Here is a beautiful song called I Give Thanks by the talented Kathryn Mostow.
This week the majority of people in the USA will gather on Thursday for a holiday called Thanksgiving. The origins of the holiday may have a complicated historical past, yet the idea of families and friends gathering together to share in a day of Giving Thanks and expressing their Gratitude is inspiring.
I have been in some circles where we have gone around the dining table in order for each person to express his/her gratitude. I have also experienced meals where we each wrote down something for which we were thankful on a piece of paper and then they were all read at the table.
This last Friday night my family gathered with some other adult friends and we all dined together. We shared one thing we had learned this past year and at least one thing we are grateful for. Even my daughters shared what they were grateful for in their kindergarten class and brought home a drawing and the words written out for us to see.
Share with us here on the Red Boa what you will be Giving Thanks for this year.
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.
|Digital Art by Createwings Designs|
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.
|Digital Art by Digitreats|
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.
|Digital Art – Color My World Kit by Kay Miller|
You don’t actually have to take the quiz. Just read straight through, and you’ll get the point.
1) Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2) Name the top five news stories five years ago.
3) Name ten presidents or leaders of the biggest countries in the world.
4) Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5) Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor or actress.
6) Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.
How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1) List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2) Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3) Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4) Think of a few people who have made you feel, appreciated and special.
5) Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
6) Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.
Easier? The people who make a difference in your life are not the most powerful ones, nor have the most money or awards. They are the ones that care.
“friends: us. always. travels. stories told and a few kind lies. lots of laughter and a little chocolate. secrets shared and tears shed. kindness with time in between. dreams and awakenings. long roads, healing and quiet comforts. wicked mischief and wanton hilarity. time and always us: friends. always.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
“A woman needs close friends who she can turn to every day (and night) of her life. It may not be the same person each day because, like our lives, friendships are dynamic. But I hope that your best friends—even if the list is serial—offer you the unique sense of intimacy, trust, and reciprocity that will allow you to feel loved, understood, needed, supported, challenges, and inspired.
Yes, these relationships are complicated, some even bordering on mysterious, and creating them and making the meaningful ones stick takes some work. But they are as essential to our happiness and well-being as are nutritious food, clean water, and fresh air. Female friendships have their ups and down–and most of them don’t last forever–but we are very fortunate when best friends are a constant in our lives.” Excerpt from Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD
I drove six hours north on Friday to meet with an old friend in Florence, Oregon. She drove six hours south from where she lives in Washington state. We spent two nights in a comfy cabin and had approximately 24 waking hours to talk and catch each other up on our lives and what is happening in our respective families and children, she has an 8-year-old son and a 3 1/2 year old daughter and I have 4-year-old twin daughters.
We have been friends since 1993 when we met in Aix-en-Provence, France. I was studying French as part of a University exchange program. Already fluent in Spanish, she was independently studying at the same institute to improve her French, as she was working for a British publisher there in France. We were in the same class and became friends. I had come with a large posse of Californian college students. She was there essentially on her own and while she originally came from Texas she had already lived in Mexico and Spain. I immediately admired her independence and her gift in speaking languages.
When I decided to extend my stay in France past the standard one-year commitment I had to find a new apartment and roommate and my friend Karin was also seeking a new place as she was staying on in France too. We became roommates and spent another half year living in France together. We witnessed one another’s falling in love, her with an Italian and myself with a Moroccan. She was incredibly supportive when my Moroccan fiance died in a car accident and I tried to be supportive when she and her Italian parted ways.
Our life journeys continued in other parts of the world. I returned to California and she moving to Baltimore, Maryland. She came to California to visit me and then entered an MBA program in Italy where she met her husband who is Colombian. She moved with him to Argentina and then to Miami after they married in 1999. I flew to visit them in Florida when she was pregnant with her first child. They moved to Tennessee and then eventually to the state of Washington. Both of us being on the west coast now has made it easier for us to see one another once a year these past three years.
This past weekend we talked about our friendship and reminded each other what we admire about one another. We are the same and yet different. We have shared international experiences and a love of travel. We have both dated foreign men. We are both now married and have had children. We have both had our struggles with adjusting to being a mommy and have supported each other with our understanding and supportive words and nods of knowing. We also share certain social values, views on parenting and life in general that continue to fill out the nuances of our friendship. We also always remember one another’s birthday.
What are your thoughts on friendship? Do you have a best friend or a close group of friends? Have you ever experienced the painful loss of a friendship? Do you have any tips on keeping a long-term friendship alive and well?
Here are some interesting books that touch upon women’s friendships and relationships:
The 7 Aspects of Sisterhood by Debra J. Gawrych
Sacred Circles: A Guide to Creating Your Own Women’s Spirituality Group by Robin Deen Carnes and Sally Craig
Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-Up Woman’s Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff
Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD
Lastly here is a poem by Rev. Melissa M. Bowers
Praise to the Women on My Journey
To the women on my journey
Who showed me the ways to go and ways not to go,
Whose strength and compassion held up a torch of light
And beckoned me to follow,
Whose weakness and ignorance darkened the path and
Encouraged me to turn another way,
To the women on my journey
Who showed me how to live and how not to live,
Whose grace, success and gratitude lifted me…
To the women on my journey
Who showed me what I am and what I am not,
Whose love, encouragement and confidence held me
Tenderly and nudged me gently
Whose judgment, disappointment and lack of faith called
Me to deeper levels of commitment and resolve.
To the women on my journey who taught me love by
Means of both darkness and light,
To these women I say bless you and thank you from the
depths of my heart, for I have been healed and set free
through your joy and through your sacrifice.