Friendships, Social Media, & Being Intentional

I logged into my personal blog this afternoon for the first time in MONTHS.

Writing comes in seasons for me. What that really means is…sometimes I don’t make time for it, and other times I do.

I opened up a draft of a blog I had written, but never published.

I wrote it 2 days before we sold our first house. I honestly don’t remember writing it at all. Also – I don’t remember having any time during the last week of closing and moving – so the fact that I even knew where my laptop charger was at the time is a miracle.

This was how the never published blog started :

“When thinking about life and big moments, I always have thought about them in my head before they happened. You know what I mean? When something exciting happens, who you are going to call first. When you get bad news, who is the person you want to talk to?

And the weirdest part of life is when during one of those moments – you realize the people you would have once called, are no longer the same people who you would call today.”

I have written countless drafts of blogs all circling around the same theme.

The change of friendships as an adult.

Why does it feel so awkward to talk about?

I posted a “Poll” on Instagram and asked the following question.

“Would You Say Friendships as an Adult are Easier or Harder?”

97% of people who responded chose “Harder.” There were over 100 people who answered.

Reading that felt like a sigh of relief.

Maybe it’s because in my head, everyone else has never had a hard friendship. Everyone else must just walk around with friendship bracelets and enough time each week to spend afternoons catching up over coffee with all of their besties.

Man – I am not there.

I think I’ve held off posting this blog because I wanted to be able to tie it together with a ribbon and have a conclusion at the end. Maybe even a solution.

But, the more I’ve opened up to people in my life & asked them about their experience with friendships, the more I realize that it’s a tricky topic. It’s something that I will continue to work on, learn, and figure out as time goes on. It’s not ever going to be something that I’ve mastered.

And I’m not sure that I ever want to have mastered it.

The reasons friendships are challenging, is because we are ALL different. In the ways we communicate, relate, live, budget, parent, vacation, believe, grow, transition. We all do things differently. Friendship, like marriage – takes two people with different lives and they choose to do life together. Some of my closest friends have completely different personalities than me. Others have different careers. Others are in different seasons of life. And others are substantially older than me. None of my friendships are sustained because we act, think, and live the exact same way.

They are sustained by choice, not by chance. 

I try to be intentional. But even on my best weeks when I try and get everything done, I still don’t have enough time to spend face-to-face time with each of my friends. Sometimes weeks go by without text messages or phone calls. Sometimes months go by without seeing each other.

With the rise of social media – there is a part of me that thinks it must be easier than ever to keep up with what my friends are doing. Right? Especially the ones that don’t live near me or who I don’t get to see very often.

While this is partly true – I DO get glimpses into people’s lives on social media that I might not otherwise see. It is not entirely true. Friendships can form and grow online – I have friends now who I met online through my business.

But, the only way that social media will benefit my relationships is if I am creating connection OFFLINE.

There is something missing when everything is typed and can be edited before pressing “post”. When perfect images are chosen from our phones photo albums – we are only seeing slices of real life.

There is something that happens face-to-face. Or even, on a phone call.

Real, honest, words & connection.

Unfiltered. 

It’s like the difference between watching a movie trailer and then going to see the whole movie.

Yes, the trailer gives you an idea. But you can’t know all the dynamics unless you sit for a while and watch it unfold.

Our time is valuable, I know that. Which is why I firmly believe that time & attention are two of the best gifts you can give people in your life. I know it’s not easy to schedule a girls night, or a coffee date, or even a night with a friend. But it is a gift you give to your friend & a gift you give to yourself.

Time with your friends will fill you up and refresh you a million times faster than a night at home scrolling through your phone.

Let me be vulnerable with you and tell you that I am still trying to figure out how to be a good friend as an adult. Things have changed since I graduated high school and even more now with 2 jobs, a husband, a household, and family in different states. As I’ve gotten older there have been more things added to my plate – and with the same number of hours in a day, I am having to learn how to balance, prioritize, and be intentional in all of my relationships.

Kyle challenged me this week to get some coffee dates & girls nights on my calendar. To text my friends, ask them, and actually SCHEDULE them. It seemed like something that I would already know. But the best way for me to spend time with people is to BLOCK TIME OUT to do it. So – I’m gonna do it. Get some face-to-face time planned and do life together UNFILTERED.

Maybe that would be a good idea for all of us. And I’m sure that once we start spending time together, unfiltered, we’ll realize that friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts – even if over the years the dynamics have changed.

Kels

The Messy Side of Friendship.

Feeling all the feels today, friends.

You know days like that? I know I do…Days where I am so analytical that my brain hurts, emotional, introspective, and maybe a little moody.

This thought. I kept thinking it last night as I was falling asleep. Friendship is Messy.

I’m gonna be so honest, because I think it is so refreshing.

Friendships are something that I can live without.

No, I didn’t have a typo. I said that I CAN live without friendships.

It is possible. I would survive. I would still be able to eat, and breathe, and drink water. And, those are basically the only things necessary to sustain life.

But I don’t WANT to live without friendships.

You see. Without friendships, I don’t think life would be as rich. They are messy. They are hard. But they are good.

Friendships will give you :

Memories. Inside Jokes. Someone to road trip with. Someone to split dessert with. Someone to check in on you. Someone who cares about you. Someone who knows you. A shopping buddy. Or a hunting buddy. Or a concert buddy. A confidant. An encourager. A cheerleader. A coach. A shoulder to cry on.

But friendship will also give you:

Hurt feelings. Misunderstandings. Hard Converations. Brutal Honesty.

There is a messy side of friendship, that I think we all have experienced. We all have had our feelings hurt, and some of us might have allowed the messy side of friendship to taint our view on them as a whole. When we experience the pain, it is so easy to recoil backwards and isolate. I know this, because I do this. When someone hurts me, I feel like I want to put some distance there, in order to not be hurt again.

But when we decide that friendships are too hard, we throw all of the good things out with the bad. We end up living lonely lives. Maybe they are cleaner, maybe we have less hard conversations or hurt feelings, but we don’t get to experience the good stuff also.

People can live as islands. Like Tom Hanks in Castaway. They get weird, and sad, and lonely. But they STILL desire friendship. Just with things that can’t hurt them, like volleyballs.

A few weeks ago, I shared that a lot of our friends are going through hard things. And even though its a busy time of year for me, I’m doing my best to be there for them even when its inconvienient and I am tired.

Because I know there will be times that I need someone to be around when I am going through hard times, as well.

It is such a delicate balance. This friendship thing. It is equal parts letting things go, as it is being honest enough to say, “That hurt me”. And the balance is hard.

Hard conversations form deep relationships.

I know this, because I have learned it the hard way. It is uncomfortable. I know it is. It is not easy to tell someone they have hurt you, or that they have neglected you, or that they have done sometime to lose your trust. Those words are hard, but sometimes, if we don’t say them, we end up drifting more and more apart. You know? In the spirit of “letting things go”, the thing we let go of first can sometimes be each other.

We have to trust that even when friendships are hard, and messy, it is worth it. It is worth it to say the words, to sit in the awkward silence for a minute, and to begin to restore. To whisper or sometimes shout the words, “I’m Sorry” and to hear the words, “I Forgive You”.

I’m lucky enough to have some pretty wonderful friends. And, they aren’t always perfect, but neither am I. Sometimes I let the stress of life consume me and forget the people who have stood by as my cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on, and my road trip buddy. But, in the midst of it, I realize that allowing myself to run into the arms of my friends is one of the things that makes the stress dissipate.

This Tuesday, I’m so grateful.

For the people who have been there in the good, the bad, the hard, and the ugly.

Because they make my life so much richer.

It might be possible to live without friends, but I would never want to.

I love these crazies.

Kels

Relationships Aren’t Like Cactuses : Learning Intentionality

The older I get, the more I realize that being intentional is probably one of the most necessary character qualities to being an adult. Especially when it comes to having healthy relationships of any kind.

As a kid, my friends and I went to school together. For 9 months out of the year, we spent 5 days a week together. With ample time to chat and play during breaks/lunch/recess. Quality time wasn’t planned so much as it was planned for us. Many opportunities each day to be together and to build friendships. Birthday parties happened about every week, so there were always sleepovers and opportunities to make memories.

Then, with graduation, came transition. Some friends moved away, some friends stayed close.

Now, with careers, marriages, children, and a plethora of other commitments, I have realized one thing.

Relationships aren’t like cactuses. 

Cactuses don’t have to be watered. They don’t have to be taken care of. They don’t have to be looked at, or thought about. They just keep on growing. Those prickly little buggers….

Relationships are like babies.

They need attention. They need time. And energy.

So here’s the dilemma. The older I get, the less time it feels like I have. While being an adult has an element of freedom and independence, the flip side is that it also has a large element of responsibility.

So with all my freedom, I have to choose to be responsible. But I also have to choose to be intentional.

This is something that I am not always great at.

Confession : I’m not always the best initiator.

It’s something that with the fall and winter coming up, where photography is less busy, is at the top of my list of goals. To be intentional in my relationships.

But as September is already here, I am looking back over the past 8 months and really trying to evaluate where I put my time. What were the areas that I did good? What are the areas that I need to be better at? Where is my time going? I realized sometime this year that I don’t have to wait for a January 1st to set goals, or to evaluate my life. I can do it any day. Even a Tuesday, in the beginning of September.

I decided at the beginning of 2015 that I was going to set some boundaries when it came to my business. The first was only taking 15 weddings this year, so that I would have some weekends to be able to spend with my husband and my family. Secondly, I implemented some systems to make my editing & delivering of products and images more efficient and streamlined. And I also made sure that at least 1 night a week was spent doing nothing photography related. I will admit, in the midst of wedding season, that is harder and harder. But I am trying. To make sure that I can invest into my relationships.

So, this post is as much for me as it is for anyone else.

We have 3 months before the December Christmas Madness happens. 3 months where I am going to set some goals in my relationships. To spend some time investing into my marriage, my friendships, and my family to make sure that they are getting the attention they deserve. Whether that means a coffee date once a month or a phone call to check in.

Rabbit trail…Sometimes I think I forget how nice a phone call or a card can be to receive. So I hesitate to give them. It’s like I feel that if I can’t give someone 3 hours of my time, I should wait until I can…NOT THE CASE. If I have 15 minutes to call and chat with a friend, that is better than waiting 3 years to meet up. Right? I think so. You can disagree. That’s okay!

I will say this over and over. Nobody is an island. And living on an island results in making friends with volleyballs…hello, Tom Hanks. NOT my kind of friendship.

We NEED each other. To grow. To laugh with. To celebrate with. To cry with. To vent to. To dream with. To binge watch Netflix with. To make delish dinners with. To enjoy life with.

So cheers, friends. To being intentional. With whatever spare time we are given in order to make sure that we don’t start making friends with the basketballs, volleyballs, and baseballs in our garages.

Kels

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Deposits & Withdrawals : The Delicate Balance of Relationships

My husband Kyle and I like to save money. Not crazy amounts, but my dad told us once to “save something of everything we earn”. We might not always be perfect at it, but I would say, 9 times out of 10, when we get a paycheck, we put some money aside into savings. We have what we call an “emergency fund”, because we know that life sometimes throws curveballs (a.k.a. needing a new hot water tank the week we moved into our home). And with an emergency fund, we are prepared to handle times when we need to make an unexpected withdrawal. I promise this has to do with relationships….Just bear with me.

The same goes for relationships. It is all about deposits and withdrawals, or as I like to call it…Investing into Relationships. There are moments when Kyle makes deposits into our relationship. Small deposits like when he brings me a cup of coffee before I am out of bed in the morning. Or large deposits when he surprises me with a clean house and dinner on the table after I get home from a late photo shoot. I try and do the same for him.

The same goes for friendships. Text messages, phone calls, a card sent in the mail, coffee dates, dinner dates, little gifts. Those can all be deposits in a relationship. They are showing the other person. You MATTER to me. You matter to me so much, that I want to give you something. Whether it is words, time, material things, helping someone move or painting their walls. Deposits into a relationship are INTENTIONAL.

Why make deposits? Because life is full of times where we make withdrawals.

There are moments with my best friends when I NEED them to just come over, sit on my couch, and tell me its all gonna be okay. I maybe have overcommitted with my schedule and am feeling stretched thin or am dealing with insecurity, change, or any other emotion. Those are the moments when I need my friends to be there for me. I have nothing to give, but I am in need of some love or encouragement.

My dad told Kyle and I that in the hard moments of life, we are going to need to make withdrawals. People will give grace to us in our ugly moments, because they have seen us in our pretty moments. They have felt loved and because of that, will be able to give it freely.

Think about it in practical terms. With a real bank account, the only time you can make withdrawals is when you have been putting $$ INTO the account. Same with friendships. It’s pretty hard to expect people to be there for you when you haven’t been investing in your relationships.

You see, friendships are a delicate balance. The world is full of 2 kinds of people. Givers and takers. Let’s just be honest. We all have met both kinds of people. But I can be honest when I say that I am both. There are days when I am a giver, and there are days when I am a taker. I am grateful for the days when my husband, parents, & friends are there even when I am not lovable.

TRUE : “The easiest way to have a friend, is to be one.”

I have found that sitting at home complaining “I have no friends” doesn’t ever result in them. What results in deep, fulfilling friendships is when I make deposits. When I am intentional with my time and my love. When I take time and energy to do something to SHOW someone I am thinking about them, I am grateful for them, and I need them in my life.

FALSE : “I am too busy to invest time into my friendships.”

I understand that there are seasons of busy-ness in everyones life. I probably understand it more than most. You see, as a Wedding Photographer in Seattle, most weddings are planned in a 2-4 month period. The summer is called “Wedding SEASON” for a reason. August and September are the months when most people are taking vacations, but that is when Kyle and I are shooting double header wedding weekends.  I don’t mind it at all! I LOVE shooting outdoors, but I have come to realize that my summer is a time where my weekends will be full.

But I still try to be intentional. Having people over on weeknights, meeting in the mornings before work for coffee, calling a friend when I have a few extra minutes. When life gets busy, it’s easy to make excuses. And I would be lying if I said that when someone tells me “I can’t, I’m just too busy”, I am able to brush it off easily.

I will sacrifice a perfectly clean home and an empty to-do list for some quality time with people I love. Because life is all about relationships. With our family, our spouses, and our friends. We need other people. As much as sometimes I wish I could do it all by myself, I can’t. We were not created to live alone on islands. We are created to be involved in each others lives. To sit on our couch next to someone and make deposits on our good days, and take withdrawals on our hard days. To show people they are loved and needed, because they have shown us the same thing.

So I want to encourage you, to continue to invest into your friendships even during busy moments. Because relationships make life full and good, and let’s be honest. YOU NEED THEM. We all do.

Friends, thank you. Thank you for being givers even in the hard moments. I am blessed by you daily.

Kels