I have just returned from my annual holiday to the Sunshine Coast. It was weeks of pure bliss – spending time with my family, sunshine, swimming , long walks on the beach, cocktails at sunset, scrumptious dinners at the local restaurants, yoga on the deck and lazy afternoons reading by the pool. But one of the best things of all was catching up with friends.
We had dinner with some very old friends who we’ve known since before we were married.We were the last to leave the restaurant and could have talked for hours more. Friends came to stay and after sundowners and live music at our local beach bar we enjoyed cooking up a feast on the barbecue. We played board games and laughed way into the night.These were friends we’d made whilst standing on the side of rugby fields in sun, rain and howling winds, watching our boys. You can get to know people pretty well through sport, as a spectator or a player. We lunched at a winery with some friends I’ve known since my primary school days, where just a look or an ongoing joke can make us all cackle with laughter, even though it’s been a few years between catch ups. The clever Ralph Waldo Emerson has said, ‘ It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.’
At home in Brisbane I have a tight-knit group of four who have coffee and lunch almost every week. We go on girl’s trips together on the pretext of going to the theatre, but really it’s so we can chat into the wee hours as girls of any age love to do.We met through our children all going to the same primary school and even though our kids are at all different ages and stages we are there for each other always and have each other’s backs. If something goes wrong for one of us we rally the troops and circle those wagons and wade through the troubles together. It helps that we all live in the same suburb. It makes it very easy to stay in touch.We have many little satellite groups radiating out from this circle who come and go- bigger groups for the theatre, birthday lunches and charity dos. Every one of these near and dear friends are always there to help each other in times of crisis. Euripides agrees and says, ‘ Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.’
Some friends are great shopping buddies and some I’ve grown to know well through taking long walks in the bush, even getting lost, thank heaven for google maps to guide us home.
Some friends are party girls and when we go out they bring out my naughty side and unleash my inner ‘Dancing Queen’. My yoga buddies meet every Tuesday and finish with a coffee. I think we’ve solved every teenage problem imaginable at the café we go to every week.
Joining a writing group has meant another circle of friends who meet every fortnight. The common thread is our love of the written word. We commiserate with every rejection and cheer for each success and we have become a tight-knit little group, even though life often gets in the road and we may miss a meeting or two. Through writing I’ve also become friends with other authors, publishers and my favourite booksellers. It’s great when you find your tribe who are as passionate about your interests as you are.
Another two friends feel like sisters. We found each other through our children and my own children really respect and care for these friends who’ve been around throughout their childhood. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like but we know each other well. These friends are like the schoolgirl friends you know you can tell your secrets to and they would never betray you. They are loyal and true and never, ever jealous. These friends in the words of Gina Barreca are ‘ Best friends who are your diamonds. It’s your best friends who are extremely resilient, made under pressure and of astonishing value. They are everlasting; they can cut glass if they need to.’
And now in my ‘50’s I’m making new friends through She Brisbane -through the people I work with and the people I meet. All of us boast a range of ages, different life experiences and backgrounds but I love being in the company of so many diverse women with so many stories to tell. The younger ones keep me young and drag me kicking and screaming into the world of technology and those of a similar age can offer advice , strength and friendship and show me the way to move forward with elegance and a zest for life.
So if you haven’t caught up with friends recently due to the family commitments of Christmas or the endless summer holidays why not catch up with a friend today. Go to the park, meet for coffee, a walk or a movie. Make the time to call some old friends and see how they’re going. Be the one to organise a catch up. Follow your passion and join a group of like-minded souls – book clubs, writing groups, yoga classes, art classes, mothers groups, walking groups and garden clubs abound in Brisbane.
Friends are important.They are food for your soul. They hold up a mirror to you and accept and love you, quirks and all. Start saying ‘yes’ to invitations and see what happens. You might connect with someone you would never have known before. Life is too short to be lonely and friends can lighten the load and help you navigate this crazy journey. So if you haven’t made a resolution for the year ahead seek connection, real face-to-face connection. You will be happier, healthier and more grateful for every day.
Perhaps friends are telepathic too! I’ve just received an invitation from friends to go to the movies to watch ‘Swinging Safari’. I can’t think of anything I’d like more, as I know we’ll have a great laugh and reminisce about growing up in the ‘70’s. Friends know exactly what you need to make you happy. So go on make that call to a friend. You will probably brighten someone’s day.