Making Friends

When a person starts kindergarten, one of the pieces of advice that a parent usually gives is to try to make a friend the first day. For some children this is an easy task, especially if they are social and outgoing by nature. Others tend to struggle with living out this piece of advice because they are shy and more introverted. Whichever the case might be, most children seem to be able to make at least one friend by the end of their first week. Aiding this task is the reality that there is a captive group of children in one room with the same piece of advice and dealing with the same challenges. They have some automatic commonalities.

Moving to a new community usually places a person into a similar situation as the first day of school. The person is in a new environment and is encountering people who are not familiar. Making new friends is easier if certain conditions create natural connections. An example would include having children who attend the same school and are part of a school group together. Parents who go to support their children in an extracurricular activity often engage in conversations at the various events so a bond begins to form and friendships develop.

Another example would be if the person joins a community group or faith community. Attending meetings, fundraisers, and activities provide a natural opportunity for relationships to form. In this case there is some shared interest which brings people together. Already having an interest in common with another person makes conversation easier. Sharing of personal information and stories becomes natural. Friends are found.

However, if you are an adult, do not have school-aged children or an opportunity to join a local group, making friends becomes much more difficult. This is something which my husband and I have experienced since our move at the beginning of the year. We have begun forming relationships with a few of our neighbors but schedules and commitments do not always allow for time to interact in more than just friendly greetings. Previously we were part of an awesome faith community which allowed us to establish many friendships. My husband also had been actively involved in a YMCA swim program as a coach, so he had some pre-established friendships before I moved to join him. To date, we have not been able to find a faith community which connects with our spiritual needs. Nor have we found a community group in which we have shared interests.

I share all this because I have come to realize that even for a more extroverted person, making friends is not always the easiest. As we prepare to move from our rental home to own our home, my hope is that we will be able to find connections in our new neighborhood that will assist us in developing meaningful and lasting friendships like the ones we still have back in Iowa.

My Bucket

Some years ago there was a movie entitled, The Bucket List. This movie had a cast with a lot of well-known actors in it. The two main parts were played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. These two individuals became an unlikely duo who were facing the reality of mortality. Each had been diagnosed with cancer and were hospitalized. One day they walk out of the cancer ward and begin a road trip to accomplish the to-do’s which each wanted checked off before they died. This movie launched a trend of people creating their own bucket lists and striving to complete them.

A few weeks ago, I started to think about what would be on my bucket list. Over the last couple of weeks I have been attempting to create this list but have been unsuccessful. I had intended to have a list that I could then share in one of my blog posts. Each time I sat down to try to write my bucket list, I just stared at the screen of my computer. After sitting and looking at the computer screen but unable to type anything, I started to wonder why this was such a difficult task for me.

One reason which some of you might attribute to my difficult of creating the list is that I struggle with the concept of my mortality. This reason definitely does not fit my situation. In order to not cause panic among friends and family who may read this post, I am not racing towards my own death or doing anything to hasten it. No, I am greatly enjoying my life. I have a husband who I love and who loves me deeply. I have very special friends in my life. I have wonderful sons. My life is one of relative comfort. The opportunity to launch steps toward fulfilling a dream has presented itself, and I am enjoying the new adventures. I clearly am enjoying life. However, I also do not fear death in any way. My faith has given me assurances that this life is not all there is and that what will be after my transition from this life is something that will be beyond wonderful. My difficulty in creating a bucket list has nothing to do with a fear or denial of my own mortality.

Another reason which could be the cause of my writer’s block in list creating might be that I have already accomplished everything I would ever care to accomplish in life. Again, this is not the answer. I love to travel and there are many more places in this beautiful world which God has created than I have ever had the opportunity to see. I still have experiences which I desire such as seeing my sons marry, the possibility of having grandchildren, and completing (and selling) my first book. There are books I want to read, movies I want to see, stage performances I wish to enjoy. Life holds so much I have yet to live. The bucket list issue is not due to an exhausted amount of items to be placed upon it.

After some time of pondering why I continue to grapple with the creation of my personalized bucket list, I began to have some insight. While I could create a list, the list would be so long that I would not be able to determine where to end it nor do I think I could come close to completing it. I truly love living life and experiencing all of it with each opportunity which presents itself. Instead of creating a bucket list that I then feel I must accomplish to consider myself successful, I will live each day that the Lord gives me to the fullest I can. I will travel when I am able. I will experience life with my sons, my husband, and my friends. My book will be finished when it is time and maybe I will be lucky enough to sell it. I will go to movies, see performances, attend festivals, and read books as time and money allows. My bucket list will be fulfilled in whatever way it happens and I will die a happy man.

Go Hawks!

A battle for bragging rights within the state takes place tomorrow afternoon. The time for the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones to meet on the grid iron is less than twenty-four hours away. Having spent a large portion of my life in the state of Iowa, I have been actively engaged in this rivalry for many years. I look forward to this Saturday each year and have enjoyed the years when I have actually been in the stadium to watch the game. This is one afternoon when the state is clearly divided.

I am a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes. I actually became a fan when I was in grade school. Probably the main reason I am a Hawkeye fan is that one of my friends and class rivals was a Cyclone fan. I grew up watching the Hawkeyes play football on television. Ames was closer to my hometown than Iowa City but that did not matter. I dreamed of going to Kinnick Stadium and watching them play. While in high school, I actually did get to experience that dream. Since my band director was a graduate of the University of Iowa, our band was invited to participate in an event during one of the games. Not only did I get to watch the Hawkeyes play football in the stadium but I also was able to march on the field with other high school bands and the University’s marching band.

I would not be given an opportunity to return to Kinnick Stadium for another football game until almost twenty years later. After having graduated from college, spending time in Nebraska, returning to the state for my Master’s degree, going back to Nebraska, and then moving to central Iowa, I was able to obtain two tickets for my wife and I to go watch the Hawkeyes beat Wisconsin. Then it would be a few years later before I obtained season tickets for Hawkeye football games. I loved the atmosphere of game day. There is nothing quite like being in the stadium with all the energy and traditions.

Now living in Texas, I no longer have the opportunity to watch the Hawkeyes live. Instead, my husband and I go to a local bar where a group of Hawkeye fans and alumni gather to cheer on the Hawks each game day. We will head there tomorrow and cheer for another Hawkeye victory. The group is a lot of fun. One of the members even brings a sound system so he can play music by the Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band which is usually played in the stadium. Each touchdown is followed by the playing of the fight song as we clap and sing along just like what is happening at the live game. On special games, one of the members makes banana pudding which tastes great and is the color of one of the team’s colors.

Before this game and after this game, I will cheer for the Iowa State Cyclones. I truly do wish they have a successful season. However, on this Saturday, my only desire is that the Hawkeyes win and the Cyclones lose. I leave you with a few lines which I hope we sing a lot tomorrow:

The word is “Fight! Fight! Fight! for IOWA, “

Let every loyal Iowan sing;

The word is “Fight! Fight! Fight! for IOWA, “

Until the walls and rafters ring (rah! rah!)

Come on and cheer, cheer, cheer for IOWA,

Come on and cheer until you hear the final gun.

The word is “Fight! Fight! Fight! for IOWA, “

Until the game is won.