Until recently, I was privileged to grow up and raise my family in the same town for fifty four years. To a certain extent, that naturally gives you the opportunity to build friendships and community. Most of us had/have friendships from the schools, churches or neighborhoods that we grew up in. Even if you moved around a lot, you probably still built some bonds along the way. Those ties that we form are sometimes much stronger than the family that you were given or born into. Friendships are choices and not obligations.

As we venture out into the job market we have yet another chance to form special relationships with these people who we probably spend more time with than our own family. We come to work and share the ups and downs in our lives with our work buddies. They cheer for us when something awesome happens, an engagement, a wedding, a baby, and if they are good friends, then they even celebrate our promotions. We even bare our souls with the burdens and sorrows of breakups, divorces, and pink slips, hoping that they will lend a shoulder and comforting words. Often times, these relationships fade as we move through life’s journey.

When we begin our families, we usually form some close friendships with the parents of our children. Beginning with school plays, concerts or sports, we are bound to spend a great deal of time with these crazy people who are cheering and yelling victoriously for their future prodigy.  We let all of our defenses down when we are acting without reservation in support of our kids. Most of us learn some degree of self- control for the sake of our children and our friends sitting next to us on the bleachers. I have only been asked to leave a baseball field once in my life…  I suppose that I was a bit over exuberant! What was that Umpire actually thinking anyway?

Now that my husband is working in North Dakota and I am traveling back and forth quite a bit, I am seeking to make new friends and build a sense of community there as well.  I am lucky to have some amazing friends, in Phoenix, who email, text and call me all the time, but they aren’t there.  Who do I go to coffee with? Who will sit with me at church? When I am sad, who will hold me while I cry?  I went to a networking group one time and the facilitator of the group asked us to stand up and tell us who we are. One by one people stood up and described themselves as a nurse, insurance sales person, teacher, etc. He asked us to stand up again and tell us who we are and not what we do for a living. Wow, that is tougher to do than you might think.

Let me end by telling you a little about who I am. I am a fiercely protective and loving wife, mother and friend. In addition, OCD is a term that my kids will certainly describe me as having. Just because I hang all the clothes up facing the same direction with sleeveless, then short sleeve and finally long sleeve shirts all in order is no reason to give me such a title! There is also a proper way to load the dishwasher and of course sorting the clothes in the wash is a given. I like my hair to be fluffy and blonde and carry many different types of lipstick. Now don’t stereotype me as I tell people that I have real intelligence and artificial hair color, I am not “blonde” brained. No offense to the blondes of course. I love blondes!

So the next time you meet a fluffy blonde who is asking you all kinds of questions about who you are, it might just be me.