‘Girlfriends’ by Berry & Traeder

Girlfriends by Carmen Renee Berry & Tamara Traeder

Book 17 of 45 Days of Book Stories

STATS OF THE BOOK

Title: ‘Girlfriends: Invisible Bonds, Enduring Ties’
Author: Carmen Renee Berry & Tamara Traeder
Date of Publishing: 1995
Publisher: Wildcat Canyon Press
Renee Berry and Tamara Traeder take us on a journey with them of revealing the treasured aspects fo female friendships. They present to us in an anecdotal style, the ins and outs of the almost spiritual nature of being girlfriends. Throughout the chapters, we get delightful insights that resonate with our own experience. Be it as Mothers and Daughters, College Friends, Neighbours, or Childhood Besties. Published in the 90s when the Chicken Soup For the Soul series had taken over the world – Berry & Traeder’s Girlfriends is very much in that mould. Quick and easy reading, with light use of language, heavy on the emotion, with each chapter being self-contained in many ways. A point worthy of highlighting is, that Berry is a prolific collaborative author. She has written works with Mark Lloyd Taylor, Juanita Ryan, Mark W. Baker, and Lynn Barrington to name a few. Her collaboration with Trader would prove to be extremely successful, as the two have given us over 7 books in this series of “Girlfriends”. I’ll add the details here, in case some of you are curious and want to explore this topic and these authors.

THE GIRLFRIEND ANTHOLOGY BY BERRY & TRAEDER

Girlfriends: Invisible Bonds, Enduring Ties, Wildcat Canyon Press (Berkeley, CA), 1995.

The Girlfriends Keepsake Book: The Story of Our Friendship, Wildcat Canyon Press (Berkeley, CA), 1996.

Girlfriends Talk about Men: Sharing Secrets for a Great Relationship, Wildcat Canyon Press (Berkeley, CA), 1997.

Women’s Rites: Girlfriends’ Rituals, Andrews McMeel Publishing (Kansas City, MO), 1998.

Girlfriends Are Forever, Andrews McMeel Publishing (Kansas City, MO), 1998.

Girlfriends for Life: Friendships Worth Keeping Forever, Wildcat Canyon Press (Berkeley, CA), 1998.

A Friendship Meant to Be, Andrews McMeel Publishing (Kansas City, MO), 2000.

A Girlfriend’s Gift: Reflections on the Extraordinary Bonds of Friendship, Wildcat Canyon Press (Berkeley, CA), 2000.

Girlfriends Get Together: Food, Frolic, and Fun Times, Wildcat Canyon Press (Berkeley, CA), 2001. (This one had a third collaborator – and that was their friend Janet Hazen.

Why this Book ?

A DISNTICTLY HEALING FLAVOUR

Carmen Renee Berry is best known as a motivational speaker who had a prominent and distinct voice as a Christian self-help coach when she began her writing career. Her first book – When Helping You Is Hurting Me: Escaping the Messiah Trap can be seen as such an example. As Berry has lived she has had an evolution of who she is and what God means to her. This has tremendously impacted the power in her writing. This ability to highlight the struggle and the triumph, with a strong tether to this innate knowingness of success and spirituality, for me is very healing. The spiritualist within Carmen has always been questing, and recently through her own experiences and journey Berry has developed 5-step spiritual practice, called THE MORE FACTOR. In her own words, Berry tells us what motivated her, she says,

I’ve developed it over the last ten years, and it has really helped me considerably. Because challenges are always coming into our lives.

Carmen Renee Berry in an Interview with the ‘Leadership Academy’

In the same Interview Berry highlights the 5 steps, they are –

CHOOSE,
CHERISH,
CREATE,
COLLABORATE,
CELEBRATE

Tamara Traeder at the time this book was published, was a practising lawyer and president of Wildcat Canyon Press. Trader currently is a Mental Health Counsellor and currently works in California, in the United States of America. Traeder along with Berry have worked extensively within the social-work and social-outreach programmes in the United States. Today, Traeder and Berry seem to be on differing paths, as we haven’t seen them collaborate on a project in a while. However, they both continue to publish. Traeder last in 2003, with her co-authored book titled ‘Aunties’, with Julienne Bennett. As for Berry, she launched her own publishing company, Berry Powell Press, that aims for author-focussed hybrid-publishing.

A GIFT FROM A MOTHER TO A DAUGHTER

Girlfriends, the book came into my life as a most treasured gift from my Mother, my Guru, My Mentor, Protector, Teacher and Friend. The date was the 25th of December,1999. Bought exactly a week prior, by my Mother Renooji, in the Holy city of Jerusalem, on the 18th of December 1999. I was in grade 9, and my parents would visit Israel very often as they had a Healing Centre there. They would be gone for days and weeks at a stretch, as they conducted seminars and lectures to empower others on this path of healing. My Mother, my Best-Friend knew that as a teenager, this time away (in a tech-era where there were pagers, not WhatsApp, and long-distance calls and emails, not Skype, FaceTime or Zoom.) may make me feel abandoned or lost. Though we spoke daily, and I never felt alone, for I too had been empowered and initiated by her in the spiritual practices of Transcendental Meditation, Reiki Healing, and the Chanting of Mantras, along with the healing powers of Affirmations. All these gifts bestowed by Her on me were very stabilising.

This book, made all that I knew about our relationship even more powerful. For I could see in the interviews and statements, right there on the printed page, many of the emotions and thoughts I experienced in the presence of my Maa. I’d love to share a few of these with you,

Sometimes our friends recognize it is time for us to be in transition before we do. True friends help us grow, even when we’d prefer to stay right where we are.

Berry & Trader, Girlfriends, Pg 161

To my 14-year-old eyes and heart, the message was clear. This experience of brief time apart was a lesson, a push by the Universe and my Mother for me to grow, to become independent and confident.

Two other favourite quotes of mine from that time are shared below, ( please read them from the perspective of a teenage girl, if you can).

The first, connected with me, and still does at a most visceral level,

Whether a friend shares our feeling or merely understands it, her ability to make room for our emotion in invaluable. Especially when we share our tears, the comfort offered in those moments of vulnerability, the swollen eyed, red-nosed openness, can mark the beginning of a loving friendship.

Berry & Trader, Girlfriends, Pg 26

The second, always makes me centre myself in the heart of immense gratitude for my Mother and our Friendship – it still does,

As friendships deepen and mature, we can take comfort that our girlfriends appreciate our support and are not offended by our bad moods or scared by our tears. We can settle into the friendship as into old slippers – remembering, of course, not to take the old slippers for granted.

Berry & Trader, Girlfriends, Pg 75

Today on Teacher’s Day, in India, there couldn’t be a better book I’d like to recommend. Who are your closest confidantes, closest friends, girls, boys, them, whom can you completely rely on? Whatever your gender and sex, this book is quintessential reading for the heart. It will allow you to see the love and healing all around you, and that is reason enough for me to recommend it to you!