#66 Help A Friend

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Help A Friend

I imagine many of you do this without encouragement and yet in our very busy lives, we either fail to notice when a friend needs help and/or we don’t offer for fear of offending their autonomy. For some, a fear of getting into another’s business creates hesitation in offering assistance.

Of course this is a common practice when someone is sick, having a baby, or moving. We extend a helping hand eagerly. This suggesting is designed not for those times, but for the others that are not as obvious.

No Matter the Task

When you discover that someone is spending their weekend painting the living room or weeding their gardens, a dinner would be very helpful. After all, who wants to spend all day working up a sweat outdoors and then go inside to pull together a meal? Childcare or lending a hand may also be welcomed help. Do you have supplies that may make the job easier? An offer to come with the proper tools could prove to be invaluable. One of my dearest friends offers to come by and share my cleaning chores just to be helpful even though I like to think that my company is that entertaining! : )

Define Help

Before deciding what you think that your friend may need, make the effort to know what activity would be helpful. Some ideas of ‘help’ actually hinder without intent, sometimes, making a task even more difficult. What may seem as if it would make things easier for you, may not seem so by your friend. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to ask “How can I help?”, “I love to [weed] – can I help?”, or “Let me help you”.

This kind of help really goes beyond just ‘doing a good deed’ or a ‘random act of kindness’ as it is less impulsive and more intentional. It’s a way of ‘being’ with a friend while giving the most important gift. Perhaps for the new year we can all make the effort to be more aware of when our friends can use a helping hand and commit a piece of ourselves to…

Help a friend.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#94 Celebrate a Friend

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Celebrate a Friend

Friendship is a gift. In the longest longitudinal study of human development ever conducted, it was ascertained that friendship is critical to our mental health and directly impacts our physical health. A good friend wears many hats and by helping us make critical decisions, cope with stress, and rebound from illness. A good friend may literally make the difference between life and death at a critical point whether it is holding our hand during an emotionally weak moment or donating a kidney, bone marrow, or genetic material so that we can start a family. A good friend deserves to be celebrated.


When was the last time you demonstrated solid appreciation for the friends in your life? If you’ve been remiss, now is a great time to reconcile your gratitude. Consider hosting a “[Barbara]Appreciation Day”. It may look very simple – a handwritten card with expressions of acknowledgement. It could be a PB&J picnic or treating him/her to a nice lunch at their favorite restaurant. It could be a full-on surprise party or celebration that catches them off guard and for the sole reason that they’ve been instrumental in your life. The point is to acknowledge their contribution to your overall well being as you…

Celebrate a friend

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#141 Drop in on a Friend for Coffee or Dessert.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Drop in on a friend for coffee or dessert.

My mother used to say that if you were coming to see her home you needed to call first but if you were coming to see her… you could come at anytime. She had an open door policy and as such – she was loved dearly by all of the people who knew that the coffee was hot in the pot all day long.

These days, we monitor our doorbells from our cell phones and ‘dropping in’ has become somewhat socially awkward; a lost tradition it seems. Yet, the surprise that someone takes time to stop by and check on us – to lean on us – to engage, is timeless. It’s an endorphin shot if we can step back from the idea that our house isn’t clean, our bed isn’t made, and our mascara is from yesterday.

If you’re worried that you may not be received well by just ‘stopping in’ then I suggest you check with your friends to see if they’re game; kind of ‘advanced permission’ to stop by unannounced. With that consideration, you’ll have no excuses.

Another suggestion is to take the coffee or dessert. While this isn’t necessary of course, it’s a great gesture. These days it can be as simple as a drive through Dunkin on your way or showing up with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia! In both cases, your thoughtfulness will likely be appreciated in case your friend just drank that last cup of coffee or didn’t serve dessert that night.

In the days of social media and instant connection, I think these little traditions could use a comeback… Ask for permission if necessary or just go ahead and …

Drop in on a friend for coffee or dessert.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

God Bless Best Friends

“Everything that has happened in your life has happened perfectly in order for you—and all the souls involved with you—to grow in exactly the way you’ve needed and wanted to grow” -Neale Donald Walsch

Eventually I was promoted and scheduled to open a branch office in Fredericksburg, VA for the Investment Company I worked for. I took my son and a neighbor girl up there, lived in a hotel for a month while I attempted to make things happen, and focused on making a life for us. It did take root slowly so we moved. I got an apartment and Francis started Kindergarten. We were a team – he and I. We settled in to our routine as a mother/son pair. I was 28 and began making peace with life.

It was an interesting time. For me – being 28 was like a neon light flashing “30’s Coming” over and over inciting me to ‘hurry up’. My mental timeline for being married and completing my family was ending at 30. While I had had an epiphany some time back about reaching my goals in a different way, it was becoming more difficult to trust that process by the day with the absence of evidence that it may change. I became aware of my body aging. I was getting laugh lines around my eyes and more chin hair. I recall spending a solid weekend giving myself a facial and steam bath, caking on the moisturizer and then going to buy a bottle of wine; they carded me. YES!! It worked I thought. Whereas today -I find this memory quite hysterical – it was difficult to feel then. Not rationale given perspective but we don’t have future perspective – we don’t know what we don’t know!

Francis was my light. He was so incredibly gentle and innocent. A special memory for me is a day when I came home tired and perhaps a bit frustrated with work. I must have sighed really deeply because he asked me “what’s wrong mamma?”  “I had a bad day honey, it’ll be ok” I replied. “I’m sorry mom.” His little voice was gentle. “Oh honey, it’s not your fault”. I picked him up to sit in my lap. “Yes, it is” he says in a small voice. “I forgot to tell you to have a good day”.  I cried.

As adorable and endearing as he was, he gave me a really hard time staying with a sitter. I couldn’t blame him really. For most of his life he had been cared for by my mom or his sitter since infancy. There in Fredericksburg everyone was a stranger. Aside from that, I worked a ton. I would drop him off at school in the morning and then he would be bused to daycare afterwards. I was almost always one of the last to pick him up. One day he asked me “When am I going to get a new daddy?”

I had to explain that in order for me to find a new dad, I’d have to date people and get to know them and find out if they would work out which meant he would have to stay with a sitter. He starred off into space for a bit and then looked at me with very serious eyes and said with a resigned tone. “OK, I will.”

I tried dating again. Dating in 1988 wasn’t any easier than it is today. Let’s face it – dating kind of sucks. There is so much uncertainty; intense vulnerability. It highlights our insecurities. I met a guy who worked at a gas station I went to almost every day; not for gas but lunch or bread, milk, etc…. He worked there. He asked me out and then asked me if I liked seafood – I said yes to both questions and gave him my address. He picked me up on a Friday night and took me to Long John Silvers.

I used all of my good manners and worked really hard to be open and non-judgmental. It didn’t work. I was overwhelmed with the failed expectation. I swelled with aggravation that my life was panning out like this. That even though Prince Charming had found me, I was relegated to being there – with a gas station attendant – on a date at a fast food restaurant. No second date and I changed gas stations. And then, I felt guilty and snobby. I’m sure he was a good guy really. It wasn’t all about WHAT he was. It was so much more about who he wasn’t. I missed Rocky.

I remembered a dogma of the SAGE movement I had attended almost a decade earlier based on what many of us know now as ‘the Law of Attraction’, which postulated our ability to attract into our life those things we focus on. I created a list of my ‘perfect’ man. He would be tall, Catholic, unmarried, attractive, financially secure, etc… those were the key points. I read the list daily with an emphasis on believing that this person I was visualizing would appear in my life. The technique had worked for me years ago when I was searching for an apartment, why not try it again?

I was fortunate enough to have fantastic friends. That group of people who had become a surrogate family. The only problem was that after I moved they lived a solid 3 hours away. My bestie and I created a ‘schedule’ of events so that we always had something to look forward to. She was also a single mom and our children were buddies, which made it easier. They were Nintendo buds. Her daughter was a bit older and therefore much more practiced than my 5-year-old who didn’t have a system yet. He would sit crossed legged on the floor next to her with his lips slightly parted, intently watching the screen while she played. I always wondered what was happening in his mind as he watched her manipulate Mario and Luigi around the screen. It turns out that he got really, really good at playing video games.

In any regard, she was my ‘other’ for those months. We created a bucket list and then planned weekends to fulfill the items there. We went camping with the kids and created memories that we still talk about. We visited amusement parks that challenged our patience and equilibrium. We cooked, baked, and threw parties. We drank a lot. It was truly one of the happiest periods of my life. If I were a Lesbian, I could have married that girl!

Our lives mirrored one another’s in almost every way and we relished in our friendship because it made the commitment to abstinence we had made, bearable. We both had such negative experiences with men in recent history so many months before, we had committed to abstain from casual encounters of any form. We thought it would surely be the healthiest way to gather our wits, our strength, and our courage for an eventual relationship. She was responsible for bringing my spirit back to life. As it happens, we share a birthday – although I am the younger one ; ) – and the combination of shared experiences, love for one another, and deep, deep respect have fed our friendship for almost 30 years now.

Our company held an annual conference to educate us and reward us for the successes achieved throughout the year. It happened that this year, we both qualified to go and it was to occur over our birthday weekend in 1989 so she drove up to me and we traveled to Lancaster, PA together. Lancaster is a good sized town in the heart of Amish country in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It was familiar to us since the company arranged to have the same location year after year. It was a relaxing, beautiful drive on country roads. We were looking forward to sitting by the pool and seeing old friends who lived in other parts of the country. We always looked forward to this event.

Many of the people who attended the conference were young. Working for pure commission weeds out the weak really quickly. Lots of young people try so the population at these conferences was weighted with twenty-somethings. There was a nightclub at the conference center and as is typical at these things, it was packed after the dinner/speaker session ended. We were all dancing and drinking; having a great time with new and old friends. During one of my dance floor appearances I locked eyes with another guy across the dance floor. They were piercing. He smiled. I smiled back. He winked. I winked back.

And then my heart fluttered.

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