Friends are there to pick you up if you stumble and help you get back on your feet. Join author Edie Weinstein as she shares “How Friends Help You Blossom.“
Written by Edie Weinstein
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. “-Marcel Proust
Imagine the most exquisite garden, with wildflowers and brilliant, eye catching and heart delighting hues. You stroll through and feel the textures brush up against your sun warmed, summer bare legs. The breeze blows across the tops of the flora and through your hair. You sigh, with a sense of comfort and familiarity. This is your garden of delights that you have created and it is comprised of all of the people you have drawn into your life and the seeds you planted together to create it. Such is it with friendships.
I was blessed to have grown up in a large extended family, so many of my friends were also my cousins. Regular family gatherings would bring us together to play games, swim in our community pool and celebrate holidays. What occurs to me is the ways in which these roots shaped my ability to socialize easily. I was never a particularly shy child anyway but having playmates like my cousins Jody and Renee, Ricky, Steve and Teddy, Roz, Diane and Hayes enhanced my childhood and we are in touch to this day; children at heart we remain.
Think back to the first friends you had. For some of us, like me, it means jumping on board the Way Back Machine to the early 1960’s when growing up in the Philadelphia suburb of Willingboro, NJ. One friend at the time was Barbara Novasatka who, with her younger sisters, Ann and Jane, lived behind us. So many hours were spent either on our swingset or their back porch. I remember playing school or having tea parties underneath their canopy and when it rained, we would use a broom to push the water off and it would come cascading down. Robin Edwards, Mary Fair, Noreen Kiernicki, Laurie and Denise Lewis and Denice Etter were part of the regular crew who would run about the neighborhood with my sister Jan and me as well, pedaling our bicycles, twirling batons, swinging hula hoops, roller skating, jumping rope, sledding. Out and about from morning until lunchtime and then on the road again until our mothers would call us in to dinner. Rarely, I think, did they worry about us and seemed to know where to find us.
When I was 11, I joined our community swim team and there on the bench while awaiting my events (butterfly, freestyle and relays), I met Barbara Cohen who to this day is my BFF. Although we are different in many ways; she is a CPA, mother of 4, far more ‘mainstream’ in lifestyle than her ‘flower child friend’ as she has referred to me, there is a bond between us. These days, I regale her with tales of some of the more ‘cosmic foo foo’ things I do and she keeps me grounded in practical day to day reality. I am gratified that she has turned to me to pick my career social worker’s brain for resources to care for her aging father.
Other friends are part of my overlapping soul circles from the various communities of which I am a part. Although it’s hard to imagine, there was a time when these dear souls weren’t on my radar screen and they showed up at just the right moment so that we can play together. Each day I set intention to call into my life extraordinary experiences and amazing people and each day I do. I think of these folks as family of choice who help keep me sane and vertical.
So, what are the qualities of friendships that make our souls blossom?
- True friends are on your team and are your most ardent cheerleaders.
- They mirror for you the truth of who y0u are; the good, bad and ugly and stick around for all three.
- They ‘calls it like they sees it’ with as much tact as they can muster, but sometimes a loving kick in the tush is called for.
- They have your best interests at heart.
- They are not (as my mother would have referred to them) ‘fair weather friends’ who only show up when the sun is shining. They are willing to stand in the rain with you and maybe even splash in the puddles and get muddy.
- They know that giving and receiving are part of the deal and are generous givers and gracious receivers.
- They see the highest in you and view you through the eyes of who you could become, encouraging you to reach for the stars.
- They are there to pick you up if you stumble and help you get back on your feet, without carrying you a moment longer than need be.
- They know you by heart and are open to discovering more about you as the years roll on.
- They sing your soul song to you when the lyrics and melody have eluded you and what they make lack in musical talent, they make up for in enthusiasm.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
With regard to friendships, I have learned to accept that we need not be mirror images of each other, but instead mirrors FOR each other that reflect the beauty and vulnerabilities that exist within us. In wedding ceremonies, I share these lines: “May you bring out the shadow side of each other and then consign it to the Light. May you bring out the highest in each other and celebrate it to the fullest.” It is equally true in friendship.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate that I am a loyal and loving friend, a haven for those who come into my life. I offer what I can when I am able. I value my ability and willingness to welcome new people into my life every day and celebrate the ways in which we enhance each other’s existence.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
Although it is painful, there have been times throughout my life when I have needed to let go of relationships or change the dynamics when they have felt dysfunctional or downright toxic. I have also been able to assertively ask for what I want, assuming cooperation, when 10-15 years ago, I would have stumbled over my words, expecting that the other person would disapprove of me or balk at my request.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
I am a recovering co-dependent with a penchant for ‘savior behavior’ that kept me on a dizzying cycle of caretaking, attempting to heal, save, cure, kiss the boo boos and make them better for the people in my life. In the last 20 years or so, I have become more mindful of the ways in which those qualities manifest. I also spent 6 years going to CODA (Co-dependents Anonymous Meetings).
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My?
I love the wondrous anam cara (soul friends in Gaelic) who have come into my life and who I welcome each day.