I have long admired writer and artist Mary Anne Radmacher. Her writing and images have been in my life for a very long time. One of the things I most love about technology is how I have been able to connect more personally with some of the writers I love most. Mary Anne has a strong positive presence on Facebook and she actually takes the time to connect with people. I was already familiar with some of her wonderful tales regarding letter exchanges between her and friends from her books. Through my recent interactions with her though I have had the chance to observe on a more personal level her incredible generosity and her very caring ways, so it came as no surprise when I learned she was releasing a book about friendship called US! Celebrating the Power of Friendship.
I was then incredibly honored to be contacted by her publisher to see if I would take part in a Mary Ann Radmacher blog tour. No one had to ask me twice! There was also the fact that I have been noticing a trend here on my own Red Boa blog, which is that the two most popular and most read posts are on friendship and belonging. I believe that we humans experience the most joy and deepest sorrows in regards to our relationships. They are what keep us going, and sadly at times, are what drag us to the depths of grief and loss. It appears that the topic of friendship is one that draws many to seek advice and answers. If you are seeking some guidance regarding friendship you have come to the right place. Here are some words of wisdom from Mary Anne Radmacher herself regarding friendship.
Special Note – Don’t miss the opportunity to win a FREE copy of US! Celebrating the Power of Friendship. See details below!
10 Questions with Mary Anne Radmacher about Friendship and US!
My friend, Maureen, was a high school senior when I was a sophomore. When she graduated she gave me a book of quotes about friendship. I knew when I finished enjoying those great thoughts that someday I would write a book on friendship. When I was 19 I operated a switchboard for a small college in San Francisco. In the quiet moments, I would work on my friendship book. A teacher who stopped by my desk each day, Professor Sparks, greeted me with an unusual question – “What dream are you working on today?” I easily and quickly replied, “My book on friendship.” Thirty five years later US! CELEBRATING THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP features some of the things I knew and treasured about friendship when I was still a teenager.
I first want to say that I believe friendships are very important to men – and I have observed that they deal with it and talk about it (when they talk about it at all) differently than women. Women want to affirm, support, validate what they know to and for each other. Women have an increasingly demanding set of roles to fulfill in our culture, and our friends help us “suit up” for those various tasks. Women friends offer each other support that is both tangible and metaphysical.
The answer to that question depends on the nature of one’s relationship to family. I was born around the time my parents were celebrating 25 years of marriage. Two of my siblings could have been my parents. The participants in my family structure were either a) tired or b) involved in their own life activities. From early on I learned to create my own “tribe” first from the neighborhood, then school, then peers in my life experiences. My friends, in all practical applications, have been like family to me.
The busier I am the more conscious I am of how important it is to stay connected to my friends. It’s too tempting to relegate our friends to the back of the line. When, in fact, our relationships are one of the greatest graces of our lives.
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I’m a BIG FAN of the postal service. Sending a fun or meaningful card “just because” is a real tender connection between friends. I use technology to take photos with the short caption, “I saw this and it made me think of you.” I’m encouraging groups of friends to use my US! book as a “scrap book” or to use an older term , “autograph book.” Each member of the circle has a copy and each book gets passed around. Friends write their own thoughts of appreciation on the page that most reminds them of their friend. Combining my words and illustrations with loving words from your own friends – a powerful and memorable combination.
Being cued in to the present and real struggles a friend is facing is important. More than saying, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” DOING something practical really shows how much you appreciate your friend. My friend is moving this week. She has a two hour daily commute. AND she has special food needs with a variety of allergies. I made allergy-appropriate lunches for her for a week. I said, “I know when you are moving you don’t even know where your kitchen utensils ARE! I hope this makes making good, healthy choices easier for you this week.” It got a big WOW from my friend.
Age brings a certain predictability and a whole road of judgments and assessments at our backs. It becomes very easy to judge someone in advance and tell ourselves all the reasons why we likely wouldn’t like this person or that. Also, we’ve had a few friendship failures as we’ve gotten older and might be less inclined to be vulnerable. My dad outlived all his old friends and he told me one of the regrets of his life is that he did not take the time to make new friends. My life is like a shelf on a bookcase. My oldest and my newest friends are the book ends that hold all the other books together!
Be open to people who are different than you. Say yes to experience new gatherings and go to events that are a little out of your comfort zone. Listen attentively and observe how you feel listening to this new person. If you are immediately engaged, interested and alert…that might be an excellent basis for exploring the possibility of a friendship. If someone says, “We should talk about that,” or “I’d love to get together sometime and learn about your experiences with_________,” schedule the time. Sometime soon. Listening is an excellent way to foster a new relationship. And it’s also a litmus! If you find yourself endlessly listening with no opportunity to speak, that might be an indicator of a relationship you want NOT to foster. That’s important to pay attention to, as well. Not everyone you meet would make a good friend for you.
I get to have quite a few of those kinds of nights. We share healthy and yummy food, work on some sort of art project and tell each other fabulous stories. Most of them even true!
Reach out. Take the risk and say, “I miss our times of connecting. I thought of you just the other day and remembered the time that we…..” Sometimes just confessing that you’ve noticed some distance has crept in will be a relief – they have likely noticed it, too, and haven’t known what to do, either!
My friends deliver honest advice and critique when I ask for it and otherwise have an abundant supply of “Ooooooh’s” and “Ahhhhh’s.” That sweet celebration is like the warmest, softest sweater on a chilly afternoon. The finest compliment I get from any of my friends is when they purchase my work and give it as a gift to their other friends. Not only are they supporting my career but they are affirming that what I communicate has functional value to them. That means so much to me.
Some additional words of wisdom from Mary Anne Radmacher.
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Do you have any words of wisdom regarding friendship?
How do you nurture your friendships?
The words and work of Mary Anne Radmacher have circled the globe on products, quotes in books, been included in speeches, are part of ceremonies from graduation to weddings to memorial services.
Radmacher’s words are woven into media from Oprah’s Harpo Studio headquarters, commercials, to being quoted in newscasts from the 2011 Tour de France coverage to the evening news with Diane Sawyer. Her signature posters are in board rooms and school rooms, adorn hospital halls and homes around the world (and found at maryanneradmacher.com) and her work is visible from the Clinton Museum Store to gifts store on the corner.
Stay current with her appearances and what writing processes she is guiding at www.MaryAnneRadmacher.net
You can find US! Celebrating the Power of Friendship here.
Her previous book LIVE WITH INTENTION was also just released as an ebook and can be found here.
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