From Kris B.
A week into the new year…2014 has passed and the beginning of a brand new year is here
I am not one to go overboard with ridiculous new year’s resolutions that I know I will not keep more than about forty-eight hours. Who wants to start the new year already feeling defeated? I am, however, prone to looking back over the previous year - revisiting moments of joy and sorrow, achievements and failures, blessings and tribulations. 2014 brought its share of all of these. However, through tears of both happiness and sadness, I am able to reflect and give thanks for all that the past year gave to me.
The pivotal event in my life during 2014 was the loss of my dad to cancer in October. His death leaves a huge a hole, but there are also many things for which to be thankful. He died peacefully at home pain-free and in control. I was blessed to have cared for him during his last ten days on earth. But perhaps the greatest gift bestowed on me during this difficult time was the love and support of many, many friends who embraced and cared for me along this journey. It is during such times that the true spirit of people shines through. And it is in such times that you are surprised, both in negative and positive ways, by who your true friends are.
With that, it is my understanding of friendship, both intellectually and viscerally, that stands out as what I took away as I bid goodbye to 2014.
I looked up the word friendship in the dictionary. I found such definitions as:
“the emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends”
“a relationship between friends”
“the state of being friends”
What do these really mean? And what happened to the rule that you shouldn't use the same word or a form of that word in a definition? This quandary sent me back to the dictionary to look up a meaning of friend.
I found this list of definitions online at www.thefreedictionary.com
1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement:
That’s it. Trust. Support. Sympathy. Empathy. Like. These are the attributes I want to associate with the people whom I call my friends. And these qualities are the ones I saw in the people who held me up during 2014. I was not surprised by my local friends, but I did stumble across a new friend. And that is where this story really begins.
This blog is a picture of the friendship of two people, Tracey and me, who on the surface may appear to have little in common, but when it comes to the things in life that really matter, have become real friends…though we have never actually met or even talked on the phone. We don't even have one another’s phone numbers!
We met through an online photography community, Capture Your 365. The CY365 community provides encouragement and support to its members, who have challenged themselves to document their lives by taking a photograph a day. It is amazing how much you can learn about a person and their perspective on life by looking at a snapshot of their world every single day. Over a period of months, Tracey and I found ourselves commenting on one another’s posts. There were then a few private messages back and forth about our shared concern for stray animals. From that point on our friendship has continued to grow.
I am in my early fifties, married with two adult daughters. I am a professor at a community college in Texas, where I teach music theory and composition. Tracey is in her forties, a stay at home mom to a little boy who just started kindergarten this year. Her family lives in Michigan. Based on these demographics, it may appear that we have very little in common. So what is it that has fueled our friendship? Obviously a shared love of photography is one thing. In addition, we both love food, cooking, and eating. We both enjoy reading. But, there is more.
As I thought about the question of what it was that really brought us closer, I was a little shocked to realize that it was loss that initially drew us together. One of the things that Tracey and I have in common is that we are both only children; therefore, she knew and understand the feeling of being an orphan when your last parent dies, the burden you carry all alone in settling that parent’s estate. Words are not strong enough to convey the empathy that Tracey has shown me over the last months.
As only children, we tend to treasure close friendships, perhaps more so than those who have sibling relationships. About the same time that my dad’s health was rapidly declining, Tracey was betrayed by a very close friend. Having been through a very similar situation several years ago, I understood her feelings of loss and grief even though ending that friendship was necessary.
Having navigated the worst of those difficult times together, the topics of our regular emails have now turned to lighter topics like sharing recipes, recommendations for iPad cases, the weather in our respective areas, our favorites of all kinds - from brands of jeans to colors, the trials and tribulations of parenting, and just plain genuine care and concern for one another. And, beginning a regular blog together.
With our joint posts here, we will share ourselves and our stories, hopefully bring a few smiles to your faces, and maybe provide some useful information every now and then; but most importantly, our goal is to share and honor the beauty of the gift of friendship.
As I was trolling the Internet for definitions of friendship, I came across the following in the Urban Dictionary:
[Friends are] people who are aware of how retarded you are and still manage to be seen in public with you, people who make you laugh till you pee your pants, people who cry for you when one of your special items disappears. When you don’t have enough money to get an ice cream, they chip in. [A friend] knows all of your internet passwords. They would never make you cry just to be mean.
I like this! Though I do agree wholeheartedly with the more “proper” terms used above to describe friendship, this one paints a realistic picture to which I think we all can relate.
We invite you to join us as we embark on our new adventure here! We promise there will be lots of pixels, full plates, opportunities to LOL, and maybe even a few surprises…all good of course!
Please be patient with us as we make our way down this new path. Things will ebb and flow fairly regularly until we settle into a comfortable rhythm. We welcome your thoughts and comments.
Thank you for journeying with us!
From Tracey G.
From Tracey G.
Indeed, friendship is the driving force of this creative adventure between Kris and me. And I think my friend introduced it beautifully and perfectly - I'm especially digging the Urban Dictionary's definition of friendship that she shared! To me, that sums up every great and real friendship I've ever had. It's all those things AND the more traditional definitions of the “state of being friends.”
For me, the start of every year is very close to my birthday, which is in February. For some reason, years ago (how many I can't recall) I started asking myself around the beginning of the new year, what do I want to do with my whatever- the-age-I-was-turning year? Reflecting on the past year, my 45th, I remember that I decided I wanted to improve my photography skills and I worked toward that with the help of the wonderful Capture Your 365 community that Kris referred to.
I had no idea when I joined CY365 in May of 2013, starting late, but better late than never, just where this path would lead me; it's been an amazing journey so far. I was introduced to it by a friend, who explained the premise of it as being a photo-a-day for 365 days project. I was intrigued, but also apprehensive. I'd been caregiver for my elderly mother for the past 5 or so years; she had kidney dialysis 3 days a week and was a victim of Macular Degeneration. She passed away in the fall of 2012 at the age of 81. So I was floundering a bit, coming to grips dealing with that orphan feeling as Kris described when you lose your last living parent, and I was also finding myself with more time on my hands and no "purpose", for lack of a better term. I'd gone from fairly structured days with the dialysis schedule, to, well, no structure other than being a stay at home mom to a preschool aged child. Not to mention I'd not really picked up my camera in a couple years. I'd gotten my iPhone and used that pretty much all the time. I'd used my "big girl" camera a handful of times as with caring for my mom and little one, there wasn't much time for any serious effort put into my photography skills, not to mention all my previous tries to self educate myself were epic fails. I joined the Capture community with only the thought of taking a photo a day, and have not only come away with a huge improvement in my photography skills, but a crazy good, kind, funny and wonderful friend - Kris. :)
As Kris has already explained fabulously how we grew to be friends, I won't be redundant and go into it again. But I will say it's such an interesting bit of how the Universe works in how it brought us together. It started so simply, I knew we'd be friends, but it was one little message from her when I knew we were meant to be even better friends. We'd had the same reaction to something, and when I say the same, I mean it, not an exaggeration - absolutely the same. When I'd read that message from her, it was probably with my mouth open as I was reading something that I could have written almost word for word. And that connection has led us down a path to this endeavor. One started in honor of a friendship, by a couple of gals (lol, yes, I said gals) who just want to have a little fun, be creative, maybe pass on something someone can use, share some recipes and laughs, and our adventures in the creation of it all. I think it will end up being as eclectic as Kris and I are - and hopefully just as fun ;)
What I want to do with my 46th year is see where this blog path with my friend is going to take me, what fun and surprises it holds. I want to mprove my photography skills as there's always room for improvement, always. I want to improve in all the positive ways I can, be more mindful, more present in the moments, and above all more loving and fun!!
Thank you for joining us here! We hope that you will visit often and share with us on this new and exciting adventure! We know that time is valuable and will do our best to make visiting us time well spent.
Happy 2015 to each of you!