nurturing thursdays: a true friend likes who you are…and lets you know it

I’m certain my female readers can relate when I say…at the moment my “plate” is full to overflowing.

It may not seem that way to look at me, but keeping my mind from becoming unhinged is a daily exercise. At times it’s almost as strenuous as the weight resistance class I’ve begun doing 3 times a week. If I lost a few pounds I know it would lessen the load I have to push off the floor, just as I’m positive once my life is decluttered my mind will return to point balance once more.

Easier said than done…both…losing those last 10 pounds and ridding my brain of its overload. At least for the time being.

Enter…friends!

Just when you need to take the “edge off” the craziness in your life, a few good friends lend a hand…or an ear…or both.

I have three “go-to” girlfriends…Cindy, Mary, and Suzy.

We tend to weave in and out of one another’s lives with very little, if any, fanfare. We never apologize for lapsed time. We just pick up where we left off, even if many months have come and gone since we last got together.

Our friendships are casual. We’ll either email or text synopses of what’s going on at the moment, knowing we’ll expand further over coffee and a bagel, or salad and some pizza.

What I love best about these gals is their love of family, their upbeat attitude, their can-do resolve, and their easy laughter. And with each of them, I feel loved and valued for exactly who I am. 

There’s an unspoken acknowledgement with each of these ladies, that we’re good moms, hardworking wives, contributing citizens, and above all, compassionate people. 

What’s more we’re not inclined to pass judgment on one another. We don’t offer unsolicited advice. Instead, we compliment one another wholeheartedly and without hesitation. 

Good friends not only love one another…they truly like each other.

I like Cindy because she’s extremely humble, speaks thoughtfully, and exudes so little effort when she laughs with abandon.

Mary is a rock. I like that about her. Although the youngest of 7, you’d think she was the eldest the way she manages whatever dilemma befalls her extended family. I’m always amazed at her fortitude and no-nonsense demeanor. She gets things done…and moves on.

My friend Suzy use to be my neighbor before she moved out of the neighborhood. I’d see her mowing her lawn once-in-awhile, but she was up the hill so we never really spoke. And she worked full time, so I’m sure she had better things to do than while away her weekends in idle chatter. When she married a widowed neighbor whom I greatly admired, Suzy and I became fast friends. As retired “snowbirds,” the two go south to California for half the year, but when they’re here she and I fall back in sync so easily. She’s a friend who makes me feel very glad I’m alive.

I make friends easily because I genuinely like people. And I like letting them know how I feel. Most folks respond with grateful hearts. Only a few, like Cindy, Mary, and Suzy, know to cherish what I am offering…

…my heart on my sleeve.

………hugmamma.

 

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like flies buzzing around…inside my brain

A proud mother watches from afar as Prince Wil...

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One more thought before I finally end all discussion about Sarah Bradford’s Diana – Finally, The Complete Story. It centers upon her devotion to her sons, William and Harry. Not that there ever were any doubts. But first-hand testimony of a heretofore, unheard from source, only strengthens the universally held belief that the Princess of Wales excelled at mothering. 

According to Meredith Etherington-Smith, then marketing director of Christie’s Worldwide, who from September 1996 to July 1997 helped Diana prepare for the sale of her gowns to aid her favorite charities:

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

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The British Royal Family in 1880.

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One thing she did take seriously was her role first as mother to the boys and second, as Meredith put it, as the Queen Mother of the twenty-first century. ‘Her relationship with the boys was patently a wonderful one…She was a very good mother. I expected them to be more protective of her than they were, and they weren’t, they weren’t mewling and puking and clustering round her. They didn’t have a neurotic relationship. It seemed to me to be perfectly healthy and normal and nice and a great tribute of all to Diana and secondly to Charles.’ ‘Constitutional plans–well, she felt her long-distance role was to be the Queen Mother of the twenty-first century, that the influence the Queen Mother had had on her grandchildren in a way, she felt that was the kind of role which in a curious way she had been chosen for and one did feel that there was a bit of divine right entering into this, a little bit of fate. And she felt that William should be a democratic King, that the boys needed to have friends, that they needed to know their generation, they needed to know politicians, not just Tory ones, that they needed to know the Blair children. They needed to be part of contemporary English life, not an English life that was really out of date by the end of the war–and I’m paraphrasing some quite long conversations about this. And her job was to make sure they were released from the glass cage, and that when he did come to the throne, a lot of people would know him, and he wouldn’t be a mystery, wouldn’t be a royal freak, that he would be a person. I think that she very much thought she would be a power behind the throne…Diana emphasized her desire that William should be a ‘very English King‘: she felt that her Spencer blood had a lot to contribute. ‘She felt that because of the spider’s web of marital alliances and blood they (the Royal Family) weren’t English. “I come from an English family,” she had said proudly, and “we (the Spencers) are a lot older than they are.” She was very proud of the Duke of Marlborough, for instance.

The Prince Willam Cup. The trophy that is cont...

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Who is hotter? Prince Harry or Prince William?

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Diana was very anxious that her boys should not become isolated as the previous royal generation had been, as indeed their father had been. That was why she had wanted the boys, and William in particular, to go to Eton because they would have proper friends there and not sycophants, ‘Diana said, “There’s no messing around at Eton about someone being the heir to the throne. If you’re not popular, charming, intelligent, or good at games, you’re not going to rate, are you?” And so William knows a lot of people. And the interesting thing about that she said, “I think they’ll be protection, those friends too. They’ve grown up together and they’ll be protective.” And they are. You don’t see grab shots of William that often, and why? Because his friends don’t utter. She’d thought all this through. That’s what I mean by being smart.’ ‘They had money which they carried and spent and they went shopping. In other words she was trying to provide as normal a life as possible–they could come out from behind the glass window, and that was her great legacy.’

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in t...

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Princess Diana

 Why would Princess Diana be so forthcoming with Etherington-Smith, you ask? Probably because she was older, very much like her other confidantes, Lady Annabel Goldsmith and Margueritte Littman. “Meredith surmised that Diana was very comfortable in the company of older women. ‘I think possibly, without being too psychotherapeutic about it, because of the lack of a mother…most of her confidantes apart from Rosa Monckton, were actually older women…and I think she felt very comfortable, they weren’t competition, they were fun and she could become slightly girly with them without the baggage of “I’m the most beautiful person in the world”…’ “

Another random, final, or maybe not so final, thought occurred as I lay awake last night, reading I Love You, Ronnie. President Reagan had a very human, extremely sentimental side. Apart from his family and a few close friends of the couple, I’m sure no one suspected what a great romantic he was, and how he could wax so poetic. At the same time, however, his vulnerability as a human being comes through. To know that the man who could dial up a third world war lay bare his soul in love letters to his wife, is hugely touching. I find myself remembering Ronald Reagan as President, but trying to imagine this newly revealed man behind the strong facade. What I picture is someone like my husband, my father-in-law, friends in high corporate positions. Not only them, but husbands and fathers the world over who, to the best of their abilities, care for their families.

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan aboard an Ameri...

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The following letter was from a man to his wife, his best friend. It’s a letter any man could’ve written, in fact. This one just happened to be from a President to his First Lady, although at the time he was a working stiff, and she was a housewife.

Ronald Reagan
Pacific Palisades
Thurs. (May 24, 1963)

My darling
     Last night we had our double telephone call and all day (I didn’t work) I’ve been re-writing the story of my life as done by Richard Hubler. Tomorrow I’ll do my last day of location and then I’ll call you and I’ll tell you I love you and I’ll mean it but somehow because of the inhibitions we all have I won’t feel that I’ve expressed all that you really mean to me.
     Whether Mike helps buy his first car or spends the money on sports coats isn’t really important. We both want to get him started on a road that will lead to his being able to provide for himself. In x number of years we’ll face the same problem with The Skipper and somehow we’ll probably find right answers. (Patti is another kind of problem and we’ll do all we can to make that one right, too.) But what is really important is that having fulfilled our responsibilities to our offspring we haven’t been careless with the treasure that is ours–namely what we are to each other.
     Do you know that when you sleep you curl your fists up under your chin and many mornings when it is barely dawn I lie facing you and looking at you until finally I have to touch you ever so lightly so you won’t wake up–but touch you I must or I’ll burst?

Cropped screenshot of Ann Blyth from the trail...

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     Just think: I’ve discovered I can be fond of Ann Blyth because she and her Dr. seem to have something of what we have. Of course it can’t really be as wonderful for them because she isn’t you but still it helps to know there are others who might just possibly know a little about what it’s like to love someone so much that it seems as if I have my hand stretched clear across the mountains and desert until it’s holding your hand there in our room in front of the fireplace.
     Probably this letter will reach you only a few hours before I arrive myself, but not really because right now as I try to say what is in my heart I think my thoughts must be reaching you without waiting for paper and ink and stamps and such. If I ache, it’s because we are apart and yet that can’t be because you are inside and a part of me, so we aren’t really apart at all. Yet I ache but wouldn’t be without the ache, because that would mean being without you and that I can’t be because I love you.

Your Husband

Queen Mother Rose

Image by OctogenEm via Flickr

…would that all men could, and would, …..bare their souls
…..without flinching ….. at the thought ….. hugmamma.

grandma passes the test

The following was sent along by my friend, Sylvia, a doting grandmother. She’s got a great sense of humor, and is always upbeat.  No matter the weather, no matter the day of the week, no matter her unrelenting attention to housekeeping, my British friend is always up for the next thing, whatever it might be. I need a transfusion of energy from this senior citizen, who’s always living life to the fullest.
Enjoy Sylvia’s latest offering.
 
I was out walking with my grandson.
 
He picked up something from the ground, and started to put it into his mouth.
 
I took the item away from him, and asked him not to do that.
 
“Why?” my grandson asked.
 
“Because it’s been on the ground. You don’t know where it’s been. It’s dirty, and probably has germs,” I replied.
 
At this point, my grandson looked at me with total admiration and asked, “Grandma, how do you know all this stuff? You’re so smart!”
 
 I thought quickly and said to him, “All grandmas know stuff. It’s on the Grandma Test. You have to know it all or they don’t let you be a Grandma.”
 
 We walked along in silence, for 2 or 3 minutes, as he was obviously pondering this new information.
 
“Oh….I get it!” He beamed. “So if you don’t pass the test you have to be the Grandpa!”
 
“Exactly!” I replied, with a big smile on my face.
 
When you’re done laughing, send this along to another Grandma! But even non-grandparents should get a good chuckle.
 
laughing not only helps our waistlines…it helps dispell frowns…which become wrinkles…hugmamma.

bilingual, “something in common”

Great news! My good friend Becky (see “coffee with friends, so much more than” posted on 8/18/10), a southern woman with a French drawl, has connected with “My Enlglish Thoughts” on her blog. It’s like a friendship made in international heaven.

Becky has studied French for years, having traveled to that country for pleasure many times. During one of her more recent visits to the countryside, she spent a month living among the natives. That’s the only way to explore another culture, immersing oneself into its daily offerings. Needless to say Becky speaks the language fluently, even attending a luncheon at which she and her fellow students cooked the entire meal while conversing throughout in French. I think I’d have had indigestion, and eaten very little, a good thing for weight loss.

Obviously Becky and “My English Thoughts” will contribute to one another’s increased understanding of two, very different cultures. Especially as I indicated, my friend Becky has a “genteel,” southern perspective about life in America. And I love her for it.

hugs for 2 friends…who are now friends…hugmamma.

postaday2011 challenge: interview

WordPress.com recently suggested a topic challenge, to interview someone, possibly another blogger. The suggestion to “bust out our journalism skills” was intimidating at first, but after further thought I decided to go for it. I reached out to “My English Thoughts,” another wordpress.com blogger. The site’s author intrigued me because while she’s French, she blogs in English. I congratulate her for not letting a foreign language get in the way of free expression. She writes fluidly, without regard for “political correctness.” Good for her! I hope you enjoy meeting my new internet friend, and that you’ll welcome her into your homes, as you have welcomed me.

Why did you decide to blog?

Well that’s a very good question ! I’ve started to blog in October 2009 in French. At time I wanted to interact with other bloggers and share a little piece of my life, my feelings, but it happened that the French blog community is not exactly the same than the English one, so quickly I’ve understand that if I wanted to be read, I had to publish short and kinda unpersonel and superficial. After almost an year, I couldn’t recognize myself in my blog so I didn’t write anymore.

Then one day, I’ve discovered WordPress and the Post a day / Post a week challenge ! I’ve decide to go for it but this time, I will write my blog in English ! First because there is no much French using WordPress, but mainly because I love English and I want to improve it in writing as much as I can.
 

It appears to me that writing in English is so much easier for me than writing in French, no taboo, no censure because members of my family are reading it… Plus the English / Worldwide community is much more fun, welcoming and interesting than the French for what I know. They do really care about what you want to say and not about to be fun / short / superficial….

Have you traveled outside of France? If so, where have you been, and is there a favorite place you’d recommend my readers and I visit, both in France and elsewhere.

I love travelling !! Unfortunately, I can’t travelling a lot because of the money but I’m trying to at least. 🙂

I’ve been in Italy, Firence in Toscana (Florence), Venezia (Venise), and of course to the border line with France ( My Hometown is Nice, French Riviera, so I guess it is normal… ). I’ve been to Geneva in Swiss, Czech Republic twice ( Prague, in Bohemia, Brno, Czech Prachatice, Lednice, Hluboka… actually I’ve travelling all around this country ), London of course too, Namur in Belgium and that’s about it for foreign country.

I would love to visit the Highlands in Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Viet Nam, Japan, Canada, USA and South America… In fact, there is so many country that I would love to visit !

In France, I’ve been to the south west, south east of course, Normandie, in the French Alps and “Pays de la Loire“. I have to admit I do not know much my own country !

I strongly recommend Prague, Toscana ( both wonderful country ), I fall in Love too with London for the architecture and the mood in the city.

In France, I would recommand you to visit Montmartre in Paris, it’s so lovely and charming ! South East too, there is so many beautiful landscape, the sea is just lovely in the summer time, Pays de la Loire because of the wonderful Castles and the Bretagne ( Britain ), because of the landscape and some wonderful city as Mont St Michel ! French Alps are delightful too !!

 When Americans visit Paris, are there tips you can offer which would make us more acceptable to the French who deal with tourists? I”d heard that Parisians might not be so friendly towards non-French speaking persons.

Don’t worry about Parisians!  Some of them are not welcoming or easy to speak with even with French people !! They are stressed, always on the rush or anything. That’s not an excuse I know, and sometimes it’s even difficult for me too !

But seriously, if you’re visiting France, you will meet too wonderful people. Try to learn few words in French, just like “Bonjour”, “Merci”, “Comment ça va?”… you know the small little basics. There is a community very welcoming with foreigners called ” Couch surfing community “. We use to meet every monday night in a pub !! There is lot of French people but some of my friends are also Mexicans, Argentinians, Lebanese, Australians, English… There is a website where you can contact them and sometimes, they can meet you to have a drink or walk around the city with you to make you discovering some places !

I’m sorry I can’t answer to the following question right now, I have to rush to my job now. 🙂  I will very soon, I don’t know if I could tonight or tomorrow but I will have some time off Saturday for sure !

It’s really a great pleasure to do that, and kinda of unexpected too ! 🙂 I will wrote an post about it as soon as I can and if you could answered too to the same questions, It would be so lovely !! 🙂 a Kind of Double Interview ! So my readers could get to know you too as well.

Hugs
Isabelle

charming…simply charming…hugmamma.


hugging is “aloha”

You know how I can tell that President Obama is Hawaiian? He hugs, a lot.

And by osmosis, Michelle’s Hawaiian too. She hugs as much as her husband, but hangs onto the recipient a bit longer.

I’ve noticed this before, but while watching one newscast of the Tucson memorial for victims of the recent shooting, I carefully observed Obama and his wife as they made their way through the throngs of well-wishers. Their hugs were infused with the “aloha” of the islands.

Growing up Hawaiian, hugging a person as a welcoming gesture, or a parting one, was like drawing breath. Moving forward into someone’s space is akin to bringing him or her into mine. The sensation of bodies touching in “aloha” is pleasant, heart-warming. My guard is down, my mind is open. I want to share the best of me, my “better angels,” as coined by Lincoln in his first inaugural address in 1861. I wish I could rattle off a Hawaiian phrase that would capture the essence of what I mean. Could it be “hoomalemale?” I’m not sure. My mom would have uttered a paragraph of native speak by now. I’ll have to google my ancestral tongue. Come to think of it, I’ve a Hawaiian dictionary somewhere in my house. I’ll post a blog in Hawaiian when I find the book. (Just don’t hold your breath.)

Perhaps because my mom was a native Hawaiian, full-blooded, she came by hugging naturally. And because of her, so did I. Unless I feel a strong vibe from someone, I automatically pull them into a huge hug. Friend or stranger, peon or dignitary, working stiff or corporate CEO, my hugs are the same. I connect on the most basic of human levels, one person reaching out to touch another’s soul in compassion. If I was asked what I liked best about myself, my propensity to hug, everyone, would be my answer.

Until my father-in-law suffered a massive heart attack more than two decades ago, my husband and his family weren’t publicly affectionate. They’ve always been the model of Christian generosity, sharing their home with everyone, making all feel like “ohana,” family. But huggers, not so much. All that seemed to change after my father-in-law was stricken. Not only were hugs given more freely, but saying “I love you” to one another before hanging up the phone has become commonplace. That’s always their reply to me, when I tell them “I love you.”

I’ve even taken to telling friends “I love you.” I think it’s taken them aback. Not all reply in kind. No matter, if I feel like saying it, I say it. I understand that there are differences in culture, and in upbringing. My Brit friend, Sylvia, however, always tells me “I love you” back. I think that’s because she thinks of me like a daughter. Something she once told me. So I make sure I tell her that I love her, like a daughter. One can never have too many mothers, or daughters.

My husband’s definitely grown in displays of affection over the 40 years we’ve been married. He’s had no choice. I’m a relentless hugger, and “masher.” That’s another thing my mom taught me, how to “mash.” She’d smother me with hugs and kisses before I was even awake to appreciate them. At the time, I found her “mashing” a nuisance. I’m sure that’s what my husband and daughter felt at the beginning. Now, they’re resigned to it. But as I’ve aged, I’ve cooled it some. I think good “mashing” requires energy, the kind I still had through the early part of my 50s. Now, I just hug a lot. And I’m so blessed that my daughter’s a big hugger too! That’s my legacy to her, and to future generations of our family.

Maybe we should become a nation of huggers. It’s impossible to hate someone you hug. Hugging slips the switch from distrust, to possibility. Hugging opens you up to listening. Hugging is positive, not negative, energy. Hugging welcomes you like “ohana.” And in God’s eyes, aren’t we all family? We should be, let’s all hug…

sending huge hugs to all of you, my global “ohana”…hugmamma.