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  • Writer's pictureGina M. Oakley

Self-Care: 21 Days to Reset Good Habits

Days 5 and 6: Family, Friends, Community



Hi Readers, I’m so glad you’re here, and I appreciate you taking the time to read my blogs and to (hopefully) reflect and dive into your own self-care journey. One thing I told myself coming into 2023 was that I would make a very conscious effort to show gratitude to friends and family. Another thing I vowed to do was return to my love of volunteering.


You may have noticed that I combined days 5 and 6 of my journey, and that is because they share a common theme. This weekend, days 5 and 6, was all about family, friends, and community. I spent a great deal of time with family and friends, as well as participated in some fun community activities and events. I’d like to encourage you to do as I am and become very self-conscious about how you are in every moment. None of us is perfect. Each of us is allowed to have a bad day. What I am referring to are moments we let slip by because we are tired, grumpy, or just really not feeling it. Again, all of those things are totally acceptable, but sometimes it’s more important to push through in efforts to make memories. It’s so cliché, but we never know when we will never have a moment to make a memory with someone again.


Last year we lost a very close friend, I say “we” because anyone who knew Stacey, anyone who even only met or talked to her once suffered this loss. She was one of the best humans I’ve ever known, and I selfishly want nothing more than more time with her. It happened so fast that I wish I could go back and spend more time with her, be more present in the moments that I did have with her, and show more gratitude for her as my friend.


We all do it, we all think wonderful things about other, even strangers, but don’t say anything or we assume they already know. Today I told a girl at the coffee shop that I liked her pants. I did. They were really unique and cute. She seemed so surprised that I said that to her, and she smiled and thanked me. I don’t know this woman, but why does that matter? I hope the compliment felt good to her. More importantly, I think positive things about my friends and family all the time but never say it, and I’m not the only one. Humans assume a lot. We assume people know they are talented, we assume people know they are being admired, we assume others know we are thinking of them. The fact of the matter is, those things aren’t always known, and even if they are it feels so good to hear it.


SHOW UP, AND SHOW GRACE


Suddenly not being able to reach out to my friend has made me realize I should have done better when I did have that option. When your friends invite you to things, just go. Stop by and say hi, at least, if you can. If you can’t make it, don’t feel guilty just tell your friend you can’t make it, and they will still feel good that at least you were thinking of them. If you’re a friend who shows up for them often, they will understand. Even just engaging in a text exchange or commenting on a social media post shows that you were, for that moment in time, thinking of that person. It will cause the person to feel good.


Giving grace is another form of complimenting someone.


It really is. That you cared about me enough to do what you could to be there for me, but needed to care for yourself more in that moment and cared enough to tell me that puts me in your inner circle which is sacred and shows you care. We had a Mardi Gras party this weekend, and it may have seemed trivial to some, but it was important to me to support my husband, who put a lot of work into the event, and it felt so good to have friends show support by showing up. We have great friends (even ones who couldn’t make it to the party- we understand), and we both try very consciously to vocalize our gratitude to them for their continuous support and friendship, as well as return to them what they’ve given us.


Saying “Thank you” is Everything


I thought everyone’s parents taught them basic manners, but I’ve learned more and more in life that is not the case. Regardless, my mom did teach me those manners, and she taught me to mean it. It feels good when someone thanks you. When I thank someone for something I’m not just going through the motions to be polite, I really truly mean it. Be sure to thank people even for the smallest things, and mean it.


I am so thankful for the people in my life. I am trying to vocalize that more and more. I am also working to just say hi to people. Adults get busy, like REALLY busy. We all have those friends who we don’t talk to for a while but when we we do finally get together it’s like we were never apart. I love that, but I also want those people to know that I am, in fact, thinking of them even if we aren’t together.


Try this…


Try making it a goal to simply text or message someone a hello when you think of them. So, I randomly think of a memory or see something that reminds me of a friend. In those situations, I am making it a point to reach out with a simple, “Hey! I was thinking of you. I hope you are doing amazing and having a great day!” It’s not a message that warrants an entire conversation if either person doesn’t have time in the moment for it, but it lets the other person know you are thinking of them, and man does it feel great when you learn that someone was thinking of you. It feels so good.

Helping others feel that appreciation, letting them know that in your wildly busy day you thought of them, that feels so good. Try it!


The fact of the matter is, and we all already know this, we never know when we will never get to say “Hey! I was thinking of you and wanted to say hi!” to someone again. No matter how often you talk to someone or how much love or gratitude you show, you will always wish you had more time when the opportunity expires. But knowing that person really did know how much you cared or appreciate them helps make the pain of losing them just a little bit less.


COMMUNITY


I can’t say this enough: Community service is important. It helps you feel good about yourself, it helps you meet new people, and it just completes the life circle of giving and receiving. I’m not just talking about donating money, though that is good too. I mean giving your time. Again, it all comes down to showing someone that you care. Showing that that person or that cause is so important to you that you are willing to give up a few hours, which is a lot to many of us extremely busy people, is such a compliment and is so good. If you have a friend or family member who puts a lot of time into something (a hobby, an event, a business venture), support it! Like that post on social media, attend that event they planned, buy the book they wrote even if you hate reading (see what I did there? ha!). It’s an act of giving and showing care that means so much more than the actual act of donating or buying something.


As far as volunteering within your community, joining an organization, or attending community events, it shows you are trying to do your part to help ensure your community is the best it can be. Another cliche that is just brutally honest, if you don’t show up to actively try to better your community, you don’t get to complain when it isn’t what you think it should be. You have to actively work to support positive growth or you don’t get a say.


My husband’s email signature, and one of his favorite quotes says it best:


“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” –Muhammad Ali


You don’t have to believe in every cause, and you don’t have to empty your bucket so much into your community and into others that you have nothing left to give yourself and those closest to you, but I promise you will never regret doing good. Just the same, you will never regret telling someone you are thinking of them.


If I had one more chance to talk to my friend Stacey, I would tell her that I think she’s beautiful. Literally, she was gorgeous to look at, but also she was such a contagiously wonderful personality and soul. I would buy more of the shirts she made, she was very creative, and I would make even more jokes with her because she was great to laugh with. I would tell her I am thankful to know her.

It’s that simple. Friends, family, and community are so important. Being present in the moment with your friends, your family members, and embedding yourself positively into your community some way really does matter, not only because it helps others feel good but because it helps you feel good too.


This is one of the most important forms of self-care, and I hope you will be reminded to reach out and say hi to someone today.


MY PERSONAL WINS

Days 5 and 6 were awesome. We had a great Mardi Gras party, planned in large part by my husband…who is AMAZING. We got to see so many friends at the party, and it is always a reminder of how lucky we are to have so many people in our circle. Our son, Jhet, got to see so many people too. We want him to value the importance of embracing those in our circle.

We also got to take both the kids, Jhet and Brynlee, to Disney on Ice. It was Jhet’s first time, and he loved it. I loved it too. I was tossed right back into my childhood. It was all around a wonderful weekend.




STRETCH (Body, Mind, and Gratitude)


I’ve been pushing harder and harder at my workouts, working to get back to my pre-baby strength. It feels great, but it can bring about soreness, as can daily tasks like sitting at a desk, lifting baby, or even sleeping in an odd position that creates that kink in your neck. I suggest stretching first thing each morning, and last thing each night (in addition to stretching done before and after activity). Yoga is great for this, but if you just can’t get into that there are plenty of great stretching videos on You Tube.

Try stretching for a few mins each morning and every night before bed. You may find yourself with fewer headaches, and fewer aches all around. Remember to also drink your water-first thing when you wake up and a glass before bed in addition to what you drink throughout the day.

Okay, enough for Days 5 and 6 (though I could go on). Get out there, be brave and bold…and thankful!


And show it!


This one is for Stacey. Love you, girl!







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