Becoming a Better Friend

FOUR THINGS YOUR OUTGOING + ANXIOUS FRIEND WANTS YOU TO KNOW

"You can't struggle with an anxiety," she said, "You're too outgoing!"

 It took a lot of courage for me to admit out loud that I was dealing with crippling fear on a daily basis. The whole group of women I had just laid my soul bare to, looked at me with doubt in their eyes. There is nothing worse for an anxious person to feel than to feel that  no-one believes them.

"You are so extroverted! I would NEVER have thought you struggled with fear, " another woman added. 

     True to my extroverted, outgoing nature I gave the people what they wanted and cracked a joke to lighten the room,

  "Surprise!" I said, "I guess I'm coming out of the anxiety closet!"

Everyone laughed and moved on to talking about something else and I... I felt alone.

    There is misconception out there that folks who struggle with anxiety are timid, quiet, hermit-like people. Who started this nasty rumor?

 Newsflash: Anxiety affects all personality-types. Spread the word!  Anxiety affects all kinds of people but it can look different for each person. Some of us have not picked up on the signs and symptoms of friend who struggles with chronic worry simply because we have assumed that their personality is too "outgoing" to be "fearful". 

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HERE ARE FOUR THINGS YOUR OUTGOING + ANXIOUS FRIEND WANTS YOU TO KNOW:

 

1. "Even though I am energized by people, my anxiety is often triggered by people."

       Panic attacks have been triggered by all kinds of the things, but many extroverts are triggered by an overwhelming feeling that they are letting everyone down. People are very important to outgoing personalities and whatever you consider most important, you will almost most fear losing.

2. "I often feel most anxious when I am alone."

   Nighttime can be the worst time of the day for outgoing types. All the people are  sleeping and the extrovert is left alone with their thoughts. It's the prime time to  lie in bed and count all the worries. Extended periods of time without people can make them feel nervous.  Isolation is breeding ground to create "worst scenarios" in the  mind because being around people makes an outgoing person feel safer...and being without people makes them feel vulnerable.

 

3. "Though I appear like the 'life of the party' at times... I don't always feel like the 'life of the party'."

     Outgoing people are often mistaken as confident people but insecurity is something we all face. Sometimes surrounding themselves with people gives an extrovert a brief  distraction from dealing with their own feelings of failure. 

4. "I need you to reach out to me too." 

       Outgoing people tend to be the initiators  of social contact but in times of anxiety they need their friends to reach out to them. They need a call, a note, a "Hey. Is everything okay?". One of the most overwhelming things that an outgoing + anxious friend is battling is the belief that "No one cares."

    Your outgoing and anxious friend needs YOU to be their safe person they can fall apart in front of. They need you to not question the validity of what they are going through but rather offer a hand they can hold onto.

Always your friend,

Noelle

 

    Are YOU a person who struggles with anxiety?

Listen to this podcast episode: "HOW I NAVIGATE ANXIETY + FRIENDSHIP".

Grab this FREE resource: "5 AFFIRMATIONS FOR AN ANXIOUS HEART"

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HOSPITALITY: Letting People Into Your Hot Mess

    I just want to be clear: I am the kind of person that cares what people think. When people come into my home, I'd prefer that they would take one good look around and say to themselves, "WOW! Noelle has really got her life together!"

     The problem is that I don't.

  I am not just talking about cooking, cleaning, and home decorating. So what if you discover that I am terrible at staying on top of my laundry? I can live with that. What I don't want you to find out is that...

  • My husband and I fight sometimes.
  • My kids don't always get along or obey.
  • I start screaming when we are running late to anything.
  • I struggle with anxiety.
  • I forget to pay bills on time.
  • I'm on my phone way too much.
  • I'm always trying to lose weight but never trying hard enough.
  • I don't always get to my "quiet time" with Jesus everyday because busyness or Netflix gets the priority. (cue: shock and horror from reader)

     These are just some of the things I would prefer to keep from you when you are a guest in my home. Like shoving the miscellaneous clutter into a junk drawer or a spare closet...I want to hide the hot mess of my life to give the appearance of a picture perfect life.

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      The desire to appear perfect keeps me from being hospitable.

  I don't mind "entertaining" because when I am "entertaining", I can play the part of the perfect host, wife, mother, domestic goodness, and "spiritual" person. I can let you see what I want you see. I have constructed the parameters of which I will "let you into" and you get a piece of my real life but... heavens, no... you won't get to see ALL of my real life. I can get away with a lot of "pretending" with social entertaining but I can't be insincere with hospitality. 

 Hospitality is letting people into your hot mess.

It's letting people see the real me...the unedited, unfiltered version of my life. It's being willing to invite people to my table even though I know my table is far from perfect. I might not have the finer things of life...or a Pinterest-worthy home... or the perfect marriage... or children that sing "Kumbaya" on cue... but I still have an open place at my sticky, crumb-infested table for a person who needs to somewhere to belong.

Hospitality is saying, "There is room for you here.    It's a hot mess but your welcomed to be here."
 

     The mistake I have made over and over again is that I assume people want perfect. I assume people want to be inspired by my excellent life skills (or so I pretend to posses). I assume people are looking for me to have it all together but - 

      The truth is that people feel most at home with what they can relate to...and nobody can relate to perfect. 

      There is no need to "wow" folks when it comes to hospitality. The only requirement of hospitality is to make others feel "welcomed". And I can do that. I can make folks feel important and wanted. I can be a listening ear, an encouraging voice, a helping hand... a friend who is there... hot mess and all. 

  In the end, we all need to a place to belong.

Always,

Noelle

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4 SIGNS YOUR FRIEND IS A SAFE PERSON TO BE VULNERABLE WITH

I am just going to lay it all out on the table here:

I was not always a safe person.

 

  • I spilled people's secrets.
  • I gossiped about friends.
  • I judged folks like a freakin' professional.

I was not always a safe person for my friends to be vulnerable with until...

I realized I needed a safe person I could show my raw, bleeding heart to. 

  When I was going through a very difficult situation in my life, it become evident to me that I really didn't have someone I could be reeeeeally honest with. There was no one in my circle that I felt safe enough to expose what was going on in my life without feeling like the information I shared could be used against me. Besides, I had been hurt before.

    The problem was that the less vulnerable I was more... the more disconnected I felt from others. I knew things had to change. I needed to speak up and let someone see the real me and the mess that was going on inside.

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   So, how DO we know if our friend is a safe person to be vulnerable with?

1.  THEY AREN'T JUDGY . 

   In other words, a "safe" friend isn't always chronically expressing to you their negative opinions on how other people live their lives. 

 

"Personally, I feel like it's a little too soon for her to get married. I doubt the marriage will last."

 

  Sometimes "judgy-ness" is sugar coated with a shared concern or worse... formatted as a prayer request:

 

"Please pray for So-and-So. I am concerned she's getting remarried too soon and the marriage won't last." 

 

     

   The number one reason why we are hesitant to be vulnerable with others is because we fear we will be judged. Judgement makes us feel instantly unsafe. This is why we need non-judgemental friends in our lives. 

   If your friend is constantly judging all over the place... they probably aren't a safe person to be vulnerable with. 

 

 

2. THEY AREN'T A BIG MOUTH.

   A friend who is safe is not someone who will chronically spill to you other people's personal business. They don't feel the need to "fill you in" on someone's past so that you "can better understand"

 

"Don't tell anyone I told you this... but they had problems in their marriage before. She cheated on him with a co-worker."

 

   When a friend tells you something about another person it can make you feel like you are "on the inside" and deceptively closer to the person spilling the information. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reality is that you are probably just one in many folks they have said "Don't tell anyone I told you this but...". A big mouth plays no favorites.

    "Safe" friends are not over-sharers about other people's lives. 

 

 

3. THEY AREN'T aLWAYS RECRUITING FOR THEIR sIDE OF THE CONFLICT.

     A friend who is safe is someone who, when in conflict with another friend, is not trying to recruit you to be on their side.

     

       "Can I just vent to you for a moment? You Know Who and I had a big fight and I just need to know that I am not the crazy one."

 

      Sometimes we DO need a third party to help us process a conflict with another person. "Venting" can be healthy and appropriate. There is a difference between venting and recruiting. Venting confides in and looks for guidance from one or two trusted friends. Recruiting is telling many friends about the conflict in hopes to gather a small army by their side.

    You'll know if your friend is "recruiting" by how many people they are "venting" to as well as what their "venting" consists of. A good question to ask is: Are they venting only about the specific conflict or are they trying to discredit the character of the other person?

    Recruiters are not a safe person to be vulnerable with because they use personal information about another to persuade others to be against them.

 

4. THEY aREN'T CONVERSATION HIJACKERS.

       A friend who is safe to be vulnerable with is someone who can be fully present with you and not always looking to turn the conversation to be about them.

      "Let me tell you story about me...

 

     Conversation hijackers  are unable to share the conversational space. They interrupt, talk over and never ask you follow up questions about what you have just shared. They are not always a safe person to be vulnerable with because they have poor listening skills and may only use your story as a platform to launch from into their next story...

    A friend who is safe will make sure you feel heard.

 

The real question we should ask ourselves is...

 

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Am I a safe person for my friends to be vulnerable with?

  • Am I judgmental? Do I always have a negative comment to make about other people's lives?
  • Am I a big mouth? Do I tell my friends personal information about other people they do not need to know?
  • Am I someone who recruits others to be on my side of a conflict? When I am not getting along with someone, do I want to make sure others don't want to get a long with them either?
  • Am I conversation hijacker? Am I always trying one up my friends with a better story or do I always bring the conversation back to my life?

 

    When I ask myself these questions, I know that I have not always been a safe person for my friends to be vulnerable with. As much as I need a "safe friends"... my friends need to able to find a "safe friend" in me too. 

      In order to thrive, we must feel like we can be vulnerable with someone. We have to feel like there is a safe person to tell. This is why we must both be on the look out for friends we can be vulnerable with but also intentionally become a friend that others can be vulnerable. In friendship, it's always about the give and take.

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.
— Madeline L'Engle

 

     Let's become "safe friends" for each other because, "to be alive is to be vulnerable".

Always a friend,

Noelle


ABOUT NOELLE

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   Noelle Rhodes is the podcast host for the podcast show, Friending. She is writer and speaker about cultivating deep, meaningful female friendship in this modern day. You can find out more on how to book Noelle to speak at your next event or be on your podcast show here.

How To Help Your Friends Help You...

      One of favorite songs by The Beatles is, "With a Little Help From My Friends" , which was written for and sung by their beloved drummer, Ringo Starr. This is one my all time favorites because...um, hello?

    We all need a little help from our friends.

     Life can be poop. We all struggle and we all have our down days. Friends can be incredibly helpful in our hour of need...but sometimes we can make it difficult for them lend us a helping hand. 

     So, here are some practical tips on how you can help your friends help you...

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1. Remember that the majority of your friends are not mind readers. Speak up and let them know you would like their help.

     I used to make my friends play a guessing game when I found myself struggling. I would get quiet. I would withdraw. I would leave subtle clues that things may be difficult but then I would confuse them with strong statements like, "I'm. Fine."

   It took me years to realize that this tactic of trying to preserve my dignity while gaining my friends' help was useless. In fact, it would only frustrate the friendship. Instead of causing my friends to realize, "Hey...maybe Noelle needs some help" ... they were thinking things like, "Why is Noelle being so weird?"

     I wanted my friends to recognize that I was in need without ever having to admit it out loud. The best and most efficient way for friends to recognize that they can help you is to tell them so. No one is a mind reader. If talking on the phone or face to face feels too vulnerable at the moment, a text or email can do the job. In my experience, when I have text my friends to say, "I need your help", they have always been ready to give it. When I wait for them to catch on that I am in need... it wastes a lot of unnecessary time. I wind up feel hurt and neglected while they feel rejected and confused. 

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2. Give them a specific and practical way that they can help you.

     When we are going through something, our friends will often ask, "How can I help you?" Sometimes the crisis or difficulty is so overwhelming that we don't even know how to answer them. My advice is to give them the next practical and specific task that you need to address. A few examples of this could be:

Example 1:

     Your have experience a series of difficult weeks at work. You are feeling like your job might be on the line and your self esteem has taken a blow. Ask your friends to go see a movie with you to get your mind off of work issues.

Example 2:

    You are having marital difficulties. Things are really tense. You can't think of anything else but what's going on in your relationship.  Ask a friend to take your kids to the park for an hour just so you can collect your thoughts, talk to a counselor, or even go food shopping.

Example 3:

         One of your parents is very sick. You are feeling very sad and exhausted from caring for them. You have neglected your own home in the process.  Ask a friend if she could help you as you clean your house because you can use a helping hand and the company of a good friend.

   To have your needs best met by a friend, give them a clear and practical task that they can do for you. You're not being bossy. You are humbly asking for what you need. 

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3. Accept the help and don't feel guilty about it.

   The biggest issue when friends try to help us is that we won't let them. There is something about allowing a friend to offer a helping hand that stirs guilt into our heads. Don't feel guilty! One day, it will be your friend's turn and they will need your help. Your vulnerability in asking for help will have paved a guilt-free way for them to ask for help from you too. 

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   Think of Ringo singing to you right now...

   "Said I'm gonna get by with my friends, yeah (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Oh, yes I'm gonna keep trying, now (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Keep on trying with my friends (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Oh, I'm never gonna stop there, oh (Ah, with a little help from my friends)
Gonna get by with my friends"
 

You WILL get by with a little help from your friends.

    When we communicate what we need and how they can meet it, our friends can become our greatest help. In most cases, it is not unwillingness that keeps our friends from helping... it is our lack of vulnerability. We can help our friends help us by letting them know we don't always have it altogether and that's why we need them.

 Always your friend,

Noelle

 

 

 

 

 

         

HOW I'M GONNA BE A BETTER FRIEND IN 2018

    I research and talk about friendship.

I even host a podcast show called Friending (Shut up! Season 3 is coming out 02/13/18...but more on that later). I stalk other friendship experts like Shasta Nelson and Brené Brown (isn't she an expert on everything?)

But still.

    I can kinda suck as a friend ... (all my friends are tilting their heads and shrugging their shoulders about now) ...and this past year, my friendship game was weak.

  Normally, I spend the first couple days of January crafting lists of how I am going to become a better person to benefit...me ( i.e. .lose weight, be less busy, follow my dreams, blah, blah, blah) but this year I am not doing that. 

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   This year, I decided to jot down a few ways I am going to be a better friend in 2018.

    Let's be honest, even if we sustain our "New Year's Resolutions" and become better versions of ourselves... if we aren't better to the people we love... what does it really matter? I can lose all the weight and still be an absentee friend. All that makes me is a more skinny, lonely person.

So, here's the plan:

#1 This year, I am putting "face to face/in the flesh" contact with my friends on my calendar. 

     The problem with social media, texting, and smart phones... is that I can easily stay updated with my friends' lives without ever having to see them in person. This is helpful with my long-distance friendships, but folks, I have a close friend who live 20 minutes away from me that I have not seen in person in months. Why? Because we talk everyday on Voxer. All the research and science tell us that that there is no substitution for face to face/in the flesh contact with friends. Loneliness cannot be overcome virtually or remotely. We need to physically be present with our people to be reminded that we do not do this life alone. 

  My life can get busy with two kids (one with special needs) and the only way I am going to make sure I see my friends in person is if I am make it a non-negotionable on my calendar.

 

#2 This year, I am organizing more fun things for me to do with my friends.

     Look, I enjoy a good "coffee + chat with my bestie" like the next person, but I am starting to realize that there is possibly more to life than coffee (I just heard you audibly gasp).

    As I think back on my most favorite memories with my friends... it surprised me how many of my favorites were when my friend(s) and I did a specific activity together. Even taking a simple walk with a friend stood out in my mind as one of the meaningful moments we have shared in our friendship. We must have sipped on a thousand cups of coffee together... but it was that single walk that was highlighted in my brain as a favorite memory.

   This year, I want to be intentional about doing fun things with my friends (everything from hosting another "Oscar's Party" to going rollerskating at the local rink). It's shocking that how often i help my kids arrange fun play dates with their friends...but I never think to do the same for myself. 2018 is going to be the year of friend playdates for me! 

 

#3 Stop trying to be besties with everyone and invest in the friendships I have already cultivated.

      As an extrovert, one of the friendship crimes I  often commit is that I spread myself too thin with people. I just want to get to know everyone and make everyone my friend!  After 35 years, I have finally come to accept that this is not reality. In fact, this is not even healthy. The more friends I have, the less quality time I have to give to people. The less quality time I have to give to people, the less quality friendships I sustain.

       There is a big difference between befriending everyone and being friendly to everyone. The latter is not optional. I must be kind to everyone but I don't have to make it my sole mission to be everyone's friend. What I do need to do, is take a sober look at the people in my life who I want to cultivate a stronger friendship with... and become more intentional in investing in them.

 

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My friends have made the story of my life. In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by my deprivation.
— Helen Keller

 

    What is going to make 2018 a great year?

    Our friends.

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MID-THIRTIES AND FEELING BEHIND ON MY MID-TWENTIES PLAN FOR LIFE

       "I am sure others feel the same as you."  I watched her as she  pushed the half-half towards me because she knows its the only way I drink my coffee these days, "Nobody really  knows what they want to be when they grow up anymore." 

        All I could think about as she spoke, was how I should be grown up enough to drink my coffee black and I can't even do that.

   The problem is that ten years ago,  I had this adult thing all figured out. I knew everything. 

        I knew what I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. Ten years ago, I would have imagined myself living very differently than I do. In fact, "mid-twenties Noelle" would be quite surprised that "mid-thirties Noelle" doesn't have her own talk show by now - because clearly, I'd have my crap so together, everyone would want to know how to be me.

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   After having a lived a little bit of life, I feel hardly the expert or accomplished.  If anything, I feel like an adulthood drop-out who is way behind in achieving my mid-twenties plan.

     The American Dream is a quiet and judgmental presence that sits at your table with her arms crossed and a disapproving look upon her face. Like a great-aunt who questions your life choices at every family gathering, the American Dream leans in to you just at your most vulnerable moment and says, "So, what are you actually  planning to do with your life? Cause' clearly this isn't cutting it." One by one, she highlights the failures:

 Don't own your own house?     Slacker.

Drive a car older than five years?    Deadbeat.

No graduate degrees?    Dropout. 

Less than a thousand Insta followers?   Nobody.

Don't have a career that you love and are making six figures from?    Disappointment.

Do any of these things really matter? No. Well, at least that's what we say... but I suspect that we have secretly made these the markers of how we self-grade our lives. And some of us feel like we are failing. Our mid-twenties selves would be disappointed with our mid-thirties selves and there can be a lot of shame wrapped up in that. We are wandering towards our forties mumbling to those around us, "Wait! I don't know what to do with my life! I'm behind!" 

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   "So, what do you want to be when you grow up?" my friend asked as she offered me a spoon to stir my coffee.

  "I don't know. Betty White?" I answered, "Or maybe the Queen of England."

 "Don't we all?" she laughed and then took a tiny sip of her pour over. "But what if we just grow up to be decent and lovely human beings? Will that be enough?"

  I thought about it for a moment. If my life never achieves my  "mid-twenties life-plan", will I be okay with becoming a decent and lovely human being... and nothing more? 

   "Maybe, " I said. "but pass me the half and half again. I can't drink this coffee so strong."


ABOUT NOELLE

   Noelle is a    speaker  , podcaster, and an everyday encourager .   She is the podcast producer/host for   Friending Podcast   and is a regular co-host for the podcast,   Slices of Life  . She lives in North Jersey with her    husband and two children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.         For more random facts on Noelle you can    click here    or stalk her on   Instagram  .

  Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and an everyday encourager She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her  husband and two children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

       For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.

 

  

 

 

THE HEALING POWER OF LETTING OTHERS HELP YOU.

       I'm sitting in Panera's right now... crying like a baby. In between sipping my free-refill dark roast coffee and trying to wipe the snot from my face ... I am writing to you. Weeping like a fool.

Here's the thing:

The last 60 days were the worst.

Like the worst.

         Those of you who know me or know of me, may be curious as to "what is going in Noelle's life?" but the details are not all mine to own and I'll need you to understand that. 

But a lot went down.

       And I had to temporarily step back from a few things I love (like the Friending Podcast) to tend to the people I love the most...my family. It was hard to do but it was the right thing to do so I did it. I'm still doing it. 

  In the midst of going through a season that was already terrible, our hearing impaired son's hearing aid broke. It was having problems for a while since it wasn't really suited to support all the special equipment he uses in school (such as an FM system and Roger Mic). Intially, I didn't panic because we had nearly met our son's deductible due to all the appointments he has throughout the year regarding his hearing. I thought, "Surely, our insurance will cover some of the cost of getting him hearing aids that will be strong enough for what he needs them for." 

     To make a very long story short - I was wrong.

    This news broke me. Hearing aids are incredibly expensive and I knew we did not have the money to pay for them. I felt like we had failed our son as his parents. I felt like I had failed in life in general and I was already having a terrible 60 days. I cried and cried and called my closest friends and cried to them.

     I was such in a bad way, my sister-in-law, Jenna, showed up at my house with three cupcakes and said, "I want to start a Go Fund Me to help raise money for Silas' hearing aids."

        I told her "thank you for the cupcakes but no thank you to the Go Fund Me. I can't ask people to help us."   After having been a missionary for 6 years, where we relied on the monthly financial support of others, I couldn't muster up any strength to ask for help. I just cried and ate cupcakes. But my sister-in-law persisted and said, "I want to do this for you."

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    And she did.

     Within an hour of her posting the Go Fund Me, $2000.00 were raised!  I didn't believe her until I checked the link she sent me. Over the next week, more and more people from all over the world began to donate money and share the post. This morning while sitting in Panera's , I received a phone call to tell me that nearly $5000 have been raised to help pay for the hearing aids Silas needs. 

Hence, why I am crying.

   Because there is a healing power that comes when we let others help us. It takes a lot of vulnerability and courage to say, "I can't do this on my own. Can someone help me?" Sometimes we don't even have the strength to say that - the shame is too heavy. We need to let our friends help carry the burden when they see us struggling and say,

"Hey! This is too heavy for you to hold on your own! Move over! I am helping!"

   Yes, these last 60 days were pretty terrible but as I have seen the generosity and genuine care of others (even strangers) come to help us, I have begun to remember what hope feels like again... healing is taking place... and I am learning that:

   Letting others help in times of need is not admitting failure as a human... it's admitting that you are simply human. Period.

We are not created to do life on our own. We need each other. 

   Many thanks to all of you who have donated to help us Silas' getting new hearing aids.  I am humbled by your heart to care for Silas this way. I don't have the words to express my gratitude at this moment. Even as I type these final words, I can sense the ugly crying coming on. So, I'll need to save my words of appreciation for when I am writing in the privacy of my home. But until then,  please know... Troy, Olive, myself and of course, Silas:

Thank you.

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    And to you, dear friend, who is also having a season of pain, shame, and terribleness:

Let those offering, help you.

You and I can't do this alone. We need our people to help us. We do.

Your friend,

Noelle


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WE'VE ALL BEEN THE BAD FRIEND.

Let's face it. We've all been the bad friend.

We've forgotten to call.

We didn't show up.

We told a secret.

We didn't invite.

We made it about ourselves.

We didn't really listen.

We spoke too strongly.

We didn't speak up at all.

We blame shifted.

We gave the silent treatment.

We were too busy.

We stole the limelight.

We took for granted.

This list could on.

 

So, here's the thing:

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     We've all been the bad friend at some point in someone's life. In fact, there is a strong possibility that someone is out there right now  telling their "Bad Friend" story and YOU are the antagonist.  The hard cold truth is that we have NOT been Mr. Rogers to every person we've ever known. Does this make us terrible people?

No... 

Well,  actually yes...

Alright, maybe.

   Maybe we have been a terrible friend at some point in our life journey but here's what we can do about it:

1. 'FESS UP.

    If we want to be a good friend from here on out, it's important to acknowledge that there has been times where we have been a bad friend. Look at the list above. Which of those things have  you been guilty of? Telling secrets? Forgetting to call? Giving the silent treatment? Take honest look and face your friendship crimes. But don't wallow in your mistakes. Work on them! If you need to make more time for friends, listen to podcasts or read books on the work/life balance. If you need to get better at addressing conflict, talk to a coach or counselor about sharpening communication skills. Fessing' up to your specific friendship crimes will help you know exactly where you can improve.

2. FOCUS IN.

  Focus in on the healthy, consistent friendships you have going on in your life currently. Become intentional at improving your friendship skills. Commit to becoming a great listener! Make room in your schedule so you can show up to your friend's important events! Learn to communicate when there is conflict! Choose to be the cheerleader instead of always trying to steal the show! Be awesome at staying in touch!  It's never too late to become a great friend to the people you are friends with today!

3. FORGET NOT.

     There may come a time when a friend lets YOU down. Don't forget how easy it is to be the bad friend. When a friend commits a friendship crime against you, gently confront them. Give them opportunity to change. Extend grace as one has been a bad friend before. If this friend continues to hurt you, clearly communicate your choice to put a healthy distance in the friendship. It's important that we don't allow others to continually treat us badly just because we ourselves have let others down in our past. Sometimes being a good friend is saying good-bye to an unhealthy friendship.

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    Yes, we've all been the bad friend at one point or other - but hey,

We can be better.

Your friend, 

Noelle


ABOUT NOELLE

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       Noelle is a  speaker, podcaster, and self proclaimed: Friendtor(Friend +Mentor = Friendtor).  She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women find grow in their calling and encourage one another to do the same through the art of friendship.   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.

THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO PRACTICE IF YOU WANT TO BE A GOOD FRIEND.

Okay, at the risk of sounding cheesy, I am just going to say it. Because it needs to be said.
 

To be a good friend to anyone you need to be a good friend to yourself first.


I see that eye roll.



        But listen, friend, many of you have been talking to me. You have been telling me of your loneliness or lack of connecting to other women. Some of you have shared deep friendship breakup pain with me. Some of you have told me that life has done such a number on you that not much is left of yourself to give to another human being in the form of friendship.

I want you to know that I get it and I hear you.

And this why, I need to say this. In fact, I tried to talk about this via Facebook Live on Thursday (insert my own eye roll) but technology is evil and never wants to play nice with me.

Back to the issue at hand:

To be a good friend, we must practice self-care.


I know. I know. Self-care sounds so...well...selfish. Friend, I am telling, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Even Jesus practiced self-care.

I heard you gasp.

       Let's look at the pattern of his life: Jesus would spend time with people and then He would go away from them to spend time alone with His Father, God. He was practicing self-care! He knew that in order to care for others, He would need to connect to His Father. This would require, taking time out to be by himself.

And no, I am not talking about devotions (reading your bible and praying). I am not even talking a  taking a "Sabbath" because "Sabbath" is not something we necessarily do by ourselves.

    I am talking about being alone and connecting to something you love... and ultimately connecting to Jesus

What does self-care look like?
A lot of things.

It could be a bi-weekly pedicure.
It could be a daily habit of taking bubble baths while reading a book.
It could be a nightly walk around the neighborhood.
It could be participating in a pilates class 2x week.
It could be a nap (especially when you are a mother of littles).
It could be stealing away to a coffee shop every Saturday morning to write poetry.
It could be baking a loaf of fresh bread.
It could be anything.

It just needs to be you, plus something you love to do, and time

Why?

      If we are not healthy (mind, body, and spirit), we will not empower others because we ourselves will feel drained. Suddenly, that friend's birthday dinner we were asked to attend will feel like a burden. Or when a friend calls to talk about an issue in her life, we will find ourselves too empty to offer her encouragement or advice. Making new friends will become an impossible task because we feel too frazzled or overwhelmed to make enough space in our lives for another person.

We need to take up a rhythm of self-care. 

      How does Jesus factor into all this? 

        God designed us with specific personalities, giftings, and desires. Each of us is a unique individual and how we replenish ourselves will look differently from each other. There is a reason why taking a bubble bath while reading a novel is refreshing to you! You were designed to enjoy bubble baths and reading! When we connect to what brings us joy, we can find the connection to Jesus. However, we must be intentional about it. Here are three things I pray when I am practicing self-care:

  1.  Jesus, help me to relax and receive joy as I spend this time alone.
  2.  Jesus, talk to me about my heart. How am I doing?
  3.  Jesus, talk to me about the people in my life. How are they doing and what can I do to help them?


   This may surprise you, but I have found profound spiritual insight in the midst of manicure. Jesus has spoken to me through a set of french gels nails and I am not ashamed to tell you that.

   Caring for ourselves is not selfish, but rather it scaffolds for what needs to be in place as we care for the people in our lives - including our friends.

     Here is where I am going to give it to you straight:
 

Some of us are too stressed out and it's making us a lousy friend.


 Now, listen, resist the urge to jump in that quicksand of guilt. I am not telling this so you'll get stuck feeling like a failure. I am telling you this so that you will give yourself permission to be by yourself to do something that brings you joy! Your friends need you to take care of yourself. Sometimes, it is the most loving thing you can do for them.

      Okay, I have said enough. Now go out and practice self-care! You'll be a better friend for it.  I promise.

Your friend,
Noelle 


ABOUT NOELLE

  Noelle is a researcher, speaker, and podcaster. She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women empower women through the art of friendship.

   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.

REDEEMING TRAGEDY IS NOT MY JOB.

"God must have someone better for you."

      I wish I had never spoken these shallow words to a friend whose husband had just left her and her children for another woman. I could kick myself in the stomach for being so insensitive. If I could go back in time, I would. I can still hear how her voice cracked when she mustered up what strength she had left to answer me, "I do not want someone better. I want my husband".

      It was not my job to redeem my friend's tragedy by offering her a reason for it. But this is what we do, isn't it? This is what we offer to the friend who undeservingly suffers pain. Their brokenness makes us feel uneasy and so we attempt to fix it with a cheap imitation of redemption.

    We are not called to be redeemers. There is only One who can redeem. We are, however, called to be carriers.

"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

 

     We are called to help carry the burden of the tragedy. What does this look like? It means that we walk at the pace, shoulder to shoulder, with the friend who has suffered the tragedy. A friend has lost their baby. After a few months, she mentions to you that she is ready to take down the crib. You do not question her timing. You do not say, "Don't you want to leave the crib in case you get pregnant again?" You simply reach out your hand and say, "Would you like my help?"

Many times I get an emails or text messages asking,  "My friend has gone through a tragedy. What should I do?"

I almost always answer back, "Mourn with her."

 

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15

 

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We are not asked to be redeemers. We are asked to be mourners.

      What does mourning with a friend look like? It looks like when you are out to dinner with her. She begins to cry about missing her husband who has left her. You do not say, "He is not worth your tears," or "Soon you will meet someone so much better".  Instead of speaking, you listen to her. You offer her your napkin to wipe away her tears and you do not hold back your own.

 

It is not our job to be the redeemers of our friends'  tragedy.

 

It is our job to carry the burden of the tragedy.

It is our job to mourn the pain of the tragedy.

And we can do this.

 

Your friend,

Noelle


ABOUT NOELLE

    Noelle is a researcher, speaker, and podcaster. She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women empower women through the art of friendship.

   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.

THE HOLY TASK OF A FRIEND: Helping Her Carry Her Dream

  "A true friend is somebody who can make us do what we can." Ralph Waldo Emerson

       Have you ever had a dream in your heart, so big that to carry it through felt impossible? Would you be surprised to know that your friends have big dreams that feel impossible in their hearts too? 

     The holy task of a friend is to help her carry her dream.

    I interviewed a woman who shared with me that one of her dreams was to become a singer-songwriter. In her early twenties, she became pregnant and was a single mother for years before meeting her now husband. Together, they had three more children and for most of her thirties, she had at least one child in diapers. When she turned forty,  she wondered if it was too late to get back to writing music.  Through the years, she had tinkered on her guitar and wrote a song or two but she had never played before an audience. Her friend encouraged her to play at an open mic night at the coffee shop in town. She laughed at the idea and told her friend, "My days of music are over!"

    The next morning, her friend showed up with a packet of new guitar strings and a note that said, "Your days of music haven't expired. Music is eternal. Start playing."  

    With this encouragement, she began to write and sing. Six months later, the singer-songwriter woman called her friend to say, "This Saturday, I am going to play at the open mic night at the coffee shop in town." Before she could ask, her friend interrupted, "I'll be there and I'll a bring a fan club."

   Just as she promised, her friend was at the open mic night with a large fan club waiting to hear this singer-songwriter's debut. This friend gathered several mutual friends to attend the open mic to show their support. They brought flowers and signs and applauded with whistles and loud hollers after the singer-songwriter  played before an audience for the very first time.

    "What moved me," the singer-songwriter said, with tears in her eyes, "is that this way not her dream but she carried it as if it were her own."

 

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      Galatians 6:2 takes on a deeper meaning for us,

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

        A burden is a a heavy load. A dream can feel too overwhelming or too impossible to carry through. It is our wonderful responsibility in friendship, to help shoulder the burden of a friend's dream.

 

 

 

    2 REASONS HOW  WE  ARE QUALIFIED TO HELP CARRY A FRIEND'S DREAM:

 

1. We know the song in the heart of our friend.

    Joan Chittister shares this beautiful quote in her book, "The Friendship of Women: The Hidden Tradition of the Bible":

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can it sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

    If we have spent consistent time with our friend, we will know what she likes to do. One of my friends loves to cook lavished meals for her family. I know that one of her dreams is to write a cookbook. When I call her on a snow day, I know to always ask, "What is on your menu?" With great joy and detail, she describes to me what she is cooking. I know that cooking is a song in heart. 

 

2. WE KNOW THE JOURNEY OUR FRIEND HAS BEEN ON.

     We know the unique path our friend has walked. We know what has broken her heart and what has been her greatest joy. We know who has been her best support and who always seems to make her feel small. We know her journey which means we have an important perspective that is helpful in carrying her dream.   

 

     When we know both the song in our friend's heart and the journey our friend has travelled,  we are then well equipped and qualified to help carry her dream.

 But how?

  I have identified 6 ways to help carry a friend's dream and have condensed into a FREE download for you. To receive "6 WAYS TO HELP CARRY A FRIEND'S DREAM", fill in the form below:

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      When we help carry our friend's dream, we share in her joy and her growth. This is the honor and reward of being a good friend.

 

 

Your friend,

Noelle


ABOUT NOELLE

10675670_10155127289855468_143793331215396730_n.jpg

     Noelle is a researcher, speaker, and podcaster. She is the podcast producer/host for Friending Podcast and is a regular co-host for the podcast, Slices of Life. She lives in North Jersey with her hot husband and two wild children. She is a big fan of Constant Comment Tea, the Oscars, and Lesley Knope.

      Noelle is passionate about helping women empower women through the art of friendship.

   For more random facts on Noelle you can click here or stalk her on Instagram.


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5 WORDS THAT ARE KILLING FRIENDSHIPS EVERY DAY

    As I research friendship, I have discovered there are five words that are killing friendships every day. Chances are, you and I will have said them at least a half a dozen times before this day is over. What are these five words? I am so glad you asked... 

"I have been so busy."

Imagine these 3 scenarios with me:

  1.  Your friend texts you when you are on your way to work and you suddenly remember that you hadn't responded back to her last text. You quickly respond with: "I'm sorry I didn't get back to you earlier. I have been so busy."
  2.  You run into a friend at your child's soccer game. You talk about how you have been meaning to get together but,  "I have been so busy running my kids to their extracurricular activities. It's been impossible to find a spare moment to have coffee with anyone. "
  3. You have been meaning to send your best friend, who lives in another state, a birthday card. Days and weeks go by after her birthday. You finally get a spare moment to call her and wish her a belated happy birthday and you qualify the tardiness of your greeting with: "I wanted to send you a card weeks ago but I have been so busy."

    We have all have found ourselves in some variation of the scenarios above. Why? Because truly, we all are (so) busy. 

 

    Our "busyness" is not a lie or a made up excuse. Sadly, it is the reality that many of us find ourselves trapped in. Barbara Ehrenreich, an author, coined the phrase that captures a place of where many of us find ourselves living in: "The Cult of Busyness".

   The Cult of Busyness is where busyness is elevated as a virtue above the rest: "I am busy, therefore I am important. I am needed. My existence is validated by how much of my time is occupied by doing."  We try to maintain full schedules in order to avoid empty lives: (ahem) loneliness.  The irony is that the busier our schedules become, the less opportunity there is for true social connection. 

    Psychiatrists, Jaqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz, wrote about this problem in their book, The Lonely American:  "It's (a) vicious cycle of staying busy to avoid seeming lonely and feeling lonely because there seems to be no time to cultivate relationships."

    When the words "I have been so busy" are communicated to our friends, we are communicating that their friendship does not hold a high priority in our lives. Time with them is not as valuable as all the other stuff we are busy with. After awhile, our friends get the hint. They stop calling or texting as much. They don't bother us with dates for when we can together. They would never dare to stop by our home without ever scheduling it first. Why? Because we are so busy.

     A young mother sat at my kitchen table in tears. She was very busy with two small children and a new business she just started from her home. While scanning her Facebook feed one night, she saw that a few of friends had gone out to dinner together without her. She was crushed. Why hadn't they called her to include her? She felt left out and cried as she told me, "I am so busy with so many things and yet, I feel so alone." 

    Many of our friends grow weary of waiting for their turn in our lives. They eventually move on.  In a recent survey I did, I found that the majority of "friendship break ups" were not caused by conflict but rather, allowing too much time to pass before connecting with that friend again.

   So, how do we keep the busyness of our lives from starving our friendships to death? Here are three practical keys that we start living out today.

1. PRIORITIZE. 

    Friendship is not only important to our health and sanity but it is invaluable towards achieving our goals and dreams. If we want to be successful in our personal mission, we need to spend time with our friends. The first place we begin in protecting our friendships is by making them a priority.  

     When we set up our weekly/monthly schedules we should intentionally mark out time to spend with friends. I know a woman who is writing a book, finishing her master's and preparing her child for college. She is very busy but she has marked out on her weekly schedule a day that she can grab lunch with friends. Every Friday, her schedule says that it is,  "Friends on Friday". She communicated with her friends, that each week, her schedule is open on that day for them to grab lunch. By setting aside regular time with her friends, she is making her friendships a priority. These weekly lunches have become a source of encouragement for her as she finishes her master's, writes her book and sends her baby off to college. She also has the opportunity to be that same support to the friends in her life. When we make our friendships a priotity on our schedule, we will find greater strength and support to get all the other stuff done.

2. PURGE

    Let's be honest. Some of us are busy with things that we do not need to busy with!  We need to purge our schedules a bit and take honest inventory on how we spend our time. Do we really need to volunteer at our child's school, in our church's women ministry, AND run our town's softball league? Are we doing things because we really want to or because we feel we have to?

    If we cannot find time to spend two hours with a friend once a month, then there is something seriously wrong with how we are spending our time. We are created to be in and enjoy the company of each other. God does not call us to be so busy that we cannot regularly connect with our friends. It's time to purge and cut out some things of our schedule so we can  make room for relationships to grow and deepen.

   I recommend consulting with a life coach when you begin the "purging of your schedule" process. I have done this several times with my life coach, Elise Daly Parker. The value of having an objective and skilled person helping me to craft a healthy schedule has saved many of my relationships, especially, my friendships.

3. PERMIT

   Give your close friends verbal permission to interrupt your busyness. This is counter-cultural. Sebastian Maniscalco, a comedian, talks about how 20 years ago when the doorbell rang in your home, it was a happy occasion. It meant you had unexpected company! Your mom pulled out a cake, made some coffee and no one was ever annoyed that friends had "dropped by". Nowadays, when your doorbell rings, you panic or even a little annoyed because your schedule has been interrupted. 

  We need to allow chosen friends to interrupt our schedules. We need to verbally tell them that they have permission to call us when they are having a bad day. If we can't talk, we will let them know and get back to them later on.  They need to know that if they happen to be in our neighborhood, they should absolutely call us to see if we are home! Their spontaneous presence in our home is welcomed! They need to be told that when they feel like they haven't spent much time with us, they have permission to tell us so.

    We need to permit our friends to have this special place in our lives so that when life does get busy, we have safeguarded our friendships. 

      

 

     If we prioritize friendships, purge our schedules from unnecessary activities, and permit friends to interrupt our busyness, we will find that there will be no need to say, 

"I have been so busy." 

   The allusion that busyness tries to sell us is that busyness will produce success. This is simply not true. At the end of the famous movie, "It's a Wonderful Life", George finds a book that his guardian angel has left for him. Inside the cover of Tom Sawyer, his guardian angel inscribed these powerful words:

"Dear George,

Remember, no man is a failure who has friends."

 

     As we confront our busyness and try to redefine what success in life truly means, let us keeps these words close to our hearts. Our friendships are one of the things God has created in bringing meaning to our lives - without them, we are simply alone... running on our hamster wheel with no end in sight.

 

Your friend,

Noelle

   

 

    

 

   

 

 

    

WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD? BECOME A GOOD FRIEND. 3 Ways To Get Started in The Friendship Revolution.

        The proof is in the science. Friendship has a direct impact on our health and culture.

      Shasta Nelson, a friendship expert and author of "Friendships Don't Just Happen" reports, "There are numerous studies and articles that link a circle of supportive friends to lower stress levels, greater happiness, prevention of diseases,  faster recovery rates from surgery and accidents, and greater chances of reaching life goals."

    If we want to create a healthier and happier space for our world to exist, we need to cultivate and nurture our friendships.      

    Carlin Flora, another friendship guru, and author told this inspiring story in her book, "Friendfluence":

       " Prior to Rosa Park's act of defiance on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, others had been arrested for similar transgressions, yet they hadn't launched the civil rights movement as a result. Parks, it turns out, had many close friends who sprang into action upon hearing the news of her arrest, and furthermore, she had less close friends throughout the city, from different walks of life, enabling support for Parks to spread far and wide."

      Friendship can launch a world-changing social movement. Rosa Parks had the support and voice of her friends. Little did they know that simply being a "good friend" to Rosa would help open wide the door to a social movement that would still be impacting us today. 

    Do we want to change the world? Do we want to see our world become healthier and happier place to live? We need to become better at being a "good friend".  But how? Where do we start?

 

1. Practice "Consistency".

       "Friendship may have felt like it just happened to us when were kids at recess, campers in the same cabin, playmates on the same street, or suitemates in the same college dorm, " writes Shasta Nelson, "What did just happen was consistency. Seeing each other regularly without our ever scheduling it."

     Consistency is the necessary ingredient in becoming a good friend It is the repetitive time together that helps us get to know each deeper and understand how can we encourage and empower each other more effectively.  Here is the thing: We cannot have "consistency" in friendship with every single person that we call "friend". It's impossible. The best thing to do is to take an honest look at our lives and ask ourselves, "Who are the people in my season of life that I can easily practice "consistency" with? Who encourages me to be a better person? Who has a dream that I want to root for? Who has similar availability?"

     Consistency doesn't mean, "every day". It can mean a weekly skype call, or a monthly meet up or traveling to see each other twice a year. Consistency is intentionally carving out the time to invest into the friendship on a regular basis.

2.  Stop Trash-Talking.

    Recently, I have come to realize that I do an awful lot of trash-talking without even realizing it. I criticize other's values or situations as if I have already mastered life and therefore have a free pass to comment on how someone else is  navigating their own journey.

     Trash-talking, gossiping, and unsolicited criticism is destroying the quality of our friendships. Instead of speaking honestly to each other, we are speaking poorly about each other because we underestimate the power of our words. I am aware that is has taken a long time for the female voice to have a place in our culture. Though we may have ways to go, we still have made strides in this area. However, I am shocked at how often I use my empowered voice as a woman to tear down other women unknowingly! This should not be!  If we really want to change the world - particularly the culture of which women currently live in, we need stop trash-talking other. We need to fight to speak about our friends with honor and respect

   Friends, I am so convicted of this and I am the first to admit that this is an area I need to make a change in! 

3. Ask Questions and then Listen Carefully.

       I have a tendency to monopolize the conversation. It's a terrible habit I have. In doing this, I lose out on understanding the people around me. One of the things that I believe makes us a "good friend" is being able to ask questions that go beyond the usual, "How are you?"

    I started to ask my friends, "What are you most excited about right now?" and "If money and time were of no concern, what kind of work would you throw yourself into?"  In addition, when friends share their struggles and anxieties with me, I have been trying (although not always successfully) to simply listen instead of offering solutions.

   When a friend shares a dream or desire, I have been trying to be intentional in asking them about their dream/desire in future conversations. Sometimes, I will even ask, "How can I help you achieve your goal?" I have several friends who have responded with, "Keep asking me about my dreams."

    

    There are many ways to become a good friend. The ones I mentioned above are the ones that are currently highlighted in my own heart.  I encourage you to sit down and take inventory. Where are you lacking as a friend? What could you do better? Your list may look different than mine.

 

  Who knows what good will come from us individually deciding to be a better friend? Furthermore, how much good can we accomplish without the support of our friends? 

   We need each other. We just do.  Helen Keller said, "Alone we do so little; together we can so do much."

 

Your friend,

Noelle
 

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BE A PARTY ANIMAL: The Secret to Being an Awesome Friend

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Today is my birthday and I am NOT pretending to be all humble about it. Hello, people,  I made it to 34 years of age! When I was 13 years old, I thought anyone over 30 years of age qualified for the "Senior" discount at the movies. So, today... I feel old... alive.. and a little bummed I still have to pay full price at the movie theaters. But whatevs. I'm still here, kickin' it.

    One of my favorite things about being a friend is how it is my role to celebrate my people. Being a "party animal" is apart of the job description of friendship, folks. Friendship is the space of which we can be validated and reminded of our importance to the people we share life with. Whether it be done through brunch, mimosas, karaoke, spa pedicures, or dinner with the besties.... it MUST be done. When we forget to celebrate our friends, we communicate disinterest in their pursuits and purpose to our lives.

I can think of 10 reasons, off the top of my head, why you would CELEBRATE a friend:

  1. She lived another year. (Birthdays are a great excuse for getting dressed up, going out, and spending too much money on grilled chicken. Who cares if the restaurant is overrated? Adult conversation trumps all!)
  2. She sent her first child to kindergarten and didn't need to take a valium to get through it. (She just sent her baby out to the wolves, people! This is a big deal to her mama's heart. Celebrate with chocolate. Lots of chocolate.)
  3. She graduated her last child from high school and no one died in the process of surviving the 'school years'. (I am telling your right now, the day after my last child  graduates from high school, I WILL be on a plane to Aruba with my besties. If you know my children, you will know the miracle it will be that I have survived.)
  4. She started grad school. (She is about to spend A LOT of money, time, and brain space to better herself! The least we can do is acknowledge it with brunch.)
  5. She finished grad school.  (Grad school is no joke. When your friend is finished, she'll feel like she has just survived the Hunger Games. Be sure to pay homage to her sacrifice.)
  6. She received a job promotion or started a new job venture. (Hard work is a rare commodity. It's also rarely recognized when it does exist. Our friends should be given gold crowns and red sashes when their hard work is finally acknowledged. Be that friend who throws the parade for her.)
  7. She conquered one of her fears. (One of my friends recently had her first bikini wax done. This was on the top ten list of fears she held [it's on my list too]. We are all so proud of her bravery, we are thinking of calling in a caterer.)
  8. She pursued one of her dreams. (Whether big or little, make a fuss.)
  9. She had the courage to break up with the jerk she had been dating (No lie. I once threw a friend a legit "So Glad You Broke Up With that Jerk" party. She met the love of her life that following week. Just saying.)
  10. She just needs to be reminded, she matters. (Life's hard. Need I say more?)

Celebrating a friend does NOT need to break the bank, but you will have to spend your TIME on her. I personally give "celebration" the permission to trump my busy schedule when it comes to my circle of friends. I believe being a "party animal" in my friend's fan club is the secret ingredient to strong friendship. Without it, the relationship grows limp.

So, go on! Be a party animal! There is no better way to empower a friend than to be ready to celebrate her existence and achievements!  Everyone needs that kind of entourage. 

Your friend and birthday girl,

Noelle