This is not a story about money. In fact, quite the opposite. But allow me to begin with a money-related moment.
A week or so ago, the younger half of The Precious Pair suggested we begin a “Swear Jar” on the kitchen counter. It would require a payment from me for every 4-letter word I use. The suggested fees are 25 cents per standard violation or one dollar per severe violation. I agreed this might be a good idea. (Notice I said “might” which is why we still do not have the system in place.)
When I mentioned the idea to the teen half of The Precious Pair, she replied wryly “Great, we will probably make enough to go to Disney World next year.”
Her implication is probably accurate. I’m not sure that paying coins or cash will deter me from swearing. It’s a habit I have, and I probably enjoy it too much to stop right now.
Did you know cursing is a sign of integrity and honesty as well as effective communication and free-flowing expression? No wonder it feels so damn good!
While I do try to watch and limit this habit around my girls, I tend to feel quite free with my language among friends. And, yes, FRIENDSHIP, that’s what I’m really here to talk about. Specifically, I want to pay kudos to my “friend-family” or “framily” which is a term I just learned the other night, while I was out with – you guessed it! – some friends.
Back in February when this blog began, I wrote about different types of love in honor of Valentine’s Day and I defined each type. Here’s exactly what I said about “friend love” …
“Reliable and strong and endlessly fun. Life is sweetened by the friends in our lives. They know us best, yet still want to hang around with us. By the time we’re middle-aged, we’ve known many of them for decades. If we’re lucky, we’ve met and made newer ones in our adult lives more recently. That old Girl Scout tune tells us that friends represent silver and gold. If the song were true, imagine your friends as valuable metal coins, clanking around in your pockets, a treasure trove of support always within your reach. My heart feels the reassuring pull of full pockets, every day.” –
If you’re reading this as one of my friends, you likely fall into one of the following loving categories, listed in chronological order of my life:
VINTAGE FAVORITES. My connections from birth through high school. This category covers my friendships from the 70’s through the early 90’s.
COLLEGE FAVORITES. My bonds from some of the best years ever – most of them from my sorority life – and a few people I met after graduation as a young adult.
WORK/LIFERS. My work friends, but we share lots of Real Life together, too.
HOMETOWN HEROES. My friends where I live. Mom Friends, Dad Friends, Neighbors, and more from the community I adore.
THE NEWBIES. New friends I’m meeting and making. A year ago, I had no time, capacity, and desire to make more friends. But this is now. And they are here, and they are enhancing my life, too.
Thanks to these groups that have helped me get through the past year of my life, and recently they are why I’ve had the fun-filled summer that I wished for. The kind of summer I’ve never had before as an adult. How was it different? It was pure and worry-free, mostly, and full of good food, cocktails, porch parties, and memory-making. It was wildly entertaining and hysterically funny, in multiple ways.
I got to take two unforgettable trips with friends – one with 4 of My College Favorites to Nashville, TN and one to Traverse City, MI with 4 of My Hometown Heroes. The first trip at the end of May to the Honky Tonk Capital of the World included some epic dining, a yoga experience, and some rooftop wine time. The second excursion at the end of June to Pure Michigan included visits to wineries that rivaled Napa, lots of shopping ’till we were dropping, 70’s music blaring in the car, and – yes – CHERRIES. Everything cherry-flavored. Popcorn. Cream Cheese. Hard Cider. Those were a few of my favorites. And ever since that weekend in June, my buddies and I have been craving cherry stuff. (Mental Note: Must get a cherry-dipped cone at DQ soon!)
These trips served as tremendous therapy for me because I got to spend extended quality time with some of the best humans I know on this planet, and those humans spoiled me – with their time and attention, with their humor, with gifts – every way possible. They spoiled me, and I let them do it. Because I knew that’s what they insisted on doing. And I knew I needed it.
Yes, my “framily” has been vital to me over this past year. The time and effort I’ve poured into friend-making and keeping and repairing in recent months has paid me back tenfold. My soul is so much richer these days thanks to my attention to these relationships. Who doesn’t want a richer soul? Oh, you do? Then focus on friendships. Whether that means making new ones, strengthening existing ones, and/or patching up broken ones.
As I mentioned, a year ago at age 45, I had gotten to a place where I thought I didn’t want or need more friends because I couldn’t properly maintain the friendships I already had. I had lost touch with many of them, and there was even one best friend with whom I had lost all communication. Life had built a wall between my home and my outer world – it was a wall that made me wilt. I can be a delicate flower, at times. Even my physcial health declined in many ways – my weight, my skin, and my joints suffered.
I have always said this about friends: They don’t magically appear in your life. They require a level of commitment and some amount of time and effort. And because I have resurrected my commitment, time, and efforts toward my friendships, I can attest that I’m right about this. Friends thrive on mutual love.
Earlier this summer, The Precious Pair and I had a lively conversation with my stepmom about The Fruit of the Spirit. If you’re not familiar, it’s a term that refers to the 9 attributes of a person who is living in accordance with the Holy Spirit as defined in Galatians 5: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Ironically as I write this, I realize a few of these qualities contradict my enjoyment of swearing! But guilt aside, the fruits represent how to become and remain the best kind of friend to others. I find myself as the beneficiary of such friends all the time, proven by these recent true-to-life examples:
They pack your belongings for your move, even in a frenzy the night before the truck arrives.
They unpack your belongings after you move. The moving company called and needs those bins you rented back, one of these days.
They assemble IKEA furniture for you, because let’s face it, you have no spacial reasoning abilities or handyman skills to speak of.
They volunteer to be your designated driver all summer long, since “you deserve a fun night out!” They might even go dancing with you against their will, just because you really want to go do that.
They say encouraging things all the time, and you know they mean what they say with their entire brain, heart, and gut.
They laugh at your ridiculous comments and behavior over and over again. And this makes you feel good about yourself. You love to make people laugh.
They forgive even your occasional obnoxious behavior when you’re having a little too much fun, like that time you threw the snacks at your friends while riding on the bike bar. Maybe, just maybe, you threw a bottle of bubbles on them, too. (Oopsie.)
They agree to take endless selfies with you, well, because that’s what you do now for the sake of wooing those Newbie friends.
They go on a shopping spree to Home Goods and surprise you with a slew of adorable things for your new dream home. ‘
They worry about your $0 checking account balance even though your bills are paid, and you’ve got a big deposit hitting tomorrow. They might slip you some cash “just in case” or buy your drinks without you asking.
They will listen deeply to what you say and remember it and repeat it back to you later. You are not used to anyone listening to you that intensely, ever in your whole life.
They will always take the time to congratulate you and thank you and hug you, even if they aren’t really a hugger themselves, but they know you are.
They surprise you with the perfect text, inspiring quote, crazy meme, or sentimental song because they are thinking about you and wanting you to know that.
And there are countless more favors your friends have done for you during this past year and especially during this incredible summer, and you are grateful. Forever grateful.
In the list, “you” is me. And “they” are you – both my new silver version and my old gold style of friends. I’m not sure what I’ve done in my life to be blessed with this kind of wealth. All I can do is promise to pay forward what you all have done for me, because there’s no freaking way I can ever pay you back.
…See what I did? I saved a buck. 😉
With Love, Hugs & Heavy Pockets,