“Mantha, don’t forget: 2:00A.M. pick-up Saturday morning.”
“I won’t. I already have it in my calendar.”

Yesterday morning M and I were discussing some of the travel plans for our now annual girls’ road trip to Troy, Michigan. The count-down has begun! July is just few months away!

But, I doubt the wait will feel as long as this cold drawn out winter has been. If you live here, then you know all about it. If you don’t, I can’t help you as I don’t want to discuss how tired I and all the people living here are of the snow and Arctic winds. I am just thankful I have something to look forward to!

Now you might think M and I are a bit premature in planning for a two day road trip so early. Well, it really isn’t. The ladies and I believe the success of any plan is in having one. So, here is the typical outline of all our plans and used with repeated success:

Step 1 – The Date:
A date for the planned activity be it dinner, a movie, road trip or any sort of gathering is sent to all the ladies with at least 2 weeks notice. This invitation is issued with the understanding of all involved that none of us are miracle workers, so there is no expectation that all will be able to attend. We are all adults with different lives, responsibilities and calendars. Regardless of our religious beliefs, we know it would take a miracle to always choose a date that works for everybody.

Step 2 — If Not Now, Maybe Next Time:
I feel truly fortunate to be friends with women whose invitations come with the implied reminder, “if not now, maybe next time.”

This step works on a very simple premise of not everyone will want or be able to accept every invitation. And who cares! If not now, maybe next time that person will say ‘yes’. Just keep them on your Master Guest list for future invites. This understanding is crucial to avoiding misunderstandings, hurt feels and emergence of any possible drama and the needless loss of friends.

There may be over 34 million people living in this country, but I for one am not interest in interviewing for new friends every few weeks. I like the ones I already have!

Step 3 – Chosen Venue and/or Activity:
This next phase works on the premise of: if you want to do something or go somewhere, then set it up and send out that invitation! I don’t think any of us sits back and waits for someone to come up with an idea. We’re grown! We’re the same little girls who used to run to our friends’ houses and ring their door bells and politely say, “Hello Mrs XYZ. Can Suzie come out and play?”

But, unlike when we were little girls, we now own the front door. And instead of ringing a bell to ask our friends to ‘come out and play’ at a new restaurant, road trip or some other activity (like M’s summertime power walks!) we phone, email, text, use smoke signals and whatever it takes to get our invitation out there!

Step 4 – Time:
The time you are given to arrive at or be collected from a pre-determined location IS the time you are expected to be there. There are no excuses. Every cultural and ethnic group I have come across these past four decades has a joke for their inability to be on time. “Do you mean ___________people time?”

If you’ve read the earlier blogs about our road trips you will understand we don’t play when it comes to time. Time IS time!

Step 5 – Share:
This is the last and I think most crucial part of the planning template. The ladies and I share our true selves with one another. We don’t put on airs and graces or false personas trying to impress each other. We all have different experiences and viewpoints. When shared — be it at a dinner table or in car – we sometimes find a new perspective on a certain aspect of life; reaffirmation of a decision we made and perhaps questioned; and more often than not, a lot of laughter and another good memory of time shared together.

I’ll update you on how this year’s Troy trip turns out once we get back (but obviously you have a few months to wait for that one). I’m also going to try to keep in touch a bit more. Since turning 40 almost two years ago, life has gotten even more interesting than before!
But, until then, you know what comes next…

Laters & Good Night,

Mantha Baby