Throw in a great girlfriend author (of ‘Happy Hour‘) and you’ve got our next guest on our BlogTalkRadio show (Friday, May 6, 2011 2-2:30pm ET), MICHELE SCOTT – and author of this great guest blog on the importance of friendship:
The Qualities of True Friendship
By Michele Scott
Friendships are something we all need. Love is one of those necessities that nurture us and help us in becoming successful human beings. For most of us our family provides us with love, but our friendships provide us with not only love but a deeper sense of empathy and understanding much of the time. Family and friends can take us for granted that much is true, however, friends are people we can choose to have in our lives and family isn’t always a choice.
I was reading an article the other day from msnbc.com presenting the idea that friendships could be genetically linked. It’s an interesting theory and there appears to be some studies to support it. I’m way more touchy-feely than any scientific studies though, so I am going to go off what I feel and think I know about friendships and why I chose friendship as the theme for my latest novel, “Happy Hour.”
Friendships can have positive and even negative effects. Let’s face it, if you’re a parent and you have adolescents or teenagers it’s a priority for you to know who your kids are friends with. We want our children hanging out with positive influences and not getting themselves into trouble. This goes for ourselves as adults, too. Friends influence us—they just do. I think most of us want to be liked and appreciated, so many times we do what we can to impress our friends and vice versa. No one wants to upset a friend and no one wants to be criticized by a friend. I have to say that if you have a friend who is constantly critical and who tends to suck the energy out of you then that is not a friend at all. That is a vampire, my friend. End that relationship because life is short and truly it is only worth having true friends in your life that enhance your life, which leads me to the thought of, “What is a true friend?”
A true friend is someone who loves you unconditionally. What I don’t mean by that is you or your friend can abuse each other as far as take advantage of your time, criticism that is not constructive or anything that remotely feels negative to you. That is not true friendship or unconditional love at all—again that is vampirism. True friendships are the ones where you can be completely honest with one another and sure you may get irritated (we are after all human beings) but we can always work it out and get past it. In true friendships there is a factoring in of forgiveness just like any relationship we are involved in, because we all screw up from time to time and behave stupidly.
True friends can cry together or be a shoulder to cry on when one is sad, scared, angry, etceteras. True friends know how to laugh with one another and bring that out in each other.
One of my dearest friends Terri and I were coming back from a long two weeks of horse showing and we had a 12-hour haul across the desert. We had three horses in the trailer, my youngest kid, and my husband who had a broken collar bone also riding with us, so we needed to make sure that we all made it home safely and that meant Terri and me staying awake. We left early evening knowing that it would be a long trek and we wanted to travel through the desert when the temperatures were lower. It was still 101 degrees at one in the morning though. It was a wild ride—we had two tire blow-outs, and after a few hours with the same tunes on the Ipod the music (even Katy Perry) got a little old. So we started in on telling each other some very stupid jokes and my husband later reported that every time he briefly woke up that the two of us were cracking up—to the point of being in tears. We were probably delirious but needless to say we stayed awake, everyone got home safely and we actually had a great time—even changing the tires in the middle of nowhere in the desert heat. That’s true friendship.
I’ve been fortunate to have great friends all of my life. I lost one of my best friends—Hillarie–to breast cancer a few years ago, and was with her when she passed away. I would not have been anywhere else, and if it had been me in that bed sick and dying, I know that Hillarie would have been on the other side for me, holding my hand and telling me there was no dieting in Heaven only great cheese, wine and chocolate, how the shopping is divine there and that all the men there look like Brad Pitt (she loved Brad Pitt). Those were things that Hillarie enjoyed and because I knew that about her, I think and hope my words helped ease her passing.
I have had two wonderful friends who have been there for me since childhood and we have been through the ups and downs together as if we are family. I keep my circle of friends close and tight and I cherish each one of them. It is through my friendships with these various women who I have really been able to see life from many different perspectives and grow from them. It is because of that that I decided to write the novel Happy Hour which is about friendship, family and faith. It’s about four women friends living in Napa Valley who together work through life and because of the bond they share they help one another handle whatever is thrown their way. They are also there for one another during the good times, and when they do screw up in their friendships by crossing boundaries, they learn to accept and forgive.
I want to touch a bit on family because I also believe your family members can be amazing friends. My mother is absolutely a best friend of mine and my sons as they have grown into adulthood are also good friends who I can have conversations with that make me feel that warmth that friendship brings. I would be remiss to not say that my husband is also a cherished friend. If your spouse is not someone you would want to be friends with then your golden years might suck a bit. My parents are best friends and as they age I can see that friendship becoming even stronger and because of it their love grows.
As far as faith goes, I am a strong believer in something bigger than us working in our lives. My word for that is God. Yours may be a different word. To me, it is all the same. I have a daily practice of talking with God and in that practice I have come to understand that God is also a friend and always there for me to rely on. In reality it is pretty much the God of most faiths who has shown us what it is to be a true friend— forgiving, gracious, accepting, and unconditionally loving. Now that is the kind of friend I want and the kind of friend that I hope I am.