I just returned from a beach weekend trip with four friends. This year marked the 20th year of us going to Panama City together. Typically, there are six of us who go each year with only one or two of us rarely missing due to a family or work conflict.
Each year we get better at a couple of things. We used to plan elaborate meals – ones low in fat, but high in taste – hoping to impress each other. We used to bring our rackets, tennis shoes, and workout clothes. Twenty years later, we’re proud of the fact that we are completely satisfied with a staple of nachos, Raisinettes, and cereal and engage in no activities which involve sweating.
The other thing that we’ve gotten better at is judging each other less. We’ve declared a Judge-Free Zone when we get together. This means that there is no judging one another’s parenting, marriage, children, eating habits, cellulite, chin whiskers, or hair color (or lack thereof).
We’ve all learned that in spite of singing lullabies’ and reading endless bedtime stories, attending teacher conferences and PTA meetings, and all of our other best efforts, we screw up. We’ve each come to realize that life is hard and parenting is not for wimps.
I’m blessed to have several friends, my beach friends and others, who accept me warts and all. They are willing to overlook, forgive, and/or accept my many shortcomings and uncanny ability to forget birthdays, butt text, and lose at every card game.
These are the types of friends with whom I can share my fears, dreams, and life secrets without concern that they will laugh or use this information against me (or put a really ugly picture of me on their facebook page).
It’s important to have good friends to go through life’s rough patches such as challenges with spouses and children, family illnesses, parent deaths, job losses and changes, and empty nests.
I hope you have friends like this. If you don’t, get some. Life calls for give and take and it is much too short to surround yourself with “friends” who only take.
If you happen to be a friend who only takes, change. A piece of simple, yet profound, advice I used to give my elementary students was: To have the kind of friend you want, you have to be the kind of friend you want.
So the next time you are together with your friend(s), declare it a judge-free zone and enjoy life and each other more.
If you ever lose your mind, I’ll be kind. If you ever are so happy and land in jail, I’m your bail. If you ever lose our teeth and you’re out to dine, use mine. It’s friendship, friendship. Just a perfect blendship. When other friendships are up the crick, ours will still be slick. “Friendship” by Cole Porter
In addition to eating nachos and Raisinettes, we dined out and had some great Florida seafood; but it was Flamingo Joe’s red beans and rice that got my attention. It was perfect! Jennifer, the owner and chef, Joseph Black, graciously shared the ingredients: Schreiber’s beef base, garlic salt, Caribbean spices, white pepper, beans and rice. Finding the right combination should keep me busy for a while. If you happen to know a good combination, please share it!