Category Archives: Friendship

Love


My lovely daughter and her son years ago.

This photo of my lovely daughter and her son years ago is a beautiful example of agape and storge loves .

It’s Spring and love is in the air. Of course, love is always in the air if you know how to catch it.

In ancient Greek society, there were four types of love:

Agape: unconditional love, such as the love of a parent for a child and God for us humans;

Eros: romantic love; you know, the one you thought you couldn’t live without (but eventually you found out you could live without him/her)?;

Philia: Friendship: Ah, friends. They’re the ones who feel more like family sometimes than family. With a true friend, you can completely be yourself and your character defects won’t change the friendship. (Unless, of course, your defects are way off base.);

Storge: Family love/brotherly love: The ones we live with until we fly away from the nest. Family, the favorite sister or brother. The beloved mother or father. Yes, even the distant cousins you’ve only met twice in your life.

In the beginning there was love. In the end there is love. And flowing like a river throughout our lives (if we’re lucky), there is always love. We don’t always recognize love as being there for us. Like the ghostlike character in our minds who was the love of our lives and the one who got away, love is sometimes so fleeting that even a hummingbird can’t catch it.

If we’re really lucky, we’ll love again. And if we’re not lucky in that arena, we might not love again. It comes and goes, is large and small, appears and disappears, leaving us with tears of joy or sobs of despair.

It’s odd to me how so many people think only of Eros when they think of love. One family spat and Storge is gone for a short while or a very long time. One tragedy in our lives and we begin to question the love of God. And should a friend betray us, we hide in our homes’ furthermost corner, hanging our heads and wondering how we could have ever trusted her/him in the first place.

I love the way we use the word “love.” “I love Edy’s Rocky Road ice cream,” you may hear me say. And I do. When I was a kid, one of my friends’ mom’s worked at Edy’s. Then Edy’s went away. Imagine my surprise to find Edy’s ice cream in South Carolina several decades later. I also discovered that Dreyer’s Ice Cream makes both brands, but only sells Edy’s on the East Coast now. I can’t really classify that love as one of the four, unless, of course, I choose unconditional love! PS – If you click on both ice cream sites, you’ll see that they have the same color scheme.

“I love going to the movies.”

“I love fishing.”

“I love reading.”  and on and on.

When you think of love, does one particular person or thing come to mind or is your brain indexing like crazy?

I adore the words from one of John Denver’s last songs, “Perhaps Love: “The memory of love will see you through.”

And it will, my friend. Thank you for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon, and I would love for you to share your memories of love in the comments section of this blog!

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Filed under Family, Feelings, Friendship, Love, Uncategorized

Swing


Look at this angel swing! Photo from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1153366

Look at this angel swing! Photo from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1153366

Swing. What do you think of when you see this word? Golf swing? Tire swing? Tell me. I bet you didn’t think of an angel on a swing, though, did you? Not until you saw this cute photo.

I’ve been wanting to swing recently. And play with a yo-yo to do an around the world move. And to blow bubbles while I watch them rise up, up up into the cool winter air. A friend of mine threw a tea party for the two of us. It was awesome. Lots of little snacks and of course, delicious, hot and steaming tea to drink.

What have you been wanting to do recently? Is it a simple want like blowing bubbles? Or is it a lot more complicated like taking a vacation to a sunlit Caribbean isle?

Maybe it’s a thing you want, like a Kindle or a Keurig. (If you click on either of the links, it will open in a new window, so you don’t lose your place.)

Not me. I vote for the simple pleasures. Oh wait, I must confess. A dear friend gave me a Keurig, and I adore it. But it is absolutely the most extravagant thing I’ve had in a very long time!

But anyway. It’s the simple pleasures that bring even more pleasure than the fancy ones, don’t you think? Our pace is so hectic, our lives are more than crazy, and between work and our responsibilities at home, we don’t have much time left for ourselves. So, sure. Women get pedicures. That’s something for a break of sorts. But is it really? Sitting in a chair in a crowded place with lots of other chairs? I love pedicures, but I don’t think it’s a simple pleasure.

What else. I can’t possibly say how much I love sitting in my chair with an afghan and the cats sitting on the ottoman between my feet. What I love even more is falling asleep in said chair. I always sleep like a baby when I do that. A definite simply pleasurable act.

One of the things about these simple things is that they are usually extremely inexpensive or free. You can’t beat that, can you?

Don’t get me wrong. I can’t wait to go back to Costa Rica. I fell in love with that country a couple of years ago. However, it’s going to be awhile.

Meanwhile, I went to the dollar store today. I bought a yo-yo, some bubbles, and some new tea for my friend. And then I went to the park, got on a swing and had a simply terrific time. Maybe you’d like to tell me now what simple pleasures you like? I hope so. Have a blessed day.

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Filed under Angel, Friendship, Pleasure, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Kind Strangers I Have Met: #1 Ulsan, South Korea


Korean children, photo by
Ellie Kuykendall

From an early age Korean children are taught to follow directions and respect their elders. However, there are always those who would rather play than wait patiently. I smiled as I walked by these kids that bright spring day in 2008. I was on my way to my new job; it was only my second day, but already I knew I would love it.  Not only was I teaching ESL, but I was also editing students’ papers, so it was a nice mix of my talents.

Two minutes after walking by the children, I was on the ground because I tripped on an uneven pavement. I knew that one ankle was sprained, but when I tried to get up, I couldn’t support weight on either leg. “Now what?” I asked myself.

Thirty seconds later a man came out of nowhere. There were other people walking around, but I hadn’t seen him. He lifted my right foot up and massaged it. One of the things I love about South Korea is that people try natural remedies first. The massage hurt me, so I let him know. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a chair. He lifted me up and helped me sit down. Then he walked out onto the street to hail a cab.

If you’ve ever paid outrageous prices for taxis in the United States, you’d adore the fact that cabs are really cheap in some other parts of the world. The cost of the cab from where I was to my school was about $1.50 for the trip of about 2 miles. I arrived at the school, having called both the director of the school and my minister. My minister was going to pick me up at the school and take me to the doctor.

My director looked at me skeptically, as if I were lying about not being able to walk. I told him I would be fine. He allowed me to go to the doctor with my minister. After we left, we drove down the street where I had hurt myself. We looked for the man who helped me, but we couldn’t find him.

Maybe he wasn’t a man after all. Maybe he was one of my guardian angels. You have them too, you know. They’re everywhere and nowhere.

And the next time you meet a stranger, don’t think of him or her as a stranger. Think, “S/he is just a friend I hadn’t met yet.” That’s what I do. Have a blessed day.

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Filed under Friendship, Helping Others, People Who Have Impressed Me, Travel

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee


Spring blooms on tree in front of my house

“Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love” has always been one of my favorite hymns. And now, with spring’s abundance all over the place, it seems even more evident to me that God is one of love and glory is due. (Click on the link to hear the hymn.)

What is your joy factor today?

For me it is finding the beauty within and without. It’s not easy for me to see my own beauty within. I’ve spent a lifetime blaming myself, feeling sorry for myself and playing the victim. A friend told me last night, “Lots of people have a hard time forgiving themselves. You have made it an art form.”

And she is right. I find it so much easier to forgive others than to forgive myself.

But today I feel joyful. Spring is here, the trees and flowers are blooming profusely, and everyone seems to have a spring in their step.

Many years ago I had a very rough year. It was 1974. My daughter was born in February and in March someone vandalized our little house. They broke the mobile over her crib, smashed the vases from the flowers people had sent while I was in the hospital and poured cooking oil over our brand new chairs (the first new furniture we’d ever owned). Later that year, our business burned down and our best friend died suddenly. I was talking with my priest and he said, “Ellie, I once had seven years of Good Fridays, but Easter finally came.”

And that is how I feel today. Easter has come in terms of my health. I am healthier than I was a year ago, even more so than a month ago. I’ve always taken my health for granted. I will never do so again.

Anyway, I am joyful because some people recently told me I’m an inspiration to them. Wow. What a wonderful compliment that is.

I’m joyful because I have so many things to be grateful for: a comfortable and serene place to live, friends and family who care, food in my fridge and two cats who adore me! I adore them as well and have not had to get rid of them, thank God.

I am joyful because I’m getting ready to start working on my book again and know I will finally finish it.

I am joyful because I have eyes that see, a mind that works, ears that hear, feet that walk and hands that do what I tell them to do. Not everyone can say that.

I hope you are joyful during this season of renewal. Feel free to comment and tell me about your joy or to contact me by email or phone. Thanks for reading.

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Phone Calls and a Boy with a Blue Orchid


For my friend, taken by KeithCR of Melbourne, Australia http://morguefile.com/creative/keithcr

I’ve had many people tell me that they have friends with whom they haven’t talked in a long time. However, when they do talk with them, it’s as if no time had gone by. That happened to me tonight.

I love Facebook. The main reason why I love Facebook is that it puts people in touch with old friends, lovers, family members or school teachers, just to name a few. A long time ago I invited an old high school friend to become my “friend” on Facebook.  I last saw him four years ago at a high school reunion.

Tonight I received a message back from him and gave him a call. That’s what it was like. It was like we had no time go by since we last talked. That is not to say we haven’t both had life-changing events take place in the meantime. We have. His wife of many years died of cancer a couple of years ago. This year he got a staph infection in his knee. He’s on his seventh round of antibiotics.

I, on the other hand, haven’t had a date in 10 years! I purposed distanced myself from men after my last relationship went south. I have had a chronic illness this year, and certainly my prednisone is, in some ways, comparable to his antibiotics.

But talking with him made me feel warm and fuzzy. I was happy to tell him I’d put him on my prayer list, and we both shared how we get so lonely at times.

And we are not alone. I have several friends who are alone. I know they get lonely too, but we don’t often share that. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because it makes us vulnerable in ways we don’t want to be.

As for me, I hug my kitties at night. That helps. Besides, I couldn’t get away without doing that because they pester me until I do! I hug my pillow, too.  And I pray a lot. Praying helps in every situation, good and bad. At least that’s what I believe.

So today was glorious. I felt better than I have in a VERY long time. I actually went to Costco and walked all over the store, even though I only needed one thing. Then I went to Ingles to get some more Weight Watchers food (mostly fruit and yogurt on this trip), and I walked all over THAT store, too…WITHOUT getting out of breath once! Yeah!

While I was sitting and having a Diet Coke, I watched people at Costco. I love watching people. You learn so much about them. All of a sudden, a man and his two sons walked by. One of the boys was carrying a blue orchid. Now, I must say here that I am NOT a fan of blue orchids. I think they are one flower that deserved not to be dyed. Regardless, I watched the boy hold the orchid up high and pictured the look on his mother’s face as he presented it to her. A big smile came to my face.

And so, I end this blog dedicating that blue orchid to my old friend. He’s worth every petal.

I hope you have a friend or friends like I do. They are such wonderful additions to our lives.

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Endings and beginnings – more about friendship


children

I wish I had a picture of me and Janet, but I don't. So, I found this one on morguefile.com. Phaedra is the gal who took it. Her page is here: http://morguefile.com/creative/phaewilk

I’m going to Fayetteville, GA next week to see my friend Janet, who has cancer and the most amazing fighting to stay alive attitude I’ve ever seen. Janet is the person who opened her home to me in 1998 when I came back from my first year teaching in South Korea. She never charged me a  penny’s rent, helped me buy a computer and a car, and most of all, she accepted me exactly the way I was.

I was raw. I didn’t want to come back to the states, because I think I’m a true expat at heart. We’re both Scorpios, so we got along pretty well most of the time. Her husband was dying of Alzheimer’s and in a nursing home. I was so self-absorbed, I don’t think I was much comfort to her. We met online through a writing group. Janet was more of an editor than a writer, and she ran critique groups for budding writers – all online. Her site was writelinks.com, but it’s no longer on the Net.

However, while it was up and running, Janet did more good for more people than you can imagine. She encouraged, advised and just listened. She had a huge list of links to various other writing sites, resources which were invaluable to all the wannabe writers and pros alike.

A few years ago, Janet started knitting. She got so good at it that she started teaching classes at Michael’s, the hobby store for those of you who don’t know. Then she branched out. Instead of just knitting for friends or friends of friends, she started knitting baby things to be donated to an organization, the name of which I don’t remember. There are lots of these organizations, though, so if you’re a knitter, you might want to do a search for them.

Janet knitted me some washcloths to give as gifts to my family. I also got one. I still have it. It’s off white and the best cloth I’ve ever used to really get the dirt and grime off my face and body.

She has a mind like a steel trap — it traps information and keeps it to throw up as trivia or to explain some complicated medical process or to answer questions about everything from parenting to literature. I love her mind.

She’s traveled all over the world. Her husband Len worked for Delta Airlines and that was during the time when a buddy/family pass was exactly that. The pass cost a pittance compared to today’s rates. That was also when baggage was free, meals were free, and people took real books on planes instead of laptops and Kindles or Nooks. She has a map with little red push pins showing all the places she and her beloved husband went together.

When she was sixteen, she started a restaurant. Later she got advanced degrees in psychology and was a school psychologist for years. She’s soft-spoken and rarely gets angry, but she loves a good debate.

She’s from California like I am, and we had lots of laughs about how most people in the South don’t know what Swiss chard and artichokes are.

The night I arrived in Georgia from Korea via California, she took me to Ryan’s a buffet restaurant, so I could have my favorite stewed tomatoes and okra. She bought my favorite foods at the grocery store until I started making money with my writing and we challenged each other on computer games that didn’t involve killing monsters, aliens or humans. They were mostly word games as I remember. We both love words.

I call her every day now, just to see how she’s doing. Some days are good, some are bad. She’s in a lot of pain most of the time now. Treatments for the cancer are finished.

I like to think that God will answer my prayer for a miracle for Janet so she can go on being herself here on earth and enriching others’ lives.  On the other hand, if God doesn’t answer that prayer, I know he must need another angel. Janet will be an awesome angel. I hope she’ll visit me often, but I know if I’m not on her visitation list others will be, and their lives will be all the better for the time with her.

So, I’m going to Fayetteville on Tuesday next week. I’ll stay in a hotel and visit her once a day for two days. She says she doesn’t need me to stay with her. I guess the way it’s going, it will be the last time I’ll visit her. But instead of thinking of it as an ending, I’m thinking of it as a beginning.

Why?

Well, it’s a beginning because our friendship will ever be new. It’s the start of another phase of her life and mine without her.

What I know today is that my mother used to say I would be lucky if I had two true friends in my life. I have been more than blessed with quite a few more than two. I don’t believe in numbering a list of best friends, with this person being number one, the next being number two, etc. However, I do know that Janet is at the top of my unnumbered list today. The hope she gave to me, the consolation she provided when I was down, the good and practical advice she always gave – they will always be with me.

Lord, I hope I can be as good a friend to others as Janet and others have been to me. I hope that I can give people strength when they are feeling weak, the words they need to hear when they have a problem, and the ability to bring a smile to their faces when they are with or think of me.

Who will you be a friend to today?

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Friends, Pets and Families


girl on couch

My friend's daughter asleep on my couch while her Dad, some friends and I moved me.

Yesterday afternoon I sat down in my nice easy chair with the cats on my lap and fell asleep for about 45 minutes. I awoke to the sound of a lawn mower, and I knew it was my friend and former neighbor over here cutting my grass. It was a welcome sound, because the grass in the back was as high as my knee (or should I say the weeds IN the grass?).

But more than that, it was a happy sound because I love my friend. He did almost all the packing when I moved, came over in the middle of the night to fix a faucet that thought it was Niagara Falls, and left straight from work the day he found out I was in the hospital so he could visit me there. He brought me flowers on Mother’s Day in 2010, helped me hang pictures and cleaned out the fireplace in my house here. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We laugh, he’s listened to me cry, and he has the greatest laugh. He’d protect me from anything or anyone, stand up for me if needed, and always has a smile on his face and a good word about life.

Pets are like people friends. They accept us for who we are, snuggle up against us to keep out the cold, and, if they’re dogs, will protect us from anyone who tries to harm us. My cats wouldn’t know how to protect me from anything…they can barely catch a slow-crawling bug as it makes its way across my hardwood floors. They try, but they’re just not very good hunters. Pets only complain if they’re hungry or in pain. They’re different from friends that way, because friends allow us to complain about anything or anyone; and, if they’re very good friends, they listen and don’t judge us.

Some people say they have a closer relationship with their friends than than with their family members. It’s understandable, don’t you think?

After all, our families suffer from the e-word syndrome — EXPECTATIONS. This is not to say that friends don’t also have expectations, because they do. However, family expectations cover years and years of everything from manners to the madcap adventures of teens and those other members who never quite got out of adolescence. Some parents and siblings say the want “the best” for us. What that really means is that they want us to be like they are — to make the same types of decisions, marry the right type of person and live our lives the way they think we should.

The difference between friends and family is often the fact that our friends really encourage us to push on toward our dreams, to give it all we have, and to be fully who we are. We rest comfortably in the fact that if we fall down, they’ll not only be there to pick us up, but they’ll also be there at three in the morning if we have a pressing need to vent about everything from boyfriends to money, from being ill to feeling crazy, or from laughing out loud to sobbing a bucket full of tears.

Lots of families are there for their relatives too. They loan or give us money, remember our birthdays and send us flowers when we’re in the hospital. My mom used to always cook my favorite meals when I would return home for a visit, and my room always had a goodie basket with things like black licorice and red vines, pretzels and apples. She always knew when something was wrong, too. I’d swear I wasn’t going to tell her what was wrong before I made the call; however, she’d ask me how I was and then tell me that I didn’t sound “fine.” So, I always told her. I believe that no matter what we think our parents did or didn’t do, they did the best they could. I know my family loves me, and I love them, even though we don’t always agree. I think I’ve finally learned to accept them exactly the way they are, too, and that feels REALLY good.

We like our friends because they let us know what great people we are. And when they criticize us, it somehow doesn’t sting as much as it does when a family member does it. But nothing felt as good to me as a hug from my mom, dad, sisters or brothers.

This is a rambling blog tonight. I know it may seem as if it almost has no “point.” But it does.

The point is that you can drive the most expensive Jaguar, live in a fabulous restored Victorian home and have $100,000 in your bank account, but if you don’t have people in your life who love you, you have nothing. You’re doubly blessed if you have a faithful Fido or comfy cat.

At the same time, you can have no money for a car of any kind, live in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings occur occasionally and live from disability check to disability check, but you have people in your family and group of friends who tell you every day they love you — and somehow life seems worthwhile after all.

We can’t change our brothers, sisters, moms or dads. We usually don’t try to change our friends. Wouldn’t it be great if we could give that same acceptance to our families and thank God every day that we even have a family?

Acceptance of others exactly the way they are brings a multitude of blessings, which include less stress, more smiles and more of a sense of purpose.

My wish for you tonight is that you cultivate acceptance of others, grin from ear to ear and understand that God loves you more than you’ll ever know.

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