Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Saturday, November 19, 2011

When Friends Become Family

Families are like potlucks. We partake of whatever’s there. Some dishes we love and want more helpings, and others we take with a grain of salt or test a spoonful at a time. A few dishes, we may have sampled before and know that they are not to our particular taste so we leave them alone.

Gene & Elaine
The Women of Substance

Friends are different. Circumstances or the Universe bring us together, and before we know it, those folks have a home in our hearts. Often it happens when we’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, like I was when I ran into Elaine and Gene in Rooster’s, a little coffee shop in Medford, Oregon. Or, when I met those seven extraordinary women by merely walking into Counseling 101 at Cal State Bakersfield back in 1995.

After the initial contact, some of those friends draw even closer; they become like family. Unlike the days when people stayed put, biological families are often spread out across the country or the globe.  We’ve begun to enfold the folks whose lives intersect with ours on a regular basis, and regard them as family.
They become our “Family of Choice.”

The mutual love, respect, and caring that bind families of choice are every bit as present and strong as our best relationships with the family into which we were born. We are there to support and help in times of trouble and to celebrate the moments of joy. 

Sometimes it’s day-to-day contact. We’re helping each other with child-care, making a dinner to share, running an errand, working together on a project, or otherwise checking in. When miles separate us, the warm feeling we have from understanding our special relationship as part of each others’ family of choice lifts our spirits.

These past few years, I’ve been proud and grateful to witness and take part in countless examples of families of choice in action. I’ve seen friends take on the roles of sisters, brothers, parents, and kids, many handling responsibilities that had traditionally been up to family members.

It was the set of friends, the family of choice, who sat with one of my former colleagues in the hospital as she transitioned during her last hour of life when there was no way that her out-of-state siblings could get there.
Karen, Marilyn, Mary, and Annie
My Coos Bay, Oregon, family of choice cheered and celebrated with me and for me when my story in Chicken Soup for the Soul was published last summer. Two of them, Karen and Marilyn, were the catalysts for the gratifying book signing event that occurred there.

And, I can never adequately express my appreciation to “Mom Jane,” a retired nurse in Chapel Hill, NC, who accompanied my daughter Asila to numerous medical appointments. When we talk about Asila, we refer to her as “our daughter.”
As human beings, we have an innate need for love and belonging. Being part of a family unit is a prime factor in fulfilling that need, no matter the unit’s origin. Blood may be thicker than water, but it’s also friends who’ve become family who add depth, happiness, and richness to our lives.
Who are some of the people who are part of your family of choice?
~ xoA ~


  1. Last spring, when I walked into the journal writing class intending to enhance my journaling experience, I had no idea that the Universe intended to bring us together in such an easy, natural, and meaningful way. The right place at the right time. In a very short time, you've found a home in my heart in addition to becoming my book-end buddy. My life is richer because you are a part of my family of choice.



  2. Isn't it grand, Dennis?! And, it feels like we've known each other for years. Thanks for showing up to my life! ~xoA

  3. Annis, of course you are in my family of choice! Even though we rarely see each other in person, all I have to do is conjure up an image of you and there you are in my heart!

    I also count Carda in my family as well as the Soul Sisters of Ruth's Book Group, and my own Tribe I've created up here in the Bay.

  4. The feeling is mutual, Bobbi! Across time and space, our family of choice is with us. Thank you, dear one. ~xoA

  5. There is NOTHING like a Sister and with that being said there is NOTHING like a Family of Choice when your sister is 3,000 miles away. I don't know what Don and I would have done these past few months, especially,if it weren't for the LOVE, SUPPORT, and FRIENDSHIP of the fine people I consider my family of choice here in Michigan!

  6. And, knowing that you do have this wonderful Family of Choice makes it much easier to be 3,000 miles away. Love you, my Sister. ~xoA

  7. Celeste ~ Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Happy Thanksgiving. ~xoA