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Friendship Comes in All Shapes and Sizes – CAN DO Woman #3

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Friendship Comes in All Shapes and Sizes: What This Means for Your CAN DO Life

Friendship and Social CapitalWelcome to the third week of our 12 month CAN DO Woman Program. Each week we discuss an aspect of the Seven Life Capitals that will help you move forward to become the woman you want to be. Each week also includes just one action step. We want to help you bring change in your life without feeling overwhelmed. This week, we’ll find examples of friendship that comes in all shapes and sizes.

If case you missed the previous weeks programs and their action steps:

POST-PANDEMIC FRIENDSHIPS AND DISCONTINUITIES

This week we’re continuing to discuss the value of Social Capital—what we typically call friendships. Friendships serve different purposes. Let’s look first at comments from two women about how important friends have been in their lives. Then we’ll look at a broken friendship. 

Discontinuities in our lives are often hard to handle. You get fired from a job. You move to a new city. Even positive discontinuities, big changes, may be hard to absorb. You get married. You have a child. Etc. Discontinuities, both good ones and bad ones, can provide valuable insights and opportunities for change. For example, no one would say that COVID had a positive side to it. So even though we would never have thought about it in a positive way, we can still find insights from our one-plus years of a pandemic that turned our world upside down.

After a year of isolation from family and friends, you may notice that some friends have slipped out of your usual interaction pattern. Stop and think about this. Do you realize that there are some people you don’t feel the need to reach out to even now when you could? Interaction patterns such as weekly or monthly get togethers weren’t possible during the pandemic. And some friendships may be in the dust bin.

This is the perfect time to review your friendships and see which ones don’t need to be resumed. Maybe some friends were not truly supportive of you. But it was difficult to break the pattern of seeing them if you regularly interacted with them.

And, at the same time, consider friendships that have become “cracked” or simply “unused.” Maybe you want to repair or renew or those friendships.

Let’s look at three stories of friendships.

Friendship InspirationHow Women Manage Their Friendships —Their Social Capital

Almost every woman I have interviewed or coached over the years voluntarily mentions the importance of friends and friendships in their lives. Marian Rosen’s comment illustrates the support that friendships provide her.

Friendship Comes in all Shapes and Sizes: Marian Rosen’s Story

“My friendships with women have been enormously important and supportive. For example, when I had breast cancer my women friends rallied around and saw to it that I never went to a doctor’s appointment alone. The night I was in the hospital for surgery, two of my friends replanted my tiny garden. They were still digging and putting in new annuals and perennials at midnight. It was a surprise for me when I came home the next day. That was great. It was such a loving way to support me.”

Friendship Comes in all Shapes and Sizes: Sarah Reingold’s Story

In a similar vein, Sarah Reingold points to the fulfilling role that friendships have played in her life.

“When I graduated from high school, I thought I would have a life companion. Instead I have lifelong friends. I am so fulfilled by the number and the depth of these friendships.”

Friendship Comes in all Shapes and Sizes: Renee’s Story is Different

Marian and Sarah’s stories showcase some of the kinds of friendships we all want to have. When I hear the world friend or listen to someone talk about their friends, I always imagine smiles and sunshine and laughter and hugs. But there is another side to friendship. Renee Howard Cassese published her story of an end to a friendship in the anthology Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond.  She gave me permission to share with you a few paragraphs from it.

In Burying Sara Teasdale Renee writes:

“Several days after my friendship with Joan disintegrated, due entirely to my own immoral and erratic behavior, I came home from work and found a brown paper bag on my front stoop. I had no doubt Joan had left the bag and I was both frightened and curious to see what was inside. I carried the bag into the kitchen, made a mug of chamomile tea, sat down at the table, and peeked into the dark interior.

“I found a few of the gifts I had given her over the years of our friendship including an out-of-print and rare edition of a collection of Sara Teasdale’s poems. Joan is a poet, as I am, and she adores Teasdale’s verses. I can recall how her eyes glinted when she read those poems out loud. Her musical voice lent each verse a quality of magic.

“I’d spent weeks searching for that book to give her as a birthday present, finally tracking it down in a tiny rare-books store. I paid dearly for it but far less than I got back seeing the delight and surprise in her warm brown eyes and the curve of her smile that framed her perfectly straight white teeth. The hug she’d given me was one of many soul caressing gestures between two close friends.

Renee Faces the End of a Friendship

“I held the book in my hands, forced myself to open it to the title page and read the inscription I’d written so many months before. I stroked the blue ink as if it were a magic lamp that could resurrect our friendship. As my tears fell on the page the words blurred into lost memories. I kept the book for a few weeks, periodically thumbing through it and reading the poems as I recalled the details and events of our time together. But I had to move on.

“Joan and I loved going to the beach and spent many delightful and relaxing summer days swimming in the ocean, walking on the dunes, and napping on sheets beneath the scalding sun. That’s why I chose the beach as the place I would bury that collection of poetry, along with a braid of happy, sad and regretful memories.”

CAN DO Woman Friendship Lesson

Friendships Comes in All Shapes and SizesMarian, Sarah, and Renee’s stories describe different kinds of friendships and different points in the relationships. You can probably think of other types of friendships—such as ones that remain dormant for years or even decades and when renewed seem as if only a week has gone by. In next week’s blog, we’ll see what behavioral scientists say about categories of friendships, what they mean in our lives, and how they benefit us.

But for now, let’s see how we can use the stories of these three women to pry our way into our own set of friendships. (Examining friendships isn’t always easy but doing so can help to move us forward.)

TAKE YOUR 1 CAN DO WOMAN ACTION THIS WEEK

Last week, your one action involved finding a friendship that had been neglected and reviving it.

Let’s pick up the other side of that coin. Today, or during this week, take just one action to decide if there is a friendship you will not continue. Yes, last week’s action was much more fun than this one. That’s why we put the actions in this order. Restarting or nurturing a friendship is a desirable action. Recognizing a “bad” friendship (one that harms you or simply does not support your goals or drains you) is a necessary action.

But Before We Get to this Week’s Action…

…Consider Marie Kondo, Her Approach to Tidying, and Our Look at Friendships

Think of this week’s action step as a variation on a Marie Kondo exercise. In her method that she calls KonMari, Kondo focuses on tidying all the possessions in our life. But KonMari isn’t about throwing things away (although that is the end result, of course). Instead, Kondo focuses on having you look at each item and deciding if it brings you joy. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, express your gratitude for it and for the way it helped your life. Then let it go.

Marie Kondo also brings up a related concept that still focuses on gratitude. If you decide to let go of something you never used, you can express your gratitude for it because it taught you that it (and other objects like it) have no purpose or need in your life. You don’t need to buy that type of object again.

Why does Marie Kondo focus on Tidying?

Kondo focuses on tidying NOT because she thinks it is good to have a tidy living space just for the sake of good organization. She contends “the question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

Similarly, we can apply a variation of KonMari to “friends” instead of “things.”. If a friend brings you joy, definitely continue the friendship. If the friend does not, express your gratitude for the friend (to yourself), but be willing to let it go. There is at least as much to be learned from friendships that didn’t work as those that do.

Why?

When we determine who we want in our lives, we are determining the type of person we want to be.

ACTION: HERE’S THIS WEEK’S

1 ACTION CHALLENGE

FOR BECOMING THE CAN DO WOMAN YOU WANT TO BE

  1. Get out your list (physical or mental) of friends — however you define friendship. (This builds on last week’s action challenge.)
  2. Each person who brings you joy and happiness when you think of her is someone who belongs in your life. Express your gratitude for that person and the relationship. It is good to continue to invest in the relationship.
  3. Each person who does not bring a feeling of joy should no longer be a relationship you invest in. As you begin to loosen the bonds of that friendship, you can still be grateful for it. That particular friendship has taught you much.
  4. It is likely that no one has a set of perfect friendships where all of them should be maintained. You might. And in this case, be incredibly grateful. And, for you, discovering what a good set of friends you have will be this week’s action step. But if you find it is time to let go of a friendship or multiple friendships that, in Marie Kondo’s words, clutter your life, your action step is to determine one friend you will not continue or renew during the coming post-pandemic period of re-engagement. You need friends who are positive, supportive, encouraging of you as a CAN DO Woman — the woman you want to become — the woman you can imagine you will be.
  5. Write down the name of that person, be grateful for her, and mentally let the relationship go. This may not be easy to do. But it will open you to new friendships or simply give you more space to grow.
  6. If you are using a journal (or computer file) to document your progress on becoming a CAN DO Woman, make notes on this Week 3 ACTION.

CAN DO WOMAN ACTION…IT’S EASY

That’s it. That is all you need to do this week. Just one step: Evaluate your friendships and determine if someone holds you back from becoming the woman you want to be — someone who uses your time in ways that takes you away from becoming a stronger, more empowered, and truly courageous woman. 

BECOMING A CAN DO WOMAN…

As we say each week, taking simple actions will not change you overnight. But you are now started along the path to having the life you want. You will have taken another action. 

Inspiration for a CAN DO Woman

CAN DO Woman - Wendy the Welder Ornaments

Meet Wendy the Welder, Rosie the Riveter’s Cousin

Looking for an inspiring woman as your touchstone as you work on your path to becoming the woman you want to be? Consider Wendy the Welder, a World War II cousin to Rosie the Riveter. Click Here to learn more.

 

 

 

 


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Matilda ButlerFriendship Comes in All Shapes and Sizes – CAN DO Woman #3

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