When I go to bed at night I count my blessings, often listing them in my Gratitude Journal. And I notice the thing I list most is the names of the people I am fortunate to have in my life. When it comes to friends, I am a millionaire. I am awash with them, rolling in hordes of gorgeous gems. Some are transient, just passing through for a while to teach me something, and some last forever. My oldest friend I met when I was eleven, in 1966, and we are still pals to this day though our closeness has waxed and waned and waxed again over the years as life has presented each of us with different paths.
When I first became self-employed it wasn’t long before I realised I needed to change my friends from those who were employed. I always say its a bit like the NCT, although I’ve never had a baby. When you are going through something life-changing for the first time – like having a baby – you need a peer group around you of those going through the same thing for the first time. And this still stands for me. I want friends who make me feel good, by and large, about my life choices.
I am anticipating the visit today of two friends. We usually meet up at my place at least once a month. We shall go out for lunch since it isnt BBQ weather today. These ladies were part of a posse who came on my birthday in April and brought aprons, rubber gloves and trowels and helped me to dig flowers into my garden because that’s what I wanted on my birthday, so they obliged cheerfully and efficiently. What a loving gift, digging my garden for me!
Today we will enjoy a long chat with plenty of time for each to speak without one drowning out another. There will be lots of laughter and when we have drunk our fill of one another, they will leave. Since we are now in our Fifties and care about this sort of nonsense, they will go at about 4 p.m. “before the traffic gets bad!”
Leafing through my Gratitude Journal and without listing the names therein, here are the qualities I appreciate in a friend. Honestly, humour, self-sufficiency, generosity, reliability, creativity, a sense that they don’t really know how wonderful they are, modesty I suppose that is. The ability to laugh at themselves and cause me to laugh at myself and know that we are loved and supported and that it’s safe to do that, grounding.
I’ve got more friends than most and I know what this means. It means that I have been a good friend to many in my life. You attract what you give out. It’s probably important to have something in common, although I have friends where we appear to have almost nothing in common except perhaps laughter, or shared life experiences which have bonded us, or an availability to one another in need.
As I constantly reinvent myself and re-model my world, a goodly chunk of friends fall away and the vacuum is quickly filled with shiny new ones who reflect my changes back to me in a positive way. I think this is natural, I also think its vital. Friends make you feel normal (or as normal as I’m ever going to get anyway), they love and accept you for what you are, they choose you, they re-affirm.
The loving and accepting you for what you are is a very good and healing thing; it enables us to love and accept ourselves too, warts and all.
By the end of today my world will again have changed in some little way thanks to the ladies who are on their way round as I write. Someone will say something tiny and unimportant in the moment, which later will cause me to reflect on something I am wrestling with and come to see it in a new light perhaps. Or maybe enrage me, which is equally useful when it comes to reflecting, in both senses of that word.
Thank goodness for friends and friendship. Someone to bring round the cough mixture when you are poorly. Someone to feed the cat when the cattery is iced up during December. Someone to rail at when the world is unfair. Someone to cry with when it doesn’t work out. Someone to make you laugh, a good long hearty, health-giving laugh until tears come to your eyes. Someone to put up the BBQ, following the bizarre instructions in the manual. Someone to help with the things which seem impossible. Someone who brings something of themself into your life, helping, questioning, giving, taking, sharing, just being.
I am a lucky girl indeed to have such a long list of friends. I know that and I am very grateful. If you are reading this and you are on that list, thank you. I send you a virtual hug and you can rest assured that you will find your way into my Gratitude Journal again tonight. As Sandy Forster says at the end of her long list of affirmations “I am blessed, I am blessed, I am blessed. And so it is.”