Posts Tagged ‘friends’

I remember playing a game as a kid, mainly it was one of those games that girls play late into the night at slumber parties… right after they called the cutest boy in school on the phone, played a round of truth or dare, or talked endlessly about their hopes and dreams. After all that, right before everyone would finally give out and their eyes were fighting the urge to close, came “I never…”. The answers were usually related to young girl thoughts — “I never… cheated on a test”, I never… kissed a boy under the bleachers”, “I never… smoked a cigarette”.

My thoughts took me back to this game and the intimacy it gave to friends — to girls — as we felt open and available to share our thoughts and concerns and dreams with each other in a playful way, with no judgments (but often with laughter and occasionally a few tears). I thought of how that game changes, as so many things change, as we gain experiences and grow older. I thought about gathering some of my closest friends and introducing a new game, one that would give way to our experiences and free us to share and continue the dream (and laugh and occasionally cry). A game fitting our experiences, “I thought I would never…” would be the new game, a game I’d like to play.

I’ll start:

I thought I would never…

  • jump off a bridge.
  • swim across a lake, naked.
  • return from a date at 7:00am after sitting in a park and watching the sun set and rise and naming all the constellations.
  • drive a car off a mountain.
  • touch a hammerhead shark.
  • join the Peace Corps (more on that later… maybe).
  • bake a 5 layer Red Velvet cake.
  • be the mother to 3 gorgeously intelligent kids.
  • smoke a cigar.
  • start a blog.
  • become friends with complete strangers.
  • build my dream home.
  • sell my dream home.
  • get divorced.
  • go to Hawaii.
  • ski barefoot.
  • tell anyone the things I find myself saying.

Our games change as we get older, but the point… the intent of the games remain — to open up a discussion among friends, sisters. I hope that each year I am able to look back on my life and add to my list because there are still many things that fall into the “I never” category and I’d like to change that. I’d like to be able to look back soon and update this with tells of travel and friends and dates. But, for now, I’d like to ask you a question — pretending of course that we’re all at a large slumber party (I would imagine our slumber parties now would have wine and sushi and chocolate… of course chocolate). So, grab your wine and tell us all, “I thought I would never…”

Picture From Kind Over Matter

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I hate it when people ask me what I would do if I won the lottery… you know the BIG lottery — the hundred bazillion dollar lottery. I always think if I don’t answer with at least some semblance of humbleness then I look like an ass. So, I always include the “give to this charity and that charity”, “take care of the people I love”, “put the majority in a trust for my kids”. But, with the fast approach of my birthday, I’ve been thinking about what I would want if I won the birthday lottery.

I’ve never been too keen on celebrating my birthday — I get a card from time to time, I take my kids out to dinner to my … wait, their favorite restaurant… nothing too celebratory. But for some reason, this approaching birthday has me feeling particularly good about my life and the (sometimes difficult) choices I’ve made. So I sat down and made a list, a “what I would want if I won the b-birthday lottery”. Here’s a few of the one’s I’ll share with you:

  1. To have lunch… (wait), dinner… (not quite), breakfast… (ahh yes), with Andy Garcia.
  2. To have all of the light bulbs in my house working at the same time.
  3. To go on a trip somewhere I’ve never been.
  4. To have a day when I don’t have to check my bank account before I make a purchase.
  5. To have guarantees in friendship, in life… just for one day.
  6. To walk on a beach… at dusk… with friends… in a sweater.
  7. To win a tennis tournament… again.
  8. To sit in a living room and talk all night (there should be wine).
  9. To camp and float a river in Montana.
  10. To know we’re friends… always… through laughs and tears and anger and pain and good times… always.
  11. To have meaningful words decorating my wall.
  12. To have a black bean burrito.
  13. To learn how to make sushi.
  14. To share sushi (at midnight) with Andy Garcia.
  15. To laugh with friends far and near who have stolen my heart and filled my soul.

That’s my list, at least the one’s I’ll show you. There are some more that possibly involve Andy Garcia but… I think this list should suffice just fine. What about you? What would you want if you won the birthday lottery?

Image from Kind Over Matter

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I was thinking recently about fragility in health, in love, in friendship, in human connections… in life. My son and daughter went to play laser tag downtown a few nights ago with friends. I began to worry around 9 o’clock when I should have gotten a call to pick them up at the meeting point. I called my daughter and she was upset, one of her friends had collapsed during the game and was being taken away by ambulance. It was scary for my daughter and my son to see their friend lying there, incoherent, partially paralyzed — they felt helpless and fragile. It made me think of my youngest daughter and how fragile her health can be at times.

She has a severe allergy to nuts. I carry an epipen everywhere — just in case. She has a special seat at school that is kept free of nuts and the dreaded peanut butter. Yet one day her fragility made itself known. She had gotten just the slightest sprinkling of peanut butter on her finger and subsequently on her lip — a smidgen… less than a taste. Her lip swelled immediately and her eyes closed — time and a bath made her better. Sometimes simple things can cause the frailness that is in us to leave — if only momentarily.

I was 38 years old when I hugged my best friend for the first time. We have been best friends since we were 5 — we both escaped our childhoods being non-emotional, non-feeling, non-hugging friends. Yet, we love one another. Sometimes I confuse even myself. Our first hug was awkward and laughable — we both said, “we can do this”, to each other as we went in for the hug… we laughed. And in that hug, in our awkward huggable moment, we connected even more with each other — we erased some fragility.

Fragility in life is everywhere. In the people we love and in those we barely know. I know what is means to be fragile… to be in need of a hand to hold and a friend to talk to. I know what it means to help someone I love when they are fragile. Fragile doesn’t last. It can be fixed — I like to fix things when they’re broken.

I think we all have fragility in us, sometimes… unfortunately, sometimes. But still even though by nature we are fragile, by nature we break, we still carry on. We still move through life with a semblance of carefree bliss and a need to leap… again. We love and laugh and care and we express ourselves through words that can often leave us open and vulnerable and… broken. Because we’re fragile. We hope that we connect with people who recognize our strengths and our frailties, we hope they accept our imperfections and that they continue to love us and care about us in our often fragile and sometimes broken states. We hope they add to the army that builds us back… that makes us whole again. If those people exist… if by chance we are fortunate to find them and keep them close to our hearts and our souls — then maybe, we won’t continue to break. Maybe, we aren’t too fragile.

Picture from Kind Over Matter

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I started this blog to share some stories, some thoughts, some dreams, some laughs, some tears. I started it for many reasons that all centered around wanting to share something with people — wanting to share a connection with people. It’s been hard at times. A blog is hard at times. I think there comes a point when you try to share stories that will touch others… will maybe inspire them or at least make them pause. And then, at some point, it seems that the original intent might be lost.

I’ve shared way more on the pages of this blog than I possibly have in the physical world. I think that must be normal. Many friends I’ve made through blogging, I think, share a shy introverted spirit that diminishes when a keyboard is used. I’ve never considered myself shy or introverted and those of you who know me in the physical world are most likely laughing at the thought of that possibility. I love being in the crowd. I love having the (positive) attention. I love the physical connection associated with real world relationships. But, here I am. On a blog. Drawn ever more closely to those people who I may never have an opportunity to meet in the physical world. It’s sad, really. I feel an incredible bond with many people I know through this keyboard and yet the thought of never sharing a hug or a glass of wine or hearing them laugh at my droll one-liners is unsettling.

It IS scary. Not only for me, but for the blogger who is loved by thousands with every word she types, for the best-selling novelist who faces the brunt of criticism head-on through the words that others have typed. It is scary to put yourself out here, in this forum and wait. Wait for someone to read and for someone to respond and for someone to connect.

But here is where it all makes sense — in moments of positivity. That’s what we are all striving for in life, in blogs, in friendships, in relationships… in life. Those moments of positivity when things reek with the intoxicating smell of something positive. Positive connections can come without warning — and often do… thankfully.

I think wherever you find positivity is where you should be… there, surrounded by it. By the people and events who take your breath away and hold you close and surround you — there… wrapped in the moments of positivity.

A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain? ~~ Kahlil Gibran

(Picture from Kind over Matter)

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Big Big Dreams

My youngest daughter just graduated from kindergarten. It was really wonderful — seeing all the kids, hearing them speak into the microphone, watching them react to an auditorium filled with their moms and dads and grandparents and friends. It was nice. I wasn’t sad or overcome with the, “oh my baby is growing up” blues. These type of programs have never turned me into one of those mother’s who needed tissue to stop the crying. I always take tissue with me, just in case. Just in case I suddenly turn into one of those mothers who cries while watching their baby graduate kindergarten. I had tissue with me during her graduation — never needed them.

Watching the graduation made me think about all the life events that we look forward to, all the life events we plan for, all the life events that take us by surprise. It struck me as very humbling to watch these kids with their expectations of themselves — they want to be artists and doctors and firemen and teachers. They have dreams… big big dreams.

I think, sometimes, we, as adults, lose sight of those dreams. I think we become fixated on just a segment of the dream and forget that what we are living is only a portion of what we want — of what we dreamed. We become complacent — perhaps.

Here’s a quote I read today:

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start now and make a brand new ending. ~~ Carl Bard

I thought this was fairly odd timing that I just happened to read this when I am experiencing a pull to make a brand new start in several areas of my life. When really, I don’t want to start over with friends or careers or life — why should I start over? But I do want to create a brand new ending — that seems more possible, more likely, more honest.

So, we all had big big dreams when we graduated kindergarten. Some of us may have stopped when a small portion was achieved. It’s never too late to continue your dreams, it’s never too late to create a brand new ending to your dreams. Change occurs daily…change is constant. Dreams may change but we should never lose the ability to realize those dreams.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost

Photo from Kind Over Mattercheck it out.

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There comes a point when we have to let go of certain wrongs we think we’re done to us in the past. We have to let go of hurt feelings — we have to move on. I think I get my feelings hurt easily. Maybe I didn’t realize this until recently, I’m very good at pretending to brush things off. Maybe I over-react emotionally to certain events or conversations — this too is a fairly new revelation. Maybe. Pretending for too long can inhibit perception. So, when you decide to be honest, to not pretend — it opens up some new perspectives. It makes you look to yourself for honesty.

In 1980, I was in the 7th grade. In my town, all the cool kids in middle school had mopeds. I really wanted to be a cool kid — I think I was guilty of being a cool kid by association. My friends were cool kids — they had mopeds. All of them but one, my best friend. She didn’t have a moped either. (This fact has united us in our angst for years). I asked for a moped every Christmas for four years — hoping beyond hope that I would wake up on Christmas morning and there sitting under the tree would be my moped — waiting for me, yearning for me to ride it. Every year, for four years in a row, that wish never became a reality. Every year, I felt a little cheated. Every year, I felt a little farther away from the cool kids.

My birthday is in the summer. This gave me a second shot each year at asking for that elusive moped. At one point, before a birthday, my father agreed to go to the moped store with me and look at them. In my mind, I thought this made it a done deal — I thought the moped was finally mine. We went to the store, my father and me, but we didn’t go in. We peered at the mopeds through the front window — my heart sank, my dread was building…we walked away and went home.

I rode my bike a lot during those years of being mopedless. Once in a while I would double with one of the cool kids. More often than not, my best friend and I were left behind or always the last to arrive on our bikes. My best friend was actually the queen of the cool kids — she received more offers of doubling up on the moped than I. She turned them down. We arrived late…together, always.

When I was older, I brought up my anger at not getting a moped to my parents. You know there is a certain amount of time that has to pass before you can tell your parents you snuck out your window at night or you threw the biggest party in the history of your town or you were mad…and your feelings were hurt. Time makes those stories and reminisces less painful. Time helps you tell them with a laugh. Time makes your feelings not feel so hurt.

It’s been over a year since my mother died and over two years since my father died. I miss telling them how left out I was because they never bought me a moped. I miss telling them I would have been careful. I miss telling them how my best friend and I had some great talks when we were left behind. My hurt feelings about my lack of a moped stopped a long time ago — but the laughter I got from telling those stories to my parents will echo in me forever. I guess I should let go of the moped — I guess it’s time to move on. But sometimes, I think, being a cool kid would still be really cool.

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Last night was one of those nights when my bed became the gathering place for my kids. I actually enjoy these nights, periodically. I’m not sure what prompted it… no storms, no bad dreams, no fevers — just a need to gather together. I like watching them as they drift off to sleep. My youngest has a habit of placing her foot in a position so that it barely touches my leg — as if she just needs a slight bit of reassurance that I’m there, with her.

When I was around 11 years old, I began sharing a room with my sister who is just a couple of years older than me (up to that point I had shared a room with my brother, I’ll skip those stories — they involve smelly shoes). We have always been complete opposites in our looks, our personalities, our interests. We were constantly reminding people that we were sisters. She was always soft-spoken, shy, nice, vulnerable — people were drawn to her, to protect her. I was, well… the opposite. I was outspoken, witty, never shy, always the first on the dance floor, never in need of protection.

We had twin beds that were parallel to each other in our room. We would laugh ourselves to sleep very often — comparing our days… our differences were minute to us. But very often, when she was just on the verge of sleep, my sister would hold her hand out across the span between our beds and insist that I grab hold just until she was asleep. I reluctantly complied — usually. Once she was asleep, I let go and drifted off myself. I actually liked holding her hand.

I don’t know what it is about human touch — why it’s so important. I often think about children who grow up in environments that are not nurturing, that don’t promote touch — hugs, hand holding… all absent. It must be incredibly stifling to live in such a world. Painful even.

My sister and I aren’t that different anymore. She has learned to be out-spoken and strong while I’ve learned to be a little vulnerable and hold on to a friend’s hand when needed. A simple human connection can be all that’s needed to steady a shaky composure… to quiet a wandering mind… to calm an underlying tension.

So, I like those nights when I can provide that for my kids. Once in a while, a simple connection can assist in a much-needed sleep. Once in a while, a simple connection is all that you need.

So, by now you’ve discovered my love of the word breathe and my need to be reminded to just breathe”. This incredible visual art representation of the word, by the incredibly talented Judy Clement Wall, helps me remind myself. I also am a fan of Kahlil Gibran — thought you might enjoy this poem.

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I think one of my new favorite words is tethered. Isn’t it strange how you can go through life and a word that you’ve heard hundreds of times suddenly becomes important in your life journey? It suddenly has meaning in your world, it suddenly helps you think and breathe and learn — tethered. A word we’ve all heard at some point. A word, the meaning of which suddenly became clear to me in an unlikely place.

When I was a kid, we always had a carnival in my town during the summer months. Given the fact that the town I grew up in had, at the time, about 15,000 residents, the summer carnival season was a gathering place for everyone. It was small — but it was something to do after a long day at the lake. My group of friends and I usually would ride our bikes to the carnival at the end of those carefree summer days.

I remember one year there was a hot air balloon that you could float up in the air and look out over the whole town. My friends were all for this adventure. I however, opted out. I remember studying the rope that tethered it to the ground. I remember thinking how that one rope couldn’t possibly keep that balloon from becoming adrift — it couldn’t possibly keep it secure. I even remember talking to the man who seemed to be in charge of the balloon to get his input on the one thin tether. He assured me that it was fine… it was safe… it was secure.

I stayed on the ground. I watched my friends float up. I stared in fear at the thin rope tethering that balloon and my friends, hoping it wouldn’t send them adrift into the hot summer night. They returned to Earth… safe, secure — and with stories of how far they could see into the night. I’ve still never been in a hot air balloon — maybe one day.

I was chatting with a friend a few months ago and she made a remark that she felt a little distant, a little adrift. She said she needed to know she was tethered to something, to someone real. I thought about this for a long time. This word — tethered. I remembered the thin rope that held the hot air balloon safe, secure. It dawned on me that one small rope could absolutely be strong enough to hold that hot air balloon in place.

One voice saying, “it’s ok”, “breathe”, “I’m here”, is absolutely enough to keep you from feeling adrift — to keep you tethered.

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I’m always hesitant to move on to a new post… to tell a new story. I’m always worried that the one person I really wanted to read it, didn’t. I’m always worried if I press the publish button on something new, the words I wanted everyone to read will get lost behind some other words that maybe I’m not too psyched about. That’s what happens with this blog.

I write something that I’m very excited about and I think it looks nice here on this front page and I hate to see it move down the list. And then, sometimes, I write something I’m not psyched about at all and can’t think of anything to take its place.

This is probably a good indication of how I communicate to people as well. The things I think are meaningful and I want to stick around always seem to get pushed down the line by words that sound stupid or hurtful or too funny (I actually am not sure words can be too funny — I’ll have to think on that some more).

Communication is so difficult. It involves so much that can be mixed up by the receiver. No wonder my entire career revolves around a disorder characterized by an inability to communicate effectively. Here’s one of the most important factors to communication — paraverbals.

(Stay with me here as I delve into the world of autism for a second). Paraverbal communication is the vocal part of speech minus the actual words. It’s how you say what you say. Here’s the problem — the words you say mean nothing if you don’t accurately convey the meaning behind them, and how can you do that on a keyboard? Or rather, how can I do that on a keyboard? Of course a writer can do that… otherwise why would any of us read?

But normal people, those of us who haven’t quite discovered our superpowers, how can we be expected to effectively communicate in typed words when we really need those paraverbals to pull us through?

Communication is difficult at best. It can be slow and tedious or fast and haphazard. It can be filled with laughter or tears or anger or empathy — it can be all at the same time. Communication can win over an audience or throw a friendship into peril. It can hurt. It can heal. It can offend. It can make amends.

So, back to the hesitant disclaimer of sometimes not knowing exactly which story to tell. Sometimes, like spoken words, written words can take on a life of their own — some words, we wish, had a shorter life than others. That’s the story I want to tell today.

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Life is full of things we have to let go of, things we have to, have to — no question — let go of. But, what about the things we don’t intend to let go of — the things that we will keep because they make us strong and happy and fun and intelligent and all the good things we can be? I guess the point is, I always hear people say, “I’m letting go of …”, but I haven’t really heard anyone say, “Hey, this I’m keeping, this will never be on my ‘letting go’ list.”

So, I made a list.

An “I have no intention of ever letting these things go no matter if they beg me to, if they go out of style, if they disappear, if they…” . Ok, that may be too long of a name for a list but, I’m not letting go of it.

1) Dr. Marten boots — I have a pair and I’m never letting them go. I don’t wear them anymore. They sit in my closet, in the back, under some other crap. But, I have them.

2) Tennis rackets — I don’t mean good tennis rackets. I mean the ones I used in college. The ones that aren’t made anymore. The ones that people stare at when I pull them out of my bag — yea, I’m keeping them.

3) My guitar — I got this guitar when I was in the fourth grade. It’s strung for a left-handed person because I am. I can play it. I’m not letting it go.

4) My “work girls” — Courtney, Adrienne, Amanda, Lynnette, and Ada. They made me promise to include their names on the blog at some point. They make me laugh and think and talk and hug and talk some more. I’m not letting them go.

5) My kids — I know we, as parents, are supposed to teach them to fly and send them out on their own. I really think that’s just a load of crap. I have every intention of home-schooling my kids when they become college age (no sense in doing it now, public schools are working for them). I’m not letting them go — not yet.

6) A couple of friends that will be stuck with me for life — again, I’ve heard that saying “If you love something, set it free…blah, blah, blah”. I’m a smotherer (something I discovered rather recently). My new motto is, “if you love something, hold it so tight that it will either love you back or die”. Ok — on second thought, I better rethink this philosophy. I’ll let go of the new motto, but not the friends — they’re stuck with me, for life.

7) My love of dogs – I’m not letting this go. In particular my love of my dogs (even the annoying one). I guess they’re stuck with me. My dog is sweet and neurotic and needy and independent — we are good for each other.

8) My memories — I’m not letting them go. I have quite a good memory — almost too good. I remember things people promised me or said to me or events or vacations or cars. Maybe I hold people to what they’ve said too much — not everyone has as good a memory as me. I’m not letting it go.

9) Righteous Indignation — I haven’t possessed this for very long, but I like it. It’s acquired. I’m still learning — I’m not letting it go.

10) Myself — I’m quirky and needy and smothering and jealous and possessive and funny and smart and … some other things. I’m not letting go of myself. I’m actually gaining more of myself — more of the good. Some things I have to let go of — I have to — let go of. But I need to keep enough that it’s still me. Maybe I’m a puzzle with some missing pieces, waiting for it all to get assembled. I think we are always acquiring new pieces of ourselves. It depends on the people you let in your life — what piece of you are they waiting to give you? So, I’m not letting go of myself.

That’s my list.

What are you not letting go of?

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