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www.RINGOLD.net
© January 28, 2007

GREETINGS ladies and gentlemen !

Happy SUNDAY! -- or happy "whatever day" it is that you end up reading this.  Life is good and my 2007 is off to a grrrrreat start; I hope yours is also.  So far this year, I've had some good business success, have been healthy, all my bills are current, my baby boy thinks he's in love, I still have a job and I've had a chance to spend QUALITY TIME with a few of my friends. Life IS good.  

AND...  although the Christmas season is over, my Christmas spirit is STILL ALIVE, as is my Christmas tree !  You know, once I get that puppy up I hate to take it down.  And this year I'm particularly proud of it because... I had NO female intervention in it's design and preparation and... I still got compliments on it, so... I'm feeling pretty accomplished.  Heck, at this rate, the sucker might still be up in June!  I hope that your Christmas SPIRIT is still alive and being nurtured in your life, also.

Speaking of friends, I went to Canada last week to visit a photographer friend of mine -- a truly awesome lady for whom I have a great deal of respect professionally, artistically, and as a person, and I'm truly glad she is my friend.  I showed up at her door and rang the bell.  She answered and I had a big smile and was about to give her a big hug  and she stopped me short and said, "What? Didn't you bring any of your work to show me?"   I said, "yes... it's in the car."  Then she said, "Okay, go get it and bring it in..." and she turned and walked back into her house.

Oh.... I'd have stood there with my mouth agape, looking flabbergasted, but it was COLD that morning, so I just scurried off to the car, got the photographs I'd brought, and scurried my butt inside before I turned into a snow man -- well... sort of.  THEN... she let me have my hug, and was glad to see me. 

NOTE: Sometimes, our friends are there to help keep us on track, and nudge us to do the things we need to do to win, or fulfill our dreams.  It's not always comfortable, but no one said that to be our friend, they always needed to make us feel comfortable.  Sometimes, if they're truly our friends, it's their JOB to make us squirm a little; help us stretch the boundaries of our comfort zones... so we develop more expansive comfort zones.

After spending the morning catching up and suckin' down cappuccino from her new cappuccino machine, our tummies started grumbling, so we decided to grab some lunch at a local restaurant.  We were promptly greeted and seated, and the waitress came over asked "How are you today?"  I responded with, "I am Absolutely Wonderful".  She said, "great! I'm glad to hear that."  And I said, "No... really; that's my name -- Absolutely Wonderful -- it's on my credit card." 

She just stood there and stared at for a second, like I was nuts -- which, of course, I am -- then smiled a happy smile, took our drinks order and went about her business.  Sometimes, I crack myself up (feel free to use it yourself; I charge no royalties...)  That was the first time I'd ever used that line, and now I'm looking for a NOVELTY COMPANY who will sell me a NOVELTY  (not fake) credit card, with Absolutely Wonderful embossed as my name on it.  If you find a place... paleeeze let me know !

When I started writing this issue, it was going to be about goal setting (yes... again), but as often happens after I write a couple of paragraphs, I find that the emerging theme is something quite different than where I thought I was headed originally.  In today's case... the emerging theme is friendship.  I've been thinking a lot about friendship, lately -- as have many of my friends -- and many times the discussion starts out around how or why one or more friends disappointed us, or let us down -- which itself leads to a myriad of conversations -- but one of the biggest questions that results is... what is it that we actually EXPECT from our friends?  and the secondary question is... Why?

SOOO much I could say on this.  Friendship is very important to me, and I admit to my share of feelings that various friends have let me down or disappointed me or... whatever.  As a matter of fact, I did a blog posting recently where I stated that "I am a better friend to most people than they are to me !" Now, any way you look at it, that's a pretty balsy statement, and if anyone else had said it, I'd say that it bordered on arrogance and a self declaration of martyrdom!  Nevertheless, that's how I've felt in many cases, and when I wrote that statement... I had -- and still have -- plenty of "evidence" to back it up.

But, have you ever noticed that we always see clearest when it's someone else's problem ?  And in talking to some of my friends and listening to their stories, I found myself asking certain questions and, as Tony Robbins would say, making certain distinctions.  I have come to realize that although we all use the same word -- friend -- the word itself means different things to different people, and when I call you friend, it is very possible that I have different expectations of you than you have of me, and our problem comes in when we -- as friends -- have not communicated to each other, just what that means to us.

I have friends all over the world -- some I've met, and some I haven't :-); some are old Air Force friends that I've been through thick and think with, and some are folks I've just conversed with over the internet.  I have friends I've advised who consider my advice very valuable who tell me I've helped them, but if tomorrow I was struck with some grave illness, it might be unfair for me to expect THAT friend to come in, fly in, drive over... from wherever to nurse me.  But that same friend might email me and say, "Hey Kelvin, I hear you've got a son in Iraq and me and my family are sending care packages and we'd like to send one to him... what's his address ?", which did happen, by the way.  Is that person my friend?  Absolutely.  Have I ever met them?  Nope.  Would they be there for me if I needed them?  I am absolutely positive they would... to the extent possible for them, which could very well mean...just a heartfelt greeting card to let me know they were thinking of me in my time of need.

So if you have a friend or friends who have disappointed you lately, or let you down, maybe it's time to re-look at "the situation" again.  Were they "that kind of friend"; could you really expect whatever your expectation was? Did they have the capacity to cope right then?  Maybe you're still a dear friend in their heart but they're not accustomed to having good friends and they don't know how to show it, or accept it, or return it.  Maybe their computer broke or the car broke down or the kids were sick, or the house blew up... or maybe they're having some other problems of their own and can't get the strength to lift their heads above water right now.  Do you have more strength than they do right now?  Who knows. 

THEN AGAIN.... it's ALSO POSSIBLE that they're just a selfish, self-serving jerk who needed to use somebody and you were handy -- but I try to give them the benefit of the doubt (now) before I make that kind of final assessment.

So... in reality ?  I was right, I think.  I *am* a better friend to a lot of (maybe not most) people than they are to me!  But I have determined that I needn't be so self-righteous about it, because...in reality, I am very blessed, and I have a greater capacity for giving than a lot of people do.  I've had a great life, some great experiences, seem to be in perfect health, I've had some awesome people who have given unselfishly and unconditionally to me over the years, who taught me great lessons and helped me become who I am today.  I have a fantastic family who loves me -- even my siblings..yyyyeeeoowwww! --  supports and respects me, I've some tremendous friends who make me feel loved and special on a daily basis, and because of that, I have the ability to see good and hope in a world where many seek to convince us that there is none.  To whom much is given... much is expected !  So, I give back... the only way I know how. 

Maybe you give back the same way; maybe you give back differently.  Maybe you're in better shape than you thought you were, and maybe your friends are in worse shape than you thought THEY were. You know?  You give what you can... we each have a different capacity.  And remember... "friend" means different things to different people.  Talk to your friends and find out -- really -- what it means to them.

THANK YOU for e-listening.  This was longer than I expected it to be -- guess that's why I call it my Ramblings -- but I hope you stayed with it till it was done, and I hope I said something of value and for those of you who consider me your friend, I thank you.  It is my fervent hope for you that you never NEED me, but if you do, I'll be there to the extent that I am able.. if only with a soothing word or insight, which seems to be my best gifts.

Have an AWESOME day, y'all.

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RESOLUTION for 2007:
"Talkin' the talk AND walkin' the walk"
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Food for Thought:
"If your actions inspire others to dream more,
learn more, do more and become more,
you are a leader."
-- John Quincy Adams
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