Friends forever – important.
OMG!!!! Yesterday my dad handed me a bag of loose photos from my past. I spent a good hour with my mouth hanging open as I flipped through them. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at a stack of photos because mine all live in my computer or on a bad day I have 500 in my camera. As I look at baby faces staring back at me, I am struck by the slew of friends from my past. These pics are from long nights that are a mere fuzzy memory today. Most of them were from late high school and college. Who had the genius idea to suggest that all girls have hair as high as sky scrapers and as curly as a brillo pad? And don’t get me started on the boys’ fashion sense. We were all victims of following style trends like mindless lemmings. That aside, what I saw was life before marriage and kids. I had no worries beyond knowing which ATM dispensed $5 for my beer and pizza on a Friday night. I guess I worried somewhat about class work, the out of control long distance bill and the boyfriend that was always a jillion miles away. Do you remember your life before you grew up and became a responsible adult? I look back fondly on those days and recall all the joy my friends brought me. Take a second and take a trip in the way back machine and see what you remember of your friends of the past.
I bring this up not only because it gives me the giggles to think about the craziness of the past. I bring this up because this bag of photos reminds me that friends are important in a way that is vastly different from the way your family is important. Now don’t get all in a tizzy…I didn’t say more important, just important in a different way. As my family grew- first by marriage, then the arrival of the twin boys followed by the delivery of pretty princess caboose- my life became very full. Family first. Of course that’s the way it’s supposed to be. All that free time I used to spend with friends became consumed by counting to 3 about 100 times a day to make sure I didn’t lose a kid somewhere. I quickly became overwhelmed and frankly I felt a bit lost. I lost myself in the care of everyone else. Fortunately, my friends were relentless in pursuit of my sanity. They made sure I made time for myself. They made sure I saw them. They made sure I knew they were there take care of me as well. Now, I’m not suggesting you trade your set of friends in for another if you aren’t as fortunate I am to have such thoughtful, determined friends. What I’m saying is that as fantastic as your family is, your friends are an enormous part of your life that you need as part of your healthy lifestyle. These are your peeps. They talk you off the ledge when you are having a bad day. They are the ones who assure you that ” Yes! You are right to feel that way.” They are also the ones that remind you that you are more than a mother/father/worker/student etc. etc. You need these peeps in your life. Your significant other can’t be your everything. You are bigger than that. It’s not fair to put all that responsibility squarely on the shoulders of one other person. Realistically it’s probably not going to be easy to make time like you used to pre-family days. As with anything, do what you can when you can. It doesn’t have to be a girls’ weekend (although I highly recommend it if you can swing it) or an all day golf outing with the guys. It can be quick FB exchange, a phone call, coffee talk, bunco , poker, movie night or a potluck. The point is that we are a sum of all our parts. Friends are a part that can easily be shoved aside as life gets crazy. I recommend making some time for friends before you are completely crazy. Alex has been a big supporter of my need for time with my friends. I am endlessly grateful for his understanding, even as he grimaces when I bring up a third event for the week that I forgot to mention. Oops. I am blessed with a community of friends that is quite large which gets to be a problem when I try to squeeze it all in. I’m also fortunate to have friends that understand the scope of my responsibility to my family and other friends.
I now have a computer and camera filled with faces that don’t look so “baby” (sorry friends-I’m including myself in that description too) that document some fabulous moments from the recent past. I smile big. I know I am a better person having had all these friends in my life. I know that my happiness also lies in the precious time that I spend with the people I love outside of my family. Truthfully though, I realize that my friends are my family and are often my life line when I’m sure I’ve lost my mind. To my friends out there…Thank you for your friendship yesterday , today and tomorrow. Make time for your friends and reach out to a friend that may need you to reach out. Being heart healthy means more than having clean arteries. Enjoy your friends and smile because you’ll surely end up in a pic in someone’s camera/computer and in their fond memories.
Until next time … Live Well! –Toni Kuhel