Perspectives and Promises

A Summer blog delayed by writer’s block;here-to-with something I’ve never experienced. Whether I’ve been asked to speak extemporaneously or write and article on anything from “Apples” (love’em if they’re Gala) to “Z”. I’ve never been at a loss for words. But since my last entry I have been silent in the blog-o-sphere, and I think I know why.

Early this summer an old and treasured friend suffered a horrible loss. And her pain has been front and center on my mind. Truly, writing on any number of subjects seemed trite and meaningless. (And those who know me know how I love trite.)

I would like to write about something my friend said to me and a group of friends who had gathered to share support. “I have no patience anymore for people’s complaints.” She was talking about an element of her job and she struck a chord. I mentioned her comment to another friend, who likewise has had her share of loss and challenge and she immediately related to the sentiment. She said that at a similar time in her life a neighbor fretted over the “wrong color of some new carpet, and I thought ‘I don’t want to hear it.What are you complaining about?'”

I know we all get tired or overwhelmed. Sometimes things just pile up on us in our days. Just recently at work, I spilled a 9 by 13 dish of quiche that a roomful of breakfast seeking ladies were waiting for. It was a mess.And while I allowed myself a level of aggravation and and an exclamation of, “Holy Cheese and crackers!!” I refused to tell the story as a complaint. Spilled quiche, really? So not worth complaining about.

It seems like daily I hear in the media stories of work/road/waiting-in- line rage. And the stuff that goes on at youth sporting events is really scary. If the worst thing in your life is how long it takes for your morning coffee to be placed in front you or the blown call at the 7th grade soccer game you, my friend, are living a charmed existence.

No, I want to focus on the important stuff. The good stuff. Friends and family who pull for you. Show up when you need them. Pastors who give a sermon with one or more insights you may not have thought of. Kids who say “thank you.” Spouses who say “I love you” or fill your gas tank. People at work who tell you they appreciate your hard work, or creativity. Neighbors who keep an eye on your kids or house or pet when you’re not around. Doctors and nurses who show up every day working to keep other people healthy. The list goes on.

Now, I know I won’t stop thinking or commenting on things that I wish were different. Life isn’t perfect. I’ll be at a Major League ball park this week. It will be hot. Someone will be wearing something (or not wearing something )that will seem to me an insult to fashion, good manners and health. I’ll be on a plane or train one day and there won’t be enough leg room. But while I’ll notice these things , I’m going to try real hard not to complain about them. Joke maybe, or roll my eyes, yes. But complain about them no. Life is short. I have too many blessings. I’d rather be a glass is half-full kind of person, and thankful for the glass.

This summer, some sad things happened to some good people I know. You probably know some sad stories too. Let’s leave any complaining to those folks, they’ve earned it. But let’s try to be one of the reasons they can navigate thru it. With a hug, a joke, a casserole, or a prayer. I’m just say’n.

Better Than Chocolate

Who’s your Valentine? Who do you send a card to, give a hug to, remember fondly? February is hearts and flowers time. As the 14th draws near I can’t help but think of love and chocolate. Although, to be honest I purposely looked away when the stores displayed all the Valentine gear before I had swept up all the New Years confetti. But now “V” day is around the corner and I have some “sweethearts” to celebrate, multiple sweethearts. I hope you do too.

I’m talking about those people who have slipped past friendship into a zone I’ve named “framily.” Twice recently I’ve been caught by surprise when someone with whom I share no name or DNA, has referred to me and mine as “family.” After the lump in my throat subsided I gave the designation some thought.

The first “framily” label occur ed when the college age daughter of friends announced at my Thanksgiving table that spending the holiday with us was simply spending it with family. The 2nd occasion was in a hospital’s surgical waiting area. The son of our long time friends was undergoing serious surgery and we had come to sit with them early one morning after Christmas. When the surgeon came in to talk to the parents he looked at my husband and I and said “Are you family?” The mother without a moments hesitation said “Yes, they are family.” And so we are.

I recently read that we build the family we didn’t have from the friends we choose. This framily creation may happen accidentally. But if you are smart, you will build this “framily” over time with effort and love.

My husband and I are both from small families, we’re low on siblings and cousins. And, we both live out of the states we were raised in. Over the years our “framily” has been through a lot with us; the addition of our children to our families, the drama of adoption, the loss of our own parents. They have come with us to court, lent a hand when a trip to the emergency room was needed, helped pack up a parent’s last household. And I like to think that we have been there for them as well. Their children may call us “Aunt” and “Uncle.” They call for advice. My son asks about them when he calls home. My daughter has their numbers programed into her phone. They both know their “framily” is a “contact person.”

So this year I’m sending them all a Valentine. To the childhood friend of my husband who lived on my floor in college, to the neighbor who visited my parents when they were ill and I was out of town. She moved out of state but maintains our relationship with love,long distance. To the former co-worker and neighbor who says my kids were her first “grandchildren”, and to all the others, Happy Valentine’s Day. A proverb from Ghana says “A family is like a forest. When you are outside it seems dense. But when you are inside each tree has its place.” Thank you for adding us to your forest, for letting my saplings gain aunts and uncles, cousins, “framily.” Happy Valentine’s Day, I’m just say’n.

Glory Days

I’m thinking about friendship today. Having recently attended my 35th high school reunion (I graduated at the age of 6) I’m pondering the nature of friendship over time. I read recently that “lifetime relationships teach us lifetime lessons.” If that is true what have I learned from those high school days?

Well in my case, as an army-brat with out any family in the area I live now, it is nice to be with people who remember my face from age 9. It was heartwarming that someone could pick me out of a class photo from 1967. Knowing people with whom I share a timeline of memories is important. While many of them still reside within 25 miles of our hometown all of us have a shared recollection of a time and place more rural and simple than the present.

When graduation came and we all went our many ways some friendships continued long distance into the new lives we made in college or work. Others became part of our memories. The friends I made in college, as a young wife and mother, as a working woman, are deep and important. But I think that those relationships were colored by those high school days. Did I want to be as “nice” as I was in high school. “nicer?” Self- confident, more so? Will I grow up or only away from my past.

Each stage of our lives holds new faces and potentially new friendships. My children will leave high school with memories of friends from pre-school through 12th grade. I hope they will create new friendships that are rich and varied throughout their lives. But will these years-long relationships be building blocks for them? Will they Take the good and develop their future friendships. Will they thoughtfully remember their own hurt feeling or hurtful actions and try to treat others better. Perhaps that is the true “test” of high school, I’m just say’n.

Emergency Guidelines

Thank you all for the comments and messages about what your worries are if you are absent from your world. We share many things in common; unemptied vacuum cleaner bags and untended pets lead the way. Mostly we are concerned about families and in some cases co-workers, who may not know the secrets of civilization. Otherwise known as how to put the new roll on the toilet tissue holder and other rituals. It’s amazing how important we all are- I’m just say’n.

Innaugural

With time on my hands and spring doing it’s re-birth, re-fresh number in my mind as well as the landscape, I’ve begun this blog. I wanted to have a place to jot down thoughts and ideas for a long time now that I could share with friends and family. Much of what I want to write about will be pretty basic stuff. I’ll be pretty informal. Community, friends, kids and of course ( if you know me you know I’ll work in) dogs will often be the topics of my musings.
The things that I’ll write about will interest you I hope. Since you may be a part of my experiences you may even appear in this blog. But I promise to be discreet. (And to try to work the kinks out of this whole blogging/technology thing.)
It’s been over a year since I’ve lost my forum for sharing insights ,thoughts, and laughs with many people every week. I’ have missed that. This blog is my attempt to re-connect and share that experience again. No big political discourses, no toplofty pronouncements, just the musings I have as I walk the streets of the ‘Bay. You may be thinking about some of the same things, or I may trigger a similar chain of thought in you. I hope at least to share a grin or two as we meet in this medium. Bear with me as I ramble/blog.
I am “just say’n.”