Friends, The Family We Choose

“Pooh!” he whispered.

“Yes, Piglet?”

Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.  

“I just wanted to be sure of you.”

Camp Fitch summer camp 1975 Carla is 2nd from the left and classmate Stacie is right end.

Sometimes just knowing a friend is nearby can soothe the soul. Throughout life, our friends have the ability to lift us up, give us comfort and support, and if we are really lucky, they encourage us to blossom and grow! 

Friends, they say, are the family we choose. And the “family” we choose begins with a connection. Connections are made at school, work, church, in military service, in our neighborhoods, and in groups that share a passion like gardening, music or sports.  Wherever people gather, there is an opportunity to make a friend!

The greatest thing about young children and their ability to make friends is that they are genuinely authentic. Authenticity is one of the best attributes any friend can bring to the table.  This is a challenge during the teenage years because everyone is growing and figuring out where they belong.

Carla with her girlfriends at the dormitory at Blytheville Air Force Base in 1983.

Where do you belong? This is an excellent question for us to ask ourselves regularly!  I like people who make me feel comfortable about who I am and what I’m doing. If you don’t feel 100% at ease with who you are hanging out with, it’s time to move on. Years ago I had a police officer explain to me the importance of listening to your gut feeling. He said, “if you think something is wrong, chances are very high “something” is wrong!” Trust your intuition!

It’s important to have friends of all ages. I love young people! Hanging out with folks twenty and thirty years younger than me is rejuvenating! It’s fun when they complain about what their friends are posting on Facebook and I can say, “What’s Facebook?” Plus they can help you out with any concerns you have with your cellphone.

Speaking of young people, I had the honor and privilege to be a youth leader at Fairburn United Methodist in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. We had more fun than any group deserves to have!

The first trip I made with the youth group landed us in Lineville, Alabama.  I had no idea what to expect, but we found ourselves surrounded by friends, international friends to boot! 

Classmates since first grade Patty, Carla and Carlas’s sister Cathy at Seagrove beach 2019.

This spiritual place, Servants in Faith and Technology or SIFAT, is off the beaten path. We made friends with missionaries and medical staff from around the world. The first night there I had one of the most inspirational conversations of my life over a cup of coffee with a missionary from Nepal. The people of SIFAT are authentic and comfortable.  Great friends!

The connections I made with the parents of the children of Fairburn United Methodist are remarkable too! That one little church broadened my horizons more than anything else since we moved to Georgia. It all began with a connection and a friendship made with our neighbors at Shannon Chase Apartments.

 

“It’s not what we have, but who we have.” said Pooh.

 

Before we moved to Georgia, Mike and I were both active duty Air Force.  Mike was on flying status and I worked in the hospital. As a very young woman in Blytheville, Arkansas, I realized the importance of having friends of all ages. My roommate Jodi and I became friends with some of the retirees who came to the base hospital and we helped them out in ways only a younger person can. Appreciation is another key ingredient to friendship.

Air Force buddies are some of the best because we share a unique experience and history.  Mike and I got married in 1985 at the base chapel at Blytheville AFB. Years after we moved to Georgia, I rounded up our wedding party to see if anyone would be interested in rafting the Colorado River and hiking out of the Grand Canyon. The responses I got were hilarious, but we did get most of the party to go, and we had a blast! Talk about reestablishing connections!

 

“We didn’t realize we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun.” Pooh said.

 

Another season of friendships happened in the years I volunteered and worked for Fayette Senior Services. In the early 1990s, my new friend, Marcia, trained me on how to pack the coolers for the home-delivered meals, also known as Meals on Wheels. Marcia graduated from high school the year I was born. We became fast friends and loved hanging out together.  Marcia was my first true friend in Fayette County. Authentic, comfortable and trustworthy!

Carla, Pam and Peggy

I’m fortunate to have friends that I started with on the first day of school in 1968. My dear buddy Patty and I started school together in Youngstown, Ohio. Before our first month of first grade was over our families moved. It just so happened our families moved to the same small town of Poland, Ohio. Patty and I were reunited on the playground at our new elementary school. We were so happy on the reunion day!

Patty and several of our classmates take trips together. We share a history, we are authentic, we appreciate one another and we are available to each other. Plus, it’s very comfortable, in every season!

I believe friends come into our lives at different times for different reasons. But the absolute best of friends will come into your life, make an impact, and no matter the path each of you chooses, the next time you connect you will pick up exactly where you left off!  

Mike says there are no strangers in my life. I say I’ve been fortunate to work, volunteer and play with a very wide group of friendly folks. Friendship should not be hard. If you are struggling with wondering if someone is truly a friend, Google Aristotle’s Three Friendship Types and look at any article about friends or friendship at psychologytoday.com.

Friend – a person whom one knows well and is fond of.

In order to have a friend, you must be a friend.

Friendly – kindly, not hostile, amicable, supporting and helpful.

Being friendly and smiling are the two key ingredients to making a friend.

Being trustworthy and supportive are the two key ingredients to establishing a lasting friendship.  

 

“We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.

 “Even longer,”  Pooh answered.

September 11, 2019

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