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Make New Friends. . . But Keep the Old

Family friends, childhood friends, school friends, work friends, they all come to us when we need them the most. Each person is placed in our path for a reason.

What I have discovered over the years is that our friends come to us in the most opportune times. Some are for a brief interlude when you are in the midst of an obstacle, a new job, training for a race, or a time when you have felt beaten down. Some friends stay with you for a lifetime.

Erin Iler reflects on friends over the decades.

If you haven’t had a chance to connect with your dear friend from school or a friend you had met in the mommy group when the kids were little, it’s okay. I used to beat myself up that I couldn’t cultivate all of these relationships at the same time. Lately, my nucleus includes a 1 block radius. I see my family, my mom, and I get a chance to talk to my neighbors along the block. It’s different than when I had my friends at work, or my friends that I studied with at school (almost 20 years ago!) I can’t believe that, but I have found the simple joy in getting to know some new people in my neighborhood that I would have never had a chance or time to get to know.

My daughter was singing the song the other day “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver, and the other is gold. . . “ This chant was sung around the campfire as early as the 1960's by the Girl Scouts. It encouraged young people to never abandon an old friend for the sake of a new one. We have made some incredible new friendships on this Iler Woods Journey and we have reignited old flames that have brought back so many amazing memories.

So, what do a 1934 Vintage Ford Truck, a beautifully scented candle, and a ball of yarn have in common in 2020? To me, it symbolizes new relationships.

Iler Girls find joy this holiday season.

On my daily walks, I have gone past this old truck for the past year. It moves from one side of the street to the other side during street sweeping day. I have looked at the wood railings, and the old tires, and I imagine a newsy boy jumping out of the passenger side to hand out newspapers. It is oozing with history and I have been admiring it for quite some time. When we asked the owners if we could take some photos next to the truck, they were surprised and offered to allow us to take pictures next to their other classic car that was completely restored. I quickly responded, “Thank you but this is the one that I truly love.”

Iler Woods appreciates Vintage Transportation

I think they were first surprised we wanted the truck that had seen quite a few days and wasn’t perfect. It was what I wanted my family to see- perfection is not what we are striving for, being present as a family and being completely committed to each other’s well being is our ultimate goal.

The owner went on to tell us that the truck delivered tires daily for many years, that is why the floorboards needed to be fixed due to the weight of the items.

Since then, we have had a chance to get to know our neighbors on an entirely new level by showing our appreciation for this amazing classic.

So, how does a candle spark a new friendship? Well, if you have ever smelled an Ellery Mae Candle, you know what love at first sight is! These candles are soy based, the ingredients are heavenly, and the scent can envelop an entire room. I met the owner about a year ago at a Vintage Fair. I was surprised when I met her, with her down to earth aura and her time to chat with a customer. Within five minutes, I got a chance to know her history of candle making and how she started her business. I was impressed by her ability to start a business out of her home.

Fast forward a year later, I had been thinking how I could capture a scent for Iler Woods. We talk about rustic living, simplicity, and holiday traditions quite a lot at the Iler home. Reaching out to the owner seemed out of my league for a new business owner. But to my surprise, she responded through social media and was quick to collaborate.

Iler Woods collaborates with Ellery Mae Candle Co.

I felt like it was Christmas morning! Not only was I excited that we would have a candle featured in our holiday shop, but it was the person behind the gift. Chatting with her, I felt like I had known her for quite some time. She wasn’t just a “shopping bag,” placing an impersonal online order. There were no pretenses, an honest conversation, and a genuine sentiment.

This new collaboration is beyond a candle, it is a human connection. There are some silver linings with the advanced technology we are using in 2020. I would not have had a chance to collaborate with a business in Arizona during a pandemic if it wasn’t for social media and email.

New hobbies, hidden talents, or suppressed passions have also emerged in this past year. A ball of yarn that my friend would have walked past in the Michaels aisle a year ago is now seen as a golden path. This friend was and is a completely talented teacher. However, with her distance learning teaching, she has found crocheting as her “Covid hobby!” In the holiday shop, you will have a chance to preview her winter wear collection, which are not only fashionable but super cozy!

With new friendships, it is important to not forget about our lifelong cheerleaders. These are the friends who have seen us through our darkest times, raw of make up, glasses, or photo shop. They have shared tears of joy and tears of sadness. They are the ones that you can call regardless of the time of day or night and who will drop everything in an instant. Those are the friends I don’t forget. . . they are the champions who have been there by our sides when maybe no one else has.

Friendship- we all need 1 or 2 in a lifetime.

Who is your new friend during this pandemic and who is your lifelong friend that you appreciate? For me, I have a few who come to mind. I continue to tell my daughters you only need a couple of solid friendships. My dear friends consist of family, they might not all be biologically related but they are the sisters I never had.

I invite you to take a moment and think of the one or two individuals who pop in your mind. I bet they are a phone call away, a text message away, or an email away. We might not be with them physically right now but I know my Top 5 are always in my mind cheering me on. The pep talks, the jokes, the hard but brutally honest conversations, they are ever present which helps me move forward daily.

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