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Ok, here is some food for thought:

The only way to have a friend is to be one. Ralph Waldo Emerson

It all seems so simple doesn’t it?  But, how do we maintain that Sparkle Factor — you know, maintaining a Golden friendship as we grow older or trying to cultivate a new friendship that will bring us fulfillment, love, and empowerment. These are interesting issues as we get older, and while I have no comprehensive answers, the following may give you some reflection and insight into making, maintaining and keeping the sparkle alive in your friendships.

I personally have a tight knit Crew as I call them. While I do know a lot of people, I am a extroverted-introvert and it takes me a while to open up to someone and really gain their trust. Alas, I am fortunate enough to have a few BEST pals as I call them. A couple live pretty close, and a few live quite a distance, so keeping that sparkle shining can definitely be challenging at times. I like to compare it to a coin, its two-sided and sometimes that can be challenging!

Let’s face it, by now we are all wise enough to know that some relationships are positive and mood elevating. Others can suck the optimism and serenity right of you. Yes we all know them, and they have been deemed “Emotional Vampires”. They do more than drain your physical energy. The most toxic ones can make you believe you are unworthy and unlovable. Others inflict damage with smaller, subtle digs to make you feel bad about yourself, i.e., “Dear, I see you have put on a few pounds” or “You’re just being overly sensitive”. Just like that, these manipulative Vampires have thrown you off of your Sparkle-Factor by prodding areas of shaky self-worth. So……my first advice is: GET RID OF THE EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES IN YOUR LIFE!

By this point in our lives, we’ve all been around the proverbial block once or twice (or maybe more), so we need people in our lives who enrich our lives, who empower us, who rise us up against the taunts of society, the media who portray only the young as useful and beautiful, and naysayers who tell us to conform to society’s standards and be boringly middle-aged.  We need friends who listen, understand, and understand that being an Optimist is the Cha-Cha of LIFE!

Ladies, ladies, I know some of you are sitting back, reading this and thinking, “but I’ve known Ethel for 25 years and she will always be my friend, so I don’t need to do anything, she will always be there”…  Yes, yes — this may be true, as most of the women I know are pretty damned loyal and true blue, but you cannot let a friendship just sit out in the sun without any sunscreen for years and never give it a hat to put on! While your friend may always be there (in your mind at least), you really do need to check in once in awhile. I KNOW…I KNOW our lives are busy, self-importance is the main ingredient of society these days and yes, many of us are still raising families, have very demanding careers or are still getting our own shit together. But just because you’ve had a lasting friendship that requires little fertilizer in recent memory, it is always a good idea to just take some time out of your busy life and check in on your flower/friend. It really can be easy.  As simple as a quick text or message, a phone call, or a nice hand written card. And I’m not talking about every day, every week, or every month even. But check in once in awhile, catch up, keep that friendship growing, healthy and nurture it.  Do not let your precious flower wilt.  You never know what someone may be going through and your checking in may even be in some cases the difference between life and death. Too many people in this life say “I wish I would have been there”; well, what are you waiting for. I’m telling you that you always have time for a long-time friend who has been a pretty flower in your life.

MEETING NEW FRIENDS   

Meeting new friends can be daunting and tough.  Many of us (not all) are not the social butterflies we maybe once were and if you are here reading this you probably are not necessarily the straight-laced Vanilla type — at least, I hope you aren’t!  If you are a little bit weird, introverted, maybe have your fair share of tattoos, piercings,  or funky bright pink hair or wear styles such as vintage clothing or are deemed as somewhat of an outsider, it can be tough. Finding your Tribe can be hard, indeed it can.  But, once you find your Tribe or even that one special friend, it can be a journey that will continue to bring you years of laughter, happiness, enrichment and love.

One of the beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood” — Lucious Annaeus Seneca 

BUT HOW DO I MEET NEW FRIENDS?

Meeting new friends can be tricky.  I have found these days personally, I tend to meet new friends through other friends.  Your current friends should have a good judge of character (at least I hope they do), presumably have something in common with you and can often open the door to new friendships that you may find rewarding because you then may have something in common with their mutual friends. This is a great way to meet new people and stay in contact with your current friends.

Try something new, like dancing!

But if that is not an option for you, don’t despair.  It is time to find your inner sparkle and SHINE. First, ask yourself what truly makes you sparkle?  Do you love to dance?  If so, then go take some dancing lessons!  This is a great way to meet new people, get some exercise and possibly make a connection with someone.  If you cannot afford to take some lessons, many community centers offer free lessons or have Swing Dance or Salsa nights.  If you are not the dancing Queen type, say maybe more the athletic type, try out a new activity. Join a local hiking group, co-ed softball team, roller derby league (you are not too old, I did it!), beach volleyball group or take up skateboarding (I just took up the Board last year and love it!)   And if you are giving me the proverbial side-eye right now thinking I am crazy, maybe an Art Group is for you, a Craft Group, or start attending community theatre performances or your monthly Gallery Walk.  Have you always wanted to learn how to sew because you have a passion for it?  Take a class and you may meet another weirdo just like you!  If you have a penchant for old classic cars, start going to local car shows, introduce yourself to a few people and share your love with others who also love cars. Try something new, but something you like.  Of course, there is always the local bar as well, but don’t just go to sit on a bar stool and get drunk. Join a dart league or a pinball league!  You can have your cocktail and meet some new people!  Find a new passion. When you become passionate about something new, others will be drawn to you and want to be your friend or get to know you.  It may be a little uncomfortable at first getting out of your comfort zone, but I know you can do it!

I took up roller derby and made many enduring friendships

Get a little comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is my motto, it will prepare you for many of life’s uncertainties and will set you apart from the flock, and you may meet some great new friends, not to mention have some memorable adventures and stories to tell. Likewise, if you want to broaden your friends, maybe try one of the above activities or something new with one of your current friends or with your partner. Your current friends and/or partner should also totally understand when you tell them that you want to meet a new friend or try something new. Jealousy should not factor into this equation and, as you can explain, you are just enriching your life and trying something new and maybe making a new friend in the process. If jealousy or being unsupportive factors into this equation, it may be time to for a serious conversation. Alas, this may be another article for another time.

When meeting new potential friends it is always good to remember a few things. Things we may need to remember personally, and also possible signs that you may need to run away from new potential friend may include:

  • Don’t divulge your entire life story the first time you meet someone (this is sooooo annoying and may send your potential friend running)
  • Try to stay positive, be optimistic and listen, no Negative Nancy
  • Do not be a one-upper
  • Do not be a Ms. Me Me Me Me or over-controlling (remember, reciprocal friends are the best friends)
  • Try not to be a Gossip

In summary, friendship is not about who you’ve known the longest.  It’s about who has walked into your life and said “I’m here for you”.   We all need to remember that our friendships are like gardens, sometimes we need to get rid of the weeds, sometimes we need to tend to the flowers/friends we already have by checking in on them and giving them some love/fertilizer, and then there are times we need to plant new flowers/find new friends and cultivate and add to our garden.  Maintaining that Sparkle Factor can be a little tough, but I know you are up for IT — I am confident and am here for you!

So do me a favor…. give that ole pal a call or text today or surprise them with a pretty hand written card or small gift in the mail.  Tell your friends you love them, be supportive, listen more, talk less, but always laugh! But also remember…friendship is like a coin, two sided, and if you aren’t seeing the flip side, or if one side is indeed getting pretty dull, it may be time to start weeding your garden and planting some new pretty flowers into your garden of life!  Find your Tribe, be yourself and have some FUN!

by Cheryl aka Sassy Morris

Sassy packed up and left the gray gloomy skies of the Pacific Northwest along with her ungratifying, soul-sucking corporate job and moved to the sunshine and desert breezes in beautiful Southern California. Canadian Ex-Patriate, Wife, Mother, Fur-Baby Mother and Entrepreneur, Sassy now sells Vintage for a living after a life-long love and passion for rescuing old things. Sassy, sometimes serious, always honest and usually outrageous, she is embracing the “silver” years with a sense of humor, adventure, and seeking that path to enlightenment along the way. Visit her Etsy shop!