A year ago I decided that instead of a big list of New Year’s Resolutions I would focus on one word each year to help me grow, learn and become a better person.
For 2018 I chose the word CONNECT.
It was fitting. I lived overseas. I missed my family. I’m really bad at staying in touch with family and friends. Other than Facebook I rarely, if ever, connected with anyone that wasn’t in my immediate surrounding. But if I honestly dug deep and looked at my history of keeping in touch it was pretty dismal.
- In college, when my roommates were calling their parents a minimum of once per week I would go a month before I even thought about it.
- The idea of talking on the phone is exhausting to me (despite being just fine once I’m on the phone.)
- I have about 20 years worth of written but un-mailed cards tucked away where good intentions reside
Time to make a few changes…
FIGURING IT OUT
Recently I started keeping a bullet journal that I use as a page by page reminder of goals, create personal milestone trackers, wrote down thoughts or feelings…just a general all around diary unlike the long-winded ones of my youth where I chronicled what I wore, which boys I happened to be in love with that week, all the terrible atrocities committed by my parents, the horrific struggles of a teenager and my love for New Kids on the Block.
A created a “CONNECT” page and decided it was time I wrote out my actual Plan of Action for my 2018 word now that we are 5 months into the year.
THE “WHAT” PART
Whats the point, you ask? I think that ultimately I chose the word CONNECT because I found myself feeling lonely. Don’t get me wrong. I have no lack of wonderful friends. I have a husband that I feel close to. My family is amazing. I spent a lot of time hosting or attending functions. I spent time volunteering and meeting new people. My job threw me into situations where I had the opportunity to love strangers and give continually of my time and energy…
After much reflection I decided that I felt lonely because I hadn’t figured out a way to maintain all those relationships in a way that continued to enrich my life and their life. (It’s not all about me!) Think of it in a “one and done” type situation. I found that often those moments of connection were fleeting and didn’t last. I guess I thought if I could focus on the connections I was making, even if it was a single moment, I would be able to:
1. Rekindle relationships I’d left behind
2. Make random gestures of friendship
3. Become more aware
4. Develop deeper relationships,
5. Show love
THE HOW PART
I actually researched the HOW of connecting. There is no lack of articles on this topic. I wrote out my own ideas and borrowed a few that I thought were good from other sources and came up with the below list:
1. Write letters – You have to write a letter to get a letter. You also have to think about something to say, make sure you have pen paper and a stamp and take the time to walk it out to a mailbox. My kids LOVE to get mail. The fine art of pen pals is being lost in this age of technology, but I’m going to bring back letter writing to my life. In my opinion, there is no better way to show someone you are thinking about them than through a written letter.
2. Call your mother (and mother in-law!) – or sister, brother, cousin, aunt, grandparents…
3. Pay attention – to the person or people you are with. Not in a stalker-creepy sort of way, but who knows…that stranger may be the hidden gem of a best friend you never knew you needed.
4. Pay it forward – Last week I got my car stuck in the sand. After three hours of digging I was finally pulled out by a nice man and his wife who had a large 4×4 with mud tires and a tow chain. All he wanted in return was for me to “Pass it on.” It was a wonderful moment of human kindness and connection that I’ll never forget. Everyone deserves a moment like that.
5. Blog – Share my life with complete strangers? Weird? Maybe.
6. Mail a postcard – Unsure what to say…? How about “Wish you were here.”
7. Participate in the world – What? There is no lack of opportunity to participate. Choose something you love to do and do it with love.
8. Ask questions – … and genuinely listen to their answers.
9. Mail someone your favorite book – If someone sent me a book I would be OVER THE MOON. Send them your favorite book and inscribe on the inside cover why you chose it for them.
10. Send birthday (holiday) cards
11. Notice feelings – Just be there in the moment with them the way they might need you to be.
12. Help out – Don’t ask. Just do.
13. Remember names – I just watched a video of a woman who called her neighbor the wrong name for the past 12 years. The best part is that she addressed any notes back using that same wrong name instead of correcting her. ha! I guess if you get it wrong it doesn’t mean you can’t be friends!
14. Send a thank-you note – It is more than just a way to be polite. Gratitude is underrated!
15. Smile – If you chance to meet a frown…do not let it stay….quickly turn it upside down and smile that frown away. (Thank you Sunday School song!)
16. Throw a party – big or small…who cares. Fancy or simple…who cares. Get friends and potential friends together.
17. Actively love — This is all about acts of service. I was recently turned onto the website JUST SERVE.It is a list of opportunities in your area to volunteer. There is no shortage of needs.
18. Renew your faith – or spirituality – or find your center. Whatever it means to you.
19. Create traditions – This literally builds generational connections. So needed by our children…and their children…and their children’s children…..
20. Take the time – If you always say no….stop and change your mind just once.
21. Make memories – messy, dirty, funny, happy, exciting, interesting, memories.
22. Have a block party – Your new best friend might just be living next door!
It is now the beginning of August. I’ve spent the last 6 months practicing what I “preach” and I feel better about relationships. Here is the funny thing, I suppose ironic more than funny…I forget that with technology it is SO EASY to stay connected. I have friends I adore but I forget I can text them anytime I want. So that has been added to my list. There really is no excuse.