Archive | July 2012

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

I was really down today because of…… friends! Not the inseparable kind, or the ones that are always there when you need them.

Today, I was really feeling down because of friends who don’t value friendship a whole great deal.

Optical Illusion Faces

I don’t know about you, but for me, a friendship is sacred. I think a friendship is, well should be, as important in life as family, more important even than a job, or your hobbies. I mean, after all, a friend is a PERSON. A job or a hobby are just things. And if you ever lose your job, well, you can always find another one.

But a friend? If you lose your friend, sure, you can go out and get another one.

But it won’t be the SAME friend. It won’t be that same person that you shared so many memories with, and had so many good times and laughed together with for so many years.

I’m finding that three things REALLY get in the way of a friendship: religion, politics and money. No surprise there, I guess.

Now, fortunately, I don’t tend to air my political views (if I even have any haha! I am really the queen of a-political thought! Most of the time I don’t even know who is ruling the country at any given moment……) a whole lot and therefore never have disputes with friends on that issue.

But now, religion, that’s a whole different bag of jumping jacks (or however that expression goes, after all after 15+ years living in a non-English-speaking country, I just can’t quite put my finger on the proper expression anymore).

Now, by religion, I don’t mean only the usual, established, traditional, centuries-old schools of philosophical and mystical thought generally referred to as religion such as Catholicism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc., to name a few. For me, religion is anything that a person is fanatical about. It might be your diet, a sect, a guru or even a fashion trend or brand name, for that matter.

I have two friends who consider their “religion” above anything else in the world. More important than friendship, more important than family, more important than their sentimental partner. Even more important than love.

One of them is a radical vegetarian. By radical, I mean that not only are she and her family very strict vegetarians, but also that in order to be her friend, you must also be a strict vegetarian. You cannot eat meat in her presence or feed meat to your children in front of her children.

Of course, being vegetarian is more than just food or diet. It’s a way of life. Therefore, her children can’t eat with other children if they are eating meat. They cannot attend fun events if other children will be eating meat there. She will travel half-way across the country in order to acquire certain exotic, hard-to-get vegetarian items, instead of for example spending that time going out with her family, or doing something to improve her mind or her character or even, for that matter, just relaxing around the poolside after a long, hard day of work.

No, after a long, hard day of work, she will happily get into her car and drive several hours across the countryside in order to go to a certain health food shop where she has heard that certain exotic vegetarian items can be found.

Now, I do admit, living in Spain is like living in Beeflandia and vegetarians here are about as scarce as blue fleas (a Spanish expression). But, well, personally, if I can’t find a certain vegetarian item within a certain radius of my home (let’s say, four blocks, for example), well, I prefer to just do without and find a substitute instead.

Now, I am not against vegetarianism, and I’m certainly not anti-vegetarian. Not by a long shot, I actually support it. However, I prefer to spend my time improving myself (and I can assure you there’s a lot to improve haha!), doing exercise or playing with my kids, rather than driving across the country in a car.

Long hairAnd of course, it’s hard to be friends with someone who is a radical vegetarian. It is very easy to offend such a person: if you feed your kids meat in front of hers, if you eat meat in her presence, if you don’t recycle (or you forget to do so sometimes and just toss your tin can into the general garbage bag), if your showers are too long (tsk tsk tsk, wasting water there! but come on, girls, I’ve got waist-long hair, if you have ever had waist-long hair, you must know what a pain it is to get all that gunk like shampoo and conditioner through all of it and out of it, and it’s not something that you can accomplish with just one little bucket of water……).

For that matter, if you don’t get up at the crack of dawn (you know, the early bird catches the worm and all that stuff) or go to bed when the birds do, if you prefer to read at night (like me) rather than have a heart-to-heart with your pillow at that hour, if you want to participate in an event where meat-eaters will be present, if you…… Well, you get the message. Very easy to take offense.

I have another friend who is a radical follower of a sect. Now, I totally respect her religious beliefs and preferences. However, she is often sending me religious propaganda, literally besieging me with it. She says it is “good for my soul”, and I need it. She says I can follow whatever religious beliefs I want (or none, if I prefer), but that I know deep down inside that her religion is “calling me”.

I finally got sick of that one day and tried to very tactfully suggest to her that, well, not everyone has the time or the interest to read her fifty million religious sermons that she sends to me all the time.

Of course, the predictable result: she felt offended. She’s one of those people who will smile charmingly at you as they throw spiked arrows, so she didn’t down and out get all huffed up and scream insults or whatever at me.

No, she just smiled and suggested that, well, if I had so little time and interest in her interests, perhaps she wouldn’t have the time or the interest to pay attention to my interests and any news that I might have to share about my life, either.

Well, it’s not like I spend my life beating her on the head exactly with news about my life, or battering her continuously with banter about my interests. But, well, supposedly we’re friends, and friends do every once in a while like to tell their friends about what’s going on in their lives. Don’t you think?

I’m quite a private and reserved person, I don’t like to talk about my life a lot. (And you can see this most clearly from the very sparse and much too widely-spaced contributions that I’ve been, ahem, ah, sort of contributing to this blog lately. Oops……) But occasionally, I do like to send her a little “tweet” about my latest.

And of course, since she is my friend, I do expect her to read it and at least show a slight interest in it. I don’t bombard her with religious messages. I don’t bombard her with any sort of message, for that matter.

But when I do send her a message, I kind of expect her to notice it.

Well, so much for fanatical friends. Now, I want to gripe about a different kind of friendship breaker: the big M word…… Yes, MONEY!

I lent 15€ to a friend about a month ago, so she could buy herself a bikini. (Not that she needed it, she already owns about 50, but then again, it’s a free country and everyone can buy what they like…… although preferably with their OWN money!)

Now, I’m not in a hurry for her to pay me back, although it WOULD be nice if she would pay me back SOME TIME!

However, the thing is, ever since I lent her the money, she has been avoiding me like the plague. There’s no way I can get to see her anymore. She won’t go to the beach with me anymore, she won’t go out for a coffee, she won’t get together with me to walk around…… And all because, I suppose, she hasn’t got the money to pay me back. (Or doesn’t want to pay me back.)

Does she really think a friendship is worth less than 15€ to her, or to me?

If you liked this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Blog About Blogs and Blogging

The Meaning of a Friendship

Childhood Friends

Bringing Your Dreams to Life

Well, as a follow-up to the last post, I thought I’d go a little bit into some more practical aspects, what we can actually DO to put our dreams into action. Because, well, ah, yes, it’s all very nice and good – you might be thinking – the idea of putting our dreams into action and living them instead of dreaming them. But…… HOW??

Dreams and Dreaming

Most of us have NO idea what to do to make our dreams a reality. So I thought I’d share some ideas here and, of course, I welcome any ideas that anyone else may have on this subject too, and I’d be happy if you’d share them with us in the comments at the end of this post.

I guess the first thing we must do, if we want to make our dreams a reality, is to KNOW WHAT THEY ARE to begin with! If we don’t know what we dream of doing, having or being, how are we going to fulfil those dreams?

I am very lucky, I have always known what I wanted all my life, and the only thing that I was always lacking was TIME to dedicate and devote to my dreams, because I had to earn a living for myself from an early age (yes life can be tough!). But even if you’ve never given it much thought, you can still discover what it is that you really want. Let’s say you won the lottery right now. What would you do?

Would you travel around the world? Give up your job? Would you buy a new home? What would you do?

Perhaps you would open a new company, go back to school or study a new career. Or maybe you’d go out and get those babies and start that family that you’ve always dreamt about having.

So, now that you know WHAT it is that you want, I imagine that you would need some sort of plan as to how to go about getting it.

If it’s a new home or a trip around the world that you’re hankering for, then perhaps you could check out the possibility of saving up for it, starting right now. Go out less for dinner or don’t order that pizza, and save up the money for your dream. Get a second job. Sell newspapers. Walk dogs.

You don’t need to buy a new dress or new shoes every season. I only have one pair of shoes for the winter and one for the summer. Well, all right, I live in a warm place anyways and if I’m really stuck I can just go out and get some dollar store flip flops. I imagine that those of you who live in England, Ireland or Alaska probably don’t enjoy that luxury, but I guess you know what I mean, right? Quite simply put, if you don’t need it, then don’t get it. Put up the money instead, use it for your trip to Jamaica. What would you rather have, anyways? A trip to Jamaica or a new pair of pumps?

If, on the other hand, your dream involves doing something, then start right now jotting down ways that you can do it. Draught up a plan, get to work brainstorming. Do you want to go back to school, but you’re missing some credits or a high school certificate? Is there any way that you can get what you are missing? Most countries offer high school classes for adults.

And right from the start, get mentalized to the idea that we have to arm ourselves with lots of patience. Most dreams take a lot of work and time. It takes time to get a high school certificate. It takes time to get into a university. Whatever it is, it takes time. But if you really want it, you can wait. If you wait a year now, perhaps in five years you will be doing what you love to do. But if you can’t wait out that year, you will probably still be working at the same boring old job five years from now.

With a good plan, belief in your dream and the desire to fulfil that dream, of course, patience and the will to not back down from your dream no matter what, you can attain it. You can achieve your dream, fulfil your lifelong wish.

I don’t very often recommend other websites, but this is one that I have always found quite helpful: http://www.learnmindpower.com.

Peter KummerAnd for those of you who read Spanish or German, I thoroughly recommend a little book called “Nothing Is Impossible” (“Todo es posible”) by Peter Kummer. It is a real little gem, I find it absolutely amazing. For a long time it wasn’t available in English, but I believe that recently it has been translated. I’m pretty sure that if you follow the advice on the above website and in this little book, it won’t be long before you, too, are fulfilling and living your dreams.

In subsequent posts (probably two years from now! but anyways, as I said before in my previous post, since I’m so busy working on fulfilling my dreams, I just don’t have time to blog!), if I’m up to it, I will put up some details about what I’m doing, so that you can see on a practical level how to put these wonderful ideas into action, by showing you what I myself am doing, and how it is working out. However, I’m not much of a person for going on about “works in progress”, so you might have to wait a while before you can read about these things……