I first met Joan Brock in 1998 on a long fight from Dallas to Singapore. We were both speaking at a conference there, and with 21 hours of flying time ahead of us, I had lots of time to get to know this amazing gal.
Here’s a quick overview of Joan’s story:
Back in 1984, while teaching at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, Joan lost her own vision in a span of only three weeks. Just five years later her husband passed away after a seven month battle with cancer. To say that she has endured more than her share would be a massive understatement; yet Joan refused to become bitter and ask, “Why me?” Instead she chose to say “Why NOT me?”
Read more about Joan’s riveting story here:
Fast forward to 1992. Joan re-connected with her high school sweetheart, Jim Brock at a reunion. A few days later, she called Jim and asked him out for dinner. Joan says, “It was a great blind date!” They were married shortly thereafter and moved to Tucson, Arizona.
Jim is an Entomologist (he studies insects) with a specialty in Lepidoptera (he studies butterflies). Yes, he studies butterflies; but that doesn’t nearly tell the tale. Jim is THE GO-TO GUY on butterflies. He has written books on the subject and leads tours of people on butterfly expeditions to view these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. Even now Jim is guiding a tour in the West.
Unbeknownst to Jim, my husband Tim is on a guy-only trip with his brother in Montana, staying in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Please see the view from the balcony below. Vistas like that are non-existent in Dallas, Texas where the heat index was 105 degrees yesterday. It’s in the 70’s at the cabin. O well…!
While out on a hike yesterday, Tim and his brother Phil happened upon a small group of people hovering over the foliage, trying to get a better look at something….butterflies! Phil noticed a truck nearby with an Arizona license tag and mentioned that he and Tim have family in Mesa. Tim chimed in, “My wife has a good friend named Joan Brock from Tucson whose husband is a butterfly guy.” Jim said “that would be ME…I’m Jim Brock.”
YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!
What are the odds? Even though I have known Joan for years, our husbands have never met. Sure, they’ve seen each other in a family photo on a Christmas card, but that’s it. And that image didn’t look anything like their appearance on that dirt road in Montana. Both of them were wearing baseball caps and sunglasses. Suffice it to say, this meeting was EXTREMELY RANDOM! Talk about a small world!
As you can imagine, the four of us have had a big laugh over this wilderness encounter…which leads me to my point…
We are so blessed to have friends in our lives…even those we haven’t actually met!
My friends are all so different. How can I possibly get along with them all? Well…I think that each one helps to bring out a different part of me.
With one, I am always on my best behavior. With another, I joke around constantly. I sit down and talk about serious matters with one. With another I laugh…a lot! I listen to one friend’s problems. Yet to another, I feel I can bare my soul. I seek advice from one, and from time to time I even offer my own.
Doctors tell us that friends are good for our health. Dr. Oz calls them Vitamin F (for friends) and counts the benefits of friends as essential to our well-being. Research shows that people in strong social circles have less risk of depression and terminal strokes. If you enjoy Vitamin F consistently, you can be up to 30 years younger than your biological age. Friendship can help reduce stress by as much as 50%!
In addition, having friends is healthy because we grow and learn things from each other. Friends give us a group to belong to and relate our experiences with. These are the people who will fight for us when we are in trouble. They will tell us if we are doing something wrong and try to correct us…even if it makes us mad. Simply put, friends make us better people.
Tim’s chance meeting with Jim in the Montana wilderness made me realize how valuable the gift of friendship really is. So…Tim and I will be going to Tucson in the near future to spend some quality time with the Brocks. We’re going to take some time to “stop and smell the roses”…and who knows? We might even see a butterfly or two along the way?