The Care and Feeding of Friends

As the song goes: “Ya gotta have friends”, right?  I mean, life would be pretty boring without them and relying on family as your sole support group can be very ill-advised at times.  But like every living, breathing thing, friends require care.  They cannot be ignored and expected to flourish. Therein lies the purpose of this post and my dilemma.  It’s something I’ve been kicking around for a few days.

First off, in the interest of full disclosure – I am not the nurturing type.  I was absent the day they handed out maternal instincts.  I have one meager houseplant.  There are days that I find my cat’s neediness a bit overwhelming.  I’ve also pointed out to my hubby on numerous occasions that he did not marry a Florence Nightingale.  I am not a giver.  To be fair, I don’t really expect much in return either, I don’t think.  Basically, I’m an introvert. I enjoy solitude and I find I gather my energy and strength to go do all my social and/or professional stuff by spending quiet time alone.  That does not mean I’m a hermit (although, there are weekends I put in a great deal of training and aspire toward that end).  It just means I need “down time” to refuel.   Having said that, I do try to put the necessary time into nurturing my close friendships.  I like to be there for them. I enjoy getting together and spending time with them. I want to know what’s going on in their lives and also to let them know what’s happening in mine.

These days, the term “friend” is definitely thrown around.  I find it necessary to differentiate between my true, close friends, my for-lack-of-a-better-term “occasional” friends, and my Facebook friends (a mix of all the above and acquaintances, business associates, and family). While I like to keep track of what’s happening in all of their lives, I feel I just don’t have the time or energy to truly care for and nurture all of these relationships. But then what’s the point in having them? 

I do feel guilty when I realize too much time has gone by between chatting with a close friend, emailing an “occasional” friend or commenting on a Facebook friend’s wall.  It can just all be a bit overwhelming sometimes.  I certainly always enjoy getting a dinner invitation or a funny text from a close friend.  I try to be there with advice when asked or find time for a cup of coffee or wine (depending on the time of day) to listen to a friend vent, and I am always delighted by the out-of-the-blue “like” or comment on my Facebook wall.  The thing is all of this takes time.

I guess it’s like combining juggling with playing the lotto.  You can’t win if you don’t play and you have to keep all your balls in the air at the same time.  It’s hard, and it takes a lot of organization and coordination, but if done right (with only a few balls dropped here and there with nothing broken) everybody goes home a winner. Just do it.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Change in the weather…

Just about two weeks ago I found myself mourning the end of summer.  Admittedly, this has been a very odd summer for me.

First of all, summer took forever to arrive in Chicago this year.  Too many false starts and teasing.  Then when it finally did get here, the blast furnace was turned on … big time!

Secondly, my work has been odd and different this summer.  Not my usual schedule, and we’ve already discussed how I do like to keep a regular schedule. Things just seemed jumbled, disorganized and out of sorts.

Finally… and I shouldn’t even mention this…. summer to me means my beloved Chicago Cubs.  What a disappointing season.  Mind you, I still watched just about every game (and will continue to do so until the very bitter end), but it just wasn’t the same.  There was no pressure… no anticipation.  We knew from a very early stage, that the playoffs were not in the cards this year.

So… suddenly I woke up one morning and it was September.  September?? How is this possible?  It was June just a moment ago!  Now the calendar was telling me it was fall.  I just didn’t think I was ready.  Somehow, I felt cheated.

Then, this morning I awoke to a gloriously cool, clear morning.  It was even chilly!  I immediately knew what needed to be done.  I cracked open my favorite cookbook, “Around My French Table“, by Dorie Greenspan and found the recipe for Paris Mushroom Soup.  Soup!!  Glorious, warm, silky soup.  I put on my favorite light sweater and suddenly… I am all about fall!  Summer?  Who needs it?

Bring on college football!  Bring on fires in the fireplace!  Bring on cozy soups and succulent stews!  Autumn…. I am ready!

Let it flow….

Fluidity…. I just like the word.  The sound the word makes me happy… it’s fun to say.  I like the thought too, and am really trying to incorporate it into my daily life.  You see, I’m a big-time planner.  I plan everything.  I make lists; I make lists of things I need to add to my lists.  I plan my menus two weeks out.  I have certain household chores that I do on certain days, etc… etc… Some may call it anal,  I prefer organized.  I’m happy when I have my act together.

Having said that… I find I need a bit more “flow” in my life.  Things, occasionally, need to just happen.  If a friend calls with a last-minute dinner suggestion, I need to jump on it because generally, I truly enjoy it.  If hubby and I don’t absolutely need to be somewhere at a certain time, maybe we shouldn’t plan exactly what time we’ll get there (and more often than not arrive 5 minutes early).  We’ll get there when we get there.  Case in point was a day-long get-together we were invited to recently.  “Arrive anytime after 12” the invite said.  For once, we didn’t plan our departure time.  When things got done and we were ready, we left.  We hit unexpected traffic and didn’t panic.  We made an unplanned stop because we wanted to check out a new place.  We were still there before the majority of the people arrived, we stayed just as long as we wanted, and we had a fabulous time.  Nothing planned….everything gained.

Yep,  I think we can all use a little more flow in our lives. Say it with me: “Fluidity”.