Cheers, Jeers and Cultivating Relationships
I jump back out of bed and do a few laps around our second floor before I go to sleep, just to get a few extra steps in. Once again, I’m dead last in the “FabFitFive Fitbit challenge.” Each week there is that little tiny glimmer of hope that I will at least be in the middle of the pack; that is, until everyone syncs their watches on Saturday morning. It goes without saying that my Energizer-Bunny-of-a-husband often wins, but sometimes one of the kids will sneak in ahead of him. The thing is, even though I am incredibly competitive and don’t like losing, the challenges really motivate me to get more steps in each day. And the added bonus is the banter between the five of us, the cheers and jeers as we go through the week, and the overall camaraderie that we feel as we stay in touch. (note: we aren’t exclusive in our little family club; we are simply the only ones who haven’t switched to an Apple-Watch. 😊)
The more of life that I experience, the more I realize that it takes work to feel connected to family and friends. It can be a simple gesture, such as a text or greeting card, or a more planned event such as a dinner out, but every single attempt at making contact with a friend/loved one is worth the effort. Life can get so busy, and we can get so distracted, that we sometimes fail to make the necessary commitment to fortifying our relationships.
I am reminded of the strength of friendships every time I spend time with my mother at her independent living facility. The ladies in her friend group do such a beautiful job of supporting each other and living life to the fullest. Recently, the residence sustained water damage from a burst pipe/sprinkler situation. For several weeks, the residents couldn’t use the main elevator, lobby, or walk in the first-floor hallways. Mom and her friends like to play cards several nights a week in her apartment, and the trek across the building was particularly challenging for their 102- year-old friend who lives across the courtyard. She had to ride a specific elevator up to the second floor, make her way across the second floor to a different elevator and ride back down to Mom’s apartment. It was confusing to her. I can’t even tell you how sweet it was to watch that group of women go out of their way to take turns meeting their friend and walking her all the way across the building to help her navigate the unfamiliar trip. Their bond with each other was strengthened every time they made that effort to spend time together.
At the beginning of this year, the pastor at the church we’ve been attending began to encourage us to invest of ourselves in just one person. And it really hit me what an absolute joy it would be if each of us truly committed to doing just that. In the spirit of “cultivation,” (my word for 2023) how might I cultivate a relationship with a friend or family member? Here are some things that I am challenging myself to do in the days ahead.
- Send cards or notes as someone is brought to mind.
- Text or call a friend to let them know that I am thinking about them.
- Schedule that meal or coffee date that I have so desperately wanted to make happen
- Try to think out the box: Buy a small gift for a family member off of a shared Amazon list, send an email reminiscing on a fond memory; send someone a voice note. (for a fun way to leave a voicemail without causing someone’s phone to ring, check this out!! https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/bypass-a-ringing-phone-and-go-directly-to-voicemail)
Meanwhile, I’ll be jogging in place next to my bed, trying to get those last few steps in….. Susan