Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

How To Nurture Your Friendships And Find The Right Tribe

Who hasn’t, at one time or another, been shunned, disappointed or hurt by someone we thought was our friend? Whether it happened when we’re young or in adulthood we’ve all had friends we valued and trusted, convinced that our lives would be forever entwined. Then, suddenly, SNAP. The friendship is over and we’re left wondering what went wrong.

C’mon, you know it’s happened to you!

friendship

Early last year I wrote about “The Importance of Nurturing Our Friendships” because I believed in the beauty of long-lasting friendships. I still do and always will.

As part of the TV generation I grew up loving the close relationship I watched unfold between Lucy and Ethel, and in my teens I became enamored with Mary and Rhoda. I wanted what they had; that easy, honest, you-have-my-back-and-I-will-always-have-yours camaraderie that good friends have when they unconditionally care about each other.

Unfortunately those type of friendships aren’t always easy to come by. After all, life is not a work of fiction. If it were we’d all be living in The Truman Show with writers pulling the strings on our friendships.

I’ve been lucky. Without any writers pulling my strings I met four girls in grade school who are my sister/friends. We’ve laughed, cried, exchanged hard truths and cheered each another on with each passing decade.

They say you’re blessed if you have one or two good friends. While that’s true I also value the new friends I’ve made who bring a special meaning to my life. I cherish them and do my best to tend to them because they are important to me.

People meet in friendship as the circumstances of our lives change. From the first day of school through our later years friends come in and out of our lives. Some stick around for a season while others remain by our side forever.

friendship

As we age having loyal friends becomes more important. We depend on one another for support, compassion and understanding through the joys and sorrows of life. Solid friendships help us remain socially active so that we can continue to thrive and feel a sense of belonging, These relationships help us live a longer quality of life..

But in the current age of global connections it’s not always easy to make new friends. Texting, private messaging and commenting leave out the nuances of nonverbal communication and social skills. This fast-paced mode of reaching out and touching someone can never replace the value of spending quality time face-to-face with family and friends.

(NOTE: I’m glad I had my son when I did. With no cell phones, and the Internet in its infancy, there was no reason to become distracted by the chimes coming from my cell phone. A pet peeve of mine is seeing a parent pushing a baby carriage while talking on their cell phone. Put the phone down and be mindful of the magical yet fleeting time you’re spending with your child! The call can wait until later.)

We crave finding communities of like-minded people, ones who share our beliefs and experiences. It’s in those tribes where we’ll find comfort and connection. Where can we find them? If you haven’t already you can begin by taking a look at “7 Tips for Finding Your Tribe” by Lissa Rankin, M.D. as she talks about her own struggles with finding her tribe. She provides some great ideas to help us find ours.

And since this is my blog and I love Angela, Bea, Carole and James I’m going to share with you two of my favorite songs about friendship. You’re welcome!

And now onto Carole and James.

Before I go I’d like to share the following quote that I enjoyed from The Daily Om, a newsletter I subscribe to, that sums up how I feel about true friendship:

friendship

Here are three interesting articles on friendship and finding your tribe:

A 3-Step Plan to Find Your Tribe (mindbodygreen by Shelly Bullard)
A Longer Life is Lived with Company (The New York Times by Elizabeth H. Pope)
7 Ways to Form Deep, Meaningful Friendships (Tiny Buddha by Annika Martins)

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65 thoughts on “How To Nurture Your Friendships And Find The Right Tribe

  1. Helene Cohen Bludman

    Great post, Cathy! I think as we get older we appreciate the value of friendship more and more. One of the benefits of social media is making friends whom you would likely never have met otherwise. Old friends, new friends — I treasure all of them, including you, of course!

  2. Kit Minden

    Finding good friendships in elementary school means having great Moms who prioritized getting you all together! Hurray, Mom!

  3. Leanne@crestingthehill

    I really enjoyed reading this Cathy – I have some long term and lovely friendships and thought that was always how it would be. Then….last year one of my ‘good friends’ stepped into my husband’s job and pushed him out the door graciously and thoroughly. I just can’t step past that betrayal without feeling fake, so it’s hasta la vista to her for now and it gives me more time to invest in my other friends (and blogging buddies!) ~ Leanne
    Leanne@crestingthehill recently posted…memories of Princess Di and her sense of styleMy Profile

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Oh, how awful for you and your husband Leanne. How can people be so cruel? Well I am happy to read your positive attitude. Leaving them behind only makes room for better and kinder friendships to come!

    2. Anna Palmer

      This sort of thing is so challenging. I have had friendship breakups as well. Practicing forgiveness is one of life’s biggest challenges but if you can succeed in this instance you can mourn the loss of your friend and move on. Trust me I am stuck with some grudges for decades…so I am not saying it is easy!

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I value yours as well, Rena. I hope we continue to stay in touch because I admire and respect you as a woman, friend, caregiver and well, all-around great gal. Is that over that top? Perhaps but it’s meant with love, dear one.

  4. Cathy Sikorski

    I am one of the luckiest gals I know in the friendship department. I have grade school, high school, college and new friends in the writing world. Some of these friendships run so deep and so long that I could never be grateful enough to have them in my life. Yes, it is a sustaining need for all of us. When my girls were growing up and they would have a tiff with one of their friends I would tell them: ‘to have a friend you must BE a friend..that means the hard stuff, too.” Love this post….and YOU! Love, Cathy Squared!
    Cathy Sikorski recently posted…Stay tuned for an important message…..My Profile

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I am not at all surprised that you have stayed in touch with friends from every walk of life. It’s like bees to honey. When I met you in Nashville I felt it right away. So, Cathy Squared, I hope we can get together soon to continue nurturing what we began back then! xo

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I am in your corner, Jennifer. That is what prompted me (a little) to write about this. I lost two friends who were not, well, thoughtful about me and it hurt. So I hear you, Jennifer, and I’m sorry you had to go through that as well. Onto better friendships from here on in I hope!

  5. Eli@CoachDaddy

    One of the most profound methods to understanding the impact of a friendship is that first day you navigate without one you’ve come to trust. The universe leads us in places to find others, though. It’s quite a journey, isn’t it?

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Yes, Eli. You put it so eloquently. (No surprise there!) It is quite a journey with twists and turns. Friendships can be easy; some can be hard. The toxic ones? Adios, baby. Onto, as you say, the universe leading us to other places. Perfect.

      Thanks for commenting on my blog. I wonder if I could have answered you in 6 words! 🙂

  6. Anita Irlen

    I’ve moved around so much, all my life, that it’s been hard to maintain friendships. I know that’s been an excuse though, too. I’m trying to find my tribe now but, at almost 60, sometimes it feels impossible. Thanks for stressing the importance of friendship. It’s a good reminder for me not to give up and nurture those friendships I do have. I’m going to read Rankin article!
    Anita Irlen recently posted…Saramai, #mywrinklesaremystripesMy Profile

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Anita, I know how difficult it can be – believe me! I know from experience. But, even at 60 friendships can be made. You are still young, my dear, with so much more ahead. I hope you find your tribes; you sound like a wonderful person. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  7. bonnie aldinger

    I think the value of finding your “tribe” is especially important here in huge and crazy NYC – the mind just can’t deal with the masses and masses of people here, but you find the ones you like and the rest? You just let them go by. These days my Irish music and paddling/boating/swimming circles are so important to me; I hadn’t started doing either of those when I moved here but I had a couple of good friends from college already living here at the time and that made all the difference. Simply can’t imagine what it would be like without some friends already here to anchor you as you settle in.

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I live in northern NJ, in the suburbs, where I find it (as an empty nester) much more difficult to meet new people. I would think with all that’s going on in NYC it’d be easier by joining clubs, going to events, etc. You seem to be doing well and for that I admire you Bonnie!

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      How true, Meg. Also as busy women, and as writers, I find it harder to meet new people who live in the same or adjoining towns. We both need to do something about that, eh? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Miriam Hendeles

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful thoughts and songs. Different friends – some long term from childhood. Others daily close-by friends. Most important is trust and reciprocity. But so hard to pinpoint what makes a special friend. The songs you shared are terrific. And yes, I loved and laughed with Ethel/Lucy and Mary/Rhoda and other great pairs. The best!!!
    Miriam Hendeles recently posted…First Day of School Jitters (and how to deal)My Profile

  9. Mary

    You are so very right,Cathy. I’m finding the older I get the harder it is to find any new tribe members. Thank goodness I have some wonderful friends that have been with me through thick and thin for the long haul.
    Mary recently posted…Clean Out Your ClosetMy Profile

  10. Haralee

    Women are luckier than men I think because we make friends and we nurture that friendship. I love my girlfriends. It is not to say men don’t have friends and I think younger men are better, but boomer men friendship seems to be more superficial.
    Haralee recently posted…The Perfect Summer Dress QuestMy Profile

  11. janet tancredi

    Cathy,just recently I have been feeling as if I’m somewhat of a burden on my friends. Due to the fact that I am overwhelmingly fortunate I know it’s me! I happen to have many dear friends for MANY MANY years along with new friendships as well. One of our favorite songs is Carole King’ as well. “Beautiful” is a must see show.
    To friends! Janet Tancredi

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. That is a deep hurt that will never go completely away. But, in time, your memories will be magic and I’m sure your friend would have wanted you to live a happy life. Best to you going forward and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      My mom used to always say that saying, Judy! I always loved it too.

      I’m so glad we met as well (although I do wish we could SEE each other more!!!) as I enjoy your spirit and your company. Old friends and new – if they matter then we nurture them because, yes, they are like pure gold! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  12. Gilly Maddison

    Yes – true – I have been bewildered by a ‘friend’ dumping me in the past. It happened recently as well when an old friend who goes back years ‘unfreinded’ me on Facebook. I had lost contact with her but found her again on there. Went to see her a few times. Things were not going great for her. I was shocked at the stuff she was regularly posting on Facebook. Really nasty, racist material that could easily incite more race hate.

    But I didn’t even consider ‘unfriending’ her – whatever that means. I simply ignored her misguided posts and didn’t comment. Then a mutual friend took her to task over her public outpourings of hate and she promptly ‘dumped’ both of us.

    In the past, It would have bothered me but now, I realise what a damaged person she must be to hold hate like that and I feel sorry for her. I sent a message telling her I would always be there for her and I will leave it like that.

    I am lucky to have a close group of friends who are really sensible, supportive strong women. I value them so much at this time of life – more so than I ever did when I was young and fickle.

    Loved your post – thank you.
    Gilly Maddison recently posted…Princess Diana – My Pictures of a Remarkable Woman – Remembering August 31st 1990My Profile

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you for sharing your story here, Gilly. Friendships come in all sizes and what you went through must have been hurtful, yet you held it together with grace and intelligence. I admire and respect you for that.

      I also recently lost two friends that, in the end, proved toxic for me. Still hurtful. Yet I tried to end it with as much grace and dignity as possible. I hate confrontations!

      Our close friends, the ones we realize are (as you said) “sensible, supportive strong women” are, as you also said, the ones we value. They are gold are we are blessed to have them.

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  14. Lori

    New friends, old friends….one is silver and the other gold. All friends are such treasures. It’s so true that as we get older the friendships get more valuable.

  15. Terri Webster Schrandt

    This is just precious Cathy, you hit on several important points! Friends do come and go in our lives. I can just hear Lucy and Ethel singing the song and tearing the flowers off each other’s dresses (without even looking at the link). I feel like I have gained a new tribe of ML women/bloggers.
    Terri Webster Schrandt recently posted…We Chose You!My Profile

  16. Anna Palmer

    Ah. I am sure there are days when every word of this would ring true. Today is not one of those days. I love to hear you have a clan from grade school. As an only child that was always my dream…if I couldn’t have sisters as friends I could have friends as sisters. Yesterday I had a lovely tea with 8 new friends from Denver. It felt so mellow and yet connected. It his just the right note. Today I feel alone. SO I guess this post does resonate, it just doesnt confirm. A gentle reminder that this all takes work, and I can choose to focus on the connection of yesterday rather than the absence of today. Fucking hormones. By which I mean I love being a woman. Also- sometimes a lady needs to talk to her ladies when pushing that stroller. She might be on hour 3 of the walk.

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      Yes, fucking hormones is right. Now I’m postmenopausal and that crap happens to me anyway. Remember the film in 6th grade “It’s Wonderful to be a Girl”? Ha! Not always.

      Great about the new friends. Work on cultivating them. Reach out when you’re feeling lonely and shower yourself with things you love. You deserve that, Anna. P.S. I have 2 blogger friends living in CO. Now I have 3!

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