This week I’m in Denver, Colorado visiting a number of my dearest long-time friends. After all, I did live in Denver for both of my rounds of breast cancer. These are many of the people who were there for me during rounds one and two of getting back to health after finding out I had cancer. I discovered triathlon and distance cycling AND running during the time I lived here in Denver. These are some of the friends I did these sports alongside in my early athletic days.
I stayed with three sets of friends, after all, I don’t like to overwhelm anyone or burden anyone. One fun thing about each set of hosts, was that all of them have amazing pets! Delinda has three adorable young pups! Linda has three snuggly cats! And Joan and Carla have a 13 week old Standard Poodle pup and a cautious cat! The pets welcomed me with openness as much as my friends did. This week has been invigorating and affirming in delightful and surprising ways.
I was reflecting on my time with my many friends and my time here in Colorado under the magnificent blue sky and I came up with 3 reasons long-time friends improve your health and wellness. Here they are for you!
Reason #1: Long-time friends confirm that you BELONG
I am estranged from the majority of my blood relatives, and as a result, it is easy for me to feel like I don’t belong anywhere or with anyone. Plus I’m not married (yet!) and I (thankfully) don’t have any children. As a result, long-time friends remind me that I DO BELONG!
It is an essential human need to belong. When you don’t belong, that is BAD for your health. Knowing you have a tribe of people who have common interests and shared values is incredibly affirming. Being here in Colorado this week and being in contact with friends who I have known and been close to since 2003, 2004 and 2005 is wildly affirming of belonging!!
Reason #2: Long-time friends affirm your IDENTITY
I have three identities that tell me who I am in this life. They are Athlete, Educator and Survivor.
I learned about distance cycling, triathlon and running while living here in Colorado and this week four of the friends I spent time with are athletes I trained with early in my athletic career. I got to go cycling with Delinda who is 65 years old and is still plans to do another full Ironman triathlon! We did 26 miles. Our goal was 30, but the heat and altitude got me and I got hit by an intense spell of dizziness. Thankfully Delinda’s son Tanner was able to come rescue us!
I got to cook and go walking with Joan and Carla, both of whom are recovering from injuries and who are very confident in their comebacks. Time with Joan and Carla was a healing balm to who I am and why I am alive. The group of us met up for Happy Hour and laughed and told stories!
I was a high school principal and an educator coach during the time I was here in Denver and three of my dearest long-time friends I met when I was a Link Crew trainer and a Big Picture coach and principal.
Amber, Chellie and Joanie have known me for a VERY LONG TIME! And I admire all of them SO MUCH. They are wickedly smart humans who care for the learning of young people with their whole hearts and brains. All three of them are incredible teachers and visionaries. I am honored to know all of them and to count them as dear friends.
And finally, this week, I got to see Linda, who like me was diagnosed for the first time with breast cancer in 2004. We met in a support group for young women survivors. Linda and I are exactly the same age and we were both diagnosed at age 39, considered young. I love Linda and how much of our journey is similar. Seeing her affirmed my identity as someone who looks for the positive in difficult life challenges and who chooses to survive.
Reason #3: Long-time friends allow LAUGHTER, JOY + LOVE to burst forth!
And there is nothing more healing for physical and mental health than laughter, joy and love!!! This week has been filled with such amazing bursts of emotional happiness and laughter! Just that. It’s possible to experience laughter, joy and love with new friends AND the depth that is possible with long-time friends is difficult to rival.
Thank you Delinda, Linda, Chellie, Joanie, Amber, Patricia, Liesl, Joan, Carla and John for an outstanding visit to Colorado! I love you all dearly!
And to all who are reading this blog, thank you for being in my life too! Thanks for stopping by and reading and saying hello. I love hearing from you!
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