Best Friends

touch3Note: first posted on Sept 30, 2011 reprinted Sept 17.2013 | Author: janeclaypool | Filed under: General | Modify: Edit this | Leave a comment »

I hang up on from a phone call with a very good friend and I feel full of gratitude that she is  well and happy, that I am well and happy, and that we are in each other’s lives. Over the past twenty years we have been though many changes but our friendship has always been there. We have supported each other through good and not so good times. There have been laughs and tears and lots of shared history. My life is richer because of my friend.Good friends are really important and they must be nurtured in order to thrive. When I was a girl, switching “best friends” whenever we got a new hobby was common. So was  dropping our girlfriends when we got a new boyfriend and I can remember how that could hurt.

Growing up means treating friends as though they are appreciated. Our good, long lasting friendships are precious. If we are not careful, we forget to tell them how much they mean to us. We should also understand that there are times when we need to be there for a good friend when they are in need, even if it is inconvenient. Friendship is definitely reciprocal if it is to work over a long time.

Treasuring a good friend is a lot different from building a network for our business or social ambitions. It is also different from loving our family because they were born to be our connections. Making friends involves choices and choosing good friends is a consequence of knowing who we are. There are plenty of people on Facebook and they may be listed as friends but it takes time and common experiences to develop a real friendship.

Not all friends from the past need to be carried into your world of today. It is wonderful to keep your friends from high school or college but if you want a healthy balance you will have to develop some new ones along the way. Especially as we age, people’s lives and situations as well as interests change. Some move away, some change, some die, some simply take a different path in life. So if you only stick with your old friends, you can end up with a very narrow world as time marches on.

It seems to me that we should try to cultivate new friends and, at the same time, treasure the old ones. As always, balance is the key to intelligent living. No one can have an unlimited number of close friends but beware the person who insists that he or she must be your only friend. “Best friends” works better in 7th grade than in adulthood.

One of the best ways to meet friends is to find a people you enjoy who have similar interests. These days, most of my friends are people I’ve met in my spiritual activities; once they nearly all came from my 12 Step program. Before that, most of them came from my writing activities. I still have a couple of friends from every one of those previous interests because they are a part of me and my history. Most of all, these treasured old friends have qualities that resonate in wonderful ways.

What kind of people make the best friends? I love the ones who are always there for you. They can be there in times of need and they are wonderful. On the other hand, the ones who make me laugh are fabulous. I also love the ones who are interested and excited about new ideas and activities. And then there are my deep thinker friends and my deep believer friends. It varies from day to day so I guess they are all my best friends.

Ask Yourself            

What old friend can I contact today?

What new person can I get to know better and maybe make a friend?

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Butterfly Kisses

 As children, we leaned close to our friend’s cheek and fluttered our eyelashes. That produced a very light, soft touch that we called a butterfly kiss. We also rubbed noses and that was called an Eskimo kiss. Of course, that was before TV.

Sometimes a soft, light touch is a wonderful expression of love. Whether it is a sweet smile, flowers, a phone call, a small gift or a thank you note, it can light up my day. Or your day. Or our day.

I received so many brief messages of love from people last week that it was as if many, many butterflies dropped by long enough to delight me with a kiss. It reminded me of being a child and feeling as though all is well and all will be well. Thank you for your kind words.

Being willing to show another person that we care for them brings a big payoff for very little expenditure of energy. It is easy for some and a true talent. Those people light up our lives without even knowing it.

Some people never seem to learn how to show that they care. They may feel love but they don’t express it with a light touch. Life would be wonderful if we all  learned to dust others with butterfly kisses.

Not only does letting others know we care about them make the recipient feel good, it also draws happiness toward the person giving the gift.

The beauty of a butterfly kiss is that it is a deft touch, both delighting and surprising the recipient. It isn’t an opening move in a bargain. Nor is it the first clause in a contract. Butterfly kisses are not promises of undying devotion, simply a sweet moment of appreciation.

When we discover that someone is thinking of us or remembering a good time we had together, we are delighted but it is a momentary pleasure. It is not a promise of lifelong commitment. It is simply an expression of love that flies in the window, lights on your shoulder for a moment and moves on.

Developing a light touch in relationships is a good idea. We cause ourselves pain when we think that love means getting to keep everyone by our sides forever. So much difficulty in life comes from having unrealistic expectations of others. Loving someone does not mean doing everything they want you to. Nor does it mean that you get to own them.

Since I have had the honor of being a Religious Science teacher for many years, I have received many butterfly kisses from people who were in my life and then moved on. I didn’t need to keep them all forever. I am always pleased to hear they are doing well. I am happy they have touched in for a moment and then flown away to their new lives.

It does not feel like loss to let them go. My ambition was never to keep them as appendages, but to help them find their own path. As any good teacher or parent knows, success is seeing the younger ones emerge from the cocoon and be their own beautiful selves.

Even happily married, long time committed couples find they must have other friendships to keep their lives open and alive. Those light and bright relationships with friends at work or church mean a lot because they allow us to find common ground with someone other than our mate.

Monogamous relationships often find it is simpler to stick with friendships between their same sex but we all need more than one good relationship. Men have bonded with each other over sports events and women have chatted in the kitchen from time immemorial. While we may not use the words love, we can still let the other people in our lives know they are appreciated.

Usually, we look for friends who allow us to express some aspect of our character that our mates don’t share. While it’s hard to imagine my son-in-law’s motorcycle club saying they love each other, they obviously enjoy the laughter and fascination with travel that they share. A good laugh or a clap on the back is a kind of butterfly kiss.

This week, ask yourself how you express your love to friends and family? Do you find ways to let people know you care for them? Do you send people articles in the news you think they will enjoy? Do you make it a point to call once in a while? How about inviting someone to do something with you? These are all expressions that are light, deft touches of love.

Take a look at your relationships. What do the words, “I love you,” mean to you? Do you have the ability to enjoy a relationship with someone else and not insist that the other person be in agreement all the time? I hope so because no one has exactly the same experiences that you have. If you only want friends who are exactly like you, that will be painful. You are unique.

Many people are heavy handed in relationships. Even simple friendships take on aspects of melodrama when you are stuck in the 7th grader behavior of “best friends”. Life is rich and full with plenty of people who can be one of your best friends if you open up to the joy of diversity.

I think sometimes we are afraid to express our pleasant, loving feelings for one another because we are afraid that too much will be expected. The art of telling someone you care for them without agreeing to be best friends forever can be developed with practice.

Begin by thinking of butterflies. They don’t sign on for a lifetime when they land on your shoulder or onto the nearest flower. They light, flutter, bring joy and love and then fly on to the next stop. That doesn’t make them shallow, it makes them beautiful creatures who bring joy for a moment and move on.

Ask Yourself

Would I like more friends?

Did I receive any butterfly kisses this week?

Shall I send a butterfly kiss to anyone today?

What new acknowledgement of my love can I express today?