One Resolution

platomeme

 

 

I stumbled upon a Tweet/meme this morning that brought home a recent conversation with the wind-beneath-my-wings friend of close to thirty years.  I hadn’t talked to her for many, many moons…too many in fact.  Simply put, as is often the case,  life gets in the way.  Still, she is one of my true-blue friends that I can count on one hand, with fingers left over…a friend that listens and loves without judgement and though a year may pass, can pick up a phone and talk as if we’d only just met yesterday at the local Starbucks for Lattes.

The Tweet?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~ Plato

Truth!   And from a dude who lived more than 2,000 years ago!

My friend had articulated basically the same thing at one point during our half-hour phone conversation, which is why the tweet caught my attention as I quickly skimmed through days worth of missed tweets while standing in line at the post-office.  As I listened to some of the heartaches my friend was dealing with I felt a knot in my heart.  I ached to be able to provide some kind of life-altering advice.  You know what I mean: as in a light-bulb moment in which I find the perfect solution to the issues she faced.  Alas, nothing came.  I could only listen with heart and soul and offer words of comfort along with a smidgen of wisdom from my own hard-won experiences, which of course, she knew hands-down anyway!  She was doing the right things; making the best decisions possible at any given moment.  It’s the stuff that we all strive to do when faced with challenges…even when we surely encounter folks along the way who judge harshly though they walk not in our shoes.  As we ended our conversation, I shared, once again, that I too pinch myself with gratitude every single day: But for the grace of God, I’d be drowning once again as I did years ago.  Truth be told, my friend has handled what life throws her amazingly well and with abundant grace.  I know this because she is still laughing and the sound lifts my spirit on this dreary, rain-filled day.

Hours after our conversation ended, as I pushed a steam mop across the kitchen floor, I thought about her laughter and the circumstances that brought us together her all those years ago.  I’m transported….It’s as if it were yesterday…and I’m young again (almost).   Through those often tumultuous years of my life, and sometimes hers, there has always been laughter.  She’s not the kind to entertain pity parties; she kicks them to the curb before the thought even has a chance to take root.  That’s what majorly impressed me about her all those years ago, and still does.

So, with all my grumpiness over a multitude of things, uppermost being this ridiculous house saga–one that has dragged on for nearly fifteen months –I need to remind myself to adopt the same attitude.  Pity parties to the curb you go with special emphasis on empathy for the man or woman I may pass on the street or in the produce aisle at the grocery store;  those folks who have nothing positive or constructive to say or who cut me off in traffic or cut in front of me in line at the post office.  Who knows what battles they may be fighting.

So, my one resolution for 2017? The end of pity parties…. and more laughter.  Ah yes….that does make two doesn’t it?!

Okay… so that’s the plan!

[Hopeful] but especially grateful.

Bliss.

 

Cookie Bliss

I am feeling blessed.  Yes…I know.  It’s such an overused cliché but with dwindling gray matter, it’s all I can come up with at this here, spur-of-the-moment writing.

Cookie and me....

Cookie and me….

I had a friend visit for the weekend. Middle-earth land is not, by any measure, an exciting travel destination.  But my friend “Cookie” braved an 8-hour trek in the car, sans hubby, just to see me…in “middle-earth” Alabama.  Only one other person has done that (besides family)…which meant the world to me.

I’ve known “Cookie” since I was about fourteen.  We couldn’t have been more different.  I was brought up in such a severely sheltered, dysfunctional manner that when I met Cookie I must have appeared to her as a rather pathetic looking “deer in the headlights” sort.  Yet, she took me in without a blink, and under her wing…as a project of sorts: The Education of Cristina.  Cookie was arguably 100 times more intelligent, street smart, worldly, and savvier than I.  From the moment I met her I hung on her every word. Her house was where I went to my first coed party.  If my parents had known I’m sure I would have been placed six-feet under.  My life was so tightly wrapped by them that I wasn’t even allowed to date until after high-school.  Wrap your head around that one folks.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough time!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough time!

Naturally, when it came to boys, I’d blush a thousand shades of red over the smallest of things. I tripped over my tongue with every attempted conversation and was too shy to even look a fellow straight in the eye.  I’d marvel at Cookie’s ease of navigating through those teen years.  She had amazing confidence, drive and natural ability with just about everything she touched.  I’d marvel too that she would eat chocolate-chip cookie dough straight out of the mixing bowl, and when baking a cake, with pure enjoyment she’d lick the mixing blades like an ice-cream cone.  To this day when I bake cookies, I’ll scoop a dollop of cookie dough to enjoy, an act that often transports me back in time to the place where two fifteen-year-old girls in a tiny kitchen, in complete disarray from baking sweet treats, laughed and cried over boys, school and life in general.   This may seem incredibly silly to most folks, but looking back…it is not a stretch of the imagination to state that those kitchen moments with Cookie were critical to my slow and often painful journey of becoming something more than just a battered wall-flower.  In the years that followed, I’d be lucky enough to meet another woman “Miss Sue” that continued the “project”…and then two more lovely souls after Miss Sue.  So yes, I’m feeling humbled and fortunate beyond words to have met some amazing women who have helped shaped my life, so far.

Cookie and I lost touch after college for a number of reasons but the universe must have understood that once again I was in dire need of someone who had my back through thick and thin.  In her infinite wisdom the universe conspired to bring us back together and I’m immensely pleased.  This weekend, I haven’t laughed so much (nor drank so much wine) since spending time with my San Antonio best friend back in January.   Cookie has been a breath of fresh air just when I needed it most.  She listened…she gave her two cents (and more) and made us laugh and ponder heavily upon her sometimes unconventional insights. She allowed us to drag her to a few of the ‘Bama-land sights such as the Space and Rocket Center as well as a quirky St. Patrick’s Day parade that was held downtown.

With any luck, she’ll never be back to middle-earth (don’t worry…it’s all good!) as instead it will be visits galore to my next abode which will surely be in a location that has much more to offer as far as interesting sights, recreation, and entertainment.  Oh the places we will go! 

St. Patrick's Day sight

St. Patrick’s Day sight

Best moment of the weekend?  When Cookie proclaimed:  “Let’s bake cookies!”

So there we were.  Together again. OKAY…so the years have…um…matured us inside and out, but still we are just two girls in the kitchen. This time my kitchen. The counter littered with cookie baking items and instructions of what to do were flying this way and that.  And yes, the scene was just a wee-bit different from some 44 years ago:  This time we each had a glass of red wine in hand.  And, we’ve got better technology on our side this time around: A sturdy Kitchen Aid mixer, a double oven, the iPhone as our timer, and Spotify for background music.

The very best part? Infinitely better than sampling a warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie?

That dollop of cookie dough from the mixing bowl straight to the mouth.

Bliss.

Thank you Cookie…from the bottom of my heart.

Oh the Comfort of True Blue, Through Thick and Thin

friendship“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~ George Eliot   I saw this quote yesterday afternoon while going through old files. I had scribbled it down in January of 2012. I’m not sure what prompted me to do so on that particular day but finding it again seized a part of my heart that has been heavy for far too many months. This quote surely fits my friends of thirty some years. Recently I was lucky enough to spend a weekend with them. I desperately needed a sanity check …a place to get out of my head over the many negative events of the past year and a half. So I left Rocket-man and The Poodle to fend for themselves for four days while I headed out-of-town. During the flights I ruminated on many things, as I all too often do…and as I did so I realized that again—for the umpteenth time— I was playing the same “movie” in my head. It’s the particular movie that brings me down and makes me feel small…invisible actually. I made a vow as the flight attendant handed me a cup of lukewarm coffee to not dump the contents of my year into the laps of my dear friends. This weekend is meant to get out of your head after all. Have fun and stop thinking about it all urged my left brain —the supposedly logical side…right? Well you guessed it. No such thing happened. Yes. My friends were waiting for me with open arms and open hearts. I hadn’t seem them for about two years and though we are like family we don’t always talk on a regular basis. So there would be much to catch up on, but I had the entire weekend, I reasoned. So here goes.  I am ashamed to admit that the “dump” occurred well before baggage claim, continuing throughout the drive to their house and, fueled by several bottles of wine and handfuls of M&M’s, well into the wee hours of the morning. It was 2 a.m. before my tired bones…and theirs… hit the sheets. They listened, God bless them, and with shoulders that would make Atlas look like a veritable weakling. They listened to the rush of words (sometimes nearly incoherent with emotion) that came pouring out of every crevice of my head and heart. They listened without judgement and with a certain amount of incredulity too over the ridiculousness of some of the events of the year. Now, I know what you’re thinking and perhaps you’d be correct. Did they listen so lovingly only to then, (themselves exhausted at 2 a.m.), fall into their bed vowing to one another, “Lord Have Mercy…this is the last time we’re inviting her!” I suppose I wouldn’t blame them if they did. But here is the thing. These folks are among the rare few that are true blue friends. And, for this here soul that has some deeply ingrained trust issues, that is huge. These friends are loyal, loving, and unafraid to speak their minds in the kindest ways possible. They’re not judgmental. They have no agenda. They have no false narratives. They are genuine to the core. I’ve learned a great deal from them—and even if we don’t always see eye to eye on something I’m ever grateful for a different perspective on things. I’ll roll things over in my head and heart and move on only to be surprised at some other time that my perspective was changing, and they were the agents of it. I’m forever grateful that our paths crossed all those years ago (even with all the heavy lifting work that first encounter entailed; story for another day!). I simply cannot imagine how my life would have unfolded without their presence, indeed during some of my darkest hours. It would certainly have lacked much laughter…not to mention wine! On our last day together I joined my friends at their church service. As I sat listening to the beautiful voice of a singer at the piano, I thought about the meaning of friendship. I used to feel pathetic that I could only count my true blue friends on one hand with fingers left-over. It’s easy to feel that way in this age of social media, where some people, for example, boast of 425 or so Facebook friends or hundreds, if not thousands, of Twitter followers. Well, I’m a slow learner on this journey through life; now I know better. I’ve no cause to feel pathetic, nor invisible. I’ve much to be thankful for and, every day…. I am. My mind wanders to my true blue friends. I send a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness and love to them for sticking by me when things went horribly south and celebrating with me when things went swimmingly well. Naturally, Rocket-man is truest of true.  And then there are my true blue friends in Washington State, California, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas. …and a guy in Arizona, a couple of gals in middle-earth too, and even one in the other Carolina state.  And, there’s even a poodle in the mix who never fails to greet me with abounding joy no matter what mood I bring to the day! Lucky beyond words, I am! And, I cannot forget family.  The Italian side with Big Mac and company. Nor the unbreakable bond with my beautiful purple minion other half, her Master-Mincer (and mixer) hubby and their beautiful creation together, Alexandre-the-Greatest. One thing is for sure: I’m blessed beyond words and I’m ever yours folks, through thick and thin.