Finding Friends in the Produce Department (and Other Healthy Options)

I consider myself to be an intuitive person. I am not naive, though I would not go so far as to say I am jaded either. I am vigilant about being aware of my surroundings, and I listen to my inner self when there are any signs of danger. More often that not my initial impressions of people prove to be true. The one area where I have not always followed my intuition has been in the choosing of friends. There have been some missteps along the way. There have been people allowed in who have proven untrustworthy. There were those who played the game when they needed or wanted something from me, when I could provide some benefit to them. There have been some one-sided relationships, decidedly unbalanced and not in my favor. I don’t regret these faux friendships as they have taught me valuable lessons, albeit at times in a most painful way. They have given me one priceless gift, though, and that is the gift of appreciation for my true friends.

As I grow older I am gaining a new level of insight into the type of people I want in my life. While I have a fair-sized number of acquaintances, I keep a small circle of friends. These are the true friends who share in the “real” of my life, the deep down not for publication stuff (ok, not that there is a ton of that, we all know I am an open book). I have set criteria I now use when developing and maintaining friendships. As I first typed that last sentence I thought, “Who are you to set criteria for anyone?” To which I answer, “I am me, that’s who! My life, my friends, my criteria, and they all know to expect no less from me than I ask from them.” So here are a few simple guidelines I use for the “friendship test”:

Find friends in the produce section of the market. No, I’m not suggesting that you try to buy friends, or that you stalk strangers at the grocery store (but do be open to striking up a conversation as you may just find your newest friend). We know that foods that come straight from nature are the healthiest and are best for our bodies. We know that nature itself can do wonders for filling our souls. It stands to reason, then, that we need to extend that thinking out to who we choose to have nearest to us. I opt for friends who are natural- those with no artificial sweeteners and no toxic chemical additives. The people who have brought the most to my life bring with them no pretensions. They are who they are, and they don’t hide behind masks. They tell me the truth even when it doesn’t jibe with what I may want to hear. Surround yourself with these “organic” people and you have a jump start on healthy living for the soul.

Choose "healthy" friends as you would choose healthy foods

Choose “healthy” friends as you would choose healthy foods

Look for friends at the local animal shelter or humane society. This one I mean both literally and figuratively. Adopting an animal from a shelter is one of the most rewarding things you can do, and you will gain a lifelong friend and companion. Animals are inherently loyal, and this happens to be the most important quality I look for in people as well. Along this line, choose friends who do not give you reason to question their trustworthiness. Invest in friendships based on loyalty and love. Just as your cat or dog loves you when you are at your ugliest, your saddest, your lowest, your most anxious and afraid, or your sickest…so should your friends. These are the peeps who cannot be scared away, and just as they are there for the ups so will they stick around for the downs.

Seek friendship in those who have long since left high school behind. (For any younger readers I understand this may not apply to you in the literal sense). What I am saying here is that I choose to maintain friendships that are relatively drama-free. We all have intense stuff that happens in our lives in the form of break-ups, divorce, illness, death, etc. By no means am I advocating jumping ship on your friends in their times of need. I certainly expect my friends to be around when I need to vent, cry, throw things, or eat a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream, and I expect myself to be front and center when I am needed most. What I do mean is that I steer clear of relationships with people who create drama, those who thrive on it. If the only purpose I serve as your friend is the sit listening for hours to the most recent round of boyfriend crisis only to be set aside when said crisis is averted, then it becomes painfully obvious that we need to part ways. If you are the first to jump into the fray, the first to get involved in someone else’s family/ spouse/ friend dramas, the first to stir whatever is simmering in the pot, then we are not meant to hang together. The reason my husband is also my best friend is because we have set up a drama-free zone in our home. So please, save the drama for your mama, and let’s enjoy our time together!

Always opt for the variety pack. These days I feel that I am beyond blessed with the friends that fill my space. They have different personalities and varied interests, but they all share at least a few things in common. They are the quirky ones, the misfits, the hipper-than-I’ll-ever-be, the funny, the fun-loving, the loving, the honest, the loyal, and the supportive. They all bring an immeasurable joy to my life. They have all taught me how to be a better person. They are the ones who make me laugh until I cry, and the ones who let me cry until I laugh. They are the people who I cannot imagine a life without. They are my friends. They are you. Cheers! Karen

“And I thank the Lord for the people I have found,

I thank the Lord for the people I have found.” 

(from Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, lyrics by Bernie Taupin, performed by Sir Elton John)

As always I welcome your thoughts and conversation. What traits to you look for in your friends? What is most important to you in forming a lasting friendship?


31 thoughts on “Finding Friends in the Produce Department (and Other Healthy Options)

  1. Love the drama free zone! We have that in our house as well which is why I think some of our friends that are high drama like to come over to chill. They know they can have fun in a relaxed ‘drama free zone’ and they can simmer down a bit. We don’t encourage the drama.
    Honestly my best of friends don’t live close by but I treasure every moment we have had together. They are the ones that when we do get together it’s like a day hasn’t even passed and we are there for each other ALL the time just not physically. We can count on each other and have mutual respect. That’s what I enjoy in my closest friends.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I loved this! Very helpful because in college I’m always evaluating (almost daily) who my friends are. Maybe I’m a cynic but I’m getting to a point where I use the word “friend” selectively. There are people at school who I enjoy being around but would they really have my back if I needed them? Could I call or text and get a response or would they be like “Eh, it’s just Kaiti”? As far as friends go, I’m like you. My boyfriend is my best friend! He’s the one I can always depend on for a laugh or a huge hug because he genuinely loves me. I also have a friend who’s a young mom in college AND working who I almost never see but she’s still my best friend because her trustworthiness has never been doubted, she always tells me the truth (good and ugly), and I just love her socks off. Great article. Love the parallel of shopping for the people in our lives because we only get so many choices so we better make good ones!

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    • Thank you for reading and commenting! You have reminded me of a little quote that I saw and loved- “Be careful who you call your friends. I’d rather have 4 quarters than a 100 pennies.” Those 4 quarters are the ones you can count on to show up at 3:00 am! 🙂

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  3. I love the way you have written this Karen. It is so original, and so true! The part where you mentioned that friends should ‘make you laugh until you cry’ and ‘let you cry until you laugh just abbout sums it up for me too, Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed reading it.

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  4. I definitely agree with the no-drama zone! I have had those friends that just create drama wherever they do. They seem to feed on it and it’s jut exhausting. I ended up making myself a really boring sounding board by not offering more than hmmm? and oh right‘s. Too boring for gossip and drama, I’m happy with that!

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  5. This is a WONDERFUL list. I very much like your ideas of looking for people/friends in the places that hold some value for you yourself instead of just letting circumstances dictate you into chance meetings that aren’t always what they seem to be in the beginning. As for the “ones that have left high school behind”…Yes, that one is probably first on my list followed closely by the “variety pack” philosophy. Very sound advice!

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  6. You certainly have good advice! I enjoyed reading your blog. The older I get, the more I have found myself reviewing who I call friend and who really are just using me for whatever their purpose is, and who are nothing more than barely an acquaintance. I have some old friends that will always be the best friends I have, even if we don’t see or talk to one another but a few times a year. Yet I find myself wondering how good a friend I am to my newer friends, the select few that they are. The acquaintances just don’t fit into the realm. On another note, I have no problem striking up a conversation with just about anyone! 😄 Now all I have to do is look for the healthy ones without a ton of drama! Thank God for my home and husband where drama is always at a minimum!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely post, Karen! I enjoyed reading it and thinking about the qualities I value in my present and future friendships. And I think support and belief in me and my dreams would be on the top of the list. I left the corporate world few years ago and entered a new world of creativity, arts and entrepreneurship. It is a very beautiful world, but at the same time the road is risky and very few of my friends seem to see the world the way I see it and approve my decisions. I think it’s very important to support each other in any relationship instead of trying to talk him/her out of his dreams and plans, even if you are scared for that person and do this out of caring for him/her. That’s the trait I’m looking for in my friends and that’s what I always strive to show them – continuous support even with most bizarre ideas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I agree! As long as you aren’t putting yourself in danger or making a terrible relationship decision I think you should have the full support of your friends! I left the corporate world recently myself, so I can relate to your journey. And it gives me hope that there are other like-minded people who have chosen the same path. Best of luck to you on your endeavors! Karen 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Karen, I’ve had the worst luck when reading your posts recently! I’ll read it and then plan to comment and then something crazy will happen with my boy, and I don’t get to comment. SO, all of that is to say–I’m so glad I remembered to come back and tell you how much I liked your post! It is so wise and intriguing! I love how you put it all together. I love your suggestions too–I feel like the most satisfying and wonderful friendships are those who are just themselves, who are okay with sharing who they really are, as well as being drama free. Thank you for this post 🙂


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