Tag Archive | Friendships

Is Life Passing You By?


Nothing shakes you more and reminds you of the brevity of life when you visit the hospital. A month ago I sat in my friend’s hospital room while she recovered from a complicated surgery. It started out as a simple female procedure but somehow turned into a week-long stay from unexpected complications. I took turns with friends visiting  her to make sure she wasn’t feeling too down or frustrated about losing the freedom to move around too much. She rarely is sad and it shocked me to see her struggling to keep up her joy. It was at this moment I realized we learn our greatest lessons when we realize what we’ve taken for granted.

It got me to thinking about if I was really living the life I say I am when I ended up chatting with a mutual friend at the hospital.  It was a Saturday but she was diligently typing away on her laptop when I walked in my friend’s room.  I brought my Kindle Fire along but only had it for fun and not work. So, I asked her how she’d been and said, “Are you working on a project?” She quickly responded “Oh no, I’m just completing work. That’s all I do.” I said “Really?” Her head was buried in the laptop when she said….”Yea.”  I remembered she was in a sorority and mentioned seeing some of her soror sisters involved in a community service project over the weekend. I asked if she was active or ever worked with any of them. Again, she said, “I don’t even know when they meet. I should get more involved.”

I’m stunned because this woman was beautiful, smart, successful, but largely isolated from anything but her job. Here I was telling her more about organizations she’s affiliated with  just because I was paying more attention. She admitted she didn’t get out much unless it was related to work. We talked a bit more and she shared that even though she had her own moment with a life changing and personal illness, she hadn’t taken hold of truly living instead of focusing her energy on work.   Somehow, she’s  still clinging to work as her life’s purpose.  Here’s the deal. We all have the tendency to cling to what we know and what’s comfortable  out of fear. More than likely, we don’t   realize that we shortchange ourselves by doing so. Unfortunately, I saw alot of myself in her. Of course I can cushion the blow by saying I’m not that bad, but alot of my life is patterned around work and finding more opportunities to work. That’s where alot of my value comes from (which I constantly battle). I volunteer here and there, but I’ve gotten comfortable being by myself and fail at going out alone or if I’m not with a friend.  While I love what I do both as a counselor and as a singer, it won’t always be there.  And since it won’t, it’s time to start focusing more on creating relationships that last and not based simply on what I do for a living. I certainly don’t want to wake up one day and realize I’m all I got.

It was ironic that as I listened to this woman maybe five years older than me, I learned that while I am chasing my career goals, other more personal ones are getting slighted.  It reminded me that if I’m not careful, I’ll end up the same way dragging my laptop around as my friend. I’m so careful with my life choices sometimes to the point that I’m almost afraid to make a move, but my conversation with the laptop lady  reminded me that it’s important to create a sense of  balance. I’ve made more of an effort to spend time with family and friends and even seek them out to nurture our relationships. In the next months, I’ll be sharing my experiences and difficulties of  trying to even out the time I spend in my personal life and my career. I don’t want to look back and see missed opportunities because I was afraid of failure or too focused on moving up in the world. My friend is out of the hospital now and recovering like a champ. So, I’m challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone even more so that I don’t only have certificates of attendance and job promotions as my only proof I was here.

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Learning to Listen #30in30


It’s true when as  you get older, your social circle shrinks. I’m not talking about that list of  “friends” on facebook and twitter that con you into thinking you have a bunch of people to lean on when your friend list has 1000 people in it. But the core group, your girlfriends, are the ones who you can share your deepest disappointments with. Like when you’ve given up on your dream. Or your heart is breaking because you found out your husband cheated. Or, you simply  scared to lose a parent whose getting older and keeps going in the hospital with no improvement.  Somehow, it makes life better when you can call that one person who will simply listen.

Listen.

I know the value of listening. Not giving advice. Not telling them what to do. Not spitting out a Bible verse. But listening. I didn’t always understand it. I used to find special joy in being a problem solver. But as I’ve grown up, I realize it’s not about that.  When I get a call, and hear the distress, I stop and listen instead of waiting my turn to jump in and save the day. It’s changed the way I perceive my relationships because I have realize some people just need a safe space to talk. They didn’t ask me nor do they need me to tell them what to do. They just called because they are hurt and need to vent.

If we take the time to listen, and not attempt to solve our friends problems with our best ideas, we might hear the hurt in a person’s voice. I wonder if we choose not to listen closely because we can’t handle hearing that kind of pain. We say we’ll call them back after they’ve dropped a bomb that’s going to change their lives. We get quiet when she calls back and think, I hope she doesn’t want to talk about THAT again. Or we go into solution mode and offer a book, a video, that has helped us with our own junk.

Everybody’s journey is different even though we are walking down the same street. Most of the time, the solution is within us, we just are working through the process of our emotions. So the next time the urge pops off  to say “girl, look -this is what you need to do….” Just hush, listen, and  allow a different dimension fo friendship to develop.

No one wants you to be Oprah with the best answers a girl could ever ask for, but a friend who loves and is willing allow them  to spazz out without judgement. I’ve got great friends, with great difficulties at times, but the best gift I’ve been able to give them is knowing when they call, I’m all ears because it may be the only place they can share their fears. Life is messy, confusing, and downright unfair at times, but having a friend whose willing to hear you out can make all the world of difference.

I’m working at being a better listener, because I know now it’s not my place to solve your problems. I need friends who are willing to do the same, and sit in the uncomfortable silence of not knowing the solution, but trusting that eventually, I’ll get there. I value my friends, but value their process of growth even more. So, I’m learning to listen.

Me and My Married Men


Me and My Married Men.

Let’s be perfectly clear that I’m not sneaking around with a married man. Nor do I want to seeing as  they’ve  already got  a wife, and kids that I definitely didn’t make.

This is about me having male friends who happen are now married and treading lightly around the boundary of a couple’s marriage.  “Can women and men truly be friends without any romantic interests between them?  Answers range from “it’s no big deal” to “we ain’t sleeping together so what’s the problem?”   My current favorite response is “as long as you carry yourself in the right way, a man’s marital status doesn’t matter.” As if to say if I carry “it” the wrong way and things get crazy it’s going on me my fault because of what I’m carrying???

Now that most of my male friends are marrying off, I’ve had to clarify  my standards.  Ever get the feeling someone’s husband is flirting with you? Do you ignore it and brush it off or giggle and respond since he’s stroking your ego?  Or, maybe they ask to hang out when you come into town, but you’ve never met their wife and if she walked up on you, you wouldn’t have a clue what her first name was? Crickets, right? I’ve had friends who have cheated and been cheated on and it’s painful to watch. Call me old-fashioned or knowing the power of a scorned woman, but I choose to treat others how I would want to be treated if it was my man.  Applying the “Golden Rule” keeps me from becoming the woman in the middle.

I asked a couple of friends about married + single friends to pick their brains. My dear, married gal friend politely said sorry, but YOU can’t be friends with any married man. In her marriage, the rule is all friends are mutual. No side friends or “inviting temptation to dinner” as she put it. My single and happily dating guy friend laughed at the question and ended up saying no as well.  In his words, ” too much opportunity for confusion” and “what’s he need single girlfriends for anyway?” He’s been on both sides of the fence so I guess he has to know the reasons behind keeping “friends” around, right? Yet, my close girlfriend says it’s not a big deal as long as you’re not interested. Huh? And, in the same breath, remarked, “men don’t stop flirting just because their married. If they do, it’s because they choose to honor their wives.” Interesting. Finally, I asked my single gal friend and she immediately babbled out three questions.  “How do you know each other?” “Did yall go to college together or date at one point??” “Have you met his wife?” That last question nearly punched me in the face because more often than not the wife is NEVER brought up. And lest you think I am completely naive,  when my coworker recently asked me to dinner, I said, “Oh okay, you and your wife right?” His face said it all. Not his original plan apparently.

Honestly, I had to check myself first and admit, I welcomed the friendships because I considered them harmless. I wasn’t trying to date these guys and I got my kicks being complimented about how nice I looked every once in a while.  But, I stopped and thought about if I’d be okay as the wife with the flirting, the social media communications, and the dinners when in town. Most women say they are secure with their hubby’s having friends and aware of their husbands flirtatious nature. But most women also admit anger and disappointment when finding out their husbands have cheated or cross the line. So, where’s the balance?

What I’ve learned over the years is my response is my responsibility. In other words, erring on the side of caution now is more important than confusion later. I do my best now to use the work hours standard for communication. If I have something to say, I say it before 7pm so that I respect their home and family time. I also stopped IM and Facebook chats late at night unless I know both spouses.

I can see a couple of eyes rollin’ as they read this sayin’ girl, please, that’s too much. Maybe, but nothing is more uncomfortable than watching a friend trying to explain to their spouse who “SHE” is or trying to explain why you have more Facebook chats and texts with her than your wife. Nothing is wrong with a short get together with a guy friend as long as the intentions are clear. But it’s interesting how the details get left out quickly when a couple is fighting, separated, and someone steps out just to fantasize about what life would be like if they were free.  I’m single, no kids, and I’m easy on the eyes.  But more importantly, I respect others relationships and want the best for them.   Since I don’t always profess to know what my male friends are thinking, I’ll set the tone.  My goal is to respect all parties involved. Whether or not I ever meet their wife.

Your thoughts?