The Girlfriend's Guide to . . . Girlfriends! with Vicki Iovine - Jen Hatmaker

The Girlfriend’s Guide to . . . Girlfriends! with Vicki Iovine

Episode 02

When talking about girlfriends, no one has more insight than the original “best girlfriend” herself – Vicki Iovine! Author of the “Girlfriends Guide” series, Vicki has guided a slew of women through pregnancy, motherhood, toddlers, and even getting their groove back! She shares how she started writing for girlfriends from a practical standpoint, peppering her stories with her hilarious take on all the things women face. She also shows us her perspective on how “lifetime” girlfriends bring us joy, strength and a lot of fun.

Episode Transcript

Narrator:   Welcome to the “For the Love Podcast” with bestselling author Jen Hatmaker.  Come on in, and join us for a chat with Jen and friends about all the things we love. Now, here’s Jen.

Jen:  Guys, I am so excited to be chatting with Vicki Iovine today. So when I started thinking about this series, “For The Love Of Girlfriends,” she was the absolute tip-top, first person to come to my mind. She is literally America’s favorite girlfriend. Vicki is the author of the most amazing series of books: The Girlfriends Guide to PregnancyThe Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood (hello), The Girlfriends Guide to Toddlers and my personal favorite The Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting your Groove Back. Brilliant, brilliant series of books. She also helped create the divorce section on Huff Post and she’s written advice columns for Los Angeles Times, and for Redbook, and Child Magazine, and now she’s the executive producer of a hit new show on Bravo; a scripted series called “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce” and it is funny and smart and interesting. She has four grown kids, and she has held our hands through the precarious stages of motherhood and friendship for 20 years.  Vicki – Welcome!

?Vicki:  Thank you it’s so nice to be here. This is fun.

Jen:  Oh my gosh I am; I think I’m your biggest fan! And so, what I’m going to try real hard to do is maintain any composure while you and I get to talk. It may work and it may not.   No promises.

Vicki:  I’m pretty easy to get along with I’m not very scary.

Jen:  Fabulous. OK.

So, I have so many questions and thoughts for you.  Here’s kind of where I wanted to jump in. So for any of my readers who are new to you, (they would be none of mine, since I talked about you a whole lot over the last few years) but we have more than enjoyed your books over the years. They have led us, and they’ve counseled us, and they have just absolutely served us through all the stages of motherhood. So relatable. So hilarious.

You’ve had such an interesting life. You’ve been a model, you’ve been a lawyer. So what on earth inspired you to start The Girlfriend’s Guide series? How did you decide to make such a huge pivot in your career?

?Vicki:  Well, I think it was easy to make a pivot because I wasn’t really committed. I actually was a journalism student and creative writing was my minor.

Jen:  Okay.

Vicki:  So, that was always the me, the writer.  I can’t live a day without writing, because it’s the only way I can figure my life out. So, I didn’t have the nerve, nor did I think I was the type of writer to graduate from college and then go work for a newspaper. I’m not a hard news kind of writer, I’m sort of a “slice of life” writer. So, listening to my dad who said, “you always need something you can fall back on.”  My mother used to say that when I was in high school, and it was shorthand and typing.

Jen:  Yes.

Vicki:  But my father said “you have to have something to fall back on. A law degree.” So, I went to law school. Never liked it. Never wanted to be a lawyer. In a break between my second and third year of law school, I heard that the local afternoon newspaper in Los Angeles, the Herald Examiner, was looking for an intern and I applied for the job as the intern. They sent me–my first story–it was to go undercover, meaning in a bathing suit, to an interview for the Playboy 25th anniversary playmate.

?Jen:  Stop!

Vicki:  And I was so intimidated. I mean I don’t think I even knew about shaving down there.

I wore a one-piece bathing suit with my Phi Beta Kappa key on my thigh, just above my thigh. So anyway, I went and I’m trying to interview people, I actually had a pad and pencil just like Lois Lane, but I’m standing there in a friggin’ bathing suit.

Jen:  Right.

Vicki:  So, somebody’s taking Polaroids of me and I’m writing and I’m filling out that questionnaire. You know, “what kind of man turns you on,” and I’m making it all like a joke, you know. “Prince Charles turns me on. His ears are so regal,” you know, that kind of stuff. So I got a call a few weeks later saying that I wasn’t the 25th anniversary playmate. Big surprise there.

Jen:  Shocker.

Vicki:  Right? But I was one of the 12 finalists. So they asked me to be a centerfold, and best of all they would pay me for the pictures and for the article. I would be published in an international magazine for my first big push.

Jen:  Yes, you were a paid writer!

Vicki:  Yeah, so that’s the kind of model I was. I mean, I did end up doing other sort of catalog stuff, but really I was a nude model in Playboy. I was Miss September and I wrote my own article.

Jen:  Wow.

?Vicki:  Yeah, it’s never been done since, I don’t think.

I don’t even know if the magazine’s still around. So, I started as a writer–ended up more as a writer–did the Playboy thing and that changed my life. That was already a huge about face–it put me on–nobody believed that Hefner had actually found a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Berkeley who was in law school who was a playmate. So, they thought, because this was the feminist age, they thought I was a sham. So, I was interviewed all over the United States on all the major networks and everything to say, “No indeed. I’m not a sham, and this is who I am.”

But it started me doing more voice work, meaning radio. I got a job with Westwood One, so I practiced law, theoretically, sort of, corporate law for a couple of years.

?Jen:  Okay.

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Vicki:  Then I met the man I was going to marry. We started trying to have kids, which we eventually successfully did. We had four of them, and having been a great student all my life; I had two law degrees by this point because I got one in Cambridge, England, at Cambridge University, I read all the books about pregnancy, because you can teach me by book, you know. And yet every thing I read, made me feel punier and worse about myself and I thought, “I have high standards, I can’t be this ignorant and this lazy!” But I was, or at least that’s the way it looked according to all the people who at that time were writing books without having a uterus.

So, I decided, this is a sham. This is a male perpetuated sham. So I started writing, after my fourth child, I said “OK I can understand being bad at the first time.”

?Jen:  Sure.

Vicki:  “I can understand understand being kind of bad at it the second time.”  But the fourth time, I was equally bad at it.

So I said, I figured I must know something that they don’t know, or if only to save my dignity, I’m going to write my point of view. So I did, and I sold it to Simon and Schuster and they gave me $40,000 for the first printing because I truly believed– I even used my girlfriend’s real names.

Jen:  Right.

Vicki:  Because, I thought it was going to be sort of a vanity thing that I would buy all the copies and give them to my girlfriends and that would be it.

Jen:  Sure.

Vicki:  But it became a bestseller. it just went crazy. So, that led to all the other books.

?Jen:  Oh I love that story. I love that you you wrote because you wrote what you needed. You wrote what wasn’t there for you. You wrote what was missing in the market place, it was, it so was.

I remember. Let’s see. The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy came out in maybe 2007, does that seem right?

 I think 2008.

Jen:  Yeah, 2008 That’s right. I’m sorry 1998.

Vicki:  Right, 1998.

?Jen:  That makes more sense. 1998. That’s right. Because it was new, and I was pregnant with my first baby in 1998. Somebody put your book in my hands, and it’s like a black and white world came into color. You told the truth about everything. And I was just green enough to not know the difference, but I could tell when I read your take on pregnancy and childbirth, that’s the real deal. I don’t care what any of these other books are saying, this is how it actually goes down. I bet you hear a ton of stories from your readers about how all of your books have impacted them. Do you have a story? A special one, a funny one, just a really memorable story that comes to mind that’s special to you?

Vicki:  Well you know, it’s so funny because what happens still, and this book has been out for 20 years, it still happens that people will hear my name, and I’ll be introduced socially and someone will say “oh my god–I had my baby with you!”

Jen:  Yes.

Vicki:  When it first came out, it was almost as if when I would go to shopping malls and stuff, (and I was doing a lot of TV at the time) so people could recognize me and people would come up with strollers and say, “Look Vicki, it’s Larry,” you know, the baby.

Vicki:  And they expected me to know him.

?Jen:  Yes.

Vicki:  Because we had the baby together. So I always made a special point of stopping and admiring all the babies and and talking to the moms. I loved it. The reason why I could write these books, is because I love my women friends and I can’t remember most things in life, but if you’ve told me your labor story, I will never forget it. And everything about whether your child was a biter, or a hard to potty train, or whatever. Those are the things; that’s the meat of life to me.

Jen:  Yes it is.

Vicki:  And that’s that’s what I love to write about. And also. I think what I’ve learned over the years, it was coming true for me in the first book. But what I’ve learned over the years, is there’s nothing funnier than humans trying to pretend that they control the universe.

Jen:  Amen.

Vicki:  I have watched women raise their kids according to apps on their phones.

Jen:  Sure.

Vicki:  Logging in every poo-poo and the color, from a dropdown of showing you the different colors it might be.

Jen:  Ughh…

Vicki:  And the babies head helmets and all the things, that I think, just chill. It just gets harder from here.

?Jen:  Thank you. That is a good word. I’ll tell you that as one of your earliest readers, your book hadn’t been out obviously a year, when I tell you I read it cover to cover. I mean I took it to the delivery room with me. I’m not joking. It was in my bag. I felt like I needed your counsel in the moment. I took a couple of things away from your books that were so invaluable to me and not just in that season, but forever. Not the first of which, is that you were one of the first voices that I heard with warmth and humor and credibility, do really important things like denounce the “Mommy Wars” and take everything out of this incredibly overly earnest, precious stratosphere and bring it down to the earth where we actually live. I needed to hear it at the beginning, with baby number one, when I was absolutely prepared to go completely overboard. You helped me not to be too precious and to have a lot of grace not just for myself. but for my friends. And we’re going to move into that girlfriend space, because you’re just as gifted at the girlfriend space as you are at the parenting space. You really did, for an entire generation of us, help set a precedent for girlfriends in our life. I remember reading about your friends, and of course how you call them by name, which is so warm and endearing. And it just communicated something to me; that this is the way you do life. This is the way you raise your kids.

?You bring your girlfriends deeply into your life. And they stick and they stay and you invest in them as much as you’re investing in these kids of yours. And it was such an important message at such an important time, that I have now carried on like that for 20 years. Can I tell you one other story?

Vicki:  Yeah, please.

Jen:  And I’m going to tell you this and I just am going to say in advance, that I’m sorry. So I want to tell you one other way that your writing and your books have impacted me—oh, this is so humiliating. Wow. OK. So I, also. I’m like you, I’ve always loved to write. I studied English but I didn’t, you know, who makes a living as a writer? Who does that? What does that mean?

Vicki:  Right, boy don’t I know.

?Jen:  Like what is that? I guess I’ll get a sensible, sensible job; I was a teacher and when I read your first book, I’m pregnant with that first kid, and I’m still teacher at the time, I was in the classroom. Your tone and your style of writing– it blew my mind. I had never read anybody who had taken what a lot of people would consider a serious subject; childbirth, pregnancy, and treated it with such laughter, and honesty, and humility, and warmth, and it was so meaningful to me to be invited into your words. I felt like I was your friend. And a few years later when I started writing myself. I emulated your titles in my very first first book title and your lawyers had to send me a cease and desist letter.

Jen:  I’m so sorry Vicki—will you forgive me? ‘

Vicki:  Oh my gosh.

Jen:  Here I am apologizing 20 years later! I’m so sorry.

Vicki:  I forgive you.

Jen:  You were my hero; you were my idol. I didn’t know who else was doing it. Oh, you taught me how to be a writer in so many ways; just the way that you bring your reader in and she feels so precious to you. And I will tell you that I have tried to do that for my entire writing career.  I’m so sorry about the plagiarism. I love you and your writing.

Vicki:  Well, isn’t that the sincerest form of flattery?

Jen:  That’s what I say.

?Vicki:  I appreciate it. Thank you. You know one of the things that I think broke down the barriers for, I hoped for, girlfriends, and I did it via pregnancy, but it was really about life and your girlfriends, as you’ve stated. And that was that I told you and my readers all my deepest darkest secrets. So you knew that I’d made mistakes. You knew that the first time I cut my son’s fingernails I cut the tip of his thumb off. You knew that, well almost–It looked like it to me. It bled like a mother.

Jen:  Sure.

Vicki:  And you knew that even after six weeks postpartum, I didn’t want to have sex again. You knew all of those things that nobody would tell you.

Jen:  Hmmm.

Vicki:  You knew that I was horny as hell in my pregnancy.

Jen:  Yes.

Vicki:  Waking myself up with orgasms. Now if nobody else had said that for you and you experienced that, wouldn’t you think you are the weirdest person? That there was something wrong with you, clearly?

Jen:  Absolutely.

?Vicki:  Because it’s not spoken of, and it was not spoken of in the back in the day. And there are still mommy Nazis to this day.

Jen:  Yeah.

Vicki:  A lot of them. There is something always to impose guilt on a mother who only wants to do the very best. Since the very best is usually not possible, perfection is rarely possible, that leaves a lot of self-loathing for us. So, I wanted to say, you know, when you’re listening to that woman rage on about formaldehyde in some mattress. just know that she puts her child to bed with a bottle.

Jen:  You made me feel so much less alone and less crazy.

Vicki:  Yeah, these things are all kind of truisms now, like the Girlfriend Guides. My gosh, I have had lawyers write cease and desist letters because it was an appealing voice. I see TV commercials now, showing the first baby and the mother is packing up all the stuff into the stroller, and she forgets the baby in the seat on the living room floor, as she goes out with the stroller. Then they show her second baby, and she’s got her got the baby in a sling and reaches and picks up a handful of Cheerios and puts them in her pocket and walks out the door.

Jen:  Right, exactly.

?Vicki:  People never did that when I wrote these books. I think I remember saying; the first time with your first child, you drop a pacifier and when you pick it up, you take it inside and throw in the trash.

Jen:  Exactly.

Vicki:  The next time you drop a pacifier. you boil it until it’s practically melted. And the third time you just pick it up, wash it, stick it in your mouth, get all the dirt off ,and put it back in the baby’s mouth.

Jen:  That’s right.

Vicki:  Because you’ve got things to do.

Jen:  Absolutely.

You really paved some road there, because now we have this whole generation that’s come behind you having been given permission to tell the truth and to be “not perfect,” and to be honest with one another. I mean, I think you set really important precedents and interrupted what I think is a super toxic trajectory of perfectionism and impressing one another; it’s all garbage, none of that’s real.

Vicki:  Do you think it’s getting–you know, I have two daughters of my own, and my husband has a daughter, and we have two daughters-in-law, and it’s baby making time around here.

Jen:  Sure.

?Vicki:  So I watch, and they’re all very generous about sharing their pregnancies with me, you know, and talking about them and letting me drool all over their children, which is my favorite thing now. But I do still feel that there are some people, for example, we have a nursing station. It’s a company called “The Nursing Station,’ and they were originally, way back in the day for me, you could rent breast pumps from them. They would give you nursing lessons, but it was basically just a rental store. Well now, it’s an exclusive club that you can’t even get into.

Jen:  Hmmm.

Vicki:  Because you’ve got to be so “la leche” and also from the west side of L.A., and also cute, and whatever else. There are still a lot of divisions over child rearing.

?Jen:  There are and I hear what you’re saying. I don’t know if my experience is common, but I feel like a portion, a huge portion, of my sort of freedom and liberation in raising my kids and being an honest person while doing it, has so much to do with the girlfriend tribe that I assembled early on, which is how you’ve led us all along. You so wisely connected the girlfriend piece to the mothering piece. And to me that’s the thing. When I have the safe friends, the real friends, the genuine ones, the ones who are not trying to impress one another– simply just trying to get through this thing together. That for me has made all the difference. Can you talk a little bit about why it was so early on you knew to include the wisdom of healthy girlfriends in this life that we’re living?

Vicki:  I would love to talk about that, because it’s essential to me and it still is. I’m not raising children, but I still have, for 30 years, the same friends. Whether it’s from high school, college, jobs –most of my friends were truly made on the playground,

Jen:  Hmmm.

Vicki:  You know, with my kids. I met the other kids parents and we found ourselves like minded. First of all, I think women are really funny. I like our sense of humor and I like giggling a lot, so I’m always attracted to being with women. I think we’re incredibly strong and I love our role in families as tradition makers and fire keepers and all that sort of thing– that’s always appealed to me. But I remember when I first wrote this book. I got so many letters from people saying, “I’m so jealous. I don’t have girlfriends like you do. I don’t know anybody here, I just moved here,” and it became clear to me that people didn’t know how to look for friends.

Jen:  Hmm.

?Vicki:  So, I would spend a lot of time giving talks and writing letters to people explaining; it’s like getting back in the dating circuit after you’ve been single, I mean, after you’ve been married, so you have to really make a point out of it. Some things make it easy. College is a great place to meet friends. You know, Mommy and Me classes, later in your life, maybe Mahjong lessons.

Jen:  Sure.

Vicki:  Yeah, but you have to really go and look for them, and there are certain places where you’ll find other like minded people, whether you volunteer in the classroom at your school, and you also have to put yourself out a little bit.

Jen:  Yes.

Vicki: You have to make yourself a little bit vulnerable and not be afraid.

Jen: 100 percent. This is a no risk, no reward scenario.

Vicki:  Exactly. And if you think you’re going to tell somebody something and they’re going to use it against you, so what’s the worst that could happen?

Jen:  Yeah.

Vicki:  What’s the very worst that could happen? The possibilities for success are so profound. And to have a friend like we have– I’ve had friends for 30 some years. I have other friends I’ve had for five years, but I don’t lose the friends you know, you make them, you keep them. As long as you don’t ignore them, you keep them.

Jen:  That right there, when they’re well-tended to and nurtured at all, those friends for life are the best kind. Sometimes, the most rare kind, but the very best kind. I’ve read all your books, obviously love them all. My favorite one was The Girlfriends Guide to Getting Your Groove Back. And I think it’s because I hit some some snags there that I wasn’t prepared for. You know, you sort of go in eyes wide open when you have a brand newborn baby, at that point. it’s all hands on deck.

You’re in the weeds, you know? I think when my kids were finally, I have five kids by the way, I mean it’s just absurd, and so I think when they all went to school again, I, like you so aptly noted, I just kind of felt myself a little bit at odds, and my career was going to take a turn, and I didn’t quite know how to reinsert my life into friendships.

?This is something that you wrote in that book; you said “I hate to admit it, but as your girlfriend. it’s my job to speak the unspeakable. Sometimes we’re so overextended with our husbands, kids, careers and domestic business, that making time for a beloved girlfriend can seem like just one more chore. It breaks my heart to say so, and I honestly believe that getting back into the groove is only fun if you do it with your girlfriends. But I don’t know a mother of active kids who doesn’t feel like she’s bobbing in a sea of unreturned phone calls, belated birthday cards and conversations cut short by the need to pick the kids up for water polo practice.”So it’s that sense of being pulled in a thousand directions and only having so many hours in a day. That’s the stage of life a lot of my readers and listeners are in right now. What would you say to the moms in that stage, when they’re sort of weirdly lonely in their own life? They’re so busy, but they just can’t seem to figure out how to how to make it work again.

Vicki:  Well, you know social media is a good thing. for the most part, unless it becomes competitive. But to have a private group that you keep a running conversation with is always fun. Because here’s the miracle; if you have girlfriends and you don’t see them– like I see my best friend from college once every four years–when we get together, we don’t miss a beat. Nobody says, “God. I don’t even know you anymore.” We know each other, and we are there and we have as much fun, but life’s different. She lives in another city. You know, we don’t run into each other all the time. But I will always consider her one of my very best friends. I think you have to trust your friendships enough to know they’ll be there If you just put out a feeler every once in a while just to say “I’m alive. I’m struggling, but I’m alive.”

Jen:  That’s great advice.

?Vicki:  And it does pass, because my girlfriends and I now, after we all became empty nesters. At first everybody turned to mourning. I mean really off the charts mourning, because it happens to go along with menopause. Who’d have thunk?

Jen:  So unfortunate.

Vicki:  It’s such a crummy one-two punch, but once everybody kind of got their hormones back in check, we calmed down. I used to have a very judgmental viewpoint about going to lunch with a girlfriend. Like, I would do it if we took all the kids, and we did it in a park, so everybody was getting what they needed. But I had to learn to entitle myself to certain things.

Jen:  That’s a good word.

Vicki:  I had to say, “this isn’t a competition, this is my life. How do I want to spend my time?” If you could see my calendar, it is a joke, because I have scheduled so many special occasions with my girlfriends, including, like my joke, the Mah Jong class, which I just started taking a month ago, to all the works we do for breast cancer, and I’m on the board for a Special Olympics International., and so many other things. But this, even all that stuff, I do with other women.

Jen:  That makes me so happy. That’s you–one click ahead of where we’re at. You know we’re still down in the mire. That makes me thrilled to hear you say that in the empty nest season, your girlfriends are as vibrant a part of your life as they ever were. That’s so encouraging for those of us who are about to be there.

Vicki:  They are even more so, there are even more so. Everyone is even more loving, because we now know each other through thick and thin. We’ve seen everyone at their worst, and everyone at their best. And we don’t judge anymore. You can’t do anything to become “not my friend” if you’ve been my friend for 20 years.

?Jen:  Totally.

Vicki:  I mean I’ll visit you in prison, whatever.

Jen:  Totally! My girlfriend always says, “I’ll drive the getaway car, I’ll bury the body.”.

Jen:  Let me ask you this. I read a quote that you said; “in the most challenging times of our lives, it’s essential to our well-being that we bring our girlfriends along in the hardest, hardest moments,” and you just kind of alluded to that. Can you tell us at all, a time or season in which your girlfriends really supported you as you were going through struggle, or suffering or loss, that you couldn’t have done without them?

Vicki:  Well, if you get to be my age, you go through a lot of struggling and loss, so I have many. You know, first of all, getting divorced.

Jen:  Yeah.

Vicki:  Getting divorced–my god. If my girlfriends didn’t come poking around and pulling me out of my bed, I probably would still be there. I lost my brother after a year of taking care of him when he had cancer, and my girlfriends showed up for me then. I lost my father that same year. I was having a hard time and I didn’t know how to express grief, either. So I was not only bereft, but unable to even put words to it or to weep enough for it.

So the fact that my girlfriends didn’t expect anything from me, they didn’t think I had anything that I needed to say, I mean they didn’t expect me to say anything. They just would sit and let me be a mute; was incredible, it was incredible. That’s the thing. We’ve all gone through it. One of your children seems to have a learning disability, another child tests positive for leukemia. Another mother gets breast cancer. This is the village. This is what happens.

Jen:  It is.

?Vicki:  Somebody’s kid, not to terrify you, but when your children go off to college, usually somebody in that college freshman class will commit suicide.

Jen:  Yeah, that’s right. Life is hard. For everyone.

Vicki:  Yeah, and the bigger the kid, the bigger the problem because once they’re 18, you can’t control them any more. You’ve done your parenting. You can’t tell them what to do.

Jen:  Oh, it’s just terrible. It’s a terrible system.

Vicki:  So you have to do all the best you can to create; to take care of your relationship with your kid. Be available. Your friends will understand if you’re still in the “mommy swamp.”

Vicki:   Because that’s where you need to be most of this time. Besides, you have to fill out all their college applications, because they’ll never do it.

Jen:  I have a college freshman right now, and truer words have never been spoken. Getting into college these days is like running a gauntlet.

?I really love that, because I’m thinking about some of the some of the people listening today, and if they haven’t suffered or really struggled through loss, they just need to live longer. They’re going to.Vicki:  Yeah.

Jen:  And those girlfriends that show up and say “get in the shower,” you know? “Eat a sandwich,” and just force you to put one foot in front of the other. I mean I really can not imagine what I would do without them.

Let me ask you one more question and then we’ll wrap it up with a little just a quick little ending that we always do.

And there are a lot of answers to this question, but just in your opinion, what is it that you what would you suggest that we get out of our relationships with our friends, with our girlfriends, that no other relationships in our lives provide?

Vicki:  Think we get a true understanding, almost a biological understanding from our girlfriends that we won’t get from other relationships. We’ll always be, even though lots of us like to think we are the friends of our daughters or sons…no, it’s always; we give, they take. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. But girlfriends, especially if you’ve been a good girlfriend, meaning you’ve just stayed present and you’ve said I’m sorry when you needed to, and they’ve said they’re sorry when they need to. The expectations are that you just be genuine. A girlfriend never looks to you and says “You complete me.”

?Jen:  Hmmm.

Vicki:  She’s already herself. You’re yourself, and her expectations are very different from a mate of any other sort.

Jen:  Oh, that’s relieving, isn’t it?

Vicki:  Yes.

Jen:  Oh gosh, that feels amazing. I want a million of those relationships in my life. That’s fabulous.

Vicki:  And you do have to pick carefully, because you’ll learn that some of those friends; some of your friends might be the ones who say “I need something from you, beyond just you,” and you know, that’s too hard. You just might as well say “I’m sorry, I can’t. I can’t save your life, I can’t save your marriage, I can’t take care of your children.” But you know, you pick your friends.

Jen:  Oh, that’s such good advice. Figuring out how to keep and choose healthy friendships is incredibly important work.

?All right, quick; three little questions that I always kind of close with. Here’s the first one.We’ve all gotten a ton of advice in our life; some really great, some really bad. What can you tell our listeners? What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and the worst advice you’ve ever received?

Vicki:  I think I heard some great advice, I didn’t get to use it, but I’d heard it recently, about getting a baby to sleep at night. I’d never heard of “sleep nursing.” Have you heard of that?

Jen:  I am so old. I don’t know anything new.

Vicki:  Yeah. This is a new thing where you pick up a sleeping baby and get it to nurse while it’s still sort of sleeping and fill up, and put it back down, and you kind of avoid that 2:00 a.m. wake-up where they wake up hungry, and they’re hard to soothe, and then you feed them and you know it turns into a big mishegoss.  But I thought that was very interesting. I’ve talked to several moms– it works for a lot. Not for all. But my favorite really good advice from my dad is “never stand when you can sit and never sit when you can lie down.”

Jen:  Yes, wisdom of the ages. That’s beautiful.

Vicki:  Well, what’s the worst advice. Oh, I know, I got some advice one time from a woman who, I really loved this woman, and and respected her very much, and she said to me early on when I was married to the father of my children; “leave the children and always travel with your husband for work, because when they’re on the road all sorts of things can happen and the children will be fine.
You need to stay active and part of your husband’s life.”

Jen:  Oh dear.

Vicki:  And I couldn’t do it.

Jen:  Of course you couldn’t!

Vicki:  I had four little babies and you know what, I hate to say it because she was a beautiful woman but her children suffered so much.

Jen:  Oh I’ve never heard anything like that. That is impossible.

Vicki:  Drug overdoses, suicide. I mean it was horrible. She needed to be home. Sometimes you have to say, “I don’t care if my husband is messing around on the road. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

Jen:  Really, or if he’s going to, he’s going to.

Vicki:   He’s gonna, yeah.

?Jen:  Wow. That was the most unhelpful, impossible advice I ever heard.
OK how about this one… Finish this sentence for us. You know I really love you, if I ever do “what” for you?

Vicki:  Hmmmm. Let you live with me.

Jen:  Yes, yes, because the kids boomerang back, I’m told.

Vicki:  Well, they all have apartments right now.

Jen:   Yay, you!

Vicki:  But you know what. Everybody loves to come home to visit. I’ve got a daughter right now here, a 23-year old, and my husband’s kids are coming at the end of this month with their new baby, so I love you, you can stay, but not endlessly.

Jen:  Amen. That’s it, bring your baby, let me do that part, and then I will send you all home to manage your own life.

Vicki:  Exactly. But otherwise I’m not that much into houseguests. I’ve got to love you.

?Jen:  OK, last question. Here’s a question that I first heard from a writer who I absolutely adore; her name is Barbara Brown Taylor, and this is the question she was asked one time; “what is saving your life right now?”

Vicki:  Optimism. Optimism is saving my life to such an extent that I think it’s a fountain of youth. Curiosity and optimism.

Jen:  Oh my goodness, I just wrote that down.

Vicki:  Because as long as you’re curious and you feel that there are more things out there, more things to learn, more things to see, more people to meet, it shows. I find sometimes, I’m 63 now, and I find sometimes, even amongst my own peers, people saying things like, “oh”– like our parents used to say–“oh the music nowadays,” or  the “oh gosh, you know those people demonstrating”–all that kind of thing. I find that people get so reactionary when they’re old. You’ll make plans with somebody and they’ll say “yeah let’s go to the Incan Ruins, let’s have an adventure.”

And they invariably cancel, you know, right before you have to pay the money. Certain people just can’t get with it anymore. They don’t want to participate in life anymore.

Jen:  I love that. Curiosity and optimism; what amazing advice. OK. Vicki will you just tell all the listeners kind of what you’re working on right now and how can they find you, and connect with you?

Vicki:  I’m working on something that’s not a Girlfriend’s Guide right now. I’m working on a television concept– a mini series that is about 60’s art and the 60’s music scene.

Jen:  Ooooh.

Vicki:  But other than that, there’s going to be an HBO four-part special in July called “The Defiant Ones” which is a documentary about my former husband Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, and I just filmed my part for that yesterday, so I’ll be appearing in that.

Jen:  Interesting.

?Vicki:  And it’s something I’m very proud of. The documentary, I think, is quite astonishing.Jen:  When is that coming out?

Vicki:  July. I don’t have the date yet, but July on HBO.

Jen:  How exciting. OK. So anybody who wants to to find you, to follow you, to read what you’re writing– where’s the best place to keep up with you?


Jen:  That’s just that simple. We’ll have itt on the website too, you guys.

Vicki:  Thank you.

Jen:  I cannot thank you enough for jumping on this call with me. I have loved and admired and respected and appreciated you for so many years.

Vicki:  Oh, you’re so kind.

Jen:  And you’re just dear to me.

Vicki:  I’ve loved this chat so much, thank you very much for the honor.

Jen:  Thank you Vicki–so good to talk to you.

Vicki:  Okay, Bye.

?Jen:   So how fun and funny is Vicki? I love her. She’s my favorite kind of person; the kind of person who embodies a lot of wisdom, and warmth, and is just also slightly inappropriate. Right? That’s the very best kind of human being. I love her. I hope I didn’t come across too fan-girly, but I’m sure that I probably did.

I’m still just thinking about so many interesting and smart things she said about friendships and how they go the distance. I hope you loved her, because I completely love her, so I’m going to have links to all of Vicki’s books over on my website; I’ll also have a transcript of this podcast, just in case you want to put an eyeball on it and not just an ear.

Finally, let me just mention one thing that I love, sort of based on today’s discussion on girlfriends. So, I find that my best friendships are a combination of warm and loving, and also snarky. Right? So, there’s this site on Etsy that I adore, and it’s called Shop Sapling Press, that’s the Etsy store; Shop Sapling Press, and they have hilarious, beautifully designed cards that you can send  just the right girlfriend in your life, and you’ll know what I mean.

They say things like; “whatever you’re going through right now, carbs are the answer,” or “you’re posting a lot of song lyrics, and we’re all worried about you.” Or; “parenting is mostly just informing kids how many more minutes they have of something, etc..”

“Friendship is one hundred percent thinking, ‘will they get mad if I look at my phone right now?’” Just so awesome.

So, I love those cards. I love sending them to the right friend at just the right time. I’ll have that link over on my website too, for Shop Sapling Press over on Etsy, because sometimes that’s just the right thing.

All right, you guys. Super glad that you joined Vicki and I today. Excited to tell you about my next guest in this series “For The Love of Girlfriends.”

My next guest is amazing, and smart, and interesting. Her name is Shasta Nelson and she has just this entire girlfriend space that she leads, in she’s an author, she puts on workshops, and she teaches in corporate settings and she has retreats and trips. I mean really, she is like literally an expert in girlfriendhood. I’ve been all over her website. I’ve already taken some of her quizzes. She is so fascinating and so incredibly instructive. So you are going to want to tune into the next episode with Shasta, because she is an incredible guide through the wonderful peaks and valleys of friendship as adults. So join me next time with Shasta Nelson.

Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on For The Love!

Narrator:  Thanks for joining us today on the “For the Love Podcast.” Tune in next week, when we sit down again with Jen and friends to chat about all the things we love.

We love you, our listeners, so we want to be sure you subscribe to “For the Love,” with Jen Hatmaker, via iTunes or your favorite podcast provider, so you don’t miss a thing. And if you have a minute, please leave us a review. To become a part of Jen’s online community, visit and sign up for her newsletter. It’s full of all the things you love, including free stuff. We love free stuff!  Thanks for listening, and see you next time on For the Love, With Jen Hatmaker.

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