weather the harsh winds of a brief
storm. In Chemistry, Chaos & God's Grace, the circle of support is strengthened
by a tragedy, and a lifetime bond is fortified.
Most people (especially girls) flourish under the support of trusting, loving
friendships. It's what helps us deal with the drama in our life: Mama drama, boy
drama, friend drama, school drama. Most girls have a little drama in their lives.
The girls in my books understand this and treasure each others' friendships.
They're not the most popular girls in school, neither are they the misfits. They're
just a group of like minded girls whose goal is to "do no harm" and to be there for
each other. That's what friends are for.
As a mother of three, I'm learning what a huge issue bullying is. And it's not just
the "steal your lunch money stuff you in the locker" variety of bullying. There's
cyber bullying, ostracism and behavior that is so cruel it sometimes causes the
recipient to harm herself or himself. Although my children are not victims of
A Circle of Support is Like a Good Bra February 23, 2010

bullying, I know that I can't create a force field to protect my children from the
harms of bullying, but one of the things that I'm trying to do is teach them to
choose their friends wisely. To create a network circle of support that can stand
as a shield against bullies.
Thankfully, my days of walking locker lined hallways are well behind me. But I
know that I will relive this adolescent experience through my children. Like the
girls in my series, I want my children to have a small, yet strong circle of support.
I'm not talking about a clique. It's a support circle. I like to call it the wise
counsel. I've always had one and now I have several.
My inner circle helps me navigate through the choppy waters of my chaotic life.
Because my life is compartmentalized into different segments, I have several
circles of support. I have a group of chums who help me when I need support as
a mother. Within that circle, I have an inner circle who helps me cope with
situations unique to parenting a tween girl as well as an inner circle who offers
great tips on best dealing with the testosterone fueled antics of a six year old boy.
I have another support circle who gives me spiritual guidance when I need that. I
have several friends in my married 10 circle. These are women who have been
married at least 10 years and can offer a non-judgmental listening ear when I
need to vent about the socks. Once you've been married for awhile, you'll
understand why wives vent about the socks. I have a support circle who
understands the politics of some of the extra-curricular groups for which I
volunteer my time. I also have a few women in my "I want to be just like you"
circle of support. These are women that are older and wiser than I am, but not
old enough to be my mother. They are women whom I admire and respect and
want to emulate when I'm older and wiser. I trust these women to help me
navigate through water that I know they've coursed i.e. how best to manage a
household, writing career, marriage and three active children's schedules.
They've done it, so why shouldn't I get tips from them? They're happy to share
their wisdom. Many of these women are family members, and some are not. I
also have a circle of support of women who are decades younger than I am.
A Circle of Support is Like a Good Bra February 23, 2010

These are women who keep me thinking current, or try to at least. They
encourage me to stay current with technology by joining Linked In (did that)
creating a blog page to promote my books (check!) and Twitter (not sure about
this one yet).
In my ongoing quest to keep my derriere from reaching my calves, I have an
informal network circle of support at my gym. It's motivating to know that other
gym rats will miss me if I skip out on too many regular gym visits. A couple of
years ago, I paid a trainer to hang out in my circle of support to jump start my
new commitment to fitness. Paying someone to motivate me to better fitness
worked wonders. But then reality kicked in, and I realized that I'm not
Beyonce or Rihanna, and I don't have an American Express Black Card. We had
three college funds to finance, so as much as I enjoyed my personal training
sessions, I had to kick him off the payroll. I still see my buddy, Jim at the gym,
and every now and then he gives me a free tip or two, but since he's a personal
trainer, he won't join my fitness circle of support unless I'm paying his fees. I get
A circle of support will encourage you to be better! The beauty of having a circle
of support is that it's designed by you and for you, so if it's not working for you,
just build a new circle of support. Self help groups and twelve step programs are
built on this platform because it works. Try it. Trust me, like a good bra, a
good circle of support can lift you in all the right places! Who's in your circle of