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  • Tina

Don't Limit Yourself




Happy Monday, dear reader. It is a cold one here in Western Pennsylvania. For the past several months, I have been spending my Monday evenings with my friend, Jenna.

I look forward to what I call “Jenna Time.” Although Jenna is twenty-eight years my junior, she has become one of my dearest friends. One would not think people with such a large age span could be friends, but I genuinely enjoy hanging out with her.


One would think a twenty-two-year-old woman would be doing, I don’t know, young people things. Do we go bar-hopping on Monday nights? No, my bar-hopping days are so far behind me. Rather than drink ourselves into a stupor, dance away the night, and flirt with people of interest, we paint. Paint, as in cool trendy things like “paint and sips?” No. We are cooler than that. We paint ceramics. Yes, you read that correctly, dear reader. I paint ceramics with my friend Jenna every Monday night.


Jenna and The Bibbed Wonder share very similar personality traits. They are both hilarious, inappropriate, intelligent, hardworking, and have unique interests. Like The Bibbed Wonder, I don’t believe there is anything Jenna can’t do. Also, like The Bibbed Wonder, Jenna is an old soul. Her interests range from cooking, crafting, ceramics, knitting, and embroidering to raising pigs, sheep, donkeys, and dogs. Is it really any wonder I enjoy spending time with her?


One lesson I have learned in my fifty years is that friendship knows no boundaries. A friend is a friend despite age, economic status, education, religion, or political beliefs. I have friends in their early twenties and friends in their late seventies. I have friends who are doctors and those who did not finish high school. I have friends who are republicans and some who are democrats. I have friends who are devout Christians and friends who are proclaimed atheists. My belief is this; it’s not my place to judge. If someone accepts me for all my flaws, shortcomings, and odd quirks and still sees good in me, I can do the same; why should we not be friends?


Having friends with various backgrounds who seem to share nothing in common continues to open my eyes to new ideas, thought processes, opinions, and experiences. I believe it makes life more interesting to surround myself with people who may not think like me, but they get me. Life would be disappointingly dull if we all thought the same way, had the same views and had similar experiences. The people in my circle keep me connected and make me grow.


Jenna teaches me new things about myself. She introduces me to sides of myself I haven’t recognized. She takes me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to new activities, like painting ceramics. She also indulges my odd whims, like learning to play the hand bells and lying on the driveway looking for shooting stars. I enjoy my friend. I don’t think of her as my twenty-something friend. I just think of her as my friend, Jenna.


The thing about my friends is that they might begin as my friend, but they soon become friends with my bean and The Bibbed Wonder too. Jenna is a hot commodity in the Smay household. Jordan and Eric both jockey for “Jenna Time.” Jordan especially views Jenna as the older sister she never had but didn’t know she wanted. Jenna takes my bean under her wing and hangs out with her one-on-one. They do things like see movies I probably would disapprove of, shop at T.J. Maxx, work on homework and act like goobers. Jenna is a good influence on Jordan and an amazing role model.


Eric and Jenna talk farm talk. They discuss animals, breeding programs, illnesses, and farming techniques. They also talk about business, sharing ideas, and technology. It’s not all professionally driven; there are many laughs and rude jokes made…often at my expense. They are two peas in a pod. I tell people Jenna is Eric with a vagina. The Bean hates it when I use the word vagina. Of course, this only makes me work it into more sentences. However, I digress. Jenna and Eric share a love of farming, a strong work ethic, and similar views on life. They make me shake my head a lot.


I guess the point of my blog post today is that if I judged people, bought into social norms, and followed societal beliefs on age and friendship, I would miss out on many wonderful people. I’m grateful for the good people in my life and appreciate what they bring to my world. Do I agree with everyone on everything? No, but I appreciate their viewpoint and their opinions. Most importantly, I respect the journey that got them to where they are and built those opinions. Don’t limit yourself to age, ideals, or beliefs. We might not see eye to eye on things but seeing different perspectives opens our minds and our worlds. We may also learn a little something about ourselves along the way. It’s a good thing.


On this frigid November Monday, stay safe, be smart, and keep an open mind; it will introduce you to great things, like painting ceramics and keep washing your hands.

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