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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Aug 22, 2022

With Helen Ellis, Bestselling Author


Summer is a great time for planning barbecues and outdoor get-togethers or even a weekend away with your closest girlfriends. You don’t have to travel far. After all, a weekend getaway with dear friends is more about the company you keep than the destination. It’s time to just relax, kick your feet up, let your hair down, and simply enjoy being with the women who know and love you best. If you’re lucky enough to have a group of gal pals you frequently travel with, you already know the healing power a girls’ trip can bring. But if you’ve never treated yourself to a girls’ trip, then why wait? Come up with a plan, and set it in motion. And in the words of bestselling author Helen Ellis, “Bring Your Baggage And Don’t Pack Light.”


A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Helen moved to New York in her early 20s to pursue a career as a writer. Not only is she delightfully funny and very proud of her southern heritage, but behind Helen’s charming accent and sweet demeanor, is an accomplished professional poker player who knows how to disarm even her toughest opponents.


Helen’s book Southern Lady Code is a tongue-in-cheek manual for dispensing southern wit and wisdom. From an early age, Southern women are taught the value of good manners and the need to always be kind. Acting ugly, impolite, or mean is frowned upon. Instead, Helen cites numerous examples where that charming accent and impeccable southern manners can diffuse even the most challenging of situations. For example, Helen advises that saying, “No, thank you” is a complete sentence with no further explanation or excuse required. Or, instead of describing someone as a “control freak,” say it the southern way, “She means well.” Finally, simply saying, “I’m not in charge,” is another way of telling someone they’re doing something wrong and according to the Southern lady code, that’s just one of the ways Southern ladies manage to speak up and get their point across without alienating those around them.


Last year, when Florine interviewed Helen Ellis, she’d just published her latest

book Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light; a charming and hilarious collection of essays about the healing power of lifelong friendships. Currently, Helen is at work on her latest collection of stories entitled KISS ME IN THE CORAL LOUNGE: Intimate Confessions from a Happy Marriage which is scheduled for release next year.


So, if you want to hear some brilliant tips from the Southern lady code and

discover why humor is often our best line of defense, check out Florine’s

interview with the wise and very funny, bestselling author, Helen Ellis.


What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • What was it like for Helen moving from Alabama to NYC?
  • How did Helen meet her husband?
  • What was Helen’s education and career path in writing like?
  • What was it like working for Chanel?
  • What makes women of the South unique?
  • How did Helen decide to write a book about female friendships?
  • What is a “second-best friend”?
  • What are the different friend groups Helen is a part of?
  • Why does the book focus only on female friendships?
  • Why does Helen think women 5‒10 years older than you make the best friends?
  • How does Helen find her groups of friends?
  • How did Helen become a professional poker player?
  • How can you tell when someone is a very good friend?
  • What does Helen do when a friend hurts her feelings or has a vastly different opinion?
  • Why does Helen think laughter is so important?


Today’s Takeaway:

Helen’s book, Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light, demonstrates how sharing your feelings with your closest girlfriends and looking at our situation with humor may see us through the darkest of times. Talking through your fears with a close girlfriend might provide a solution or motivate you to take the next best step for yourself. At the very least, it may help us see the humor in our lives. And we could all do with a bit more laughter these days. A good sense of humor makes it easier to cope when you don’t feel well or you’re in any kind of pain. Laughter really is the best medicine. When we laugh, we release endorphins that not only lift our mood but might improve our health. Laughter helps us navigate the daily frustrations of life. When we’re able to see our situation in its proper perspective, it might even improve our social life. People are drawn to others who make them laugh. Carl Reiner said if we keep laughing, we’ll live forever. At the very least, it certainly makes life more enjoyable. Remember that every day is a gift, so get out there and live, laugh, and enjoy every moment. I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”



  • “Women in the South will tell you what they think, tell you what we think, but just give it a little bit of a sugar coating.” — Helen
  • “You have to respect those who have gone before you.” — Helen
  • “In my experience, at this age, if someone hurts my feelings I just let it sit.” — Helen
  • “We all make mistakes. I know I’ve surely hurt people’s feelings unintentionally.” — Helen
  • “Some subjects I just stay away from with certain friends.” — Helen
  • “A sense of humor really is the best medicine.” — Helen
  • “I wrote another book and no one would publish it. And then I wrote another book, no one would publish it. I wrote a third book, no one would publish it… and then I quit writing for years.” — Helen
  • “When your best friend isn’t available and you call me, I will show up and help you!” — Helen
  • “Being the second-best friend is a good gig if you can get it. I’m number 2! I’m number 2!” — Helen
  • “I really wanted to focus on the women and our bonds. The women in your life, they’re the ones that make the phone calls, they’re the ones that show up at the hospital, they’re the ones that make the dinner plans. We really carry the crux of a lot and I wanted to shine a light on that.” — Helen
  • “A very good friend of yours wants you to look as good as possible.” — Helen


Brought to You By:

Gardner White Furniture


Mentioned in This Episode:

Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light

Southern Lady Code

American Housewife

Helen Ellis on Twitter