5 Minute Friendships UPDATE

I talked about 5 minute Friendships in a recent post on my blog  IAmGray . Sometimes something more happens. We had a few extra moments recently, and decided to do a little wine tasting at our favorite local winery, Dynasty Cellars. The tasting room was getting crowded, as a group of wine writers were in town to cover an annual nearby wine tasting event. There were two open spots at our table, so we welcomed Rob and Lynn to our table. Hailing from Woodinville, where there are over 90 tasting rooms for Washington wineries, they were in Bellingham for the weekend. 

The conversation was easy and relaxed, in a convivial setting, and we each shared a bit here and there, getting to know each other better. They both went to Seattle Pacific University by Queen Anne in Seattle – only blocks away from one of Terri’s sisters home! We shared memories of growing up back when the world seemed a much safer place, and places where we’ve gone wine tasting.

Turns out we have some very similar tastes in wine, and wineries, and before we knew it, they volunteered to do the driving on our next trip down to that area! Our time at the tasting room was running out, and we mentioned that we were going to be headed out to church soon. That sparked a whole new turn in the conversation, and we ended up inviting them to our church – and they accepted! Faith is a critical part of our journey, and it is always a joy to share it when appropriate (not here to shove it down anyone’s throat 🙂 

And so, just another affirmation of our desire to connect – as much as possible – with other people on this journey, and at this time. We love our 5 Minute Friendships, and the possibilities they offer!

Five Minute Friendships

We were in Halfwaytonowhere, Idaho a couple of weekends ago for my Cousins memorial service, staying at a nearby resort (the only lodging for miles around). We were having dinner at the restaurant, sitting out on their deck, when a couple of built-up hotrods pulled up. Turns out that there was going to be a small hot rod gathering that evening, so we settled in and waited for all of them to arrive. 

There were some really nice restorations, a couple of unusual vehicles, and some really built-for-racing rigs. We wandered around gawking and admiring, and struck up a couple of conversations. Rod had seen an article about a 1954 GM concept car, and vowed to have one some day. He spent years looking, and finally had one custom made for him – the 1954 Corvette with the Chevy Nomad roof. He is a retired firefighter from California, who travels back and forth between there and Idaho – no more shoveling snow for him! Super-nice guy, very friendly and outgoing. 

Then we met Mark and Katherine – turns out she graduated from Ferndale High School, same school as my daughter! They met in college many years ago, moved to New York, then back out west. If I remember right, his uncle had a home on a nearby lake, where he had spent a lot of time with family as a youth. They were able to purchase that home, and lived there for several years before a neighbor convinced them to sell. They then moved into the resort community we were at, loved it, but are looking for a new place.

So, what’s the point? Both of these are examples of what we call “Five Minute Friendships”. It’s all about being open, and reaching out to people, and connecting with them. Generally we never see these people again, but in the meantime, we’ve taken the time to put our phones down, look people in the eye, and share a bit of ourselves with them, and listen to them share a bit about themselves. In this fast-moving, increasingly impersonal world, we consciously take the time to try and connect with others. 

My wife is currently reading a book called “Life After Heaven” by Steven Musick. She has shared the basic storyline with me, and I’m excited to read it as well. The backstory is amazing and really powerful, then gets into a concept the author calls “Bubbles from Heaven.” Basically it takes the Five Minute Friendship to the next level, when you open your eyes to see a need, then open your heart to meet that need. My friend Don did that a while. Here’s what happened in his words: “I  was at Costco just before Christmas. A woman with three young children had a sizable amount of groceries on the belt. The cashier found that her  husband’s Costco card hadn’t been renewed for a long time. They tried everything to get it to work, but they told her they were sorry and started removing her stuff. When she was taking her toddler out of the cart, I felt a spiritual slap across my head as if I was asleep. I told them to put everything through and I paid for it. She was tearfully embarrassed and thankful. I said “God bless you and Merry Christmas.” In retrospect, I think it had more effect on the cashier and boxer……. and my wallet ;). Look at how many were blessed by this bubble from heaven!

And I guess that’s a part of why I write this blog – I want to make more connections with more people. I want to do my part to experience bubbles from heaven. I love technology, but I love people more. I’m looking forward to many more Five Minute Friendships – or a GREAT friendship – with you!

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

….It’s those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes

Nothing remains quite the same

With all of our running and all of our cunning

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane!”

Jimmy Buffett

It’s true that our winters in Western Washington can be long, cool, damp and … gray. We are infamous for our rain, which starts in October, and ends the day after the 4th of July weekend. The Hoh River rainforest can get up to 170 inches of rain a year; even though our winters are pretty mild by most standards,  the dampness can just kind of creep into your bones and settle there. So, it’s not surprising that many of us like to travel to desert or tropical climes to remember what the warm sun feels like on our skin.

It’s also not surprising that at a certain point in one’s life, finances permitting, many like to relocate to warmer, drier climes (the converse, weird as it seems, is also true – I often see people who have lived in, say, Arizona, come up here for our lush landscape). All that is well and good, except …

I will admit that while I feel I am a friendly guy, I don’t find it particularly easy to make new friends. A few years back we connected with another couple, and quickly established a warm, close bond. We go to dinner, check out local wineries and breweries, take weekend trips and even occasionally vacation together. We even just hang out, telling each other our stories over a glass of wine or two. They had made their home and yard a beautiful, park-like setting, have family locally, participated musically in the worship team at church, and loved the area. But. Our weather was increasingly becoming an issue, and one day they just up and sold their home, and moved to California, both for the weather and to be closer to their aging parents. Suddenly there was this huge gap in our lives.

To top it off, even as we are becoming closer to some mutual friends (love you guys, you know who you are), they bought a lot in Montana with the intention of moving there (at least during the snow-free months) once they retire in a few years. And other close friends I’ve know most of my life are dealing with health issues, so the times we’ve stayed with them, and trips we used to take with them to sunny southern locations may no longer be an option. Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same.

On the plus side, we always have a terrific time with my wife’s youngest sister and her husband, and with my cousin and her husband up in B.C.. We’ve made some new connections with couples that love to hike, and who love live music. We even enjoyed a family reunion with my four siblings, and created new and stronger bonds there.

Our new challenge is to build and nurture the relationships we already have, and to accept, embrace, and move forward in a quest to find new people with whom we can share our journey. Wanted: couples who love to laugh, love the blues and rock’n’roll, enjoy an occasional glass of wine (or beer), and are  willing to share their story with us as we share ours with them. They say staying flexible as you age is important; I guess that applies both physically and relationally. Time to start stretching!!