Day 44: My Daughter-in-Love

Today, my daughter-in-law turned 25. We’ve been having a lot of fun since she joined our family nearly a year ago. We have a similar sense of humor and don’t mind being silly together. She’s a kindred.

One of the things I was explaining to her was the magic of 25, at least it was for me and some other kindreds I know. It seemed up until I was 25, I still felt like a young adult. Once I hit 25, age started to become just a number, not necessarily something to reach for anymore. Friendships started to change, too, or rather, the range of ages of my kindreds started to change. As I got older, I never looked at age as a number again. I don’t mind telling my age, because age is all in the mind…if you feel old, you will act old. If you feel young, you’ll act young, regardless of the number.

This is all a part of why I can be kindreds with my daughter-in-law more than 2 decades younger than I am, and equally as friends with kindreds more than 2 decades older. Of course, the other part of why we can be friends is because of the love we share. I wish her the happiest of birthdays, and a welcome to the ageless society. May we be forever young!

DAY 44 HOMEWORK: Take a look at your friendships. If you haven’t broadened the age range of your friendships, look for ways to get to know someone who doesn’t typically look like they should be a kindred. You might be surprised at what you find.

Day 43: Rain, rain, you can stay

It was a rainy Saturday in Nashville, and we were looking for something to do indoors. We decided on Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. I’ve been several times, but those with me hadn’t, so I was excited to show them the exhibits. I’m not a huge country music fan, but I’ve always loved history and learning about things I don’t know, and I love music in general so it was a perfect place to go. I love Elvis’s old car and piano. I enjoy looking at the costumes and reading the little stories; I push all the buttons and usually drag behind my gang. It doesn’t matter that I’ve read the signs before. It’s like soaking in the history again.

One of the newer exhibits since the last time I was there was an exhibit that taught about country music. Guests can register themselves in the system and then as they move around the exhibit, they can take enter their short quizzes and earn badges. I’m absolutely not one to give you any facts about country music, but my daughter-in-law and I decided we’d try.

There were 7 or 8 badges to earn, and I had to do a couple of them twice because I didn’t know the answers, but working around the room, we found ourselves enjoying ourselves more and more. We got to record ourselves in the studio, mix our own “record” and then design an album cover. Neither of us would win entertainer of the year, but we were being silly and laughing, and simply enjoying our time together.

I was glad for the rain that chased us indoors. We had to get creative to enjoy ourselves, but we did, and it was worth it.

DAY 43 HOMEWORK: Get creative and find something different to do. Invite someone along. Don’t just do it half-heartedly. Jump all in. Be silly and have fun.

 

 

 

Day 42: Drop by drop

I found a thought by biographer James Boswell that I simply love:

We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over, so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one which makes the heart run over. 

Kindnesses. Interesting word. It makes me consider the doing for others. Sometimes it’s helping someone who needs a hand up. Sometimes it’s simply opening the door. It can be a meal when needed, or watching someone’s child. Sometimes it’s an encouraging word, or a prayer. It can be a real, physical gift or a listening ear.

But as I think about that idea, the kindnesses aren’t just one way; it’s a series, and it’s reciprocal. It has to be for it to be genuine friendship. Otherwise, it’s just one person doing kindnesses for another. That’s a nice thing, especially for the receiver (unless you gain great joy in giving and giving without receiving). But it’s not friendship. Believe me…I’ve been in a bunch of one-way “friendships” and the moment the giver stops giving, the “friendship” dies away.

Finally, I enjoy the idea of the drop that makes the vessel (and the heart) run over. It’s not just that one thing, that moment in time, that creates the friendship. The drop, when it mingles with all the other liquid in the vessel, becomes impossible to discern from the other drops that went into the vessel. It becomes a collection of all the kindnesses, love, memories, and more that creates a bond.

Sometimes the vessel fills up quickly, but most often, trust needs to be built over time. As you’re filling vessels with kindnesses, be on the look out for those reciprocal kindnesses, and you may be on the way to finding a new kindred.

DAY 42 HOMEWORK: What can you do today that adds kindnesses to someone else’s vessel? Watch for those opportunities and act on them.

Day 41: Digging deeper

Sometimes you’ve been around people so long, you might think you know everything about them. Maybe not…not if you ask the right questions. Today, after our Thanksgiving meal, my sister brought out a list of questions that she found online at ChrisFabryLive.org. It was a list of over 100 questions written by Brian Kluth that allowed us to explore things we may not know.

“What types of jobs did your parents have when you were little?” “Tell me a story about my mom when she was little.” “Who was your first kiss?” The list went on and on, and we adapted them as fit each person. We laughed at some memories and learned a few things about each other that we had never heard. There were some stories that, even as siblings, we didn’t remember the same.

It was a great way to connect more with those sharing the meal with us, and brought us closer together. I was glad that my sister brought out the list. That conversation lead to us bringing out the instruments and jamming for awhile. Almost everyone participated, or closed their eyes for a few minutes. They said they were enjoying the sound, but I think the turkey made them a bit sleepier than they admitted.

I’m grateful for the time we got to enjoy together, and wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

DAY 41 HOMEWORK: My sister said there were lots more resources at that ChrisFabryLive website. Check it out and see if there’s something that could draw you closer to others; or google your own list of questions and keep them in your back pocket as conversation starters.

Day 40: All in

Family time together can be bunches of fun. Tonight, we watched a family comedy with corny, Hugh Grant humor and the chorus of laughter brought a smile to my heart when I stopped laughing and just listened. There’s something about laughing together that causes memory loss: forgetting problems, forgetting irritations, forgetting hurts, even if it’s just for a little while.

It’s not often that we take the time to do these family things with us all equally engaged. When that happens, it creates a special connection and relationships tend to be easier. We tend to be more patient with each other. We can keep that light-hearted feeling going for quite some time. I’ve noticed the secret to getting us all engaged at the same time is the process of disconnecting from our cells and physically all being together in one space. It can be a movie, or a game, or just story telling, but we’re all in.

DAY 40 HOMEWORK: As you gather with family members the next few days, pay attention to being present. Put your cell away except to take a photo or two, and get all in. Your memories created will be tons better than anything you see on social media, and you can always catch up later.

Day 39: WooHoo!

Yesterday, I wrote about my sister and her big birthday today. Tonight, I want to write about the party we pulled off without her knowing. I love when a surprise comes together, and can truly be a surprise.

Her husband, her kids and I have been talking about the surprise for a couple of weeks: who to invite, how to pull it off without tipping her off, design, and on and on. It was mostly their party, and I just got to help.

My sister is one who usually picks up on things, so that she didn’t guess anything big was going on is probably due to their recent move and the list of music programs she was directing at school.

I texted my sister a birthday wish early this morning. That’s something I would normally do. But a half-hour later, I got an email that said she had left her phone home today. Oh, bummer! That might throw plans off a bit. I wanted to talk to her before the end of the day so she would hear my normal office sounds. Then it would be time to rush off to get balloons.

At the time I thought she’d be home, I called to ask what plans she had to celebrate her birthday and told her we’d have some sister time after her kids go back to their homes. When we hung up, I wasn’t sure I had deflected any suspicion or not, but the timing was a bit later than I wanted it to be, so we had to just run with what it was.

So, with all the people invited, and RSVPs in, we had a restaurant reserved nearby that one of my nieces helped my sister to recommend for their dinner tonight. She really thought it was her idea.

Everyone gathered at the restaurant at 6 p.m. The Nashville traffic was worse than I expected for rush hour the week of Thanksgiving, so I had to text my niece and ask her to stall. Luckily, it didn’t seem odd to my sister to delay the dinner time at all, because part of her family left a little early to “get a table.”

I pulled up at about ten after 6, and rushed in with the table decorations, just minutes before my sister and niece came in the door. Whew!

From the front door, she saw one of the guests at the party, but her assumption was that she was just randomly at the restaurant with her own family. When she came to the back room, she was truly surprised!

While there wasn’t much time or room to converse with all the guests that came, the event was such a cool event to celebrate my sister, and to spend some time with a bit of our family.

DAY 39 HOMEWORK: There’s not really any homework for tonight. I’ll just encourage you to do something for someone else. Even when it’s for others, you can gain so much satisfaction in the process.

 

 

Day 38: Happy Birthday, Kindred

One of my first kindreds is my sister, who is celebrating one of the big birthdays tomorrow. So, before I talk about her, I want to wish her a blessed day and a year ahead full of the best that life in this world has to offer.

She’s the oldest in our family and I’m second to the youngest. All the rest of our siblings are men. I don’t have that many memories of the two of us together when I was little, though she probably has plenty of memories of me as the irritating little sister. When we moved, I was in third grade and she was making her way to college, as a very, very young freshman. I really didn’t get to know her that well until my high school years, when I lived with her for a couple of school years.

My sister is someone who likes to make things nice for others. She’s a “Martha,” and is the one who you’d find cooking and cleaning, and is always busy so that others have a flawless time. She’s the one who thinks about providing a meal for someone in need. She’s the one who will mail a beautiful card to someone who needs encouragement. She’s the one who will provide a goody box for a lonely college kid or a single who might be lonely on any random date. My sister has a heart of gold and many may not even know it because she doesn’t call attention to herself. She’s someone who is so busy taking care of others, that she rarely has time left over to care for herself. Family is her favorite thing and she’d give up anything to be with her grandkids.

If you can’t tell, this kindred is my sweetest, the one I’ve known the longest. She knows me, loves me, and takes care of me. I try to take as good care of her, but I can’t measure up to her skill. My sister will always have my heart.

DAY 38 HOMEWORK: If you have a sister, give her a call today and tell her how much you appreciate her. A brother would work too. 🙂 If not, call someone who you think of as a sibling. They’ll like hearing from you.