I admit I’m always looking for a reason to celebrate and National Make a Friend Day is a fine excuse. “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold,” is all I remember of the childhood song from Girl Scouts but during February, it is the perfect instruction for a richer life.

I was taught if I wanted to have a friend, I had to show myself friendly and today that advice is more powerful than ever. During this pandemic making new friends is a little more difficult than when we could move around freely but never has having/making a friend been more important.

I love the news stories about unlikely friendships of children next door reaching out to older neighbors and helping them with chores or the ones about doctors, nurses, and others who’ve had to take a more involved role with their patients who are suffering alone.

Reaching out and making new friends is a precious opportunity we get as humans. Friends make life richer and fuller and they can open a world of new experiences. We love our “ride or die” friends, those folks who never tell our secrets and always-always tell us the truth, whether we want to hear it or not, but sometimes we’re not as open to welcome new people, especially if they’re different.

The elements that tie us to our friends are caring, sacrifice, mutual respect, and trust, and all four take time to develop with new acquaintances but the effort we make to form new friendships is worth the effort. My parents were right—everybody is not your friend, and I know now there is a huge difference between friends, acquaintances, and colleagues.

It takes a minute or two to distinguish which one is which, but I pray you will cherish and be in touch with your friends of long standing (I was about to call them old, but I decided on this politically correct term) and when an opportunity presents itself, make a few new ones.

Every February we celebrate heart month which inevitably leads to a conversation about Valentine’s Day. If you’ve been blessed to have all the family and friends you had last year, give thanks and understand how rare you are. With so much death, destruction, and chaos from the pandemic and just plain ol’ living, holidays like Valentine’s Day can be painful. Probably not a day goes by when our loved ones don’t notice the empty chairs or spaces, but when everyone else is celebrating with flowers, candy, or love reminders, the losses may be overwhelming.

This year be as happy as you can but take a minute and send a note or call someone whose world has been affected by the death of a spouse, parent(s), child, best friend, or other loved ones.  Share your favorite memories and let them know you care.

February is also the perfect time to start taking better care of your heart. We have two kidneys and doubles of a few other things, but only one heart. Your amazing heart is the engine that makes everything possible. Your heartbeat makes beautiful music, and each beat is another opportunity to be alive, to get it right, to make a difference, and to make the world a kinder, gentler place. Listen to your heart and may you be blessed with friends all the days of your life.

*February 11 is the official day but heck, every day offers a chance to meet a new best friend.

How do you manage to be/ stay in touch with your precious bunch?  Share your experience and thoughts, with me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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