Apologies if this post has little to do with saving money. Maybe it does, in a roundabout way but sometimes I just have to go with what is in my head and today's theme keeps popping up in my thoughts. One thing I have learned recently is that the sudden and unexpected loss of friends which occurs after a marriage break-up can be almost as painful as the loss of a partner. People naturally take sides, even when there were never any sides to take. I don't mind admitting it hurts. At first I thought 'Stuff ya! I'll go and find me some new friends!' And I'm sure in due course I will, but on the positive side it has made me think long and hard about the kind of friend I have been over the years and shameful as it may be, I confess I haven't always been the best. It's not because I don't care - because I do! But everyone's lives are so busy and sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in your own little world that you don't always notice when someone else needs you. And let's face it, how long does it take? Most of the time no more than a couple of minutes, but the difference can be huge.
I've written a lot recently about the kindness of strangers but there is also much to be said for the kindness of friends and there are not too many people I know out there kinder than my friend Rochelle. Years ago when my blog first started I used to write about her a lot. She is the mother of four gorgeous kids and it was Rochelle who first got me into running. We used to see each other every day and spent most afternoons in hysterical laughter on her lounge floor as we struggled to copy the gorgeous instructor in her Pilates DVDs. Sadly, she moved away several years ago when she achieved her dream of buying her own house and we're only really in touch a couple of times a year. But as she so rightly says, 'Just 'cos I don't see ya doesn't mean I don't think about ya!' and the same goes for me. I lost her number a while back when my phone died but I unexpectedly found it the other day so gave her a call. It was wonderful to catch up and it didn't surprise me at all to hear she was as busy as always. But in addition to looking after her family, she has also been looking after an older neighbour who's husband died 18 months ago and was left with very little money or support. Recognising that there were six members in her own family, but this woman had no one, Rochelle began popping in to visit her when she had a spare minute. They are now firm friends and any time this lady needs driving to an appointment or taken shopping, or just a listening ear over a cuppa, Rochelle is there for her. It didn't surprise me at all to hear what a lovely thing she was doing - but it made me think 'Wow, she is so busy, yet she STILL makes time for others'. And it made me take a good look at myself.
Everybody likes to feel special and appreciated. Everyone likes to feel valued. And I've realised over the last few months that it really doesn't take much to make somebody feel that way. For me, the most cherished support has come from the most unexpected of places. School friends who I haven't seen or heard of for 25 years have dropped me a line. I have received such wonderful words of wisdom and encouragement from Simple Savings members. And I'm enjoying being a good friend back. I wrote to tell a friend on the other side of the world how much her hilarious Facebook posts make my day and how I wish there were more people in the world like her. I wrote to tell another friend how her bravery and happy glow inspired me to make a new start and to thank her for giving me strength and encouragement. If I hadn't done this, neither of those wonderful strong ladies would have known how important they are to me. This morning I gave my neighbour, who has a bad cold, a big bag of mandarins from our tree. And you know what? It made me feel really good.
Best of all however was the feeling I got last week from helping a lovely lady who owns one of my favourite shops. Before now our relationship has been nothing but shop-owner to customer, or mutual mothers of teenagers. But a couple of weeks ago I went into her shop for a browse and found her alone. She was crying. She told me she had a lump in her breast and was trying her best to be strong and act like it didn't bother her but she was terrified. Even her husband couldn't get near her - but I could. I was able to tell her that, just like her my family had a dreadful history of breast cancer and that I had the same scare last year. I knew how the moment you know you have a lump, everything just changes. I understood the fear and the horrible waiting game but at the same time I was proof that it could be just nothing. I made her laugh when I told her how embarrassed I was to learn my lump was just a ball of fat! And I made her promise to keep in touch and text me if she needed anything. She did. I thought of her a lot over the next week or so and worried that perhaps I shouldn't have been SO positive or quite so encouraging. But I needn't have worried. I received a text from her last week out of the blue. 'Results just through. I'm going to live. Going to have a bloody big drink tonight'. And me, being the big old sook I am burst straight into tears. Because having known what she had been through I was so, so happy and relieved for her - but not only that. I was so touched that I was one of the first people she thought to contact to share her happy news and so glad that I had been able to be there for her.
And I still don't know what any of this has to do with saving money but I'm going to keep up the effort to be more thoughtful of others. Rather than saving, I seem to be doing nothing but SPENDING money lately, what with builders reports and the like as I wait in limbo for the next ten days for both the house I'm selling and the one I'm buying to go unconditional. I haven't packed a single thing yet, I don't want to jinx it! Roll on June 25th!