All through March, I kept calling April “Social Month.” Which is strange, because I actually find “Friendship Month” a lot less intimidating. I suspect I could have avoided a lot of stress if I’d looked at my own Happiness Project Schedule sooner than five minutes ago.
At any rate, here we are at the beginning of another month. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, things look a fair amount different today than they did on March 1st. People keep telling me how happy I sound. I’ve also heard that I’m upbeat, optimistic, and excited. It’s interesting to watch how I take in these comments, turn them around, and see if they actually seem true to me.
It’s even more interesting that they do, in fact, seem to be true.
Of course, I’m not all happy and upbeat. I always like a change, so I am excited. But I’m also anxious, overwhelmed, confused, worried, and sad. The challenge for me is to let myself feel these negative things, too, not instead of, but in addition to the positive emotions.
I like moving. I like living new places. I’ve done it all of my life. I’m good at it. But the last couple of times I’ve moved, I’ve made an effort to change my usual pattern of leaving a place. Usually, I focus only on the positive parts, I shut out all of my friends, and I’m practically living in my new city before the first box is packed. Then when I actually get to my new city, I feel like I’ve missed out on spending quality time with all of those people I won’t get to see every day anymore.
I had thought about postponing Friendship Month until May or June when we will (hopefully) be settled into a new job and home somewhere (if, of course, we move. It is still possible my husband will find another job in Utah, but it’s a fairly remote possibility). But with encouragement from friends, both online and in real life, I’ve decided that Friendship Month is just what I need right now. I need to deepen my connections and my relationships, have fun with my Utah friends while I’m here, whether I actually end up leaving or not, and build that wider support network that will help sustain me wherever I go.
Things are different for me today than they were for my mom when she was a stay-at-home mom and we used to move every three years. I don’t have the built-in support of the squadron Wives’ Club the way she did, but she didn’t have the online community I have. It’s so much easier to feel supported now, even by people you’ve never met in person. I never really got what people were talking about when they said you could build community by writing a blog. Now I think I’m starting to understand.
There are people out there who keep up with my life as I present it here every day. They agree or disagree with what I write, but they connect with me and engage with me regardless. And this is something that will follow me wherever I go (provided I have an internet connection).
All this to say that I’m actually excited about Friendship Month. Let’s get started!
April 2011 – Friendship
Focus: Build and strengthen relationships with my friends and extended family.
–Acknowledge birthdays. I have many of my friends’ birthdays memorized. Of course, the ones I have memorized are largely those friends with whom I attended middle school or high school. I have a tougher time remembering the birthdays of the friends I’ve made since then, perhaps because we don’t make as big a deal about our birthdays as we did back when we were kids. I want to get better about acknowledging my friends’ birthdays. I plan to take a gander every month at Facebook and my various calendars and figure out whose birthdays are coming up that month. If possible, I want to send them an actual card or a letter. In a way I think this is a waste of resources. But in another way, I think there’s something special about getting an actual, physical item sent from one person to another. And I think the power of this connection might be even more important than environmental considerations. But if I wait too long, a call or e-mail is totally acceptable for this resolution.
–Call one friend a week. One of my aunts told me once she has a prayer schedule. She puts a loved one on her calendar to remind her to pray for them that day. She called me once out of the blue and told me that she had me on her prayer schedule and decided to call me, too. I remember feeling so special and loved. I wondered how often she thought of me and prayed for me that she hadn’t called me up. This weekly call thing is kind of my version of my aunt’s prayer schedule. I usually call up one friend about once a week. But often this is a logistical call, trying to figure out when we’re meeting and where. Not that there isn’t value to this, but this “call a friend” resolution is more about the connection of just letting a friend know I’m thinking about her. And for this month, I’m going to make a point to make it a different friend each week.
–Make three new friends. I hesitated about this one, and I’m still not sure about it. But I want the challenge. I’m ready for it. I’m going to try to ignore the voice that says, “You might not be here in a month. Why bother making new friends?” Because I think I already established how a connection can follow anywhere. I want to squeeze out of my comfort zone a bit. This will certainly do the trick, I think.
–Have a mommy-date once a week. I spend a fair amount of time with my friends, but it’s almost always when our kids are with us having their own play dates. I went thrift store shopping with a friend last week, and we realized it was the first time we had ever hung out together without our kids. It was fun, and very nice to chat without being interrupted by a kid-related crisis. I want more of this. Once a week, I’m going to hang out with a mom friend without our kids. (And if you’re one of my local friends, please feel free to help me initiate this one. I worry I’ve bitten off more than I can chew this month, and I would love to have some help!)
So, there you have it. Friendship Month. I’m optimistic that April will be full of connections and love and happiness, and I look forward to seeing what May 1st looks like.