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  • Writer's picturePaula Ciampini MacDonald

High School Sweethearts ❤

We live in an age of instant gratification with our phones never far from grasp, never wanting to miss a text, a snap, a tweet and God forbid miss a “like." We are all addicted in one way or another but not all of it is our fault. “Instant gratification” is partly to blame. It has been defined as, “the immediate attainability of satisfaction and happiness because your brain provides a “hit” of dopamine that makes you feel so good.” Most of us know our reliance on social media can be extremely harmful to our mental health and using it too frequently can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety, especially in our young kids and teenagers. Listen, early on I was that mom who tried to get creative to break the cycle with our kids. We implemented “Wi-Fi free” time slots at home, phones in the kitchen before bed, no phones during family movie/game nights….and guess what….I was always the one getting busted for sneaking my phone. Insert rolling eye emojis faces and our kids yelling “seriously Mom/seriously Paula!!” In these instances, I wasn’t always surfing Amazon or scrolling Instagram. I was most likely checking in on my “High School Sweethearts”, a WhatsApp group named affectionately after 9 of us who have been friends since high school and some of us since elementary school (I’ll come back to these “Sweeties” in a little bit). Even though I was guilty for breaking my own rule, I would unconsciously morph into my mother and defensively bark, “well, do as I say and not as I do!” And as those words left my lips, they would be greeted with more eye rolls but not just from the kids, from myself too. I rolled my own eyes in embarrassment, remembering how much I hated hearing the hypocrisy of those words when I was teen. Epic parenting fail on my part!! Blaming my parents for my parental shortcomings will be next month’s blog…..just kidding Mom & Dad!


Since those early days, our family has made many strides and is learning to navigate the seas of social media/screen time together. Still, there are some days I see the tops of the kid’s heads more than their faces, then others when no phones are insight because an intense game of touch football has taken over our yard. Through compromise and negotiation we are finding our groove...baby steps. And though I started by sharing a somewhat negative example of my own online instant gratification addiction, not all digital media is bad in my opinion. The intent of today’s blog is to highlight one online medium that has literally changed my life for the better…….


We all have our people, those with whom we are the truest versions of ourselves. These friendships last the test of time and come in all shapes and sizes. Let me introduce you to mine, to my “High School Sweethearts” WhatsApp group. Our group is made up of 9 women, we are 42 & 43 years old, we have 24 children/8 stepchildren and 30+ plus years of friendship between us. Though we are spread out from coast to coast across Canada with one “sweetheart” just across the pond, we have never been as connected to each other as we are today. We have lived more life than most women double our age. We have been through the trenches together, sharing our darkest moments, deepest secrets & our greatest joys. The green WhatsApp icon has become a lifeline for all of us, one that none of us could live without. Having said that, I must also acknowledge the importance of all the other deep bonds and friendships we have independent of each other…. with our mothers, sisters, friends, aunts, cousins, neighbours, etc. All of these relationships together strengthen our sisterhood and shape who we are as women.


The Sweethearts turn heads wherever we go...either because we are talking too loud, laughing too hard, drinking too much or breaking out into our “famous” pyramid formation in the middle of a restaurant. A gaggle of beautiful women who look like they are having the time of their lives no matter where they are...and do you want to know why? Because we ARE. When we are together it's like no one else exists...just ask our husbands LOL! We are obnoxiously happy...there’s nonstop hugging, nonstop “I love you & I miss you’s”. So much so that we would hate us if we were on the outside looking in. But we have earned the right to be annoyingly happy, we have earned every laugh line. Every one of us has been broken in one way or another and we are all scarred beneath the surface. Together we have lived, shared and cried through a laundry list of events:


  • Infertility & miscarriages

  • Deaths of a spouse/parent/in-laws

  • Infidelity

  • Divorce

  • Breast cancer (with 10+ operations that followed)

  • Boob jobs & Botox

  • Thyroid cancer

  • Biopsies, radiation & chemo

  • Nasty custody battles

  • Children with anxiety & learning disabilities

  • Spouses & teens addicted to drugs/alcohol

  • Job loss & financial difficulties


When life has knocked us down, we have lifted each other up, dusted each other off, wiped the tears, held back the hair, applied the make-up, sent the food, babysat the kids and the list goes on. There has been so much “sad” so when we do “happy”, we do it on steroids and we form human pyramids. We truly celebrate life and “dance around the fire” when our tribe is together. I have never met a stronger group of women. I truly believe our strength comes from sharing, when we share we connect, when we connect we start to heal. Thanks to this group chat we have 24/7 instant access to each other. Someone is always there whether it's a 4AM, “anyone up” text when perimenopausal insomnia kicks in or an 11AM, “anyone having a cocktail yet” text. We are always right there to laugh at each other and with each other. Our sense of humour can be somewhat indecent and in poor taste...but always hilarious. One never knows what is coming next as the little dots start floating in the text bubble but we always know someone is there on the other end. That alone is such a gift.


Without sounding too dramatic, the Sweetheart chat was my salvation during the most difficult time in my life. Some days I was so emotionally drained that I couldn’t even converse, but it gave me such comfort to sit back and read through the 357 texts I had missed. Texts and stories of pure silliness, extreme seriousness, dirty jokes, crazy exes, doctor appointments, what have you,….and all of it made me feel at peace. I had this community of support at my fingertips that gave me strength and kept me grounded. All 9 of us have our stories, each unique and different, but I think it's safe to say our online chat has enhanced each of our lives and deepened our connections like no other medium before.


So thank you to my High School Sweethearts, we have loved each other through everything without conditions. I am so proud to stand with this group of women in our imperfections and in our beauty. A group of women who will push you off your high horse when needed, then form a pyramid to build you back up again…..I love you all.


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2 commenti


autumnphillips
03 dic 2020

I cried too! I love being a part of this group. Love you guys so much. Couldn’t have put it better myself Paula. 🥰🥰🥰

Mi piace

cf_carnovale
02 dic 2020

Well I'm crying. Love you all so much. Truly one of my life's great blessings is all of you ❤️.

Mi piace
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