The Friendship Connection

I can’t start a post about friendship without first acknowledging some of the wonderful friends who have made a difference in my life. They have fed me emotionally, spiritually, and yes, even physically. In some ways they take better care of me then I take care of myself and if you are ever in the position to have friends who are like mine then I hope you consider yourself very lucky, because I know that I am. I’m not going to lie, however, because it took me a long time to find my tribe. Once I did, it took me even longer to realize that friendship is something that you work at- it is an ever-evolving, changing thing.

I used to think that I could be an island and that I never needed anything or any help from anyone. That attitude earned me a lot of really great acquaintances but not many close friends. I guess I was just so worried about feeling vulnerable and insecure I could never really open myself up to anyone. It wasn’t until later on in my life that I realized that true, meaningful connections take work. They require you to not only open yourself up emotionally, but you have to be willing to put in the physical amount of time and effort.

In this day and age, making time for others is not easy! (It’s a struggle even to find time for ourselves.) Consider this, though: study results published in the Scientific American found that having friends can increase our survival rate by up to 50%. This study found that friendships can actually strengthen marriages and this article suggests that friendships can improve our health, lessening the risk of chronic disease and depression (especially among the elderly).

Not that you really need convincing, of course- we all to spend more time with our friends. Especially as social media continues to replace real-life interactions, it’s important to make the effort to get that (real) face time in so that we avoid becoming even more socially isolated. You know what that means- everybody put down your phones, or at the very least, try and make your online interactions meaningful. For example, instead of just liking a post, comment by sharing a memory, answering a question, or starting a conversation. And if you are brave enough to put away your phone, why not do something during and leave it in your purse the next time you grab coffee with a friend so you can actually look at each other.

If we try to build these small connections into our everyday lives, every day we’re making bigger strides to maintain the friendships we’ve worked so hard to build and keep. Even something as small as an out-of-the-blue message can mean a lot. So go ahead- brighten someone’s day today! I dare you to!

In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.

What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

You Just Do You

The short version of events is that I freaked out and took down my blog for about a week.

The longer version is slightly more complicated and it goes a little something like this: someone who I genuinely admire and whose opinion I greatly respect found out that I had a blog. Ok, maybe I accidentally let it slip. One thing lead to another which lead to a misunderstanding that made me think he was mocking my work, which really bummed me out. It made me doubt myself and the reasons I was writing in the first place. What was the point exactly? Who was I writing this blog for? If I felt reluctant to share it with people in real life, did that mean that somewhere deep inside I felt that it was worthless? Was I only invested for nostalgia’s sake?

So I took it down. I felt confused and lost. I told no one and nursed all of my secret little hurts inside of me. That is, until some people started to notice my blog was gone.

A lot of people voiced their dismay, but one friend was really honest. After listening to my reasoning she told me, “I get it, but that was kind of a dramatic thing to do.”

Defensive, I asked her why she cared anyway. She didn’t even read my blog. (To be fair, they aren’t really her thing.)

“I don’t read it all the time,” she admitted. “But it’s who you are. It’s so you. I see you all over it- your hard work. Your love. Who cares if I don’t read it? Why is that a reason not to follow your passion?”

I didn’t really have an answer to that and I still don’t. The best answer I could come up with was that there was no good reason. Are you going to stop eating sushi because someone else thinks raw fish is gross? Why give up something you love based on other people’s opinions? What bearing do they have on your life?

Eventually the misunderstanding was cleared up but I still felt conflicted about what to do. Was it a waste of my time? Should I try and improve the things the make me less proud of my work?

Then I remembered something a writer once told me about making the decision to write a book, despite having no formal training or connections in the publishing industry. I asked him how he ended up doing it. He shrugged and grinned. “I don’t know,” he said. “I just did it.”

And then I remembered why I blog- because I just do. Because I love to write. Because it’s a form of release. I write because I have to, because it’s a part of me, and not having that in my life was like losing the thread that wove all of the parts of myself into the fabric that makes up my being. Why would I let someone take that away from? Why would I take that away from myself?

So here I am to tell you that no one is allowed to criticize the things you love or make up the real you. Your passion will not always be the path to success but it will always be the path back to yourself. Do the things that bring you catharsis, that bring you joy. Do the things that allow you to express the real you. Let it out. Be free. Be weird. Dare.

My blog is not everyone’s cup of tea but it doesn’t matter; if you the love the things I love, maybe you’ll like it. Or maybe you won’t. I hope that you do but in the end there’s nothing that I could really change or do differently. This is who I am, not perfect, but the best version of my myself I can possibly be. I’m just doing me.

And you just do you.

Blips

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I have this theory that everything happens all at once. Maybe you’ve noticed this pattern too in your own life. Sometimes all it takes is for one thing to go wrong and suddenly other things start to come at you, one after the other, picking up speed until your life seems to have snowballed into one screw-up so giant you feel like there’s no way out.

I like to call these life moments “blips” because when you’re in the middle of one it feels like you’ve stepped into a blip in the time-space continuum; like you’re standing still and the world just keeps on moving faster around you at a pace that’s impossible to match, and you feel frozen in place because you just cannot believe that all of this is happening to you all at once.

I experienced a blip recently about six weeks before Christmas so if the above sounds familiar to you, please know you’re not alone, because I’ve been there. I won’t get personal, but a bunch of things happened in my life in such rapid succession it made me feel as if I had run face-first into a brick wall. The sensation of being stuck is difficult to handle; it’s a nightmare for control freaks like me whose self-worth rides on the amount of things that can be accomplished in one day.

As someone who blogs about trying to find balance in all the busy-ness that life throws our way, it may surprise you to read that I still quite haven’t figured it out myself. I’m not here as a teacher, and I don’t want to come across as flawless because I’ve been there before, time and again: I’ve worked too hard, stayed up too late, blew people off, flaked out on deadlines and far too frequently worked myself to the point of exhaustion, sometimes teetering on the verge of burnout.

Even so, balance is something I strive to learn more about because I think it’s a process more than it is a destination, and true balance is about finding the ability to ride the current of life while managing to keep your head above water. There will be waves, yes, but there will also be moments of calm. Sometimes we’ll be able to surf those crests with grace; other times, we lose our footing and that “blip” in time is enough to make us fall under and temporarily lose ourselves.

But somehow, somehow, we humans always seem to have the incredible knack of finding our way back to shore, no matter what life throws at us. We adjust our footing, learn from our mistakes. We try again. We ride that wave.

For me, blogging about balance is a collaborative effort. It involves sharing and learning from our struggles, encouraging each other when motivation or inspiration strikes, and showing patience and understanding when the drive isn’t there, or it all gets too much to handle. Reading and researching ways to find balance, and imparting some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from my own experiences is a way that I hope to contribute to the ongoing conversation that’s happening now about why we’re running this rat race to begin with. It’s a conversation that I hope to continue to have with you all in the upcoming year, and I hope you lend your voice to it as well. Achieving balance means something different to every person, and sharing our stories gives us the opportunity to learn from each other and create our own definitions of a balanced life.

There will be blips. We all have them. And when you do, we’ll all be there for you, myself included.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and balanced 2017 to you all. May your year be blip-free.

KBwB-BFlower-50In case I didn’t stress it enough above, I am not perfect- I’m still learning every day new ways to treat myself better and achieve a happier, healthier lifestyles. What are some of the solutions that have helped you? I’d love if you dropped me a line or commented below and let me know. We can all benefit from each others knowledge!

I’m still catching up with all of my comments and emails, so please be patient with me as I try to get back to you. I love reading each and every one of your messages and I hope they never stop arriving!

I hope to share even more about my struggles (and successes!) in my quest to find balance in my own life. In the meantime, click here for some of my previous thoughts. Part of achieving that balance, in my belief, is trying to maintain an organized and productive lifestyle. I’ve got lots of thoughts on that too, here and here.