Monday, March 28, 2011

I Get By With A Little Help…

...from my friends. Friendship: a topic that I feel needs some clarification and definition. There are many “tiers” of friendship in our lives. Now, I don’t mean that in an offensive way, but in a descriptive manner. There are people that are your friends for different lengths of time; you meet people in any number of ways during your life. You feel a variable degree of closeness to your friends.  Honorable, loyal, trustworthy, dedicated, loving, honest, these are some words that I would use to describe many of my friends. I believe that I am a good friend; at least I maintain quite a few friendships that enrich my life. I know that I have mentioned before that it’s not necessarily the quantity but the quality of these relationships that is most important. The payoff for you, the work you put in being a friend to someone or having friends in your life, is well worth it.

Childhood Or Long-Time Friends- These are friends that I have known for years. Our friendships were formed when our adulthood was being formed. They are people that are either a part of my daily life or we make an effort to keep in touch relatively often. If we haven’t spoken in months, when we pick up the phone to call, it’s like we talked yesterday. We can laugh about the same stories or events that happened when we were 12 or when we were 40. We can cry about things that have happened in our lifetime together that others may understand or that only these friends understand. They’re willing to listen to my troubles and celebrate my accomplishments. They often advise and encourage me, even when I haven’t asked for it. They put me in my place when necessary and allow me to have the same luxury with them. They know where the bodies are buried and have bail money if you need it. They have watched out for you in all kinds of situations as you have for them. Some of them aren’t here with us anymore, but they are watching over us always. There are those that I have maintained relationships with my whole life. There are also those that I have been blessed to reconnect with on Facebook. Either way, they inspire me, remind me of where I have been and where I have yet to go.

Work Friends- These are people that I currently work with, have worked with, keep in touch with or maybe not. Besides sleeping, when you are employed full-time, you spend more time with your co-workers, than you do with a significant other. 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. They put up with your moods – good or bad, and they expect you to do the same for them. Sometimes you have dinner or see a movie outside of work; sometimes you don’t. You spend a lot of time making plans to do stuff, but nothing ever materializes. Not for lack of trying or planning, I think things tend to fizzle out because of all the time you already spend together. Some days, you can’t imagine your life without them. Other days, you can’t wait to get away from them. Every day, you see them and you adjust. I have good people that I currently work with. I have good people that I used to work with. When I think of them and the time we spent together, it makes me smile. I miss them. I look forward to seeing my current co-workers and miss them if they aren’t around for a spell. It’s good to work with intelligent people who live a variety of lifestyles. Our diversity makes us interesting and helps us grow.

Frenemies- You know who they are; we all have them. They are people who are in your life for necessity. You may have started out as friends, but events or one particular incident may have occurred to help you realize, “Whoa, wait a second!” They might be friends or relatives of a close friend. They might be someone that you work with. They might even be a relative of yours. In any case, these are people that, for whatever reason, are necessary in your life that you can’t get rid of. You have to deal with them. If they are doing you harm on a regular basis, mentally or emotionally, I’m not suggesting that you suffer through it. Those would be relationships that are too toxic to maintain and you should jettison from your life. I’m talking about playing well with others. Smiling and being social, but watching your back and their steps. I have often made the mistake of thinking that someone is my friend. I have been slapped right in the face with the reality of the situation. Again, a growth and learning process – keep your friends close, but your frenemies closer; they will do you more harm than a known enemy if you let them. Protect yourself, your feelings, your loving nature, and your heart.

My Girls- I have several groups of girlfriends. We are grouped together for many different reasons. There are my “Mom” friends. These would be the mothers of my children’s friends, women who I have a connection with because we were planning and organizing the lives of our kids. Once our kids grew up, some of these relationships did too. What is sad is that there were women I thought were really my friends. But our kids grew up and apart, then so did we. I guess all we really had in common was our children. I didn’t think so at the time, but I have since learned better.

There are my “Christmas/Pool Party” friends. These are the gals that I have been spending the first Saturday of December and the second Saturday after July 4th with for 20+ years. There was a base group of girls that have been together since they were young kids that has morphed over the years into something awesome. Some have come and gone; this group is not for the faint-hearted! During the 12-24 hours that we spend together twice a year, we are generally laughing, talking, drinking, eating, dancing, singing and cultivating this bond of friendship. I see some of these 16 or so girls at other times during the year, but nothing beats these two occasions. I can’t imagine myself anywhere else or with anybody else on those days. These times are the highlight of my year.

There are my “girlfriends.” These are women who could fit into any of the categories I have previously discussed at any given time but are different too. Our relationships ebb and flow with continuity I am grateful for. We talk often and listen to each other. When times are good or bad or when we are happy or sad, there is always an ear to listen and sympathize. There is a kick in the butt when you need it or a hug when that kick doesn’t seem to be working.  They are gals that I can call in advance or at the last minute for a movie, a drink, dinner, a visit, whatever strikes our fancy. We have lots in common and are different too. It’s the commonality and diversity that keeps things interesting. There are a few that I am very, very close to. They understand me sometimes better than I understand myself. They offer a clarity that comes from both the outside and inside. They know me.

Facebook Friends- These would be your social network friends. They may be people that you actually know or only know on Facebook. If you have someone or something to promote, these friends will help you. If you post a status or music about how you are feeling or how your day is going, some will like it. They may even comment on it. They live in other states, other countries even, but are checking often to see how their friends or connections are doing. Thanks to my virtual event, my Facebook friends are growing. It is amazing to me the compassion and the caring that has flowed across the lines. The sharing of information about different topics and our lives has been very fulfilling and educational. It is helping me grow both as a person and as a friend. What did we all do before Facebook?

Friendship. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. It’s wonderful to reach out and have someone there for you when you do. It’s also wonderful to be the person who is needed. As human beings, we interact with each other every single day of our lives. It’s the way you choose to relate that helps others learn about you and your interests. Friends are precious…keep them close to your heart…with love.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What Goes Around…

...comes around.  I have been rolling it around in my head for awhile. It’s a phrase that has been used in a few conversations I have had recently.  I realized that it’s necessary for me to pay closer attention to this statement and its meaning.

What Goes Around Comes Around. It seemed like this phrase had been used frequently when people feel that they have been “done wrong.” Someone may have hurt or maligned you in any number of ways and this statement came to your mind, like a “payback.” Did you really wish the pain you are feeling – intentionally or unintentionally – on the person who had caused you pain? I have wondered how often this thought came to your mind when something good happened for you.  Something told me, based on my recent experience, not too often.

When you have been hurt by someone or something in your life, the most important healing needs to come from within you. If this phrase is to be taken literally, any bad or payback thoughts could come back to you tenfold. Conversely, if you have this thought when something good happens for you, the same could happen. Isn’t it better to think that, if it’s true, you would be happier having good things come around for you more often?

Do Unto Others. When you do something for a friend or loved one in your life, you should do it because you want to. It is difficult for me, at times, not to expect something in return. I try not to live by a “one hand washes the other,” mentality, but it’s very hard. I want to “save” a lot of people. Who do I think I am? I don’t have that capability or power! I think this type of behavior comes from early on in my life. I didn’t feel protected or secure in my younger years, so I want to be sure that no one else feels that way now. I am working on showing more empathy, but not taking on the problems of others.

It is important to treat people how you want to be treated. It’s not always going to turn out in your favor. Be kind, listen to your loved ones, really HEAR what they are saying or feeling. I don’t think we mean to intentionally hurt the feelings of others; it happens. I would like to believe that we aren’t walking around being purposefully cruel or mean, but it does feel that way sometimes.

If someone says, “You hurt my feelings when (fill in the blank),” they are looking for validation from you.  Not necessarily an explanation of why or a statement in your defense, just validation. Here are two types of acknowledgments to that statement: “I’m sorry that your feelings were hurt.” Or “I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings.” Can you see the difference? If someone has worked up the courage (and it can be very hard,) to call you out on how they have been treated by you, it is your job to listen and respond. This can definitely be their perception of an issue or incident and you might not agree. But in this conversation, we aren’t talking about you; we are talking about the other person. Say that you are sorry. That’s all. Sometimes, you will be on the receiving end. If someone has hurt you, let them know, especially if it is difficult for you to let it go. If you don’t, this could irreparably damage your relationship. You want to encourage the growth and nurturing process.

Let’s hope that by treating others as you would like to be treated, many good things will come around for you. Open your mind and your heart...your spirit free and unencumbered…it will keep you and your life focused and filled…with love.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

True Love… in our lives in many different forms. It’s right there in front of us. Sometimes, for whatever reason, we don’t see it. If we don’t see it, we can’t appreciate it, bask in it, relish it. I have found that making an effort to look for it and the ways it’s available to us makes day to day living a little better, easier and gives me some peace of mind and heart.
The Love of Family.  This should be an unconditional form of love. Grandmas, grandpas, moms, dads, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and cousins. We form a bond, whether it’s when we are born or when we become a member of a family – through adoption or marriage – a connection is started. The strength and endurance of which is maintained by us. Sometimes, it’s easy, it flows. There is love between all or certain family members that is epic. A closeness that is admired and nurtured. Sometimes, it’s hard, it takes patience. The bond gets so stretched that it becomes difficult to maintain. It can be broken, un-repairable, it happens, but it’s ok.  You can’t choose your family, but you can choose how to love and grow with them…or not…it’s up to you.
Romantic Love.  This is generally a love of your choosing – consciously or unconsciously. It can be fun, exciting and new. It can be familiar, comfortable and sustainable. It can be torturous, unattainable or unavailable. It’s passion and longing simultaneously in your heart. You are fortunate to feel it. You can spend a lot of time on the “chase.”  How fun is that – flirting, joking, getting to know each other? You can spend a lot of time as friends, sharing things about each other, hanging out. Then, one day “POW!” You are smacked by an imaginary hand to the forehead and think “Where the heck did that come from?”
Do you remember your first kiss? Now, I’m not talking about that awkward, you-are-too-young-to-be-kissing-anybody, kiss. I am talking about that first connection. It can be one that you have been thinking about A LOT. When you really like someone, when your heart is pounding and you are thinking “Will they or won’t they? Gosh, I hope they do!” It can be when you have been hanging around with someone for a while and they decide to grab your hand and kiss you, out of nowhere (ok, maybe not nowhere!) It can be that simple kiss hello that you have kissed lots of times. But one time it zaps you with electricity that sparks your heart and suddenly you’re hooked. These first kisses should bring a smile to your kissable lips right now, just thinking about them.
The Love of Friends.  This is special, the love of friendship.  It comes often and naturally, provided you and your heart are open. It can be formed on the foundation of your similarities or your differences. For instance, a love of the same type of music can be what draws you together as friends. Subsequently, your love of different types of music can be what helps you learn about each other. It doesn’t matter if you have many friends, a few, or just one that you know that you can depend on. It’s really the quality of your friendship that matters over the quantity of friends. I am blessed with the support of my friends and I reach out for that support often and regularly. Some have been friends for years, some have been reconnected and some are fresh, new. It’s no matter, I appreciate them all. I have friends that I haven’t talked to for months at time. But when we pick up the phone or see each other, we have such a connection it’s like we talked for hours the day before. Easy, comfortable, solid.
Life is more fulfilling with true love in it.  By true I mean that you feel genuinely close to another human being for whatever reason. It’s real, look for it, feel it. Whether it’s your family, your partner, your crush or a good friend; positive relationships foster healing and well-being. Go out and get yourself some love today…call your family, have dinner with a friend, give someone a big kiss…you deserve it…with love.