2015 was quite a year. It was challenging and is hard to write about. A year of loss, grief and stress. It was a year of major losses and grief for both of us. And the impact of these losses reverberated all over the place for both of us. We both found we needed to retreat, to heal, to be supported and to support. And to be comfortable with moving through this process at our own individual paces. To ask for what we needed from each other. To be patient with ourselves. To be kind. To be open. To be friends.
Looking back, it was a year filled with lots of coffee and tea dates, filling each other in on what was happening in our personal lives including the many losses.
We had ambitious “goals” for our blog and business and we soon realized that these were not going to be accomplished. We realized neither of us had the energy to write as much as we had been and so we deliberately decided to write less and post fewer blogs. We took the pressure off. We gave ourselves permission to *just be* with all that had changed.
But what we were accomplishing was strengthening and deepening our bond of friendship.
We gave ourselves space to talk about our grief and loss. Our focus shifted. Our friendship deepened. We shared when we needed space and also when we needed more time together, not as business partners or colleagues but as friends. Sometimes we needed to put the business aside to allow our friendship to bloom, so that our collegial partnership could continue to grow too.
One of the challenges of becoming friends as we became collaborators is that we have little history with each other, either as work-mates or as play-mates. We have been co-creating both together at the same time and that is not always easy to do. We are learning that we can work through conflict, share our lives and losses, trust one another, and speak what is on our minds without fear of the other becoming defensive or silent (two of the four Horsemen that we’ll be talking about in the next post).
As we look back on 2015, what struck us is that we *lived* what science is proving: that friendship is good for our mental and physical health. Friendships allow us to survive loss and grief. More than that, each friendship can offer an *aspect* of what we need not only to survive but also to thrive.
We talked about the experience of writing this blog. We agreed that writing about the topic of friendship made choices in our own friendships clearer. And we found that new questions and ideas about friendship came out of our writings and conversations.
Writing about friendship issues and challenges helped each of us sort through our own perspectives, often opening up new perspectives and possibilities where confusion and conflict had been before. Talking about our own friendships has helped us move through stuck places and to (eventually) feel peace and calm. We talked about losing friendships as part of the grief and loss process.
Since starting The Smart Art of Friendship, each of us has gone through our own friendship transitions — realizing that a friendship has not been fulfilling for a long time, the experience of realizing a friendship needs to end. The pain and the relief of knowing what needs to happen.
We have been thinking wondering about how we think about friendship, how we approach it, and that maybe we have been viewing it from a micro level rather than the potentially transformative macro level.
And this has led us to wonder how others approach friendships. We hope to pose questions to men and women on the topic of friendship and to share their answers with you this year.
And we would love your thoughts, feedback and suggestions!
~Amy and Ruth
What does 2016 hold for the Smart Art of Friendship?
~Continuing to realize the importance of friendship – in life, in our lives, as we get older.
~We would like to engage in more conversations about friendship. With contributing guest bloggers, with difference perspectives from more people’s lived experience.
~We would like to explore how people experience friendship in their lives. Men, women, throughout the life span.
We will continue to write and post our blogs at the slower rate for now.