Imagine the setting…. six friends hanging out in Lake Tahoe for 5 days, hiking, touring, sightseeing, listening to music, barhopping, cooking, cleaning, eating and laughing until tears are shed by everyone. On this 4th of July, I give thanks for living in this great country and I celebrate one of the most beautiful scenes of my life – friendship. Five of us here became the best of friends during COVID, as our little quarantined small group for two plus years. Together we stressed about our businesses, our employees and our friends who lost their battle with the deadly virus. We did what people used to do – we spent time at each other’s dining room table. We cooked together, cleaned together, celebrated, prayed, cried, cheered and commiserated. Three of us even started a business together.
Now here we are, three years into this beautiful friendship, vacationing together. Here I sit with business partners, friends, my lover and people whom I love deeply. Most people wouldn’t understand our dynamic, but together we fiercely fight, competitively play, and shut out the world together. I think I know most of their most embarrassing moments, and they for sure know mine. We are the first to congratulate each other on our accomplishments, the first to capture your hilarious (wish-you-could-forget) moment on the phone for internal circulation and the ones we call when our hearts are broken, whether professionally or personally.
Today, we are doing something else we do really well together. We sit in the same area, not really talking to each other, while we work on our laptops, check our social media feeds and softly touch the one we love that sits next to us. Today is the day we recover from the previous two LONG days of running, hiking, sight-seeing, joke telling, bar hopping and laughing until we cried. Truly – every single one of us has cried from laughing so hard.
As I watch a video this morning that shared the mission and work of an organization called Community Renewal, I think about what the Executive Director shared when he spoke of terrible effects of isolation and loneliness on our world and community. This video triggered the memory of the young lady I met last night in one of our stops in Truckee, California.
This young lady we met last night shared with me that her boyfriend left her, while she was grieving the loss of their baby who lived only one day. Three days in the hospital and she came home to an empty nest. This broken- hearted young lady, that I will call Mo, left the big city and ended up here in this small California town in pursuit of a career in the kitchen as a chef. But when I met her last night it was clear she was lonely. She was afraid of the future. She feared that she was too scarred to ever be loved again. Mo entrusted me with her vulnerability and this morning my heart hurts for her. My heart hurts the most because I know what she is missing. She is missing this thing I have right here on this patio of a VRBO home in Tahoe, the friends who push me to be better, encourage me in my weakness and call me on my bs because they know better.
I gave Mo my business card last night with my usual encouragement that she is good enough and her story is still yet to be written. As I saw the first tear drop down her cheek, she closed the door of story-telling and immediately retracted to the guarded, strong persona she had portrayed leading into the initial encounter. Today I reach out to all the Mo’s of the world — you are good enough. You deserve great friends that walk into your house and help themself in the refrigerator. If you don’t have some friends like mine, start nurturing some today. Go ahead and accept the invite to hang out on someone’s patio, let someone see you vulnerable and accept their encouragement when you don’t even believe what they are saying yet.
Today’s wisdom: Raise your glass if you have friends like mine, and if you don’t raise your standards.