We need one another, we really do!

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  I was reminded again this week, through the sad events in Boston, Massachusetts that we really do need one another.  Out of the rubble of lost lives and limbs arose an army of people connected by sadness and grief going above and beyond to make sure they helped and supported every person they possibly could. Strangers housing disoriented families, men carrying children to safe places, and medical professionals jumping in to help wherever they found a need. In times of crisis we really do need one another.

However, in the regular rhythm of our daily lives we really need others as well. From the website “Live your Life well” I saw that research points to the on-going benefits of good social connection:

1.  Social connection brings increased happiness. When you are offered concrete help, emotional support, fresh perspective, wanted advice, and encouraging validation you will find that your emotions will stay more hope-filled then downcast.

2.  Better health is another benefit from being connected to others.  Loneliness is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and depression.

3.  Connecting regularly with others helps us to remember that life isn’t all about our challenges.  When connected to others we are also able to care for their needs, focus on being supportive, and share in our common challenges.  This can help us to have a balance in our own thinking.

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When thinking about friendships, some people think that in order to be less lonely they must be liked by everyone. That’s just not true!  The person who has 4,000 friends on Facebook is not necessarily “connected in relationship”….especially if the bulk of their free time is spent maintaining their Facebook page!  Two or three amazing , trusted friends/family can be all we need to be known, heard, or validated.

Life is busy.  Perhaps this has been an especially crazy season for you and quality connections with others has been tough to find; yet with a time of reflection you would have to honestly say that you have been experiencing some of the symptoms of a disconnect: discouragement, restlessness, isolation, etc.  Perhaps a few of these steps would be helpful in moving you into a place of connectedness:

1.  Make a list of those you would like to connect with, calendar a bi-weekly/monthly  time with them that allows you to spend some quality time.

2.  When spending time with those you value the most: turn off phones and other distracting devices.  Maximize what little time you have!

3.  Listen really well and repeat back what you have heard to be sure you truly understand what is being shared!

4.  Ask for help.  Even great friends will have trouble reading your mind.

5.  Share your appreciation for those you value; you may be thinking it but bridges are built when your actually share it!

6.  Move out of unhealthy relationships to give yourself fresh emotional and time margins to begin to invite quality connections into your life.  Boundaries are a good thing!

We need one another~In our personal lives as well as in a national crisis!  If you have found yourself isolating I beseech you to reach out and invite people IN again. 🙂

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“It is impossible for us to be all we can be in isolation.”  Paula P. Brownlee

LIFE HAPPENS HERE!

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Growing up in the coastal farming town of Watsonville, California I had my days filled with school, bike/horseback riding, chores on our 54 acre apple ranch, church activities, sandy days at the beach, and time spent with my parents and 5 sisters.

From the time I was 6 to the ripe old age of 20 (when I headed off to college) we lived on the same property.  My life had a sense of consistency, regularity, and security.  I’m not sure if I ever really took the time to fully consider how my life would unfold in the years ahead.

I have had the privilege to live a truly wonderful, experience-filled life for which I am very, very grateful.  However, there have been changes and challenges that showed up unexpectedly leaving me completely overwhelmed.  From Marriage to parenting, numerous home/city moves, family challenges, occupational changes, and unexpected tragedies I have often felt caught off-guard and ill-prepared.

I have had amazing conversations with so many great women who have found themselves over-whelmed by the situations that have come into their lives as well. Like me, many have faced numerous unanticipated challenges and have often wondered if they have the strength to navigate the challenge well.

At 54, I have enough hindsight to understand that this is what life truly is.  Life is a mixed bag of joy and sadness, celebration and challenge. Every season is different and requires a few key elements to strengthen us along the way:

1.  Knowing and trusting that God will not leave us in the midst of an over-whelming season but rather He will give us strength, wisdom, and comfort.

2.  Being surrounded by people we love and trust: our spouses, healthy family members, and hand-picked friends whom we trust.  Facing challenges in isolation can be devastating. Fight the urge to withdraw; stay connected.

3.  Doing all we can to care for our health:  rest, good food, exercise, reading, time in nature~~ intentionally choosing cup-filling activities to keep our emotions above water.

4.  Taking time to Journal. We don’t always feel strong, We don’t always feel full of hope. Over the years my journals have been filled with prayers and thankfulness but they have also been full of honest questions, doubts, fears, and tears.  Simple honesty has helped to diffuse my emotions.

5. Keeping balanced in our perspectives.  Often times when challenges come we lose sight of all that is still good and right. We can find ourselves getting caught in fear and negativity. In hard times it helps if we can try to focus on the good growth we are experiencing.  I have never walked through a tough season without gaining greater empathy for others, being stretched in my faith, and having a chance to mature in my own character.

Consider your pattern when challenges come.  How do you respond?  How well have you navigated tough situations in the past?   I hope that this simple “conversation” gives you some fresh tools to stand strong when unexpected changes come!

I love this verse!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”   Deuteronomy 31:6