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Hello hello! 

Some weeks we have Beyonce gifs, some weeks we have sad cat/happy turtle memes. (Click to view images above if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Did anyone else have a perplexing week? It's Saturday afternoon, I'm wearing pajama pants and eating old jelly beans while writing this, and perplexing is the best word I can come up with right now.

When I was in college, I had a hard time making friends. I met wonderful people in my dorm who I became close (and later roommates) with, and we were great friends. But they all had their own schedules, and expanding beyond that small handful of people was rough. In the latter half of college, I felt lonely a lot — until I joined the crew team. 

Waking up before the crack of dawn to go exercise in an old boat on a grossly polluted river together was an extreme opportunity for finding friends. But it was the bus rides to and from practice, the road trips to regattas, the pasta parties before competitions and the non-pasta parties that brought us all closer together. Environments like those don't often exist outside a school structure, but luckily the friendships can.

So back to the perplexing part of this week: long story short, a very close friend of a very close friend (both whom I met through the crew team) experienced a mental health emergency and became hospitalized through a sensitive situation that has since drawn a lot of unwanted attention. We're in different cities now, but it's reminded me of the strength of friendship, in the best of times and the worst of times. Sometimes we're the sad cat among our friends and sometimes we're the happy turtle for them. But what matters is that we're there, in whatever form (or animal) possible.

I finally had a chance to talk on the phone with my close friend at the end of the week. We spoke at some points and sat in silence at others as she was simultaneously stress-repairing a bike. And I still want to send her a zillion virtual hugs, but proofreading her thesis and sending supportive animal memes will have to do, as I know she'd do for me.

So does this week's Sown have a particular topic? Probably not. But this is a note to each and every one of you to let you know if you want to chat, you have someone here.

Go sow: Challenge for the week. 

We all have cats and turtles in us (and I promise, I'm ending this analogy soon). How can you be a turtle for someone else this week? Or who haven't you heard from lately?

Send them your favorite meme, or give an in-person hug if you can. Here's my hug for you: 
Write back and let me know how it goes! And add these to your friendship toolkit:
  • How long does it take to make a friend — no, really? "Time spent talking didn’t make people particularly closer, but chatting was better when they were striving to make a connection — catching up with their friends, asking them how their day was going and joking around. Small talk, on the other hand, seemed to be the enemy of friendship — people who talked about mundane topics become less close over time."
  • Here's the tool the researcher from the above study used to determine friendship levels. Give it a whirl!
  • Why sharing your personal story can offer real health benefits: Ashley's Skip the Small Talk movement from a few newsletters ago highlighted this finding as well, but here's a writeup about how human vulnerability has brought us to a golden storytelling age.
  • Why you need self-compassion in your life and how to do it (even if you don't want to): Oh hey, here's Ashley! "Talk to yourself the way you would to a friend. Think about someone in your life whose mistakes you’re generally willing to forgive or overlook. Once you think of someone, imagine what you’d say to them if they were in whatever position you were in right now. We’re often kinder to others than we are to ourselves, so taking a step back and seeing yourself as if you were someone else can help you treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated."
  • Take control by starting your own thing: How women are tackling confusion in the journalism industry by building their own ventures for strengthening humanity. Okay, maybe that's strongly worded, but their words of wisdom are worth a peruse for those in journalism and beyond.
  • A friendship forged in disagreement: One wants better gun control, one supports the NRA. (It's okay if you gulp.) 
  • The fine art of friendship and re-re-re-learning how to make time for it: "My brain was screaming half a dozen reasons why I shouldn’t go, but my mouse-clicker finger was acting otherwise and a few minutes later, I was fiscally committed to paint a faux-Monet while sipping wine with my friends."

Grow the Sow.

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