After sharing my role models and mentors last month, I was overwhelmed by the amazing response about these lovely ladies and the impact they are having on so many lives around the world. I wanted to share more about the inspiring work of Lara Casey and her new book, Cultivate What Matters.
Something that I truly value in life is friendship and special friends. And Lara has a great way of cultivating friendships, and making them bloom and flourish. I am no green thumb in the garden but Lara’s analogy of how getting dirty in her garden, planting seeds, waiting for harvest and bloom and then reaping the reward of beautiful flowers has been both heart warming and life changing for me. If only I could make more time for my own real garden… But until then, I shall tend to the other ‘gardens’ in my life – and one of them being friendships.
I grew up as an only child with divorced parents, a total of five cousins who lived in other cities/countries and therefore a very small family. Ironically, I am a very social person and someone who loves to be around other people, engaging and enjoying their company. So it didn’t take very long for my friends to become like family. I married into a very small family and my in-law siblings live overseas so still, my new and old friends are like family. This is a garden in which I like to spend my time, energy and effort – sometimesI have to dig deep and get dirty, start from scratch and plant new seeds but the more I water and give this garden my time and care, the more it grows and blooms. And my favorite ways to cultivate these blooms…
Ways to Cultivate Friendships
One || Make Time. Life gets busy and chaotic, and our priorities start to sway and we lose balance in life. We have to work harder and longer hours, we have to get the mundane daily admin and tasks done and our families demand our time. So often, our friends and friendships are the first ball that we drop. We need to remember to make the time. Pick up the phone. Send a message. Plan a coffee date. Schedule your friends in and make the time. You will never regret it.
Two || Listen. The best thing you can do when spending time with special friends is to be present and really listen. Don’t get lost on your phone, with external distractions or talk about yourself. Be still, let them talk and just listen. Be their shoulder to try on during tough times, laugh with them in happy times and share in their joy and successes. True friends will do the same, allowing for a two way conversation and interaction.
Three || Care and Help. Make tea. Remember birthdays. Send flowers. Make meals. Babysit their kids. Send cards. Remember anniversaries. Make the effort to remember all their special occasions – the happy and the sad ones. It is often easy to remember birthdays (especially with Facebook reminding you each day), but it means so much more to remember the day they lost a family member, or the day they suffered a miscarriage. Send flowers or cards – in this day of instant gratification, it is so easy to send a quick Facebook message but nothing lights up your day and puts a smile on your face than a personal note/card in the post box or the delivery man hiding behind a beautiful bunch of flowers. As momma’s, we know how tiring and long the days can be – take their kids. Take them for an hour for your friend to nap, take them for a morning for your friend to enjoy a pamper at the salon, and even take them for a night for your friend to get a full nights sleep or a romantic date night with their spouse.
Four || Plan Time Together. Friendships take time and effort, and lots of planning to cultivate and help them bloom. But just as we schedule in time for meetings and gym sessions, so we should schedule in time with our special friends otherwise it just doesn’t happen. Our bookclub group meets once a month (the first Thursday of every month) and the dates are in the calendar for the year. Our moms dinner group does the same with our monthly dinners (we meet every second Tuesday of the month). And as a group of girlfriends, we plan weekends away as an annual event and months in advance. Its in the calendar, we schedule our family lives around, the husbands are booked to look after the kids and we can enjoy the time away together.
Five || Host a Party. We love a party and an excuse to celebrate. And we love to host too. So we have made some annual traditions to include our friends each year. We host a Durban July Races Party every July, a Cuppa for Cansa Tea every October and a braai/pool party every Summer. These fun days allow us to relax and socialize with our special friends, catching up with just the adults for a good party at the races, a morning of girl gossip over tea and cake for the Cuppa for Cansa tea and family fun with all our kids at the pool party. These are days filled with fun and laughter, and lasting memories.
How do you cultivate friendships?
Purchase your copy of Cultivate What Matters here.