Posts Tagged ‘friend’

Photo: Caroline Hernandez/Unsplash.
Few things matter as much as a good friend.

I’m thinking a lot about friends today because one of my friends has been in the hospital more than a week, having had a serious fall. She lives alone and has health issues that cause her to fall. Her only family, a nephew, lives far away. So her health proxy (and good friend) designated four of us as her family. The ICU admits only family.

My friend has come out of her coma and ditched the ventilator, and we have been rejoicing over the smallest things: eyes opening, head nodding for answers to questions, the lifting of a hand.

Friends have always meant a lot to me (see post “Time with Friends Boosts Health“), and today’s article suggests one of the reasons why: they are good for my health. They certainly have been good for my friend’s health.

Sharon Barbour (@SharonBarbour on Twitter) reports at the BBC, “A new approach to helping people with depression is becoming more and more popular. ‘Social Prescribing’ sees GPs sending patients on trips to places like allotments (community gardens) rather than pharmacies. Healthcare professionals say it works, and reduces pressure on GPs and A&E [emergency rooms] too.

“Craig Denton, from Gateshead, has struggled with depression and loneliness for years. … He is one of more than eight million adults in England now taking antidepressants. But, in the North East, a new approach to helping people with depression is growing.

” ‘Social prescribing’ is part of a plan by health and council bosses to tackle what Gateshead’s director of public health described as ‘really shocking’ health outcomes in the region.

“It has seen Craig enjoy a day out at an allotment run by his GP’s surgery where he has dug and cleared, but also chatted with other people, and not been alone.

” ‘Instead of just sitting down in your house, where you can just dwell on things, you can use this as a distraction, meet new people,’ he said.

“Julie Bray, from Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group in Gateshead, was one of the first NHS social prescribers in the country and said she was ‘really passionate’ about it. … ‘They build their confidence up, it reduces GP appointments, it reduces A&E appointments, and it just makes them connect with the community and be resilient.’

“The North East has among the highest rates of drug-related deaths, heart disease, liver disease and suicide in England.

“Rates of child poverty are double the England average in some areas with poverty underpinning much of the ill health. Social prescribing is only one part of a plan by the NHS, local councils, and community groups to make improvements by 2030.

“Alice Wiseman, Gateshead director of public health, said a report in 2020 showed that, while life expectancy across the UK had stalled, it had started getting shorter for those in the bottom 10% income bracket in the North East.

” ‘Nine of all 13 areas within this plan have a healthy life expectancy of less than 60 years,’ she said. ‘People aren’t even reaching retirement age without having a life-limiting illness. It is really shocking.’ …

“What is needed is ‘forming friendships and feeling as if they’ve valued, as if they’re worth something,’ she said.”

Tell me about the importance of your own friends. It may not be enough for serious depression, but as the saying goes about chicken soup, “It wouldn’t hurt.”

More at the BBC, here. No firewall.

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Photo: Marcos Paulo Prado/unsplash.
A diary version of the chain letter, begun by Kyra Peralte
, comforted participants during the pandemic.

As things are gradually getting back to something resembling normal, people are taking stock of the past 14-plus months and recording how they got through them. A new kind of chain letter, first begun by Kyra Peralte, provided support to 115 strangers around the world.

Sydney Page writes at the Washington Post, “Kyra Peralte thought keeping a diary during the pandemic might help her sort out her tangled feelings. Then she decided to drop her journal in the mail and share it with a stranger.

“Peralte — a mother of two in Montclair, N.J. — started writing candidly last April about the challenges of juggling work, marriage and motherhood during a global crisis. Writing was cathartic, but Peralte, 44, wanted to know how other women were doing. Was she alone in her feelings or were other women experiencing the same overwhelming stress? She craved connection.

“So she made an unusual offer. She invited other women from near and far to fill the remaining lined pages of her black-and-white marbled composition notebook with their own pandemic tales.

‘I wanted an interaction that felt human, and it feels very human to read someone else’s writing,’ said Peralte, a children’s game designer.

“She dreamed up ‘The Traveling Diary’ — a simple notebook that would traverse the globe via snail mail, collecting handwritten stories and, ultimately, creating a community.

“A year later, seven marbled notebooks have circulated in various locations — from the United States to Australia, Canada to South Africa — and a growing group of strangers have formed an unexpected friendship as a result. So far, 115 women have signed up to participate.

“Peralte found her first contributor on a Zoom conference for entrepreneurs, during which she mentioned her diary idea. A woman from North Carolina immediately reached out and said she would like to write in the book.

“From there, Peralte wrote a Medium article, in an effort to recruit more women to get involved. Word spread, and she created a website so participants could easily add their names to the queue. Each person is allowed to keep the diary for up to three days and fill as many pages as they wish, with whatever writing or artwork they choose. Then, they are responsible for mailing it to the next person, whose address Peralte provides. …

“Amy Tingle, 52, sat down with the diary last September, in the wake of civil unrest and ongoing protests, and she decided to focus her entry on America’s racial reckoning.

“ ‘I couldn’t escape the sadness,’ said Tingle, who lives in Maine. ‘I remember being really disappointed in humanity.’ Writing in the communal diary, ‘was definitely a therapeutic thing during that time,’ she said. As an artist, she also included a collage of women, symbolizing the sense of friendship she felt with other participants. While writing her own thoughts was healing, she said, it was equally meaningful to read the words of other women who held the book before her. …

“Kirsty Nicol, 29, who lives in London, heard about the Traveling Diary through a friend. She received the journal two months ago, after it was shipped from New York City.

“ ‘It came to me at a challenging time during lockdown,’ she said. …

“Reading the entries allowed her to escape, transporting her into the lives of others and finding bits of wisdom they left. One woman from Australia had written: ‘Working with the setbacks. Not against them. Patience and gratitude. It’s a dance. Life is moving and we can stomp our feet in rejection, or we can gracefully embrace the mess, tidying as we go.’ …

“When Colleen Martin, 44, received the diary on her doorstep in Florham Park, N.J., last November, ‘I had just recently lost my brother,’ she said. … It helped her look for meaning and ‘the growth and development that occurs in terrible times.’ …

“ ‘It has really evolved into a community,’ Peralte said. She often hosts Zoom events so the women get the chance to get to know one another more, share stories they might have missed and connect more intimately. Some of the women, she said, have actually become close friends.”

More here.

Kyra Peralte, below, had the original idea to send a composition notebook with a diary entry to a stranger in April 2020, during the pandemic. “A year later,” says the Washington Post, “seven diaries have circulated, and 115 women have been part of the traveling diary.”

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The New York Times Science section had a cute piece in January about surprising friendships among different species of animals. Perhaps you saw it.

Erica Goode reported, “Videos of unlikely animal pairs romping or snuggling have become so common that they are piquing the interest of some scientists, who say they invite more systematic study. Among other things, researchers say, the alliances could add to an understanding of how species communicate, what propels certain animals to connect across species lines and the degree to which some animals can adopt the behaviors of other species.

” ‘There’s no question that studying these relationships can give you some insight into the factors that go into normal relationships,’ said Gordon Burghardt, a professor in the departments of psychology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, who added that one video he liked to show students was of a small and persistent tortoise tussling over a ball with a Jack Russell terrier. …

“Until recently, any suggestion that interspecies relationships might be based simply on companionship would probably have been met with derision, dismissed as Pixar-like anthropomorphism. That has changed as research has gradually eroded some boundaries between homo sapiens and other animals. Other species, it turns out, share abilities once considered exclusive to humans, including some emotions, tool use, counting, certain aspects of language and even a moral sense. …

Barbara J. King, an anthropologist at the College of William and Mary, said that she hoped researchers would begin to collect examples of cross-species interactions to build a database that would merit scientific scrutiny. ‘I think we’re not even at the point of being able to extract patterns because the database is so small,’ she said, adding that the topic could also benefit from a rigorous definition of what constitutes a ‘friendship’ between members of different species.” More here.

Photo: Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary by way of Africa Geographic.

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I am utterly tickled with the updated website for Suzanne’s birthstone-jewelry company Luna & Stella, the company that is behind this blog.

I really hope you will take a look — both for new products like stacking rings and a star pendant and for the wonderful pictures customers submitted showing warm  family and friend relationships.

Suzanne says, “We had so much fun with this contest we decided to keep it going. Send black & white vintage or recent family photos to contest@lunaandstella.com and you could win a $100 gift certificate if we use your photo on the site!”

Suzanne has given me such a free rein with this blog that it’s possible some readers don’t realize it’s a Luna & Stella blog. So I’m thrilled that the new website is up today. It gives me the opportunity to remind everyone that Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May.

(One of the many perks of being a grandma is that I get a new Luna & Stella charm or ring every Mother’s Day that there’s a new baby in the family.)


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