My husband and I recently experienced job relocation, moving from a very small northern Minnesota town, to the Twin Cities. Actually, we now have three locations—a permanent spot up north, a Metro rental and a central Minnesota base camp—plus a storage unit. Yes, I’m a career transition coach. That doesn’t mean I don’t experience the stress that goes with relocation. A lifelong friend powerfully helped with one invitation.
Friends keep us grounded
As with most friendships, it was by chance Aleen and I met; by choice we became friends. At age 19 and a college sophomore, I answered an ad to share a house with three other girls. Aleen and I clicked. She was (and is) the bossy one; I was (and still am, I guess) the passive aggressive one. We were roommates for only a year. Aleen moved back to the metro and I stayed at school. Life went on. We never lost connection. For us, it was like nothing had changed. Friendship is a strange thing. Once this package has been opened, it’s not closed; it’s a constant book always waiting to be read and enjoyed. We were in each other’s weddings (another beautiful chance thing: her husband and mine came from the same town). We took some trips together. We were there to listen when the other lost loved ones. I remember calling her when my older son took his first steps. Now my younger son is getting married and Aleen is sharing one of her talents, decorating for our hosted rehearsal dinner. And we are planning a couples’ trip to Europe next year to celebrate Aleen and my birthdays—we were born five days apart in the same year.
Over the past 40 years, I’ve met and enjoyed many friends. But I think the old saying is true:
Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”
About ten years ago, my husband and I bought a lake home not far from Aleen and her husband’s lake place. What a gift to reunite, give our children the chance to enjoy this connection, and make memories. But our day-to-day lives were still apart. We lived and worked in separate cities all of our adulthood. Now, we live 15 minutes apart. With this latest relocation—just two weeks in now— I’m trying to get my bearings. Although I think of it as an adventure, it’s not been without stress. Relocation of office and routine. A rental that was left—shall we say—in ill repair and in need of a thorough cleaning; and my son’s upcoming wedding just weeks away. And of course, I want to give my clients uninterrupted service and value. I admittedly have been feeling a bit of doubt about my ability to handle it all well.
So, my bossy friend who counts fitness instructor as one of her four jobs, said “Why don’t you come to one or two of my classes, Barb?” “I think you’d like the yoga—it’s a great stress buster. There is no judgment or competition. You can learn to relax and apply it to any point of your life when you feel tense or stressed.” So, yesterday I went to her class. I’ve taken lots of exercise classes before, and enjoyed them. But this was different. My friend showed another great gift I had not seen before. In the yoga class, she was passionate but encouraging. I felt the tension ease out of my body, and a weight lifted. On a roll, I went to the next class, a mixed strength and cardio class. Aleen was interactive, funny and remembered the first names of every person in that class—over 30 in attendance—making full introductions. I hold an even deeper respect for my friend. The bonus: I have found a place to go that’s good for me; something that helps to make this home.
The power of friendship
According to psychologist, author and friendship expert, Dr. Irene Levine, Ph.D., “Friendships have been shown to lower blood pressure levels, decrease cholesterol and even increase our longevity. In fact, the benefits go deeper than good health. “Friendships are so pivotal in our lives that they help us define who we are and who we will become,” Levine says. While certainly relationships with a spouse or family are important in our lives, one is legal and the other based on blood. Friendship is voluntary. It’s totally optional.
Oprah once said that one of her life lessons was to “have a friend who will tell you the truth, no matter what.” She was referencing her best friend, Gayle King. Oprah has said that whether she had millions or not, her friendship with Gayle has been priceless.
So, I thank you, my BFF Aleen. It’s not that you asked me to class. It’s just that it’s typical of you to be there. I borrow the words from Catherine McDonald:
I am delighted to know you, my kindred spirit. Our minds, souls and spirits, in each other find the freedom to be genuine without hesitation—knowing that there are no dire consequences for our candor. Thank you for this extraordinary gift of friendship.”