True Friendships in a Barbie World: Revisited

The inevitable end of summer has arrived! Walmarts across the country are being overrun with back-to-school shoppers searching for number 2 pencils, composition books, and the perfect colored Postit note. In the spirit of new beginnings, this week’s blog is a delightful reblog of last year’s article dedicated to the formations of new friendships in the first few moments of the school year. Whether we’re passed a pen in class, selected for a fall sports team, or handed a cup of coffee in the break room, making friends is one of the most challenging and somewhat fearful events of life. Here’s to friendship!

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends? ~Author Unknown

How do we choose our friends?

I think this question is answered according to where you are in life. Granted, I’m a thirty-something who looks back at her charmed childhood with rosy glasses, but I’m going to attempt to define friendship and/or popularity from my perspective.

  • Elementary: It was simple in elementary school. You wanted to be friends with the girl who had the most Lisa Frank items. Tell me you don’t remember those awesome trapper keepers and stickers! And folders. And pencils. And….
  • Junior High: Can we really take junior high popularity seriously? Hormones, pimples, bad hairstyles—let’s just skip to high school!
  • High School: Once you graduate from the upper elementary building and hit the lockered halls of high school, your world changes. Your Lisa Frank collection starts to gather dust, boys are a whole lot cuter, and every night you pray that your Clearasil works. Whatever circle you were in—athletics, drama, academics, pretty people—some were more popular than others.
  • College: In college, you fall into groups that possess similar majors, interests, or personalities. Honestly, I think that as we begin to form our own identity, we realize that our friends are an intregal part of who we are and who we will become.
  • Career: Everything changes once you hit the real world. Or, does it? Considering today’s world of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, online dating, and forum presence, I wonder if we have really outgrown high school mentality of popularity and friendship.

Actually, whatever stage of life we are in, do we really ever grow out of the “Lisa Frank” mentality? Do we surround ourselves with the people that make a difference in our lives, or do continually compare our proverbial trapper keepers? It’s the whole “keeping up with the Jones’” point of view. I don’t want to choose my friends based upon what they can do for me; rather, I want to surround myself with people that inspire me to go deeper into maturity. In contrast to “buying Barbie’s friends,” I’d rather describe my friendships as:

But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely.  Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right 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 then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.  ~Dinah Craik

Whatever stage of life you are in, I hope that you can honestly say that you have this type of friend. True friendship in an increasingly Barbie world is rare; here’s hoping you have found your place in a circle of friends, and that you make a difference in your world together.

Pain and Suffering: Lessons Learned from Physical Therapy

On January 7, 2012, I was rear-Tboned by a large SUV. In my brand new car. Literally. We had made one payment on the Corolla. Long story short, I messed up my right shoulder and arm. After three months of physical therapy, my doctor ordered arthroscopic surgery of my shoulder. May 31st rolled around, the surgery was completed, and I was put back into PT. (That’s about as brief as I can make the story.)

Today, I began Phase III of the shoulder rehabilitation program and introduced 1 lb weights to begin strengthening the arm. Mind you, this comes on the heels of a painful few days due to a muscle spasm in my deltoid…  which had to be worked out through a deep tissue massage by my therapist. It’s a love-hate relationship these days with my PT. Love it because it helps, hate it because it hurts.

What I’ve Learned from 7 Months of Physical Therapy:

  1. Your therapist is both your friend and your worst enemy, only unlike your friends, they don’t care what you think of their methods.
  2. Just because I stop breathing doesn’t mean my therapist is going to stop the exercise.
  3. Regular, daily used household items can double as torture instruments when in the hands of a physical therapist. Rubber bands, folding chairs, paint rollers, and rubber gloves are scary things.
  4. “Would you like some Biofreeze on that?” is a cunning ploy used by therapists to make “deep tissue massage” sound more appealing.
  5. Saying “I can’t” makes no difference. You’re going to do it anyways.
  6. Losing count during repetitions just means you get to start over again.
  7. Asking me about movies, travel, or work does not take my mind off the pain, it simply challenges my multi-tasking abilities.
  8. Ice and Ibuprofen: the recipe for relief
  9. “Try this” never turns out the way you think it will.
  10. No Pain, No Gain

All that being said, I am truly thankful for the physical therapists that have been working with me over the past 7 months. While it is still far in the future, there is an end in sight only because of them. Thank you, James and Eric, for putting up with my complaining, pushing me through the pain, and helping me along this road to recovery!

The Power in a Sunrise

As many of you know, my beloved Dad lost his battle with cancer in November of 2003. Being the ultimate Daddy’s girl that I am, I still wrestle with the empty space he should inhabit and dreadfully miss his presence in my life. He truly was my hero; he traveled the world slaying corporate dragons, kissed my Mom in front of my brother and I, cooked amazing Sunday dinners, and made sure that no monsters were living under the beds. I wish my husband could have met him, that he could have seen my brother graduate from college and marry the girl of his dreams, and that he could be with my Mom in her empty nest adventures.

During one particularly tear-stained night not too long ago, I set my pen to paper and wrote a quote that I like to think is encouraging. I was inspired when I considered that the long nights end in the sunrise. There is a cleansing that arises with the golden rays of dawn. I thought I would share this quote with you today.

May we never look at the burning horizon and forget that it travels on into the breaking dawn; that just beyond its reach is a land waking up to conquer a new day. In the midst of the night season, may we always remember that the long night will not tarry beyond its allotted moments, but will quickly surrender itself to the golden rays of dawn. ~© Jessica Burchfield

Over the last 8 years, I have found that yes, it is perfectly ok to break down. In fact, when talking to people that are going through similar situations, I encourage it. The bottling up and suppressing of emotions is never a healthy practice. We all need the healing that comes with the tears. Sometimes surrendering to the loss is just what you need to move on, yet again.

But then comes the morning.

I love beginnings. What are mornings, but new beginnings? During one of my elementary/junior high years, a teacher made us choose a poem to present before our speech class. I don’t remember what poem I chose, but I do remember that a classmate chose The Land of Beginning Again by Louise Fletcher. This was my favorite stanza:

For what had been hardest we’d know had been best
And what had seemed loss would be gain
For there isn’t a sting that will not take a wing
When we’ve faced it and laughed it away,
And I think that the laughter is most what we’re after
In the Land of Beginning Again.

So, here’s to all of you that are struggling in the season of shadows. Here’s to you that have long been dwelling in the “night.” Here’s to us that have awoken from the darkness, only to find the golden beams of a bright new day–a day that holds the promise of beginning again. Here’s to the sunrise.

We can only appreciate the miracle of the sunrise if we have waited long in the darkness. ~Author Unknown