When the creative brain needs a break: an Ode to My Friends

I spent last weekend with my closest friends in a lovely cedar cabin built in the ‘60s by my husband’s grandfather. Nestled in the trees at the foot of beautiful mountains, the cabin is an oasis of peace with magical powers of relaxation. But being there with my besties? It was all about giggles and sharing, and that was exactly what I needed.

You see, for several weeks I had been working with a community group to plan a permanent piece of art only to have it derailed at the last minute by unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances. Within 24 hours, I found myself rethinking the whole concept to make it feasible under the new parameters we were given. That meant going to a temporary art installation where we are to involve the 100 teenagers who are part of the community. Basically, it became a creative marathon! Although it all went very well, (and I think we are good to go), by Friday night, I was exhausted.

I needed to escape… and I needed my friends.

I hope your friends are as amazing as mine. They have an uncanny ability to make every occasion feel like both a celebration and the most relaxing thing any of us can be doing at that moment. No matter what the circumstance, these amazing women know how to create an ambiance that makes everyone feel at ease. And for me – who spends my workdays making decisions and leading projects almost always by myself – following their lead is truly a blessing.

When I talk to my mom about my friends, (even though she has very few real friends herself), she reminds me how lucky I am to have these witnesses to my life. And I absolutely agree. My friends make me a better person because they are honest, even when it hurts and, because they know me so well, they can bring clarity to every situation in my life. I hope I do the same for them.

With our aging population, researchers are looking into how to stay healthy as long as possible, and not so surprisingly, they’ve discovered that strong friendships become more important the older we get. In the blog titled Why Friends May Be More Important Than Family, the writers mention research in the journal Personal Relationships that explores the findings of studies about relationships. “In the first, involving more than 270,000 people in nearly 100 countries, author William Chopik found that “both family and friend relationships were associated with better health and happiness overall. But at advanced ages, the link remained only for people who reported strong friendships. By that stage of life, those friendships have stood the test of time. You have kept those people around because they have made you happy, or at least contributed to your wellbeing in some way.” says Chopik. “Across our lives, we let the more superficial friendships fade, and we’re left with the really influential ones.”

Saturday afternoon view

Of course you can also be besties with your husband and your sister, but friendships seem to come together magically and I’m not entirely sure how we chose one another. But I can promise we’ve never been as cold-blooded with one another as this BBC Future story blog suggests in How and Why Do We Pick Our Friends  “Friendships might serve as a strategic mechanism for maintaining a support system in advance of potential future conflicts. Human conflicts are usually decided by the number of supporters mobilized on each side (rather than strength or agility). So perhaps friendship only seems to be a riddle because if we were explicit about the transactional nature of our alliances, their strength would falter. In other words, we might like to make grand claims that friendships are without an agenda, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this is the case.”

Well, as they say, ‘With friends like that, who needs enemies?’

I can guarantee that the only kinds of war my friends and I could team up to win would involves who-giggles-the-most. And yes there was a time not so long ago when we might have won the who-can-dance-the-longest contest. All I know for sure is that, once in a while, life puts someone on my path with a few shared interests and with whom things feel easy and transparent. If I’m very lucky and can be around them long enough, a friendship might form. And for each of those friendships, I’m grateful.

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