Thursday, September 24, 2009

Changing Friends, Changing Seasons

I asked a question about friendship the other day and it seems that I’m not the only one struggling with this issue. Not by a long shot. I  appreciate the wonderful, supportive, and thought-provoking responses I received. Thank you for every one. Some came from unexpected places, like far-away tropical islands and, in an odd bit of synchronicity, some came from old friends and acquaintances I’d lost touch with, who’ve found me recently because I’m finally online, spilling secrets and thoughts that I’ve always kept hidden.

So the world turns…

This is a topic I’m sure I’ll return to. But in the meantime, these two thoughts:

1. Reading the comments and experiences that you’ve been sharing with me, it occurred to me that this situation, like so many others, is really about integrity. That’s a big one. About being true to yourself, first, before you can be true to others. That unless you’re true to yourself, you’re really lying to everyone else. That’s a really different way of looking at it for me, and important enough to say twice: If you are not being completely honest about YOUR needs and wants, you are LYING to everyone, ALL THE TIME. 

How’s that for terrifying? If I think about it too much it makes me cry. Because it contradicts such core beliefs, and the way I’ve lived my life. I have always considered myself to be a person of high integrity, and it is a trait I value highly in others.  But I’ve always, “honestly” believed that in order to be a good person, you must put others first; that their needs, their wants, supersede my own. A result, I suppose, of my Christian upbringing, but not an uncommon value across many belief systems. I’ll keep working on this one.

2. My experience, and the responses to it, have also made me think about the nature of friendship itself, how we define the word friend, what it means to different people. Facebook uses the word ‘friend’ to mean…what? Anyone who has ever known you, ever known anyone who has ever known you, or has even a passing interest in any topic you might ever have been interested in? At best, that’s just creepy.

But at worst…..

More another time. I promise.

For now I’ll leave you with this poem, which seems appropriate for this experience. The original author is unknown—this is my version. My Buddhist friends would remind me here of two things, I think.

Impermanence – all things change

Remain in the present – appreciate what you are, where you are, and the loved ones with you, right NOW.

Reason, Season, Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you’ll know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed, outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, or to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

They may seem like a Godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they just walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled: their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has been answered. Now it’s time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it—it’s real. But only for a season.

And like Spring turns to Summer, and Summer to Fall, the season eventually ends.

Some people come into our lives for a LIFETIME. They make our souls dance. Even through distance, we remain close. These are the relationships we should cherish and hold closest to our hearts. Lifetime relationships teach lifetime lessons: the things we build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation and create a life of worth.

Reason, Season, or Lifetime, friend. In each case, our job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what we’ve learned to use in the other relationships and areas in our lives.

-Author Unknown

And the seasons are a’ changing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Losing a Friend…Getting Something Better

Ever think to yourself, ‘I need new friends?’

I’ve been going through an odd time, for a little while now. I’m basically happy, busy, and healthy. And at the same time, I feel like I’m in limbo, stressed and worried about all sorts of things, and mostly, incredibly frustrated that I’m not doing more with my life.

More and more I’m feeling like it’s finally all coming to a head. And that something REALLY incredible, really GOOD, is just around the corner.

If I could just GET there already!

That feeling’s been so strong lately, that last night, very late, I decided to go to the office and check my email one last time. Just in case. (?!)

And found a note from a ‘friend’ who said she didn’t want to be my friend anymore. Not exactly what I was expecting.

We’ve been friends for more than ten years. Like all friendships, you take the good with the bad. She’s critical, has a VERY selective memory, and, like most of us, wants everything on her terms—because she’s the only one who knows how to do anything right. I love her anyway. I make excuses for her; she “means well.” She’s the friend that can always be counted on to tell me the truth—not just the ‘you’re wasting your life and doing it wrong” variety, as well as the occasional “You’re too fat to wear that.” She’s also the “your eyes/hair/skin/smile look beautiful today” and “that was really clever.” She DOES mean well. She has lots of really wonderful qualities. I’ve treasured her friendship.

Without going into all the gory details, the inciting incident was that her husband behaved abominably, shockingly, UNBELIEVABLY, badly at dinner at my house. During the incident, my friend kept a bland, slight smile on her face, and watched me, not him, while he carried on and on. She said nothing. Did nothing. I’m a VERY good actor. I pretended to make light of, and diffuse the situation, while doing my damndest not to cry. I have never experienced anything like this before. I felt attacked— violated and betrayed—in my own home. I was embarrassed in front of my guests. The rest of the evening was strained, and it was a relief when they left. For the first time ever, I couldn’t walk them out. I couldn’t stop shaking.

She left a message the next day, apologizing for her husband’s appalling behavior. She hoped that I wouldn’t “never want to see” her again because of it. I called her back, to accept the apology and belay her fears. In that conversation, and in a subsequent email where she asked if I was avoiding her, I explained that I was hurt, and really rattled and needed a little break. I suggest that  we could wait another week or so for things to settle down and then get together when her husband had left town.  I let her know I was still dealing with a big problem at work 24/7. She didn’t respond.

Several weeks went by. Not unusual for our friendship—she often travels for weeks at a time, then comes home, calls me to either say she has no time to see me, or has a specific slot or two when she’s free and would like to see me at that time, before leaving for another week or two. I was still busy with the problem at work, and didn’t worry about it. In between, as is also usual, I sent her a couple of emails, articles I thought she’d be interested in, a book I’d ordered for her, and left a note on her car when I spotted it at Safeway. By the last email, I’d started to get worried and said I hoped she was ok.

And last night she responded. She wrote that by saying I needed some time, I had “not acknowledged” our friendship, instead having a “snit” and “shunning” her. She calls my behavior “sophomoric.” She thanks me for the things I’d sent, and says they show what a “dear and caring” person I am. She wishes me a long and happy life, but says “I think I’ll stay out of it.” That the friendship has “run its course.” (And could I please let my mom know, because she’d like to remain friends with her!)

Her husband never did apologize for his behavior.

As I’ve said, the last year or two has been an odd time, a time of transition for me. I’ve spent too much of my life trying to make other people happy. When I’d finally had too much, I withdrew. Almost completely. Farther and farther from my life, from people and places and activities and even professions. Even physically moving, twice, until now I live just one mile marker short of absolute nowhere. And then I worked on healing, and figuring out what I want. What makes me happy. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m working on it. I’ve come out of hiding.

And I’ve learned, once in while, to stand up for myself.

So I’m going to let what was becoming a toxic relationship go. Not without some sadness.  And a little relief. I’m trying to forget that earlier that same, disastrous evening, my former ‘friend’ started moving a collection of cookie molds around that I’d recently put up in my kitchen, telling me that I’d arranged them WRONG. I  told her how much time and effort I’d put into arranging each beloved piece into just the right place. And then, when I left the room for a moment, and after specifically being asked not to, she RE-ARRANGED them, so “it would look a little better.’” Not much, since according to her, the whole thing was set up backwards, anyway.

I realize that I’ve internalized her constant criticisms, the way she liked things done, to an unhealthy degree. It’s made me resentful, and increasingly reluctant to spend time with her.

In sharp contrast, I had  dinner a few nights ago with a dear friend that I also hadn’t seen in a while. She’s wise, and warm, kind and considerate, intelligent, and incredibly generous of spirit. It was a really nice evening. We had a great, real, conversation that gave me lots to think about. It was an evening that left both us feeling strengthened and nurtured by our friendship.  

Maybe my former ‘friend’ is right. Maybe our relationship has run its course, and the mature thing to do is to move on. To leave behind the clutter, the things that don’t serve us anymore. Or maybe I’m in denial. (Or shock.) Except for a high school girl who once sent me a note saying she ‘”would never be my friend again” because the boy she liked had asked me to the Prom, I have never heard of anyone else cutting someone out of their life this way. But I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. This woman, by her own account, has cut a number of friends and even family members out of her life over the years. She’s told me some of the stories—even referenced one in her email. So maybe it was inevitable.

But by removing herself from my life, she’s left a hole. In my heart, in my head, in my calendar. And a hole is just SPACE. Which means that now there’s room for something new. Something BIG, something incredibly, unbelievably exciting. Something wonderful.

I can hardly wait!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Little Lost in the Dark

I had a really rough night after an odd day. I finally gave up around 5:00 am this morning, got up, and went frantically ricocheting around the dark house for a couple of hours (opening windows, among other things, to let in some still-cool, fresh air). All of a sudden I noticed that something had changed, and I stopped dead, panicked in mid-bolt, to figure out what .

Then I realized that, despite my fears that the world is crashing down around me, outside the cold, dark, scary night was lightening as the sun rose slowly over the mountain. The first few rays lanced across the Valley and hit the Range on the other side. What had, all night, and until just a few moments before, been menacing shapes , looming in almost impenetrable darkness, turned into mountains, and trees, and houses. Houses where other people live, and work, and worry. And draw together in times of need.

And I pulled myself together—just a little—and remembered to breathe.

So today I’m grateful:

1. That the sun comes up every morning. No matter what. And that I have nothing to do with it. That “God is in His Heavens, and all is right with the world.” Even if I can’t see it right now from where I’m standing here in the dark.

2. For waking up in California: the sky is unbelievably blue, the air is fresh and clean (love those sea breezes!) and, in the middle of September, it’s over 80 degrees, and climbing. For waking up each morning, period.

3. For having clean water to drink—a BILLION people on this planet don’t.

4. For having clean water to swim in. I know it’s an incredible luxury, and I’m incredibly grateful every time I get the chance. The chances increase with the temperature: another reason to love Indian Summer.

5. And for my little dog, too.

What five things can you be grateful for today?


ps: Here’s something, if you haven’t seen this yet this summer: Mars is still giving away FREE chocolate bars (your choice) every Friday @ They’ve extended it until October, and you can get one coupon each Friday, 4 per household. I’ve already eaten mine :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sharing the Wealth

Took some of the Franken-lemons off the tree on Sunday.



1. Throwing them all away—most of the neighbors around here already have more lemons than they can use—and their lemons are nicer.

2. Squeezing and freezing the juice.

Option #2 won out—naturally. But only temporarily. We piled them into boxes and bags, schlepped them around the house, and filled my mom’s car before she headed back home.

By noon the next day, her friends, neighbors, the entire staffs of both her bank and my bank, and the ladies at the thrift shop where she volunteers had relieved her of ALL of ‘em.

She did manage to keep a couple of the little ones for herself. And called me to make sure I didn’t mind that she’d given the rest away—there’d always be more, right?


I’m pretty sure now that the Frankenbush started out as TWO separate lemon trees. The little ‘normal’ ones grow on the right side (this is the first year I’ve had any one those); and the big ones on the left. None came close to the GIANT ones we had last year, but they’re big enough. And they’re HEAVY – there were a number of branches that looked like they were ready to break. And this year,  under that inch-thick rind, they’re pretty darn good. Which is where we got the idea for juice…

So instead, now a whole bunch of people are enjoying them. Not even discounting the novelty factor!

And I still have the lovely ones from my neighbor, and am still thinking about that new lemon bar recipe…

So go out, and have a bright yellow day! Think about the riches that you take for granted, that someone else would be happy to share.

And if there’s a  little bit of sour, that just makes the rest all the sweeter.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


The number of out-of-focus pictures I take, (with a more or less automatic camera!) is mind-boggling.

And then, once in a while, I get one like this.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Ultimate Goal

It’s 8am and almost 80 degrees under an impossibly blue, blue sky. Still a coolish breeze teasing around, but it’s going to be a very warm, beautiful day. I love mornings like this!  Time to walk, breathe, be grateful. Not stress over GAINING a pound and a half this week, instead of losing. Despite staying on plan. Despite going to the gym faithfully. Despite swimming for hours after work. Despite not having had any chocolate in….well, days and days at least.

I saw an old college friend a couple of months ago and one of the things that came up was keeping your eye on the ultimate goal when confronted with obstacles. In a professional situation, that has always meant I get smart, I get more focused, and I get results. For whichever large organization I’m working for at the time. Yay for them.

But it’s not something I’ve always been good at personally. If it’s “just” me, I get frustrated, I get my feelings hurt, I get defensive. I retreat. I make emotional decisions. And in the process of trying to “show” them,  (what am I, four?!) I end up hurting myself.

Tuesday afternoon I was at the funky little gym here in the Village. The one that’s only open Monday through Friday, and then only until 6pm.


Let’s call the proprietor Moody Mike (MM). Because he is. Very. And Moody Mike gets bored, sitting all day in the funky little gym. Understandable. But woe betide anyone who comes in after 4:30 for a workout. Or heaven forbid, close to 5:00, which is what I did Tuesday.

I signed in at 4:50. An hour and ten minutes is enough for a decent workout and some cardio, doncha think? But by 5:30 the only other guy in there wrapped up his loud, lengthy conversation with MM and left.

And then the glowering starts (MM’s a BIG guy. It’s intimidating.) MM wants to go home. Waves of resentment (?! He’s the one with the OPEN sign on the door) start rolling off him and hammering at me, quietly cardio-ing away in the corner. I try not to notice, but the heart monitor in front of me registers higher. I don’t mind if he switches off all the lights. I’m THRILLED when he switches off the bone-jarring music (don’t get me wrong—I love music, but the gym is really LOUD in a really small space and the mostly older members or already-deaf younger members with ipods in their ears YELL to be heard over…you get the idea). I don’t mind when he empties the trash or starts mopping the floors.

But at 5:50, when he closes the doors and turns off the machines I’m USING, it’s too much.

I try to unclench my jaw, and leave.

And I decide not to go back.

I think about checking out the ‘other’ gym again. The ‘real’ gym, in Mid-Valley, about seven miles away. The one with better hours, that’s open on the weekends, and has showers and lockers, albeit a bit primitive. The one close to the grocery store, and the bank. The one the ‘guys’ go to.

The one my (female) neighbor calls an unprintable name, and says smells.

I also think about the unused equipment in my garage. And living room. And walking shoes. And my dog. And whether I need to go to a gym at all.

So I don’t.

I didn’t go to the gym yesterday. It’s a month-to-month membership and yesterday my check was due. I hadn’t made a real decision on the other gym, but I had decided to take at least this month off from this one.

That’ll show him.

And then I thought about Lisa, and the Ultimate Goal.

So I’m going back to the gym today. Like a big girl. I’m going to pack up the TWELVE sales I had yesterday, take them to the post office on the way and get them mailed out. Maybe I’ll make it to the gym a little early – not for Moody Mike, but for me. I don’t need the hassle. And I’ll hand in a check for another month.

Because that gym suits MY purposes. It’s close, it’s cheap, it’s an important component on the way to my Ultimate Goal. MM is a good trainer, and he can help me get there. I want to be fit again. I want to be strong, and healthy. And look hot in whatever clothes I choose to wear.

Besides, maybe I’m imagining the whole thing, and MM doesn’t mind at all that people who’ve paid to use his gym actually do so.

It doesn’t matter. I’ve got my eye on the Goal.

And I’m not buying any chocolate, either.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Grateful for Sunshine and Sales!

Sorry it’s been so long again. I’ve been having serious computer problems, grrrr! And keeping busy with my etsy shops. I ‘ve been listing new items like crazy in both shops, and was rewarded this morning with a big ArtTile order. I’m SO grateful! And still always a little amazed :)

In the meantime, I wanted to thank Michele from By Your Side for the suggestion to use LiveWriter. I started using it with my last post and it’s already been a huge improvement. Thanks, Michelle!

More soon, I promise. Hope you’re all enjoying these beautiful, late summer days. We had crazy hot weather Friday and Saturday (104!), coolish Sunday in the 70s, then 80+ Monday, a smidge over 90 on Tuesday…who knows? Gotta enjoy it while it lasts!

A special prayer of safekeeping for all the firefighters battling horrific blazes across the state. And compassion and healing for all those affected.  ♥