Hawaiian Eye

By: Hawaiian Eye

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Monday, 24-Nov-2003 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
Thank you, Girl Friends!

The Hula Maidens: Hedy, me, Gylene, Beulah, Flo & Jeannette
Monday AM Hula Ladies: Virginia, Dorothy, Helene, Violet & Dee
Kalika & Lana
Sandy, D, Joan, & Aunty Marion
Aunty Hannah with D & Uncle Likeke
Na 'Anela
Bobbie, Faith, Aileen, Blanche, Shannon, Kisa, Cassie, Loreen.
'Oli = Joy
Sue, Samara & Alana
Happy (Hau'oli) & Lucky (Laki)
D in a hand-knit sweater by the master knitter, herself, Marilyn
Jillary, my artist friend, with her husband Ron
Mom-in-law Hazel with Akira and 'Ipo
Becky & Kathy
MaLou, Cia & D
Lynn with Wayne, our forever friends.
Princess Ka'iulani by Jillary
My friend, Hedy, e-mailed me the following long, but valuably informative information:

By Gale Berkowitz

A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more.

Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It's a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research--most of it on men-upside down.

Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible, explains Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study's authors. It's an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.

Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight. In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead.

When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect.

This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone -- which men produce in high levels when they're under stress -- seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen; she adds, seems to enhance it. The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was made in a classic "aha" moment shared by two women scientists who were talking one day in a lab at UCLA. There was this joke that when the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own. I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her the data from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were onto something.

The women cleared their schedules and started meeting with one scientist after another from various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor discovered that by not including women in stress research, scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress differently than men has significant implications for our health.

It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways that oxytocin encourages us to care for children and hang out with other women, but the "tend and befriend" notion developed by Drs. Klein and Taylor may explain why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. There's no doubt, says Dr. Klein, that friends are helping us live longer.

In one study, for example, researchers found that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%. Friends are also helping us live better. The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight!

And that's not all! When the researchers looked at how well the women functioned after the death of their pouse, they found that even in the face of this biggest stress of all, those women who had a close friend and
confidante were more likely to survive the experience without any new physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality. Those without friends were not always so fortunate. Yet if friends counter the stress that seems
to swallow up so much of our life these days, if they keep us healthy and even add years to our life, why is it so hard to find time to be with them?

That's a question that also troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D, co-author of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships (Three Rivers Press, 1998). Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push them right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a very healing experience.

Source: Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. (2000). Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight" Psychological Review,


Musings on The Sisterhood: Coming Full Circle

As a kid, my preferred play buddies were guys. No accident that I was a tomboy. A hoyden. I was the second daughter, the one that was supposed to be a boy. And in many ways, subconsciously, I believe, my father treated me accordingly. I was his little buddy. His shadow.

While he nurtured my feminine side, Dad also taught me, by his example, to be tough, strong and independent, to stand my ground and not be pushed or bullied around. He taught me when to keep quiet, and when and how to speak up. Loudly and with full confidence and force, if need be.

I was far more interested in Dad's activities than Mom's -- being out in the world; doing outdoor chores; spending summer days with him on the farm or afternoons on the ranch, rounding up cattle and playing cowboy. I'd patiently wait for his arrival home from work at the bottom of the stoop, greeted him like he'd been away for months, and followed him around like an ecstatic puppy, while he tended to his afternoon chores.

He was always up to something and indulged me with surprises. Sometimes, it was something as simple as a sweet guava that he picked from a roadside tree and put in his lunch bag for me to find. Or a little dessert wrapped in wax paper from one of the ladies at the packing shed...

We arm-wrestled. We'd punch each other in the arm for fun. We jostled and romped as fathers do with their sons. He was constantly baiting me into little competitions and I always bit. He never felt he needed to sugar-coat his speech or soften his tone with me. In contrast, he spoke to my little sis with a softness reserved for girls with tenderer emotions. If he went too far, he'd declare, "You can take it." And of course, I could.

He encouraged me to be strong and fearless, and I fancied myself an adventurer, outdoorsperson, and explorer. I trekked solo through the deep, dark and verdant rainforest next to our home in Pahoa. I knew the rugged Kapoho Bay coastline like the back of my hand. My favorite childhood activities were riding my bike, climbing trees, making forts, scouting, boating, hiking, rollerskating, and in high school, skateboarding; and in college, skiing, and much later (try 46), surfing.

Doing girly things like cooking, shopping and playing with dolls or Little Missy stuff like sewing, cooking and crafting left me cold. Baking was okay, after all my grandpa was the town baker. And he was big and brawny.

Cousins and neighbors that were closest in age to me were boys: Milton, Wally, and Calvin; and Ronald and Melvin. The classmate I most admired was Eddie. It's not that I didn't have girl friends. I did, and think kindly and with much affection of these girls who shared my idyllic life in Pahoa: Christine, Susan T, Susan S, Janis, Iris, Suzanne, and Gayle.

I most enjoyed playing with Gayle. She was a tomboy like me. Second girl in the family...yadda, yadda. The rough and tumble one. We spent blissful hours together swinging like monkeys on her swing set and biking the backroads of Pahoa, looking for natural fish ponds, through cane fields and past ghost houses.

Forget dolls and frilly things. Never owned a Barbie. Never wanted one. My hand-me-down blue bike was my most valued possession. Give me a Jungle Gym over any dollhouse. Lincoln logs, erector sets, and model airplanes were the real presents in life that I never got myself, but loved it that my brother did. Forget baubles and bangles. A pup tent, a mess kit, a pocket knife, a camera (a sign of things to come?) and camping gear were on my list to Santa.

I never took Home Economics. Bored to tears, I dropped out of a sewing class. I preferred working in the yard and gardening to vacuuming and dusting. In high school, when girls were into mascara and lipstick, I was into swimming, lifesaving, and going to the beach. I had great girlfriends -- Gayle, Gwen, Gerry, and Katie -- but I preferred the company of my boyfriends. That my three big high school flames -- Jeff, Arnold, and Hovey -- surfed and were on the swim or water polo team was no accident.

My favorite actress, early on, was Katherine Hepburn, whose best role, it's been said, was herself: "She didn't do coy. She wasn't a femme fatale. She wasn't about being pretty. And she didn't give a damn. She came to conquer, and she did: she earned 12 Oscar nominations, a record four winsâ??three of them after the age of 60â??and became the most indomitable actress of her era, which still isn't over. Hepburn once said she wanted to "live like a man." Instead, she re-defined what it meant to live like a woman. She played queens, debutantes, athletesâ??and even actressesâ??but her greatest role was Katharine Hepburn. We could have watched her play it forever." ~Source

In college, my most challenging subjects of formal study -- and therefore, my favored -- were Calculus and Physics, back then traditionally, "guy" courses of study. Susie and Carla were my best college gal pals, but my best college buddies were again, guys. Peter, Jim, Jeff, and most of all, Kirk. They just did more fun things -- like camping out on a Louisiana bayou, skiing in Upper Michigan, spelunking deep in Indiana limestone caves, and biking the hills and dales of Southern Indiana backcountry.

I entered a profession at the time when less than 10% were female.

So it has only been in the second half of my life that I have discovered and indulged my feminine side when it comes to friendships.

I have been bountifully blessed with Sue, Samara, and Alana; Mom and my sisters: Joan, Sandy, and sis-in-law, Lei; Lynn, Jillary, Annie (Nani), Marilyn, Kathy and Becky; Faith, Blanche, Aileen, Bobbie; Aunty Marion; Florence, Ka'iulani, Aunty Kawena Pukui, Aunty Hannah, Aunty Alana and Kupunawahine Maleka 'Ohia; `Oli, Happy & Laki, my nieces: Lana, Lanakila, Kalika, Shannon, Kisa, and Cassie, Cia and my co-workers: MTT, QL, JK, MaLou, and Tippy, and The Hula Maidens: Hedy, Gylene, Beulah, Flo, and Jeannette; and Helene and my Monday morning and Thursday morning hula sisters.

I'm even reading cookbooks these days. Interestingly, mostly written by guys. Sam Choy, being my favorite. As for spending much time over the hot stove, well, let's not push our luck.

So to this article, I say, "Hear! Hear!" and Mahalo!

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