New Friendships

School has started and all the grandkids are back in their respective educational environments. New schedules are starting, new classes are developing and new friendships are forming. In high school, it is all very exciting and a little stressful.

Starting all-new and unknown things is always a bit stressful. You don’t know what to expect or how to be prepared exactly. It keeps you on your toes, for sure. A new school year is just like that.

All of my grands are old enough to manage their schedules, get themselves up and off to school on time. That is a great start. Mom sure appreciates that ability.

They have all chosen their classes for this semester and can certainly get from class to class and manage their schedule for the week. All are capable of dealing with time well enough to get their school work done, fit in band practice, and a couple of them even have part-time jobs this year.

The new friendships, however, are quite surprising and somewhat exciting. One grandchild has befriended a second generation Asian teenager, one is friends with a boy named Hussein and one with a transgender boy named Katie.

Can I tell you how proud I am of my grandchildren? They are free of bias. They are inclusive. They do not judge others by their “outsides.” They are setting great examples for their peers. They are going to learn so much about really loving people.

In these times of division and hatred, these kids are learning and teaching acceptance and tolerance. I am amazed they are so aware of this at such a young age, when I know people four and five times their age who are ignorant of it.

A variety of friendships is vital to having a well-rounded, strong village. How boring would it be if all our buddies looked and acted just like us? We would learn nothing, go nowhere, be little.

The key to growth and strength in nature is diversity. The same is true in our lives. We don’t thrive as a village where everyone agrees with us, looks like us and dresses like us. We need new ideas, different thoughts, amazing contrast and brilliant extremes. We need people who think outside the lines, who have second thoughts, who think with their hands, who think on their feet, who don’t think at all.

My grandchildren know this. They already have a colorful village surrounding them and they will only get more so as they grow older. Good, strong, diverse friendships are necessary. They are fun. They are life-affirming.

Getting Ready

A party that lasts five hours can easily require weeks of menu planning, invitation review and labeling, decoration selection, gift purchasing and wardrobe try ons. By the time the guests arrive, the hostess can be exhausted from the preparation activities or she may be thrilled with the process of sharing her home with others. She may need a nap instead of being able to gleefully greet each invitee at the front door and welcome them in. Passing the hors-d’œurves and keeping conversation going may be the last thing on her mind or she may be the queen of the ball the entire night.

Preparing for any event demands organization, thought, care, certainly a love for the event and maybe a bit of creativity. Oh, and don’t forget time. It does take a bit of time, the most precious commodity.

It’s best to think of the preparation time as part of the event itself. When planning for a vacation, for instance, tell yourself that all the time spent organizing the trip is part of the vacation, and enjoy it!

Wear you bathing suit and have a piña colada while making hotel reservations for your trip to the beach. Play Hawaiian music while choosing your wardrobe for a trip to the Islands. Make a roaring fire and sip hot chocolate while you choose the best ski resort for your winter getaway.

It can all be fun, enjoyable and make memories, just like the vacation itself (or any event you are planning). Getting ready is half the fun of anything. The other half is doing the great adventure planned for. This formula can take a lifetime. At least, I would hope so.

Even the big one that never works out well. You know, the happening that practically breaks up families before the event which is supposed to bring them together. The happiest time in your life preceded by months of pure misery, to the point that the bride and groom are often not speaking.

The dreaded WEDDING, with the accompanying one year of organization, requiring many months of decision-making, tasting, comparing, shopping, writing, labeling, dance lessons, dress fittings, mock table settings, name card placements, flower arranging, music selecting, musician deciding, toast practice, and gift buying for maids and ushers.

Then there is the planning for the honeymoon, an experience unto itself. Should it be where the bride wants to go? Should it be a surprise? Do you want donations from family and friends toward the trip? Are you getting a little frustrated? Perk up, sweetie. Things are looking good. The wedding is one month away!

Invitations have gone out already and RSVP’s have begun returning. Gifts have started arriving at the bride”s home, one by one. It’s ALL supposed to fun! This is the start of a marriage. Don’t let it be misery and frustration. Be sure your memories are joyful and worth remembering.

A year of preparation for a thirty-minute ceremony and a big party. Make it worth your time, money, effort and care. Remember it’s only a day, one day. The first day of the rest of your lives together. Start out right. Start out happy, smiling, in agreement, surrounded by your village (whatever size that is), comfortable and still in love.

The preparation should always be as remarkable and as memorable as the event itself.

Now get ready because life is coming and it is worth being prepared for!

The Power Of Receiving Help

I am an oldest child. That means many things, one of which is that I have pretty much always been in charge of things. Things like what I wore, where I went, what I ate, my two brothers, my emotions. You know, things.

I grew up to be a nurse, which put me in charge of more things, mostly other people. It felt natural to me to be in control, to be stable, to be helpful especially for others.

My life has been mostly about doing for others – my patients, my friends, my children, my parents, my grandchildren. Now my elderly friends and my elderly husband.

Accepting help was never very easy and asking for help was even more difficult. I saw myself as weak and burdensome, and somehow lacking, to need help, especially from those I felt I should be giving assistance to.

Actually, I can’t remember ever asking anyone to assist me when I was in need. I just relied on someone being able to notice my situation and offer to help. Then I would accept, reluctantly of course. How strange that I just realized that fact!

In doing so, I have denied myself and others the true gift of helping. I have told others to not do what I have done myself. The truth is, the need of one is the need of the all in the village, so to deny the need is to lie to the whole village.

By denying any need, I was basically telling everyone I was fine when I was was not. I was telling myself I was fine when I was not. I was saying I could handle the situation when I could not. I was saying I did not need help when I did.

I wasn’t allowing anyone the opportunity to share with me any of their gifts. I was denying the relationships I had with family and friends. I was not trusting the strength of any relationship to weather the stress of providing help. I was distancing everyone I knew without realizing it.

When people are allowed to help each other there is a bond and strengthening of the relationship. They feel that they know each other so much better, almost as if they carry a secret between them.

There is a joy and a happiness shared that remains special and maybe never has to be even spoken in words again. But it is there, in the eyes, in the smile, in the handshake.

People become their best selves when rising up to another’s need. They do things they never thought they could do because it is for someone else and not for self. Their super power, which everyone has, emerges to everyone’s surprise and then the village says, “We knew she had it in her!”

Some really special people see needs in us we never knew we had, and come forth with a helping hand. Now how generous is that?!!! Pray that we have an open mind and heart to accept help such as that, so openly gifted.

As a mindful elder I am learning to be a better example of not only a cheerful giver but a grateful receiver. We can all learn to be better. The rewards are magnificent!!!

First Driver’s License

When I was sixteen, I could hardly wait for the day that I could take my driving test for my license. I had already taken the driving school during the hour before my high school classes started. It was the way in those days – the 60’s.

My dad had taught me to parallel park in an empty store parking lot. He stood in a spot and acted as the rear bumper of a car I was supposed to park behind. What a way to learn! Do it right or run over your father!!!

Believe me, I can parallel park to this day. When I do, I still see Daddy standing there and I am ever so careful not to hit the car (Daddy) in front of me.

I wanted a driver’s license as soon as possible, even though I didn’t have a car of my own. I drove the family Dodge Dart with a three speed manual. It was heaven to me!

My license meant such freedom to my sixteen year old self. I could go, by myself, anywhere I wanted.

It also symbolized maturity. I felt so grown up, almost adult. Using my license as my I.D. was absolutely exhilarating!

Peer pressure was a huge factor, as well. Everyone was getting their license, so certainly, I had to have mine.

There was also the feeling of success, in being able to pass the test the first time. It was an honor in itself.

Kids nowadays don’t seem to the “drive” (pun intended) to get their license as soon as possible. I’m not sure what that says.

Both of my sixteen year old GS’s are in the process of getting their driver’s licenses. Mac has finished the written test, gotten all of his driving hours (day and night) and has taken the driving test. He is waiting for his license to be filed with DMV.

He seems to be pleased but not very enthused. In fact I’m more excited about this turning point in his life than he is. And he even has a car that was given to him by Grams. Does that seem strange to you too?!!

Now Matt, who lives in Phoenix, is even less excited. He has taken the written test and is getting his driving hours, sort of. He doesn’t seem worried about it in the least.

His philosophy is very laid back – if he gets a license, fine. If he doesn’t, I guess that’s fine too.

Frankly, I’m baffled by this thinking. I guess they both kind of like being driven around with little responsibility. It just seems to have almost no meaning to them to have a driver’s license.

At my age now, I’m worried about keeping my license. I know the day is coming when I will have to forfeit this wonderful card, which means so very much to me.

I wish I could convey to the two newest drivers the true meaning of a license all their own. But maybe that really isn’t possible.

It’s a different time – a different world – a different place – different people. Each circumstance develops in its own way. It has more meaning to one than the other.

But I’m so excited for them! I hope they both get their licenses soon.

I can’t stand this much longer!