For Heather Hatfield, Ashley Graham, and Johnna Tate, sheer proximity is what first set their friendship in motion. The trio met after all moving into the same neighborhood, and with children around the same age, there was an instant bond. As the years have passed, their relationship has evolved from that of neighbors to that of a true support system and has even extended to other family members. Now, the three households regularly come together to have fun and help one another out.
HS: What are some valuable traits of the other ladies that make them such an integral part of your support system?
AG: Heather is a loyal friend and one of the first people I met when I moved to Chattanooga 10 years ago, and we are still very close. Johnna is very generous and always is great about planning get-togethers. They both are intentional about investing in our friendship.
JT: Heather is someone I can count on no matter what. She’s a friend who, if I’m having a bad day, will drop everything to meet me for lunch to cheer me up. Ashley is someone I love to be around because of how kind and generous she is. She is the most inclusive person and never makes you feel lesser than.
HH: We all have a very close friendship. No matter what life throws at us, I can always count on Ashley and Johnna to be there. They both are good listeners, not quick to judge, and always have encouraging advice. The older you get, you realize the value of genuine friendships!
HS: Why do you think it’s necessary to have a support system in place?
AG: Motherhood can be challenging and life is busy, so it is really helpful to have the support of your friends for the big and the little things. Having friends close by as neighbors can be a lifesaver, whether it’s to borrow something last minute or to help out with things.
HH: I think it’s very important to have strong friendships like ours. Like the old saying goes, it takes a village. I can’t imagine not having these girls to lean on when times are tough and to celebrate the good things in life.
HS: What’s the most important thing you’ve taught each other since meeting?
AG: To always make time for your friendships and to reach out and ask for help or advice if you need something.
JT: I’ve learned to cherish our friendship. As an adult, meeting new women and hitting it off is hard, but these two make it easy.
HH: The importance of staying connected even when life gets busy. Our children definitely keep us on the go, but we always find time to get together!
HS: How do you approach wellness, both separately and as a group?
AG: Personally, my approach to wellness is all about balance in both diet and exercise. I get in a rut just like everyone, but I try to drink lots of water each day. I walk my Frenchie, Dudley, every day, and it’s nice when we get a big neighborhood group to walk together.
JT: We love to walk our neighborhood together, play tennis, and golf as couples with our husbands. Separately, I enjoy group fitness classes and make time for self-care.
HS: What are your favorite ways to bond and lift each other up?
JT: An encouraging text, uplifting phone call, a neighborhood women’s wine night, or a family beach trip together.
HH: Making it a point to plan girls’ nights no matter how busy we are, and we love traveling together with our families. Whether it’s a birthday or big achievement, we’re there for each other to celebrate!