compromise

The Gift of Flexibility in Relationships

I returned home this week to the United States; back to a country where we can flush our toilet paper down the toilet, drink water out of the tap, and choose to sleep past the sound of roosters.  Ha! But oh there is already so much to miss about Nicaragua: sighting monkeys in forests, eating amazing food, sampling fruits I've never seen before, practicing my Spanglish with the locals, hiking to waterfalls, watching the "run with the bulls" in Granada, making tortillas on a wood oven, learning how to make tamales from a local family, walking through charming towns, and just learning about an amazing population of our brothers and sisters in another part of this world. It was all so very special.

If you're familiar with our TravelCircles then you'll know that all our trips are designed for women to come alone and get to know each other.  We start the trip as strangers; depart as friends. It's one of the most magical parts of the trips.

Here we all are on top of our van waiting to watch the annual "Running with the Bulls" in Granada!

Leaning Like the Bamboo

One story that emerged on our trip is so appropriate to friendship that I wanted to pop into your inbox this weekend with this little inspiration for you, trusting that there is a relationship in your life where this truth can serve as an invitation to, as well.

The chances of any two people wanting to do the exact same activities, with the same exact needs and energy levels, enjoying it in the same way, at the exact same time is the stuff of fairy tales.

In fact, in some ways it's easier to travel with strangers than it is with friends or family-- we're all on our best behavior, more willing to try new things, and excited to get to know each other; but no matter who we travel beside on vacation or through life, the art of compromise is ever-present.

The lesson the bamboo is inspirational to all of us in our relationships.

At one of our hotels, one "wall" of our eating area was bamboo.  And it was so loud-- creaking and groaning and singing with the wind. For a city girl like me, to be sipping my morning Nicaraguan coffee and be serenaded by the bamboo was such a delight.

Bamboo is one of those trees that teaches lesson after lesson, but on that morning the one that popped into my head was:

Flexibility: Bamboo bends with the wind, never fighting against it. But it doesn't blow away with the wind, it stays rooted. Its ability to bend without breaking or being uprooted is so beautiful.  It's the perfect metaphor for flexibility-- being able to go-with-the-flow without ever losing our center or our roots.

The Gift of Flexibility

Being flexible isn't weak, rather it's one of the strongest choices ever: leaving one standing straight even after the winds tire out.

We often think of being flexible as someone who compromises and rarely gets what they

While not everyone on our trip was as excited about wild monkeys as I was, they said that my enthusiasm was contagious. Ha! We were all pretty excited to see this guy down on the ground!

really want.  But as our group shared our favorite moments of the trip on our last night together-- I can attest that we all very much got what we wanted: Jennifer got in her nightlife, Erika her chocolate, Miriam her rain forest, Pamela her market photos, and me my monkeys.

Flexibility didn't mean we didn't get what we wanted, but rather that we helped each other get what was most important to each other!

And in so doing, we each received so much more than we were looking for!

There were activities on the itinerary that I would surely have skipped if I were traveling alone or with my husband.

 

What I might have missed:

  • I definitely would have skipped driving up to the rural village on dirt roads, but because we all had to go together, I went along. Fortunately! Because we ducked into a little home up there to learn how to make our own tortillas from grinding the corn to flipping it over on the wood-fire. And let me just say that there is hardly anything tastier than salt on a hot homemade tortilla!
  • I probably would have talked myself out of riding a horse in the rain, but because

    Riding Estelle through the most gorgeous rain forest ever was a magical experience!

    others were excited about it, I went along.  And it may have been my favorite day of the trip-- we saw monkeys, took photos at gorgeous vistas, and laughed a lot!

  • I would have listened to my exhaustion and relaxed at the hotel, but because Jennifer was so excited to go to Salsa dance lessons, I decided to join her.  Good thing, otherwise I would have missed out on a lot of laughter! Ha!

It was so impressive to watch us practice hearing each others needs and doing what we could do make the trip amazing for everyone.  And it surprised me again how in so doing that for others-- I was exposed to things I wouldn't have chosen myself.

In other words: my trip was BETTER because I was flexible. I lost little to nothing, but gained so much more.

In your relationships, I invite you to consider: What would it look like for you to let the wind blow you a little in a new direction? What might you do with someone or how might you respond differently if you knew you could bend and not break? What could you be open to even if it's not what you would personally choose?  How might you and a friend do a better job of leaning into what makes each other happy?

With Lake Nicaragua behind us, we pose for a quick moment before the rain soaked us!  :)

p.s.  Want to travel with us?  All women over the age of 21 are invited to come on any of our trips! Our next two trips with availability are to Cuba this November or Turkey next May! See info here.

 

5 Tips for Finding Time for Friends

If you're anything like me-- and you don't have to admit it if so!--I can get caught up in the idea of doing things more than the actual doing of those things. I like the idea of being someone who reads the classic books and authors, but when my reading time is limited, those aren't the books I pick up.  I think of myself as a traveler, though wonder how many years I can go without traveling abroad and still have that self-identity?  I want to do more physical activities outside, but often choose sitting at a cafe when free time arises. I love the picture of having friends over all the time, entertaining in those magazine-inspired ways, and effortlessly throwing together parties on a regular basis.

clock running out of time

And while I want to keep holding the ideal version of myself... I also know I need to create a way to still lean into what I value even if it's not ideal.  For we don't all have unlimited time to read all the books we want, the budget to travel every year, the energy to choose tennis over a drink in a cafe, or the space in our lives for ongoing party-hosting.  So I can't always have it all.  But surely I can have some of it?

Time-Saving Ways to Connect with Friends

So in our ideal worlds we have 3-7 women we keep in touch with, hopefully getting together regularly and easily for potlucks, parties, barbeques and girls nights out.  But what about when life doesn't warrant that all the time? Or, any of the time?

We have jobs, relationships, kids, mortgages, yard work, a growing pile of mail, parents to call, emails to respond to, facebook to check in on, a toilet that needs scrubbing... the list goes on.  There is no doubt that we live busy lives.  And that list doesn't even include the hope that we can find time to have our "me-time" to include our exercise, yoga, meditation, or at least a glass of wine and fifteen minutes on the couch before bed. We're tired.  Busy. Stressed. Where are we expected to fit in our friends?

Here are five friendship ideas I gave to the Chicago Tribune last year:

  1. Book it: Make a standing appointment with your nearest and dearest. Say every Tuesday night. Or first Sunday of the month. Or get really creative and buy yourselves a season subscription to a theater, or orchestra, or sports team. That way there are no five e-mails back and forth figuring out what works. You've got the slot; stick to it.
  2. Piggyback it: Figure out what you need to get done, what your dear friend needs to get done, and do it together. Be it a pedicure, or shopping for undies, or a trip to the gym.
  3. Bond it: When you do make time to be together, don't dawdle around on the surface, take it deeper. Ask questions that matter. Don't just get updates on the kids but find out how she's feeling about her parenting. Use the time to actually bond, not just be together.
  4. Make it multiples: See a few nearest and dearest friends at the same time. Get together in groups of anywhere from three to six close friends. I don't want to sound crass, but it takes less time to share stuff once, instead of calling each of those friends and retelling the same story. And that way you get four unique responses at once. This generous approach helps more of you reconnect — and if a pressing deadline or last-minute obligation forces one person to cancel, the rest still get to bond.
  5. Pare it: The challenge for some women is that their network of friends is so vast, they feel they can't possibly keep up with everyone. Pick anywhere from three to five friends who matter the most. You simply don't have to be friends with everyone as that risks you not really feeling close to anyone. Prioritize. Give the most time to the ones who matter most and who feed you the most.

The honest truth is that time spent with friends really will boost our energy so it's worth adding into a busy schedule.  But we're gonna have to cut out the guilt trips we're placing on ourselves to do everything!  Find a few women who are your priority and start leaning into more time with them in creative ways.

It's not all-or-nothing.  We can have meaningful friendships with a little something.  :)

What other ideas do you have?  How do you make time for your friends?  Leave comments sharing your tips!