Conversation #4: You could learn a thing or two from my friend Barbara

Before I begin writing about my conversation with Barbara, I want to reiterate why I do these conversations, why I interview my friends.  It seems to me that in my home of suburbia,  we are always striving to do something extraordinary or newsworthy.  We subscribe to the bigger, better, faster, more mentality of American culture.  My ultimate goal in writing these interviews is to profile people whom I believe to be stars.   Maybe they are not on the cover of People or Time or anywhere else, but in their own everyday way, they are going about noble, rich, honest and meaningful lives.  Their worth isn’t measured by their bank accounts or their last movie, but they are deserving of the same public recognition.  So there you go.

If you don’t know my friend Barbara, you really should.  I have never met anyone so free of societal expectations or peer pressure than Barbara.  She is absolute in her standards, her choices and the way she lives her life.  Her unapologetic way of living her life makes me appreciate her so much but it’s also what initially intimidated me about her.  I don’t think I really put it together until we had lunch a couple weeks ago, but I have always been somewhat in awe of this gal.  Barbara and I met while my now 4th grader was a preschooler at a local Montessori school.  She was the friend of a friend and I liked her from the start.  She is one of those people that you always think is pretty and then she puts on make-up and she is absolutely gorgeous.  (I don’t know about you but when I put on make-up I get to about pretty.  She goes straight to knock out.)  I remember that she would pick up her daughter at 3 o’clock and she would be carrying her four year old son who was still in his pajamas.  Once I asked her if he was sick. She said, no, he just prefers pajamas.  I love that.

Barbara is a self described introvert.  She enjoys solitude and time to herself.  At parties and school functions, she is the one who might really want to talk to you, but you most likely will have to approach her.  Naturally quiet and “shy,” it takes her a while to warm up to you.  But once she does, she is the warmest and most welcoming person around.  Seriously.  This woman has a fire going and cool music playing when you arrive at her house and you are served either coffee or wine in cups or glasses the size of small bathtubs.  Kick off your shoes, you are about to get comfy!  Barbara describes her childhood warmly as one of three daughters to some very practical sounding parents.  When I asked her about God, Barbara says her Dad used to tell her, “If you want to know yourself, go take a walk outside.”  She admired that her Dad didn’t tell her to find God outside, he told her to find herself, because that was his view of spirituality.  Pretty cool.

Most often complimented as a good listener, Barbara truly gives you the gift of lending an ear.  Don’t expect any advice-giving, though, unless you ask for it.  And when you do, it is brief and powerful.  You may not hear much from Barbara at get togethers, she is more likely to be listening than talking.  But when you do, get ready to take notes.  She may not talk a lot, but what she does say is worth the wait.  Barbara does not like small talk, she is more interested in meaning and substance than the gossipy chatter she sometimes hears.  And she doesn’t much care for the phone either.  She admits to being hesitant about meeting and making new friends because she is already busy enough and won’t be able to make the time for anyone new.  (I mean, isn’t this type of honesty refreshing?! Personally, I am guilty of saying yes to things too readily then having to back out later when I knew from the start I wouldn’t be able to do something.)  Don’t get me wrong, she knows how to have fun and be real and hilarious.  But she will not bullshit you.  Ever.

Right now, photography is Barbara’s passion. She is an excellent Iphone photographer.  Who know there was such a thing, right?  You can see her photos randomly on Facebook and I expect at a gallery near you sometime soon.  Her photos are that good.  It’s great to see her have such passion about it, after devoting so much time to her kids.  She has always been devoted to them, but at this stage with one in middle school and one in fourth grade, she is finding the wiggle room to pursue her own interests.  By the way, did I mention she is a great mom??  Barbara is ridiculously, fiercely and completely in love with her husband.  I mean, these two are gaga for each other!  Without guilt, Barbara says she is looking forward to the time when it is just the two of them.  When asked about the people she admires most, she mentions first a friend of hers who has struggled with illnesses.  A friend who is extroverted, warm, altruistic and sincerely makes you feel special.  Barbara is quick to point out that while she loves the way this friend “moves throught the world with grace,” she is not the same but has her own gifts.  Without missing a beat, she mentions her husband also the one she most admires.  I know, aww.

My friend Barbara is grounded and lives her life with quiet assurance that she is on the right path, and, if she knows you well enough, invites you to do the same.  (She is the one who taught me to hang a garbage bag between the armrests of my minivan.  Genius!)  And in her own soft spoken but nonetheless powerful way, she impresses her ideals upon you and you can’t help but feel the same way:  families teach kids to work together and compromise, apologize when you do something wrong, tell the truth, set good boundaries, be busy with only those things which are important to you and your family, spend your energy wisely, one on one time with friends brings much joy and her mantra, “thoughts become things, choose the good ones.”

Well I hope you learned something.   I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend with this great gal, and I am no longer intimidated by her.  But I can’t help but brag about her.