If You Have a Friend, You Have It All
I spent a most restorative hour on the telephone last weekend. After a few months' hiatus, I spoke to my best friend from childhood, a woman whose life has turned out so much different than mine, a fellow geek who knows me as the bookworm from middle school and not the wife, mother and journalist I have become.
Though we live hundreds of miles apart, we can tell each other anything, picking up the strands of various subplots -- children, siblings, work, health -- right where we left off. We vent, we rage, we analyze, we pick apart. We laugh. A lot. Mostly, though, we just let it all hang out. And my, my, my, that feels so dang good.
With all due respect to degreed professionals, I find such conversations more beneficial than therapy, herbal supplements, doctors' visits or church services. They're cleansing, invigorating, energizing -- like a
RX FOR THE SOUL
We should all engage in friend-to-friend sessions on a regular basis, as diligently as we take our vitamins or go to the gym. We take medicines for cholesterol, high blood pressure and, in my case, a bum shoulder; why not fill a prescription for our psyches?
I've been blessed with a small, devoted group of friends. Some are dear ones I met at a church retreat; a couple are mothers of my children's friends. One was widowed young with children, as I was. Over the years, we've come to know each other's quirks and, perhaps more importantly, each other's yearnings.
None are yes people, and that is a trait I especially value. They encourage me when I'm right, slap me down when I'm off base. As disparate as their backgrounds are, they all excel at listening, an essential quality in a friend.
It's only been in the last few years that researchers have explored the importance of friendship. Their studies have invariably found something most of us have long suspected: It's great -- and good for you -- to have friends.
In a study of nurses with breast cancer, friendship was associated with higher rates of survival. In a long-term study of
"Friendship is an undervalued resource," a
AN EASIER CLIMB
Last year, researchers at the
The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness. What's more, the longer the friends had known each other, the less formidable the climb appeared.
I'm not surprised. As far back as I can remember, my friends have flattened the hills of my life.
Baby Boomers Hit a New Low By Getting High
We were dubbed the baby boomers, but after decades of influencing everything from music to public policy, the Peter Pan Generation might be more like it. Some of us simply refuse to grow up. That forever-young attitude was underscored in two recent studies that show, doggone it, we refuse to act our age. We're engaging in the type of behavior we warn college kids about
Grandparent: It's Grand to Be a Grandparent
Without fanfare or warning, I've become the kind of woman who divides the world into those who know all about Dora and Swiper and Boots and those who don't. On a regular basis and with missionary zeal, I scour entertainment ads for "Backyardigans" shows and check newspaper listings for toy recalls. That's what happens to you when you become a grandparent
Ana Veciana-Suarez is a family columnist for The Miami Herald. Write to her at The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132, or send e-mail to aveciana(at)herald.com.
(c) 2009, The Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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