My tribe. My people. My family. My friends. My circle of trust.
These are the people I can always count on. The ones who know what to say and what to do to help me get through life. My tribe is full of the people I CHOOSE to spend my precious time here on earth with. And that’s the beauty of my tribe. I choose who is a part of it.
My tribe is an exclusive group. I don’t just let anyone in. Even though I’m only 30, I’ve had a fair share of life experiences that has made me leery to trust people. I’ve been burned badly by family members and by people I thought were my friends. These experiences, although painful, have helped me learn a lot about who I want to surround myself with. In my short 30 years, I’ve learned a lot about my tribe and who I want to be a part of it. I hope that my experiences can help you realize what you want from your own tribe and help you surround yourself with the kind of people who will make YOU a better person.
People come in and out of our lives for a reason. Cherish the moments with them. Realize that each friendship, each person we invite into our tribe, has a purpose.
My favorite part about having a tribe is that it is ever-changing. I’ve added some wonderful people to my tribe within the last year. Some of the people in my tribe have been there my whole life. I’ve lost some wonderful people and also gotten rid of some less than stellar individuals. As we continue to grow in our lives and our perspectives shift, it would be unrealistic for us to expect our support group to be the same. One of my very best friends in the world is Jennifer. I have known for as long as I can remember. We grew up together on Salem Road. We went to Ivan Green, Durand Eastman, and Eastridge together. And then, in 8th grade, I moved to Webster. We didn’t keep in touch. It wasn’t intentional. It was before Facebook, cell phones and texting. We were too busy with our own separate lives. We drifted apart and she wasn’t a part of “my tribe” at that point in time. Flash forward to the fall of 2007 when I was severely injured playing soccer in college. I had to withdraw from classes and come home. I was devastated. All my friends and my then boyfriend was in Michigan. None of my high school friends were back. I had no one. Jenn reached out to me on Facebook when she heard what happened. I remember her coming over with all the seasons of Gossip Girl and a bag full of jelly beans. We sat on the couch in my parents living room and that day she pulled me out of a really dark and very alone place. From that point on, we were inseparable again. Jenn introduced me to a whole new set of friends here in Rochester, many of which I still talk to today. She taught me to be more confident and to put myself out there. She took me to kickball and parties and I spent numerous nights on Jeff’s (her now husband) futon. I am forever grateful for our friendship. Even though we don’t talk everyday (our 3 little girls kept us busy), she’s an important part of my tribe. It’s crazy to think that Jenn came back into my life as exactly the right time. She saved me. Surround yourself with people who have positive impacts on your life. Embrace those friendships and be present in them as long as you have them!
Your tribe wants to help. They know when to help and how to help. Let Them.
I have struggled with asking for help for as long as I can remember. I am a very independent woman. For some reason, asking for help has become a statement of weakness to me. I feel guilty that I can’t accomplish something on my own and have to ask for help. I feel guilty that someone else has to take time out of their day to do what I can’t do. As I’m typing this, I realize how crazy that sounds. I’ve been working on my mindset and trying to change my perspective mostly because of something my Mom said to me recently. I was apologizing for the 100th time that she had to stay home from work to help me with McKenzie on a particularly bad hive day. She told me to stop saying sorry. She was here because she wanted to be here. She was here because she wanted to help. She was here because she knew that I would do the same for her in a heartbeat. She was here because she needed to feel like she could help me. In my original post “My Why,” I discussed the concept that sometimes the best you can do for someone else is allow them to be apart of your struggles and allow them to help. By being a strong, independent woman, I shut people out unintentionally. The greatest part about my tribe is that they don’t let me. Surround yourself with people who push back, with people who don’t allow you to struggle alone. Those are the people you want by your side.
The people you mourn with should also be the people you celebrate with.
Many of you may not know, but we lost my father in law back in January of 2010. Chris and I had been together 9 months when he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (SMOKING KILLS! DON’T FREAKING DO IT!) We lost Ed 5 months later after a horrible month-long hospital fiasco. And wow, thinking about it now, those were really hard times. As I sit here typing, I have tears in my eyes. All of the feelings are overwhelming. I don’t think about it much. I’m sure Chris doesn’t either. We were only kids. Chris was 24 and had to do the unthinkable and bury both his mom and dad. I was 22, in my own horrible rock bottom situation (I’ll explain this in another post) and trying to figure out how to take care of our house, puppy, and Chris. We were both lost in our own ways and struggling. But our tribe stepped in and did everything from driving Ed to appointments (thanks Auntie!), visiting him in the hospital (Ya-Ya’s, coworkers, my parents), taking care of our baby puppy Darwin (thank you Matt, Kim and Shannon), and taking care of Chris and I (too many to name). Months after Ed passed away, Chris proposed in Disney World and we began planing the most epic wedding ever. When going over our guest list with each side of the family we ran into a problem. There were just too many people. We needed to make cuts. It ended up being easier than we thought it would. We decided that if they didn’t care enough to come to Ed’s services or even check in on us after he passed, they weren’t invited. That seems fair and realistic doesn’t it? If you didn’t want to be there for me when times were hard, why would I invite you to celebrate with me on the happiest of days. Yes, we ruffled some feathers and made some people angry. But we’ve held our ground on this ever since and its been freeing. Surround yourself with people who will hug you when you’re sad and raise a glass with you when you’re happy.
Do unto others. Pay it forward. Be a friend you would want to have.
I never quite understood the phrase “it takes a village” until MCG was born. On top of having a baby, add in the hives, and I know for a fact, we wouldn’t have made it this far without our tribe. In the last month alone, I’ve called in favors from just about everyone in my tribe. My sisters have sacrificed countless nights to help me with Kenzie. My sweet neighbors, the Meredith’s, have changed diapers for me when my hands were too swollen to do it myself. My aunt Nancy showed up with home-made anti-inflammatory soup and aloe to help with the itch. My dear friend Whitney brought a 12 pack of Saranac and pizza on a Friday night, gave Kenzie a bath, and proceeded to make me laugh when I needed it most. My parents gave up a whole weekend to let us take an adults trip to Chicago, and it was so much fun. Miss Amy showed up with flowers and a big hug on the day I needed it most. There are so many people who have brought us dinner and sent such kind and supportive messages. I can’t begin to tell you how much it has meant to Chris and I. You all have helped us more than you will ever know. Thank you for your love, generosity, and kindness. We promise to pay it forward.
Which brings me back to “your vibe attracts your tribe.” Chris and I have been deeply humbled by all the support these last few weeks. I’ve cried numerous times, happy tears though, because I never realized how many supportive and wonderful people there are in my life. I was talking/crying to my sister the other day and talking about how I couldn’t believe the outpouring of love we were receiving. Her response was a simple one. “Aren’t you always the one remembering birthdays, sending cards and gifts, being generous with your time and money, reaching out to someone you know is struggling, reminding people how much they mean to you?” Wow. That was a thinker. I guess that I do all those things. But I don’t do it so that people will do it to me. I do those things because I feel good about helping others. And when I saw the quote “your vibe attracts your tribe” I realized that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. My overall positivity (most days, definitely not all of them) and my charisma has attracted people to want to be my friend, and want to be apart of my tribe. Although I’m judgmental at times, I try to be as accepting as I can be. I want to raise McKenzie the same way my parents raised me: to love and respect all people regardless of race or religion or sexual orientation, to give everyone a second chance, to give back and give away, and to share all our blessings. If that behavior attracts the kind of people currently in my tribe, I’m doing something right.
Lose the negative people in your life. They are only weighing you down.
So, I can’t really go into detail on my own personal experience on this one. I don’t want to offend anyone or make anyone angry. That is exactly the opposite of this blogs purpose. Here’s what I can tell you. There have been people in my life that I refer to as “energy vampires.” (I want to give credit where credit is due, but I have no idea who came up with the term. I heard it from a friend a long time ago.) Isn’t that the most brilliant term. You’ve been around people who the minute they walk into the room they suck out all the positive energy and fill it with negativity right? Think of energy vampires like the Dementors from Harry Potter. They make everything cold, dreary, sad, and lifeless. Well, newsflash people. You can’t be happy when you’re around energy vampires. They don’t want you to be happy. They are usually the type of people who aren’t happy unless they are mad. We all know at least one of these people and I would even guess that many of you have them in your tribe. I used to. But i couldn’t take them always bringing me down. My tribe needed some gentle housekeeping. So, I ditched them. I gently minimized the time I spent with them until we didn’t see each other anymore. And I’m better off because of it. Stop surrounding yourself with negative people. Your tribe should be a group of people who inspire you, who challenge you, who WANT you to be better off.
So find your tribe, and love them hard. Love them real. Just love them. Be present. Be grateful. Be you. That’s all anyone should and can ask of you. If they want or need more, think about whether or not they belong in your tribe. Your tribe should raise you up, not bring you down. Your tribe makes you a better you.
So, My tribe. You know who you are. This part is for you.
Thank you for encouraging me to pursue my dreams. Thank you for helping me through some very dark and trying times. Thank you for just knowing what I need and when I need it. Thank you for drying my tears and for giving the best hugs. Thank you for loving my Christopher as much as me. Thank you for pick up prescriptions and changing diapers. Thank you for researching urticaria and looking for a cure. Thank you for loving our sweet little miracle and our crazy fur babies. Thank you for watching 7 million soccer games. Thank you for driving hours and hours to see me for 30 minutes. Thank you for standing up for me when I couldn’t stand up for myself. Thank you for calling to say hi. Thank you for being my voice of reason. Thank you for the hours of advice. Thank you for the years of friendship. Thank you for the lemon you gave me last night. Thank you for the 6 pack and whiskey. Thank you for car rides with the windows open, music blaring, and no words spoken. Thank you for the most majestic sights I’ve ever seen. Thank you for making me love nature. Thank you for trips to Dunhams and soaks in the hot tub. Thank you for the trips to the zoo. Thank you for the much-needed parents weekend out. Thank you for sharing your passions with me. Thank you for always making me feel welcome. Thank you for teaching me how to cook. Thank you for sharing your pain. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for your laughter. Thank you for being my legs when I can’t stand on my own. Thank you for scratching the hives for me. Thank you for bringing dinner. Thank you for trusting me to share my knowledge with your kids. Thank you for making me an Aunt. Thank you for making me a godmother. Thank you for making me a part of your family. Thank you for wanting to be my friend. Thank you for wanting to be in my tribe. Thank you for just being you. You’ll never understand what your love and support means to me.