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Vriendschap (Friendship)

Tulip Tango

Tulip Tango in the Garden of Beauty

You’ll notice I’m a little behind. The Day 16 prompt (from Martha Mihalick) for the Reverb10 daily challenge reads:

Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual or a sudden burst?

This post is coming two days late, in large part because I really had to ponder which friend (and their impact on my perspective) to choose. It was a tight race, but in the end I went with this:

The friendship of my Dutch friend Katja, whom I wrote about in this earlier post, has been the most transformative during the past year.

How, you ask, has she changed me AND my perspective on the world? Oh let me count the ways…

She offered me a jogging partner and Dutch-speaking practice partner at a time when I needed both. (And still do!) Our forays through the nearby parks were peppered with conversations about what we each did the previous weekend, what was going on in our work lives, interesting places to visit in the Netherlands, a peek into Dutch life.

As a result, my conversational Dutch has improved. That has carried over into a greater confidence and willingness to try speaking Dutch elsewhere. We also ran a 5k race together in May – her first (and my first in several years).

Katja’s impact on my decision this year to change direction and commit myself to writing through a variety of different projects is profound. She is a very smart woman, savvy about business but also about motivation and challenge and personal growth.

Despite being different nationalities and cultures (with the attendant differences in background), she always has amazingly insightful comments and questions about what I’m doing, or what I might consider doing, and why or why not.

No matter what issue I’m currently grappling with, time spent jogging (or more recently walking due to the cold weather and snow) with her has always cleared my head.

The way ahead becomes apparent. And I’m energized to get going. I can only hope that I do the same for her.

Most of all, she has offered me friendship. She reminds me that friendship knows no borders or boundaries. And for that I am immensely grateful.

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