Saturday, November 12, 2011

Us! Celebrating the Power of Friendship Blog Tour and Giveaway!

The story of life is told in several volumes...Friends are bookends holding up either side.  Mary Anne Radmacher

I first met Mary Anne Radmacher at our local literary festival three years ago.  When I exited her workshop, I thought I'd met a new best friend.  Her words were inspiring and her presence peaceful.  I've since indulged on her inspirational writings and quotes on many occasions.

So I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the release of her newest book Us! Celebrating the Power of Friendship. 

Can you remember the name of your very first friend?  Or the last time you laughed or cried with a friend?  Our friendships create the richness of our lives, without which our existence would be bland and empty.

Mary Anne, in her extraordinary way, captures the meaning of friendship in 80 concise pages.  Her passages and poems are profound yet effortless.  You feel the sacredness of friendship in her words.

I'm thrilled to share with you Mary Anne's guest post and her thoughts on Friendship:

Mary Anne Radmacher
        What inspired you to write a book about friendship?  Was there a particular friend that kindled the idea?
       My friend, Maureen, was a high school senior when I was a sophomore.  When she graduated she gave me a book of quotes about friendship.  I knew when I finished enjoying those great thoughts that someday I would write a book on friendship.  When I was 19 I operated a switchboard for a small college in San Francisco.  In the quiet moments, I would work on my friendship book.  A teacher who stopped by my desk each day, Professor Sparks, greeted me with an unusual question – “What dream are you working on today?”  I easily and quickly replied, “My book on friendship.”  Thirty five years later US! CELEBRATING THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP features some of the things I knew and treasured about friendship when I was still a teen-ager.
 Why is friendship important - to women especially?
I first want to say that I believe friendships are very important to men – and I have observed that they deal with it and talk about it (when they talk about it at all) differently than women.  Women want to  affirm, support, validate what they know to and for each other.  Women have an increasingly demanding set of roles to fulfill in our culture, and our friends help us “suit  up” for those various tasks.  Women friends offer each other support that is both tangible and metaphysical.

Is friendship more important than familial relationships? As important? 
The answer to that question depends on the nature of one’s relationship to family.  I was born around the time my parents were celebrating 25 years of marriage.  Two of my siblings could have been my parents.  The participants in my family structure were either a) tired or b) involved in their own life activities.  From early on I learned to create my own “tribe” first from the neighborhood, then school, then peers in my life experiences.  My friends, in all practical applications, have been like family to me.

Why do we need to take time out to appreciate our friends? Everyone leads busy lives, and our friends certainly understand that.
The busier I am the more conscious I am of how important it is to stay connected to my friends.  It’s too tempting to relegate our friends to the back of the line.  When, in fact, our relationships are one of the greatest graces of our lives. 

What are some easy ways to show our appreciation?
I’m a BIG FAN of the postal service.  Sending a fun or meaningful card “just because” is a real tender connection between friends.  I use technology to take photos with the short caption, “I saw this and it made me think of you.”  I’m encouraging groups of friends to use my US! book as a “scrap book” or to use an older term , “autograph book.”  Each member of the circle has a copy and each book gets passed around.  Friends write their own thoughts of appreciation on the page that most reminds them of their friend.  Combining my words and illustrations with loving words from your own friends – a powerful and memorable combination.
Being cued in to the present and real struggles a friend is facing is important.  More than saying, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” DOING something practical really shows how much you appreciate your friend.  My friend is moving this week.  She has a two hour daily commute.  AND she has special food needs with a variety of allergies.  I made allergy-appropriate lunches for her for a week.  I said, “I know when you are moving you don’t even know where your kitchen utensils ARE!  I hope this makes making good, healthy choices easier for you this week.”  It got a big WOW from my friend.

As we get older, it becomes more and more difficult to establish new friendships. Why is that?
Age brings a certain predictability and a whole road of judgments and assessments at our backs.  It becomes very easy to judge someone in advance and tell ourselves all the reasons why we likely wouldn’t like this person or that.  Also, we’ve had a few friendship failures as we’ve gotten older and might be less inclined to be vulnerable.   My dad outlived all his old friends and he told me one of the regrets of his life is that he did not take the time to make new friends.  My life is like a shelf on a bookcase.  My oldest and my newest friends are the book ends that hold all the other books together!

What are some ways to foster new relationships?
Be open to people who are different than you.  Say yes to experience new gatherings and go to events that are a little out of your comfort zone.  Listen attentively and observe how you feel listening to this new person.  If you are immediately engaged, interested and alert…that might be an excellent basis for exploring the possibility of a friendship.  If someone says, “We should talk about that,” or “I’d love to get together sometime and learn about your experiences with_________,” schedule the time.  Sometime soon.  Listening is an excellent way to foster a new relationship.  And it’s also a litmus!  If you find yourself endlessly listening with no opportunity to speak, that might be an indicator of a relationship you want NOT to foster.  That’s important to pay attention to, as well.  Not everyone you meet would make a good friend for you.

If you could plan a perfect night with a friend, or group of friends, what would that be?
I get to have quite a few of those kinds of nights.  We share healthy and yummy food, work on some sort of art project and tell each other fabulous stories.  Most of them even true!

What is your advice for people who have grown distant from friends, and don't know how to change that?
Reach out.  Take the risk and say, “I miss our times of connecting.  I thought of you just the other day and remembered the time that we…..”  Sometimes just confessing that you’ve noticed some distance has crept in will be a relief – they have likely noticed it, too, and haven’t known what to do, either! 

We can't talk about your books without mentioning the artwork. Do your friends inspire you, advise, you or in any way assist you in your creative life?
My friends deliver honest advice and critique when I ask for it and otherwise have an abundant supply of “Ooooooh’s” and “Ahhhhh’s.”  That sweet celebration is like the warmest, softest sweater on a chilly afternoon.  The finest compliment I get from any of my friends is when they purchase my work and give it as a gift to their other friends.  Not only are they supporting my career but they are affirming that what I communicate has functional value to them.  That means so much to me.

Us!  is the perfect gift for the friends in our lives that mean so much!  That is why I am delighted to offer TWO copies of Us! as a giveaway!  To enter, please enter a comment about the meaning of friendship and a valid email.  The giveway will end on Sunday, November 20th at 10pm CST and the winners chosen by (winners will be notifed via email and given 24 hrs to respond before another comment is chosen).

Also, please take the time to visit the other blogs participating in Mary Anne's tour:

Blog Links & Dates:
Monday November 7th-  Joyuslion
Tuesday November 8th - Christine Mason Miller
Wednesday November 9th - Cornerstone Coaching
Thursday November 10th - 8 Women Dream
Friday November 11th  - Aimee's Blog
Saturday November 12th - Gerber Daisy Diaries
Sunday November 13th - Motivational Musings
Monday November 14th - The Red Boa

Mary Anne Radmacher
The words and work of mary anne radmacher have circled the globe on products, quotes in books, been included in speeches, are part of ceremonies from graduation to weddings to memorial services.

Radmacher's words are woven into media from Oprah's Harpo Studio headquarters, commercials, to being quoted in newscasts from the 2011 Tour de France coverage to the evening news with Diane Sawyer.  Her signature posters are in board rooms and school rooms, adorn hospital halls and homes around the world (and found at and her work is visible from the Clinton Museum Store to gifts store on the corner.

Stay current with her appearances and what writing processes she is guiding at
just released and available as an ebook!


Joey Rachel Avery & Ansley said...

Friendship means always being there for each other whether it be a phone call, email or visit! My best friend is miles away but it never fails that when I'm having a bad day or hour there is a simple text or fb message saying I miss you or hope you're day is great! Those simple messages just always seem to make those troublesome moments disappear! I LOVE your blog Melissa!

Liz said...

It took a long time and much prayer to finally find close friends that I could call on and depend on anytime here in Arkansas. I'm thankful for a sister who grew up to be one of my very best friends and who endured my long, lonely period. I'm thankful for those friends who follow promptings to let you know they love you and are there for you. And to still have friends from college and even one from high school who are like that!