Monday Notes: Friends

December 7th, 2018, I took a girls trip with five women. I’ve known one of these women since first grade and the others since seventh. While many of us have gotten together separately over the years for high school reunions or visits back home, the six of us hadn’t been together as a group since high school.

I admit I didn’t know what to expect. But I’m happy to report that it was one of the best trips I’ve taken with a group of women. We all got along just as we had over two and a half decades ago. It’s as if we were the same people, just 45 years old, with more life experiences to share.

Afterwards, I found myself reflecting on what made our time together so special.

img_8603-1We’re similar. All six of us attended an academically talented and gifted school called, Whitney M. Young for both the Academic Center (7th-8th grade) and high school. At the time we attended, it was the best high school in the nation. Meaning, we’re all not only intelligent, but we’ve also faced some of the same challenges throughout life when it comes to education and career choices. I mention this not to brag, but to highlight that when friends are similar at a core level, then deeper conversations ensue. Most of the time, we didn’t have to provide background information prior to talking about a shared issue.

We respected our differences. Prior to this trip, I believed that friends are such because they have similar interests; therefore, there is little need for compromise. You know what I mean? But that weekend revealed that while we are similar in some ways, we’ve grown to be different in others. That Friday, one of us wanted to sing karaoke, so we made our way to City Walk’s Rising Star. Another friend exercises daily, so she awoke each morning before everyone and walked on the beach. To our surprise, one woman enjoys watching NASCAR; so, we all paid our $20 and toured Daytona International Speedway. These are just three examples. While we weren’t necessarily fully invested in each other’s events, we each partook. I can only speak for myself in saying the reason I participated in everything is because we were there to visit with one another. Whether that be at a fancy dinner, on a jet ski, or at the pool, I was happy to compromise to hang out with women I considered to be friends.

We listened. On this trip we had constant, intimate conversations. We not only revealed events that had happened over the years, but also how we felt about these experiences. Not once did I feel negatively judged for sharing myself or my shortcomings. At no point did I think, “I shouldn’t have said that” for fear of the side-eyes or subsequent comments that accompany saying something not aligned with society’s values. Once again, I attribute the warmth of this inviting and supporting environment to the quality of women I’d unconsciously chosen to befriend years ago.

I’ve spoken a lot about relationships on this blog. But this trip solidified my overall feelings about them. Whether friend, familial, or romantic, good relationships feel warm and loving. They are non-judgmental and, in some ways, symbiotic. They are as natural as the ocean’s waves and as long lasting or fleeting as the sand that surrounds it.

As of today, that’s my answer on this topic. Let me know what you think.

Monday Notes: 4 Ways to Function in Extreme Heat

chicago_skylineDwight and I went back home for about ten days. When I say “home,” I mean Detroit for him and Chicago for me, where we were both born and raised, respectively. While there, Midwesterners experienced extremely hot conditions. For them, this meant mid-90s, with 50% humidity. For Dwight and I, who’ve lived in Florida for over twenty years, it meant…summertime.

All jokes aside, we really were not uncomfortable and as I began to observe everyone else, I could understand why they were. There are certain things you probably should do when it’s unbearably hot.

#1: Wear shorts and stuff. I’d packed several pairs of shorts and tank tops because that’s how I dress during summer months. In fact, my father-in-law off-handedly commented about the size of my shorts. “That won’t take long to iron,” he said. And I thought, yeah…cause I’m dressing for the weather. However, others weren’t. You wouldn’t believe how many people I saw walking around with black jeans and dark long-sleeved shirts complaining about how hot they were! I was taught long ago not to wear dark clothing during the summer because it absorbs heat. But I’m not so sure everyone learned this rule. Trust me. It might make the weather more tolerable.

#2: Exercise indoors. When we arrived to my aunt’s house, I was happy to see her in some above-the knee clothing, but when I complained to her about the guy I saw during his midday jog, she had this to say, “We’ve been waiting all winter for warmer weather. We want to be outside!” I get it. But jogging outside around noon, under the blaring sun is not what’s best. Use your gym membership. Get your run in when it’s sundown, or better yet, when it’s sun rise. The weather’s cooler and you might not suffer heatstroke.

#3: Turn on the air conditioner before it gets hot. The primary reason we were in Detroit was for Dwight’s cousin’s wedding. Her nuptials took place in a humungous church. You know the kind of brick building that takes up an entire city block? Well, the wedding was beautiful, but our sweaty faces and underarm pits were not. It was hot as hell in there! Can I say that about a church? They hadn’t turned on the air conditioner until the morning of the wedding, and given the size of the church, I’d say it probably wasn’t cool until Sunday school. The same thing happened at the reception. In fact, her cake began to melt and lean to one side, all because the air wasn’t turned on in an appropriate timeframe.

#4: Drink lots of water. One year, my best friend visited and asked me, “What’s up with the bottle?” She was asking about something that I’ve done for several years now, carry bottles of water everywhere. No matter what, you’ll always see me with a bottle of water either in my car, on my nightstand, or in my hand. I drink water all day long because it’s always hot where we live. And at the risk of sounding like a PSA, “drinking water helps replenish the fluids lost by excessive sweating. If you don’t get enough water, you may become dehydrated, and the combination of hot temperatures and dehydration can lead to serious heat-related illnesses” (Very Well Fit).

And in the immortal words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I know I’ve partially made light of extreme weather conditions, but seriously, if you’re in a part of the world that doesn’t normally see high temps, take heed to some of these rules. They just might save your health.