Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No Matter How Long It Takes, No Matter How Far, You Will Find It!

Pressure Busting Tip #20
I don't have a funny story today, which is kind of odd, considering that the person who gave me this tip was one of the funniest people I have ever known in my life.  Talk about a good time!  I met Ann online--in a discussion forum twenty years ago--chatting up people whose common interest was the film The Last of the Mohicans, and later, (sigh) Daniel Day-Lewis.  Pretty soon, a core group formed from that, arranged meet-ups, and yada yada yada, Ann and I became close friends.  Although she lived in Florida, thanks to The Interwebs, we could chat often, and we also had marathon phone calls of more than ninety minutes long.  We also exchanged long letters--ten-page booklets of news and politics and oh, anything we thought of.  Her job allowed her to arrange visits to various locales, and I flew out to see her several times.  Her truelife stories were hilarious, and she told them with a light southern accent and just the right sense of timing.  She wrote romances for a couple of publishers, primarily Harlequin, yet she never married.  And all of her books had a good dose of her humor, not something commonly found in that genre, I'd imagine.  Her book money was her fun money, and she once arranged for a theater to show a print of The Last of the Mohicans to a small group of us, twice, as private showings.  As you can tell, she was terrifically generous.  She wasn't just generous with her money, either, although she did set aside funds for her nieces' college educations.  She was generous with her time, her sympathy, her advice, and her ability to listen and understand.  She would arrange wonderful meet-ups, and she and I would share our frustrations when a few people would explain that they couldn't or wouldn't come.  "You know what?"  Ann would say, "It's a question of priorities.  If it's important enough, you'll make it happen.  You'll find a way.  It's as easy as that."

In 2011 after a long string of health problems exacerbated her breast cancer, Ann died in Florida.  I had not seen her for over a year.  The email from her sister was...incomprehensible to me.  Just retired, I had plans to write to Ann and tell her I was ready for anything--let's plan a getaway.  And now...I had to find a way to grieve the loss of a friend who I could not even see.  It took me a year to find a way through it.  I miss her so much, and in a way that is somehow hollow and aching.  It feels very unfair.

Ann lived a very full life.  She had a loyal and loving family, and she had great friends.  She would really do things to excess for the people she loved, yet she made no apologies for it.  She had a way of cutting right to the core of things; she could analyze and she could prioritize.  I'm making one of her favourite sayings into Pressure Busting Tip #20.  If something is important enough to you, you will find a way to make it happen. Maybe that something is having a cup of tea at the end of each December night, you and your spouse, looking at your tree.  Maybe it's stopping for a moment, having some time for a prayer with the kids, then watching as they cross the day off of their Christmas calendars.  Maybe it's a thirty minute soaky bath with a mug of hot cider.  Maybe it's a short walk in the morning to clear your head and get your blood running.  Maybe it's calling your mom and telling her what you're doing that day.  Is it important?  To you?  Find a way.  There is always a way.


  1. This is beautiful. After reading this, and knowing you for some years now through your blog, I know that Ann is a person I would have loved to have known. And even though I did not know her, it makes me smile to read about someone like her who made the lives of her family and friends a richer experience because she did make the time.

    Coincidentally (or not), this is a take-away that I have always tried to impress upon my students: "You can achieve pretty much anything you dedicate time and effort to, so it should never be a question of whether you will 'leave your mark', but rather where and with whom you leave your mark. You will surely make mistakes along the way, but when it comes to regrets, it's always better to regret a wrong decision than no decision at all."

    Happy Thanksgiving to the Dept. of Nance, and thanks for making it happen for us. :-)

  2. So very true, this post. Which is why it hurts when a friend is too busy to get together, because I know that what they are saying, whether they realize it or not, is our friendship isn't as important as whatever else they're doing. Sometimes that's true, and sometimes kids and jobs and such do get in the way. But sometimes, busy isn't good enough, and I want my friends to matter more than whatever else is going on.

  3. What a lovely tribute to your friend with this beautiful tip that comes from her wisdom, Nance! For you to form that type of bond with Ann and for her to do all those amazing acts for her friends, she really was incredibly special. Her death was clearly such a huge loss for all who knew her. We never ever have enough time to do all the important things in life so making time is critical. Always. Thank you for this reminder. Sending hugs to you in your loss. Just today, my mom, sister, and I were talking about how when you lose someone you're really close to, you still have those moments for a long time after they're gone when you think "oh, I have to tell Mary about that" and then a split second later you remember that they're gone and the pain of loss hits you all over again.


  4. I have just one word: Amen!

  5. I'll add another amen! I'm trying to make getting together with my friends a priority. It's hard because they live in NC & I'm in Ohio & everyone is very busy - but when we're together we remember why we're friends. Need to start planning that spring getaway now!

  6. Bug--I don't know about you, but I am so weary of hearing that: "I'm so busy these days." In his or her own way, everyone is busy. That is the nature of living Life. It's a Given. When someone says that, it's Code for "I am making my excuse now in case I don't feel like doing what you are proposing." Naturally, being retired, I can do more things and, unless my mom needs me, I have all kinds of time. I always have that caveat. But really, if people would just say, "I am going to work at making that happen" instead of saying, "I'm so busy", it might be nice. Maybe you and your friends can meet partway between OH and NC, so it's not always you that makes a big trip. I bet there's a few lovely places to meet and stay a night or two for not too much money.

    Karen--Thanks for checking in here. And I'm glad this post struck a chord for you.

    Shirley--Thank you. Ann was such a big personality and one of the most insightful people I ever knew when it came to human behavior. I'm sure that's why she did so well as a writer. She had a zest for life before her cancer diagnosis, and that really beat her up. She never regained her sparkle again, especially after GWB got his second term. As you can see, we also had politics in common. Enjoy your jaunt, and as always, best to your Guys.

    J@jj--I am always happy to give my friends a Pass because I hate any Obligation being part of Friendship. My general feeling is of frustration because I know THEY are missing out on something they will very much enjoy. Selfishly, of course, I miss their company, but I really dislike them losing an opportunity for some fun and fellowship. I finally learned that most of the areas of my world can, indeed, get along without me, so I let them!

    Ortizzle--You are my sweetie. If anyone or anything can get me to Texas, it's YOU.

    Yes, you would have adored Ann. Anyone who ever met her remembers her. She was that wonderful.

    I'm so glad you make a point to impart that philosophy to your students. I always found that, in general, my kids were phobic about making any decision/statement/assertion at all, especially in discussion but also in writing. I begged them to state an opinion, take a stand, make an arguable point. "What's the worst that could happen?" I would ask them.
    "Well, we could be wrong!" they'd say, as if they had said they could be killed or disemboweled.
    "Oh, so what?" I'd say. "Then be wrong. Dare to be gloriously and boldly and hugely wrong! At least have an opinion!" Sigh.
    Shall we get together in 2014? I think it should be Our Year.

  7. As a teacher of horseback riding lessons, a few things have become abundantly clear to me. Since riding lessons are not compulsory, it is quickly apparent who means it and who doesn't. We always get a fair amount of dabblers, but they usually don't last and you start getting excuses for why they can't ride. But then, once in a while, you get those riders who really want to be there. Over time, they re-arrange their lives to get more horse time. This is exactly as Ann said: when something is important enough, you'll find the time. I didn't know her except through what you've written here, but I can tell that she was my kind of person. I'm so sorry for your loss of this terrific woman.

    It also works the other way for us as well. If there is something we don't want to do, we can always use the standard horse excuses: we have a show this weekend, or there is a clinic we've already paid for, or we have a lot of lessons scheduled this weekend. That always sounds less offensive than just saying no.

    The older I get, the less patience I have for time and energy "suckers" who drain the life out of you. I've cut the ties to a number of people I used to know (some were very old "friends") who made me exhausted just by being around them. I don't have tons of friends, but the people in my life now are people I actually like and who like me. I work to make sure those relationships are good. That's really all that matters at the end of the day.

  8. LaFF--Thank you. Your last paragraph says it all.


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