Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for the ‘friendship’ Category

Celebrating the Love of Friends: A Collaboration with a Purpose Post

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Folks, the Collaboration with a Purpose group wanted to talk about love. But not necessarily romantic love; any sort of love we felt like, save self-love (which we covered last year), would do.

So I decided, after much reflection, to talk about the love of friends, and why it should be much more celebrated than it is.

February Collaboration (main)

We tend to celebrate romantic love in this culture, and around the Westernized world. But when romances end, it’s our friends who comfort us; when our parents are ill, it’s our friends who comfort us; when we’ve had a horrible day, it’s our friends who comfort us. And those unsung people are the ones we often lean on, far more than anyone else, in order to live the best lives we can.

And I, personally, know this is so, because it’s exactly what I’ve done. While I love my family, and I care about them deeply, most of the time it’s my friends who hear my innermost thoughts and feelings.

Why? Well, they listen. They don’t judge. They often have good insights that come from different angles than the ones I’ve already considered. And they remind me that the family you pick — your friends, in other words — is just as important as the family you were stuck with by birth.

Friends care, in short, in a way that’s deep and powerful. It’s every bit as important as romantic love, the love of friends; in some ways, it’s more important, because if you’re with someone you care about romantically but you aren’t actually friends with them, that’s not much of a romance. (Just saying.)

So, we think love is all about this:

February Collaboration (optional)

 

And while there is a lot of that, in love — the lightness of being, the feeling that you can do anything — and while that is a wonderful picture (which is why I wanted to use it, though it was our “alternate” photo this time), I think the love of friends is actually more important.

Because friends stay with you, through good and bad. And friends don’t stop caring, no matter what…which is why the love of friends, arguably, is just as important as romantic love. (And I truly wish it were just as celebrated. Really.)

Now, go take a look at these blogs from my Collaboration with a Purpose buddies!

Divyang Shah

Mylene Orillo

Ipuna Black

Sonyo Estavillo

Sadaf Siddiqi

Nicolle K.

Jane Love

Swati Kadamb

 

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Written by Barb Caffrey

February 5, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Presence, not Presents (a Xmas-inspired Post)

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Folks, we’re inundated daily by commercials, as it’s close to Christmas season. (Otherwise shortened to Xmas, of course.) There’s the ubiquitous Pajamagram commercial. Or the “My Pillow” guy. Or the “go to Jared (jewelers), so your girlfriend will love you” commercials.

I call BS on all of that. (Banana squishies, y’know. Family site.)

The important thing about the Xmas season is visiting your family, friends, loved ones, and making time for all of them. Making memories, too…being with them, being present, being there, doing what you can to let those you care about know that you, too, care and think about them.

That is what matters. Not all that other nonsensical stuff.

Look. I do like presents. (Books. Lots and lots of books. I’m a writer, so this can’t surprise you too much.) But I like well-chosen ones. Ones that show you know me. Ones that show you are paying attention.

Not just something you saw on TV. Or heard on the radio. Or saw on the Internet.

But if it’s a question between your presence, and being with you, and letting you know I am happy to see you, and getting a gift in the mail, it’s no contest.

I want your presence. Not your presents.

(And in this day and age, where our loved ones often live far away, your presence can certainly be virtual if you really can’t go home to see the family…just sayin’. Back to our regularly-scheduled post.)

Too many people get the idea that the only way to show that you care is to buy stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff. Really expensive stuff, too…smaller, well-chosen gifts don’t matter as much, because hey, they’re not “status symbol possessions.” And you can’t show ’em off.

Again, I say “BS.”

All I know is, if you are in doubt of what to get your significant other, or a good friend, or a family member, here’s my advice:

Call that person. Talk to them. Be with them, as much as you can, in whatever ways you can…and if all else fails, ask that person what he or she wants.

But if that person is worth your time, he or she is going to understand that not all of us are made of money. And even if we are, it’s more important to be there, and to pick something the other person really wants, than to just go to a jewelry store and pick out something expensive and call it good.

So, do remember, this holiday season, that your presence is far, far more important than any present you could possibly give. Because year-round, the things that matter are how you act with your loved ones and friends, not what you gave ’em…or what they gave you, either, beyond their care, concern, friendship, and love.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 11, 2017 at 8:49 pm

Sunday Introspection: When Friendships End

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Folks, if you’ve read my blog regularly for any length of time, you know that I am a firm believer in the value of persistence.

But there’s one thing and one thing only where I’ve found that persistence doesn’t seem to help. And it has to do with friendship.

Yeah, you do want to persist through good times and bad, and most of us do. But what are you supposed to do when a friendship ends?

There are good reasons for friendships ending, mind. Your lives go in different directions. Or maybe you have found your values aren’t as similar as you thought. Or perhaps there’s just no meeting of the minds any longer…

Whatever it is, all you can do is accept it. You can’t make that person be your friend any more. And even if you could, it wouldn’t be worth anything anyway…so why even waste your time thinking about it?

This is not a mindset that’s easy for me to embrace. At all. I’m the type of person who keeps running at the walls in her path until the walls fall down.

But yes, there are some battles even I can’t fight. And one of ’em is when someone I have cared about for years decides, “Nope, I’m tired of talking, and this is the end.” (Sometimes they don’t even say anything, either. And that’s even worse.)

I had this happen several years ago. Someone I trusted and was incredibly close to me got angry because I defended another friend — someone she did not like — in her presence. This was enough for her to cut me loose.

At the time, I felt horrible, but I knew I’d done the right thing. I could not allow my fears of losing a friend to stop me from standing up for what I believe in. And I truly believed that my first friend was being unkind and unfair to my second friend…I had to say something, or I wouldn’t be myself.

Now, looking back, I realize I’d do the same thing again. Because as Lillian Hellman once said, I refuse to fit my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.

Sometimes it is very hard to stick up for yourself. It makes you feel like you’re the only person in the universe, shouting into the void, and hoping the void will eventually shout back.

But it’s all you can do. Or you’ll lose your self-respect.

I still miss this friend who cut me loose, and wish her nothing but the best. I don’t know why things got to this particular crisis point, and I wish that somehow, I could’ve cut it off at the pass.

Maybe, though, the reason the friendship ended had more to do with something I saw, oddly enough, in a women’s magazine. An actress said that she believed people are in our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. And if that’s the case, if my friend was in my life for less than a lifetime, the friendship ended naturally. As it should, no matter how awful I found it then — and now.

I’ve lost other friends since, mind. And I’ve hated to lose every single one.

But one thing I do know: While I believe firmly in the value of friendship, it has to be a two-way street. If you have a disagreement with a good friend, you have to be willing to talk it out rather than shut the person out, or worse, decide you’re right and that you’re not going to change and that’s that.

I’ve made these mistakes before, and they never are good.

Now, I believe that if I’ve invested time and energy and care into a person and they’ve become a friend, they deserve that same time and energy and care for me to figure out what’s gone wrong and attempt to fix it. Maybe I can’t. Maybe the other person can’t. Maybe he or she is just there for a reason or a season, not a lifetime, and that reason or season is over.

Still.

I never forget my friends. I’ll never stop caring about them.

But yeah. Communication is a must, in friendship and in life. And if you don’t have it, your friendship will wither on the vine no matter what you do.

So do remember to talk with your friends, and listen, and engage, and do what you can to help them as you help yourself. Because I think that’s one of the reasons we’re here — to learn from others.

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Unsettled Times

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Folks, the times, they are unsettled. (OK, Bob Dylan, it isn’t. But it does happen to be true.)

We have unrest here in Wisconsin, as there’s an important trial going on in Milwaukee that, depending on its outcome, may set off another round of riots and looting and fires. (Last year, I wrote a post called “Milwaukee Burning” about that, I believe.)

We have unrest throughout the United States for various reasons. Some comes down to how our politicians continue to make the same mistakes, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats (right now, the GOP is in the barrel over their mishandling of Trumpcare, otherwise known as the AHCA), some because of the bombastic nature of our current President, Donald Trump (a man Hillary Clinton quite correctly called “unfit” due to Trump’s willingness to shoot from the Tweet at any hour of the day or night). Some is because we’ve possibly forgotten we have more in common with each other than not…

But I think a lot of it is because too many people are working jobs that are below their ability levels. They’re not making the money they need to pay their bills, much less have any sort of decent quality of life. Way too many people work so many hours, they barely see their children, spouses, or any of their friends, all because they’re trying hard to stay ahead of their bills.

This is called “income instability.” It is not easy to deal with. At all.

Historically, when things like this happen — too many people either out of work entirely or working too many hours for too little money — we end up with a great deal of unrest.

Or, as I put it above, unsettled times.

It’s not easy to live in such times. There’s a lot of inequality out there, whether it’s income inequality, racial inequality, the fight for LGBTQ rights…and then, so many people are so very, very exhausted, they come home, aren’t able to think as well as they would if they had enough time to see their family and friends and decompress a little.

I’m wondering if this — the overarching inequity people can’t help but see —  is why the folks in our society seemingly are more likely to get angry and stay angry.

And then, we have a media that likes to push sensationalism, and only rarely talks about what binds us together. (That does not sell papers. Or buy ads for TV programs, either.)

So we hear only that people don’t agree. That they don’t get along. That maybe we shouldn’t, that our “tribe” doesn’t get along with theirs…that only Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians/Independents/fill-in-the-blank are worth talking to, and no one else need apply.

What I know, though, is different.

I have friends from all walks of life. They are all interesting, funny, special people, who have something worthwhile to say, and worthwhile to share.

Yeah, to some of them, I’m a “token liberal,” one of the few they can tolerate. And to some, I’m too conservative for them, not nearly liberal enough.

But I’m always, always myself.

That got me to thinking…if I can handle all these different people doing different things, saying many different interesting things, why is it that we can’t get it together as a society? Are we too big, too monolithic, to admit to individuality any longer?

I don’t know.

What I do know is, whether we live in unsettled times or not, we have to keep doing our best. And since we’re here on this Earth for some reason, we may as well try to learn from one another rather than insist ours is the “one, true way” (hat tip to author Mercedes Lackey).

So, this week, try hard to listen to someone you don’t normally think is worthwhile. See if there’s even one grain of anything you can agree with, and then talk civilly and with amity about the rest.

Who knows? You may make a new friend.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 20, 2017 at 7:27 pm

Missed Connections

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Folks, earlier tonight I heard from a friend that another of our circle had died. I felt terrible about this for many reasons, and I still do — but much of why I feel so awful may surprise you.

See, I think in some ways I dropped the ball with this individual. She was a bright, funny, caring woman, and I liked talking to her when I saw her online, but for a long time, I wasn’t completely able to reach out or let anyone else reach in.

After my husband Michael died, it took years to get to the point where I could again have reasonably normal friendships where grief didn’t completely overwhelm me (and my friend). And while I knew this woman a little bit before Michael died, I actually got to know her better afterward…when I wasn’t exactly at my best.

Now, I feel like I missed a connection somewhere with regards to this woman.

See, she tried — and several times, if my memory is not mistaken — to reach out to me after Michael died. This wasn’t an easy thing to do considering the depths of my grief, but I was in no shape to be able to appreciate her efforts.

Then, as I got more accustomed to widowhood, I was still withdrawn in many ways. Because of that, I never told her that I did appreciate her efforts. That they did mean something to me, and that partially because of her, I did keep trying and did eventually find a way out of my grief long enough to realize that I still had something worthwhile left to share with others.

This particular lady was someone that I think I could’ve really had a solid and strong friendship with, rather than be on the fringes of each other’s lives, had I been less withdrawn due to grief.

But it didn’t happen, partly because of circumstances…and partly because when she made her overtures of friendship, I wasn’t ready to receive them.

When I was ready, time got away from me. I never circled around and told her I appreciated that she’d tried to reach me, and that she did her best to support me emotionally at a difficult time.

Worse yet, when she needed help (she’d started a GoFundMe appeal recently), I wasn’t aware of it so I couldn’t help. She’d made it public, but I hadn’t gone to look at her Facebook page in a while, and the algorithms Facebook employs didn’t put her posts front and center on my feed…so I flat missed it.

Granted, I didn’t miss it out of malice aforethought. But I did miss it, and the help I could’ve provided wasn’t forthcoming.

All because of missed connections.

Because I’m now mourning her loss, I would like to tell you all something.

Do your best to tell those who help you that you appreciate what they’re doing. Even if it’s hard; even if you’re afraid it’ll sound wrong; even if you don’t really know how to tell them. Do your best, and let them know that you care.

Don’t assume that you’ll have tomorrow to do it, either. Because time has a funny way of getting away from you. And then, you’ll think, “Oh, that was years ago, she won’t care, and anyway, she’s got different people to talk with now…what difference would it make if I told her I appreciated things back then, anyway?”

Maybe it wouldn’t have. But maybe it would. And if it would’ve, who knows what sort of deep friendship might’ve occurred?

Now, all I can do is ask that you tell those you care about that you care about them today. Don’t wait.

And if you want to thank someone for something they did years ago that meant something to you, do it. Even if they don’t remember, or if it wasn’t a big deal to them, do it anyway — because it matters, and it’s good that you know it.

As for my friend, I hope she is being feted in the afterlife by all her friends and loved ones who passed before her. She was a lively, well-read woman with talent and wit and integrity, so I’m sure there are many on the Other Side waiting to greet her. (Probably including my husband, for all I know. It’s the type of thing Michael would’ve enjoyed doing, so I’d like to picture him there.)

Still, as I mourn her loss, I also mourn the loss of possibility. And wish very much that I could go back, just a few days, even, and tell her that I really did appreciate her.

But now, it’s too late.

And I hate that.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 15, 2017 at 1:44 am

Good News for a Friend…

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Sometimes, it’s fun to be an author. And to have friends.

(And an author with friends…priceless? But I digress…let’s get to the good stuff.)

I’m very happy to let you know that my friend, Jason Cordova, and his co-writer Eric S. Brown have sold their entire Kaiju Apocalypse trilogy to Takeshobo, a major Japanese publisher. They are both incredibly excited about this.

Plus, as Eric Brown said on Facebook, “Personally, I think it’s awesome that we sold KAIJU to the birthplace of kaiju.” (And he put four smiley faces after it. which gives you an idea of how jazzed he is about this.)

Jason’s comment on Facebook was this: “This is a big deal. We’re talking print run that makes people notice. This is huge for Eric and I, and we’ve been forced to sit on the news for months.”

So, I’m very pleased to let you know that Jason and Eric are expanding their world domination to Japan. (And I’m not even being sarcastic.)

But if you want to read their Kaiju series now, you should take a look at this following link to the three-book set of e-books from Amazon, and go get them for yourself:

So, there you have it! (Go forth and multiply, or something.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 27, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Musing on Sunday: Making Difficult Choices

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It’s Sunday, so I thought I’d try a different type of post today.

What do we do, as writers, and as people, when we have to make a difficult choice?

In our writing, sometimes we have snippets of dialogue and characterization that leap off the page, but don’t go with anything in the story. What do we do with it, then?

And in life, we never seem to get exactly what we want. The people around us — and we, ourselves, for that matter — make bad decisions from time to time. Or maybe they make good decisions for them, but bad ones for us…because they’re human, and they make mistakes. (Just as we do, but I digress.)

In writing, it’s easier to figure out what you’re going to do with a difficult decision. First, you can turn that snappy dialogue or great characterization into a new story that doesn’t conflict with the one you already have. Second, if that doesn’t work, you can simply excise it — the whole “kill your darlings” thing that all writers know, and all writers hate. And third, you can try to find a way to incorporate the good stuff into your manuscript anyway…though that last is the most difficult choice of all, as if it had been easy, that bit that stands out but doesn’t go with anything would’ve been incorporated already.

Note I said “easier.” It’s still not easy. You have to think, long and hard, about what you’re going to do, and make a choice that you have to live with.

In life, sometimes we can only react to what is put in front of us. Where we are today might not be at all where we want to be. (I think I can safely say that, under the circumstances; if I had my druthers, my husband would still be alive, we’d be about to celebrate fifteen years of marriage, and we’d have I don’t know how many books out, together and separately.) Because we’re in uncharted territory, we don’t know what to do, and we feel our way toward the best solution possible.

We have to have faith in ourselves that we can find a good answer, even when the question itself seems like it has no answer. We have to believe that we can reason our way out, think our way out, know ourselves well enough that we can stay on an even keel while everything around us feels unsteady, almost as if we’re enduring a long-lasting earthquake that doesn’t quite — quite — swallow us whole.

This is hard.

It’s especially difficult for our friends, who watch as we struggle, and give advice, and give comfort and support, and try to do their best to help you keep your body and soul together another day, so you can continue the fight.

But ultimately, the choices you make are up to you. You have to live with them.

So please, make your best decisions. Use your reason as well as your gut reaction. And then act accordingly…knowing full well that you can revisit your decision if and when the situation changes.

What do you do when you face a difficult choice, in writing or in life? Let me know in the comments.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 12, 2017 at 4:21 pm