Like family. Only better.

January 5, 2017



Father Sun, Grandmother Moon, to the Star Nations.
Great Spirit, you who are known by a thousand names
And you who are the unnamable One.
Thank you for bringing us together
And allowing us to sing the Song of Life.


Like so many people who weren’t given the gift of family in this lifetime, I take great joy in my chosen family. They’re important to me.

I do know people who have close family ties, and appreciate that, because mine couldn’t have been more different. As much as you’d think that shared experiences over a lifetime would create a strong bond, sometimes, like in my family, it’s every man for himself.  That underpinning theme doesn’t promote strong family bonds, as you can imagine.

But. That kind of garbage is not part of the dynamic of a chosen family.

“It’s like family,” one of my chosen family said, recently, “only better.”

Yes. Better. So in my world, my chosen family is the family that means the most to me.

Chosen families are easier

We spent time this holiday season with senior members of our chosen family, people who are important to us.  Laughter, love, great discussions–and no garbage. None. In fact, we spend a lot of time with them because we are so compatible. And respectful of one another. But still direct. Oh yeah, we are direct!

Another hallmark of a true family is the ability to call on them for anything and they’ll do what they can to help.  Such was the case when I called on a delightful brother-friend to help me remember my late friend on the anniversary of her death.  We shared new age beliefs and interest and he’d become a shaman.  I expected he’d send me a prayer and very simple candle-lighting ritual. But instead, I received an envelope in the mail containing ingredients for an abbreviated aya despacho, a ritual I’ve done before in its larger form and with many people. What a thoughtful–and loving–thing to do.

We might live a few hundred miles apart, but he and his wife are definitely part of our chosen family and we work hard to spend time together.

Giving / Taking

This might seem like a little thing, but I don’t like asking for favors. I far prefer giving. Maybe it’s because I once asked my biological sister for a small favor and her first question was “will it benefit your work?”  As it turned out, it was a personal favor with nothing to do with my job. But she wanted to make sure she didn’t help me progress on the job.  Which I found sad and also rather crazy. I’ll just let those words sit there and say no more. That kind of pain–hers, mine, is obvious. And really, there was nothing she could ever do that would have impacted my excellent career one way or another. She would’ve been smarter to have focused that attention on her own. Just saying.

So, when I spend happy times with people I love like family, when we have great conversations, wonderful hikes, attend cultural events together, it’s hard for me to feel the lack of family in my life.

Because, as the shamanic prayer above says, it really is a beautiful thing to sing the song of life with other, like-hearted people.

The image is from an aya despacho, a Peruvian prayer ceremony to help souls transition to the next life.


36 comments on “Like family. Only better.
  1. ryder ziebarth says:

    This goes not only goes for extended family, like parents and siblings, but for immediate family in your life, like spouses. You simply cannot get everything you need from one person, related or otherwise. Creating an extending family group is important for your own health and well being. Knowing how you can reach out to for what is a wise way to live. I have many “spouses”–men and woman who are there for me in ways my husband simply cannot possibly be. I love him, but he is not everything to me, and if I thought he was, I’d be disappointed and lonely. We have a good marriage, a tight “family” bond between the two of us, but it is rounded out by a myriad of wonderful and compassionate people whom I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to live without.

  2. Every year I have had to deal with the stress of dealing with my family for the holidays.This year for Thanksgiving & Christmas (mostly because of this year’s election) I finally decided there was absolutely no reason for it and I just couldn’t do it. We don’t understand each other or even really like each other. So this year we decided enough was enough and decided to go small with just our family (our children and grandchildren). I can’t imagine a more enjoyable holiday than I had this year. Sometimes we have to make tough choices for our own sanity.

  3. renee says:

    I have so many great friends that i consider family. They have been here for me when some members of my family haven’t. you can’t pick family but you can pick your friends…

  4. Diane says:

    I have a large family. And still I like to spend my time with other, like-minded people. Thank you to all of my chosen family!

  5. Great point that family doesn’t have to be related by blood. I have many friends who feel like family, and I am grateful to be able to say that I would choose my blood family just the way they are.

  6. Dan says:

    What an Joy, Privilege and Honor to be part of your Soul Family!
    Aho, Mitakuye Oyasin

  7. Barbara says:

    My family growing up was a revolving door. I call it ‘Daddy du jour’, which may end up being the title of my memoir. Each new father figure had their own family baggage, too. So, for me, it was important to have friends that were more ‘family’ than my family. Over the years as we all grow and change and move around this crazy world, relationships ebb and flow but, they will always be family.

  8. Most of my family is spread far and wide but your family can be anyone, really. I meet with a small group of women every week for breakfast and they’re like a family to me.

  9. Kim says:

    I do feel like certain people who are not my blood feel certainly like family. I believe friends are the family you choose for sure 🙂

  10. I totally love this point of view! Lately I have come to realize that I am happy for those I have chosen to be in my life because my relatives can be very negative and draining when it comes to my business and personal choices. Sad about your sister but I love your perspective! Keep inspiring <3

  11. Amber Myers says:

    I love this! I have met people who are like family to me, and it’s wonderful.

  12. Kaitlyn says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I am luck enough to have a close family, but I also recognize that I have family elsewhere that isn’t related to me. Sometime your chosen family meets your needs better than the actual family you were born into. That is the beauty of being human and being able to have so many ties!


  13. Being with family can be both stressful and fun.

  14. Nellwyn says:

    I’m lucky to be close with my family but I also have friends who I consider chosen family and those relationships are so special!

  15. Scott says:

    It truly is a shame we can’t pick family. So many of us end up with family we’d rather not associate with.

  16. Couldn’t agree more with this! Hope you have a happy and healthy 2017!

  17. We have been setting boundaries with both sides of our families and things are already getting easier each visit.

  18. Allan Jardin says:

    I love family. i have multiple types of family other than my blood family. Several Different Types of martial arts family, co-workers, and neighbors. My Step Dad raised me since i was 2 years old and formed a special bond.

  19. Roz Warren says:

    I’m very lucky in that there’s nothing I love more than being with my family. But if that weren’t the case I wouldn’t choose to spend another minute with them. Life is just too short. To create and celebrate a chosen family as you have makes so much sense.

  20. Elizabeth O. says:

    Family doesn’t necessarily mean blood related. Most of the time it’s just all about who makes you feel like your bond is beyond friendship. I’m glad you have a chosen family and that they are always there for you especially in times of need.

  21. Anne says:

    I loved reading your post. I believe family doesn’t only blood relations. Friends can be the family you choose for yourself and also the people who were there when you needed them the most should also be considered as family.

  22. I’ve always found it fascinating to connect with those in my life. You never really get the same connection with those you meet, and every relationship is unique. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, you made me realize a couple of things about the people I have allowed in my own life and circle of trust.

  23. Maryanne says:

    Just had a great time with my relatives on last holidays! nothing like sharing time with the ones you love.

  24. Audra m says:

    I have a very small biological family. I sometimes envy those people that have large family gatherings and siblings to rely on no matter what. Unfortunately I have no contact with either of my brothers. As I get older I have reached out more and relied more on true friends I consider as family. Sometimes those we choose to put in our lives are just as special as those that are choosen for you

  25. Our Family World says:

    What an inspiring way to end the post. Most people would always take their own families for granted and often times they find ways to get back on track. I’d say there’s a way for that possibility not to exist, it’s all about perspectives and achieving the right goals.

  26. Ashlea says:

    This is so true. I have a saving blood doesn’t make you a family. You choose to be family.

  27. Wren says:

    I have never really had my actual family around me, and I have been lucky enough to choose my own family. I find it is less complicated then actual family and easier to be thankful for everyone that has chosen to be in your life. <3

  28. Anna nuttall says:

    Very lovely post. Where would we be without our family. xx

  29. Nicole says:

    i’m so glad i’m not the only one that feels this way. My chosen family gets me through so much.

  30. I would agree – chosen families ARE easier. I was born into and then married into amazing families…but not always so easy LOL

  31. Well it is too bad to hear about your family having a bad attitude. I’m glad you were able to find a chosen family that is much more supportive.

  32. I know the feeling. There are instances when I find it easier to reach out to my friends. I have a few relatives who, after granting you a small favor, will expect something huge in return.

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