Are They A Real Friend?

When I am In a conversation, face to face, with friends and family I might mention something that happened to one of my Facebook friends, but I don’t say they are a Facebook friend. I can’t tell  you how many times the people I am sharing a conversation with ask me, “Is this a real friend or a Facebook friend?” It as if one of the many people I connected with on Facebook are not real people and don’t have real feelings or real experiences. Can a friend only be a friend if you have met them face to face?

I think of my pen pals who I kept in touch with during my teen years. No one, including my parents, asked me if they were real friends.

When I consider a conventional friendship it means we converse regularly, or when it has been miles and years that have kept us apart and we get  back together nothing has changed. I care about this person. I hurt when they hurt and I rejoice when they have good news. We might exchange gifts or cards over the years. My definition of a friend is someone who I share the good times and the bad times with.

I do that with my Facebook friends. I have those that after we connected on Facebook, we met in real life and continue our friendship in person and online, such as my friends Timya and Barbara. Shopping is always fun with these two ladies. Or Mary, another author whom I meet for coffee when our lives permit us traveling a distance to meet.

Then there is Heather and Andrea who live in Canada. We Skype every so often and keep in touch every night by sending each other our gratitude list. It keeps us grateful.  My friend Sue Ann is a wonder woman on her farm in Ohio. I loved the smell of the lavender she sent me as a gift and also her tales of her life on her little piece of heaven. She should be a writer. Or my friend CeeCee who has been there  when I even mention I might be down. She gets in touch with me privately, helping me get through rough spots and I hope I do that for her. And of course there is sweet Lisa who I met when she reviewed my books, and has a heart so big that she hurts too every time one of her friends is hurting. I could go on and on about those who I consider friends whom I met online and I have only mentioned a few.

Today my heart is grieving for my friend Joanne Kocourek. She died last night and went into the loving arms of our Savior. Her pain is over. I don’t remember when exactly I met Joanne. I suspect it was because I am an author and she read one of my books. But once I met her I found she was one of the most courageous women I have known. She suffered from mitochondrial disease. Her life was not an easy one yet she always had encouragement for those she met. Through her journey of hospitals and pain and setbacks she kept her joyful spirit. She used her disease to help others who were diagnosed navigate the system. The more I learned about her life the more I knew she was special. She adopted two girls with the same disease and raised them to have the same beautiful spirit and attitude. She called herself the chronic conditions survivor and others called her a warrior and she was.  Her faith in the Lord was strong and I suspect she would tell us she couldn’t have done it without Him. I learned from Joanne about compassion and standing up for right and wrong when the system knocks you down. I am going to miss her guiding and encouraging spirit as are so many others. Yes, she was a real friend.

So don’t ask me again if I am talking about a “real friend” when they are from Facebook.  We may never meet in person but these special people have hopes, dreams, are caring and compassionate and because of their friendship,my life is richer and better. I learn about different cultures and I have become more tolerant and accepting of that which is different because they have let me into their lives and their feelings. I am blessed for these experiences.

RIP Joanne. I am sure you are now able to dance and sing with the angels.

My Antique Friends

My latest column from the Albert Lea Tribune. Feel free to share or reblog.

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Mary, Karen and I

Best Friends Forever Mary, Karen and I – I miss you Karen but I know you are with us in spirit still today.

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I find that to be true in different venues in life, especially with old friends.

We make friends in our childhood, in our teenage years, in our adult years, throughout middle age and even during our sunset years. Our interaction with even our best friends from early in our life changes as we go through life. We grow up, move, are busy raising children or go on to jobs that take us in different directions. We stay friends and settle for those moments of Christmas cards and chance meetings to connect. Perhaps our personalities changed because of experiences which impacted our friendships.

There are those friends whom we don’t see for years, but we take up where we left off immediately upon meeting them again — the years falling away. And then there are new friends who are really old acquaintances, with which we connect with in our later years, who become good friends.

At this time in my life I feel I am coming back to some of my beginnings. I have reconnected with best friends from grade school and high school. It is easier to stay in each other’s lives because of technology.

My husband and I play trivia on Tuesday night. I have mentioned that before, but what I didn’t mention was our reconnecting with old friends who were an important part of our early lives. I call it karma that life has taken us around in this circle.

Enter my friend from Wisconsin who called and suggested dinner. We met for the first time in years. She pushed me many years ago into my first date with the man that became my husband. At dinner that night she persuaded me to join her playing trivia at our local Legion. I must admit I was scared. I am not the person who remembers history, etc. I was surprised when I felt right at home with the team we joined.

One man was the usher in our wedding. Well … let’s put it this way, he was supposed to be the usher in our wedding. It’s a long story. Another player was my neighbor from my childhood. We spent many nights playing kick the can and spying on our neighbors to see what was going on in their garage. Should I mention bank robber? We had wild imaginations.

One of our quick trivia minds is a friend from our bartending years. We were bartenders together. I loved that job and the people I worked with, especially this person. Further down the table is a woman I shared my high school years with. We weren’t good friends in high school but now we are coming together in a new, fun adult friendship.

The nice thing about a new friendship with an old friend is we do share memories of a time in our life that was special to us.

There are other friends in our trivia group. Some we have had contact with during the latter years and others are brand new friends. But I feel we have come full circle and have come home to a time where we enjoyed life and enjoyed those friendships with people from our past.

One of the things I marvel at the most is that I can be stupid with these friends when it comes to trivia, and I am not made to feel that stupidity. Wouldn’t it be great if we offered that freedom every day to those we spend our lives with?

Our group is a mishmash of intellect. We have farmers, a nurse, a counselor, a couple of office managers, an author, a service manager, a dental tech, plus others and also those who drop in to join us from time to time. It is always a surprise to see what former members come back and offer us their wisdom.

We have all changed over the years. Our lives took us in opposite directions. We all experienced good times and bad times that shaped who we are over the years. The more things changed (us), the more they stayed the same (friendship).

Our bodies may change, our circumstances may spin out of control, but the caring you feel for someone who was important in your life stays there forever, waiting to be rekindled at the right time in your life.

Here is a little trivia for you today. Who said, “Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends?”

I can identify with being an antique, because a ruler that had my dad’s shoe store logo on it that I used in third grade — autographed with my name — was found in an antique store in Iowa.

I am officially an antique and I am enjoying my time with other antiques.

Happy Memories Grade School Class from St. Casimir’s

Definition of an antique: “A collectible having a high value because of considerable age.”

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

Wonderfulicious Weekend Whoopie

Well, it's a start.

Well, it’s a start.

It might seem like a writer’s life should be easy and free of stress because all we do is sit and write everyday, but there is so much more to a writers life and what we do. If we don’t take the time to spread our wings and experience something new it is hard to write, especially if we are not refreshed and replenished.This past weekend my friend Donna, a friend of over twenty-five years, and I decided to have a girl’s weekend and try something new. I would love to share our experiences with you.

Another friend of mine from my high school days by the name of Charlotte Laxen is a watercolor artist. I admire her work and her talent. She was teaching a beginner watercolor class at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum In Chaska Minnesota. Donna and I decided to spread our wings and bring out the inner artist that lives in each of us. Early Saturday morning spring finally arrived in Minnesota, and encouraged by the sunshine, we made the 90 mile trip to the Arboretum. We both were a little nervous because we weren’t sure what to expect.

The setting for the class couldn’t have been more perfect because even in the early spring the grounds were beautiful. Our painting classroom was on the second floor and we could view the arboretum grounds. The class was limited to ten people so it was not intimidating. We quickly bonded and felt at ease with the people in the room and made some friendships that will go on after the class.

We studied the different levels of color on our papers, the different weight of paper, how to use our brushes and experimented with different brush strokes. The classroom was full of laughter and joy. The seven hour class seemed to fly by.  I found another love and realized I have an artist in my soul and it needs to come out. Charlotte also offered inspiration about her life and dreams which inspired all of us going into the future. Now let me clarify, I don’t know that I will ever be good at watercolor but it feeds my soul and that is what is important.

My grandchildren’s mother offered us the use of her home while she was gone. We arrived to find flowers, wine, wine glasses, a welcome note and boxes of chocolates on our pillows. She made us feel very welcome and special.

Of course part of a great weekend is food and we decided  to try places we had never been so we picked Turtle’s Bar and Grill in Shakopee for dinner. I might add at noon we ate at the Arboretum and the food was outstanding. We planned on taking in the movie “Hello My Name Is Doris” with Sally Field after dinner and when we arrived at Turtle’s the place was packed and we didn’t think we would be out in time. We were amazed,not only by our waitress, but by the service. We had our meal within fifteen minutes.

We loved the movie. Sally Field was outstanding. The movie was funny, moving and actually had a good message for what happens in our lives.

The next morning we visited my son and grandchildren and were treated to breakfast and then we continued on to the Spring Arts and Craft Show at Canterbury.  In the three hours we tried some food, oohed and aahed over the artistic people and artwork, which refreshed my creativity and made me want to find a talent and join the craft circuit. Another dream for my life? I ran into my Sisters In Crime friends Jessie Chandler, and Brian Landon and his fiancé.  I need to copy Jessie’s excitement and sales talk. I loved their enthusiasm so much I taped it for a reminder for me.  Of course I bought some of their books.

We couldn’t end our weekend at the Craft Show so we stopped at Mazopiya, a natural foods market in Prior Lake and picked up some healthy food to take home.

Of course our eating had to continue and we stopped in New Prague at the Fishtale Bar and Grill, another place we have never visited. I ordered some soup which name I didn’t know what it meant and couldn’t pronounce, but it was a cream soup with dill and something about a dill pickle and potatoes and green beans in it and it was delicious along with my burger. Donna had the Jambalaya with fish and sausage. Regretfully it was time to travel on home.

However, when we drove into the community of Waseca and past the Dairy Queen we made one more stop. We topped off our weekend with a Chocolate Shake for me and a Chocolate Sundae for Donna. Yes, we probably came home a little heavier and tired but we had a rejuvenating weekend of mind and friendship. In fact we are plotting our next journey into learning something new and trying new places and of course food.

This was our journey and though the way I described it may seem boring, I want to encourage everyone to try something new, take time away to rest and replenish and find that which feeds you. Try something you think you might not like and you may find it is exactly that which nourishes you into tomorrow. You don’t have to be good at it, it just has to feel good to you. You can never go wrong either with a  weekend of laughter and bonding with friends.

My quote from my gratitude journal today: You may be disappointed if you fail but you are doomed if you don’t try. -Beverly Sills