Colleen, Dianne, Donna, Joni and me.  We were twenty-something when we met.  The five of us were just beginning our accounting careers.  And though we didn’t know it then, we were still growing up.

Many of our life lessons were learned at Arthur Andersen & Co–what some called ‘Uncle Arthur’ but most simply knew as ‘AA’—back when it was still an elite international public accounting firm, back before Enron blew up and the firm closed its trademarked double doors forever.  By that time, we’d all parted ways with the famous doors—but thankfully, we had the wisdom to hold on to each other.   

We all wore our carbon copy ‘dress-for-success’ business suits, but beneath it all, we were and remain as different as five women could be.    

Colleen – gorgeous and sweet.  She made men swoon in the halls of AA and one in particular, lucky enough to be Joni’s good friend.  Colleen and Dan now live together in paradise, thanks to Cupid-Joni, where Colleen views life through a poet’s eye… and the lens of her camera.  

Dianne – more than a bit on the wild side.  She broke the CPA mold when she entered the starched button-down accounting profession.  Daring and bold, she speaks aloud what other’s don’t dare to think, which serves her well in her incredibly successful business.  She is the proverbial preacher’s kid with the stories to prove it, the kind that curl a person’s toes.     

Donna – Mrs. Conservative, with a capital C, the Matron of Honor at my wedding.  She’s the down-to-earth mother figure of whatever accounting kingdom she rules.  She is comfortable with herself and others are confortable in her presence.  All this mothering makes her a worry wart, but she releases it to the world when she says, “Jiminy”.   

Joni— she’s articulate, funny and full of southern charm and poise.  When Joni walks into a room, it comes to attention.  She can spin a yarn and read her audience effortlessly.  She’s a force to be reckoned with – she went eye-to-eye with an OU football player she thought had made her daughter cry.  The other guy blinked.

So there you have them – sugar, spice and everything nice — the pretty one, the wild side, mother earth and our very own steel magnolia.  And then there’s me.  I’m the quiet one.  I listen.  And maybe someday, I’ll write it all down. 

Every few years we convene at some nice locale to talk into the wee hours of the morning.  We laugh at our shared past which keeps us all grounded.    We talk about our joys and our troubles.  We’ve seen each other through divorces, re-marriages, illness, career challenges, and the forever humbling, pull-your-hair-out times of raising teen-aged girls.  When one has the wind knocked out of her sails, another will remind her to breathe.  We are and always will midwife each other’s troubles.  And before we part ways, we encourage one another to reach for the stars — or at least to take ‘one small step’ out of our individual comfort zones.

We’re talking about inviting our nine daughters to our next reunion.  Can you imagine fourteen gal pals talking into the wee hours of the morning?  Sounds like good listening.