One of my favorite aunts once shared that by the time we are adults, we are lucky to have 2-3 people in our life who we can truly call “friend.” While my definition of what a friend is and the size of my circle have shifted drastically as I have matured, I can also say that I only partially agree with my aunt. Yes, there are only 2-3 people in my life who I truly trust with ANYTHING – we can and often do talk about a myriad of topics with no hesitation; I feel completely comfortable around them and know that they have my back; we have a relationship that’s mutually beneficial and the rewards far exceed any minute moments of tension or disagreement. But when I think about the wide range of people who I share common interests with, who are passionate about even a single topic that I am also passionate about, who I know to call on when there is a specific challenge, issue, accomplishment, defeat, struggle … I am reminded that these people are also my friends.

As I consider the village (literally)  that it has taken and continues to take for me to thrive on a day to day basis, I’d be remiss if I only limited my circle to women and men who I consider close, intimate friends. On the contrary, my village is comprised of current and former professors, classmates, high school associates, people I’ve met through another friend, colleagues, partners and spouses of friends and my peers. Perhaps we don’t talk every week or even every month – I only speak with some of them once a year or so – but I still consider them to be friends and they are just as integral to my ongoing development and livelihood.

Yesterday, I spent the day with the day with someone I met almost 20 years ago. Our friendship epitomizes everything I could ever want and need in a friend. He and I only speak once every few months and we try our best to see each other at least once a year. But there have been times when 3 or 4 years have passed without us seeing each other’s face. Like most friends, we’ve cried together, laughed together, celebrated together … we’ve retained boundaries that kept aspects of our personal lives off limits and then just when we thought there were no surprises, we experienced drastic changes in what and how we discuss matters of the heart. He feeds me in ways that few of my friends do – he fills my soul with such joy and light. We talk for hours without stopping and then wait for our next moment to do it all again. I am my complete self with him and I believe he is with me. He reminds me of how diverse my friends are and how necessary this diversity is.

As I sat with him on yesterday I was reminded that so much of who I am is because of the people I have chosen to surround myself with. I actively choose and I try my best to choose wisely. I love my friends and I pray that I give them just a much – if not more – than they give to me. No matter where they are or how often we speak, my birthday this year and every year is what it is because of the richness that they add to my life. Here is to all of you!!! #bdaycountdown