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A Letter to the Woman I Wanted to be My Friend

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Dear Friend Who Could Have Been,

From day one, I knew you were best friend potential. Gems like you are rare. Incredibly rare. I know a good heart, a good soul, a good friend when I see one. I didn’t want to let you go. It was too good to be true.

We lived close. Our friendship grew. Bits and pieces of a beautiful friendship began blooming. But time. Sweet time. We didn’t have that much time together.

You moved.

Not far, but far enough.

I had this great idea to meet you at the park once a week. We’d chat. The kids could play. We’d grow close and become best friends just like I envisioned.

But I never saw you anymore. I didn’t have your phone number because we weren’t THAT close. You didn’t have Facebook. And you were a busy mom.

I ran into your husband one day and thought it was the ideal time to ask him about that weekly park playdate.

“Oh, that would be great,” he said. “She already meets with another group of moms and kids once a week at the park, but I’m sure they’d be happy to have you join the fun.”

I smiled. Said “yeah.” Probably pretended it was a great idea and made your husband believe I’d call you and get on that right away.

But truth was, I knew that group and I was the odd (wo)man out. Besides, I didn’t want a massive moms and kids playdate at the park. I wanted intimate time, just you and me. Time to get to know one another on a deeper level. I wasn’t looking for a social event. I was looking for friendship. With YOU.

I never called you.

Never asked you about that park playdate.

I left it with your husband. He gave me the answer I didn’t want. That quaint idea of meeting at the park once a week with our kids? The one I dreamed up for you and me? Maybe it wasn’t so unique after all. You already had a bunch of quaint and committed friends.

I haven’t seen you since you moved. It’s been years now.

Still, you’re a gem.

I’ve left you in peace, among the rare few I’ve encountered who could have been true best friends.

Love,

pinksig

 

 

 

loveletters2This is part of a month-long series on friendship titled Love Letters to Friends. To read the rest of the posts in the series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the series introductory post. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll find all the posts listed and linked for your reading pleasure.

Love Letters to Friends

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Dear Friends,

I’ve been thinking about you for a long while now. I’ve meant to write, but I haven’t. For the most part, friendship is something I’ve stayed silent on for many years. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been on my mind.

You see, I used to be good at friendship. Great in fact. Perhaps even excellent.

At two years old, I made my first friend. We remained close and loyal for many, many years. I’ll never forget Barb’s homemade pickles and sloppy joes at basement birthday parties and Christmas parties, family nights with the Meyer boys, stuffing our faces with Skittles, swimming lessons at the lake, boating, skiing, snowmobiling, driving, dances, musicals, prom, and Buster’s night club for teens. You name it, we did it.

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In elementary school and junior high, I went through the standard friend routine. In and out of BFFs, invited to this sleepover, then that one, this birthday party, then that one. By high school, I got in a groove with a big circle of male and female friends, and two incredibly close girlfriends otherwise known as “the three pigs.” I had a boyFRIEND for two years, and was friends with everyone so much so that I was named homecoming queen my senior year. Yes, those were the good old days of friendship.

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In college, I had no problem making and keeping a big and close set of friends. From day one, I made best friends with my roommate. We lived together for three years and developed an incredibly extensive network of friends. Add to that my boyfriend (now husband) who was in a fraternity, and my friends multiplied exponentially. I had an awesome circle of close girlfriends all throughout college, but also felt completely at home with my future husband’s fraternity brothers so much so that a group of us became known as the “Delt Girls.” In my last year of college, I ventured out into apartment life and made another awesome friend whose wedding I was in after we graduated. Friendship was easy. Friendship was good. Friendship was working.

More Delt Girls

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After college, I got married. We moved 15 driving hours away from everyone we knew. I went to graduate school for two years straight. It was incredibly intellectually and emotionally challenging. I made friends in grad school, for sure. But I was distracted by the daily academic grind, and was one of the few married people in my class of 30. So I didn’t do as much socializing as others. I left grad school with friends. But for the most part, they all stayed in Indiana and Illinois. We moved back to Minnesota.

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In those early days of married life back in Minnesota with no kids yet, we reconnected with friends from college and high school, and made new friends through work and church. We hosted parties, attended a bunch of weddings, ate at fancy restaurants, rocked the dance floor a bit, were invited to SuperBowl parties, and began participating in a weekly young married’s Bible study. Friendship wasn’t the same as it once was. There were early signs of friendships fading and changing. But for the most part, we were still rocking the friendship scene.

Our kids arrived in 2002, 2005 and 2011. Add to that our acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, cousins and friends who had approximately 500 kids all together during that time frame? And voila. Kids change adult dynamics. Need I say more?

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From 2004 to 2010, life was incredibly challenging. My sister’s battle with addiction and mental illness was all consuming. For me. For my husband and children. For my parents and brother. And of course, for my sister. I can look back now with clarity and say without a doubt that this is when friendship became really tough. I didn’t have time nor energy to do any friendships well. Many friendships began falling by the wayside. Many friendships lost their luster. And new friendships got off to a rocky start; they weren’t seeing the “real me” at all. I missed a lot of friend gatherings and get-togethers. I missed a lot of friends’ life-changing events, including premature babies, separations, divorces, illnesses, career changes and cross-country moves. The friends I did manage to maintain and develop during that period were incredibly gracious, but I’m sure they were incredibly overwhelmed by the constant barrage of updates, emergencies and prayer requests. It was relentless and impossible to keep everyone up to date all the time. And I felt like an annoyance when I did keep people up to date. Friendship was there, but it certainly wasn’t awesome or super healthy. We were in survival mode. I was in survival mode. Friendship was in survival mode.

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Things changed. Things got better. My sister found a new normal. We found a new normal. Life went on and it was much better than it had been.

But if I’m completely honest, I’ve never fully recovered from that friendship survival mode.

I learned to make do. I learned to make it work. I began believing that friendship was fleeting, just okay. I began believing that friendship was the easiest thing to sacrifice when life got crazy, hectic and out of control. I began believing and saying out loud that maybe I was the kind of person who didn’t need a lot of close friends as an adult. I began seeing women do “girls weekends” and “girls nights out” and I just didn’t see myself as “that” person. (Still don’t, to be honest.) I began feeling more and more introverted when it came to women and friendship. I began feeling more and more vulnerable when I shared anything. I began to see myself as a liability to friendship rather than an asset. I began to worry that all I had to offer was my worry, my real, my raw serious STUFF, and all they had to offer was fun, love, and good times great STUFF. I began to doubt myself and my real contribution to any friend.

Yep. I never fully recovered from friendship survival mode.

The most true thing I could say right now is that I’m not really sure how to do friendship anymore. I don’t think I’m GOOD at friendship anymore. I’m not GREAT at it for sure. Yeah, I’m just not sure.

I’ve admittedly reclaimed some ground in the area of friendship since things settled a bit mid-late 2010. If you consider yourself a friend of mine, THANK YOU. I am incredibly grateful for who you are, and who you’ve been. You’ve been a friendship lifeline to me when I’d pretty much given up on friendship. You have given me hope and shown me glimpses of what’s possible – tears around the kitchen island, laughter at the lunch table, shared dreams and fears around hot tea and Diet Coke, and chatting while managing our gaggle of kids at Culver’s after church. 

But as much as I’m grateful, as much as I’ve desperately needed the life-giving, special moments I’ve had with friends the past 5 1/2 years, I’m not satisfied. I KNOW I’ve let the ball drop. I KNOW I have way more to offer. I KNOW I haven’t always revealed my truest self. I KNOW we haven’t connected nearly enough. I KNOW there’s something more for us.

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Friends, I don’t know your story.

I’ve shared a lot in this letter, but you don’t know all of my story either.

Here’s what I do know.

I see women enjoying vibrant friendships. The system isn’t broken.

But I also see women struggling with friendship. The system isn’t working for everyone.

I see women waiting to be invited.

I see blog post upon blog post about friendship, and lack thereof.

I see loneliness and lack of community.

I see a need for time and connection that we just don’t have.

I see longings.

I see empty spaces.

I see a quiet searching for something more than this.

I see a bunch of women who have holes and hurts and horrible habits that could be so incredibly healed if they just had a friend to talk things through with on a regular basis.

I see a Facebook full of women who would be better off served up a piece of chocolate cake over coffee and friends, than they would another Facebook post about Donald Trump.

I see myself not making enough effort. I see myself not making friendship a priority. I see myself being too busy with other stuff to take the time needed. I see myself desperate for something different, desperate for the next level of authentic, adult female friendship.

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I see you. And I see me. And I’m wondering how we can do this differently.

I’m thinking I need a revolution and revelation when it comes to friendship.

That’s why I’m writing you today.

I’m tired of friendship survival mode.

I thought it was working for me, but it isn’t anymore.

If you’re my Facebook friend or blog reader, you might have seen the friendship survey I shared at the end of December. I needed to know if I was on the right track. I needed to know if I was the only one who was seeking something more in the area of friendship. I wanted to know if I was the only one who’d fallen off the friendship wagon at some point. I wanted to know if I was the only one who was desperately wanting to reclaim, renew, and retain good, healthy, solid, real friendships. I needed to VERIFY that what I was THINKING, SEEING and BELIEVING about friendship was at least partially true.

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The survey proved I was on the right track.

37 women responded. AWESOME! Maybe that sounds like a small sample to you, but I was super happy with how many ladies took time to complete the anonymous, 10-question survey.

Women ages 18-69 completed the survey. 95% of respondents were between the ages of 30-69.

43% of women surveyed are “satisfied” with the friendships they have with other women. 30% of women surveyed are “NOT satisfied” with the friendships they have with other women. 27% of women surveyed are “SOMETIMES satisfied” with the friendships they have with other women. If we look at raw numbers, that translates to 21 out of 37 women who are only SOMETIMES SATISFIED or NOT SATISFIED with the friendships they have with other women.

Hmmm…I’m inclined to believe this is an issue. Worthy of discussion, at least. Worthy of addressing, at best.

Before we go further, I want to send HUGE PROPS and BLESSINGS to the 43% of women in the sample who are satisfied with the friendships they have with other women. So good. I am so glad. The fact that you can report satisfaction tells me a lot about you and your friends. We have hope. We know this can be done. You are an example to us about what friendship is supposed to look like and feel like. Thank you!

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As for the rest of us, the 57% of us who are “sometimes satisfied” and “NOT satisfied” with the friendships we have with other women, we have some work to do. I don’t want to sound rude or abrupt, insensitive or preachy. But this is not okay. We deserve better than this. Let’s do something about this. Let’s be creative. Let’s find better ways to connect. Let’s make friendship work for us. Let’s grow and get to the point where we can say YES, I’m satisfied with the friendships I have with other women. In fact, I’m MORE than satisfied.

So let’s do this. Here’s what we’re going to do.

I’m going to spend the next two or three weeks – however I feel inclined, however I feel led – sharing “Letters to Friends.” These letters are going to be short and vague. No names will be named. No personal photos will be used. I want you to see yourself in these letters. I want good and not-so-good patterns of friendship to emerge for you, and for me. But let me be clear. As vague as the letters will be, I’ll be writing each to a specific woman, with that specific friendship in mind. In other words, these letters aren’t manufactured. They’re birthed out of my real-life experiences with women, with friends. Let’s learn together. Let’s chat together. In this case, vague is the perfect place for reflection.

After that, I’m going to share a post with data and discussion from the anonymous friendship survey. I barely scratched the surface of that survey in this letter. You simply must know.

Then after that, I’m going to share a post in which we’re going to DO SOMETHING about this. We’re going to do something for the 57% of us who are “sometimes satisfied” or “NOT satisfied” with the friendships we have with other women. I’ve had some ideas milling in my mind for a while now. We’ll see how the month unfolds. We have to do something about this. I’m ready to do something about this. And I’d love for you to join me.

P.S. My apologies for the 2,178 word love letter. I guess I’m more passionate about this subject than I knew.

This is the first post of a month-long series on friendship titled Love Letters to Friends. To read the rest of the posts in the series, scroll down and you’ll find all the posts listed and linked for your reading pleasure.

A Letter to the Woman I Wanted to be My Friend

Thanks, friends.

pinksig

 

Marji - OMGosh…your post from the 7th? I think I just read about myself.February 10, 2016 – 4:49 pm

A Letter to the Woman I Wanted to be My Friend | Divine in the Daily - […] series on friendship titled Love Letters to Friends. To read the rest of the posts in the series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the series introductory post. Scroll to the bottom […]February 10, 2016 – 3:13 pm

Kristin Neff - I love your “love letter”! You speak from the heart and represent the feelings of many women. God Bless!February 7, 2016 – 10:57 pm

When “How are You?” “FINE.” Hit Home Hard

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A story’s been sitting in my heart. Deep. Within. Crying to be let out for nearly two months now.

A story of FINE.

“How are you?”

“FINE.”

“How are you?”

“FINE.”

This story of FINE. It’s so old. I’m so over it. So done with the mask of FINE. FINE. FINE.

Let me tell you the real story of FINE. The pervasiveness of FINE that hit home hard when I was in Africa two months ago.

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One morning, our group decided we’d walk to the local village. On our way, we passed women doing and drying laundry on stones. We visited the orphans’ school. We prayed for a store owner, and a woman who’d just come from the doctor with significant chest pain. We stopped at the medical clinic, and discovered they were completely out of supplies. A medical clinic without supplies? I was floored. Unthinkable. Not okay.

It began raining.

We didn’t have umbrellas.

We didn’t have cover.

I had my camera along and was rightly concerned it could get destroyed with one swift downpour. I sent Eric, a college-educated teacher and full-time volunteer at the orphanage, with pocket change. He bought me two thin, plastic green bags with Mickey Mouse on front for protection. They worked great.

Before we knew it, we were nearing the church. The children’s church. The church the orphans attend every Sunday. Randy, our trip leader, wanted to show us. Randy wanted us to see this place where earthly FINE becomes gloriously, heavenly FINE.

To our sweet surprise, out called a group of children from the distance.

“How are you?”

“How are you?”

“How are you?” 

“How are you?”

“How are you?”

Their “How are you’s” sang in harmony.

Their “How are you’s?” rang true.

Their “How are you’s?” were familiar.

American.

English.

“How are you?”

They were asking us. Truly asking us, “How are you?”

Out came the children from the distance.

Out, out they ran.

Out they came to greet us.

“How are you?”

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We thought it was cute. It was. It really was.

They were the most adorable children.

But here’s the thing…it wasn’t so cute as it was a little bit cutting when they started answering their own question, when they started answering OUR questions…

“How are YOU?”

“FINE.”

These precious. Adorable. JOYFUL. EXUBERANT. DELIGHTFUL children were “FINE?”

I’m so sorry, sweethearts. I know this is the English you’ve been taught, the English you know to speak to us today, but this is not okay.

You are so much more than FINE. You are AWESOME! You are truly AWESOME. Excellent. Fantastic. SO good.

And so began the downpour I was afraid of.

In we went to the church, along with the whole group of children who’d just greeted us with “FINE.”

We sang.

They sang.

It was chill, relaxed.

Beautiful.

Holy.

We waited the rain out.

We gave some hugs.

Laughed. Smiled. Reveled in the moment.

It was more than FINE. It was good. Awesome.

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Eric explained the phenomenon of “How are you?” “FINE.” to us later. In most Kenyan schools, children are taught English as standard practice. They are taught to inquire with “How are you?” And they are taught to respond to that question with “FINE.”

What???????

I couldn’t believe my ears.

Eric, my dear African brother, was telling me that children in Kenya are taught to say “FINE” in response to the English question “How are you?”

How can this be?

Could it really be that our culture of “FINE” has become so pervasive that it’s crept it’s way ALL the way to a group of JOYFUL children in Africa?

FINE?

I’m sorry. Maybe I’m off base. Maybe I’m too sensitive. But that’s totally NOT okay.

These children are NOT fine.

They are GOOD. GREAT. EXCELLENT. AWESOME.

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Later that week, as a group of us were walking down the long road to the orphanage, I took the opportunity to chat with Eric about this “How are you?” “FINE.” business.

I approached the conversation tenderly and sincerely, but with as much passion as possible. I wanted him to know that “FINE” is not an accurate word choice to describe the HEART CONDITION of most of the children I met in Kenya. I hoped he’d be a change agent for this incredibly incorrect word choice. “FINE” wasn’t Eric’s fault. “FINE” wasn’t any of their faults. It’s what they’ve been taught. Innocently. Completely innocently. How would they ever know?

I explained to Eric that in our American culture, if we say “FINE” in response to the question “How are you?,” it might mean that in reality, we’re doing okay, that we’re surviving, that we’re getting by, that maybe we’re not that great and maybe we’re too busy and too masked to say how we’re really feeling. I explained that in America, “FINE” is a vague way to answer “How are you?” “FINE” is a way to mask the true condition of our hearts. I explained the words they could use to more accurately describe the condition of their lives, the condition of their hearts. If they’re feeling good, “FINE” would be at the absolute bottom of the barrel. GOOD, GREAT, EXCELLENT, and AWESOME would be much better alternatives. Eric smiled and soaked it in. I’m pretty sure he’s acting as a change agent for “FINE” in Kenya, Africa.

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Friends, I know I’m edging on preaching here. But we really need to stop it with the “How are you?” “FINE.”

I’m just as guilty as anyone else. “FINE” is my default if I want to tell you my vaguest truth. “FINE.” I’m “FINE.” Yep. “FINE.” Does that work as we pass in the hall? Does that work as we have one minute picking up the kids from volleyball practice? Does that work when we greet each other in the Target checkout lane? Does that work as you’re texting me quick to check in on this or that? Yep. It does.

But truth is, inside I know the truth.

Inside, you know the truth.

Inside, we all know the truth.

Sometimes, we’re NOT FINE.

Okay. Let’s admit it. Sometimes we’re NOT. FINE.

As a solution to this problem, I’d like to propose that we completely eliminate the word “FINE” in response to the question “How are you?”

Can we do that?

Let’s be honest.

Let’s be real.

I’ve been through enough.

I’ve masked enough.

I’ve hid long enough.

I don’t want to be “FINE.”

I don’t like to be “FINE.”

I don’t find any value or reward in telling you I’m “FINE.”

What is “FINE” anyway?

Nothing?

Life as is?

Status quo?

Okay?

Mediocre?

Surviving?

Getting by?

Fine?

Let’s stop the “FINE.”

It doesn’t mean much of anything to anyone.

Let’s be real, even if we don’t have time to explain the details.

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Here are the words we can use instead of FINE…

“How are you?”

“I’m actually doing pretty horrible.”

“I’m feeling like crap today.”

“Sorry, I don’t have words for how I’m feeling today.”

“We’re running low on money and it’s stressing me out.”

“I don’t know.”

“I was feeling like junk this morning, but the fact that you’re asking makes me feel like someone cares.”

“I’m really feeling depressed today. The weather’s getting me down.”

“I need to get out. Wanna grab dinner tonight, or maybe coffee sometime next week?”

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“I’m overwhelmed by all that’s going on.”

“I’ve been better. I’d appreciate your prayers.”

“My kid’s giving me trouble, and I don’t know what to do about it.”

“My kid’s giving me trouble, and I feel like a horrible mom.”

“My husband’s requiring a lot of care, and it’s really draining me.”

“Honestly, I can’t do it all anymore.”

“I don’t have a clue.”

OR how about these alternatives…

“How are you?”

“Hey thanks for asking! I’m doing great today. Loving the sunshine and just had a big win at my son’s game.”

“I’m doing pretty well. I was feeling like junk last week, but this week I’m feeling way better.”

“Feeling much better now that I get to see you!”

“Feeling much better now that I’ve been able to workout more.”

“Feeling much better now that I’m skipping those daily doughnuts.”

“Better than I’ve ever been.”

“I’m great. So glad to be here!”

“Feeling super chill right now.”

“Excellent. This is incredibly relaxing.”

“Thanks for asking! It’s been way too long since I’ve seen you. When can we catch up?”

“Good question. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but I’ve worked my way through it and I’m through to the other side now.”

“It’s been an awesome day! Can’t wait for tonight!”

“I haven’t felt this good in a long time.”

“I’m great! Every day’s a good day!”

“I’m good.”

“I’m great!”

“I’m excellent!”

“I’m AWESOME!”

Let’s be authentic. Let’s be real. Let’s stop saying we’re “FINE” when in reality, there’s so much more to the story. Let’s be change agents HERE, so when they learn English THERE, “How are you?” “FINE” will be no more.

orangesig

 

Tom Baunsgard - Interesting post Amy. So How are you? I’m good, I’m blessed and i’m “fine” with that :)January 30, 2016 – 2:24 pm

The Best Compliment I Ever Received

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Mama had significant concerns. Her daughter was barely speaking when we first met. We worked together for a year and a half. Two times a week, we sat on the living room floor, then at the dining room table, for intense speech-language therapy. A year and a half later, after all that therapy, after all that working together, mama’s baby girl was speaking like everyone else. I had the rare opportunity to discharge that sweet girl from speech-language therapy, no qualms, no second guessing about it.

It was beautiful. Incredibly beautiful. To bring a child from barely speaking at all, to testing “within normal limits” and speaking like all the other children her age is a true honor and pleasure.

But there was something else extraordinary about the year and a half I spent working with that mama and daughter.

My relationship with mama was special. Unique.

We clicked.

We got each other.

We totally understood each other.

Can I say it any other way?

I adored mama. Adored her.

She was smart, witty and quirky, full of little faults like everyone else. She was passionate and opinionated, strong-willed, fierce, motivated and determined. She knew what she liked in life, and she knew what she didn’t like. She knew what she needed as a mom and a wife, and wasn’t afraid to gift it to herself if necessary. She wasn’t like most of women I knew, and I loved that. I loved ALL those things about mama. But here’s what I absolutely adored about her. She had a soft side she barely, rarely let out. I saw it peek out here and there and it was so incredibly tender. I wondered if she’d been misunderstood more than once. I wondered if people didn’t always “get” her. I TOTALLY “got” her. And I’m pretty sure she TOTALLY “got” me, too.

It was beautiful.

I loved every bit of that mama.

Still do.

When we stood at the door that last day of therapy, when I’d reviewed the standardized test results that proved her daughter’s speech and language was now “within normal limits,” mama thanked me for all I’d done. She thanked me for how far I’d brought her daughter. She thanked me for all the therapy, for bringing her and her daughter through some really rough and uncertain times.

It was humbling, of course.

But then she said something else I’ll never, ever forget.

It was much, much more personal than speech-language therapy. And it meant the world to me.

“I don’t usually like people, but I like you.”

No doubt about it. That was the greatest compliment I’d ever received. Two years later, it’s STILL the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.

“I don’t usually like people, but I like you.” 

I’ve always perceived myself as a little mysterious, a little hard to read, a little hard to fully understand. I get that about myself. Just 1% of the general population has my personality type, so sometimes I’m not sure if I’m really jiving with everyone else’s more popular personalities.

So when that mama told me she “[doesn’t] usually like people,” but she likes me?!

Oh my goodness.

I totally knew her. I totally know myself. And I totally knew what she meant. So I totally took it as a HUGE compliment.

To be completely honest, I don’t really WANT to be like all the other people. I don’t really FEEL like all the other people. So the fact that she recognized that, the fact that she subconsciously felt that from me, and the fact that she was able to articulate it in a way that really meant something to me, was absolutely an honor.

So I’ve been pondering mama’s compliment – the best compliment I’ve EVER received – and have been wondering if there’s a take-away.

How can we compliment people in ways that mean something to them?

How can we compliment people in ways that build them up?

How can we move FROM “I love your haircut,” and “I love those boots,” TO “It seems like you always know when people need encouragement,” and “Did you that you’re the most generous person I know?”

How can we compliment people in ways that feel sincere and authentic?

How can we compliment people in ways that make them realize we’ve actually paid attention to WHO they are, HOW they operate, and WHAT makes them tick?

How can we compliment people in ways that really stick and stay with them?

How can we compliment people in ways that change they way they do life?

How can we compliment people in ways that bring out the best in them, not just for today, but for long-term always?

So many questions to ponder, but I think you get the point.

“I don’t usually like people, but I like you.”

It’s the best compliment I ever received.

Who can you compliment today? For real?

And if not today, who are you noticing so you can compliment them tomorrow or down the road when your words will mean even more?

Just asking.

Because honestly, I need to do the same.

Those words, those compliments, they’re a true gift if given wisely.

greensig

 

Tom Baunsgard - I really LIKE this post Amy! “Positively” great! Oh, and I like you too!January 25, 2016 – 11:35 pm

Wrestling with Life, Good and Bad?

This is a guest post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Once a month, Tiffany documents a single day in her life. The purpose of these posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the posts I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the guest posts she’s shared on this blog, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.

kids

“Not everything in life can be defined as good or bad. Sometimes things just happen, they just are.”

My mental health worker offered me that piece of advice, and I’ve been applying her thoughts to my life ever since. I’ve debated good vs. bad a number of times. Is that a good decision or a bad decision? Is this situation good or bad? I have spent years of my life lying around, trying to figure things out. The issues I’ve tried to figure out aren’t always good or bad. They just are.

Tiff

Sometimes bad voices are in my head, and it’s difficult to hear the good voices over all the noise. One night recently, I lay in my bed all night searching for answers. I needed the alone time to just think and figure out what was going on. Staying awake is an example of a bad decision on my part. My symptoms get worse when I’m tired. My brother was home for a few days, and he probably noticed that I was stuck in my own world. I was trying to figure something, anything out. My brother told me, “Maybe you should stop searching for answers and just live?” I agreed with him. Sometimes you don’t need an answer.

pregnancy

What should I tell my kids when they are old enough to understand why their dad and I aren’t together? My psychologist told me to tell them that I was infatuated with him. He was a musician and said things to me that caused me to respect him at the time. He said, “You’re the most beautiful girl in this place.” He also said he’d give anything to have kids. We were together for a few months and went our own way. I continued to pursue him because I didn’t understand what was going on. We connected again when my daughter was around three. We were together for a very short time, but I, once again, listened to his words. When I was a few months pregnant he left me. He said, “You love me, but I’ve never loved you.” HUH? Ok?! This complicated situation is an example of something in life that isn’t bad or good. I have two wonderful children from an unexplainable situation, so no worries. My kids have shown me what unconditional love is.
Dad
Another real life example is my dad. He was diagnosed with a chronic lung disease about thirteen years ago. From my perspective, my dad having lung disease has not necessarily been good or bad. Personally, his disease has given me hope. I’ve wanted to become the best person that I can be, given the circumstances. He is moving forward trying to get on the list for a lung transplant. His fate is in God’s hands.

cloudsMy final example is my consumption of prescription medications. When the medication is working, I feel great most of the time. If one of my medications is off, I usually know. I go into my own world, start talking to the voices more than normal, and almost feel trapped. I know there is a way out, though, as long as I figure out what medication changes need to be made. I try to inform all the parties that need to know, including my family members, mental health worker, psychologist and psychiatrist. My close friends and family can usually tell when I’m not acting like myself, as well. My mental health condition is considered a chronic disease. To be on prescription medication is not good or bad. It just is what it is. Now to get the prescription dosage right!

Hopefully these examples have illustrated that I attempt to turn what could be bad situations into neutral ones, at least. Maybe you’ve experienced some of the same situations I’ve been in, and understand how difficult life can be sometimes?! Many great things can come from messed up relationships and situations.

“Not everything in life can be defined as good or bad. Sometimes things just happen, they just are.”

Tiffany

Jody Sparkman - Great writing Tiffany!February 2, 2016 – 6:02 pm

Paula M - I always enjoy your posts, Tiffany. Beautiful writingJanuary 23, 2016 – 7:46 pm