This is the next post in this series for my Toastmasters assignment – Write a Compelling Blog. (You can read the other posts here.) In today’s post, I talk about another lesson I’ve learnt about friendship.
Lesson No 7
Family is More Than Blood
When Dean and I relocated from Townsville to Brisbane in 1993, I felt as though I left behind every person I knew in this world.
To give a little perspective for those of you who are wondering about the distance we created, these two cities are 1,332 kilometres apart by road (827.6 miles) or 1 hour and 55 minutes by plane. It’s not exactly ‘just around the corner’ or a Sunday drive away. It’s a considerable distance that used to be much greater when travelling by car, because, over the past 27 years our state government has done a lot of highway upgrades that included a bit of streamlining.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I had three children to raise and had left my extended village of family and friends.
This was when we learned to rely on ourselves and it strengthened our bond and shaped us, transforming all of us into something I never dreamed I’d be part of – a close-knit family. The five of us became our own micro-village.
In much the same way, when Dean and I returned for our trip around this amazing country almost four years ago, we were never going to return to Brisbane. Once again, I was leaving the villi and must admit that on our travels, we put a lot of effort into considering where we might like to live next. Tasmania was high on that list, but we needed to consider more than merely liking an area. We needed to consider our eldest daughter who was still living in Brisbane and alone. We also needed to consider the climate and although the pull from Tasmania was strong, so was the desire to live somewhere temperate. We had only been in Tasmania on the cusp of autumn and were aware that Australia’s little island state (almost) comes to a holt during the colder months and perhaps we were not ready for that just yet.
At the end of the day, with all of this in mind, Caloundra on the Sunshine won out. Our new home is near enough to the water for Dean to still enjoy a paddle out whenever the surf gods deemed it suitable, and we are close enough to our eldest daughter. The weather is also ‘nice’ and so close to the Goldilocks zone it’s not funny. It’s not too hot and not too cold, although this summer has had me questioning why we didn’t relocate to Antarctica.
However, once again, we were relocating to a new area where we didn’t know anyone and I often feel that getting older makes it harder to make friends. It’s part of my make up. Believe it or not, I can be rather shy at times. (Those of you who know me can stop laughing now!)
I do have extended family living in the greater Brisbane area, but having lived the majority of my life so far away in the north of the state, those family members have always felt like strangers, and in some ways, they still do. My sister is, however, one family member who also moved to Brisbane and I’m pleased to say, we are closer now than we’ve ever been. (Love you, Sis.)
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
So in 2016, when Dean and I arrived ‘home’ from our trip and began the process of settling on the Sunshine Coast, I could have felt isolated. In fact, I almost did had I not done the one thing I knew would prevent that from happening.
I went to a Toastmasters meeting.
It’s fabulous being a member of Toastmasters International. With ‘X’ number of clubs worldwide, (I tried to find the total number, but couldn’t) there’s an abundance of opportunities to attend a meeting, anywhere, any time, any day. Your membership is your passport to join a group of like-minded people for a meeting that usually lasts for 1½ – 2 hours.
I chose to visit a club I had also visited (just) before our trip officially began, so I already knew some of the members. I had found the club to be friendly, and the members welcomed me with opened arms.
I felt like a long lost cousin or a prodigal son (nay, daughter) accepted back into the fold. I joined that club because suddenly, I was surrounded by friends, no longer isolated, and no longer concerned about settling into a new area. Although I’m no longer a member of that club (they meet during the day when I’m at work), I’m still friends with many of those members and hope to remains so for many more years to come.
I once told them they were like gorgeous blooms in a beautiful garden and I meant it. Each smiling friendly face was a flower I never knew I needed.
There are many more friends I have gained through my membership in Toastmasters – many of whom live an hour away in Brisbane – but when we get together either in a meeting situation or perhaps just socially, it’s like we only saw each other yesterday, or last week, even though in reality we may not have had the opportunity to get together for months, or even years. Does this sound familiar?
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
And so, here’s what Toastmasters taught me about family and friends.
As we live our lives we discover we have two types of families.
(First and foremost) There’s the one we are born into – our own flesh and blood, our kin.
And then there’s the family we choose – our kith, our clan.
Toastmasters is my clan.