We’re back from Mexico (feeling both refreshed and smugly tan) and now it’s on to the next adventure!
Due to an interesting confluence of calendar logistics, just as our vacay is ending, I now have two of my greatest and oldest friends, Emily and Leah, flying in this week for a girls retreat in Palm Springs. (I assure you I do not intend on simply traveling for the entire duration of October instead of creating fun stuff for you guys! Read all the way through for updates on the next Made Vibrant project!)
Months ago it occurred to me that the three of us have never actually taken a girls trip together as adults, a fact that we all vowed to change before the end of 2015.
So, while Emily is on Fall Break from her MBA program in Durham, NC, Leah agreed to take a few days off from her style empowerment business back in Winter Park, FL, and here we all are: preparing for a mini road trip of sorts to hang out in Palm Springs tomorrow through Thursday.
Their arrival has me thinking a lot about the value of friendship this week, and I’d love to share some thoughts with you since it’s not a topic that I’ve covered much in the past, yet I feel it has an integral role to play in the idea of vibrant living.
First, a bit of background:
I’ve technically known Emily and Leah since I was five. We all went to the same elementary school together and though there were school changes and family moves and middle school haircuts that shook things up a bit, the three of us ultimately found ourselves inseparable once we reconnected in our freshman year of high school.
There are two decades of memories rooted in the bonds of our friendship.
Together we’ve managed to navigate the care-free impulsiveness of our high school years, the wide-eyed discovery of our college years, and the heavy uncertainty of our transition from college into the “adult world.” There have been boyfriends we loved and then didn’t. Jobs that we loved and then didn’t. Choices we loved and then didn’t.
And while, yes, I admit, there’s a certain nostalgia-immunity that childhood friendships possess — a phenomenon that explains why people who find themselves with vast differences in values or personalities or general lifestyles as adults still remain undeniably bonded — ours was never a friendship of convenience.
There was something deeper that always kept us linked together: a mutual desire to grow and expand, and the commitment to hold space for one another as that process unfolded (and continues to unfold).
With the exception of Jason, there are probably no two people in this world that I feel more understood by, more unconditionally loved by, and more connected to.
And that is a really powerful thing, you guys. (I type that to you only as I really internalize it myself this very moment.)
To feel seen in this world is one of the greatest gifts a person can receive.
All of this reminded me of a stunning article I read on BrainPickings.org a few weeks back on a book written by Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue. The book is titled Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, and it explores the exquisitely beautiful concept of having an “anam cara,” which is an old Gaelic term that translates to “soul-friend” (anam meaning soul, cara meaning friend.)
In the Gaelic tradition, an anam cara was actually “someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life” but in context it refers to the type of friendship that transcends the surface; it’s the type of friendship that exists within the mutual love and acceptance of each other’s core being.
This passage in particular got me:
I truly think that’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. But, more than that, having the privilege to experience it is even more beautiful.
I believe every person can benefit immensely from having a soul-friend in their lives. Someone who can reflect back to you the truest parts of who you are and understand you in the most fundamental sense.
So, if you already have those people, hold them close. Remember to tell them that you cherish the connection you have, and to show them in ways that will make that statement known.
If you don’t have those people, consider whether it's possible to open yourself up a bit more. I know that revealing your true self to someone can feel all kinds of vulnerable — especially when you haven’t known them since you were five — but remember:
As I get older, I become more and more discerning when it comes to the friendships I choose to invest in, and I become more and more committed to my own responsibility within those friendships.
I’m so grateful to have Emily and Leah, my dearest soul-friends, here this week, and I hope you’ll take this time to think about your own anam cara.
This week, your challenge is simply to reach out to one of your soul-friends.
Better yet, forward them this email and let that be your reminder to them of just how much you cherish their friendship.
Living a vibrant, creative life — one where you’re living as the most unapologetic, unbridled version of your core self — is hard work, but it’s easier when you have people in your corner who will remind you of who that person is even when you can’t see it yourself.
Wishing you a week full of beauty and wonder!
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