Friday, October 26, 2018

Reach Out and Touch Someone

INGRID THOFT

Earlier this week, my husband called from the car during his commute to say that our friend Jonathan had just been interviewed on NPR.  It’s not unusual for him to be on NPR or TV news shows in an expert capacity, but as I brought up the interview on the web, I realized it had been over a year since I’d been in touch with Jonathan.

We’re not the kind of friends who talk every day, every week, or even every month, but a year?  That’s way too long.  I’m busy, and he’s busy, and the world is chaotic right now, but that’s all the more reason to reach out to our friends and family, even if it’s just a quick text or private message on social media.


So I’m challenging everyone today.  If you’ve been thinking, “I really need to be in touch with so-and-so,” today is the day.  Who is that person, and can you reach out to them before another day begins?

DEBORAH CROMBIE: What a great idea, Ingrid. I've been really bad at keeping up with people this year, especially my dear friends on the other side of the Pond. So I'm happy to report that in the last couple of days I've made plans to see many of my UK friends (when I'm not writing, of course!) You are so rightwe need those connections now more than ever.

HALLIE EPHRON: This is why I love Facebookit's easy (and so non-invasive) to refresh a contact with friends who hang out there. And I was just thinking about Christmas cards, and the time may be right for reviving my habit of sending them.

JENN McKINLAY: A couple of years ago, I made a New Year's resolution to have lunch/coffee/dinner with every friend I'd lost track of and I did. It was lovely but...life. I have come to accept that I can't hang on to everyone so I've lost touch with a few friends. Now I randomly text people when they pop into my head. It's the best I can do at the moment and it works because it's the best most of my friends can do as well. When did we all become so busy?

RHYS BOWEN: This is so true! While I'm great at keeping in touch with family, I realize I have dear friends whom I should call more often. I'm so glad when I do call them or see them in person but life seems so busy that I forget how important people are to me. That's one of the reasons I'm so grateful to be part of JRW. At least I talk to you ladies every week!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Ingrid, this is so increasingly important to me. Seems as if our lives are going by so quickly, and there’s no time, and we figure, oh, I’ll catch up with that person soon. And soon never comes. I always think about how semi-complicated it is to keep friendships strong—even conversations, well-meaning and affectionate as they are, are so brief and shallow. Sometimes, after a dinner or party or whatever, I’ll say to Jonathan, “Did anyone talk about anything real?” But those kinds of conversations are not instant, and only can come with care and time and attention.  And I am as guilty as anyone of having my life go by so fast that those connections falter.  Yes, yes, I promise to do better. Thank you, dear Ingrid. You are so wise.

It's your turn.  Who are you going to be in touch with today?

Judy, who loved Replique perfume, you've won a copy of Ellen Byron's new book.  Send me your mailing address at ingrid@ingridthoft.com.

43 comments:

  1. What a special thought, Ingrid. I’m just as guilty as everyone else . . . life intervenes and somehow time marches on and . . . .
    Well, like Hallie, I’m getting Christmas cards written and sent out. And I’m emailing a teacher friend I haven’t talked to in a while. Thanks for the push to be better at keeping in touch . . . .

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  2. Life truly does go by too fast. A friend I rarely see is nevertheless in my thoughts nearly every day. She lives in the Seattle area, so not in my neighborhood, but we both traveled around the country when we were doing lectures, and used to have a lot of fun together. My family visited her and her husband, and they have come here to stay with us, too. She also led my first trip to Europe, starting my travel obsession. Judy developed Parkinson's, and I have not called her in a long time, for fear that she won't be able to talk to me, but I do owe her a long letter.

    Thanks for the nudge, Ingrid.

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  3. Well, I will be seeing some friends I only get to see a few times a year. And I sent out several texts to people on Thursday. Maybe not anyone I haven't talk to in months today since I will have other plans, but I do need to make a point of that this week.

    It's a great reminder. Thank you.

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  4. What a wonderful post. It reminds me of a long-time friend I last spoke with over the holidays. Around May/June I was thinking I needed to call her since it had been a while. Then I got word she had died. No warning, no chance to say goodbye. You just never know when someone's time is up. So, in her honor, I will make a point of calling another friend, the one who notified me of her death, since it has now been a few months since I last talked to him too.

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    1. That's such a sad story Marla, but a good reminder that time slides by so quickly.

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    2. I love the idea that you're calling another friend in honor of your friend who died. Life is so unpredictable.

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  5. I love staying in touch with old friends through Facebook, and I devoted three meals of a recent vacation to reconnecting with four old friends. There's something special about sitting down to eat and talk and get back in sync with each other. I loved it.

    I also recently took kind of an odd route to hold onto a friendship I had endangered. Back before the 2016 election a long-time writing friend and I fell out over a political disagreement, but I found that I missed the friendship. She wasn't going to return my calls and had blocked my e-mail, so I sent her a letter--an old-fashioned, hand-written letter. Sometime later she sent a letter in response. We've only exchanged a few letters over the past two years, but they have been cordial, and we have tentatively, gently, begun to regain the footing of our friendship. Plus, I get real letters in the mail now. It's a fun way to keep the conversation going.

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    1. Gig, I admire you for your commitment to the friendship. If something re-e-e-e-ally matters, we seem to find a way.

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    2. I'm impressed, too, Gigi. And yes, actually getting something via snail mail other than bills is a treat!

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  6. I'm with Hallie - FB is a great way to stay connected. But for friends who aren't on it? You've reminded me to contact a friend in NYC - she doesn't get around real well and doesn't do social media. Thanks, Ingrid!

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  7. I enjoy a pre-scheduled phone call with a high school classmate. We bumped into each other on FB and she proposed that we chat once a month. We've picked up where we left off: books and movies, travel, the kids, politics. We laugh.

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    1. I have scheduled calls with my BFF from college. Between the time change (she's on the east coast) and our busy lives, we would never catch one another in so scheduling the call insures that it happens.

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    2. she lives in CA so scheduling that works in Eastern and Pacific time zones is crucial.

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  8. It is only through the grace of FB that I manage to stay in touch with my best friend from high school. We call each other once in a while, but her daughter is much younger than my kids (by at least 10 years, I think) so while I'm in the "wow, I finally have time because I'm not driving the kids everywhere for everything" phase of parenting, she's still in the "I have no time because of all these activities" phase. And they go on amazing vacations - at least she's good about posting pictures.

    I should make arrangements next summer to see her. We visited in summer 2017 when The Girl was doing college visits in DC, so it's about time.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. That's another thing that amazes me; how far in advance I need to schedule things. On the one hand, it seems crazy to have to put something in the calendar for fall of 2019, but if I don't, the time will disappear!

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  9. Thank you Ingrid for the post. I find that with time I tend to mirror Hank's thoughts. The circle of friends becomes smaller and my need for more than superficial connection becomes greater. Although, I'm also a great fan of the FB direct message feature. I use that to shoot off random thoughts and touch base with folks.

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  10. Interesting. I thought this was going to go in the direction of snail mail vs. email or texts. But it didn't at all.

    I've had quite an experience in connection the past week. My son in law had knee replacement surgery last Thursday, in London. It went swimmingly, fairly anyway, and he and my daughter got back home to Chester on Wednesday. On Thursday it all went straight to hell and he is back in hospital with a wound infection. HOWEVER, thanks to the miracle of WhatsApp, all his family and a few friends have been in constant touch, exchanging texts many times a day. I have screen shots of his labs and medications, and my granddaughter the PA, I, and one of his friends who's a doctor in San Francisco, have all consulted, considered, and suggested plans of treatment, helping Keith and Melinda navigate the morass that is the NHS. I almost feel as if I was there, have access to every lab test/iv site/wound appearance/etc. This wouldn't have been possible even 15 years ago.

    Writing letters wouldn't have accomplished this at all, except in the past tense.



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  11. I have the same experience with e-messaging, Ann - it's SO easy to keep in touch and keep updated, without the poor person at the epicenter of the crisis having to endlessly repeat information. I hope your son-in-law stays on the mend this time.

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    1. Agreed, Hallie, and another modern communication tool, www.caringbridge.com was essential when a family member had major surgery. I kept people up-to-date without having to repeat the same information over and over.

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  12. I love staying in touch with friends, but - like many of us - find it challenging in our chaotic world. When I have the time, I love to make a collage card and send it off via snail mail. But more often than not these days, I send a text instead. Or a message via FB. I agree that e-communication channels are fantastic. I stay in touch with my 90-year-old mother via FB, and also the phone, but the FB option is so great because of the photo possibilities.

    Ann - when my partner underwent her first surgery many years ago, we established a phone tree to share communication among the extended support group. For the next one, I moved to email. But for the most recent one, I established a blog; that was the best by far - I could compose it, anyone who wanted could read it, and I wasn't inundated with email responses that, in turn, required a reply from exhausted me...

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    1. A collage card?! That sounds amazing! How do you decide what to include on it, Amanda?

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    2. So many great options. The blog is great for an extended illness for sure. In this particular case we are mostly keeping Keith amused and Melinda supported as well as letting those of us in the medical professions add our two cents. Or is that tuppence?

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  13. Ingrid, yes, a great prompt to reach out to a friend. A long-time friend moved back to the area after her retirement, to care for her father. But she's such a Luddite! For some reason my emails never reach her, she refuses to use facebook, and she has an old flip-phone on its last legs. In desperation, one of us will show up unexpectedly at the other's home--but I'm trying to convince her to upgrade to a phone with texting--I've explained that she doesn't have to respond immediately to texts, but can choose when/how to respond at her convenience!

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  14. And I’m watching the news right now as I get ready to teach my seminar… And sending much love to all. This is incredibly sad.

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  15. My husband resisted a cell phone until he had an accident that grounded him briefly and had no way to reach any of us who were waiting for him to say where he was and when he'd be back. Much anguish and uncertainty. Now he carries it. Recently he keeps it turned on (News bulletin: I might want to reach HIM!) and to keep it charged.

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    1. LOL, Hallie! It has taken some of us who were raised with what are now called "home phones" (aka "phones") a little longer to catch onto the whole cell phone thing. A friend of mine has two small sons. When they were seven and five, the five-year-old asked the seven-year-old, "Henry, what's a home phone?" To which the seven-year-old replied, "It's like a regular phone except it stays at the house and you can't do anything on it except make calls." Clearly the concept of "phone" as we knew it is dead.

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  16. What I love most about connecting with old friends is that the time in between vanishes within minutes - I love that.

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  17. I am terrible at keeping touch. Terrible. I always put off calling/writing/messaging until "a better time" which, of course, never comes.

    I've come to the conclusion I need to make a spreadsheet, load names and numbers on my calendar, and simply pre- schedule my social interactions. It's not romantic, but relying on my usual habits and instincts doesn't work.

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    1. Julia, I agree completely! It may be the product of sitting at a desk for so many years but whatever. If it's on a list, spreadsheet or a calendar the task/appointments owns me.

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  18. Back in 2012, my high school graduating class had its 40th reunion in my hometown. I went and had the best time reconnecting with friends I'd grown up with. We had raised our children and were into grandchildren by now, and we finally had time for each other. There is a group of us who have kept in touch now, and when I visit my hometown, we all go out to dinner. I talk to a couple of friends on the phone every so often and keep up through FB with others. I have also been more in touch with other old friends, and it is such an important part of my life now. We share our joys and sorrows, and we genuinely love one another. Growing up in a small town, we all knew each others' families, and that connection is wonderful, with so many family members, especially parents, now gone. I'm planning a trip in December, and I've already been on the phone to one friend to start planning getting together. Of course, I spend time with family, too, when I visit, but these friendships sustain me in ways that enrich my life to the fullest.

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  19. I text two people every day and am on Facebook every day. I do a weekly e-mail for several people and try to have lunch with some friends once a week and others once a month. Also I make cards and send notes to three shut ins a week and three a month. I do a lot of holiday cards with notes for people with whom I'm not in regular contact. It's harder to do phone calls because people are so busy.

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    1. Sally, you're amazing! We should all take a page from your book!

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  20. Dear Jungle Reds and friends, I'm getting back in touch with you. I have to say that these past several months, almost a year now, have been the worst of my life. Some of you know that my husband Steve died last February, but you may not know it was due to a medical diagnostic error by an ER doctor who was looking at seven-year-old records and in stead of treating him sent him to hospice to die. The horror of it has kept me secluded most of this time, except for the easy to negotiate Facebook where I can post my photos and pretend for brief periods of time that all is okay. I think now is a good time to return to as many of the daily things I have enjoyed most, and that would be reading and commenting here with JRW and company. Love you.

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    1. Reine, I am so sorry for your terrible loss. Having a loved one die is bad enough, but having it be due to an error is unfathomable and excruciating. I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with this nightmare. Know that your friends at Jungle Red are here to welcome you back with open arms! Sending you love and strength!

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    2. Thank you, Ingrid. I need to find my normal all over again. It's a day-to-day reconstruction of a whole with only half of it. Strength, yes. And love... yes. It's been drained. I'm working hard at it. I was invited to join a support group but cannot accept their kindness, because they are sponsored by and meet at the hospice where he died. I cannot. Just cannot. I need to rediscover myself, now incomplete.

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    3. Of course you wouldn't want to go back there! I hope that there are other resources in your community that will offer support. Your in my thoughts!

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    4. I meant you're in my thoughts!

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    5. :-) That's the way I read it.

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  21. With social media and text capability on mobile phones, it is much easier for me to stay in touch with friends. Before that, I had to use the Relay service, which was exasperating at times. Sometimes I got tired of always being the person having to reach out to friends. Now I have good friends who make the effort to reach out to me. It's wonderful when you have friends who make the effort too.

    Diana

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