Hidden Lives of Southlake Women
By Pamela Francis
Bunco, Book Group, Girls’ Night Out, they go by many names, but the social groups that Southlake women belong to are a constant source of fun and friendship, even if many of these groups fly ‘under the radar.’ You may not hear about these groups in the news very often, but they nourish many a Southlake woman, strengthening her in her work as wife, mother or busy professional.
The deep friendships that develop within these groups explain why so many Southlake women take time from their busy schedules for some ‘girlfriend’ time. As one Southlake mother and active volunteer put it “I feel blessed to have my girlfriends and cherish every moment that I am able to spend with them!” Julie Walsh, a member of numerous all-female groups including a weekly lunch group, a large book group and Jazzercise classes enthuses “my ladies have definitely made my life worth living here. I have my wonderful husband and children, but my friends have helped me plant roots, tend the garden, pull the weeds and grow meaningful experiences.”
The chance to break away from their traditional roles as wives and mothers is another prime benefit of these all-female groups. As Christy White, a member of both an informal monthly lunch group as well as the Greater Southlake Womens’ Society, explains, “It’s a great chance to be with other women in similar situations, and some not so similar! It’s also good to get out of my Nike shorts and t-shirts and out in public and share some fun events with friends, especially when it has nothing to do with schools, PTO and kids, which seems to be the revolving focus of my life.”
Often this girlfriend time can blossom into benefits for the entire family. Julie Walsh tells of how her weekly lunch group of wives whose husbands worked together grew to include summer tutoring for their children, healthy ‘cooking lessons’ and a summer of “Thank God it’s Tuesday” neighborhood dinners. Throughout it all, the time spent with female friends sharing ideas and feelings, chit chatting about books, kids, food and life is “like a gift certificate to the spa for a day that I give myself every month.”
Although different in focus, local professional women’s groups support as well as educate their members. Delia Schneider credits her membership in the International Culture Club as not only keeping her aware of world affairs but also giving her access to a support network and friendship of like-minded women and their families. Indeed, she vividly remembers an Iranian breakfast in which Dr. John Woddhall spoke about the impact women can have in the community by promoting cultural awareness and tolerance. Similarly, Lisa Lankford who belongs to the eWomens Network reports feeling empowered after speaking with women in the corporate world.
Not all of the benefits of these women’s groups are quite so high-minded. Julie Walsh tells of dancing her heart out in Jazzercize class. Christy White remembers a recent all-female road trip to Lake LBJ that was so full of laughter it was good for her soul. Many a bunco member tells of late nights filled with raucous times and forever memories. As Lisa Lankford reminisces about dinners with her girlfriends she remembers that “we always laugh, sometimes there are a few tears, but I always feel like they will be my ‘supper sisters’ forever.” Although few in Southlake ever read about the women-only lunches, book group meetings and bunco nights in the newspaper or hear about them on the radio, the bonds that have been created because of these groups have strengthened and enriched our entire community.
Pamela Francis lives in Southlake with her husband and three children. After receiving her undergraduate and law degrees in the Northeast, she had the good sense to move to Texas in 1993. Since retiring from the practice of law in 2003, Pam has devoted her time to family, friends, charitable work and the elusive goal of keeping a fully stocked refrigerator while there are teenagers in the house.