GratiTuesday: My Friends and Family

On each of the four Tuesdays in December, I am highlighting what I am most grateful for in 2017.

Maintaining meaningful connections with others can be a challenge once we retire. Missing are the easy social networks that work provides. Gone are the spontaneous lunches and happy hours with co-workers, and the smiles and quick conversations in the hallways. Suddenly, it is up to us to proactively manage our social lives.

Those of us who are more introverted may not be as comfortable taking the lead arranging get-togethers so it can be tempting to just stay home and read or work alone on our creative pursuits. But study after study indicates how important it is to have strong social connections as we age. Humans are not naturally solitary creatures and becoming socially isolated can be detrimental to our overall health.

I am grateful to still have a lot of childhood friends in my life. Since I live near to the community where I grew up, getting together with friends that I’ve known since grade school is not uncommon. I also have dear friends I’ve met over-the-years while working at various jobs. I am grateful that the bonds that formed while we worked together still are strong.

I am grateful for my two brothers, who I also consider my friends. I am lucky that they also gifted me two fantastic sisters-in-law, the sisters I didn’t have while growing up. I am also grateful for my extended family, including the family I gained when I married my husband. Although everyone is spread out far and wide, just knowing that we are family makes me happy.

I am also grateful for my new friends. Like many bloggers, I have discovered the unexpected bonus of acquiring blogging buddies all over the world. Although I have been lucky to meet a few face-to-face, most I have not. Regardless, I still consider many of these amazing women and men my friends, and I hope they consider me theirs.

Time spent with friends and family over this past year has enriched my life immeasurably. I am grateful to have people in my life – whether I see them often or not – who make my life richer by being my friends. I look forward to a new year with new opportunities to enjoy my friends, including those I have yet to meet.

Author: RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

63 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: My Friends and Family”

  1. I’ve made a lot of new friends from my water aerobics class, which is comprised of retired women like me. They have social get togethers and some have joined my hiking group. I’ve also made friends through playing duplicate bridge – something I never thought I would do, but I enjoy it very much. Having people in your life is so important, as you mentioned. Happy for your network!

    1. It often gets harder and harder to make new friends as we get older, but it sounds like you haven’t found that to be the case at all. Good for you. I think it’s just a matter of finding a group of like-minded people and putting yourself out there.

  2. I have friends, and I am grateful for them, but not many childhood friends and very little family close by. We stay in contact, and we help and support each other.

    I just realized that, although I was following you, I wasn’t getting email about your posts. I stopped following and restarted, so if you see a “Dan is now…” well, just trying to get the email flowing.

    1. I’m lucky to have so many childhood friends who still live in the area, I know it’s a bit unusual. I’ve also “re-met” a few at the various high school reunions I’ve attended. Some that I knew before but weren’t exactly friends, have now become close friends.

      Thanks for letting me know about your issues with emails… and for following me again!

      1. Yes…amazingly they do…it’s our old neighbourhood and a testament to the wonderful feng shui (I think) of the block we used to live in…it was easy to make friends there and people find it hard to leave…

  3. Thanks for the warm fuzzies this post brought to me…
    Lovely to meet your circle of friends/family…that cousin of your hubby’s looks like a real corker!
    😀
    I have to comment on a detail I noticed in the pix of your SIL: she’s holding a margarita, am I right? Yum!
    BTW: everyone looks so young – except maybe your dear first grade teacher, but then I’m guessing she’s probably lots older than she looks, too – HA!

  4. I enjoy reading about people who have family that values & includes them. And to live where you grew up gives you a head start on finding friends! I agree about the blogging community. It’s been one of the best things to happen to me, an introvert who lives a quiet life– but has some friends online.

    1. I definitely feel like I had a head start since many of us live the same – or nearby – area. I guess not moving very much has made me less worldly, but that’s OK… there are always planes, trains, and automobiles. Blogging must attract introverts since so many of us describe ourselves that way.

  5. Thanks, Janis, for sharing this. Happy for you. We have a few things in common: good health, dear family and friends… I’m grateful for my large extended family and my friends from primary school, pen pal days, and travels. Now I look forward to making new blogging friends.

  6. This is such a timely post for me, Janis. Maintaining meaningful connections with others can definitely be a challenge. Not only in retirement but also in our current social media times. Yesterday, I sorted through three large boxes of cards and letters that I had collected over time. Most of these letters and even many of the cards were written prior to ‘instant email,’ Facebook and the like. After the internet, the amount of hand-written communication I have received has been minuscule. Reading through some of these letters has shown me a much richer ‘presence’ than much of the social media or email messages that have replaced them.
    I am very fortunate to be listed in your group of friends. Expect snail-mail from me soon!

    1. Years ago, I was one of those who disliked Christmas letters… now I love them. Even though they are often mass-copied, it’s nice to hear from friends and learn a bit more about their past year. You are so right about the decline of hand-written – or even typed – communication. Years from now, historians will have a hard time researching the way we lived and interacted with each other – everything will be digital and not very assessable. I also lament (and I know you’ll agree with me about this) the decline in writing, spelling, and grammar skills.

      I look forward to your snail-mail, my friend.

  7. Oh my gosh, Janis, this topic is on my list of future blog posts! (Great minds!) You are right in that in retirement we must take intentional measures in order to stay connected. I, for one, am thrilled with the advancement of social media, because it has allowed me to stay connected with old co-workers, when I’ve not worked in that town for almost 20 years! And BTW, I consider you a “blogging friend” – even though we have yet to meet! ~ Lynn

    1. Social media has certainly helped, but it still takes an effort to keep the connections personal. But, like you, I definitely feel the effort is worth it! Do you ever get to meet face-to-face with your 20-year friends? I consider you a friend too, Lynn… and maybe we’ll get to meet one of these days!

  8. Friends and family, such an important thing to be grateful for. Beautiful post, Janis. I am honored to be a part of it. 🙂 Unlike you, I have not worked in a “normal environment”, so making new friends and being social has always been dependent on our interaction or initiative, as you so well describe. Because of our lifestyle, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to meet people, which makes it even more important to jump on the occasions that present themselves, and to stay in touch with our worldly friends over email. Virtual or not, our relationships with friends and family our more important than we probably realize!

    1. It certainly would be hard to meet new friends in your current lifestyle. It’s nice when you have the opportunity to house sit where you already know a few people (like now). Fortunately, you have friends and family around the world and the internet provides a lot of avenues to maintain connections.

  9. Love this post Janis. As Liesbet so correctly stated in our lifestyle it is hard to connect physically with people on a regular basis. Though we do love meeting the people we are housesitting for, and really enjoy meeting if just briefly some of the locals even if it is just for a short chat. When we go back to NZ I suppose we have longer interactions that we cherish. Luckily we are both introverts who are able to spend and enjoy time together for longer periods than say most people. We love staying in touch via social media and I am loving the connections I am making via the blogging community and that includes you 🙂 thanks for sharing this post as it has reminded me how lucky we are!!

    1. You, like Liesbet, are lucky to be traveling with your very best friend! Plus, the connections you make in each community – however brief – can be very satisfying.

      This blogging community is amazing to me! I feel like I have friends around the world (including you the Squire)… and, each time I’ve met a blogger face-to-face, I have felt that I’ve known them for a long time.

  10. I don’t have anything like your extensive friends network, Janis, but the friendships I do have are extremely close. Probably the most noteworthy one is my literally lifelong friendship with one woman, Kim. Our mothers met in the hospital giving birth to us.
    I am now enjoying virtual friendships with bloggers like you (yes, I definitely consider us friends), and I look forward to meeting someday.

    1. Wow! I thought my lifelong friendship (we met while still in diapers) was pretty amazing, but you win! How nice that you two have that history together.

      I’m pretty sure we’ll meet someday… I’m not sure how, but it just feels like it will happen.

  11. How amazing to have that picture of a group of friends with your first grade teacher. I have no-one from that far back, but I met my oldest friend aged 11 on our first day at secondary school. The teacher sat us in alphabetical order and our surnames both began with M. On such little things a friendship can be built – and a good one is worth hanging on to.

    1. You are right about how random it can be that certain people come into our lives. But, when things just click, it’s hard to ignore the bonds that begin to form. Even as much as we change from childhood to adulthood, those bonds are still there, if we are lucky. Do you and your friends still live in the same general area?

      1. My school friend and I both moved away from our childhood home town – in opposite directions, so we don’t see each other very often. We have friends and family scattered throughout the U.K. and I have this idea that when John retires we take off for a couple of months to visit them all.

  12. I’ll echo Kate in that I too think you are lucky. Most of my friends are far-flung (this is my fault for moving so much!), so I have to settle for only occasional meet-ups with them. It’s a blessing to have lots of people in one’s life. Love the pictures, Janice. – Marty

  13. The internet has even changed friendship. With all the “friending” on social media, I think that the bond of friendship is not always as strong as it once was. These days, I know I have a true friend when I walk into their house and automatically connect to wifi.

  14. I’m loving your gratitudes this month. I’ve realized in the last few weeks what a broad collection of friends I do have – old and new, IRL and virtual, close and far. I was hit hard with the retirement and losing so many connections (I estimated more than 75% of my connections were work based) and then having to be very intentional in creating, modifying, building new connections. It felt like a hard uphill unending slog. It’s a wonderful feeling to know it’s been worth that intentional effort. Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for it!

    1. It can be easy to lose sight of these friendships as we live our day-to-day lives in retirement. I guess that’s why it’s so important to remain mindful about reaching out. I have admired your focus on creating a circle of friendships since you’ve retired. All that hard work has definitely paid off for you. You have much to be grateful for.

  15. It sounds like you have many relationships for which to be grateful. I feel the same way. I have my children and grandchildren close. I love my in-laws. I couldn’t be more blessed in that department. And of course my friends, including my blogging friends, like you.

  16. Being thankful for family and friends is the ultimate in gratitude! I’m always excited to meet new blogging friends (and had lunch with a local Nor Cal blogger just yesterday)! Can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks!

  17. When I quit my job to stay home with my new daughter, the thing I missed most about work was the lunches with my coworkers. I felt so alone that I knew I needed to be intentional about meeting new people and maintaining old friendships. I guess it is the same when you retire. And I so agree that keeping in relationship with other people is so worth it! I don’t know about you, but what I remember most about the past is the time I spent with people I love.

    1. Meeting new people when we retire can be challenging. Also difficult is trying to maintain past work friendships (especially if they are still busy working). I definitely takes effort, but it’s worth it. Those work friends in the picture date back to a company we all worked for in the early 80s. I think most of us are now retired so it’s a bit easier to get together, even if some have to travel. And, yes, my fondest – and strongest – memories are those of times spent with loved ones.

  18. Thank you so much for the timely living reminder of the importance of celebrating our connections. It’s very easy to get caught up in our own little worlds.

    It’s not surprising at all that you have fostered so many genuine relationships with friends and family. And I’m happy to count myself among your virtual blogger buddies!

  19. So true, Janis, and I have the same problem, being an introvert and working for myself out of my home does not make it easier for me to meet people. I have a girlfriend from high school that I try to see as regularly as we can, she living 4 hours away makes it difficult too. We connect at least by email each month to check in on each other. Blogging has led me to friendships with many more people this year and I have appreciated that. Nice post.

    1. I think it just gets harder in general to make friends as we get older. Fewer opportunities and it can be difficult to become a part of another long-established group. I feel so lucky to still have friends from when I was growing up as well as work friends. My blogging friends have entered my life unexpectedly, but I cherish them also.

  20. What an amazing post. Your gratitude sets you apart . . . no, that’s not quite right. It elevates you and I’m sure is the basis for the wonderful qualities to be found in your friends and family. You are the friend everyone is looking for . . . and the sista we all need.

  21. Janis, I agree very much about the importance of friends and family. Being closer to a number of family members and longtime friends was the biggest factor for us in choosing where to retire. I am so happy to live near my adult kids now and thrilled that they want us to be part of their lives.

    However, I have moved a lot, making friends in every place, so many of our friends and family are not nearby even now. We travel to see them, phone often, and keep in touch via social media. We have found that people in our new community are very friendly, perhaps in part because it is a popular retirement destination. Also, now that I have retired, I have more time to build and maintain social ties. And – having blogging buddies is awesome!

    Jude

    1. You have woven a satisfying blanket of friends and family, some who are held close to you, some who are further away… yet still part of the same fabric. How nice that you have retired to an area that brings you close to your adult kids. And your blogging buddies, of course, are as close as your computer.

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