August Blogs Week 3: Connection with Neighbors
Growing up in rural Wisconsin, in a small town, we knew all our neighbors and always supported each other. We would have weekly get-togethers around my parent’s fire pit on Friday nights. The kids always played together from daylight to dusk and still keep in touch even after we all grew up, moved out of that small town and started families of ourselves.
My parents remained friends with neighbors who came and went in that area and in fact, just this week we learned that one of the kids I grew up with passed away of an aggressive lung cancer. I sent them a card and showed our support, even though I hadn’t seen her since her dad’s passing two years ago. This is what connection can do for your heart and soul.
Today’s neighborhoods are still connected and even though now we live in a big city instead of a rural area, we know our neighbors and can ask them to help us out whenever we’re in need. Some neighborhoods throw block parties every year while others support a neighborhood watch program. No matter what your neighborhood does it can affect your happiness and stress levels.
Neighbors can be great resources for stress management. Here are some great ways that you and your neighbors can support each other. It is easier now with Facebook Neighborhood pages and NextDoor to keep in touch with your neighborhood and also see where and how you can help out.
Some neighbors are able to help others by going on grocery runs or picking up prescriptions, while others have excess peaches, apples, cucumbers and zucchini they are willing to share. You may be able to trade fresh eggs for apples or help pick up groceries in exchange for baby sitting when you have an appointment. Get to know your neighbors and what resources they may have. I have found great recommendations for plumbers, electricians, cement work and sprinkler companies based off of what my neighbors have suggested.
We all have busy schedules, but it only takes a minute to walk next door and introduce yourself. We have had several new people move into houses along my block that I feel the need to make a zucchini bread and bring it over to say “hi” and introduce myself. If you see that your neighborhood is putting on a movie in the park, go and enjoy it and meet others who live near you. Take a walk around the neighborhood and wave, say hi. A friendly wave and smile goes a long way when a neighbor is having a hard day.
Secure your area
Create a sense of security for your little neighborhood bubble. I work from home and usually work with my windows open so I can hear and see anything that may be happening in the neighborhood. I know my neighbors to the North, South and across the street so if I do see something happening, I can send a quick text to let them know what is going on. A neighborhood watch program is great too. Someone is always on the look out and keeping an eye on the neighborhood. One of our neighbors installed cameras in the alley and let us know in case people were casing out our garages. It’s also good to have this sense of security even if you just need an extra egg, cup of sugar or last year during the snow storm extra cat food.
Create Home Pride
When you know your neighbors and you are friendly with them, it makes it so much more enjoyable to come home after a long day of work. You can’t change your neighborhood, but you can change the experience you have with your own street or block. I have told all my neighbors that if they would like to take any of my excess plants in the front yard they can. Many of them have and have increased their curb appeal just by adding some vinca and wildflower seeds. We live in a desert state, so I did a lot of xeriscaping a few years back and many people have complimented me on it. I tell them it isn’t hard and am willing to help them get started as gardening is my Zen time. If you are walking around your neighborhood and like what a neighbor has done with their gardens, paint or addition, ask them about it. It may inspire you to do some changing to your space too.
Find your elders
Find out who in your neighborhood is an elder and meet them. Share some quality time with them learning about their life and how long they have lived in the area. See if they could use any help with anything or at least exchange numbers in case they do need some extra help. You may be surprised at how much you can learn about your neighborhood by chatting with the older woman who lives on the corner with the beautiful rose bushes.
Share and share alike
My neighborhood is great about posting that their gardens are running over and they have free produce to pick up. Some even say they will trade for fruit if anyone has an abundance of apples. It’s always nice to have fresh produce and fruit that have been created from love in a neighbors backyard. Since I don’t have fruit trees or grow veggies, I always offer my excess of plants, vines, mint or sedum to anyone who wants to fill in blank spaces in their gardens. I have excess lilacs every year and if I don’t keep on top of them, they will take over my entire backyard. My neighbor to the North is filling in his backyard so I asked him if he wanted any of the lilacs and he jumped at the chance. Other neighbors are able to share their trades; plumbers, electricians, mechanics, movers, lawyers or daycare. See who is in your neighborhood that you may be able to share with.