Monday, August 20, 2012

Friendship Report Card: Who’s Making The Grade?

Let me ask you a question.

How would you rate the current state of your friendships?  By this I mean, if you looked at each of them individually and assessed how they make you feel would you give them a passing grade?

I commend the reader who can emphatically reply, “I have the most solid and fulfilling friendships in the world!”.   I also tip my hat to the person who says, “Hmm, I’m not sure.” because that kind of honesty isn’t always easy to face (let alone admit!).

Texting, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (and the like) has done a lot to expand social networks in a short amount of time, so I find it ironic that so many friendships appear to be disengaging now more than ever before.   Is it due to a co-dependence on the written word as opposed to verbal ones?  Could it be a result of busy schedules and a lack of time being made for routine friendship maintenance? Perhaps our previously thriving alliances have run their course and it’s time to express gratitude  and move on.

Regardless of the reason, it seems like few of us are willing to talk about the proverbial “big pink elephant in the room” and because of this avoidance some friendships have suffered.  We don’t want to ruffle feathers, drudge up drama or risk disturbing what has worked for years.  I have to ask, if that is the case, what is your partnership really bringing to the table?

 If you can no longer relate, what’s the fate for your relationship?

A true friend doesn’t leave you feeling obligated to take their call.
When you’re in the presence of a true confidante, you won’t need to edit your story.
A true girlfriend (or “bro”, respectively) has an agenda to build you up and not break you down.

How do you define friendship and do the friends that you currently have reflect this definition?

Consider rating your friends with 1 being the lowest quality and 10 being the highest. Take a look at what’s needed to bring the 6’s, 7’s and 8’s to a 10.  Ask yourself (and maybe even the friend in question) if you’re willing to put in some effort to get it there.

As for the 1’s, 2’s, 3’s and 4’s?  Serious attention is required.  If your friendship has evolved into an acquaintance status, it might be a good idea to leave it there but keep in mind that there are some friends that are worth saving and getting back on track if it serves to benefit the well-being of the two people involved.  The choice is yours.

There are 24 hours in a day.
If you’re lucky, a minimum of 8 – 10 are spent sleeping.
Often times, another 8 – 10 are spent working.
How do you want to spend the precious few that remain?
Who do you really want to be spending them with?

I have some very dear friends that I don’t get to see as much as I would like to, but when we get together, we’re enjoying quality time that I’m happy to invest; my mind and soul are consistently, graciously and lovingly fed.  I can only hope that they feel the same and if they don’t I hope that I’m the kind of friend that they can talk to about it.

This isn’t a call to go on an “unfriend” rampage or to drastically modify your current dynamics if it doesn’t feel right.  It’s simply a reminder that the one thing that’s guaranteed in life is change and friendships aren’t excluded from this surety. 

Just a bit of food for thought.

Until next time….

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Start Fresh

Heartbreak happens when your heart goes somewhere that you’re too afraid to follow.  I’m in the mood to take the road less travelled.

I recently read something that said,” Worrying is praying for what you don't want”.  The truth found in that statement resonated deep within me. How many things have you talked yourself out of simply because you wasted time worrying about the potential outcome? 

I know. 
I’ve been there.

It’s easy to look over your shoulder and pass judgement on what you deem to be mistakes or missed opportunities in your past.   But check this out:

When you woke up this morning you were given the opportunity to start fresh.

You may not have tied up loose ends on old issues and you may not have received closure from something or someone that has kept you anchored in old stories.   Personal experience has told me that waiting until the perfect time to action things like this is just procrastination hidden under a disguise of good intent.
The unknown can feel like a scary vortex of seeming nothingness.  I battle with its power to dictate the choices I make every day.  Far too many of us seem to be terrified of living lives that don’t come with guarantees.

What will happen if you tell that special someone how you really feel?
What will change if you decide to apply for that new job with the lower pay but great potential?
How will it feel to run for ten minutes straight instead of walking for twenty?
Who will support you if you shared your secret?

I’m not sure… why don’t you find out? Take a chance on yourself and the possibility that things can turn out far better than you expected.  If it doesn't have faith that you won't break and try to look for the lesson instead of the damage.

I saw this image recently posted by Chris Guillebeau (via Buffer) and I had to share it with anyone that wants to challenge feelings of indecision.

I want you to consider how you would feel if you decided to pursue at least one of your dreams.  One little step towards the one thing that preoccupies your thoughts from time to time and makes you smile.  If the idea of actualizing it terrifies you and sends you reeling back into the comfortable entrapping of your safe existence then consider yourself signed on for a lifetime of “what ifs”.

It is my sincerest hope that you make a move towards a life less ordinary.

Until next time, friends….

Monday, August 6, 2012

What Do You Expect?

I’ve always been a “hard” kind of girl.  Work hard, play hard, love hard, fall hard…. (I’m sure you get the picture).  Things are often black or white in my world and grey has never been a hue that I’ve favoured.  The bar was set high for me to do things since I was born and the interesting part is that it was me that set the bar, not my parents.  I decided when I was ready to forgo diapers and I contributed to shameful amounts of paper waste while learning how to write my ABC’s to perfection.  I have always expected a lot from myself and that has evolved into a high expectation from other people.  My good intention for the betterment of mankind has become one of my biggest shortcomings which is why I’m trading in my expectations for a little more self-reliance and compassion.
“Anger always comes from frustrated expectations”
– Elliott Larson
When there are a lot of balls in the air and your hands are too full to juggle them, you’re presented with two choices: 

1) Delegate some juggling to someone that you trust or
2) Let the balls come crashing to the ground and deal with them later.

I think that the majority of us would be inclined to choose option number one but please take note if you are a Type-A personality such as me.  You can’t expect that people you delegate to will get the job done the same way that you would.  There’s no way that they can possibly replicate your brand of magic. They are not you and expecting them to be is just setting everyone up for failure.  This is one of the lessons that I’m learning lately because I’ve been a hot ball of anger for the past few days.  My desire to get everything done and please the masses (while admirable) has taken a toll on my resiliency and otherwise pleasant disposition.  I urgently needed to figure out what was going on, so I decided to reach out.

During a long discussion with one of my sisters, I was advised to let go of what I expect.  Her wisdom echoed that of Dennis Wholey who once said,

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” 

In other words, it doesn’t make much sense. Now I’m sure that there are exceptions to every rule (including this one) but in my case they were both right.  People are often trying to do the best they can with what they know and showing a little understanding to what you perceive as inadequacy can go a long way.

Our conversation forced me to review my current standards and the people that I expect things from.  A few emotional outbursts and countless tissues later, I’m beginning to see things a bit more clearly. When you’re tired or overwhelmed it’s sometimes easier to expect things from people.  It’s like opting to order takeout after a long day instead of cooking dinner. The catch is that you have to be open to what’s going to be delivered to your door.

If you’re anything like me, this can be a bit risky.  As a result, it might be best for you to just take a break, rejuvenate and get your butt in the kitchen.  If you think that you can do things better on your own, by all means do so – just don’t forget to thank the people that offer to help.

“When one's expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have”
– Stephen Hawking

I’m a creator of many things and it is my sincerest hope that I’ll become more mindful of when I am creating expectations.  I won’t beat myself up for initially having them but I will take a closer look at why they’ve been made.  Odds are after doing so; I’ll have to let them go.

Ahhhh… sweet freedom.

Until next time, friends….

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Words of Wisdom

"Life always delivers the creative energy you need to change into the new thing you must become."

~ Rob Brezsny