Circle of Friends – July Edition

For July, Raili has asked us to consider “Absent/Lost” Friends. She gives the following questions for us to consider:

As I was getting my head around the theme for July’s Circle of Friends, what kept popping into my mind was the thought of friends who I have somehow ‘lost’. Some of them have died. Some have moved to distant parts. Some have drifted away. With some, we’ve drifted apart. The question then remains, were they friends at all ?  Is there a friendship legacy left behind by those who have passed through my life? The ones who have left an imprint on my heart ? And what about the ones who unexpectedly lob back in? Or the friendship that just picks up again as if it were only yesterday we last met even though it was decades ago. Are these friends ever truly ‘lost’ ?

I’ve stated many times that I have only a very few close friends and that has remained true for the majority of my life. I’ve gone through periods of friendships. I would have two or three friends for a couple of years and then we’d drift apart or we would move on with our lives. I’d make new friends, one or two, and the same thing would happen all over again – the drifting away or new directions. This has not only happened in my personal life, but in my online life as well. I remember so well how important the people from Pagan Lake on Yahoo Chat were to me so very long ago. And those I’d met while playing Vampires: A Dark Alleyway. I spent years getting to know these people, even meeting some of them outside the internet, and now they’ve all drifted from my life as though those moments never happened.

I don’t believe that any of these weren’t real friendships. We were friends because we had so much in common at the time. Many of those friendships helped mold me into the person I am today. To say that they didn’t matter or they weren’t real is ludicrous.

There have been a few times that past friends have come back into my life. With some of them, I was able to pick right back up where we’d left off as though not even a full day had passed between us. With others, it was awkward to see or hear from them again, especially since our lives had taken such very different paths.

I think what is truly important is the memories of those friendships. I’ve written in my journals about most of my past friendships because my memory has been failing for quite some time now. Even now, I cannot remember some of their names without reading back in my journals. Those that I do not have pictures of, their faces are fading away. I write down as much of the experiences that I’ve had with them in order to remember how happy our friendships were. I have to do this on a regular basis these days with each new friend that I make because I know there will come a day when I won’t even remember who I am. This is how I save those who’ve become lost so as not to be forgotten too. It is how I preserve the legacy of those friendships.

Circle of Friends – June Edition

Of course I am behind, lately, when aren’t I? but this project is still important to me and thus I am compelled to complete each one. For June, Raili asked us to consider The Big Picture with Friendship. She said:

This month in Circle of Friends I invite you to consider The Big Picture of friendship –  the creation of a circle of friends that spans the world and transcends human foibles and pettiness. I know, I know – that seems a big order! Especially in the current climate of prejudice and fear.  However, as the saying goes, nothing changes if you don’t change what you do. SO let’s create some change!

Draw from this exercise that which resonates with you. Carve your slice. Garnish it with your words, images, wisdom. Consider creating a friendship that truly takes into account  The Big Picture within your Little Picture.

I admit, I began thinking about this over a week ago. I wasn’t sure how to approach it or what to say. I live in a fairly microcosmic world. I have only a few close friends locally and pretty much stick to myself as a general rule. Some of it is that I am an introvert, but that isn’t all of it. My mental illness prevents me from making close friendships and at times, even interacting with my own family. I know how bad I am when I have “flair-ups” and I don’t wish to inflict myself upon friends and family. It has become a defense mechanism to keep others at bay. More for their protection against me than for my own self-preservation.

Although my personal life is microcosmic, my world view is very much macrocosmic. My beliefs and values encourage me to be an inclusive person, not an exclusive person. I make it my goal in life to embrace those who are different than I am. So long as there is no hatred, prejudice or discrimination involved, I embrace people of other races, faiths, cultures and ideologies. Unfortunately, I do have little tolerance for racism, bigotry and discrimination, which may be one of my faults. It’s difficult to say that I am an inclusive person and still have exclusions to my world view. Somehow, it makes me feel a bit of a hypocrite. The only way I can resolve this inner conflict is to study racists and bigots and try to understand them from their standpoint. I find that I can understand them, but I still have a problem embracing their attitudes.

I have found the internet especially helpful in forming a macrocosmic world for myself. Social media allows me to interact with people all across the world, to learn about them, understand them, and embrace them. WordPress has given me friendships all across the globe – multiple places in the US, Canada, the UK, India, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and on and on. These friendships have become important to me. Even as I have been on my own journey for the last month and a half, I have missed these friendships and I am fighting to get back into the macrocosmic world that allows me to be with these wonderful people I’ve met.

I am not sure I came even close to what Raili proposed for this Bigger Picture theme, but these are the thoughts that came to me as I reflected on her proposal.

Circle of Friends – Week 5

As usual, I am way behind, but these are important questions and I feel the need to answer them. For Week 5, Raili’s theme is friendship with the Self. She gives us the following questions to consider:

How do you show yourself  that you’re friends?  Where in your mud map do you sit?  Are you a special friend?  Have you ever given yourself a gift? Is there something unique about your friendship with yourself?

I haven’t always been friends with myself. In fact, I’ve often been my own worst enemy. At times, I still am. This is part of my mental illness and I have to work extra hard to keep my demons at bay with meditation, affirmations and mindfulness. Some days I succeed and other days I don’t. It is a constant battle, but it is one that I am willing to keep fighting.

When I am friends with myself, I tell myself loving and kind things. I allow the beauty of the world around me to influence my actions. I absorb love and I give out love – like breathing. In my mud map, I am the center of my universe. This isn’t always a good place to be, as I can become quite selfish at times with others around me. However, as one who has been a people-pleaser for the majority of my life, it is also an important place for me to be. It reminds me that the only way I can be of service to others is to first take care of myself.

I love the next question – am I a special friend? This one gave me quite a chuckle. I really don’t know why my initial reaction was to laugh, but I did. Oh yes, I am special alright! Touched in the head. Crazy. A bit ‘out there’ in the grand scheme of things. I guess that was my first reaction to the question. But silliness aside, I do have a special relationship with myself. I am a quiet and reserved person most of the time. I am also an intellectual snob. I love that I get intellectual jokes and have a good chuckle with myself over them. I ‘get’ me more than anyone else ever has. And since I am an introvert and live in my head most of the time, it is hard to explain things to others about myself. So having myself as a special friend allows me an outlet that many extroverted people may not have or understand because they look for others to validate them and I validate myself (though not always in a good way *sighs*).

Ah, this question about gifting again… Generally, I gift to myself more often than I accept gifts from others. Most people have no idea or refuse to take the time to even know what to give me. I tell them, but they don’t listen. It can’t really be that simple, right? Books, candles, journals, pens, cheap beaded bracelets, anything strange or macabre, crystals, anything dealing with ravens, etc. These are really truly the things that I love. Why is that so hard for people to understand? So yes, when there is something that I find that I know I will love, I buy it for myself as a gift. Better to buy for me than sit and ponder over something I dislike that someone else has bought me and wonder why the hell they thought I would like it.

The last question is probably the hardest – is there something unique about my friendship with myself? Honestly, I don’t know. I am such a strange duck anyway – weird, nerdy, geeky, eccentric, odd… it’s probably hard for others to even understand me, and thus hard to friend me. If I didn’t have myself as a friend, I’d probably have even less friends than I do have. I just enjoy my own company. I make myself laugh and cry. I know what I like and don’t like and I don’t have to be pretentious with myself. It’s probably the most honest relationship I’ve ever had with anyone. If that makes it a unique one, then so be it.

Circle of Friends – Week 4

Each Sunday in May, I will be joining Raili @ Soul Gifts for Circle of Friends. Hop on over and join us!

I am actually a week behind, so for last Sunday’s prompt for friendship, Raili asked us to explore our “most unique experience of friendship.” What moment, memory, experience, person comes to mind?

The most unique experience I’ve had was with my friend JK. If soulmates truly exist, she was definitely mine. From the moment I met her, two things struck me deeply about her – she was stubborn and loyal. She would prove to be the most infuriating woman I’d ever met and the only one who would take the time to really get to know and understand me. She was funny, serious, a sponge for knowledge, creative and at times, came across as a know-it-all. And I loved all of those things about her. I didn’t have to wear a mask around her. She really got me completely. She allowed me to be my introverted self while she went out and made friends with everyone she came into contact with. She knew when to be chatty with me and when to allow silence to sit comfortably between us. Of all the friends I’ve ever had, she was the one I was most at ease with. I’d like to think that we would still be friends to this day if I hadn’t lost contact with her after my move to Oklahoma. Some days I still wish she was around. I miss her closeness and companionship.

Circle of Friends – Week 3

Each Sunday in May, I will be joining Raili @ Soul Gifts for Circle of Friends. Hop on over and join us!

This week’s prompt for friendship is “gifting” and Raili has again given us a series of questions to reflect on:

Gifting between friends of course is a very different issue. There are no professional constraints or legal procedural minefields to traverse. But are there ethical dilemmas and other constraints? Perhaps there are cultural factors to be taken into consideration. Is there a financial inequity that creates discomfort or embarrassment? Who makes the rules? Do you ever discuss gifting?

Have you ever received a precious, priceless gift from a friend? Or given one yourself? What was it, and what made it so special? OR imagine gifting something priceless to a friend. What would you choose and why?

First, I should say that I don’t do gifting well. Mostly the receiving part. I love giving to others, but when it comes to others giving to me, I would prefer they spend their money or talents on themselves or others. The best gift someone can give to me is their time. I have received a few nice gifts over the years – homemade art pieces, music cds, books and journals. Gifts are rare and I cherish the ones I do receive. Most of my friends are like me though, much too poor.

When I worked, I used to give monetary gifts because I figured everyone could use money. It also kept me from picking out gifts that wouldn’t be wanted or used. I learned this the hard way as one friend returned gifts that I sent her all the time. It hurt my feelings a bit, but she would get things that she preferred and so I just let it go.

These days, I don’t want for much and so I just tell friends to save their money. A phone call or a day together is more precious to me. And most of my friends feel the same. I only have a couple of friends who I would spend money on. One practically demands it. If she doesn’t get something material for birthdays or Christmases, then she doesn’t feel loved, I guess. I usually pick out a piece of jewelry for her birthday or Christmas. I cannot afford to buy for both as her birthday is too close to Christmas.

How about you, dear readers? What are your thoughts about gifting among friends? Share your thoughts with me in comments.

Circle of Friends – Week 2

Each Sunday in May (yes, I know.. I am very late!), I will be joining Raili @ Soul Gifts for Circle of Friends. Hop on over and join us!

This week’s prompt for friendship is “close friends” and Raili has given us quite a few questions to focus our attention on:

Who is your closest friend? Is there one or more?  It may be someone from childhood. It may be your faithful four legged friend.  Is it someone who has come into your life recently yet feels like you have known each other forever? What is it about them that makes them so special? What senses (sight, sound, smell, feel) do they evoke in you? What memories do you share? What form does your special relationship take? Do you bare your heart and soul to each other, warts and all? Do you laugh, cry, celebrate life together? How often do you catch up with each other? Is it in person, by phone, through social media? Is it someone you  rarely connect with, yet each time you do, you pick up as if it were only yesterday? Is it someone who has passed through your life yet the memories retain a closeness?

I don’t have many close friends period. Not online or off. I can pretty much count on both hands how many people I am close to. I am not sure it has to do with trust issues as I am a fairly trusting person. I think it has more to do with those who’ve stuck by me through all of my mental illness issues and come out of it fairly unscathed. It’s not easy remaining friends with someone who suffers from mental illness when you don’t. I am only in constant contact with four of my closest friends – Lisa, Claire, Brenda and Annette, with Annette being the one I try to talk to every day.

Annette lives in Cali and we met through our blogs. We’ve only been friends since January, but it feels like a lifetime. Our lives share some commonalities and we both struggle with our pasts. We are both on paths of healing and recovery and I think that is what binds us together the most. She is my ray of sunshine when the dark clouds loom overhead. If I need cheering up, I just need to message her.

Lisa is the selfish friend I talk about often. Most days it is a real struggle to remain friends with her and we’ve had our moments where we haven’t spoken for months over disagreements. I guess I remain friends with her in the hopes that some of my finer qualities will wear off on her. Still, she is the only friend that lives in my small town and we’ve been friends since high school. It’s kind of hard to break that long-term bond. We talk on the phone a few of times a week (she’d prefer every day, but I just cannot take her every day) and get together every couple of months.

Claire is my friend and Reiki Master. We generally chat about spiritual matters. We are both highly sensitive people, so we discuss how the world around us affects us. She is also an artist and writer, so we have those things in common too. We met during my second semester at Hollins College (Spring of 1994) and have been great friends ever since. Unfortunately, she lives about 3 hrs away and we rarely get to see one another. We communicate via email and Facebook.

Brenda is the greatest friend. She is like me, slightly introverted but also a bit social. She and I can be around one another and just be quiet, no need to really be chatty at all and just enjoy one another’s company. We met while attending the local community college back in 1991. We both took a creative writing class and have enjoyed one another’s poetry ever since. Brenda lives about 45 mins away and we get together off and on throughout the year. Otherwise, we talk on the phone or via Facebook.

 

Circle of Friends – Week 1

Each Sunday in May, I will be joining Raili @ Soul Gifts for Circle of Friends. Hop on over and join us!

This week’s prompt for friendship is “mud mapping”. Here is my poor attempt at creating a Friendship Map and a small ditty after:

FriendMap

‘though you are few in number
and some online
your friendships are dear
and worthy of my time

I wouldn’t trade any of you
or wish for more
it’s quality I enjoy
mutually respect and adore

03.08.16 – End of Day Notes

What I did today: I couldn’t sleep much last night, so I made some ice coffee and did a few of my writing projects. Still feeling icky, I took some cold medicine around 9:30 am and went back to bed. I didn’t get up until around 4:30 and talked to my friend Annette on the phone. Cooked dinner and ate. Then I talked with my friend Lisa on the phone for a bit. Just finished watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine and now I am exhausted again. I wish I knew for sure if this was a cold or allergies. Whichever it is, it is kicking me in the arse and I am not getting much writing or reading of emails done. I am calling it a night.

What I learned today: Annette is the kindest and most generous person I’ve had the pleasure to get to know in a very long time. She even gave me a guest author spot on her blog, Annette’s Place. How fortunate can one person be?

What I am most proud of today:  I didn’t really do anything to garner much pride today. So I will just be grateful that even though I feel like crap, my mystery story is still progressing along nicely.

What did you do today? Learn any lessons? Have a reason to be proud? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

03.06.16 – End of Day Notes

What I did today: I did most of my writing early this morning and scheduled them. Then around 7 am, I took some cold medicine and went back to bed. Stilling feeling a bit crappy. When I got back up at 1 pm, I finished up the writing. I also talked to my dear friend Annette for a while on the phone and enjoyed the conversation immensely. Ending the evening with a call to my friend Lisa and maybe a movie later on. Still haven’t eaten today, but I just feel so bad that food is the last thing on my mind.

What I learned today: The joy of cultivating friendships.

What I am most proud of today:  I am still not pushing myself to do even though my to-dos are piling up and will get even more so after tonight. I keep repeating, “Do not stress.”

What did you do today? Learn any lessons? Have a reason to be proud? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

02.19.16 – End of Day Notes

What I did today: Today has been another busy day. Writing. Prepping. Organizing. I even managed to read some emails, read posts from challenges, and watched a Film Noir for research for next month’s story line. All of this, plus I chatted with my friend Lisa on the phone for nearly 2 hours. *phew* it has been a busy day and now my back is aching. Time for bed and some Reiki.

What I learned today: I have a sinking feeling that the plans my friend Lisa and I have made for the upcoming months will fall through. She knows how busy I am this year with writing and I am *trying* my best to schedule in time to spend with her. This will mean doubling up some days on work, but for me, it is worth it. For her, I am not so sure. She is still iffy about things and the more I pressed her to set dates so I could schedule and plan ahead, the more hesitant she became. This is the same issue we had last year and part of what caused us to have a 6 month falling out. I really hope she doesn’t make me regret renewing our friendship.

What I am most proud of today: Despite the sinking feeling of regret, I kept my cool. I will let the cards play out and see where things lead.

What did you do today? Learn any lessons? Have a reason to be proud? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!