What About Your Friends?

Most of us grew up seeing our parents with friends of their own. If those friends had kids that you were friends with, so much the better. Sometimes these friends were the people your parents saw from time to time, and other times they were the kind of friends that would be second parents. I personally never game to much thought to the kinds of friends and friend-relationships my parents had. I assumed they were just grown-up versions of the friendships I had–minus sticker collections and crushes on boys in Tiger Beat.

But friendships in adulthood are indeed different. I can only speak from my experience, but here’s what I’ve discovered. From kindergarten until I got together with my husband, the single most important force in my life were my friends and our relationships. Everything that mattered to me was about them–spiritual, social, emotional life–it all centered around my friends. They were the ones I discussed everything with, the ones I laughed with, cried with, and complained to.

Then I met my husband who very quickly became the greatest best friend I could have ever hoped for. Now the innermost workings of my mind and my heart were opened to him. And then there was this very deep and intimate relationship we were developing ourselves. And when we got married and especially when we became parents, priorities shifted.

I think that happens for a lot of us when we got through transitions in young adulthood and moving forward. And it also depends. Maybe a marital relationship doesn’t offer that type of best friendship and the close adult friends of either spouse are still the people to turn to. Perhaps even if your marriage/friendship relationship is incredibly close and fulfilling, you still have great bonds with best friends albeit you don’t see each other with the frequency and spontaneity as before.

Friendships in adulthood flow with the seasons. Often parents of kids the same age find reasons to be close, after all that season of life comes with a lot to bond over. But eventually, kids grow up and even if they are friends, their paths diverge. If the adults had things in common outside of the children, the relationship can grow in this “empty nest” season. But sometimes once the kids are out of the picture, you realize you didn’t have much in common to begin with and the goals and paths ahead are not lining up.

If chic lit and sitcoms are to be believed, all moms are instantly best friends who never compete with each other and are sources of amazing support to all mothers in the friend group. They are endlessly affirming, selfless in the face of their own struggles, have each other’s backs, and are never judgmental of each other and parenting skills or lack thereof.

What a sweet world that would be, huh? Being completely candid here, I have never found that type of camaraderie of women and fellow mothers at any stage of parenthood. The moms in my daughter’s preschoolers weren’t friendly. I was a lot younger than most of them and the fact that my daughter and I have different skin tones led many of them to treat me as if I were her nanny. In elementary school for both my kids, the other moms were cordial, but I didn’t click with them in any meaningful way. Maybe it was a vibe I gave off–I am shy and hate making small talk for the heck of making small talk. I abhorred the birthday parties where I had to stay with my kids for the stilted and waste-of-time conversations I would try to force out with some of the other parents. That sounds horrible, I know. But can any of you relate?

I will say, outside of my own school and work situations, it has been hard to make friends in adulthood. But friendships are still so needed. I’m very fortunate to have a husband who is 100% behind girls nights or weekend trips with a best girlfriend. But with competing work schedules, children in different stages of life than mine, or just disinterest in doing anything outside of their homes and families, I have not had much luck in cultivating adult friendships of my own.

When you are in the heady days of early childhood through your kids leaving for college, your family life is the focus. It was that way for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But when they start doing things on their own and you start getting pieces of your life back with surety, what then? Creating meaningful connections are important, but can be tricky. And I don’t know that I have solutions to share as I’m navigating this myself. Now that September will bring a new phase of my life as an empty nester at the ripe old age of 46, I completely see this next season as I time to pursue as many things as I can outside of the home–things that raising children took priority over. And hopefully, adult friendships will blossom because of it.

Keep your eyes out for a podcast on this topic coming soon.

What have your experiences with adult friendships been like? I’d love to hear from you!

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Taking a Break

One of the things I preach to anyone who will humor me by listening, is the importance of taking a break when you need it. In your workouts, take a break and catch your breath as you need to. Working on your house or in the garden, take a break. Burning the midnight oil studying? Take a break. Writing for a blog that is all about thought and commentary, requiring constant creativity and staying on top of current news and events to be able to contribute something of value? Yeah, that’s going to need a break from time to time.

So Wilopower is going on a short hiatus. I’ve got a lot on my plate this time of year with work, a class I’m taking, my son finishing high school and making graduation plans as well as getting him ready for college in the fall, etc. And I’m feeling creatively tapped out.

If any of you have been kind enough to read a few posts here and there, nows your chance to catch up and binge my catalog if you’d like. But if not, just know how much I appreciate all my readers–for entertaining my thoughts, liking, commenting, and sharing.

I’ll be back hopefully sooner than later, but now is the time for me to cool my jets for a bit. It’s important to do that especially if you are doing anything in the creative field.

See you soon!

Photo by Dan Blackburn on Unsplash

Know Thyself

Have you ever taken stock of who you are what makes you tick? While development is rapid and easy to see in our childhood years, we continue to evolve as human beings until the day we die. But as our biggest changes become more internal as we age (not speaking of cosmetic and aesthetic procedures, of course), it’s easy to think we reach a point of being who we are never diverging from where we are currently. While it may seem that way if you’re not paying close attention, you’d be surprised at what you discover when you pause to actually get into that.

The following is a series of questions I discovered on mistysansome.com. I’m taking the “quiz” and inviting you all along to read my responses. Feel free to copy the questions and use them as journal prompts or maybe icebreakers, or just something to do with friends and family. And I’d love it if you’d comment and start a conversation!

Alright! Let’s get to it!

What does your ideal day look like?

An ideal day–Sleeping in at a tropical beach location. I’d sleep in and wake when the sun got me, the attire for the day would be bathing suit and coverup. No makeup but sunscreen. After a simple breakfast I’d be in and out of the water all day, eat lunch on the beach, and sit in the breeze with a good book when not swimming or paddleboarding. I’d head back to my room around 4, shower and do hair and maybe take a nap. Then get ready for dinner, enjoy a nice leisurely evening, head to bed whenever I felt tired and repeat again the next day.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I wanted to be a paleontologist.

Who are you most inspired by? Why?

I’m currently most inspired by women my age (in their 40s) who are pursuing new dreams, new passions, and being brave about it. I totally reject that notion that family and home are all that we’re meant to be passionate about for the duration of our lives. I think we live in seasons and we need to find the next thing to pursue in each one.

Who would you love to meet? What would you ask?

I’d love to meet Barack and Michelle Obama. I’d ask them to adopt me.

What habit would you most like to break? What habit would you most like to start?

I don’t know if this counts as a habit, but I wish I could be an early morning riser naturally. So, if I could, I’d like to start the habit of getting up really and getting my workout done then. I’ve done that before, but it’s been forced and caused me anxiety.

Think of a person you truly admire. What qualities do you like about that person?

Their kindness, persistance, strength, generosity, unflappability, confidence, and positivity.

How do you like to relax?

Swimming, reading, watching Outlander on Netflix.

When was the last time you did something you were afraid of?

A few months ago. This probably sounds weird, but updating my resume has been a major source of anxiety for me. Well I finally did it and it turned out better than I thought and now I feel good that I have it ready even if I have no current plans to use it.

What are you most proud of?

My children. My husband and I have been blessed. But we’ve also worked very hard and made hard decisions with them at times–things many of our peers would never do with their own kids. It’s been difficult and we’ve been questioned about our approaches, but the proof is in the pudding. We are grateful.

What are you most afraid of?

The death of my husband and children.

If life stopped today, what would you regret not doing?

Not speaking up and sticking up for people when I had the chance to.

Who would you like to connect (or reconnect) with? Why?

I’d like to reconnect with some of the kids I was friends with in elementary school. Just out of curiosity to see where life has taken them.

What qualities do you admire in others?

Honesty, kindness, empathy, positivity

What practical skills do you wish you had?

I wish I could pick up languages quickly and was a polyglot.

Imagine you’re in your 90s. What memories would you like to have? What stories do you want to tell?

The memories of my wedding day and how my husband and I fell in love, the pregnancies and births of my children, the summer of 92 and Scandinavia, all of our international travels, the little moments in my kid’s lives, and memories still be be made.

What is your favorite book/movie/song? Why?

I have so many. And they change constantly. I actually hate this question. My favorites in all those categories ebb and flow. But I’ll take a stab: book–don’t have one. I’ve enjoyed so many. movie: Sixteen Candles, Talladega Nights song: currently liking You by Troye Sivan, Regard, and Tate McCraye.

If you could make one change in the world, what would it be?

I’d destroy racism and prejudice.

What do you love to do for, or give to others (not an object – something from you personally)?

I love to listen to someone needing an ear and help them feel less alone. I love to encourage people and say something that makes them laugh in the middle of tears.

What excites you?

Right now–the idea of a nice vacation. Nothing planned, so not excited. 🙂

What do you wish you did more of?

Social activism

Pretend money is no object. What would you do?

Travel constantly, 5 star all the way. Hunker down in a beautiful suite and write books. I’d also love to run around and pay debts off for truly deserving people. Send kids to school. Give university educations to all who want them.

What area of your life, right now, makes you feel the best? Which area makes you feel the worst? Why?

My marriage makes me feel the best. It’s really special–23 years in and it gets better and better. My husband is still my best friend and the person I’d choose to hang around with any day, over anyone else. Worst–Not that its bad, but I’m in the season of navigating the move from more parent to guiding friend with my children and it’s tough.

Let’s jump forward a year. What would you like to have achieved in the past year?

My two books have been published and selling well, my blog and podcasts have followings in the thousands and the Today show me has me on to discuss them all. HA!

What piece of advice would you give to five year old you? Sixteen year old you? Twenty-one year old you? Right now?

Five year old me: You are a not a bad child. You are beautiful, and your brown skin is amazing.

16-year-old me: Maybe don’t go in the desert with that Marine you just met… Also, high school is overrated. The best is yet to come. You are so much better than you think. The people telling you that you aren’t are lying fools.

21-year-old me: You are on the cusp of the best years to come. Don’t cry over these idiots. Your man is here. Hang in just a little bit longer. Everything is going to change for the better. You are going to know peace.

Right Now: God has given you so much, He’s not about to stop now. Ride every wave and enjoy it all. The next seasons of your life are going to be good!

How do you want to be remembered in life?

She was a kind soul. She made me laugh. She tried her best. She made things better. Her writing changed my life. I loved her appearance on the Today show. HAHA!

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading along! I’d love to know your answers to these questions for yourself. Leave me a comment or DM on Instagram @wilopower.

Is Rejection Divine Protection?

I heard that saying on a podcast today. Sara and Erin Foster, daughters of music legend, David Foster, are designers, investors, writers, and power entrepreneurs. They are also funny as all get out. The title of their podcast debut: “The World’s First Podcast,” should tell you all you know to know about their schtick.

This phrase they used—my first time hearing it: “rejection is divine protection,” intrigued me. Because in my life, I can honestly say the bum deals, disappointments, and heartbreaks have truly been my dodging of bullets. And since I am a person of faith, I have often attributed said dodging of bullets to being pivoted from certain disaster by a power much greater—and smarter—than myself.

The concept of the divine to someone else could mean a belief in the universe, in a deity belonging to certain religions, to God himself. But wherever you stake your claim of faith or don’t, have you ever thought about things in this way? This idea that the boyfriend dumping you protected you from a horrific divorce down the road. Or how the job you lost pushed you to pursue a different passion that has become lucrative and more fulfilling than you imagined. What about pursuing a life goal where you find yourself thwarted at every turn? Why do you ask? It’s a good goal, why is everything going wrong? Perhaps that divine protection is saving your behind from something bad you can’t see.

To believe in the idea of divine protection is faith. Why believe something bigger than yourself is looking out for you? To accept that is to acknowledge that you are cared for by something you can’t see. Seems kind of ridiculous. I get it.

But like I said if I take a few moments with myself and look back (you know, how hindsight is 20/20?) I can see it. The dumping by the ex-boyfriend who bummed me out for much too long my junior year of college, was divine protection, intervention, salvation—all of that. I’m 100% positive that had I had my foolish 20-year-old wish to wind up with him (sooooo stupid!), we’d either be miserable beyond compare, I would have serious mental issues, family dynamics would be absolute hell, and I would be a very, very different person. And that’s if we hadn’t divorced it. If we did divorce, God only knows how that might have panned out for me in terms of finances, mental health, motherhood. Oh, my goodness, I shudder.

So that one school year of being in a funk led me to develop myself spiritually and emotionally. I proceeded to waste time on another waste of time, where again, a bullet was dodged. At the time, of course, it did a bit of a number on my self-esteem. However, that divine protection kept me from going down another bad road where again my life would be in the crapper had that worked out for me the way I wanted it to at the time.

I think I’ll podcast a storytime about all that this weekend, so stay tuned (The WiloPod on Spotify and Apple). In the meantime, if you feel like you’ve been dealt with a series of failures, perhaps it’s time to get still with yourself and look hard. What you perceive as something not going your way could very well be that divine protection that 1. Has kept you from a danger you can’t conceive of and 2. Might just be the impetus you need to pursue the right dream, the right course of action, the right person, the right life—for you.

Think about that. Perhaps this current rejection, loss, or heartbreak is all about getting you to be exactly where you need to be.

Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash

It’s Ok to Be Sad For as Long as You Need To

During the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college, I dated this guy that I fell hard for. It was a great summer. But when we returned to campus for Fall quarter, I was dumped at the end of our first week of classes. I was blindsided. He, I believe, saw some fresh new faces in his classes. Lest I sound like I’m still bitter 25 years later, I’m not. Things 100% turned out as they should for a few years after that, I married my soul mate, and what I thought was love with this other dude, was not once I met my husband and found out what real love was.

But back then, oh boy did it sting. I was never the type of girl who had lots of dates and lots of options. I truly didn’t enjoy the game that went along with being a single co-ed. All I ever wanted was my person. When one is 19-turning-20 in a relationship, it’s all too easy to get swept up in thinking about “the one.” What gets dangerous is when in your naiveté you don’t see the total picture, ignore the subtle warning, and especially in the context of being Christian, think you can pray all problems away. So, in retrospect, the dumping was God saving me from my foolishness and while it hurt, it was the right thing for me.

That said, I was gutted. At the start of a new quarter, now I had to hold it together on a small campus where bumping into him was highly likely and highly unwanted. I cried nearly every day for the first couple of weeks. I had never felt so low as I did then and it’s very true—first loves can be brutal.

I’d start to feel better about things and try to feign that I was cool when I’d see him. The reality was my stomach was in knots and my heart would be pounding out of my chest when we crossed paths. But I thought (foolishly so), that perhaps in creating a friendship and playing it very cool on the surface, he’d soon see what a dumb mistake he made in letting me go. Oh… I shuddered just writing that.

But then I’d see him talking to some girl and I’d be bummed all over again. It didn’t help that there no one else on campus to shift my attention to—no pleasant diversions to be found. I got to a point of normalcy for the most part, by winter break. Then we went on a trip overseas and I came back to find out he was dating someone! And kill me—she was in my Tuesday/Thursday 1 p.m. class! I found out because I saw them driving back to campus after lunch one of those days and then I noticed girlfriend was always late to class. Can you imagine trying to concentrate on the coursework then?

It tripped up my sadness—and anger now—all over again.

My family was sympathetic for about one week after the breakup. But when my tears kept going for weeks after, any compassion quickly soured to irritation and indifference. Thus, I made sure to shut down at home. It was not a safe place to feel my feels. My girlfriends were sweet and understanding through the more than eight months it took me to finally be over the whole thing, but I know I tried them.

The thing is, while it is hard for friends and family to deal with someone dealing with grief, sadness, and all that comes with it, the timetable of that is not their call to make. I dearly wished I could have shut off the hurt valve and rallied on to enjoy college life for whatever else it had to offer. But my soul was a sensitive one—especially at age 20—and it was as if I had no control over the waves that would wash over me.

I did what I was supposed to do: stayed busy, focused on good friends, worked out, trying new things, etc. But deep down, I was very much still licking my wounds. When you think about the fact that our relationship was just months, I should have been feeling better rather quickly, right? Not so.

One of the sweetest encouragements given to me in those gloomy days (my junior year was a bust, y’all), was a note from my best friend’s mom. I still remember what she said in her flowery and beautiful penmanship. “Emotions will come in waves, give an ear to them as they come.” At the time, I didn’t fully grasp what that meant. I wanted to feel better. I didn’t want to hurt. I didn’t want anyone mad at me for being such a pile of Eeyore-level malaise all the time. But what she was trying to tell me was that to heal, you must ride out each wave of grief as it comes, but what you don’t realize is happening is that each wave is moving you forward.

I’ve reflected on that note so much since. We don’t have control over the sadness that ensues when we lose someone or something important to us. But we don’t need to fight the waves when they come. Allow them and let the feelings out as they need to. Give them an ear and let them wash through and out. You aren’t staying stagnant in your hurt, you are working your hurt out.

To family and friends that think someone is taking too long (in their opinion) for a person to “get over” whatever they are mourning, either support them with kindness or shut your mouth. While it is important to look out for our hurting people to make sure they are not going into darker depression or deeper issues (and if they are, help them get help), your most important role is to be a soft place on which to land for them. That’s all.

And if you are mourning a loss right now, keep taking steps forward at the pace that feels comfortable to you. Don’t fight your emotions, but give them the space they require, knowing that while the pain of loss will always be there, it does progressively get easier, and easier.

And you are not alone. 🙂

Photo by Luis Galvez on Unsplash