We are on the shadow side of the year. It seems like everywhere you look, people are facing the big stuff – health issues, job loss, aging parents, divorce, death. It is a time when we need to reach out, to help carry our brethren along. As I have been reminded during our difficult times, we can not do it on our own. We have to reach out to others.

Taking a meal to some friends in need.

Taking a meal to friends in need.

I worry about how much stress and strain people are under. I worry that our media overloads us with negativity, violence and degradation. I worry that your living environment discourages relaxation, rejuvenation and healing. We are living too fast, working too hard,  doing too much and spending too much. So as we enter into the shadow side of the year, I want to remind you of how to take better care of yourself and those around you.  Because healing and compassion have to start at home.

Make self care a priority

What do you do for yourself on the worst of days? I really hope you have at least one answer for that question. After a more than a year of working on self care, I can actually list many things that help me on a bad day. What’s more, I actually do them.

I wish more women could say that. It’s not been easy.  I used to put everyone’s needs first and never asked for the time I needed. It left me burnt out and resentful. Now I make myself take the time I need. I have a go-to list of things to do when I need to get out away from the house and kids. But, first and foremost, I’m a bath girl:

A few clarifications from the vid: The Robert Plant / Allison Krauss album Raising Sand is excellent. The other band I was talking about was Röyksopp. You can see why I was hesitant to try to pronounce that one on camera.

Get the family support you need

It’s easy to overlook many of programs and services available to us all. As we have cut back and simplified, most of our family time involves outings to the church, library and YMCA. I know, file this under duh, but I’ll bet you are under-utilizing  many free or almost free services that are very close to home. Between these organizations and the local parks, I can now keep us busy every day of the week in wholesome, positive environments while staying within a three mile radius of our house.

It's fun to stay at the.....

I have to give a special shout out to to our church. When our family faced difficulty, they stepped up in ways I never expected. I was touched by the compassion and support that we were all shown. Churches want to reach out and give families the support they need, the help is there for the asking.

These are not the only options out there, find the organizations that work for you. Check your local parks and recreation, public pools, community centers, and community colleges.  If you are not connecting with people at your church, find a bible study group at a different location or try a different church. Find places as close to home as possible, it will help you get to know the people that live around you. You will drive less, spend less and connect more. Before you know it, you will recognize people at the grocery store and coffee shop. It is a great day when a suburb begins to feel like a tight-knit community.

Reconnect with your partner

It’s so easy to drift apart in a marriage, especially if there are kids involved. Mr. Applebum and I put a lot of energy into  parenting, often there’s nothing left for each other at the end of the day. We know we need to make time for each other, but it just feels like one more thing to add to our to-do list. And for me, it’s hard to start talking about my day in the evening, when it’s time to wind down. I want to have some time with the Mr, but after a long day with the kids, I don’t always want to talk or listen.

Our solution? We watch shows together after the kids are down. Less time commitment than a movie and it’s a great way to have some adult time and unwind before bed.  Some of the series we have watched together:  Red Dwarf, Arrested Development, The Wire, Battlestar Gallactica, and How I Met Your Mother. Lately we are into Glee and The Mightly Boosh. These are all quality shows that we will talk about later or quote to each other at random moments. We could spend hours discussing the Wire and BSG. We love to geek out together or quote a quippy one liners. And let me tell you, it’s wonderful to have something to discuss besides the kids.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

An ambassador of compassion and goodwill

Once you have peace and harmony at home, it’s so much easier to extend it to those around you. It’s easy to be kind and generous to those we know and love, I like to focus on spreading compassion and goodwill to the strangers I encounter throughout my day. For me, a good day is when I can do one kind act for another person, whether it is sharing a genuine compliment, a helping hand, or just a much needed smile and “Good  morning.” Small things, but they leave us feeling uplifted and connected rather than ignored and isolated.

And I find the more you reach out to those around you, the better your life will get. It will make you feel better to focus on those who have less and it will bring blessings into your life. Compassion is about the space between us all, the way we are interconnected. It is about treating a stranger as a friend, and a friend as family. We are our brother’s keeper. We must take better care of each other and we must take better care of ourselves.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: No woman, no cry « Bonita Appleblog
  2. Trackback: Words to live by – Pop’s Reprise by Common « Bonita Appleblog

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