Posts Tagged With: friendship

Remember who you are.

I recently reblogged a post from “My Everyday Power Blog” which struck a singular chord with me, and it got me thinking: What will my Future Self thank my Present Self for? Taking it one step further, will my Past Self thank me for anything that I’ve done to this point? Certainly I’ve taken some missteps along the way, and forgive me for being smug in admitting that those have been few and far between.

There’s no way of knowing absolutely, of course, if all of the choices and paths I have made and taken are the correct ones, but I can only say for certain is that this little charmer deserves every wise choice I can muster no matter its consequence, if only to preserve the faith and wonder she started out with:

Worthy adversary.

Worthy adversary.

Case in point: I recently made a choice – a difficult one – to eliminate some ongoing melodrama in my life. Since the details of this particular drama bore me beyond bearing, I will spare you those tedious tidbits. There was a brief moment of doubt where I asked myself, quietly, “What have I done?” A louder, and much younger voice answered quickly, “What you always do: what you HAD to do.” To ensure that I was not, as I had feared, going slowly insane, I ran this by a couple of trustworthy friends (not all of whom are amongst the living and yes, I know how this makes me sound) who confirmed what my 3-year-old self had already informed me: That no matter what, my choices are mine to make, as well as mine to live by. Can I live with them? Certainly. Because I never want to have to face that daunting 3-year-old and have to tell her why I gave her anything less than my level best.

I am fortunate in this life to have the love and support of my spouse, my family and my closest friends who are also there to remind me of this whenever I encounter those rare moments of self-doubt. For those of you that do not have this support network, I can only say this: Dig deep to your younger selves and realize the potential you had at that early age and give your small shadows whatever you can because you are both worthy of the effort, and don`t let anyone tell you differently. Your future selves will thank you for it.

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Goddesses in our Midst

Beauty turned to stone.

I work in an office full of women.  As a woman, I can tell you there are days when I want to strangle most of them to save them from themselves, as counter-productive as that may seem.  I have lost count of the ones obsessively exercising, dieting, preening and primping in what I hope will not be a vain attempt to live up to an impossible ideal. 

On the other end of that spectrum, and likely driving the force of this irrationally compulsive behaviour are the ones who clearly don’t give one single iota about their appearance and utterly embrace their weirdness like it’s some kind of trophy.  The ones who have abandoned altogether most of the things that make them feminine.

It’s an odd dichotomy to say the least.

What I’m saying is I’m caught somewhere in the middle.  On the one hand, I end up wondering to myself hey, do the primpers see ME as one of those shlubby ones at that table as we all figure out our lunches on a given day, or do they see me in a different light altogether?  Admittedly, the more protective aspects of my ego would like to think I’m somewhat of an enigma to them, but it’s likely closer to the truth that they know me better than I’m willing to give them credit for, or even better than I sometimes know myself.  It’s certainly (and annoyingly) true of my husband, so why wouldn’t it be for these women?

There are times when I, too, am less convinced of my adequacy.  At least in this respect, I do think I am an enigma since I do enjoy, as they say, waving good bye to those inadequate feelings as they pass me by.  I do this primarily by focusing my attention on other things, usually trivial and usually so unrelated to work it would astound even my closest friends.

All I’m trying to say is that from my standpoint at least, their physical beauty seems less hard come by than my own.

But, as is my habit when presented with a question to which there is no ready answer, I have given this some thought. 

Why is it that I also feel the same way they do and they hopefully feel about me the way I feel about them?  Why can I see things in them I cannot see in myself, or vice versa?  I don’t have a regimen.  I eat, but I don’t diet aside from trying to balance what I eat from day to day to ensure too much of the same thing isn’t going into my system.  I am overweight, some would say by a lot, some by a little given the underlying framework.  Either way, I could afford to lose a few pounds and yet my last physical revealed a “fantastic” liver, such low cholesterol (the bad kind) where it was recommended I take in some fatty stuff to get it to where it should be, and despite being overweight and apparently having a lazy thyroid, I am in remarkably good shape. 

Explain that, Dr. Atkins – the cardiologist who died of heart failure…  Too soon?

But I digress.  I’ve simply concluded that we’re doing this to each other and allowing those negative thoughts to creep in because we’re so consumed with our outward appearances; that we forget that every action deserves an equal and opposite reaction.  So when one of us starts feeling inadequate and takes steps toward fixing that dilemma, the rest of us start asking ourselves if we, too, should be feeling inadequate for some reason, imagined or real.  Then we lose sight of the other truly important things in our lives.

This is not to say that I think everyone should throw fitness and nutrition out the window.  It is merely to say that I think people should leave room for other things in their lives in addition to maintaining a healthy physical lifestyle.

Is it inherent in the female of our species to constantly question, to try to continually improve and if so, WHY?  Perhaps it’s a design flaw by Mother Nature who, as a woman, likely also became obsessed with herself and forgot about fixing her own creation, Us.

When, if ever, will we ever decide we’re fine the way we are in whatever moment we find ourselves?  Men have been telling us this for years, but all the female-driven media out there continues to bash us over the heads with new diet and exercise regimes, hair and makeup and what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Arguably the world’s foremost beauty icon, Marilyn Monroe, was by all accounts a total knockout.  But by today’s unwieldy standards, she would be grossly overweight and even morbidly obese.  Emotionally, she was a wreck and a lot of it was sadly by her own doing.  By playing into her own creation of herself, she believed in the end that her physical beauty was the only thing that was worth anything, leaving her emotional and intellectual self struggling for recognition.

Maybe our conscious minds must forcefully and ruthlessly take over our subconscious.  Maybe we have to remind ourselves that as individuals, we each have unique traits which no one else on the planet will ever lay claim.  Maybe we need to remind ourselves that we are so much more than the sums of our parts, and that the number on the tag of clothing we would like to fit into is merely subjective and unworthy of our attempts to fit into it. 

Not once have I ever said to myself, “hey, there’s so and so, she’s a Size 14.“  It simply doesn’t register in my head, and likely no one else`s.  Instead, what I see every day are stunning eyes sparkling with robust laughter, gorgeous tousled hair, and traffic-stopping figures in no need of any further dieting lest they should lose some of those wonderfully feminine curves. But overshadowing even all those remarkable physical characteristics are heartbreakingly beautiful souls with such great humour and grace and colourful lives which extend far beyond themselves into their families and other friends.

More than anything, I am thankful each of them is part of my own weird life`s story.  No matter where our future steps and paths take us, at least we will always have the here and now. 

And I promise to try to resist the urge to force feed each of you a large, greasy burger with all the toppings and fixings I can muster. 

No guarantees, though.

Update July 9, 2013: Please check out this video of Dustin Hoffman beautifully articulating his feelings on portraying a woman in “Tootsie”: http://www.upworthy.com/dustin-hoffman-breaks-down-crying-explaining-something-that-every-woman-sadly-already-experienced-3?c=gt1

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Put a little love in your heart.

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Listening to the radio this morning there were a lot of people calling in voicing their opinions whether Valentine’s Day was simply a cash grab by merchants, in other words a made-up holiday, or whether it was, in fact, a legitimate celebration.

There is a lot of merit to the cash-grab argument, certainly, but this is true of every holiday nowadays.  I see parents who are at best agnostic in their beliefs shelling out mountains of cash on chocolate Easter bunnies and egg decorating paraphernalia.  The same people embrace Halloween more than Christmas.  Then Christmas rolls around, and even bigger bags of money are rolled out, decorations put up, et cetera.

I can offer only my own perspective on Valentine’s Day, given that everyone has understandably different viewpoints on love and relationships:

If you consider our long winters in Canada, and how depressingly cold it can be, isn’t Valentine’s Day a nice way to take a bit of chill out of the air by showing the people for whom you care the most that you don’t take them for granted?  Certainly, there is validity in the “you should do that anyway” camp but, that being said, the same again can be said for Christmas and other holidays where gifts are traditionally exchanged.

Think about it: it’s middle of winter and, in Canada at least, our temperatures can get exceedingly cold adding to the overall impression that Hell hath, in fact, frozen over.  Add to that the bills you’re still trying to figure out how to pay for from Christmas and in some cases, Halloween, depending on how much you go in for ghouls and goblins.  In the near future, you’re also having to consider paying or at least reporting income tax and contributing to your RRSPs.  Many of the companies which employ us have year-end considerations and so their employees are putting in extra hours and effort to meet those deadlines as well.  So, then, would it not be nice to be on the receiving end of a little extra recognition for your efforts in the form of chocolates, dinner, flowers, candy, or even just a romantic stroll in the park?

At least with Valentine’s it truly is the gesture that counts.  One need not spend exorbitant amounts of money to show their favour toward someone, as I proved this year by treating my work friends to little gift bags of candy.  It was my way of spreading a little cheer given the low morale in the office since the Christmas season ended.

I would also point out that all the obligation should not be limited to men showing their gratitude to the women in their lives with extravagant expressions of their affection.  Both partners in the relationship should also recognize the long hours and hard work their significant others put in toward helping finance and maintain the lifestyles to which you have both become accustomed.  This is not to say that you should go out and spend even more money, putting yourselves farther into debt than you had at Christmas, but perhaps a simple “thanks, honey, for putting the garbage out” or “that was an awesome supper, sweetheart” would suffice.  All too often it’s those little gestures that get put by the wayside as time passes in relationships which contribute most to resentment and feelings of dissatisfaction in our relationships, which can have tragic consequences later on.

So, put your yourself in the shoes of the other person for a change, and recognize everything it is that they do to make your life enjoyable by showing them a little love on Valentine’s Day.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

I have a friend.  Well, more than one if we’re splitting hairs, but this particular one stands out enough from the crowd for maximum exposure effect.  We met several years ago, and it was one of those instant friendships (despite tenuous circumstances), if there is such a thing.  Or maybe it is more a matter of two souls finding each other across the abyss, so to speak, and they simply pick up wherever it was they left off, however long ago that may have been, whoever they might have been.  It certainly felt that way, anyway.

Were someone to ask precisely WHY we are friends, neither one of us could answer definitively.  The reasons certainly do not add up on paper, but there is still that intangible evidence that despite how much we get on each other’s nerves, we come back together full circle and once again pick up where we left off.  Perhaps that’s how the greatest of friendships are formed.  We have our disagreements, our conflicts, our aggravations, but no matter what, we manage to find the good in each other and accept each other’s faults and quirks for what they are – just random elements that make up a far richer tapestry.

Each day she amazes me with her cunning, her skills and her humour, and through all of that – her strength and courage.  Sometimes these are the same things that get on my nerves the most, but I know in my heart of hearts that she would not be who she is without the sum of all her parts.  I like to think that she feels the same way about me, but I am actually not that presumptuous (despite all evidence to the contrary).

When I am feeling less than perfectly centred, she will say or do something which will bring me back in from the proverbial ledge.  I have managed to do the same for her on at least a couple of occasions.  This is how we roll.  If we end up on that ledge at the same time, generally other heads will roll as we fight our way back in.  Together, and laughing all the while.

When we reach such impasses with each other, however, we are both incredibly lucky enough to have buffers in the forms of our mutual friends who care about each of us as much as we care about each other.  So we don’t necessarily fight it out face to face, but we come to realize through the wisdom and love of our mutual friends that it’s not all so bad, either; that, truthfully, we would be lost and incomplete otherwise.  So, consciously or unconsciously, we give each other a little space and time, then like magnets we gravitate toward each other once again, unspoken disagreements put aside.

Always within reach of the other.

Moral of the Story: True friendship is inevitable so you may as well embrace it, warts and all.  So, to my friend, and our mutual friends, I wish you the Happiest of Valentine’s Days.

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Vaya con Dios

Eight years and a few days have gone by since a very good friend of mine passed away.  She was my best friend, in fact, and her death was sudden, tragic and altogether untimely.  A week after her eldest daughter’s 11th birthday, the same daughter had to phone emergency services in what turned out to be a vain attempt to save her mother’s life.  Her spirit left before the ambulance had even reached the end of their street.  Her mother called me one quiet afternoon and the news was so unbelievable that I didn’t process its weight until I had gone to visit her parents the following day when her father crumbled sobbing into my arms.

On several occasions since that day, I have been asked by others whether I have ever visited my friend`s grave.  For the record, I have not.  It has been a conscious choice on my part, and my answer never fails to raise the eyebrows of those asking.  I have no fear of the dead, no fear nor superstitions regarding graveyards or their inhabitants.  Not many people know that I paid tribute to my friend in what was to me the most important way I could imagine – telling her story as I knew it while looking at the faces of her bereaved husband, children, sister, parents, family and friends.  I did not supply her eulogy because I felt there was a reparation necessary and she would not have expected anything from me either.  I did it because she was my best friend, and she deserved her story be told by someone close to her, and her family deserved to know a side of her that perhaps they had never witnessed being that most of us are all different things to different people.

I told her story, as it had applied to me.  The good parts and what little there was of the bad.  Every friend deserves your honesty. 

She was not only a daughter, a wife, and a mother, she was also my friend and therefore the Maid of Honour at my wedding.  She was the only choice imaginable at the time.  Who but your friend would be thrilled at the prospect of being able to make her own Maid of Honour dress?  It also seemed only right that our friendship should have been borne from her being accused by a typing instructor of cheating off my typing test.  (When you think on that a moment, you’ll realise that it’s impossible to cheat on a typing test, but these were the kinds of things that always seemed to happen only to her, lending an air of magic to her existence.) 

So it was perhaps just that little bit more tragic that she should die at the tender age of 34, with three young daughters to raise.  For quite some time afterward, people would often ask if I was all right.  Of course I was all right!  I wasn`t the one who died and had to leave everything and everyone I loved behind!

And it’s for that reason I have not yet visited her grave.  In my mind and in my heart, my friend lives and fluorishes.  She finds her way into my dreams where we continue our telephone conversations, joking and bantering as we always did.  She is perpetually beautiful, whole and healthy.  She continues to be my friend.

Some, but not I, would say that she lives because I remember her.  That may very well be true, but it seems a rather arrogant presumption, so I will simply say that if you lose someone dear to you, never forget them.  Keep them with you however much you can, whether they are alive or not.  Pay tribute to them in whatever way you can imagine.  Remember the silly things they did or said and hold on tight, regardless of their faults.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone willing to do the same for you, giving us all the key to Eternity.  Or at least to Happiness.

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