Ms. Streisand was Right

At the end of my blog last week I wrote about finding a true anchor for the soul. Today I want to give a shout out to one of my anchors- my best friend. I’m going to cheat and include most of an old post from my previous blog- I wrote this ode to her over two years ago to make up for forgetting her birthday (I still cringe when I think of it). I corrected a few mistakes, but otherwise this is it!

           Will any one out there admit to liking that classic Barbra Streisand song, “People”? I will! My mom used to sing it a lot… “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.” It’s actually a profound statement.        

                                                                        
There came a time in my life where I realized I wanted- and needed- friends. I was in college. I had superficial relationships with people that I didn’t have much in common with, and I knew there had to be more. I had heard about and seen best friends interact, but hadn’t experienced it for myself (I am not counting the grade school/middle school best friends who made me sign a contract stating that I was in fact their best friend). So I started praying… and praying… and praying. “Lord, I would really like to have a best friend, someone I can really count on and trust; a kindred spirit, someone who gets me and accepts me for who I am…” Something like that anyway. Several years later, after I left California and moved to Ohio, I found a church. And that church had a basketball team with some cute guys on it. One day I went to a game and finally met my best friend.

I wish I could remember all the ins and outs, all the events that created our relationship. Our first time hanging out was at Don Pablos, I do remember that! Since then we have had many fun moments centered around food. Once we ate ourselves into severe stomach pain at P.F. Changs, and I can’t count the late night trips to Dairy Queen and Coldstone Creamery. We had a love affair with food alright. We shared a love of food, and now we share a commitment to eat right and stay healthy.

I remember this one church service where everyone was running around while the band played classic “shoutin'” music; she said she felt the Lord told her to change direction and she did- and ran smack into me! We went flying to the floor, laughing hysterically: we always did have a spiritual connection (ha!). Once we decided to fast TV together for a month; since then, we have tried to push each other and encourage each other in the things of God.

Then there was our missions trip to Jamaica- we sat in our hotel room during a hurricane and wrote about the kind of spouses we want. And so many other memories- talking every day the summer she went to Alabama and I had just lost my fiance; me forcing her to ride the Maverick at Cedar Point (even though she cried); throwing all those great parties for each other and our friends; her gently and persistently telling me that a certain guy was wrong for me even though I didn’t want to hear it… I needed her then, and I still do. And not just for the food and the fun and the talking, but because she tells me truth. Because she pushes me to be a better person.

Have you noticed that there are not a lot of people out there who know how to be a good friend? Have you noticed that most people tend to take rather than give? They talk mostly about themselves, and they get uncomfortable and disappear when things get rough for you. But my BFF- she listens. She gives. She cares. She’s there. As Barbra sang so beautifully, we all need people- people like my friend.
If you have a person like this in your life- celebrate them, take care of that relationship, and thank God always for His gift.

As I read this and reflect on our friendship, what I want to add is that through this relationship I learned to communicate. In our years of living together, she helped me learn the importance of the daily recap- just sharing about my day in order to decompress. And then when we disagreed, or I was having a bad day, I had to learn to open up and share my emotions. This was so uncomfortable for me at first that I would literally have a physical reaction when I was trying to get myself to talk- butterflies in stomach, heart palpitations- but it got much easier.

In the past I put a lot of effort into spending one-on-one time with people, doing a lot of listening. I thought being a good listener was the key ingredient to a good friendship. Something major was missing, however. What I didn’t do was share my feelings. I didn’t show any vulnerability or weaknesses. I never needed my friends. There is one instance I remember where I changed my M.O. There was a point in my relationship with my Bestie when I felt that I was putting more effort into planning our hang out times than she was. I’m a natural planner, so I would choose restaurants, movie times, etc. That’s how I show love. It’s not a bad thing that she shows love differently, but I was hurting and feeling like she didn’t care. My default would have been to stuff the emotions down inside, let resentment fester, and maybe have one of those internal conversations I wrote about last week, but I worked up the courage to tell her. She received it well and promised to do more. Some days or weeks later she placed a note on my bed inviting me to dinner and a movie (with date and times preselected!). What a gal! She didn’t try to change who she is, but she made a gesture, and through talking about it, we gained a greater understanding of each other. Does this sound super goofy to you? It might, especially if you’re a guy, but it meant something (a whole lot) to me.

So when I look back on this post I think the key word is need. You have to show those you love that you need them- you need them to listen, give their time and affection, or do something differently. I have tried to apply this to my other relationships and it has helped. Besides, how can you get encouragement and strength and prayer from the people in your life if they don’t know you need it?

Advertisements

The Anchor

I’ve been thinking about anchors lately- ever since my dad spoke to me one day about people needing an anchor for their souls. Sometimes a family member is hurting badly and there’s nothing you can do.  Sometimes your spouse just doesn’t get you. Sometimes there isn’t enough money. Sometimes you are simply overwhelmed by all the evil in this world. What do you hold on to when life gets stormy? That’s your anchor.

When confronted with unpleasant thoughts and emotions or life’s unhappy circumstances, I’ve tended to cling to a certain anchor that makes me feel good temporarily but in the end leaves me tossing out of control on the waves. I’m talking about fantasy. I’m an only child, and yes, I did have imaginary friends, and no, I’m not telling you anymore about it so don’t ask. But seriously, long after I’d stopped talking with my imaginary friends, I spent a lot of time and mental energy creating worlds in my head that I felt were better than the real one. My beloved books and movies, which I devoured constantly, filled my head with all sorts of ideas. I imagined I was a princess, misunderstood and unheralded, until a perfect prince came along and fell in love with me…

Now that I’m older, I fantasize a lot about food (fast food, ice cream, Hostess products) which I just know will make me happy. I think about that bacon cheeseburger I’m going to reward myself with. But even more than food, I fantasize about all those interactions with people that should have gone better. I have long, involved conversations in my mind. I imagine detailed scenes in which I do and say what I should have done and said in real life. In these conversations I am eloquent yet often scathing- to others and to myself. I relish the initial feeling of justification, but I end up more anxious than before.

The more I escape into my head, the more impatient I become with others. Rather than deal with people or messy emotions, my default is to get a Dairy Queen Blizzard and dive into The Lord of the Rings. There is a lack of peace and a feeling of emptiness when I use food or fantasy or books to run away from events or people or myself. Now don’t get me wrong- these things are not always bad in and of themselves; they just don’t make very good anchors.

What I need, what we all need, is a true anchor for our souls, one that won’t leave us dissatisfied in the end. If you’ve ever been to Sunday school or listened to some sermons, you might have heard that the vertical and horizontal pieces of the cross represent God and man respectively. I think it is very fitting that an anchor is basically shaped like a cross. Did you ever notice that? I only did when I started writing this post and was thinking about including an image of an anchor. : )

anchor

I’ve found that my relationships with God and people (a few in particular) are a true anchor for me. More on this later…

 

A Later Dad

One day my mother came home from rehearsal for the church praise team and stated, “The drummer said I looked gorgeous tonight.” Single-mom-with-teenager was working out pretty good for us, but I was happy for her.

A few months later mom and said drummer had eloped. What the….? As you can imagine, there was an adjustment period. This was over twenty years ago, and honestly, I don’t really remember how I treated him at first… of course I have a vague notion that I gave him some major teenage girl attitude! One day I do remember: I was putting on lipstick in my room when step-dad walked by and said something to the effect of, “I can’t believe you are putting on that lipstick… like some Jezebel!” I now know how vintage Dad that sort of joke is, but the 15-year old me was shocked and quickly shut the door. I didn’t know what to think. Mom came swiftly and tried to get into the room to check on me. I didn’t want to let her in, but when she finally got her head around the door frame she saw me laughing silently. To this day she says that was when she knew we would be alright.

Since then we have had tough times like all families, but I have so many good memories of post-single-mom life. During the high school years Dad and I attended two father-daughter dinner dances together and danced the night away. We also went on two family vacations! The first was to Canada; I’ll never forget the three of us crossing that suspension bridge. The following year we went to the Grand Canyon. On the drive there, Dad insisted that I ask him repeatedly “Are we there yet?” like Bart Simpson. And that’s another thing- we share the same taste in movies and TV shows. We love The Simpsons, Lost, the Alien movies, Planet of the Apes… Who else would go see Event Horizon and The Mist with me? My husband likes romantic comedies for crying out loud. Dad’s my best movie buddy, then, now, and forever.

He (and mom) found me a man (ha!) in Jamaica after they moved there to become missionaries. He called my husband-to-be and told him he was the kind of guy he wanted his daughter to marry, which gave him the sign he needed to pursue me one final time. One of my favorite wedding pictures is of Dad and me at the end of the aisle. I am gazing with love and joy and excitement into my husband’s face; he is standing there with his head slightly bowed and a tear on his cheek. In fact, he asked me after I had sent out some of the pictures, “Are there any of me smiling?” There really aren’t any until the reception, when the photographer captured some great actions shot of us doing the snake during our father-daughter dance to “My Girl.”

I love those sad ceremony pictures because they show that Dad felt a loss when his job of caring for and covering me was over. It meant that he treasured that responsibility and treasured me. And that’s what I appreciate more than the vacations and movie nights- the fact that he has always made an effort to speak into my life- words of wisdom, words of warning, words of encouragement. It still means so much to me when he says, “I’m proud of you, and I respect you.”

Some dads are there from the beginning; a step-dad came into my life fifteen years in and became my Daddy and it changed my life. I wrote my college essay about our relationship and how I learned it is easier to love someone than to hate them. Dad, I think that essay got me into Stanford University, so here’s to you! : )

And here’s to all the dads that do so many things large and small to give their children a better life. Happy Father’s Day!

Why I am starting a blog- again

Many of my friends and family know that I started a blog a while back on Blogger. I did a few posts and then it petered out… I’ve been wanting to start up again and now I am finally doing it! My pretty new blog design will motivate me! (As will the fact that I am paying for my domain name- ha!)

Things I loved to do as a child:

1) Sing and perform

2) Read the Chronicles of Narnia

3) Fantasize about getting to Narnia

4) Play with Legos

5) Write stories and poems

It’s important to do what you love; it’s important to pursue the things that give you that childlike joy. So I still do musical theater, and I get to sing with my amazing husband… I still read the Narnia books about once a year, although for now I’ve given up on trying to figure out a way to get to there. I make my husband go into the Lego store every time we go to the mall; I’ve already decided that my children will only get Legos for toys and that they will play with me and that they will LOVE it! In the meantime I’m seriously considering begging for a set for Christmas.

I haven’t been giving as much attention to the last item on my list, so here I am. The title of my blog, “Imaginations of a Day”, comes from a poem I wrote many years ago (I may share the poem in a later post). It was born from exploring those random trains of thought that occur when you just take a moment to sit, look out the window, contemplate your dreams, and listen to yourself. In those moments you may get a revelation or discover a truth that means something to you. Our imagination, our inner thought life, has the profound power to affect everything we experience.

So I’ll be sharing my thoughts on life, God, and everything, asking lots of questions, and maybe throwing in a poem every now and then (I know- brace yourself). My hope is that you will smile, laugh, think, see yourself, and ask your own questions.

Enjoy!