An Ode to Friendship and the importance of our Tribe

Last week, I used this space to write about gratitude. One of the things that I am most thankful for in this life are the friends and family who make up my tribe. The pandemic has heightened my sense of gratitude and appreciation for the people that make up my tribe. Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets, once said, “Give me the sorrow of the entire world, and I will turn it into hope.” I am more cognizant than ever what it means physically be in someone’s presence, to go to brunch or to have a friend reunion, or the beauty in a deep hug! We are taking on the sorrows of the world, but when we are loved well by those around us, even at a distance, we do not lose our sense of hope.

So who is your tribe and how do you find them? Jennifer Pastiloff wrote this amazing quote, “Find your tribe. You know, the ones that make you feel the most YOU. The ones that life you up and help you remember who you really are. The ones that remind you that a blip in the road is just that, a blip. They are the ones that when you walk out of a room, they make you feel like a better person than when you walked in. They are the ones that, even if you don’t see them face to face as often as you would like, You see them Heart to Heart. You know that kind of tribe.” I love this quote and I picture the faces of the people who make me feel that way each time I read it. This week on my YouTube channel, I talk more about this topic. You can find the video here: https://youtu.be/9N1MXiNrN_Q

Last week, marked my 20-year friend anniversary with a few of my friends from university. I remember especially that my friend Nancy and I sat right next to each other in student orientation. She introduced herself to me first, because that is the kind of person that Nancy is—caring, compassionate, empathetic, and loving. There isn’t someone out there who is a stranger to her, just someone who is yet to be a friend. We realized that we were registering for some of the same classes—a 6 credit intensive Japanese language class, and Political Science. This was interesting, a Hmong young woman from Eau Claire, WI, and me a Jamaican born, Wisconsin bred young lady coming from Milwaukee. We looked at each other quizzically but like two old friends finding each other again, and that was the beginning of our friendship.

Nancy and the Sunflower Field

This led to friendships with Richmond, Jess, Julia, Melody, and David. So many of my college experiences stemmed from that one meeting. Nancy and I also lived in some of the same places, and during one of the most painful times in my life, she called me and said, “Meet me at the sunflower field.” I could not even talk, tears lived in my throat. But when I saw her, she brought me lunch—all of my friends know that I am no good when I am hungry lol! She reminded me of things that we had already survived in life, and helped anchor me to a hopeful future moment. She could see a brighter future for me when I could not even see if for myself. This is just one example of the people who are in my tribe. 

My cousin Latoya allowed me to come and visit her in Bermuda once when I needed some deep heart healing. She cooked for me, made me take walks—on one walk up a rather brutal hill, she gave me a flower to hold—a frangipani. She said when I felt like giving up to smell the flower and be hopeful. She took me swimming, and took me out to dance. She tried to make me do yoga. I have heard it said that in some indigenous tribes, when you go to the healer, they say, “when did you stop dancing, when did you stop laughing?” It is true… movement and nature are master healers.

Frangipani

I also think of Melody, mi hermana mayor, who among other things traveled with me across Spain, and who has taught me incredible lessons of friendship, finances, and what it means to show up. She has literally flown across the country to spend my birthday with me, and regularly sends me cute things in the mail that makes my heart smile. 

Desi, who trained me at work, but also loves me like her own family and vice versa, she has taught me the importance of not dimming my shine for anybody. 

The Rishis, not just Mr. Rishi but his whole family, who helped and encouraged my spiritual life. 

Caria, who taught me to see the magic in the world and flow with it… 

And I could list so many of my dear dear friends… The Richmonds, the Dereks, the Shawns, the Camillas, the Katrinas, the Stephanies, the Tiffanys, the Bibis, the Teres, the Z’s and so many more of you brilliant, wonderful people. If you are reading this any of you, please know how much your presence in my life means to me.

My mom and family are also my friends. Having a stellium of planets in my fourth house of family indicates good relationships with my family, and I am fortunate in that sense. My mom is a good travel partner and a good person to tell the things that are going on in my life for true Virgoan commentary. My aunt has also always shown up for me, since before I was born she knew me, and I know she has always supported me. 

My younger sisters offer age-old wisdom that is beyond their time.

My love offers his support, affections, and kindness. 

My tribe is amazing.

Recently, I had the honor of speaking with one of my favorite astrologers in the world—Gregory Scott. One of the things that we talked about was how my natal chart revealed the importance to me of relationships—not just romantic ones, but all kinds. In fact, I am often the person who tries to make them work, and in the past, I have often put others and these relationships before myself. Sometimes I did not know when to let go of toxic friendships and situations. I learned a lot from these situations though, so there are no regrets. Based on the placement of what are known as the North and South nodes in a natal chart, one of my lessons in this lifetime is to learn how to put myself first, and how to take care of me. Keeping in mind that relationships are important to me, one way that I can take care of myself is actually by nurturing and investing in healthy relationships, and by creating healthy boundaries in all areas of my life.

Healthy boundaries = happy me

One of the most important lessons that I have learned especially within the last several years of my life is that we have to learn what healthy relationships look like. For me, this looks like love, caring, compassion, respect, trust, honesty, independence, freedom, peace, and understanding. Our tribe helps us to make life more meaningful, to provide support in many different forms, and to feel love. There is scientific evidence that healthy relationships help in many ways with things like a longer lifespan, and improved mental and physical health.  What do healthy friendships look like for you? Are you able to recognize the signs of a toxic friendship? 

In addition to learning what healthy relationships look like, we must also learn when a relationship has run its course, and how to let go of toxic friendships and situations. Everyone can have a bad day, but with toxic friendships a bad day turns into a bad week, month, year, and so on; they form a pattern in which you are left feeling drained, with lower self-esteem, anxious, and unsettled. These kinds of friendships can also teach you bad habits, and potentially create a situation in which either you believe that all friendships should be like this or you give up on wanting to have healthy friendships. Please don’t give up on good friendships!

A few years ago, I learned some important lessons from dealing with a casebook narcissist. There is no need to delve further into that than to say that sometimes when you think you are going crazy, you just need to take stock of who and what you have let in your life. It is never too late, and never wrong to cut off things and people that blot out the light of your soul. 

We must learn how to trust our inner guidance and intuition when it comes to people. Often times we start hanging out with someone and they leave us feeling drained or we get the sense that if we hang out with them long enough, we might find ourselves in situations that we don’t want to be in. The famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five friends that we spend the most time with. Most of us have also heard the quotes, “birds of a feather flock together,” and “iron sharpens irons.” These are all really just telling us that who we have around us matters. It matters because the people that we choose to allow into our lives do influence us and have an impact on our lives and our thinking. Human beings are inherently social creatures, and we want to feel like we have a place and a space to belong. We want to be a part of a tribe. I encourage you to find friends from all walks of life, and of all ages. Your worldview will expand tremendously, and you will learn a lot. Not just empathy, but how to understand where someone else is coming from and why they do the things they do. I have friends in their 80s, all the way down to little kids including my 11-year-old sister. I have learned so much from people of every age. Wisdom is ageless and timeless.  

It also matters when these people show us who they are. Maya Angelou said, “when people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Oprah added to that saying, “Remember this because it will happen many times in your life. When people show you who they are the first time believe them. Not the 29th. time. When a man doesn’t call you back the first time, when you are mistreated the first time, when someone shows you lack of integrity or dishonesty the first time, know that this will be followed many many other times, that will some point in life come back to haunt or hurt you. Live your life in truth. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You will survive anything if you live your life from the point of view of truth.” When you find yourself in a place you don’t belong, with a tribe of people that aren’t your own, you can feel completely out of sorts.

The point of all this is that when you find the people who sing to your soul, and who massage your spirit with joy and love, that you have found your tribe. These people might not be even your own family, or a lot of the people that you know, but metaphorically speaking you are all swans. You will know when you find them by the way they speak directly to your heart, and make space for you to feel ok with being who you are. And it doesn’t have to be a lot of people. Some people only need 1 or 2 good friends in their life, and some people have many people in their tribe. You decide what is best for you.
I am personally thankful for the people in my own life that I can call my tribe of friends and family. These are the people that laugh with me, provide a shoulder for my tears, help me to coax away my fears, remind me to reach for hope and my dreams, show me the magic in life. They show up for me, they hold space for me, and they allow me to do the same for them without violating my trust or taking me for granted. I feel their love supreme, and I hope that I offer a similar feeling for them as well.
I am thankful because I have friends from each chapter and phase of my life, and they matter very much to me. Even if I don’t see them every day or talk to them every day, they reside in my heart space. A very big thank you to my tribe, thank you for helping to enrich my life, and for loving me as I am. I appreciate you in ways that you might never even know.
As you are working on ways to live your best life, I urge you to consider what healthy relationships look like for you. In the realm of friendship what does this mean. Are you also a good friend? Do you extend the qualities to others that you are looking for? I pray that you do find good people to surround yourself with, and I hope that you feel inspired and loved, and that you continue to live your best life. No jealousies, no unnecessary drama, no untrustworthiness, just real, genuine and authentic relationships. Let me know if you have found your tribe! May the stars shine brightly over your week!

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