Celebrating Friendships



Celebrating Friendships!  Friendships nurture us. They nourish our spirits, inspire our minds, and soothe our hearts. When the going gets tough, our closest
companions are the ones who help us deal with both the stressors
and practicalities of responding to the challenge.  Friendships are a
wellspring of joy, comfort and wisdom from which to draw sustenance.
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Every night before turning out the lights, I reach for my journal to
write down three good things that happened that day. This is a very
satisfying and enriching ritual I have been practicing for many years.
What I have observed is that what I am most grateful for are the ways
my friendships are a blessing to me each and every day. Relationships

are both the foundation and the pinnacle of what lights up my life and
gives it meaning.

The benefits of writing down what we are most grateful for has been
thoroughly researched in the field of positive psychology. But here is
this caveat: it’s not enough to simply write down “I am grateful for Mary
or John’s presence in my life.” It’s essential to take it a step further and
say specifically why the gift of their presence is a blessing that day. For
example, “I am grateful that Mary or John showed up with hot soup or
pizza…or telephoned at the perfect moment to check in on me… or
invited me join her or him for an outing…just when I needed it most.”

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By being precise, generating these feelings of gratitude remains fresh

and relevant.  I have also noticed that sometimes my gratitude is all
about the way someone has shown up when I needed them, and other
times it is simply about acknowledging good times shared.  Sometimes
it is about the privilege of being asked for help by a friend in need or
simply noticing, before even being asked, an opportunity to bring joy
or to be of service to a companionable other.

 A third essential aspect of the “three good things” exercise is taking a
moment to note why this particular good thing happened. This allows
us to see our own participation in the goodness of our lives, whether
because we actively reached out, took a stand or a step forward,
or simply opened ourselves up to recognize the beauty around us.
Nowhere is this more vital than when reflecting upon our friendships
because of the give-and-take aspect of true relationships. Of course,
sometimes there may be more give than take, and sometimes the
opposite is true. The key is to acknowledge how who we are and how
we show up makes all the difference in the quality and richness of our
relationships.Celebrating Friendships4
If you are 50+, I don’t need to tell you how important friendships are.
You have had ample time to grow and thrive and find meaning in your life
through these bonds of caring and sharing. Still, it’s important to note
that while relationships become increasingly comfortable over time,
the challenge can be that this same familiarity allows us to slip into the

danger zone of taking someone for granted, of making the assumption

that the connection will remain rich, gratifying, and solid—no matter
whether we continue to tend to it quite so lovingly and appreciatively…
or not. And so we need to remember to show our gratitude by fluffing
the feathers of our friendships in order to assure that our friends feel
our appreciation for who they are, what they do, and how much of a
difference they make in our lives and in the world. While this may be a
particularly feminine approach, men can also benefit from finding ways

to “high five” and praise their best buddies. This past summer, when
I turned seventy, I decided to go on a friendship journey. I spent several
months traveling around the United States visiting dear friends, some
of whom I have known for more than fifty years. I devoted precious
time to each one, sharing what I most love, appreciate and celebrate
about them.

I presented each with a handwritten note actually listing those key
points so that they would beable to keep my words as a reminder of how
unique and awesome they are in my eyes. In every case, these
occasions for deep connection were magical and meaningful. My husband’s
version of this type of opportunity for connection when he turned
seventy was a special golf trip away with the guys.

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Someone wise once said that it’s never too soon to share love and
appreciation, because none of us knows when it might be too late to
do so. I have approached being seventy as a milestone worth noting
– a time to pause for deep reflection about my life so far, as well as
an opportunity for thoughtful introspection about “what now” and
“what next” . To borrow a phrase from Oprah, “what I know for sure”
is that wherever the journey leads to, my friends will continue to be
the companions who keep me strong and make every step of the way
a richer experience.