This is Friendship

I’ve had many jobs over the years and have made friendships along the way. Very fortunate to have come across some amazing people in my time and with social media, we all have a place to keep in touch and keep each other posted on what’s going on…

While no two friendships are alike… some will fall naturally into the “see each other when you see each other” and it’s lovely. Then some, you genuinely make an effort toward seeing and then there are those who become family.

One such friend, who falls into the last group, recently lost a family member. She lives a couple hours from me so our visits have become yearly and sometimes, even less. We try to catch up on the phone a few times a year but life happens and sometimes we go longer than we should.

Well, randomly, last week, I couldn’t stop thinking about this friend of mine, who again, I haven’t seen or spoken to in many months. I even thought I saw her. So I texted her a simple “Hey, I miss you.” Lo and behold, she texted me back expressing the pain she was in from the death of a loved one, that just happened.

I said, I’m coming to you. Give me a day and time.

And though we hadn’t seen each other in two years or even chatted in almost a year, we fell immediately into sync and didn’t stop talking for four hours.

Our faces have aged a bit and gone is the 20-year-old invincible attitude, but in their place, is understanding, history and love.

Many years ago, this friend could have walked away from me. I would have if I were in her shoes, considering the selfish way in which I’d conducted myself at the time…

But instead, she loved me more.

“The language of friendship is not words but meanings.”

-Henry David Thoreau

 

 

Saying Goodbye When It’s Time

I said goodbye to a friend this week. And no, before you think the worst, no one died. Only the realization that two people should not put each other through trouble anymore. When expectations of what being a friend means differs tremendously between two people, it’s time to end the pain.

And that’s okay.

Full disclosure, a regular question to me over years would go like this –  “She’s doesn’t seem that happy with you. Why are you friends exactly?”

While differences can be part of the fun, if those differences cause someone pain, well, time to cut the cord, no? It’s okay not to be friends with everyone.

I mean, come on… different strokes for different folks.

It’s quality. Not quantity.

Friends compliment life. And when necessary, they challenge you. But if they try to make you something you are not, to fulfill their needs, then… is that friendship? What’s worse is if they try to make you feel bad, over and over again, for being yourself, then it’s clear they’re not happy with you as a friend and again, why are we friends exactly?

Not easy, though. Especially when dealing with human emotions.

But I’ve learned over the years that friendship is whatever a pair defines it to be. I have been blessed with dear friends I’ve retained since my teens. And while we may go a year without talking, we know we care about each other as life moves swiftly and we go in different directions.

Friendship is what you make of it. If both people really want to be in it.

“Real friends were the kind where you pick up where you’d left off, whether it be a week since you’d seen each other or two years.”

 Jojo Moyes, One Plus One: A Novel

 

 

 

 

 

Bluntness

I sometimes get in trouble with people when I answer a question honestly and it’s an answer they don’t like or agree with.

Anyone else ever have this problem? Sometimes, I really get where Larry David is coming from but this isn’t the time to review his show….

I’m blunt. Many of my readers have figured that out by now and some I think even like me for it. My friends, my good friends who know me deeply, tend to really appreciate it and call on me when they need a blunt, honest answer that won’t be sugar-coated. I like that I can offer that but honestly, it’s not the reason for my bluntness.

Being blunt comes naturally to me. It always has. As far back as I can remember, I’ve had the mindset that time is precious so why waste it? Sugar-coating something or not being honest until it surfaces is to me, SUCH A WASTE OF TIME.

And one thing I’m not willing to do is waste my time. I don’t know how much of it I have, so every second is going to be worth it.

Back to straight-forwardness always coming naturally to me… One story that comes to mind is when I was 22 and a cop bothered me about smoking a cigarette in broad daylight in a place smoking was allowed. I couldn’t help but ask him if he thought he was protecting and serving by carding someone minding their own business and enjoying a cigarette before work when people were getting raped and molested? To his credit, he smiled and told me about “the problem” of underage smoking.

When I see people lie or sugarcoat things so as not “to offend” or “be rude”, I can’t help but wonder, isn’t it more rude not to tell the truth? Why let someone feel good based on a lie or puffery? Can they really feel good about that? And when did one person’s opinion need to be politically correct or adhere to another’s set of rules to be valid?

Black and white is my language. If I have to decode what you are trying to say, chances are our friendship will remain on the surface. And God forbid if I have to call you out on what you’re pretending not to say, all hell will break loose and somehow I become the devil… It perplexes me….

But to show that this is not one-sided, allow me two honest-to-God true stories:

At 18, a college freshman, I was dating a boy in my dorm who I had a major crush on. I had broken up with my high school boyfriend two months prior – I had been with him for three years. Dating wasn’t something I was great at, not to mention my HS boyfriend was the popular senior and I was the loner sophomore.

A few weeks into dating this new boy at my college dorm, I get upset for some reason and get jealous and wanted him to sweep me off my feet. The girl across the hall from me, who had become a friend of mine as much as one could in a few weeks, told me some things: “Wake up, girl. You’re not his fucking girlfriend, so don’t act like it. You’re being jealous and needy. You need to go with it. Grow up.”

She nailed it. I’ve loved her since and she’s a big part of my life now, a girl I love and will adore forever.

At 20, a girl I met at my sorority came over to my boyfriend’s house (the boy mentioned above, whom I ended up dating for four years) and while we were hanging out, I said something stupid, like I asked where something was and it was right in front of me. This girl, who barely knew me, said, “Open your eyes fuck head.”

I fell in love with her. So blunt. So true. I laughed out loud.

These two girls are my best friends in the whole world and have been, going on twenty years now.

My point is with all this is – I love bluntness. Maybe it’s not for everyone but it’s for me and as long as it’s the truth and nothing but, why do I keep coming across people who give me shit for it?

One of my favorite authors/philosophers, Jean Paul Sartre, once said, “Hell is other people.”

In my twenties, I thought he was on to something.

In my thirties, I think it’s sad.

But as I near being forty, I realize hell is other people only if we let them be.

My sister told me that being blunt is part of my personality but with it comes the understanding that people will react as they see fit.

Great point.

Being blunt is a choice and perhaps a way to live a more honest life. Try it…..

 

 

25 Days of Spreading Love – A countdown to Christmas: Dec. 22

For the original idea, please go here.

3 Days till Christmas – spreading love by spending time with one of my oldest friends

And by oldest, I don’t mean age. I mean length of time of friendship.

There are a couple girls whom I’ve known since my college days that have remained a constant in my life. And while we don’t see each other all that often (living in different cities), it never matters. It’s quality over quantity. And as soon as we’re in the same room again, it’s like time hasn’t moved and we can pick up right where we left off.

I cherish this not only because it’s rare but because it’s valuable to me. A friendship that has spanned over the course of twenty years is not something to take lightly. It’s something to be appreciated for what it is.

And tonight, I was given the opportunity to show my love and appreciation for one of my oldest friends. We’ve known each other for twenty years and have seen each other at our worsts and bests. And I adore her.

She’s in town for the holidays and graciously made time to come visit me.

Tonight, I made her dinner. As she looked through my wedding photos, we chatted about our lives and the direction they’ve gone. She caught up with my husband. And as we ate cheese ravioli with a vodka cream sauce, we reminisced about days gone and spoke of our plans for the future.

Spending time with old friends is a most lovely way to spread love. And I highly recommend it.

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spread the love. #spreadthelove

 

 

25 Days of Spreading Love – A countdown to Christmas: Dec. 14

For the original idea, please go here.

11 Days till Christmas – spreading love through a surprise gift

Yesterday, while I was at work, one of the cooks who was working nearby the area I was organizing asked if he could ask me a question. I said, “Sure.” He then asked me in a curious way, “How are you always so positive?”

I’ve been asked this question before. And I try to appreciate the observation by answering with truth.

I explain, “I consider the alternative – death – and I’m happy to have another day.” I also mention that I’m not always positive. I definitely have my moments but I try to limit those with positivity and realistic optimism.

I spoke of my belief in positive energy and the flow of it in nature. I’ve experienced the reciprocative effects of putting positive energy out into the world and I’m a firm believer in it.

Positive energy comes back to you.

We also chatted a little about how many things aren’t worth the time or trouble of getting upset. And though I am not a religious person per se, I did mention this Serenity Prayer and how it helps guide me:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Today, for my spread the love project, I decided to bring this cook a Christmas present. I went out and bought a favorite book of mine, “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” and I plan to give it to him tonight. Perhaps it can help in his journey toward positivity like it did in mine…

Spread the love. #spreadthelove

 

 

25 Days of Spreading Love – A countdown to Christmas: Dec. 3

For the original idea, please go here.

22 Days till Christmas – spreading love with a friend

A little while ago, I was listening to a filmmaker talk during a panel discussion and he mentioned how he was good at being a filmmaker, a dad and a husband but not so good at being a friend.

That’s always stuck with me. I understand what prioritizing is all about and how friendships can be difficult to maintain when other things come before them.

But a beautiful thing about friendships is that the door can always remain open. And I truly appreciate my friends who understand the way I prioritize my life.

I had made plans to go to a dear friend’s place for tea today. We haven’t had one-on-one time in months. I decided to go to her and spend the couple hours we had (before I had to go to work) just listening and being there for her.

The universe works in mysterious ways. She actually needed to talk about something and I had no idea. We spent our visit doing just that.

I think more times than not, being a friend means just listening. And rather than judging, just sharing your thoughts.

 

Spread the love. #spreadthelove

 

Empathy

Recently, I was told by a close friend that she wished I could be more empathetic toward her.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with that so I gave it thought. My friend deserved that from me. First, I looked up the word to make sure I truly understood what it meant.

Empathy – n. the ability to understand, recognize and/or share the feelings of another.

I paused. Hmmm… this didn’t exactly describe herself at all, though she may believe otherwise, but that’s neither here nor there. She should be as empathetic as she wants to be.

This did however answer my doubts. I believe I very often understand and recognize feelings in others and will act accordingly. The thing is, I act accordingly how I choose to, not by what is expected of me. In the past, this same friend has chastised me for not letting her dwell and feel sorry for herself. I don’t do that. For myself or anyone else. I also believe in letting others deal with the consequences of their mistakes while being a friend with positive energy and words of inspiration I can share.

These words and positive energy however seem to have meant nothing to her. She told me to leave her alone and wished I could be more empathetic.

And that was where I found the problem lied. It wasn’t that I didn’t have empathy, it was that I didn’t have the empathy she wanted. I’m still not sure why she felt the need to tell me what I was lacking but it was made clear – I wasn’t doing something that she wanted or expected me too.

Who wants to play that game? Not me.

Empathy.

I think it is important to understand and recognize the feelings of others.

As it is equally important to allow people to empathize with you in their own way.

Otherwise, you’re just asking for pity and charity.

There’s a big difference between recognizing someone’s feelings and feeling sorry for them…

Other people

Something has been on my mind lately. Perhaps you can relate, perhaps you can’t but I’ve found that other people sometimes get upset with me because I’m not who they want me to be. Whether it be a friend who wants me to be more available or a family member who would rather me agree with them even if I don’t.

One of my favorite existential philosophers, Jean-Paul Sartre, is famously quoted as saying “hell is other people.”

Sometimes I wonder, is it?

Now, I’ll admit that in my twenties I was so self-absorbed I couldn’t care less if I upset someone. I always thought it was their problem and they could go to hell but thankfully, I evolved beyond that stupid point of view as I got older (with much thanks to philosophy and my parents!) And now, I live the life I want but always strive to be as respectful and honest with others as possible. I figure that as long as I am those two things, how much more can others ask of me?

Well, you’d be surprised. I’ve had friends get upset because I have to work. A lot. And therefore am not available to hang out very often. I’ve had acquaintances “de-friend” me from Facebook because they couldn’t handle me thinking differently than themselves. I’ve had bosses actually not appreciate my hard work and rather, treat me like I have a problem for simply wanting things done right. I’ve even, swear to God, have had people get down-right angry with me because I lack in pop culture knowledge and have no idea what they’re talking about. No shit.

I’m not perfect. And I’m not trying to pretend I am but damn, sometimes I feel like just yelling out, “Why can’t I just be me?!” Being a filmmaker who supports herself with two other jobs, time is greatly limited for me. I sometimes don’t turn a tv on for months and yes, I prefer things to be done efficiently because why they hell would one not? And recently, I’ve met the man I want to be with and also have became an aunt to two beautiful nephews so not only am I very selective in how I spend my time, I don’t have much to spare.

That said, I truly believe great beauty lies in the connection between human beings and the relationships we have with one another. Quality has always trumped quantity in my book. So I must ask, when another starts to demand something of you or get upset for what you lack that they wish you didn’t, what grounds are they doing so on? What’s so wrong with being different if you don’t impose it upon another and force them to be that way? Why do we not celebrate our differences rather than get angry about them (unless of course force is used and then, that’s a whole other ballgame…)?

Well… I don’t have all the answers but after much deliberation and observation, I’ve come to a conclusion.

The happier you are with yourself, the more you back off at being angry with others…

Friendships can be family.

Okay, I’m single, and have been for quite some time now. By choice mostly… but that’s another story. I know that many will say friendships have to take a backseat when their friend finds their significant other. I get that. I’m not the one my friends are going to commit their life to, be executor of their will, have their children. So, yes, fine. But does that mean friendship is not existent if your friend marries or finds the love of their life?

No, I don’t think so. And when I do find that one, and hopefully I will, my close friends are going to be just as important to me still. They are part of my family and I don’t take that lightly.

Now, I’ve been through having friends determine friendship isn’t that important, especially if I disagree with their choice in their significant other. But I’ve learned that it’s their choice to make, not mine, and whether I agree or disagree, it will likely not matter nor should it I suppose, so even if all I really want is for my friend to be as happy as possible, I can’t be the one to decide who or what will make them happy. They need to decide that for themselves and I need to keep my mouth shut unless otherwise asked. (But chances are, they know how I feel because inside they see it too but will deny it so they will definitely NOT ask me, at least from my experience this seems to be the case…)

Anyway, I bring this up because I’ve been fortunate enough to have some great friends in my life. Those who will tell me when I’ve been an asshole or ridiculous or on the flip side, when I’ve been amazing and inspirational.

This past weekend, I hung out with two of my close friends (on different evenings.) One, who has been a friend of mine since I was eighteen and the other, who has been a friend of mine for eight years or so. And both of whom treat me with the utmost respect and who I really like being around. They’ve taught me what it means to be a good friend and I’ll be honest, I haven’t always been that. I’m not sure I really knew what that was when I was in my early twenties. But I do now and I’ve been fortunate to have these women in my life who not only show me that friendship isn’t something to be scared of or run from or feel the need to be defensive toward. It’s something beautiful, special and meaningful.

Nicole and Tina. I love you. Thank you, both, for not only being my friend but allowing me into your lives when I know they are very full and for making me a part of them, because you truly want to. (And Jamie, I know we didn’t see each other this weekend but I know how much you love me and I love you too!)

Friendships. True friendships.

They can be just as meaningful as family.