The Great Relationship Experience

November 2015

Late in October, an idea came to me. In keeping with the principle that we are each a summary of the five people we spend the most time with, I decided to commit to a November of surrounding myself with the individuals in my life I most admire.

I made a simple list, on a simple sheet of paper, and taped it to my refrigerator. Most of my systems and goal sheets are this fancy. Each day my plan was to reach out to one relationship in my life that generates love, light, laughter, challenge, creativity, vision, or just plain fun. I thought of people whose lives and marriages I admired. Whose professional success I admired. Whose work ethic and commitment I admired. Whose character stretched mine. Whose thinking challenged and grew mine. Some of these people I see frequently, with others I simply pick up where we left off. ALL of these people make me a better woman. And for that I am eternally grateful.

So here’s what happened. {Jessica’s note April 2018: the remainder of that month was just as magical as the first 8 days I’ve shared here.  Try it – you’ll love it.}

Sunday, November 1

T is a musical and educational friend from high school. Tremendously talented and has one of the broadest, most creative, anything-is-possible minds out there. She works in educational broadcasting and though we don’t talk often, the conversations are always fulfilling – she loves to cook and eat great food, enjoy culture, and dream of what could be. Her birthday is on Halloween and in all the crazy, I didn’t check in. So November 1st was the perfect day to send a simple text to say hello and happy belated birthday! (Texting was not my intended form of communication… after waking with a migraine I promised myself I wouldn’t bail on the very first day of my experiment!) She responded with a simple text and I had seen on her Facebook that, as I suspected, she had a wonderfully unique birthday that included singing the solo in the Rutter Pie Jesu at mass, followed by a PR in her 5K afternoon run, topped off with dinner at someplace delightfully quirky and finally, karaoke bowling. Thank you T for reminding me that there is more fun out there than dinner and a movie. **10/2019 update: our babies were born on the same day, 10/05/18.  Come on now!

Monday, November 2

I reached out to my friend J, who I met through my business. She is a wonderfully kind wife, mother, and stylist. We came to know each other best through our angel sons. I haven’t heard back from her yet, which is perfectly okay – sometimes lots of time passes between our conversations, which are mostly over Facebook messenger.

Tuesday, November 3

I met another friend J for our standing monthly coffee date. Our boys are inurned kitty-corner from one another. Never once have we talked about “stuff.” And never once have I felt judged by her, no matter what flames I spew out, yet she speaks truth boldly. We talk about love, loss, grief, difficult relationships, dreams, faith, self-care, questions that don’t have answers, and mostly our common desire to honor God and our boys with the breath in our lungs and the feet in our shoes. One day we’re going to figure it out. She is one of the most grace-filled, obedient, selfless humans in my life and the last 3 years have been transformative with her in them. This Tuesday we talked about the testimony she and her husband shared last week, and the emotions that accompany that offering, and my experience with our 6th October after LJ.

**Extra blessing – a couple days later, J texted to ask me where I had gotten her birds’ nest necklace (silver woven nest with 4 pearls inside). She wanted to purchase one for a new “member” in our tribe and said, “look what you started!” I was thrilled to share with her that my friend C was actually the one who started this – she turned me onto The Vintage Pearl with a necklace containing LJ’s name. This gave me a great opportunity to reach out to C that day too, a double portion of blessing!

Wednesday, November 4

I spent the morning with my sister Sales Directors, getting my cup filled. I walked into the meeting with a lot of yuck on my mind and heart, and so distracted that I accidentally left my phone sitting on the console in my car. As a result – I was completely focused and present in the moment, and left feeling inspired and filled up. Where leaders gather, I want to be. These women think and dream bigger, and refuse to settle for ordinary. My mind is still racing with ideas. On my way home, I returned a call from L, answering her beautiful question about how to care/support a friend facing an impending loss. Perspective. New month, fresh start, great new focus. That night I spent with my favorite musical friends, one of my favorite places in my week to lead, serve, worship, and be present.

Thursday, November 5

My mom and sister came over for lunch.   I planned a menu, prepared the meal late the night before, and surprised them when they walked in. When I feel pressed or stretched too thin, or bombarded by lies that I am “less than,” what is most fun for me is to honor others. It’s so much more enjoyable than stewing in my own “problems.” We ate all the carbs without caring, laughed, called my Grandmother, dreamed about the lake house at Egret Acres, up until the last second I had to leave to pick up Jackson from school. They affirm and support me, go out swinging for me, and help me remember why I do what I do.

**Extra blessing – I walked into a boutique for mismatched tea plates and enjoyed the kindness of the shop owner, the mother of a childhood friend. She relayed our conversation to her daughter, who emailed me that night.

Friday, November 6

Fridays are delivery days, and this was a big one! On my way to #1, I called a new acquaintance JC, at the request of our mutual friend. J lost her second son on October 9th, born at 23 weeks. I was so surprised she picked up the phone, I stumbled all over my words and then actually expected her to hang up. To my surprise, she shared her story, and later we exchanged pictures and thoughts over text.

A surprise order/delivery landed me first today in JD’s living room after I finished my call in her driveway. Her son was in his therapy session upstairs and her daughter played sweetly while we talked. JD is one of the strongest, most patient, funny, and thoughtful women in my life. I hope she and her husband had a wonderful birthday date out.   I can’t wait to spend some Christmas time with her and my fellow bible study (circa 1995) girls soon.

LF had texted earlier in the week, needing a product. Normally we just do a porch swap, but this time she offered a cup of coffee. We met (almost an hour late!) at the church, and spent just a few minutes catching up. Linda faithfully loves and checks in on me in October, and remembers LJ on November 1 and year-round. She knew me when I was just Grace’s age and there’s something to be said for that comfort in old friendships.

My friend M checked in, we just adore her – and she, like everyone else, got mail returned! We got our address sorted out and it was good to hear her voice.

We started a Family Fun Friday with our neighbors across the street. The kids love each other and what began as throwing them into our spa after school one Friday has turned into food, laughter, and friendship. We swap houses each time and talk over drinks and dinner while the kids play. They’ve lived everywhere and have great stories!

I met a fascinating woman at R’s house… I can’t wait to get to know her better.

**Bonus blessing – I learned today from L that LP (long-time church friend) actually started and was the first headmaster for a sweet Christian community school, where H’s children attend and are thriving. Her vision was to create an environment where no children slip through the cracks because of unique needs.

**Some of these points of connection I initiated… some of them were invitations that I ordinarily would have turned down.

Saturday, November 7

I texted MH this morning after a Natalie Grant song came on KSBJ on my way to the Boutique. He loved her, and we listened to such an eclectic mix of Contemporary Christian, bluegrass, Lyle Lovett, news, and classic rock in the shop where I apprenticed musical instrument repair in college. He taught me so patiently, bought my meal every time we went out to lunch, and treated me as part of his family.   I had such fun working there and that was really my first look into the behind-the-scenes of a small business. I hadn’t even thought of that until just now. He responded quickly, and it was good to “hear” from him. I miss him much.

I met H for a quick bite and was shocked to hear her share a “small world” story. After getting to know a great couple from her boys’ school, she and her husband met them for lunch yesterday. They found out that he referees for the NBA/SEC, and H asked S (I interrupted, wow, I used to know a S!) where she works as a nurse. After she responded that she works in the NICU at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands, they pieced together LJ’s story. My mom and S had built a great rapport during and after our stay in the NICU and we remember her fondly as one of our champions during such a challenging time. I can’t wait to reconnect personally with her, meet her family, and get to know her better.

M called tonight to tell us her dad died. I am so broken-hearted for her. M is staying with JL and her family tonight, I am so glad she is in such wonderful care.

Sunday, November 8

I grabbed G in the hallway after church, told her I missed her, and asked her to coffee. We’ll set a date this week.

The rest of the month…

The rest of the month was just like this, only it got even better.  I met with mom friends, a neurosurgeon, a writer, a corporate VP, a pastor, teacher friends, music friends, a business coach, and more.  Get creative.  You really do know 30 people whose time and presence will make you a better person!



Never miss a good story!

 Subscribe to Happy Mail: the loveliest note to hit your inbox all week.