Tag Archives: Girlfriends

Celebrating … Well … Me.

This past Sunday I was standing at my kitchen counter washing dishes. Dishes actually aren’t a chore I particularly mind doing. I get to stand at my sink, which has a two large windows above it, and stare out at my panoramic view. There are worse things in the world.

The windows in my home happen to have wider than average windowsills, and atop many of them sit picture frames. A LOT of picture frames. Interior designers would cringe at my home – such as it is with photos perched, placed and hung in every direction. 

Yesterday I took particular note of the ones above my sink.

Two of them are from “Birthday-Eve” celebrations. And if you looked around my house you would find three more framed from different birthday years.

Each photograph is taken in a different location – a Vineyard, my favourite Mediterranean Restaurant, my Living Room, Blueberry Acres … etc etc.

And each one has something in common – I’m surrounded by girlfriends. Sometimes almost a dozen and sometimes as few as four.

To look at them you would think “What incredible friends she has – planning parties for her every year in different locations, doing different activities – wow – she is so lucky!”

And ofcourse you’d be right. About the incredible girlfriend part. Because I do and I am. Women friendships are among the most important things in my life, and I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by the many different groups of women I get to call friends.

But you would be wrong about one thing. You would be wrong that any of these soirées or outings or birthday celebrations of my own were planned by anyone other than little old un-modest me.

Yup.

Looking around at all of these “Karrie-Ann Birthday Eve Photos” I have to say – I planned them all.

I decided what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be with.

I sent the invitations, planned the food (and asked people to bring it), made people take photos, and generally asked them to come and celebrate me, myself and I.

Can you believe that???

The nerve!

The un-modesty!

The gall!

The narcissism!

The lack of humility and grace!

Well …. maybe.

But here’s what I really think. What I really believe. 

I deserve to be celebrated on the day I was born.

Yes. I said it.

And I deserve that day to be more than some “acronym-wish” posted on Social Media site because someone received a notification on their phone.

I deserve a little “hoop” and a little “la”.

Because you know what? If I don’t celebrate me … who will?

All of my girlfriends are amazing, generous, thoughtful women. But they are busy. They are raising children and managing careers and marriages and their own interests and pursuits. Just as I am.

We talk ad nauseum about time moving too fast and the importance of simplicity and spending time with those who matter. 

Well what better time for that than my birthday?

Why NOT celebrate that? Why NOT celebrate me?

Why wait for someone else to do it?

I remember once we were camping and one of our friends daughters was celebrating her birthday while we were there. 

I remember waking up that morning and going over to give her a giant hug and wish her a Happy Birthday. She was a little coy – not shy per se, but a little unsure about the fuss I was making.

I picked her up and stood her on top of the picnic table. I said to her this was HER day and she should shout from the rooftop (or the top of the picnic table as it were) that it was her Birthday and let the world know she was a force to be reckoned with.

So she stood there, spread her arms wide apart and hollered at the top of her lungs “It’s my birthday”!! And continued to laugh and giggle until she doubled over.

It was a joyful, uninhibited, innocent and beautiful moment. 

But as grown women we don’t jump on picnic tables. It’s not particularly socially acceptable I guess and maybe there’s just no time. Our lives are centred around everyone else. Centred around children or spouses or colleagues or parents.

Too often we are trudging through to-do lists and trying just to keep it all together.

So when I sit there on my Birthday Eve, surrounded by my girlfriends, for three or four hours – once a year – celebrating the day I was born into this world – I am not thinking how pathetic it was to organize this myself – or how socially unacceptable it was to do so.

Instead I’m always thinking how incredibly blessed I was to be born into this world “x” number of years ago. How lucky I am to share the day with people who mean so much to me. To be able to raise a glass with them and silently whisper thank you for this past year.

And quite frankly I deserve nothing less than that.

And so do you and you and you.

So stand on the picnic table, shout from the rooftop. 

Celebrate YOU. Take the time. Make the time. You deserve it.

You can bet on August 29th I’ll be “celebrating me” ūüėČ.

My Potentials

I’ve been aware the last six months or so how much I am surrounded by potentials. 

Note that’s potentials with an ‘s’. (Although I also like to think I’m also surrounded by potential without an ‘s’, this isn’t what I’m rambling about today).

This is instead about potential friendships. Those ones that seem to have exponential room for growth, but never quite get off the ground.

I was reminded last night, as I sped into a restaurant full of laughing, talking, gorgeous women how many friendships in my life have never been explored to their full potential, but are waiting there, just on the edge of ‘acquaintance’, for a little TLC to take them to the next level. Friendships that I feel, no … that I know, could be great.
 
Unfortunately though, these women, these potentials, don’t naturally fall into the same circles I am in. The very sad but very real factor of convenience is not there. Most often if they have children, their kiddos aren’t the same age, so we are not on the edge of the soccer field together, or in the same school, or experiencing the same growing pains. Some of them are in a very different field of work, and travel a lot for their careers. Sometimes these women don’t live in the same area, or even the same Province for that matter. Sometimes the promise of a friendship began but we moved away from each other, and we now stay connected in a somewhat removed way on Facebook, but are always thinking “what if”?

And do you know how there are some people you meet who you feel an instant connection with? Well I have felt this with all of these women. Every single one. And maybe if only we had met at a different time in our lives, or under different circumstances, we would be joined at the hip. But we didn’t. We are, for better or for worse, firmly rooted in our present world.

I would love to be hopeful and say I will push through those obstacles and logistics and inconveniences, making time to explore all of these potential friendships, but time is a most precious commodity with work and family for all of us, and my hope is probably not based in reality right now.

There are however a handful of these women whom I do work hard to become more connected with. We have lunch dates two or three times a year, and relish every ounce of connection and shared time we have with each other. But we do it in an almost a bittersweet way, I think. Knowing that when we leave the restaurant our lives will not intersect in the way we long that they would, therefore leaving us both recognizing what could be, and wishing for just a little bit more.

I do hope that as life becomes less full, as the kids grow up and there are only two schedules in the household and not four, that some of these friendships will flourish and grow. That time will allow for road trips to their homes in PEI, or long evenings of dinner and drinks on their decks only kilometres away. And maybe our circles will then grow a little closer together each year, intersecting just a little bit more, and turning those ‘potentials’ into regular ‘pillars’ in my life.

Here’s hoping.

These Women

It’s April. ¬†Although you wouldn’t believe it as I gaze out over a good five feet of snow. ¬†It is indeed Spring they tell me.

I always look forward to April. In my household it brings with it a brief window of calm. ¬†Or should I say calm “er”. Everything is relative of course.

You see at our house April brings the end of the ever-harried basketball season.  That season that begins in late September and encompasses both school ball and community league ball.

Unfortunately however, with the end of the running, the practices, and the games also comes fewer opportunities to see some certain women whom I’ve come to enjoy beyond measure. ¬†Those other moms who gather together and sit on those benches beside me for the entire season. From the first meagre practice to the last nail biting game of Provincials.

We have spent the last six months cheering on our kids together. Encouraging their skills and sportsmanship.

To others looking on at us it appears we are a bunch of mismatched moms sitting on an uncomfortable bench performing our motherly duties. Educators, public servants, librarians, full time, part time, sommeliers, stay at home moms, accountants, dentists, country bumpkins and townies.  Some perfectly coifed and put together, but most in our sweats and sneakers having raced through the door after yet another commitment.

We didn’t come into this place having any pre-established friendships, bonds or ties. ¬†And yes we can seem like a rag tag bunch with perhaps little in common on the outside. But that’s not what I see. That’s not what I feel.

These women have become an anchor in my world. ¬†As I enter the gym I make small talk with people coming and going, I tease the kids and holler to my own about water bottles and sneakers. But all the while I am doing this I am looking out of the corner of my eye towards the benches and the bleachers … I’m not looking out of happenstance, but with purpose … I am looking for these women.

And when I see them there is a small part of me that smiles a little bigger, walks a little faster and thinks, “There you are. I would have missed you today if you weren’t here.”

These women who have become more to me than just other moms.  Some of us have been together four and five years now.  Driving our kiddos, watching them succeed and fail, watching them learn and grow.  Together.  These women have seen the best in my kids and the worst in my kids.

And over the years basketball is becoming less and less the topic of conversation. Instead we share news about our lives, ourselves, and this bond we have about raising these little humans in this crazy world. Our time together has become a great deal about supporting each other as women, and to in turn help our young ones navigate the world of adolescence, academics and social dynamics.

We talk about what a great group of kiddos they are. Imperfect kiddos, but kind and generous and inclusive and fun. And although we sometimes have difficulty taking the compliments ourselves, we are quick to heap the accolades on each other, reminding each other these kiddos didn’t become that way overnight, but in large part because of role we play in their life as mothers.

I’ve thought a lot about what has made these women so special in my life. ¬†This doesn’t happen for me in every circumstance. The majority of time I very much enjoy the other parents I sit with at sporting events, music events, school events. But there is not always that connection or bond. There is something special about these women. ¬†About the way we have come together. ¬†The way our kids have come together.

Maybe it’s the age the kids are. Maybe it’s the age we are. Maybe it’s that we all seem to have expectations for how they treat each other. For who they are in the world. Or maybe its that we are all so tired and run so ragged that we cling to the nearest person who reminds us a little of ourselves. Haha!

But I’ve decided it doesn’t matter. What matters is how lucky I am to share this part of my life with them. I would happily sit here and watch my kiddos perform underwater basket weaving. I’m a mom. That’s what I do.

But these women have made the sitting, the watching, the running, so much easier and richer with their conversation and laughter and sharing.  I have come to count on them, as I hope they have come to count on me.  I actively seek them out, and so very much enjoy their company. They have become my friends.

I will miss them immensely now that the season is over. I will miss that easy-ness that come from being with them 2-3 times a week.

But even though I will miss them I continue to whisper thank you for them and their presence in my life.  It has been so appreciated.

Plus … you know … soccer season is just a month away …. (wink).

I Would Rather …

I would rather be of intrinsic value to one friend, than to fight to be of extrinsic value to four.

I would rather be irreplaceable to two, than to be interchangeable with eight.

I would rather have one friend stand up for me, and stay standing, than have twelve stand up, to only sit down when the rest of the group does.

I would rather count on three being active in my life, than ten being passive.

I would rather have the quiet confidence in one, than have the public social media fanfare of twenty.

I would rather have three who are consistent, than seven who are not.

I would rather have one who is purposeful, than three who are convenient.

I would rather have two who I can belly laugh with, than four I smile at politely.

I would rather have one who shows their raw and real and messy emotions, than two who back away.

I would rather have two who see me – all of me – and accept me and my faults, rather than five who can’t be bothered.

I would rather feel grounded and connected with three, than feel superfluous with six.

I would rather have one who will challenge me, than three who are superficial.

I would rather have three who make mistakes and are honest, than five who sweep things under the rug.

I would rather have four I can be silly with, than six who appear perfect.

I would rather sit and share in a real way of “give and take” with two, than to fight to be heard or struggle to listen, with seven.

And I would rather have something real and something lasting with one friend, just one friend, than have something fleeting with eight.

You see, the thing is, I would rather be with you.

And I know it can’t always happen. I know life is busy and time is hard. Families are growing and we are in six different directions.

And I would also rather be with you and you and you and you. But I know circumstances don’t allow that on a regular basis.

And I of course would always rather be with you. But time and distance don’t allow that half as often as I need it.

But it doesn’t change the fact … that in this world of 284 social media friends, numbers still mean nothing … because I will unequivocally, with my whole heart, always, rather be with “you”.

“Sometimes the Beauty is in the Attempt”

I had tea today.

I had tea today in a tiny new cafe on Main Street, in a little town in Nova Scotia three minutes from where I live. I had tea in the perfect cup … bone colored … the perfect size for my hand. I love the perfect size cup. Something simple with a wide brim. I sat in front of one of those wide low propane fireplaces in a big comfy chair with a bigger round coffee table to sit my perfect cup and saucer on.

I’m one of those annoyingly detailed people who sees, appreciates and am grateful for those things.

But none of this post is about the tea or the cup or the fireplace.

It’s about the person who asked me out for tea.

I have been blessed … so blessed … to have had many friends in my life. Good friends. Great friends. Forever friends and there-for-you friends. Friends who have come and friends who have left. Group friends and fun friends. A best friend. Tell each other everything friends. Facebook friends and Instagram friends. Friends I laugh with and friends I cry with. Friends I have let go of. Surface friends and party friends. And deep amazing I-recognize-your-soul-friends.

I whisper thank you for these friends everyday. I have different types of gratitude for each of these people in my life.

But today I feel gratitude for this particular friend. For many reasons … but for one reason in particular strikes me today. Her name is Carrie. And Carrie … well Carrie … always makes the attempt.

You see, I tend to be a planner. An organizer. I love to gather people together. It is a big part of who I am and I relish every minute of it. It fills me up and I do it with vigor and sincerity. I try and do it also without agenda or need for reciprocation. But sometimes when you have a personality like that people … friends … well … they wait for you to come to them. They wait for you to contact them. They wait for you to be the pursuer. It’s only natural. Human nature. And that is all okay.

But not Carrie. Carrie never waits. She makes time to try and get together. Just us. Not part of a huge group and not by happenstance. She is very purposeful about wanting to spend time together and cultivating our friendship. She actively contacts me as often as I contact her. She asks me to get together as much as I ask her. It’s not about a balancing act and it’s not about tit for tat. But it is about feeling valued.

There are many, many times in our lives Carrie and I are not successful about getting together. We have busy lives with work and family and husbands and other friendships … but I’ve come to realize, it’s not the success rate that matters. It’s the attempt. It’s the question. It’s the time we take when we call or text or pm and ask each other for lunch. Because the thing is, she isn’t really asking me for lunch. She is ACTIVELY saying to me “I see you. You matter in my life. I want to spend time with you. I know we are busy and I know maybe you can’t … but I’m making an effort and I’m making you a priority in my life because you matter to me.”

Boy. That’s a lot to be said in a short “Wanna have lunch” text isn’t it? But to me that’s what it means. That’s how much it means. To me. It’s not the tea or the lunch or the place or even the end result of even seeing each other. It’s the ATTEMPT that means the world to me.

Carrie and I have not been in each other’s lives for a particularly long period of time. Our kids enjoy each other but are not best friends. We never grew up together and I don’t think she knows my parents names and I don’t always remember when her kids birthdays are. We don’t chat on the phone all the time, and up until a year or two ago our friendship was mainly based in group settings. If you count up the things we “aren’t”, well maybe on the outside there are quite a few.

But in a world where friendships can be based solely on convenience, and over a screen where it matters who hits a “like” button for you, she is so very purposeful and genuine about being active in our friendship. She takes the time and makes the effort to make “us” a priority. I like to think I make the same kind of effort with her.

And so often in this busy world it doesn’t work out. But like I said before. It matters not.

Because sometimes ‚Äúthe beauty is in the attempt‚ÄĚ.