Good Friends and Perfect Strangers

It’s a slow and quiet morning sipping my coffee. Still in pajamas, I stare out the window at the winter wonderland that has arrived just in time for my vacation. If you listen closely, you can hear the wind whip and you almost catch a chill despite being curled up with a blanket on the couch.

Glimpse of MI Winter

I’ve spent the last couple days in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan with my good friend and former colleague Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch Literary Community. We have one of those friendships that simply picks up where it left off. It doesn’t matter how much time or space has been in between our visits (3 times in 7 years), it’s like we saw each other yesterday.

4 O’Clock Girls

I arrived on Veteran’s Day. Unbeknownst to me, an honorary dinner was planned with a local veteran’s group to celebrate their service and we attended. It was really humbling to have the privilege of sitting with 5 Vietnam vets, including Charli’s husband Todd, listening to them share some of their experiences of both being overseas, and coming back home. One recounting the selection process of the draft and being selected despite having viable injuries that should have kept him out, another being shot and having a bebe lodged in their mouth, and yet another spending 23.5 years of his life serving our country. Snipers, rangers, soldiers. Perspective.

Thanking them for their service seemed cliché after listening to their stories. It doesn’t feel like enough to just say “thank you” after that dinner, yet there was genuine gratitude for the expression of thankfulness with all of them. When the Vietnam War happened, I wasn’t even born yet. Their gift is one of willingness and sacrifice, one of pride and memories that have not yet faded. And the instant jolt to your system when you hear they’d do it again in a heartbeat. If you get the privilege of being present when they are telling their stories, pay attention and really listen. Their stories are a gift and I leave that experience with a deeper appreciation for our military.

The trip wasn’t fraught with life lessons and humility the entire time. Far from it. Charli gifted me home-cooked meals, champagne at breakfast and an introduction to her community. Good friends and perfect strangers sharing a mindful approach to appreciating where they are at with what they have, with each other.

I had space and time to think. Breathe. Center. I read Big Magic in two days, drank wine, and slept in. Pondered my future, manifested new and held space for possibility. Endless possibility.

I leave in the morning. I’ve identified small steps to take in the right direction. Respite and Joy.

QOTD:  “Work with that stubbornness. Work with it as openly and trustingly and diligently as you can. Work with all your heart, because – I promise – if you show up for your work day after day after day after day, you just might get lucky enough some random morning to burst right into bloom”. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Mood: Taking Chances – Lea Michele

Share: Are you lucky enough to have a friend that is there for you no matter what? A friend that believes in you and your talent fiercely? A friend that will sit and listen, challenge and encourage you? Tell me your story.

14 thoughts on “Good Friends and Perfect Strangers”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Paula, and your visit with Charli. I’ve not long ago listened to Brene Brown as she narrated her book Dare to Lead. What an amazing learning journey. I have to admit to feeling a little jealous of your leadership accreditation. I also listened to Elizabeth Gilbert narrate Big Magic some time back. It is also an awesome journey. While I’d been reading your comments for some time now on Charli’s posts, it’s nice to get to know you a little better. Thanks for the window on your world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah,

      Thank you for stopping by and saying hello! Studying with Brené was the biggest privilege of my life, and I am so excited to bring that work into organizations and communities I am connected to. If you are interested in learning more, I’d love to talk 😊

      I am so happy you are connected to Charli. She is such a gift to us all.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Paula. Of course, I’d love to know more. I’ve had a look at Brené’s Dare to Lead website. She has so many wonderful things for teachers that I wish I could implement. Time to learn is my stumbling block at the moment.
        Charli is a gift. I have a very strong impression that you are too. 🙂


      2. Your comment got caught in spam, but I found it! Thank you for your kind words 🙂 Yes, BB’s gifts to the educational community are unmatched. Her family has roots in education, so she is fiercely committed to improving the educational system. I’m so excited to see what is in store for K-12 and beyond!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi Paula. Thanks for digging my comment out of spam. I hope that Brene’s commitment has a powerful effect on the education system. We need people like her making the decisions.


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