Ways to Keep and Strengthen Friendships 

January 12th I flip the page on my happier 2017 calendar to a note about friendship. The top of the calendar page read: 3 ways to keep and strengthen friendships. It was a timely message that made me smile as I woke at 5am to pack the last of my things and fly to Scottsburg, IN. I was headed to see my best friend.

These three points belong to Gretchen Rubin but the thoughts are my own. Before we get started I wanted to say that everything I have learned about being a good friend I learned from my Dad and my best friend Candy. Everyone else in my life should be grateful to them.

1. Be wary of false choices. She uses the example of people who say they only want a few quality friendships. Who says you can’t have a few quality friends (or close friends as I think people mean) and also acquaintances? One of my friends I met through work once told me she doesn’t like to make new friends because she just doesn’t have the time and energy to maintain them. Not all friends are needy, are they? I am pretty careful who I get close to. My friend Carrie who grew up the daughter of a Pastor and I recently talked about this as a side effect of having grown up in a rather public family. But I do not make false choices. I can keep only a few really close friendships in which I’m fully transparent and still be inclusive. I also still have friends with whom I share an interest. Book clubs, fellow leaders, and blog friends are great examples.

2. Give your friends a break. I’ll admit this has taken me some time to learn. I am highly driven and I have high expectations of myself and others. Often times I find that my standards are unrealistic and unfair. Gretchen says ‘we all have a lot to juggle in our lives’. Isn’t this true? I’ve never heard my Dad use his grueling professional life as an excuse in friendships but he often can’t be present. He misses a lot of weddings. He didn’t make many of my soccer games or piano recitals as a kid. He didn’t move me into my college dorm. He can’t attend his best friends football games because he’s coaching too. Could they (and I) focus on what he misses? Yes. But the flip side of that is that he does an amazing job at what he is able to do. He’s never too busy. He cares about my stories, he helps me with my budget, and he frequently spends his very early drive to work or very late drive home checking in on his friends lives or one of us girls. We all have a lot to juggle and don’t use that as an excuse – do what you can do, well. But when others can’t do or be all we hope: give your friends a break.

3. Don’t expect friendships to happen spontaneouslyI have somewhat mixed feelings on this one. While I think American’s are quick to use ‘friendship’ for what is really just acquaintanceship – I do think you can find your friends spontaneously.  So far, I’ve met 4 friends on airplanes because I sat next to them.  I’m still in touch, at least semi-regularly with 3 of the 4.  I met my best friend selling handbags while we were in college.  And my closest guy friend I met when he ‘accidentally’ added my on Facebook because we had so many mutual friends we both assumed we probably knew each other (which explains why I actually confirmed his friendship).  A few months later, we were real friends.  Friendships DO take time and effort – I’ll be the first to say that.  And this increases when you’re in two really different seasons of life.  But, not make a mountain out of a molehill either.  It’s not THAT hard to find friends.

Collecting

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Day 20 of a happier 2017: enjoy the pleasure of collecting.

Candy, my best friend, often teases me about my love of purging.  Every time I report that I’m cleaning out a closet or the garage she says, ‘how is there anything left to get rid of?’  I get an alarming sense of joy out of throwing things away.  When I first read the Happiness Project and she suggested that there is much joy to be found in collecting I’m sure I made a face as I read it.  I have since come to the dark side of clutter for a collection and will admit, I’ve found great joy in it.  I collect Starbucks coffee mugs when I travel.  This is a hilarious collection choice because I don’t actually like Starbucks coffee.  Just the mugs.

This mug, from Phoenix, has a funny story.  It went ‘missing’ from my hotel room the day before check out while I was hiking in Sedona for the day.  The hotel graciously got me another mug and I paid more to have it shipped than I did for the actual mug but I was attached to the idea of having one from that trip.  They decorate my coffee bar and I have plenty left to drink out of them daily during my coffee and quiet times.

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So even if you’re freakish about every item having a place, figure out a way to collect something.  If you’re as …intense… as I am, feel free to collect something useful like coffee mugs.

I’m hopeful to add London to the collection this year as I’m currently saving for a September trip to follow the Miami Dolphins there. Other things I love to collect from travels: Christmas ornaments & fridge magnets.  When I can’t find mugs I usually go with one of those two options.  My house has become a tribute to my love of exploration and it does, in fact, bring me much happiness.

 

Secret of Adulthood: Have Less Stuff

I love that Gretchen via her books, her social media, and the Happier 2017 calendar shares her secret of adulthood.  One of mine is: have less stuff.

I recently read on Lauren Conrads blog (laurenconrad.com) her 10 habits of highly organized people had this secret of adulthood at number eight:

8. They have less stuff.

The more stuff you have, the more likely it is to become disorganized. Organized people love to eliminate the clutter and regularly purge items they no longer need. This also includes learning to walk away from bargains. As far as the space in your closet is concerned, it’s better to purchase one investment piece you really love than five so-so tops you found on sale. Also, consider donating items you no longer need. It’s easier to part with your possessions if you know they are going to a good cause.

I suggest being a thoughtful purger.  I recently inherited a TV.  This will make a few of you laugh since I gave up cable about 5 years ago.  Anyways, when my parents sold our Indianapolis house they had an extra and graciously brought it to me.  This of course freed up a TV in my house.  This week after allowing it to sit in the guest room closet for entirely too long I thought – who might need this?  I thought of a friend who recently moved out on her own after living at home during continuing education.  She gratefully accepted and I dropped the TV off at her house on my way to work the next morning.

Junk is in fact sometimes just junk.  So don’t give people crap they also don’t want or need just to help yourself out.  But, if you have something valuable that could help someone else – by all means, reach out.

 

Start Here

real-simpleAccess it on the web here.

Frequently my love of organization warrants comments from others to the effect of ‘you need to come over and help me’.  Actually, I just might.  I love to organize (and purge).  In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a few good places to start if you’re looking to be more organized (or at least less cluttered) in 2017.

I tore a page out of Real Simple’s January issue that had some great ideas. I’ve pasted it here but here’s a few additional comments after having a few weeks to start working on my list…

  • I started January 1 by unsubscribing.  If you’ve caught yourself being frustrated with the amount of ‘junk’ e-mail you’re constantly bombarded with: start here.  As a bonus, the less shopping related e-mails you receive the easier it is to be content with what you have.  I recommend this for your time, yourqqa sanity, and your contentment.
  • I booked a date with a friend I never see enough of by planning a lunch at Chickfila for the first week of January to go over our goals and talk about how we can help each other reach them this year.  It was fun, yummy, and productively in the theme of New Year.
  • I don’t color my hair but I did go ahead and book my haircuts for the next quarter.  With the amount of traveling I do a whole year seemed like an overwhelming commitment to me so I started smaller.  I had my first trim of 2017 this past Friday (they’re cheaper on Fridays and I’m off).
  • Clean out the freezer. So I opened mine up, took mental inventory, and then promptly thawed and used goodies for a game night!  Pumpkin pie, sugar cookies, and pumpkin bread are still delicious in January, right?  I opened up 2 shelves in my freezer with this and game night was a blast.
  • I didn’t download a meditation app because I don’t meditate.  But this is MY new year and I’m making it my own.  So, I downloaded the Alexa app and committed to learning how to make the most out of my latest gadget (a Christmas gift).  I’m VERY low tech at home since I have a technology driven job (data management).  But this little gadget can make a to do list for me while I’m doing the dishes.  Yes.

Now it’s time to move to the longer commitments which of course are harder to get done.  So this week I’m working on purging e-mails (out with the old), purging the 10 worst items from my closet (maybe this will be post worthy), and sort a box from the closet.

Actually, I’ve already done a few of these hour long projects.  This weekend I made the time to go through 2 totes of pictures and memories from my parents Indianapolis house.  If you’re only a blog follower not a real life friend: my parents recently downsized to a condo in Miami and cleaned out the house they lived in while I was in high school and college.  They promptly dropped off 2 huge plastic totes of things at my place.

Keeping with my Happier 2017 mindset, I actually really enjoyed this process.  I went through the photos and laughed about all the wonderful memories.  There were some GREAT photos of my grandparents (I’m blessed to have all four of my grandparents still) that really made my day. 2 totes quickly became one and I filled the other with all of my holiday decor.

I already dumped out and edited and and restocked my makeup bag. I got the hankering to do that in December.  Bonus. I do recommend it though. I found that I had some old makeup that needed thrown out.  I also found several lipstick and blushes that were terrible colors for me and brought them to work where they were happily snatched up by several of my coworkers with different coloring than mine.  Actually, this prompted them to bring ME some makeup they had that didn’t look good on them but they hoped might work for me.  It did.  I strongly recommend this.

Identify 3 new meals?  Well, I’m actually doing that weekly.  I’m working my way through Skinny Suppers (my the Skinny Mom blogger) this year.  My favorite this week? Zucchini taco boats.  Yum.

Just writing this has me ready to get back to work before my Thursday departure to spend  a whole glorious weekend with my best friend.

 

Secret of Adulthood 

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Today’s happiness calendar page lists one of the secrets of adulthood (if you follow Gretchen Rubin you know she’s big on these): People actually prefer you buy something from their registry.

Confession: I’ve broken this secret of adulthood a number of times. As I read it though, I realized, yes, that makes sense. Next weekend I fly to Ft. Wayne, Indiana to celebrate as my closet college guy friend ties the knot. Since I, flying a discount airline and baggage is an issue I went gift card (spoiler alert) but I did choose one of the places they were registered. One of my commandments for my life is this: take the time.

Next weekend I will put on a dress I love. I’ll wear heels for the first time all year (dare I hope the last?). I will freeze because we Floridinas don’t do winter. But I will smile til my face hurts and probably ugly cry with sheer joy.

Being part of the special moments in our friends lives is invaluable. Good friendships don’t happen by accident. Meetings sometimes do. I met Casey at a party. My college roommate, given to me by Purdue University, was from a small Christian school in Ft. Wayne. I went with her to a party of her high schoool friends where I quickly bonded with two guys who shared my love of football.

We were fast friends. We rode back and forth to games together. We hung out every weekend (and of course on 10 cent wing night at Brothers). And while it had all the makings of your typical convienent college friendship, it has stood the test of time.

The sweet part of this story comes much later. I’ve confessed previously that I wasn’t living for the Lord in college but I wasn’t particularly wild either. Casey on the other hand was the life of the party. We use to joke that I kept him from jail a few times, occasionally coming out in my pjs and ugg boots to retrieve him from the local bars and deliver him home safely. Graciously we both survived and lived to find a now shared love of the same Savior.

I’ve gotten to watch with great joy Casey’s transformation (although hes very much the life of the party to this day). I watched him question the meaning of life. I was thrilled when he accepted Christ. And in the years since it’s been incredible to watch him grow and share his passion with others.

So next week I’m headed north to brave the winter and celebrate my sweet friend. As an added bonus my college roommate has returned to the Ft. and is graciously taking me in for the weekend. Can’t wait to catch up and love on her three little boys (am I old enough for my friends to have 3 kids?).

This is the ultimate.  Getting to be there for the big moments in the lives of friends I’ve treasured for more than decade.  I’ve always felt sad for the people who say college was the best four years of their lives – each year gets better and better in my book.  But I am incredibly grateful for the friendships made during those blustery gray days in West Lafayette, Indiana.

And Casey, I love ya.

‘It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light’ – G.K. Chesterton

Today’s happier 2017 page of the day held this quote.  Read it to yourself a few times over.  Since it’s the 8th day of my happier year, I’ve decided on these eight ways to be light in 2017:

  • Be better not perfect
  • Make the most of mornings (before I get ready for work I spent about an hour and a half with the Lord, reading, journaling, etc to help me reach my goals – having a productive morning really does make me lighter all day)
  • Don’t check e-mail in the morning
  • Spend one hour everyday unplugged
  • Get outside (fresh air keeps us all lighter… and sane)
  • Sleep 7+ hours a night (because exhaustion is heavy)
  • Express gratitude (a few years ago I wrote a card every Friday by hand encouraging or thanking someone – I’m bringing it back)
  • Don’t own others problems (you already know)

How to Gain Control of Your Free Time

‘We can build the lives we want in the time we’ve got’ – Laura Vanderkam

That’s a promise I can get behind.

Time.  December is the month I always refocus on how I’m going spend my time in the coming year. My absolute favorite time management expert, Laura Vanderkam recently gave a TED Talk (I’m also obsessed with TED Talks) on how to gain control of your free time.  This seemed like a great video to share as we all prepare for a great next year.

One of my huge frustrations are people who use ‘time’ as the excuse for why they’re not doing what they say they value.  I’m sad every time people tell me they WOULD read, travel, blog, have quality friendships but THEY don’t have the time.  Laura’s books and blog have completely changed the way I manage time and have helped me make the most of my 168 hours a week.  Sharing the love today:

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  If she leaves you wanting more, check out her books.  I highly recommend them.