Sustainable Friendship

17 January 2020

Out for an extended coffee at Sorcery Roastery in Queenswood, Pretoria.

I’m sure you’ve guessed from our content thus far this year, we are on a far more sustainable journey. This got me thinking about how far one can take this type of lifestyle. How far can it extend? Matilda lives a far more edited life than me. She has been scaling down for years now. This is her story to tell, so I won’t elaborate, but mine has only more recently begun. Matilda is responsible for a large part of that. It wasn’t anything she said. It’s just the simplicity with which she lives her life that has attracted me more and more to simplifying my own.

This has lead me to explore sustainability in many areas and got me thinking about the area of friendship. So before I can explain why this topic appealed to me, I need to share what I discovered about the word, “sustainable.” It means durable, something that is able to last, something that is feasible and continual. It refers to something that is supportable, unending and lastly, worthwhile!

Well now… These are all the attributes I think friendship should be. I realise that just as I have been on an editing process with my home, my possessions, my closet, the same has spilled over into other areas of my life. Over the past ten years or so, my friendship circle has become a fraction of what it was.

My 45th birthday. Although I still have contact with about five of these ladies, there’s only one woman in this picture, who is part of my close circle today.

Although I still value many of these women, it’s impossible to sustain a close friendship with each of them. What do I mean? To sustain means unending, continuous and unceasing. How do we do this with more than just a few people in our lives, especially when we have families, a husband and our own interests that take up our time and attention. It’s not that these women are unimportant to me, but our interests have changed, we are living in different locations. This makes it difficult for these friendships to all be feasible. There just isn’t enough time in the day. We see each other when we can and we build each other up with our thoughts, but time spent with them, is limited or in some instances, non-existent.

This used to bother me so much, but the older I get, the more I value time. And in order for friendships to be sustainable, we need to spend time on them. And this is where my beautiful, sustainable cluster comes in.

These three women support me and I them. We ‘see’ each other and it’s easy for me to make time for them because of shared interests and mutual love and respect.

This edited handful of friends get me. And I think I ‘get’ them too. But these few women are worth me taking time out my day. I have known all of these women for more than eleven years. In fact, Matilda is the newest, of these friends. I have known Delene about twenty years and Susan, about fifteen. There is a continuity in our friendships that has not been forced. Each of these relationships has supported me. They have each, in their own way made it possible to have a feasible relationship because they have given as much as I have. Two of them don’t live in the same city yet we manage to visit one another regularly and it’s not always just me that travels the distance. Although these women might not have the same level of friendship with each other because I am the common denominator, they allow space for each other in my life.

I feel so grateful to be at this point in my life and of course there are other women I value and admire that I do make time for. But my point is sustainability, and for that to be possible, each person need to give. At times, I have given more to one or more of these friendships. At other times, I have received more. That’s the nature of friendship. It’s this balance of give and take that can withstand distance, silence, frustration, sorrow, grief, longing and anger even. We can have our own opinions without fear of losing someone over it. We can live our sometimes controversial lives, without fear of judgment. We can disagree without fear of falling out. Now if that’s not sustainable, then I don’t know what is! For every argument we have resolved, for every shared joyous experience we could partake in, for every broken heart we’ve been able to hold space for, for every momentous event we could celebrate… For each of these and many, many more experiences, I am deeply beholden to each of you. I love you!

Belinda xo

Festive Expectations vs. Reality

Woman Taking Photo Of Christmas Tree

Have you ever scrolled through Instagram, or found yourself on some inspirational Pinterest pinner’s site, only to come away feeling like a failure? You are not alone. The reality of Christmas this year for me, versus what I see pinned so eloquently to different social media pages, is vastly different. Last night, I invited my children to come around for dinner so we could finally put up the Christmas decorations. My granddaughter lives with us with her single mother, my daughter. I desperately wanted the home to look and feel Christmassy before she leaves today (Friday the 6th), to go visit her other Granny for a week.

I always put the decorations up around my home, myself, on the 1st of December each year. This year, I’ve been holed up in my bedroom upstairs, following an almost complete, foot reconstruction, and have been unable to navigate the stairs alone. Even if I could get down the stairs on my bottom, there would be no way I could hold my crutches, keep my balance and decorate. It was just not going to happen this year! I had to call in the help of the troops. Hence asking the other children, who no longer live at home, but are in town, to come and help.

Four Brown Gift Boxes Near a Glass Paneled Door With Wreath

This year, I was going to make my own wreath! My goodness, so many expectations crushed due to my circumstances. But I think the one who is most disappointed about it all, is me. The family were helpful in their own way. They jokingly commented that I would probably rehang all the tree decorations before they came back to visit, or at least those I could reach from my chair next to the tree. I laughed with them, saying that I was just so happy they agreed to help, that no matter what it looked like, I was just happy it was all up and festive-looking.

The words were barely out my mouth and I could see there was more than one decoration on a single twig of each of the branches of the tree. My OCD kicked in, and I hailed the only girlfriend, to assist in removing any decorations that were doubles on any twig, and asked her to step back and take it all in and see if there were any gaps. She surprised me by moving a whole lot of the tree ornaments around. Oh dear! I really am a bit OTT at this time of year.

I will possibly decorate downstairs when I’m able, but I have to admit, I loved having everyone over last night. All the laughter, the conversations and the easiness of it all. You see, we are a blended family with his and her children, and the greatest joy if I’m being completely honest, is that we get to share this season with all our children who live near enough to spend it with us. They come and go as most of them have significant others to also spend time with. But there’s joy in our home. I don’t think my OCD is going anywhere, but all these beautiful people in my life, know how I am and accept me as I am! They may tease me, but it’s all in good spirits.

Wishing you and yours much love in this season ahead. Do remember that being together and loving one another, trumps any beautiful setting, any day!

Belinda xo