treasure your friends

Aside

My friend turned me down for going for a walk yesterday but promised to get together maybe today or whenever her busy life allows. Although I missed spending time with her and catching up on what’s been happening since our last get-together I will patiently wait for the opportunity to share my time with her.

Friends are like pebbles in the sand, jewels in a crown, oxygen for some. Imagine where you would be without your friends (I am assuming that you have at least one) and you might find yourself in the desert, a bit alone, stuck in the sand. Again I am assuming that all your relations, close and otherwise are excluded and not considered friends although some have told me that their sister or brother or even their cousin is like their best friend.

If you grew up with siblings one of the first bonds you have formed apart from your parents or other nurturing adults may have been with your brother or sister. If you developed a positive relationship when young you forget about the times when you sat in the sandbox crying and hanging onto each end of a toy truck claiming it to be yours, instead you recall times such as celebrating birthdays when your smiling face (sometimes with a few cake crumbs on your chin) is right next to that of your smiling sibling.

If you were brought up to engage in socializing you may have spent good times with siblings, cousins, neighbours and self-selected friends. You may have met your first friend when you were a wee babe as your mom pushed you in the pram, idly chatting to her friend who paraded her own bundle of joy right next to you. Perhaps you even exchanged some baby talk across the carriages that to the untrained ear sounded just like gurgling and one-syllables when in fact it was a coded conversation that could only be heard by other like-minded wee ones. I believe that we all conversed on some level from a very young age and that it has only been recognized as true communication once words that made sense came along. Then again, you (and I) may have talked utter nonsense, real baby goobledygook and yet we managed to make ourselves understood since apart from language luckily we had our extremities that helped along to form words that may have been too tricky to pronounce and may not have been part of our vocabulary.

I love watching people, especially good friends engaged in conversation: if the talk centres around something light-hearted, the whole body seems to be moving along with the words, laughter is interspersed with bold language and the dynamics of the friendship is palpable but the whole picture changes to something like a still-life when the topic covers sadness. The palpability still exists only as a darker shade of colour or heavier cloud of doom. Yet your friends stay with you from light to dark, jolly to serious matters and you know that they can always be relied upon.

Through my work I have met a senior, a woman in her seventies who immigrated from England many years ago.

“I call my friend in England once a week. We talk about everything and have done so for the past sixty years,” Anne told me and I am amazed by the loyalty and happiness expressed in these few words. It takes dedication, bonding and compatibility to stay connected for such a length of time.

Some folks are lucky to have grown up with good friends or at least one and roamed through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood knowing that there is somebody who cares and somebody who can be counted on no matter what the situation.

According to the Oxford dictionary a friend is “a person with whom one enjoys mutual affection and regard (usually exclusive of sexual or family bonds)”and to me that applies to a regular friend who is a bit more than an acquaintance, a trusted person whom I like to spend time with. A really good  friend is a buddy, a kindred spirit, a confidant, somebody who would walk barefoot over broken glass to help you out when you’re in a pickle.

At work meetings we recently discussed the importance of having a BFF (best friend forever) at work and opinions varied on the effectiveness and necessity of such a bond but outside of work, to have a  (bosum) buddy is a blessing. We humans are not meant to be hermits and social interaction is widely encouraged and through this social activity blossom friendships. Some have interconnected friendships meaning that like daisy chains they are part of a circle of like-minded people who stay connected throughout their lives no matter where they live and everybody from that circle makes the effort to stay in touch and communicate regularly. Some folks claim not to need a friend and prefer to be self-reliant and somewhat reclusive but the majority of people has started to form friendships at an early age.

Think about all the friends in your life right now – how did you meet and how are you communicating and bonding? Before the internet, most long-distance friendships happened via the telephone and before that via personal visits but since the dawn of e-mailing, internet friend-sharing sites and hand-held electronic devices that lets everybody and their dog become instant friends how much of the connection with your friends happens in person?

When I look around my neighbourhood there seems to be a lot of clusters of friends walking along the streets, sitting in the coffee shops or being engaged in indoor and outdoor activities. Good friends brighten your days and make you feel good in general. An extremely good friend is a person whose doorbell you can ring at 3 am and he or she lets you inside no questions asked, no judging frown on his/her face. With this kind of friend, giving and taking is equal, there is no place for a hidden agenda and sharing comes straight from each other’s hearts.

“I’m going over to Amanda’s” or “Brittany is coming over soon” are phrases that I hear in my home a lot and I feel good for my daughters’ having good friends (male and female) whom they can rely upon and to whom they can be good and loyal friends.

You might treasure your friends because of the circumstances when you met; perhaps you know somebody who helped to save a friend’s life whether in the trenches during the war or by talking and preventing a friend from inflicting self-harm. My late grandma told me about the special friendships that she nursed with many other widows who lost their husbands (who were killed in action during the war).

If you are someone who is supporting a friend through an illness or recovery you may be experiencing a lot of stress but it might help to recall and concentrate on all the good times that were had with this friend and more good times that hopefully still lie ahead. Treasure the moments you are actively together and find happiness by being connected.

My friend and I managed to catch up today by taking my dog for a walk and we had a chance to talk about a wide spectrum of topics from trivial  to meaningful which left us both refreshed, rejuvenated and joyful and also grateful to have each other as friends.

May I be your clutter consultant?

Standard

Determination propelled me this week-end to tackle something that I have put off for quite a while and I’m sure that some of you can relate to it, and have been there before: de-cluttering my room. While I sat amongst piles of papers and other paraphernalia I organized things in three groups: definitely discard, re-allocate (either in the same spot or somewhere else in the house) and keep and use (subgroup: keep and hold without actually using). Now you might think that I’m showing signs of a hoarder and it may well be that I am emotionally attached to things that I should have let go off long ago. I’m exaggerating a bit when I use the word ‘hoarder’ since my room (and other rooms in the house) are not really stuffed to the ceiling with hazardous items and if I hold my breath and squeeze my belly and behind, I can easily get around all the furniture, books and clothing and shoes that are strategically placed all around the house. It’s not an obstacle course and  should I be blindfolded I would maneuver with ease without tripping. Same goes for all my family members, some of whom might object and would tell you that certain things quite often get in their way.

Since I’m on this path to learn how to get by with less, I have jumped into this de-clutter mode a few times without actually getting rid of anything. I merely moved items from one place to another creating the illusion of more space in certain areas of the house while cramming things that don’t necessarily belong on let’s say the shelves in the linen closet right in between the towels, sheets and pillows.

“What is that garden gnome with the chipped off paint doing on my favourite towel?” My husband turns to me in our narrow hallway, holding the ceramic creature in front of my face as I cough a little bit until I can think of an appropriate response.

“I washed it yesterday and must have put it on the shelf when I looked for an older towel to dry it with. Thanks so much for finding it. I’ll put it right back out on the front steps.”

“Why would you do that, it’s a piece of junk, just toss it in the garbage.”  My husband hands me the gnome expecting me to take it to the nearest waste receptacle or to our recycling bin. I clutch the little fellow with the red cheeks and hat, mumble something about needing to check on the soup bubbling on the stove and slink off to the kitchen.

How can I explain that I would feel guilty should I throw out that gnome since it travelled with us to all the homes we lived in and that I remember how we bought it together at a local Canadian Tire store when our firstborn showed an interest in helping her dad to dig in the dirt.

My rational mind sides with my husband, telling me that there is no need to be sentimentally attached to objects, that you can always recall an event, place or person without having an object to act as your memory trigger and that the object is only that – an object whereas the memory, the sentimental connection simply needs to be stored in your brain as such and will keep in your heart for as long as you allow it to be. But I love that gnome, or so I tell myself.

I repositioned him behind the bird bath in the backyard for the time being and know he will be safe until my husband decides to plant spring bulbs in that area. I have analyzed this kind of behaviour many times as I’m sure that you have, too if you are wondering what makes us hang onto objects that no longer serve our needs. Perhaps I should engage my editorial mind when it comes to de-cluttering the house. Remove all that is not necessary, has not been used of over a month or has grown white fuzz and emits a biting odour. Out goes the half tomato and cheese sandwich from the lower shelf of the fridge, the old pleated skirt that’s become too tight around the waist and the wicker end table that was a cast off from an old friend who moved to South Africa and could not take all her furniture. I’m not even sure why it came about that I took the end table and matching chair from my friend. There must be some folks in my neighbourhood who would love to be the new owners of this wicker furniture who would actually use it as a table and chair and not just as a dust collector or door stopper.

But right now’s not a good time with Christmas approaching my neighbours have other things on their minds than making space to welcome second-hand furniture into their homes. One part of me wants to be brave enough to just haul these items away, give it to Goodwill, a charity who knows some folks who don’t have any tables or chairs and would really make use of my donated stuff. I will mark my calendar, pick a date in early January 2014 when these items and more will be removed from my home and deposited with a local charity. Or advertise on one of the free list servings- but then strangers would know what I have to give away and where I live and they might come to my home to ask for these freebies. On my front lawn some might get into a scuffle when two or more people come to collect my rejected furniture. I might have to call an ambulance to assist the injured and give a statement to the police about who punched whom and who said what unpleasant word to whom all because of the somehow inherited furniture that I decided to no longer keep. I can’t let that happen. So I best hang onto the table and chair for a wee bit longer. I can pile a whole bunch of books on the table and drape unfashionable, non-fitting clothing over the back of the chair. I’m glad that’s solved.

“Look at all the space in the closet, see how easy the hangers move along the rod again” I’ll drag my husband to the bedroom and in a “voila” armsweeping gesture point to the half-empty closet. He looks impressed and mumbles something about me being on a roll and not letting him prevent me from going at it in all other rooms in the house.

Come springtime you’ll be able to waltz from room to room without stubbing your toe into hindering objects when you come by for a visit. You might leave with a book or a colourful sweater and some advice on how to de-clutter your space. If you can’t wait till then, give me a call and I’ll see you sooner and help you to make some space, get rid of all the things that you no longer need and remove all that no longer serves you.