He had his Lessons, He had his Virtues

It’s been an active year of learning for me, a powerful span of intellectual and social growth I haven’t experienced since college. This is due in part to the magic of menopause and my release from the schedule of hormone fluctuation, but also to the increasing number of women in my sphere.

In the past, I’ve maintained closer and easier friendships with men, by and large, probably from having older brothers. So keen was I to play with The Boys that I strove to do what they did at all times, which led me to sports and sports fandom, which led, in adulthood, to easy conversations with most men, who can talk for hours about sports with little or no provocation.

Mentally add the phrase “not all men,” if that makes you feel better.

And, obviously, I have some amazing friendships with women that span decades. They’re just rare, compared to the number of men who are friends.

But it seems that the last few years, I’ve been accumulating friendships with women at a rapid clip, women whose humor and knowledge and energy make me want to do more and be more than I’ve ever imagined. Many are older than I am, some are younger. Many ethnicities are represented, and religions. There’s a variety of professions as well, from manager to artist to teacher to doctor to executive.

But they’re all women. And oh, what I’m learning.

Forbearance comes to mind. Patient self-control. Humor, my god the humor. Laughing at life, at the silliness of so much of what caused me angst not so long ago. Perspective and irony. Ironic perspective, maybe. Persistence and perseverance in my career, in my goals, which is vastly different from the perseverance I used in the role as primary caregiver in our family of five. My feelings and thoughts become clearer, easier to interpret, the more time I spend with other women, and I have become more outspoken.

I know. That one surprised me too. I didn’t know it was possible.

Today, I learned the phrase “he had his lessons, he had his virtues,” from a friend whose gift to me has been her directness. And yet she still showed me how to be kind, even when she was being blunt; the man of whom she spoke was difficult, but he taught her lessons she treasured. So many times, what I learn from these women is the “how;” From one, I learned how to balance my linear mind with my creative spirit; from another, I learned how to push forward with my goals while still serving the needs of an organization; from another, I learned how to discern intentional insult from awkward missteps. So many lessons shared right in front of me, to my marveling eyes, to my clear and persistent revelation “oh THAT’S how you do that!” And I am eager to learn more. book

I continue to enjoy male friends, still like talking sports with the informed individual. My husband has tightened his seatbelt and is hanging on for dear life, but acknowledges that turnabout is fair play, that I held our lives together during our wild ride of childrearing/family bullshit/custody battles. He could use a spare encouraging word, if you’ve got one, because change is not his forte. But he’s hanging in there, God love him.

But I’m so glad I’ve opened myself to these deepening relationships with women, because they’re showing me how to navigate a part of life I didn’t know existed, a time of boldness and purpose, intention and focus. There is no more time for trifling, nor for shame or pettiness. There’s just not enough time already for the things I’m burning to do, so the things that held me in check just don’t matter anymore.

And I have so much energy now, so much more than I’ve had in years. I’m learning how to create my own energy, to spend it wisely, to maintain healthy energy with my self-sustaining engine.

These are vagaries, I know, but I don’t have time or inclination to elaborate; you’ll have to trust me. My purpose here is to acknowledge this well of wisdom I’ve found in my women friends, who have taught me with words and actions, laughter and their
open-hearted tears, what’s important in life, what’s important to me, and how to serve that necessity with fervor, with everything I’ve got left.

All the love and devotion I had for my family was right and appropriate, because they needed that part of me so they could grow. And now, all that energy has a different path; through me.

Worried about Tim? Don’t be. He’s right here, next to me.

It’s 9:30, and I must sleep; I have a big day of new adventures tomorrow.

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