Housecleaning…it happens when the warm breezes of spring beg us to open our windows and let in just a bit of freshness to air out the mustiness of winter. We begin the ritual of tossing out the old to make room for the new, or simply purge the unnecessary. I’m a firm believer in purging that which has grown tired or useless, worn or dated. Honestly, other than my most favorite shoes or those vintage and classic pieces that are truly timeless, there is little I hang onto in my life. If it hasn’t seen the outside of my closet in more than two years, then off it goes to the nearest Goodwill store.
I’m finding that as I get older, relationships are another thing that I need to purge on a somewhat regular basis. Friendships are often like fashion – trendy and fun at the time, but increasingly tiresome as you move through the seasons of life. Sometimes you realize that you have simply outgrown the relationship. Other times it is more a function of putting more energy into it than you are ever going to get out of it. My rule is no emotional vampires, something you really have to watch out for these days. As I have often said, who needs “the quicker picker upper” when you’re living in the world of the self-absorbed. These clueless individuals are the ones that spend 95% of their time trying to decide if you, as a friend, are worth any kind of effort and what exactly might they “be getting out of it” on the other side. They suck the air out of a room from the moment they walk through the door, leaving everyone else gasping for whatever oxygen is left. Sad that there are those that base their relationships on what they need, rather than what they can give. Those of us who have been around the block more than a few times realize that it is never about what you can get, but what you can give. The more you give, the more you receive in ways you never even imagined. I’m sad for those that never get to experience such friendships, and count myself as lucky that I have so many people in my life who are such giving souls. We sustain each other through the bad times, and they make the good times so much more worthwhile.
I had the opportunity to spend an hour or so with one such person this past weekend. I consider her much like a sister, and as is the case with my sister, I never get to see her enough. But every time we get together, it is like picking up right where we left off. We are polar opposites on the political scale (although I am closer to center than she thinks I am) but very similar in our outlook on life. I wish it could have been a longer visit. I wish she lived closer. But I’ll take what I can get when it comes to spending time with her, and I will always cherish whatever time we share. Thanks Annessa, for being such a kind, compassionate and wonderful woman. You make my life richer, just by being in it.
I’ve met several other women over the past six months, as well as rekindled relationships with several others that I have known for the better part of my 46 years. Each has proven to me that there are indeed still really great women left in the world. Several of them would describe themselves as “low-maintenance”, and in fact they are. We get together when we can, and rarely make unnecessary demands on each other. I’m happy to stroke their egos, but it isn’t required. They are secure enough in themselves to know that no amount of ego-stroking from others can make up for the fact that self-love and security come from within. They don’t spend endless amounts of time comparing themselves to other women, and they are not in the habit of putting down others on a nearly constant basis. When we are together, we laugh a lot, appreciate each other, along with our own individual beauty and talents, and we care for each other - more deeply each time we are in each other’s company. These are the friendships you never throw away, for they will sustain you through your life. These are the friendships that one should always treat as a beautiful garden, one that requires watering and weeding, care and love. Thank you to each of you and know that I consider you a true blessing. You give me hope that there are still those who truly care for others and are willing to make the commitment to family and friendships without ridiculous expectations. I look forward to many moments and shared experiences, both good and bad, that draw us closer together.
I guess what I am trying to say is don’t be apprehensive about “spring cleaning” your life, even metaphorically. While it is often scary to throw out that which is familiar, clearly there is no value in holding onto that which is not working for you in your life. Often times, there in the pile of crap at the bottom of your closet, you find something even more precious just waiting for you in that beautiful unopened box.