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A key component to finding happiness in the second half of your life is to surround yourself with your true inner circle of friends. Learn how to find and enhance the friendships that are most important to you.
Every woman deserves to have at least one close friend who supports her unconditionally. You know the kind of friend we mean? She'll tell you if you have spinach in your teeth. She'll go shopping with you and give your little black dress the thumbs up or thumbs down. She'll listen when you complain about work or kids or your spouse and never bring it up again, unless you do. In keeping with the queen metaphor, we call these friends our Ladies in Waiting or LIW. LIWs are a precious gift and something to treasure. Do you have such friend in your life? Are you such a friend to someone else?

Think about the women in your life. Is your support system just that—a support system? Or do you have women in your life who undermine you? Do you have someone in your life that would be unhappy if you changed? Someone who would not like it if you lost weight, stopped drinking, went back to school, got a divorce or moved to Kansas City? Spending time with someone who is competitive with you or who you simply share a bad habit with might not be a basis for a good friendship.

What does a trusted LIW have that makes her different than all other friends? It's really not what she has, but what she doesn't have. She doesn't have an agenda. She listens, loves you and gives advice only when asked, based solely on what is best for you—not what would make her happiest. Do you have this kind of bond in your life? Having a strong support system is essential. We're not saying to dump all your friends. We're just saying take a look at who you rely on and ask yourself if you are getting what you need from these relationships.

Here's what we did to figure out which friends were our real LIWs..

4 ways to find your true inner circle of friends
Cindy Ratzlaff and Kathy Kinney
Photo: Jacqueline Veissid
First, we thought about what four virtues or qualities we hoped we brought to a friendship. We decided that these were the qualities we would most want in a friend. We came up with loving, honest, generous and brave. You can use our four qualities or take time to come up with your own. We made a chart with our four qualities across the top, and down the left-hand side, we wrote the names of the women we considered to be our closest friends. Next to our friends' names, we put a check for each of the qualities we thought they had.

Okay, now it's your turn. It's easy. Just take a piece of paper and give it a shot. Do you have a friend who has a check in all the categories? Do you have two? If you find friends who have checks in all the columns, these are your true inner circle—your LIW.

Secondly, once we identified our true LIWs, we let them know how valuable their friendship was to us. We think you'll be surprised at how much stronger a friendship becomes when you have the courage to acknowledge it. We are always on the lookout for a new LIW, so when we meet new women who share these qualities, we ask them to be our friends. Friendships with like-minded woman are essential because they reflect back to us the ideals that are most important to us. These friendships nurture and enhance those qualities, making them shine and bringing out the best in both of us.

Finally, we show up and work on our friendships. We know that in order to have a good friend, we must be a good friend. We actively strive to be good friends to each other, and in doing so, we become better women. And we want that for you.
Friendships are one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. They are meant to be safe, enriching and full of love and lots of laughter. Let's reach out and tell those women in our lives that have really "got our backs" that we appreciate them, and let's work hard to be an LIW to someone in return. Here's to creating a royally beautiful and regally happy second half of life.

What qualities do you consider essential in your LIW? Comment below.

Kathy Kinney is best known for her iconic role as Mimi Bobeck on The Drew Carey Show. She has acted in over a dozen films, guest-starred on numerous television shows and has toured worldwide with Drew Carey and the Improv All-Stars. Kinney may also be seen in the title role of Mrs. P at, a website for children aimed at keeping the joy of books and reading alive.

A veteran publishing executive,
Cindy Ratzlaff created marketing campaigns for more than 100 New York Times best-selling books, including The South Beach Diet. She is president of Brand New Brand You, which specializes in using new social media platforms to increase brand awareness, and is co-founder of the online publishing company Supreme Social Media.

For more information about the book, visit

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