Philosophy

Day 2: Celebrate Friendships

This is Day 2 of the writing prompts on Sue at Sizzling Toward 60 & Beyond’s advent calendar.  Today we are to examine and celebrate friendships, and come up with small ways to connect with our friends.

While I have pared down on social engagements, friendship are still an important part of my life.  I have two friends who have moved from Michigan to Texas, many friends from my yoga class and Iliana’s special needs activities, and online friends whom I have met through blogging.

First, here are some ways that I connect with my friends:

 1.  Through Texting

While I am no longer on Facebook, I do connect with a number of friends through text.  The nature of the interactions varies from friend to friend.  I have a couple of friends where we will share random thoughts, a few days a week.  With other friends, it has been more down-to-business.  Texting is great for keeping in touch with the friends that I would like to see more, but it hasn’t been feasible in our schedule.

2.  Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!

The coffee (or wine!) date is a wonderful thing.  I could write a whole blog post on this topic.  It can be as long or as short as you want it, and there are no hurt feelings if you have to cut it short one day.  Getting together for coffee has been the backbone of most of my friendships.

There was the friend who asked me to coffee as a peace gesture, after she had set a (very necessary, in hindsight) boundary with me.

There was the friend who asked me to coffee “or something stronger” after she saw that I was having a horrible day at work.  She ended up being a strong ally last year.

There have been the coffee and lunch dates with my friend who recently moved here from Michigan, where we catch up amidst the craziness.

 3.  In the Moment Conversations

I have had more intimate conversations with friends in the parking lot after yoga class, or even while we are still in the studio.  Some of the most needed interactions seem to happen impromptu.

4.  The Marina Wine Evening

Sometimes I will be walking back from the bath house, and a neighbor will invite us over to share a glass of wine.  Usually pizza is ordered, or a cheese tray appears.  And then I go out for more wine.  Our marina friends come and go, so our interactions are always in the moment.

My Friendship Goals

So how would I like to improve my friendships in the new year?  Here are some goals that I have:

  1.  Meet up with all of my close friends at least once a month.
  2. Respond to texts within 24 hours.
  3. Do more to foster community within the marina (ie setting up a bonfire).
  4. Reconnect with my special needs parent friends.
  5. Possibly re-establish a Facebook account, being very selective with people I add as friends.

So Now It’s Your Turn

How do you plan to reconnect with your friends during and after the holidays?

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Philosophy

Holding Space

Two years ago, a co-worker, friend, and mentee of mine was suddenly arrested on horrible charges.  Although I found out later that they were dropped, the fact remains that, this event meant that I would never have the chance to see or speak to her again.

Yoga has always been my refuge, and I attended a yoga nidra class that night.  I let go throughout the class, and visualized the scenario that the teacher led us through.  But at the end, during savasana, I went my own way.

I pictured my happiest place, in the woods, on a hammock. I placed a picture of a sailboat, that my friend had painted for me, next to my hammock.  And a couple of items that reminded me of my two favorite yoga teachers, for comfort.

Then I held hands with my friend, and gave her the blessing, “I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  Thank you.  I love you.” And I let her go.

Later on, I told a friend about this.  She listened, and allowed me to throw my arms around her, even though I was sitting on the floor and she was standing.  We embraced for a long time, until she whispered, “God’s peace,” and let go.  I thought she would walk away, but she sat next to me on the floor and held my hands as long as I needed.  It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  She offered no advice.  She did not try to “fix” it.  She simply held space for me.

In that moment, I learned to sit with my emotions, and stop fighting them.  Sometimes things happen in life, that just stink.  And that is okay.  We cry, and we live through them.  They do not need fixing.

Another time, a friend confided in me that she had cancer.  She had been in remission for a long time, and was doing well.  I don’t even remember how I reacted.  But I know I held space for her to express her fears, without invalidating them.

And she thanked me for not being scared away, which floored me.

Cancer is horrible and scary.  I lost my grandpa to the exact disease this friend has.  And I have known and loved numerous other friends, who have lived with cancer.  Some are still with us, and some are not.

But abandoning this friend, was unthinkable.

To love is, ultimately, to lose.  At some time, one of us will say “good-bye.”  That is part of the human condition. I am genetically predisposed to heart issues, which I am cognizant of.  And I am a sailor, which means I frequently face nature head-on.  It is anybody’s game.

This past year, I was physically and sexually assaulted, repeatedly.  For awhile, I needed to tell everyone I encountered about it.  I needed my voice to be heard.

The best response was, and still is, “I’m sorry that happened to you.”  I am coping.  I do not have PTSD.  But I still have some weird emotional responses to specific situations, which I just need to be told are “normal.”  My body has scars from my experience, and will likely always have scars.

My career is taking a new path, a path that I love.  But I doubt myself a lot on this path, and sometimes the ghosts of the past rear their heads.  Sometimes I just need someone to hold space for me, while I process.

If a friend tells you about a horrible experience they have had, please consider not trying to “fix” it.  Just be there.  Trust in your friend’s ability to get through it and process their own emotions.  Hold space for them and allow them to talk.  Also allow for silence. It is okay to sit and hold hands.

That might be the exact thing your friend needs.