Wednesday, March 4, 2015

“FRIENDS ARE GIFTS WE GIVE OURSELVES” BY RITA KARNOPP

First I’d like to say . . . “it’s great to be back!”  There are times we hit a wall in life and we know we need a break.  Yep, not want a break – but need a break.  If we love ourselves, and we all should, we need to listen to our ‘self-talk.’

I knew it was time to take a break from writing, something I haven’t done since my sister, Diane, passed over six years ago from throat cancer.  I kept telling myself after I finish ‘this book’ I’m taking a month or so off to get caught up on the housework, the kitchen cupboards, etc.  But that next book would scream at me . . . and before I knew it – I would be engulfed in a new plot.

2014 was a great year . . . but it had a few hiccups that have incited me to count my many blessings.

My brother-in law, only 66 years old, had a massive stoke on both sides.  An active rancher all his life . . . and now . . . he’ll never sit-up, walk, take a stroll down the hallway and go to the bathroom, or even feed himself without help.  It can happen to any of us . . . any time. 

I started 2014 with a hole-punch retinal tear and of course I was still doing therapy on my right wrist – that torn ligaments and cartilage – separating all eight bones requiring surgery.  After much therapy and pain - instead of having no use of my hand – I now have 96% – I’m so grateful.

My husband and I struggled with helping our son go through a disastrous divorce (are there any other kind?) and there were the usual life’s struggles of car breakdowns, new tires, and twice a two-year-old frig/freezer malfunction!

The final straw in 2014 was my 63 year old sister committing suicide in November.  She chose to hang herself from a tree on a lonely hillside in California ~ rather than face life.  My heart breaks for her and I wish I could have helped her make a different choice.  I now respect her decision – because it will eat me up if I don’t.  Sometimes things are beyond our control and that’s why we have God . . . to help us get through the tough stuff.

As I’ve grown older, I realize it’s not just family that gets me through the good and tough times in my life.  It’s my friends.  We hit a time in our lives when it becomes apparent how important all those friends are.  True friends who are there for me when I really need them . . . and it goes without saying – I’m there for them when they need me.

It saddens me when I hear people say ‘how lonely they are.’  That’s when I start counting my blessings.  I feel all the more grateful for my husband ~ who is my best friend.  And there are our couples-friends we share.  Great times gold panning and dinner parties together.  But, let’s face it – us gals need more than that.

I have only one friend from my high-school days.  I’m incredibly grateful to have Carolyn in my life.  Someone who knows me from eleven years old to now . . . how wonderful! 

I’m overwhelmed with the sensitive, caring, and loving ‘writer friends’ I’ve been blessed with over the years.  And these are the ‘friends’ I’m talking about.  One lady (Ginger) has moved into the ‘sister’ title and the rest are in the ‘I can’t do without’ category.  The Internet has radically redefined the concept of friendship. I’m not talking about bogus Facebook ‘friends.’  I am talking about how the internet has allowed easy access and connection with others - so we’ve been able to nurture friendships as the years go by. 

Isn’t it amazing to have incredibly strong relationships with some writers, yet we’ve never met each other in person?  Yet we regularly talk to each other about some of the most intimate and important aspects of our lives. We are truly friends and a significant part of each other’s social life.

There is always time and room to add another friend, be it a new reader who emails to chat about one of my books, or a new writer needing some ‘advice,’ or even that established writer who is reaching out for someone to ‘just listen’ for a moment or two.

I realized how many friends I’ve been blessed with when I shared my sister’s suicide.  The amount of support and love I read in those emails put me to tears.  When I started my writing career - little did I know I’d stumble onto a support system that invests more heart than I could ever imagine.

So . . . to all my friends . . . thank you for being there for me during the good, bad, and even ugly times.  Know one thing ~ I’m here for you, too. 

As a teen I once received a fortune cookie . . . one that I’ve always remembered and hold dear.  “Friends are gifts we give ourselves.”

Friends
   Me and you are friends . . .
   You fight, I fight . . .
   You hurt, I hurt . . .
   You jump off a bridge . . .

   I’m gonna miss your dumb ass. 

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