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.

A Weekend of Fun

What an incredible weekend. We had the joy of hosting some friends from Iowa this weekend. Amy and Brian arrived on Saturday afternoon. I am not sure who was more eagerly anticipating their arrival, my husband or myself. We had spent our morning doing lawn work and last aspects of cleaning. Partly because it needed to be done and partly to keep our eyes off the clock. The decision to wait on cleaning the floors was due to our new fur baby, Belle, shedding white hair as quickly as we can clean it up.

After their arrival, we spent the afternoon catching up. They gave us an update on their family while we shared about our move and discoveries in our new city. We also were able to discuss the activities of St Stephen’s Lutheran Church which is how we had come to meet each other. A very relaxing time for sure.

Evening arrived and it was time to find something to eat. We decided to go and enjoy Posado’s Cafe which is one of our favorites when we are hungry for Mexican food. Our trips to this restaurant only occur on weekend nights because we have our own favorite server, Kerry. The staff is starting to realize that we will only sit in Kerry’s section. She did not disappoint us with her service once again. Amy and Brian seemed to like the food which we do as well.

Posado’s Cafe

Once our stomachs were full, we journeyed to downtown Fort Worth. My husband and I enjoy spending time downtown looking through the shops and sitting at the fountains in Sundance Square. The buildings of downtown are all outlined in colored lights which change colors every few seconds. If there is a holiday coming soon, the colors often reflect that holiday (i.e., red, pink, and white around Valentine’s Day). The clock face on the building behind the stage along one side of the square also changes based on the holiday and/or season. This night it had a summer beach theme. So after showing our friends some of our favorite shops, we sat by the fountains and enjoyed the atmosphere and busy life of Downtown Fort Worth. Then we headed home to relax a little before going to bed.

Sundance Square – Downtown Ft Worth

Sunday activities began with a wonderful brunch fixed by my husband. After brunch, we hurried to clean up and headed to the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. We arrived in time to watch them drive the long horn steers down the street. Once the steers had gone by, we then walked into the stockyards to witness a gunslinger shoot out (all staged). Then we checked out some shops, Brian got some beef jerky, and we picked up some excellent seasoning for dips. A walk to see Billy Bob’s took a slight detour so Brian could go through the military museum which interests him since he is one of our nation’s brave veterans.

Cattle Drive at the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards

Before leaving the Stockyards, we decided to take our friends to a bar which we had newly discovered on one of our recent visits, Booger Red’s Saloon. This bar is filled with character. Behind the bar there is the butt part of a buffalo coming out of the mirror in honor of their Buffalo Butt Beer. The ceiling fans are operated by a series of belts attached to a motor on one wall. You can choose to sit on a bar stool or a saddle as you enjoy your drinks at the bar. Amy was even brave enough to climb on one of the saddles as we sat at the bar.

Booger Red’s Saloon – Image courtesy of H3 Ranch.com

From the Stockyards, we continued back to downtown Fort Worth where we went to the Water Gardens on the south side of the convention center. This park has three different water features and a “Mountain.” The intention when it was built was to provide an oasis in the midst of a very busy urban area. A meditation pool provides a calm pool of water with water running down the terraced walls around it. The aeration pool has spray fountains which create both a visual and sound experience. The largest of the pools in the Water Gardens has water which cascades 38 feet down terraced walls to a pool at the lowest point. You can walk down a series of arranged stone slabs to the pool and then on large stone slabs around the pool. It is an amazing experience.

Fort Worth Water Gardens – Image courtesy of tr.robinson

After returning home for some relaxation, it was time to head out to another of our favorite restaurants, B J’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. The menu is large and the food is always very good. Then back home to watch a movie and relax

A weekend filled with fun, laughter, and good company had come to a close. We wished our friends good bye this morning and look forward to their promised return visit.

What Matters

In the recent weeks, I have had some close friends who have had major health issues. One friend had a stroke and is slowly recovering after weeks of therapy. Another one of my friends was found laying on the floor of her home and will probably not survive the week. I have also noticed the deaths of celebrities whom I grew up watching on television and in the movies. Today would have been when we celebrated my father’s birthday, but he died four years ago. All this has caused me to pause and consider what truly matters in life.

As I have paused to ponder this, I am acutely aware of something which my parents would often say and tried hard to show is not material aspects of life, nor the recognition which one might receive, that truly matters. What matters are the lives that intersect with your own which gives meaning and purpose to your life. While this is not something often communicated in media or through other voices, I think that is the only truth which stands the test of time.

All of us know that our possessions exist for a temporary time in our world. Some of them will outlast us but most of them will be long forgotten after a couple of years. My observation is that the one aspect of life that never fades and impacts generations after us is the way that we are changed by the lives of those we meet.

I am sure that most of you can come up with a list of individuals who were a part of the lives of your parents and led them to raise you in a certain way. Each of us could create another list of lives who have intersected with our own and influenced our thoughts, our attitudes, and the way we live. These individuals and their influence upon us and those who we raise and guide are what truly matter.