“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
I had a soul-filling day playing with the amazing and incomparable Maria Alejandra, a dear sister-more-than-a-friend. The plan to hit the parks came at my Mom’s celebration of life where she made the drive from Orlando to share this occasion with my family and I.
It must have been very obvious to her that I was in dire need of some distraction after, well, let’s just say, quite a year. With as busy as both of our schedules tend to be, we made it work.
We started early, wearing matching shirts (her idea) as we headed to Hollywood Studios first, just to chill and ride some ‘we’re probably too old for this but how much fun are they’ rides. They were all new to me despite the frequency of our visits.
We took our time, took advantage of the waits in line to catch up. We then headed to Epcot and were greeted by a remarkable opportunity to get a picture with Mickey. I believe I haven’t taken a picture with the Mouse himself since I was 11, and that’s a long freaking time ago. We capped it off with a late-ish lunch in Italy where we enjoyed some great conversation about dreaming, our goals for 2020, all that we’ve learned through the hardships and heartaches and just how beautiful life can really be when we’re paying attention.
If there’s one good thing about the 50’s is just how much we’re paying attention. More than anything I was enjoying this tremendous sisterhood that I’ve been blessed with ever since I met Maria Alejandra on that first day of our professional coaching certification program at UM .
I think we both knew then that it would be the start of an amazing friendship. The entire day just replenished my soul!
My question to you is how are you nurturing your friendships?
I’ve been blessed to have a tribe of amazing friends, men and women, whom I’ve enjoyed being friends with for nearly 40 years, some longer. Many times people ask ‘but how can you have friends for that long’?
Well, it takes intention. Like everything else in life, friendship is a give and take. You’re giving of yourself as much as possible and you’re allowing yourself to receive the blessing that is that friendship in support, advice, shoulders to cry on and drinks to laugh over.
It’s making sure you are, as recommended in Baz Lurhman’s Sunscreen, ‘bridging those gaps between geography and lifestyle’ to keep it together. It’s staying in touch and getting together and traveling if you must and making sure they know they are a priority to you as much as you are a priority to them. It’s putting yourselves in positions to change the world together when the opportunity arises and to just be there for each other when the need is there, too.
But why is it important to play? Not that most of us need an excuse to play, but it still remains that most of us aren’t really doing it. We know we like to; we know we should… but we’re just not doing it.
Connecting Heals the Soul
I could go into the results of all the studies that have been done on what it means to us physically and mentally like stress relief, stimulating our minds, improving brain function and boosting creativity, keeping you feeling young and energetic and preventing burnout – you know… all that stuff. I’m not saying these are unimportant; they absolutely are. But believe the benefits of playing with our friends goes far beyond that.
I believe the spiritual benefits outweigh all the obvious benefits. It’s the bonding, the connection, the being outside of the ordinary which makes every word of every conversation that much more magical. It’s reconnecting and reminiscing and laughing and loving and being around those people who know you best.
It’s the support you feel from people who know not everything is as perfect as it may seem to outsiders on social media but love and support you. They’re there to help you heal. It’s celebrating our wins and hugging us through our shortcomings. It’s simply love – unconditional, non-judgmental, I’m here for you no matter what – love. And that’s truly what friendship is all about, it’s love above everything else.
Make the Time
So how do we celebrate that? Well, that’s different to everyone but my recommendation would be to hang out with your friends as often as possible and yes, that will require MAKING the time because no one and everyone has the time. I promise there’s not an I Love Lucy or Carol Burnett episode in the world that will bring out the kind of laughter you will have while spending time with your friends.
I’m blessed to have an amazing group of them and believe me, I count my blessings for each and every one of them every day. Our Cav Girls, who’ve been together since middle school (you know when it was still called Junior High School?) make it a point to see each other every couple of months.
No we don’t ALL make it out to every gathering but we are connected and are abreast of each other and are encouraging and empowering each other at every opportunity. And newer friends who didn’t know me without wrinkles and graying hair are just as important and find I’m always willing to work around geography (like I need an excuse to travel right?) if need be because they are important to me and they know it and they know it because I let them know, in words and actions, every day.
So please, at every opportunity, go play with your friends. If you have those special people in your life – the ones who were with you when the going got rough – but that perhaps you haven’t been in touch with in a while, make every effort to reconnect, to get together and reminisce. It’ll be good for your soul: I promise. Another gem from Sunscreen: ‘ the older you get the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.’