Friendship 101

Meet my friend, Trina.

Don’t go stealing her away though.

Just meet her and appreciate her like I do.

I am perhaps the most blessed woman in the world in many ways.

One of them is that I have terrific friends.

Trina is one of them.

How do I love her?

Let me count the ways:

1. She is my flower fairy.


It started when I was labeled with the dreaded “C” word. She came over and planted pansies in my flowerbed so that I could see them every day and be reminded that I could be like the pretty pansies — strong and resilient. They helped me make it through the worst winter of my life.

I love flowers but I’m not much of a gardener. So I rely on Trina to help me. It is a treat to go flower shopping with her because she comes alive in a garden shop or nursery. I mean, really comes alive. Her pulse quickens, She squeals with delight. The array of colors and varieties of flowers and plants are the candy store to the kid in her. You know, the Christmas morning to her inner child.

I’m overwhelmed with all the choices and all the labels about sun, part-sun, shade, annual, perennial, border plant, etc. While shopping for flowers for a big pot on my porch, she says, “Think thrill, spill and fill. That’s all you need to know.”

Okay, so something that is beautiful and thrilling, something that spills over the edge and something that fills up the pot.

Got it.

I mistakenly went without her to get some mums and pansies for fall though.

Mums thrill. Pansies fill. What spills? No time to search for spilling plants so I went with only mums and pansies.

Trina to the rescue.

While visiting her daughter in North Carolina she visited a nursery and discovered — you won’t believe it — spilling pansies.

Yep, in North Carolina they have trailing pansies or “cool wave” pansies.

She was so excited she had to buy some and bring them home. And guess what lucky friend got some of these plentiful pansies?

Not only did she bring some home to me, she planted them. And they are spilling out all over the place in my pot on the porch.

Thrill, spill, fill?


She even added some spring thrill with some daffodil bulbs to delight me when the mums are gone.

2. She knows how to celebrate.


Nobody entertains, decorates, crafts or celebrates like Trina.

See a beautiful wreath made of hydrangeas on Pinterest? Call Trina. She’ll get excited to make it, track down the supplies and make it with you.

Hosting a baby shower? Call Trina. She’ll rush over and help you make an enormous diaper cake.

Have a chronic illness? Call Trina and she’ll find a way to make it funny. We once had a party to celebrate diabetes so that we could learn how to entertain using diabetic-friendly food.

Daughter gets elected senior class president? Trina will show up at your house to wait for the results with you. Then, she’ll rush to the store to buy balloons and party supplies with you for an impromptu party in the school parking lot to celebrate.

Hosting a big party? Trina will come early and get to work helping set up.

Trina is so fun and ready to party that when my kids and their friends (including her daughter) once wanted waffles at midnight, they called her to ask her to bring them some. And, she did! (This might put her in the crazy category but that fits too.)

My daughter Sara once said to me, “Mom, why have you been hiding Trina from me?” It wasn’t that I’d hidden her, but Sara had to lose her teenage blinders to discover the gem that is Trina. Now, she says, “It’s not a party without Trina.”

3. Nobody loves to help people more than Trina.

A day is not complete without Trina helping someone. Last week she went to the bakery and found a round loaf of orange bread with a jack-o-lantern face on it. She bought it and said, “I have to give this to just the right person — somebody who really needs something special today.”

This is not an anomaly. This is how she lives.

The motor that makes her run is fueled with the question, “Who needs me today?” She genuinely wants to cheer people up and make them happy.

She takes care of her elderly neighbors, always searching for how she can help them. She takes care of so many people.

And there is not a better mother, grandmother, sister, wife, aunt, cousin, friend in the world than Trina.

When her kids are discouraged, she tells them to forget about their troubles by serving others. And, it works!

Trina is happy when I’m happy; sad when I’m sad; and mad when I’m mad. And she can change the sad and mad with a little silly.

Aren’t you glad to know my friend, Trina?

I’ll share her, but don’t steal her away.

She’s the real deal of a friend that everyone needs.





About Me, Friends

The trouble with fashionable friends

I have two dear friends who are total fashionistas.

I won’t say their names, but one starts with a C even though it sounds like it should start with a K; and, the other one starts with a J and ends with the word ann.

Shopping is their hobby, their passion, and their expertise.

I also have a daughter that might be morphing into one of those too.

They exude style and good taste.

I love them. I really do.

But sometimes they just aggravate me to death with their wear-anything bodies and perfect head-to-toe ensembles.

It’s annoying.

They have that mix of good taste and love of shopping, but it’s not so much what they buy, it’s what they do with what they buy that is impressive.

Then, top all that off with the obnoxious fact that everything looks good on them.

And, they make it look so effortless like they just threw on a little something and left the house.

Yeah right.

This is my sense of style -- practical, right?
This is my sense of style — practical, right?

Sometimes I get tired of their stinking fabulousness.

I went to Georgetown with one of these friends this week. She wore white skinny jeans, a striped t-shirt, perfectly coordinated necklace, earrings and bracelets, ankle strapped sandals and oh, just a little pink Prada bag she found for a real bargain.

She’s tall, willowy, and, I’ve never seen her wear the same thing twice except when she was pregnant and shockingly, she may have repeated an outfit once or twice.

I’ve known her for about 30 years.

That’s a lot of perfect outfits.

Like I said, annoying.

A N N O Y I N G.

What I love most is when J-ann says, “You should get some of these because they are sooo comfortable.”

Ah huh. I should pour my round little 5’2” self into something a 5’8” Heidi Klum look- alike wears.

My favorite thing from C was when she kept sending me links to beautiful dresses to wear to Annie’s wedding.

Like. I. Could. Fit. In. Them.


She asked me what shoes I planned to wear to the reception and I said I hadn’t found any that were comfortable.

“Who cares whether they’re comfortable? Do they look good? That’s all you want!”

Actually, no…

But, shoe love is true love, right?

She’s the one who talked me into getting both pink and orange shoes.

Because those are practical, right?

That’s where the problem lies.

I think, “What could I wear with this? What else would go with it? How often will I wear it?”

They think, “This will be perfect for this… dinner, party or ballgame or whatever.

They buy outfits for every event.

And every day is an event.

I buy comfortable, seasonal basics.


That works fine for me except when I go places with them.

Can you say frumpy, lumpy and boring?

If I didn’t love them so much, I’d de-friend them both just to keep my self-esteem in tact.

I’ve learned not to compare myself to them in the fashion department because that sucks the joy out of being with them.

Instead, I embrace a little healthy envy, marvel at their style quotient and appreciate the fact that they are helping the economy and teaching me the power of class and elegance.

They live the truth of the Pinterest quote that says, “Life is too short to wear boring clothes.”












Jane Fonda’s Three-Act Play

I heard a snippet of a Oprah interview with Jane Fonda that has given me a new perspective on life.

Français : Jane Fonda at the Cannes Film Festi...
Français : Jane Fonda at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of Promise Me This. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fonda, now 75 years old, said that she views her life as a three-act play – the first thirty years were her first act. The second thirty years were her second act. And the last thirty years are her last act.
It’s a sobering thought to consider that I am in my second act, and that the third, and last act is not that far away.
I mentioned this to my daughter, Sara, only to share the concept of life being like a three-act play.
She said, “I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
I’m not sure how I feel about it either.
One of my dearest friends will turn 79 this month. She recently went through a painful knee replacement surgery, spent weeks in rehab, then returned to the hospital because of a blood clot. She is still recovering and finding it difficult to bounce back, at least as quickly as she wants.
She’s one of the strongest, most independent, and stubborn women I know.
She refuses to slow down, and resents having a body that defies her will to keep going with the same speed and agility she enjoyed twenty or thirty years ago.
But, now, she simply can’t mentally will her body to move as smoothly and pain-free as it once did.
When I visited her in rehab she complained about being there and said she hated being surrounded by old people who should be in coffins instead of recovery. She didn’t believe she belonged in a facility with old, decrepit people.
I agreed with her. On my way to her room, I saw elderly women in cotton nightgowns with wild, uncombed gray hair, and men shuffling around in hospital gowns.
But, when I saw my friend, she was sitting up in bed, dressed and eager to get out of there. She’d been exercising her knee all day, keeping up with all her friends on her cell phone and through emails, staying current on all the news shows, and steaming mad that the Baseball Hall of Fame snubbed some of her favorite players.
When she finally got home from rehab and her second hospital stay, I visited her again, and she told how she was going to update her will and investments.
“Are you worried something is going to happen to you?” I bluntly asked.
“I’m just being realistic,” she said.
By Jane Fonda’s standard, my friend is in her third act, I reminded myself.
Like Sara, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
When we divide our lives up into three tidy little acts, it seems so brief, structured, and streamlined.

Wicked Playbill and stub
(Photo credit: yumiang)

I like Fonda’s three-act play analogy because it makes me believe I can look ahead and create my story arc. I hate her analogy because I know life is never a nice linear path that I can control.
So as I listen to my friend talk about her end-of-life will, her investments, and who will get what when she dies, I remind myself that I’m looking at a woman whose spirit is more alive than most twenty-somethings. Her determination, love of life, excitement about the upcoming baseball season, and her long list of things to do will help her heal. Even if her legs won’t cooperate completely, she will make them move – one way or another. If I know anything about her after all our years of friendship, it is that she will put one foot in front of the other every day and prove that despite the setbacks, detours, and upsets, she is still in control of her life.

(Photo credit: theseanster93)

She reminds me that it doesn’t matter which act of our three-act play we are living, and regardless what happens to us, we can still control how we respond to what happens.

We can be despondent and give up when things don’t unfold the way we want or we can look at our reality, be honest about what is happening, and re-chart our course to maximize our happiness.

My friend teaches me to choose door number two and to forget about the depressing three-act play and just live the life that awaits me every day. She teaches me that our future is always awaiting our imprint, and that it responds to and shapes around our acts of courage, and our efforts to steer ourselves in new directions. And, while we can’t control some of the things that happen to us, we can control what we do about it.

(Photo credit: Dana Lookadoo – Yo! Yo! SEO)

I think that’s the philosophy I’ll hang on to even though I am in the last part of my second act.

Family — Finding What You Weren’t Even Looking For

Today, one of my friends told me she decided to try

After a recent divorce, she wanted companionship.

More than that though, after growing up with an unkind dad and then marrying an emotionally distant man, she wanted to find out if there are nice guys in the world.

She was worried that I have the only one.

My sister, niece, and several other friends wonder the same thing.

My sister always asks, “Where’s my Doug?”

I wish I knew where to find more Dougs so that I could share them with all these wonderful women.

When Sara was a little girl, she said she felt sorry for a lady at church who didn’t have a husband.

“Can we share Dad with her?” she asked.

“No.  We don’t share husbands,” I told her.

But there have been times I’ve wished I could manufacture a few men that are compatible with my single female friends and family.

When my friend tried out, she approached it like a business with goals, carefully outlining what she wanted and needed and then detailing how each date fared in all of her important categories.

He had to be tall, thin, and have dark eyes.  She wanted someone interested in writing, journalism, families, going out to dinner, and just having fun.

I admire her courage and willingness to put herself out there in a line-up, online world where so many scary men seem to dwell.

As she told me about her approach to this dating endeavor, I thought, “If anyone can do this, she can.  She’s strong, outspoken, and knows what she wants.”  I couldn’t imagine her being anyone’s victim.

After she posted her profile and did whatever you do to start getting dates on that site, she got flooded with eager men trying to impress her.

I think she called them “the creepy men.”

They sent pictures of themselves posing in front of their macho cars and manly motorcycles half-naked with puffed up chests and flexed muscles.

She almost gave up on the man search after that.

But once she turned away all the narcissists, more interesting and seemingly decent men started to appear, and one of them unexpectedly captured her attention.

The only problem was that he didn’t fit her ideal man profile.

He was short and blue-eyed.

She was sure he wouldn’t be her type, but she gave him a chance, and she liked him.

Now, they’ve been dating for a few months and she’s having a great time.  She’s even noticed that he isn’t that short, and his eyes are actually dark blue. Luckily, he likes journalism, families, and having fun.

I don’t know whether she’s found her Doug, but she’s found a man that interests her even though he’s not the man she thought she wanted.

Sometimes what we get is better than what we wanted.

I know Doug is better in every way than what I thought I deserved or wanted.

But if I’d created a list as specific and narrow as the color of his eyes, for example, I would have missed all the amazing and wonderful things I didn’t even know I wanted!

My friend’s experience with reminds me that we have to be open to discovering the good in people.

Sometimes that requires us to loosen the grip on what we think we must have so that we can find out what’s out there waiting for us.

What’s waiting for us might actually astound us with its unexpected goodness and beauty.

The key is to let the unexpected have a chance to happen.