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Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Real pals in virtual worlds

I’m sure I’ve said it here before, but one thing that is definitely true about doctoral programs is that they make it nearly impossible to keep up with your non-academically preoccupied friends.  New friendships form, forged in the fires of literature reviews and difficult classes, and as a result you see more of these coursework-comrades than you see of of the people who are near and dear to you.  It’s just the way it is.  And at least it’s temporary.

In the time since I’ve gone back to school, several of my friends have moved away, others have just moved on. 

But your friends never really leave you, and often you run into each other in unlikely virtual places.  With the new Web 2.0 application such as Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, and yes, blogging, it’s more likely than ever that  you run into your friends, no matter how distant, in the closesness of the ether.

Or maybe hanging around the Elwynn Forest, somewhere on the road between Goldshire and Westfall!

My good friend Wendy and her family moved last year to the Frozen North, also known as Buffalo, and while I’ve managed to keep up with Wendy through her blog and through other shared interests, I haven’t spoken to her husband in all that time.  Which is a real shame, because he is such a great guy.  Really, he’s one of that rare breed we refer to as “the good ones”.

Wendy had shared with him and their son James about my WoW assignment.  Apparently, they have been playing on another server for quite some time.  But, hearing about my assignment, they both created characters on the server my class is using and worked to level-up to a point where they could assist me in my Westfall quests.  [Yes, dayzofrain, I’m at Sentinal Hill…I think I will be for awhile…]

Did you get that?  Two real-world pals, a continent away, created characters in the virtual realm of Azeroth, to help me complete my real-world class assignment. 

I think it goes to prove a few things: first, that real people really are behind those fantastic avatars; second, that friends come to your aid in all kinds of unforseen circumstances; and third, that all the magic in the world is not confined to fictional realms of druids, mages, and paladins, but often bleeds over into our own world and our more earthly relationships.

Oh, and fourth: if you are going to attack the Defias Brotherhood at the Jangolode Mine, it helps to have both a powerful tank and a healer on your team.  Thanks guys!

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One of the benefits of never having a free moment to write a blog post is that the thoughts you have that you want to blog about have plenty of time to percolate until they become a full-on rant.  Like this one.  I must have composed this post ten times this week in my head, and each time I just got madder, and madder, and madder.  [Which also makes the final post longer and longer.]

It all started on Monday, when I read this little article about the strains on a friendship that can occur when one friend has children, and the other doesn’t.  This is a subject near and “dear” to my heart, since it very accurately describes my friendship with Emilie.  Where once we had so many things in common, including hobbies, workplace, goals, and even neighborhoods, there can be no denying that her life has taken a sharp right turn down the path of motherhood, while mine has not.  I love her, and I love her daughters, so I wouldn’t consider that our friendship is strained by any means, but it has become a long-distance friendship in more than one way.

The article itself was rather a “duh” article, as Emilie and I discussed later that day over instant messaging.  It’s not really news that new moms have new priorities and responsibilities that may take them away,  however temporarily, from their previous friends and habits.  Likewise, it’s not really news that women without children may not want to talk about children every minute of the day.  Like I said, duh

But what really got me thinking, and eventually got me riled up, was this comment by someone named Kris, who wrote:

This article fails to mention one phenomenon I’ve noticed since I had 2 kids (most of my female friends are still single/childless): The “dog mom syndrome”.  I have several female friends who are childless (by choice) who have decided to get a dog instead. Although I am glad they have creatures to love, who love them — afterall, I had two dogs of my own before I had kids — I do tend to get very irritated when any little tidbit of “what my kid did today” gets a response of “what my dog did today”. There are an astonishing number of single women out there who think their dogs are their children. As much as I love dogs, they aren’t children.

If I had the opportunity to write an email to Kris, this would be my response. 

Dear Kris,

Trust me: we know our pets aren’t children.  I know the difference between the relationship that Emilie enjoys with her daughters and the one I share with my dog,  Abby.  I am not looking forward to Abby’s wedding day, to the birth of her children, to sharing an adult relationship with Abby as I grow old and she matures into a beautiful and strong individual.  For that matter, I will probably not send charming portraits of Abby in my Christmas cards, I will not proudly look on while she performs in school pageants, earns merit badges in Girl Scouting, marches with the high school band or excels in track and field.  In fifteen years, when Emilie will be watching her daughter Eleanor graduate from high school graduation and go off to college and the promise of a bright future, I will most likely be looking at my dear dog, Abby, and sadly waiting for the day when I will have to take her to the vet and hold her in my arms one last time while she undergoes a  lethal injection to “put her to sleep”.  I completely understand that my dog is not my child.

That being said, Abby is the love and the joy and the opportunity to nurture I am given today.  It seems that, although I was called to be childless in my life, I was not relieved of the urge to nuture and care for innocent lives.  What I learn about my capacity to love and treasure life I often learn through my relationship with my pets.  I am still growing, learning and experiencing through this relationship and it’s important to me.

It’s not that I think my pets are children, or are even close to being human. When I tell Emilie stories about my pets, its not to compare my dogs and cats to her  children, it’s just sharing a part of my life that is important to me, and trying to find expression for the love and maternal feelings that I haven’t been able to explore via biological children.

Being true friends should involve more than just sharing things that you have in common, and is more about sharing each other’s thoughts, loves, and joys and pains, regardless of whether or not they are held in common.  Being true friends mean listening to each other’s stories and caring about hearing them because they are important to your friend, and that makes them relevent to you.

So perhaps, Kris, the problem is that you can’t be a true friend to the people you call your friends.  When you hear their stories, you are the one who draws comparisons between their pets and your children; you are the one who becomes intolerant of their stories when they share what’s important to them.  Because ultimately, friendship is not about children or pets, it’s about caring for the hearts and souls of each other throughout all the seasons of life, the ups, the downs, the weariness of late nights with sick children, the worry about a dog who ran away, the pride of Christmas pageants, the pride of new tricks learned, the shared joy and sadness at bittersweet college send-offs, and the bittersweet final send-off of a beloved pet. 

Friendship is about friends caring about the things that affect each other. It can be nothing less and still be friendship.

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Prayer request for Evan

I’ve been sitting here, catching up on all the blog news, reading about the Christmas experiences of all my friends, and, of course, I read my dear friend Evan’s blog.  Evan’s blog is a private blog, so I can’t share the details with you here, but I will say that Evan is in need of all our prayers.

Please remember Evan and his health concerns at this time.  Please pray that his doctors have wisdom, and that he keeps his spirits up.  And most of all, please pray that he always knows he’s loved and cherished, now and always.

Thank you, friends.

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I love mothers

I really do! Yes, there was a time during my worst days of depression when I looked at mothers bitterly, as a “they”, and was sure that they looked at me with disdain, or overlooked me completely. But there’s no getting around it, I’m surrounded by mothers, and I’m thankful for each of them because they teach me so much about myself and womanhood.

Not only that, but sometimes, their motherliness shloshes over the brim of their cup and spills a little onto me. And who doesn’t want a little extra mothering? Take for example, my friend Emilie’s comment on yesterday’s post. Hm……which sounds more productive to me – going to see a doctor who will just tell me that there’s something going around, or having Emilie come and fix me matzah-ball soup? [She’s not Jewish, but man, can she make matzah-ball soup!] I know which would make me feel better, faster, and it ain’t Doc Broc.

But, hey, it’s not always about me. [And you’ll never know how much it pains this Aries to say that…] There are moms in this world that I love who are kind enough to let me see their world. To share in their triumphs as moms, as women, as humans. When moms share their lives like that, it makes me feel as though they aren’t saying, “you wouldn’t understand – you’re not a mom”, but rather, “I want you to understand; you’re my friend and my sister, and I need you to understand me.”

Emilie’s post today was like that. Yeah, I confess, I’m the friend who suggested Neosporin. [It made sense to me, since I sometimes use it as lip balm.] But I enjoyed that glimpse into her daily concerns and her pride in finding a solution. I’m proud for her. She’s a great mom! And while I can’t understand what it must be like to see your infant daughter with a painful and out-of-control case of baby acne, I can understand what a relief it is to be able to bring comfort to someone you love.

Another mother I enjoy following is Ree, the Pioneer Woman. Today, she posted about her joys of homeschooling her children. I particularly enjoyed this post because I had wanted to homeschool my children, before infertility whisked them away from me. In fact, I went to school to study education in order to understand the learning process and be the most effective homeschooler I could be. Being able to read her post today allowed me to imagine for a moment that those were the expressions I might have seen on my children’s faces. The homeschooling world, the mom world, the family core of hearth and home, are so often private worlds, alternate realities that I can only imagine.

Unless moms occasionally open the door for me and invite me in.

Thanks, Moms!

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I suppose that phrase should conjure up fear in my heart, but since I don’t actually have much money to spend on Christmas gifts, it looks like another homemade/handmade giftstravaganza. 

Which really means I have only 20 knitting, canning, cooking, decorating, and otherwise crafting days till Christmas. 

Yikes.  That’s even scarier…

I enjoy all the artsy-craftsy stuff, and I like the process of thinking about the people who are going to receive the gifts while I’m in the process of making them.  But I can’t help but think that it would be so much easier to be able to go out and buy gifts for everyone I love. 

This morning, I started thinking about what I would get my friends and family if I were going shopping for them.  Not crazy, “If I won the lottery” kind of gifts, just ordinary gifts.  So, here’s my Gifting Wish-List for this year:

Mom:  a monthly appointment with a massage therapist.  And some of those heat-in-the-microwave fleece booties for her cold feet.

Dad: a really cool flight simulator program, so he could tell me all the ways the program has it wrong and how that airplane doesn’t really sound like that…

Favorite Nephew Carter:  a beginner’s electronic drumkit!  Yeah, buddy!  Everyone should have the joy of living with a drummer!

Carter’s Mom (SIL): Excedrin.  And earplugs.  And maybe even some margarita mix. 

Carter’s Dad (My Brother): More of the same.  Oh, and a kazoo, so he could play along with Carter. 

Grandpa: a replacement set of guages for the 1953 Ford tractor.  And maybe some headlights to go with them.  Oh, and brakes, too.  [okay, so anyone who reads my blog knows that’s really gifting to myself!  But hey, I let Grandpa drive the tractor, too!]

Emilie:  A photo printer, and photo paper of every size, and lots of it.  She takes the most beautiful pictures of her little girls that I would love to be able to let her print out as many as she wanted.  Oh, and monthly pedicures.  She deserves them.

Evan:  Hm, that’s a tough one.  I would probably get him gift certificates for his three favorite things….books, music, and books.  Oh, and maybe a mini-trumpet, or a regular trumpet.  Or a kazoo, so he can play in the Carter band.

Ah, yes, and my beloved Tony.  What on earth would I get Tony for Christmas….? 

Heh!  I ain’t posting it here!  For one thing, there are wordpress guidelines against certain types of postings….for another, he just might get it, anyway!  ;- )

So, I hope all my friends and family enjoy their “virtual gifts”.  You can think about them while you admire your home-made gifts. 

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Okay, so I set up a blog for my best girlfriend Emilie (blogservations.wordpress.com) and SHE’S GREAT! Of course, I knew she would be, because everything about her is great, but especially her creative use of the English language. It’s so nice to check in with her once and awhile and see what’s happening in her life, and in her mind.

We have such different lives! She is a hard-working stay-at-home mom, shuttling between the grocery store, the playgroup, church meetings, and family events. And she finds a few minutes every day to collect her thougths, and blog. It’s amazing to me.

I shuttle myself physically between work and home, church and the family farm, and mentally between high-tech gadgets and language learning theory, to “what needs to happen this week in the garden”, and in between all this, the only time I seem to be able to woolgather is when I’m commuting or working in the garden. Either way, I’m nowhere near a computer. I always say to myself, “You’ve got to remember to write this thought/idea/feeling/observation down when you get a chance”, but I rarely seem to find the chance.

So, that’s why my personal blog sucks. ;- )

However, in order to share information with my family regarding the formation of our nonprofit foundation, I HAVE created an additional blog for the foundation, wgcarter.wordpress.com. Interestingly, I seem to update that blog everyday, adding information and photos of the garden and the land.

Maybe I just can’t get interested in myself. Maybe my self is wrapped up in other things right now. I don’t know.

I do know that, when I want a glimpse at a life full of interest, challenges, wit, and love, I can check into Emilie’s blog, and enjoy her world and her virtual company.

Love you, Emilie!

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