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Friendship, My Forever-Favorite Shoes


As an adult, I have learned some lessons the hard way. One of those lessons is that some friendships run their course. A friend may be in your life for a long time, or a little time – you serve a purpose to them, and they serve a purpose to you. Then, at some point, the friendship just…expires. Or does it?

At some points in my life, I would take this supposed-“expiration” pretty hard. I would personalize and think “how could they do that to me?”

I like to think I am never the one that “expires” the relationship. That I always try my best to be the greatest friend ever. But truthfully, I have probably done my share of expiring of friendships (though perhaps accidentally.) The reality is that adulthood is busy (and complex) and it is often hard to keep in touch, even if we may want to.

All in this week, I serendipitously reconnected with three old friends, who were all from different “eras” in my life. One was a friend from 1st grade (see photo above — that is really her!), and although she and I live in the same city, we are both busy and have not kept in touch. The second old friend I reconnected with was my best friend from high school, who moved many cities (and now states) away, and we have also not spent time trying to connect. A three-hour phone call later and we are high school girls again, laughing at old jokes and waxing nostalgic about midnight 7-11 runs (slushies!), and blasting 80’s music in her ’90 Ford Tempo. The third friend was a girlfriend from my early twenties — during our era we drank too much, dated the wrong guys, and really thought we were “adults.” Now, we laugh because we realize how much we had to learn….

When I reconnected with each one of these friends, I realized how easy it felt. How it felt like no time had passed at all. How we settled comfortably into our conversation like an old pair of my favorite dancing shoes! It felt so natural and fun to prance around for a few hours in those great shoes!

So maybe instead of thinking about friendships “expiring” (though I think there are some that do expire – those are usually the toxic ones, like spoiled milk) it is better to think of friendships like fabulous dancing shoes. You may not wear them for a while, but they are always with you in your closet, and when the time is right, and the outfit is right, and the mood is right, you dance your heart out like no time has passed. You spin around and around, and the pain that the shoes may have caused you at some point (darn blisters!) have long since healed, and all you feel is joy and gratitude to have such wonderful shoes!

Adulthood and the Forever Friendship with…YOURSELF


“The person I am is forever with me.” – Louis Hay

When I was in elementary school, my mom would pick me up from school and ask me two important questions: 1) How was your day today? 2) What was one new thing you learned today?

These questions (though my answers were simple as a 7 year old) are still really fundamental to my life. So much of my blog (and my life!) is dedicated to recalling back on each day (“How was your day today, Mara?”) and then thinking about one new thing I learned.  

I remember one day in second grade when my mom picked me up from school and I was crying. “How was your day?” she asked in a consoling tone.

Between sobs I replied, “Baaa-aaddd! Melissa and Nicole wouldn’t play with the ball with me today!” I guess I was very upset that my two little elementary school buddies didn’t include me in whatever they were doing that day.

My mom, always wise and insightful, said, “Well, people aren’t always going to want to play with you, and that’s okay. Tomorrow why don’t you bring your own ball and you can play with it.”

The next day, I brought my own ball. I remember that day well. I was embarrassed to play alone with my ball, but I did it. And I did it the day after that, and the one after that, until it got pretty easy to play by myself (because it was actually fun). Luckily, Melissa and Nicole must have eventually played with me again (we are still best buddies 20+ years later), but in the recalling this little childhood experience I am able to learn a lot about adulthood. That is, no matter who plays with you, always be your own best friend.

This means, even during the worst times, be able to love and console yourself unconditionally. Be able to give yourself positive self-talk to remind yourself of all of your great attributes, and all of the awesome things you have to offer to the world.

This idea of “being your own best friend” came up yesterday with one of my girlfriends. This particular friend, a smart and beautiful twenty-something, was voicing concern about wearing her bikini in front of her serious live-in boyfriend during a vacation they have planned for the summer. “As strange as it sounds, I have never worn a bikini in front of him, and I really don’t know if I would feel comfortable.”

This is an instance where being your own best friend becomes invaluable. So, I gave my friend a challenge: “Every day tell yourself five positive things about yourself. Maybe things like, I am healthy and active. I am beautiful. I am smart and funny. I am a great catch. I love my [insert favorite body part here.]”

My friend wrinkled her nose at this challenge and blushed, “I’m going to feel silly saying that! Especially about my [insert chosen favorite body part here]!” (…)

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Adulthood is Always Changing

First of all, thanks for the great discussion on thursday’s post on feminism and the modern housewife! This is a topic I’m sure we’ll come back to. If you haven’t been there yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Do you ever wake up and think that a year ago, maybe two, you would never have imagined yourself doing what you’re doing right now? It happens to me all the time.
Today I am going to two birthday parties. One is for a very good friend’s son, it is his first birthday! Later I am going to a party for our dear friend Mara’s boyfriend. So this morning I ran around buying a baby gift and cards, figuring out what I could wear that would be appropriate for both, wrapping gifts, getting gas, getting directions… and otherwise being a grown up.
All of that is normal I guess, but two years ago I had just graduated from College and had only been in San Diego for a couple of months. Friends, birthday parties and babies were very far from my mind.
I like this exercise. Imagining what life was like for me a year or two ago and thinking about the changes. It helps me remember to not let this part of my life slip away too fast.
What do you think? Is it a waste of time to think about how as we get older, things change? Or is it best to just roll with it?
photo via abakedcreation

Cheap Chic: Being Beautiful on a Budget

This entry will begin my series of entries in a topic of adulthood that we all know too well: BUDGETING.

In the midst of the shiny covers of bridal store magazines, with beautiful air-brushed brides in $8,000 Vera Wang wedding dresses, we must strive to find something real. For most of us, spending lavishly on a wedding isn’t an option, and thus, we must make due to make our day beautiful and special on a budget.

Granted, I am not married, so I haven’t had to tackle these kinds of issues yet. But certainly, as an adult, budgeting becomes really important. I budget carefully every month, so that my bills can get paid, my rent can get paid, my lights can stay on, my school can get paid, and maybe I might have a little money left over for a date with my boyfriend, or a trip once in a while to visit my one of my friends who live far away.

I understand the constraints of having to make hard decisions on what to spend money on, but I can’t imagine what it must be like after paying your bills (the bills that make it possible to continue to live) to have to then make decisions on planning a thrify wedding. You want it beautiful like the magazines, but you don’t have funds, is there any way to still get what you want?

I think the way it would go for me would be: eat or buy a few extra flowers for the wedding? I would be tempted to pick the latter because I love flowers. (I could live on Raman Noodles, if need be…)

Well, I now know it is possible to eat AND have pretty flowers. My friends Adam and Kim recently got married. They had a small wedding in La Jolla, California, at a park overlooking the Pacific. And guess what? They had tons of flowers. And guess what else? The flowers cost less than $200! And guess what else? They got most of them at Costco!

You don’t believe me? Check it out!

Kim and her two friends (one of which was yours truly) and her mom put these flower arrangements together the night before the wedding. They were easy and fun! Let me show you how the process went.

Kim and I ventured to the wholesale flower shop in San Diego. They have buckets and buckets of flowers! We picked some that we liked, and got some tools: styrophome green blocks that absorb water, some wire, and some green tape to wrap the stems. That’s it! The rest of the flowers she got from four spring bouquets at Costco.

So, this is all to say that budgeting can fuel creativity, and can actually be pretty bonding! We had a lot of fun putting those bouquets and arrangements together. Sometimes it can be a challenge in deciding whether to buy something we want or to buy something we need. And sometimes, we settle for buying something we need, and find out that we actually got more out of it than we expected.

Because, as I see it, that is what a wedding is all about anyway, whether you spend $500 for your wedding or $5 million dollars: it is about two people sharing their love with the friends and family and community who have loved and supported them along the way. It’s not the amount you spend, but the amount of love that you give and receive to your partner, your friends, and family.

Paying a professional florist to do your wedding flowers, $972. Buying your own flowers wholesale and at Costco, $200. Having wine and spaghetti and good music and friends together while arranging said wholesale and Costco flowers, PRICELESS.

More to come on our budgeting series. I will point you to some of the best blogs out there for spotting deals(@SuperSavingSara, that is you!) that WILL save you money at your favorite store. AND we will also tackle some tougher issues like what do when your friends expect you to spend money you don’t have, difficult decisions to make when unemployed, and more! Stay tuned…

Fair-weathered friends

There were a few terms my parents taught me at a very young age (I would say by the age of 6.) Those terms were: “attention seeking behavior” and “fair-weathered friends.” While neither of those terms are necessarily related, they certainly imprinted on my psyche pretty indelibly.

For some reason, in about 5th grade, my group of girl friends — a small group of social outcasts who spent most days in the library at lunch — decided to start calling me a “lesbian.” “Mara’s a lesbian!” they would yell, and I would spend the duration of lunch chasing them around the school. I didn’t really understand the term fully at the time. All I did know was that they would scream “Mara’s a lesbian” and then leave me, alone, in the library. I had never felt self-conscious about lunching in the library previously, but when I found myself lunching in the library ALONE, I started to feel pretty low. So, I would chase them around the school, hoping to catch up with them so that I didn’t have to be the loser-in-the-library. My chasing them, however, would just egg them on. “Ohhhh, she’s following us! She must love us! She’s a lesbian,” they would shriek and giggle, always out-running me.

Yes, kids are cruel. But that is for another entry.

My mom would ask me every day when she picked me up from school how my day was and if I learned anything new. I was always too embarrassed to ask her what my friends meant when they called me a lesbian, and why they made me chase them around the school. I knew that whatever they meant it was something shameful and I couldn’t tell my mom. (For the record, I don’t think a person who is gay is shameful, and neither did/does my mom, but as a young girl in a Catholic school, messages about homosexuality are often pejorative, to say the least.)

So, I would sob, “Mmmy…mmmyy…friends were really meaaannnn to me today.” And my mom would wipe away my tears, draw me in close, hug me, and say, “Mara, those are what we call fair-weathered friends.[*]”

[*]Interestingly, it turned out those girls were NOT fair-weathered friends after all. Most of them are still some of my best friends today. But the term really resonated with me. But I digress…

I remember when my next door neighbors (two boys I had grown up playing with) stopped hanging out with me at the age of about 12, and I said I didn’t care because they were ‘fair-weathered friends’. And when I first felt heart break from a boy I just told myself to move on, get over it, because he was a fair-weathered friend anyway. I remember when my dad left my mom and moved to Cambodia (weird), I said I was fine with it because, apparently my own father was a fair-weathered friend and I didn’t need any more of those. When one of my closest friends from adult-ish life (I probably met her when I was about 20), told me she no longer wanted to be my friend, and gave no reason at all, I wrote her off — a fair-weathered friend if I had ever known one.

I don’t think I really understood everything when I wrote off as fair-weathered friends the school-yard girls, my neighborhood playmates, my first heart break, or my dad. After all, people grow up and grow apart, and as much as I wish I could, I couldn’t have understood the complexities of my parents divorce. And as for the girls on the playground, they probably had no more clue what a “lesbian” was than I did.

But, I am grateful for my mom teaching me this phrase. It was a logical coping mechanism that gave me a way to understand rejection when I couldn’t always explain it (as was the case with the girls at school, or my next door neighbor friends), or when I couldn’t always understand it (my first heartache and my parents divorce.)

Now that I am an adult, this phrase makes more sense to me and bears more relevance. I have a friend or two — ones who I was deeply connected with for years and years– who are just that: fair-weathered. One of my dearest friends from high school (who actually lived with me for a while in college and still lives in California) will never return my phone calls, texts, or emails, no matter how hard I try or how persistent I am. (And this is not the case of just being busy. I have many friends who I only talk to about once a year, but I still feel I am close to them in spirit.) Today, I was thinking about this particular girl, my former bosom-buddy. I felt a profound sadness and loss for her, as if she had died. So, I called her again. Voicemail.

When is enough, enough? When do I give up trying to contact her? Why is it so hard now, when I actually understand my mom’s wisdom, to just write people off as a fair-weathered friend?

Maybe I thought the Fair-Weathered Friend was just a myth that my mom told me to make me feel better. Maybe I thought that you could only be fair-weathered if you were young and immature. Here we are, this girl and I, 28 years old — shouldn’t we be over this fair-weatheredness?

I think the older I get, the more I realize how incredibly valuable good friends are. Of all the people I have met in my life, of all my myriad of friends, only a few are left standing. Those are the ones I know I can always count on. But what happens when one of those core friends becomes fair-weathered? Do you just write them off and let them go as another childhood playmate lost? I don’t think I will ever understand it…But one thing I have learned from my mom’s advice is that, in sunny weather and in stormy weather, I must try my best to be a compassionate, reliable, caring, and enduring friend. I hope I achieve that.

Leave ruminations in the comments, please.

‘Tis the Season to be…Wed?

Did I mention so many of my friends are engaged? In fact, another of my dearest friends got engaged last weekend. I am glad I have this blog, because I think this is one of those things that many people can relate to in some way or another. I call it, Rites of Passage In Which You Are Not Included.

I think we get used to achieving rites of passages with our peers. You get your period about the same time as your friends (which is important so you can share some woman-stories and information, not just glean all your information from Judy Blume’s, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.) You go into high school about the same time as your peers, you graduate high school at the same time as your peers, you go off to college, you graduate college, you get a “real” job and all your friends are getting “real” jobs too, and you…get married around the same time?

Maybe that is why I feel left behind. Granted, I am not in any hurry to get married, but I can’t help but feel left behind among the talk of wedding gowns and flower colors.

And then the inevitable question from random people, family members, friends:
“What about you and your boyfriend?”

“What about it?”

“When will you be getting married?”

“Uh, you know. We are just takin’ our time right now and enjoying it.”

Why do I feel like I need to legitimize my relationship status? Probably because I am the one who is left behind in this epic rite of passage. And it is not that I feel left behind in my relationship, but more left behind by my friends. Kinda like if someone had told me when I was 17 that I couldn’t graduate high school for another year or two, and all my friends got to go off to exciting post-high school adventures. Yeah. That is exactly how I feel: like I am sitting in a math class, looking out the window, watching my friends pack for college (yes…it is a reverie: obviously they would not be packing RIGHT in front of my classroom window. And I did graduate high school on time, I might add — with no thanks to my poor math grades.)

I just kind of feel…quiet. Happy for them but quiet inside because I feel my dearest friends will be on to new things. New “married” things. And I will still be quietly here.

What about you guys out there? Do you, or did you, ever feel like this?

The good news about all my friends weddings is that I will be able to start a new topic to file things on our blog: weddings! That means anything wedding you want to share, talk about, etc, send my way! Pictures are especially welcome.

To start off this new “file” in the blog, I am posting a picture of my dear friend, Morgan (also a highly anticipated guest blogger, hopefully!) who is pretty much about the coolest girl around.

Morgan is a cross between a indie fashionista and a hippie, if you can wrap your head around that one. She is a New Jersey girl, transplanted to the beach of San Diego (not too shabby) and is engaged to a handsome fellow named Brant. Brant is in the Navy and is currently deployed in Kuwait. He works for the Navy E.O.D. and basically blows up bombs all day, but more on that later.

Brant proposed to Morgan with this stunning sapphire and diamond ring. The best thing about this ring (aside from that it is beautiful) is that it features conflict-free, ethically sourced, gemstones. Morgan felt strongly about not supporting the proliferation of blood diamonds, and she has always loved sapphires. Here is a picture of the loveliness:

To read more about conflict diamonds, and why it is so important to support purchases of conflict-free gemstones, check out what the U.N. has to say: Conflict Diamonds

And here is an interesting tidbit: A French lady who I used to work with had a wedding ring that was also not a diamond. She told me that diamonds were considered an “American” thing (picture a very thick French accent with a highly pejorative undertone)and in Europe no one really cared for diamonds as they were not as rare as their high prices would lead you to believe (the rareness vs. price is true, not just a cultural bias.) In fact, she even referred to them as “common.”

What do you think? To diamond or not to diamond? Did you know about conflict diamonds and now that you do will you think twice before purchasing a diamond? Lots to talk about today, folks! Sound off in the comments.

(The lovely Gatsby-esque wedding picture is via OnceWed.com, and the others are courtesy of Miss Morgan the Magnificent.)

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