International Day of Friendship


Comic from FowlLanguageComics credit and copyright Brian Gordon
Copyright Brian Gordon of Fowl Language Comics
I don't know about you, but as I get older, I find that my social circle is taking on a new shape. In fact, I’m taking on a new shape. Literally. It’s round. But seriously, people move. People get booed up. People break up and get booed up again. People have a billion babies (okay fine, generally 2.5), and I'm the fun Auntie BJoy until it's time to give 'em back to their rightful owners. Interests, priorities, and lifestyles change. People change. Which isn’t always a bad thing.

Some acquaintances are consciously weaned from my life for my own sanity and self-worth. Some seem to be there one day, and gone the next, like a sad Irish goodbye. I'm relearning how to make new friends in my mid-30’s, which is super weird and awkward sometimes. I'm acclimating to putting myself out there, asking other women I’ve practically just met if they wanna grab some grub and gab about current events, binge-worthy TV shows, life hacks, anything. I'm in a place and space where I’m re-evaluating my adult tribe, and how I ultimately view adult relationships.

With that being said, there are some quality people who, despite all the chapters and changes, have stuck around. They are an established element in my tribe, and people I’m delighted to call dear friends. So, for International Day of Friendship today, I thought it would be appropriate to feature a few of these obviously crazy people (haha); and, of course, I asked Lauren to direct me towards some of her beloved buddies in order to give them proper press, as well.

Lauren & Brittany - A regular state of being when we’re together c. 2018
Speaking of shout outs: I just want to take an opportunity to praise Lauren for being such an incredible woman and friend. Not only is she a freakin' fabulous boss lady, but she's a fiery, passionate part of her community (and the world as a whole), inspiring all of us to be better people. Also, she gets me. She sees me and she accepts me as I am, which is a sometimes messy, often fluctuating, always trying work-in-progress. This is huge for me. I'm grateful our stars aligned, Lauren, and that we vibe so smashingly. 
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Miles River Beauties in St. Michaels, Maryland c. 2015

So, I asked my friends Lindsay and Shayla to be part of this post. I’ll start with Lindsay (pictured above). She is sassy, spirited and honest. I value her opinion and advice, and I know that what she says is what she means. No reading between the lines with this gal, and that's refreshing, folks! I've been in awe watching her morph into motherhood so sweetly and effortlessly (or so it seems from the outside, of course) over these last several years; and I adore when Lindsay and her daughter Serenity hit me up with a question relating to space or science or art so we can all learn together. I think Lindsay sums us up thoroughly when she says, 

"Brittany has been my best friend since high school. I can't, in the whole wide world, think of a better friend than her. We live many states away from each other now, but we've had many amazing memories over the years. She stood beside me as my maid of honor when I got married. I think she's visited me in every state, at every house I've ever lived in. And there’s a lot! We've gone on multiple vacations together: Key West, Anna Maria Island, Ocean City, MY RT Beach (inside joke about Myrtle Beach)...this girl is GOOD at road trips. And she is GOOD at being a friend. She's my third sister, and my kids' aunt.”


Mardi Gras Madness in New Orleans, Louisiana c. 2011
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I met Shayla in my mid-20’s, and we have had legit fun ever since. The first night we met (through my sister at a Christmas party), I happened to see her do something (shhh…can’t give away all our secrets); afterwards she came over to me, laid her head on my shoulder and contentedly said, “I’ve done a bad thing.” My natural response? “Oh, we’re gonna be gooood friends.” The picture below is actually from that night. A few months later, we went on our first road trip together to visit my sister in Savannah for their infamous St. Patty’s Day parade (pictured after next paragraph – we were beebees!). Just last year, we drove all the way around Nova Scotia on one of my all-time favorite vacas – and places!

BJoy and Judy’s (left) Inaugural Christmas Party c. 2009
In a decade of friendship, Shayla and I have been wedding dates (and mistaken for a lesbian couple) a bunch of times, hit the mic hard at karaoke, been through break ups and make ups, the birth of her magical twins (who I thought were kidney stones when she first showed me the sonogram) and a whole lotta drunken debauchery in between. I’ve met some awesome people through Judy (my nickname for her), and I swear she can’t go anywhere in Etown without knowing erryone. I’m proud of you, girl. Single mom. Business owner. Shaper of young minds. Badass. Happy Birthday, boo! How cool that it’s today?!

St. Patty’s Day Shenanigans in Savannah, Georgia c. 2010
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Lauren decided to feature two of her oldest friends, as well, since they have all been besties for about fifteen years now. She says that she, Malarie, and April met during mutual high school activities, choir and theatre, and they have been thick as thieves though all the turbulent ups, downs, and all arounds. April included a special message for Lauren, which made me chuckle:

Shout out to one of my best OG friends, and one of the baddest bosses I know. I can't even describe how proud and enamored I am with this woman. Not only is Lauren as creative as she is passionate, she is the human personification of bitches get shit done. I love her to pieces.

Me too, April, me too.


Lauren, April, and Malarie at Lauren's Bachelorette weekend c. 2012

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I asked the girls the same questions, curious about what four diverse women would say for the same inquiries. Below are the questions I posed, with each of their responses. I really dig the dialogue, and I hope you do, too – enjoy!

I. Describe something you’re passionate about, i.e. a cause, hobby, career, skill, etc.

Lindsay: When I think about my life and what I’m passionate about, I would have to say it all comes back to my family. I go to work and enjoy my job, but I do it to make money and provide for my family. I go to the gym and eat well, but it’s so that I can 1) live a healthy life and have an entire lifetime to spend with my kids and 2) to be a good role model and show them how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle. I love my husband and my kids with every thread of being in my soul. I want nothing for them but amazingness. To me, that’s passion.

Shayla: Is it okay to be passionate about your children? If so, I am truly passionate about my twins. They are my world! I am constantly talking about them (just ask my co-workers). My other passion is my photography! My business is brand new (just a year old!), and you can now visit www.shaylanicole.com for all your photography needs in the Easton, MD area *thanks for the shameless plug, haha. Ive been photographing friends and family for years – starting with those little throw away cameras that I would carry with me always!

Malarie: I throw myself into weightlifting and community action/advocacy. I've been into weightlifting as a hobby for the majority of a decade. It's cathartic, a mental boost and has the benefit of being AND looking strong. I work full-time as an Exercise Specialist, so I feel a duty to practice what I preach too, haha. As far as community action and advocacy, I believe firmly in uplifting the communities that deserve it and being vocal when others can't. Voting only goes so far, as we are all painfully aware of; so, I assist local organizers/organizations as often as my schedule allows.

April: I am passionate about many things, but most importantly visual creativity and the art of storytelling. I am captivated by how others see objects, causes and views in individual lights. I feel its important these treasures through tragedies are expressed and shared to create more understanding and unity among viewers. 


That time L, A, and M accidentally dressed the same c. 2013

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II. Think about the long-term friendships in your life. What qualities do those people/relationships have that make them worthwhile, lasting interactions?

L: I thought about this for several minutes. It doesn’t take me long to know WHO my longest friendships are. But I pondered on the why. Why are these few people still the ones that I never doubt? As odd and materialistic as it may sound, these are the ones that I’ve never had to feel like I had to keep up with or compete with. These are also the people that I can tell my failures and my successes and know that they will be completely in my corner. We have the fondest memories that we can look back on and laugh or cry. They are also the friendships where nothing needs to be said. We can go great lengths of time without talking, but when we do...it’s never awkward or weird. It’s just natural. My longest friendships are natural. No sugar added kind of natural.

S: The one thing that I value from my long-term friendships is the ability to pick up where we left off. With our busy lives from work to families, we may go months without seeing each other; but whenever we get together, its like we have never parted. Shout out to Char and BJoy!

M: They are comfortable with themselves enough to challenge their ways of thinking, to grow and to always be learning/trying to do better. Theyve got good senses of humor while remaining grounded and genuine. They love openly and honestly, and are supportive even when it means tough love. They are all people I admire in some way and want to be around no matter what we are doing together.

A: I have many OGs from high school and even elementary that I am still close with. They share similar qualities of being driven, passionate, outspoken, kind, adventurous, and empathetic. They all have a smart, sassy sense of humor and are bold enough to tell you the truth and their opinions when needed.


Lindsay’s Bachelorette Pole Dancing Party c. 2010

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 III. What is one personal goal you are working on? Is it time-sensitive or flexible/ongoing?

L: A personal goal that I’m working on is finding balance. I work a full-time job. I’m a wife. I’m a mom. I’m a sister, daughter, friend. Most days, at the end of the day, I sit down and feel exhausted. Proud for what I’ve accomplished, but stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed with all the multitude of things that didn’t get done. I’d like to find the balance between getting all the things done, but also finding joy and spending quality time with the people that matter most to me.

S: Just one goal?? I have a book filled with goals that I need to work on! We are all a work in progress, amirite? But my biggest project would most definitely be time management. Y'all, my friends and family already know. I am easily distracted, so that plays a major role in my time. Shew! I can start getting ready for the day hours before I have to be somewhere, get distracted by a conversation or whatever, and then I am ten minutes late. Its a work in progress, but I will get there.....oh and I forgot to add that having twins, who are potty-training, is not helping the situation. But we will get there! 

M: Loving myself. I spent my entire life NOT doing that, for a number of reasons that are not for explaining now, but I want to feel worthy of taking up space. I am in therapy, I am pushing through tough mental health swings and practicing the most meaningful mantras. I do much more self-reflection than I ever have done and I want this to be an ongoing trait. 

A: A personal goal of mine is to use less plastic and paper. I know that's a pretty popular one, but I have an unhealthy addiction to paper towels that is somehow forever ongoing.  A time-sensitive goal is organizing my website, fulfilling orders quicker, and completing the last of my KS rewards and moving forward to Phase 2 of a longer term goal. *April didn’t include her artist info, but I’m going to advertise it for her: click here to see her website filled with beautiful goodies and art available for purchase, and make sure to follow her on instagram for behind the scene sneak peeks about how she brings her magical drawings to life.


July 4, 2017 - the day Malarie told L & A she was pregnant with her first kid!

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IV. What do you want other people to feel or experience when they’re around you?  

L: That’s a hard question. I want my kids to feel safe and loved. I want my husband to feel appreciated and admired. I want family and friends to feel like they make me truly happy. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to make others happy, and I would hope that the people around me would have the chance to feel that way. Of course, I also want everyone around me to be happy. Life’s a drag when you feel stressed and depressed all the time.

S: Thats a really good question....I hope that I just give off some great vibes. You know the kind. "Chill, relaxed, positive and a good time" type of vibe. Haha.

M: I want people to feel comfortable with me. I push to be as non-judgmental as possible, and I reflect it in actions and words. Humans can be very ugly to one another and I wish to bring beauty into someone's life, even if it's in the form of a smile or hug. I went into human services work because empathy runs in my veins I want that for my personal and professional life. I want them to experience empowerment, to believe that they matter and are wanted as much as they are.

A: Warmth and kindness with a zap of creative energy. 


Awaiting CAT ferry in Bar Harbor, Maine headed to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia c. 2018

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V. You are granted three wishes – what do you wish for?

L: For my husband and me to not work and have all the days to spend with our kids / To have an abundance of money with no limit to spend on traveling and experiences (not material things) / To have a little more time with my Dad (RIP, Mr. Butch!)

S: A new car. Mama needs a new car! / For all the children to be free of sickness / A GOOD man. Hahahaha. Its about time! 

M: Billionaires and millionaires end as a concept, and the wealth is redistributed out to the people, affording everyone a life without struggle / The ability to speak every language / The promise of not passing on my mental health issues to my son.

A:  For everyone to find their tribe and live their lives to the fullest / For people to mind their own business when it counts so the world is a better place / If it's a toss-up between having wings or to be able to speak to animals....I will go with talking with animals.


Polaroid (yes a real ass Polaroid!) of April, Lauren, and Mal Halloween c. 2008

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What I love about this post is hearing from four bright, aware individuals who are out there changing the world, what it means to be a woman in this day and age and slayinall da shit in the process. Pretty much everything they disclose in their responses resonates with me in some way, which solidifies why Lauren and I have these people in our lives in the first place – and why Lauren and I jive so genuinely. Our associates are solid!

Thank you, Lindsay, Shayla, Malarie, and April, for humoring us for this feature, and taking the time to share your thoughts during this celebration of friendship and, really, what has grown into an extension of family at this point. I appreciate your candid, relatable replies; and Lauren and I are so very fortunate to have you as part of our sister squads. Cheers to many more years of growing into old biddies together!

 xo

Brittany

 


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