Friday, March 6, 2015

A New Take On Old Friends

In a few weeks, my friend Kelley's book will be published. It is (in part) about the 30+ year friendship we've enjoyed. When developing the book, Kelley asked me and our five close college pals to contribute stories about the women who've influenced our lives. The outcome is a lovely collection of essays and artwork that illuminates the powerful karma our relationships —especially our friendships —have on our lives. 

In fact, there's quantitative and qualitative data on the health benefits that women reap from their "true and constant friends." A report released in 2001 from the Harvard Medical School Nurses' Health Study found that "the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight."
True & Constant Friends

So it turns out that my friends aren't just fun distractions from my work and family responsibilities, they are actually good for me! Well .. honestly, I knew that before the researchers at Harvard.

I also know that relationships are important to my spiritual and emotional well-being. Women, in general terms, define ourselves by our relationships ... so with that in mind I suppose I have been provided a virtual Websters of meaning in my life. 

I am fortunate to have a number of good friends from various areas of my life. Staying in touch with them is important to me, but not for the sake of nostalgia. Frankly, there are a lot of times in my life (including some of my college years ) that I would really rather not ever revisit. I honestly don't want to be reminded that I used to drink too much or wear blue eye shadow or fancy myself as a punk rocker. I don't get together with my friends to reminisce about who I was. No thanks. Staying in touch with these women is important because I need to be who I am. And when I'm with my best friends, I am reminded of the best parts of myself, what is essential to me. 

In my girlfriends (including my sisters), I see reflections of my greatest strengths and weaknesses. These are the women with whom I identify, and who I've gotten to know over and over again throughout the years. We have been — and still are —growing up together. No, I don't want to jump in the way-back machine when we're together. Rather, these are the people with whom I want to be most real and present. Yes, we share history, but we also share the present moment and that's I value most today.

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