People, Weird, Wacky and Infinitely Interesting

My grown children always say I have the most interesting friends. They are the most unlikely collection of people you could imagine. I like to think I have carefully collected them from many places and times in my life and they have all helped to mold me into a well-rounded individual. And yes you all know who you are. You’re probably the only ones reading this.

I would like to say they all fall into some neat category like well read, creative, wild and adventurous or some other such category. Honestly they don’t. Each one brings a unique gift to my life. Some I have known for most of my life and some are new. I hope they can say the same.

Unique is the word that comes to me when I think of many of them. I have some that come from the years spent together in school. The odd thing is that some of them have become better friends lately than they really were back then. Perhaps we have grown to appreciate the journeys we have traveled and the wisdom we have gathered. I find them very comforting even though they live far away and I mostly talk to them on Facebook. We share a bond that has bridged the decades.

One of those particular friends is very dear to me. We have kept close and shared families, vacations and the ups and downs of life. As close as we are we are very different people but strangely seem to be in tune with each other. She is probably the closest thing to a sister I have. Another very dear friend of mine has literally raised her family alongside ours. Many a day was spent together harvesting gardens and preparing food. Our children call each other family. She has now moved away which is very sad for me but we do still see each other. Friends like these are very precious and I am grateful to have these two amazing women in my life.

Some of my friends are friends who share common interests. We work side by side on community projects. Many of these friendships started at soccer, football and basketball games. Friendships were forged over games or fundraising activities. We cheered on, drove and sometimes fed each other’s kids. In retirement they are the same people working together making our community better. We laugh together, cry together and often have rousing discussions on what is wrong in the greater world. People who do not take part in outside activities and volunteer really miss out on meeting this group of people. They may not be the friends you invite home to supper but they are sure fun to hang out with.

I also have friends that I believe came into my world to broaden my perspective and help me to learn new things. I find these friends especially exciting. They challenge me. They come in all age groups and I know I have friends that have no idea how these people have come to be my friends or why. I know why so that is all that matters. They help me feel vital and alive and I am happy they round out my life.

My very best friends are my family, immediate and extended. I didn’t want to forget them. They are an eclectic bunch. We tend to take them for granted but we shouldn’t. Many are not close to theirs so I am happy I am to mine. And there are a lot of them!

Lastly there are the acquaintances. That pretty much includes my whole special small town. They may not always like you or get along but they are always on your side in the face of tragedy or hard times. They wave or say hi when they see you. They chat in the grocery store and show up to the same meetings and events. They are a part of your soul if you grew up rural. There is a comfort in being surrounded by people you know. I will give you a heads up, if you are new to town, you will be noticed. Not because people are snoopy but because people are interested. How nice is that to be drawn into this circle of people.

I wonder how many people I know, a whole lot over the years. I am a people person so am very comfortable around people. How lonely I would be without them all. Take a minute to think about all the people whose paths you have crossed and be thankful for how they have enriched your life. Thanks guys!

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Volunteer Week

It seems fitting to reflect on volunteers during Volunteer Week. Now I think we all have some idea what a volunteer is. These are people who give freely of their time and talents with no expectation of monetary gain. None! But do we really appreciate what they do?

Volunteers are found everywhere in all walks of life but I do not believe they are more evident than in rural communities. Yes they do great stuff in cities too but I believe the need is greater in rural due to the lack of services available for hire. It is said that volunteers are the backbone of a community and I truly believe that is true.

In small rural communities volunteers supplement so many services that are paid for in larger communities. They raise funds to augment health care, build buildings for many community needs and raise funds to help those less fortunate. They coach teams, run thrift stores and museums, rebuild historical sites and clean up the towns and highways. They visit the sick, the dying and the lonely. They are very good at providing events and cultural activates from concept to delivery. It is often the only way fun things will happen. Oh and they can sure put out some great food, which they often donate. They have passion.

Many volunteers are involved in short term projects, which really shows the value of “many hands make light work”. However there are those amazing people who give tirelessly to many projects and organizations often sacrificing personal time. Those are the people you know really well because they show up everywhere and not just to eat. What would we do without them? They will tell you it is all worth it. They are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and many great friends.

So this Volunteer Week, thank a volunteer. Remember they are the ones organized that great concert you went to or the class you just took. They will be there to make sure your kids have opportunities and that the teachers feel appreciated with goodies. And if you don’t already volunteer maybe this is the year to try something new, learn a new skill and meet some great people. Be part of what makes your community great. Volunteer.