“Friendship isn’t a big thing. It’s a million little things.”
I received this quote on a little hanging plaque for the home from my one of my friends, incidentally also the lady whose baby shower I wrote my first blog about. She has been the best of friends to me and this has what has inspired me to write today.
Magically (as life sometimes is) as I started to write this a message pinged up from someone (I’m going to try and protect their anonymity here) who has been reading my blogs and has been victim to my past mistakes. She wrote so kindly and forgivingly, acknowledging MY acknowledgment of them and my attempt to redeem them through writing. Like anyone, I’ve made HUGE, monumental, earth-shattering mistakes in my past. As I said to this person, that’s not to say that I don’t still and will not continue to make them! But I am learning to accept my fallibility and rather than be crushed by it, learn from and use it. One of my biggest areas for cock-ups has been in my friendships. Which is why I am all the more grateful for the steadfast ones I have today.
I mentioned in my last post that I had dug out my beading box to make some small trinkets for the women who have been particularly instrumental in my life over the last couple of years. This particular bead box is a bit of a joke really but I can’t bring myself to replace it. As a little girl I had a thing for Beatrix Potter books. Perhaps because my maiden name is Potter, or maybe I really was highly intelligent and artistic even at 5 and knew a good artist and writer when I saw one. Anyway, my parents gave this to me one Christmas, initially as a sewing box. But we used to take trips to Paris to see my parents friends who lived there (see my earlier post about hair braids on the footsteps of the Sacre Couer) and they introduced me to this magical little bead shop around the corner from the Louvre (as I write this, I’m realising again what a privileged upbringing I have had. Thank you Mum and Dad.). Wall to wall glass and wooden beads, large or teeny tiny, all shapes and colours. It was my sweet shop. I still have just one glass bottle full of beads from that place. Every time we visited Paris (which I add up as at least 5 times throughout my youth) making a visit to the bead shop was the only request/demand I would make.
My little bead box has been gathering dust underneath our rubble of unused ‘stuff’ on our landing at home. Until I was in a local garden centre buying a bonsai tree as a wedding gift for my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law (there’s another blog right there) and discovered they had a CRAFTS DEPARTMENT. My Own Personal Sweet Shop discovered, right on my doorstep! I knew I wanted to do a small something for these important ladies in my life so seized the opportunity to update my bead box.
My favourite thing was choosing the size, shape and colour of beads and the bracelet fastenings according to each individual. Making them was a doddle, but again, referring back to my very first baba shower blog, it’s the small things that make the biggest impact sometimes. Friendship is “a million little things.” It’s been a while since I’ve done a How To, so shortly I will give you a brief guide on how to make a trinket beaded bracelet.
Before I’m misunderstood it’s not that I value these friends any more than any other. These days I am deeply grateful for all friendships in whatever form they come in. But it took me until 31 to realise that friendship does come in different forms and that that is ok. Some friendships come in seasons, you may have heard. It may be that a person comes into your life at a particular time and you are invaluable to one another during that particular time, but once that time is up, the friendship passes away. Some might say that this isn’t real friendship. I’d disagree. Again, I’ve come to appreciate the measure of friendship in whatever form it comes in, because if I don’t then I miss the opportunity to have that friend completely. But I did struggle with the Seasonal Friendship for a while…
For some reason (I still haven’t figured out why) I grew up thinking that you had One Best Friend and that they must be clearly identified and labelled as your Best Friend so that everyone knew how special your relationship was. It was almost an unwritten contract and special honour. If you didn’t have a Best Friend then you clearly weren’t worthy of the honour. How inherently WRONG?! I don’t want to dismiss the significance of finding someone you connect with so intricately. I know that happens and have experienced it but looking back I held onto it too tightly because of the fear of what I would be without it.
Because of this hideously skewed perspective I spent my childhood and early adult years having various Best Friends. Certain ones were consistent and held the title for decades, others came and went after a ‘season’ (the end of which I would be utterly heartbroken, no matter how long or short). For some the title wasn’t reciprocated to me, so I lived in endless turmoil, trying too desperately to reach the ranks as their Best Friend. They had other Best Friends and I couldn’t bare it.
Embarrassingly this has lasted far too far into my adult years. I think I had a moment of realisation that I didn’t need to try so hard to attain and retain Best Friends at my hen do in 2012. Two of my bridesmaids put the most amazing weekend together, which culminated in a meal in a private room of a plush restaurant. I remember sitting at the head of the table looking at all the women who had turned up for me, women from vastly different stages of my life, but still all there for me, I started crying and suddenly getting it… sort of. It’s taken me even longer since then to get my head around the whole Friendship thing.
Women are amazing creatures with the capacity to love, give and cherish like no other. But we can also be unbearably cruel and unkind to one another. We can be cold, vengeful and bitter, especially when we are hurt. We are the BEST at communicating and also the WORST. One thing I find especially challenging as a woman is the documenting of our friendships on social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as guilty as the next person for declaring my love for my friends in the public forum (take this blog for example!). But frequently I find myself bombarded with images of women, idyllic in their embraces of one another with an invisible statement overhead saying “LOOK at how close we are!” As if they/we need the world to acknowledge that they/we are worthy of Friendship. I often find myself feeling regretful that I don’t have more recent pictures of me and my friends. But the truth is, we don’t need it.
I don’t mean to sound condescending. I’m challenging myself if anything! I’m probably worst for posting couple selfies of my husband and I, which equally would be perceived as flaunting our marital bliss in the public eye. That isn’t our intention and equally I’m sure most women don’t have the intention of pushing their friendship agenda into the public forum. I suppose, personally, it aggravates my demons and brings out the little girl in me, wondering why she’s not worthy of the Best Friend status and whether I am being the Best friend I can possibly be.
In a roundabout way (as ever) I’m trying to explain that there have been a few women whose friendships have not been dependant on selfies, time, nights out, big displays of affection, years and years of service (although some of them have done that) and me being the Best I can possibly be, and to whom I am deeply thankful to for the simplest form of friendship. These include my mother and my mother-in-law. I don’t have any recent selfies with any of them, if any pictures at all. We don’t do big nights out and don’t even see each other regularly. But the simplicity of these friendships has supported me in a way I’m not sure even they know about and has taught me how to be a real friend. I have been such a cock-up as a friend; similarly to when I was a fledgling teacher, I have tried too hard to be someone I thought I was expected to be and failed miserably. I’ve been flakey, downright rude, thoughtless and haphazard to say the least. And when people turned against me I couldn’t understand why. I’ve also realised that a key part of Friendship is forgiveness. We hurt and are hurt in return. I am eternally grateful for the patience and forgiveness of my bracelet ladies, and beyond, for teaching me how simple Friendship is. It’s not a big deal. It’s just a lot of little (important) things.
How to Make A Trinket Bracelet
You will need:
- A length of wire thread, approximately twice the circumference of your wrist
- A selection of beads (I used mostly very small generic glass beads, interspersed with a few larger ones – see pictured below)
- A bracelet/necklace fastening
I found all of the above materials in the Arts and Crafts department of a local Garden Centre, in High Legh, Cheshire.
- Cut your length of thread then secure a double knot at the end, leaving a short enough length to attach to your fastening.
- Carefully thread your beads onto the wire one by one. This can be time consuming and fiddly but if you’re making for someone specifically it’s nice to consider which colours, shapes and sizes they would like.
- TIP: keep checking the length whilst you are beading to check you’re not going to run out of beads and end up too short, or get carried away (like me) and end up too long.
- Once you’re happy with the length take half of your fastening and thread to the end of your last bead. I suggest doing this rather than tying a knot in the end as it can be difficult to get the knot as close to the last bead as possible, leaving the bracelet loose and beads rattling around. If you hold the fastening securely to the last bead and secure with a knot you should avoid this problem.
- Then attach the other half of your fastening to the short length you left at the beginning. I suggest just a couple of knots pulled very tightly.
- Clip your thread ends as close as possible so that there are no snaggles.
- Admire your handiwork.
This really is very simple and self-explanatory. The creativity is in the personalized selection of beads.