Build the fire. Invite the neighbor.

Good morning, Dear Reader. The Universe heard my cries and finally answered my prayers. Yes. Fall weather has arrived, for now, and I’m going to enjoy these sixty degree temperatures for the next few days. How? By cramming as much pumpkin spice crap into my body as humanly possible before Mother Nature screams “Psych!” and drops another ninety degree day in my lap. I don’t even really like pumpkins. Or spice. But I’m not about to let that stop me from pretending we might actually have Autumn in our midst. So I’m over here, hoarding all the flannel and cinnamon oil while I can, before the outdoors decides to act menopausal and drop a hot flash on us.  

Now that I’ve given you a weather report, how about we start today? I’ve got 1456 words in me just waiting to spew out. So…

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s start the weekend off with a light topic, shall we? 

{Cracks knuckles}

September is National Suicide Prevention month. That said, I get really irritated by the number of well-meaning Suicide Prevention memes passed around on social media by people who won’t even answer their phones when their family calls for fear they might have to listen to someone talk about their divorce or opioid-addicted child again. I’m all for setting boundaries and protecting your energy sphere and all that jazz but come on. Sometimes folks just need to know that someone anywhere will pick up when they reach out. People are hurting.

I think that’s why people don’t reach out. And why suicide has become the second leading cause of death for people under the age of twenty in the United States. Because they fear voice mail. I know I do at times.

So, now that we aren’t on lockdown, can we all agree to stop being scared of each other and learn to be connected again? Even I, the introvert with generalized anxiety disorder, enjoy having an Old Fashion with people I like. In fact, last weekend, my fella and I hosted a Whiskey and Wine tasting at his house, and it was so great to feel a connection with so many who came. One couple said it was their first invitation in over a year. A year. Damn. That’s heartbreaking.

My point today is that we all need connection, whether we admit it or not. What I’m thinking today isn’t so much about my utter disdain for social media – it’s about how to take some simple steps to build genuine connections. And I’m also not considering ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’ to be anything near connection. I’m talking about connection. You have to actively make that happen

Yeah. I know, right? You have to do some work. But don’t worry. I’m going to give you some tips. I hope some of them stick.

  1. Set a time and place. This whole “We should get together soon” bullshit is for the birds. Be a leader. Plan the party. Or, if parties aren’t your thing, ask one person over for a glass of whatever. I made an effort a few weeks ago to ask two people I barely know to go have pizza with me. It was great. They both said so. Make a date and get some people together.  
  2.  Make the effort. This is so hard for me. I put so much effort into everything else I do that putting effort into building connections is not a pastime I’m excited to embark upon. I recently told my son that we will have “No Tablet Tuesdays” because I realized he grew an entire inch, and I was so busy I didn’t even notice. And by busy, I mean I was trying to get through five seasons of Outlander. So. Um. Yeah. My child is the most important person in my life. It’s time I act like it. 
  3. Connect in the present. We all have a person in our life who lives in the past. They bring up how they almost won Star Search back in 1996 and how the band members were ‘so tight’. Others bring up a conversation that happened three decades ago. But hello. We live here now. It is 2022. Obama…and Trump…are no longer presidents. It’s time to forgive and forget. It’s time to connect in the present moment. Yes, the past may have been the catapult to the relationship today. Still, one person is trying to grow and develop. At the same time, the other keeps bringing up the high school cheerleading competition. Have you ever been in a relationship where you feel like you can’t move on because you are stuck in a historical vortex? It’s impossible to feel connected in that scenario. And frankly, it’s boring.
  4.  Connect on a deeper level. I’m not a hyper-fan of Brene Brown, but I do like some of her stuff. To her point, I cannot stress enough the importance of being vulnerable. Although I’m not vulnerable with everyone in my circle, I still think connecting with empathy and past experiences is essential. I’m an INTJ, so if I click on a level like this with people, I’m pretty much connected for life. Be okay with saying “I have struggled with my weight all my life.” Or “My boyfriend and I just broke up.” Or, for reals, “My dad died nearly twelve years ago. I miss him every single day.” 
  5. Connect to a Higher Purpose. Have you ever heard the phrase “Don’t hide your light under a bushel”? It means…people need what you have to offer in terms of your time and talent. My friend, Machell, feels her calling is to feed people and give them handmade quilts. I’ve been the recipient of this kindness many times. I guaran-damn-tee it is her calling. My fella, the ex-cop? Well, he’s the protector. He checks all the doors and windows and reminds me to put my car in the garage at night. He never lets me drive when I’ve been drinking and never runs a red light when my child or I am in the car. Everyone on the planet has a talent. Maybe you can’t make a quilt…but you can buy a cupcake to share, right? Then do that. {Ahem. Chocolate with white buttercream.} You don’t have to be a minister or a nun to care for those around you. Even I have a superpower. What is it?, you ask. Finding just the right song and texting it to people when they need it the most. 

And, on that note (eh, eh…) I want to share this little ditty with you (click that link, dammit. You won’t be sorry.) I somehow stumbled upon it one day and three of my favorite people came to mind instantly. We tend to think that to ‘connect’, we must do it BIG. Plan the party. Be the keynote speaker. Bake all the things. But honestly, if you connect with just one person on a deep level, you’ll probably do more good for the Universe than if you ran for public office. My friend, Andrea, and I connect over memes about anxiety. Whatever works, right? Finding those who let you be who you are at your core…and love you anyway…is pure bliss. So, yes, our little party last weekend was fabulous. But I’m also just as happy to crack open a bottle of Jameson and sit around a campfire with two or three good folks. Call me and we’ll get together.

I’m curious if you are feeling disconnected or if you plan to try any of these suggestions to make some changes in your life. Also, how do you find a connection with others? Comment below. And, if you liked this post, feel free to share it.

2 thoughts on “Build the fire. Invite the neighbor.

  1. What would I do without you? Sometimes be lost, but mostly Iā€™d be without one of my bestest friends. Thanks for the reminders!

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