January 24, 2023

"There is not enough celebration of companionship." - Francesca Annie

I LOVE DOGS! As a child, I grew up with them as pets. We had a german shepherd, doberman pinscher and an Affenpinscher named Gretta. All at different times, but they were a big part of my childhood. When I was 11 years old, Gretta was chased from my home by a cousin and I never saw here again. My heart was broken. I didn't want to experience that pain again so I didn't get another dog until I was grown and moved into my first home.

I knew I wanted a toy dog and I found someone whose dog had a litter of three (3) Yorkshire Terriers; 1 male and 2 female dogs. When I first laid eyes on Gigi, I knew I found my baby. She was 4 pounds of cuteness.

We had a good 16 1/2 years together before she crossed the rainbow bridge last year. (I can't believe I'm crying as I type this). Gigi was the BEST. DOG. EVER! She had been with me through some of my toughest times in life. She was there during both of my cancer journeys, when my dad and grandmother passed away, and during the pandemic when we were quarantined and stuck in the house together. She made life so much easier to tolerate and navigate. DOGS ARE THE BEST! In my opinion, they are greatest companions ever.

After my sweet Gigi passed away, my life was different. My house was quiet. My routines changed. My responsibilities changed. Getting another dog was out of the question because there would never be another Gigi. It would not be fair of me to get another dog and constantly compare them to her. It's still too soon. I'm still grieving.

Since Gigi's been gone, I've longed for something, anything to take care of, anything to nurture. Fortunately, my mom bought me a snake plant as an expression of her sympathy. She thought it would be a nice reminder of Gigi. I even put some of her ashes in the soil (don't judge me). This plant gave me somewhere to put my focus and something else to take care of. 🥰

I tend to do pretty well with plants. However, I'm much better as a gardener. I love getting my hands in the earth and growing vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers.

In the picture above, you can see my snake plants. Both pictures are of the same pot, just from different angles. The snake plant my mother gave me has yellow trim around the leaves. It is pretty healthy, although it's not growing as fast as I'd like. However, it's still alive. A win is a win.

What you may not see clearly is another snake plant in the same pot. If you look closer, you can see the variegated snake plant in front of the one with the yellow trim. It only has two leaves on it so far. That plant is a baby from my cousin's snake plant. Initially, I had planted it in a separate container. Then, the tall leaf started drooping and was leaning completely to the side, over the edge of the pot. At first, I was going to tie it to a stick but then I decided to put it in the same pot as the other snake plant. Instead of using a stick to support it, I let the drooping leaf lean against the leaf of the other plant.

I hadn't paid much attention to my plants this past week but when I happened to look at it today, I noticed something. The "drooping" leaf is now standing up straight, by itself. AND the other leaf is opening up. Whoo Hoo!

I was curious as to why this might've happened. As I searched online, I learned snake plants are known for thriving in tight spaces and tight-knit groups; they can even become root-bound if given too much room to grow. That information was fascinating to me.

I started thinking about the similarities between snake plants and human beings. Just like the snake plants thrive when they are in tight-knit community, so do humans. I know some people may not feel that way (yes, I'm talking about you, the introverts), but we are wired for connection, for companionship. From the time we come out of the womb, we seek a closeness with others.

Companionship is "a feeling of friendship or fellowship." It is extremely important for the emotional, mental and physical well-being.Human beings are inherently social creatures, and the need for companionship is deeply ingrained within us.

On the flip side, loneliness and isolation are growing concerns, especially among the elderly, because it takes a toll on health and well-being, including lower immune function, higher rates of anxiety and depression, suicidal ideation and thoughts, decreased cardiovascular health, and poor cognitive function over time.

We aren't meant to be alone at any age; we thrive in community. Companionship gives us a renewed sense of purpose, greater happiness, and a stronger support system.

WIth that being said, be intentional about establishing social connections with others. Here are some strategies to help you do that:

  • Hang out with like-minded people.Find people who share similar interests with you.
  • Have small talk with people. “Learn as many stories and as many names about as many people as possible because it would only make your world bigger and our world better.” - Benjamin Hart
  • Get a hobby.Find activities that are enjoyable to you.
  • Volunteer.
  • Get active. Go to the gym where others will be exercising, too.
  • Get a pet. You already know how I feel about dogs. But I'm assuming any other pet can work, too.
  • Get social online. Connect with people on social media or other online forums.
  • Say "YES."When you're presented with an opportunity to do something, just say, "YES."

Remember, companionship is life! It helps boost self-esteem, fulfill the need for belonging, and is a catalyst for personal growth. You will be better and as a result, the world will be better.

Thank you for reading my post. I don't take it lightly when people give their time to read what I have to say. I didn't know where I was going to go with this message. I just started writing what was on my heart after seeing my snake plants the same pot. With everything that I shared, I hope you get my point. We ALL need companionship. We need community to support us. TOGETHER, WE ARE STRONGER!

I was blessed to create some beautiful memories with my sweet dog, Gigi. During that time, I learned so many valuable (and meaningful) lessons from her. I can't wait to share them in a book one day. For now, I just have to figure out how to stop crying when I think or talk about her. 😢