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I love spring. Like LOOOOOOOOVE it. It’s by far my favorite season, mostly because it’s full of hope for warmth and growth and green. After 6+ months of cold winter here in Minnesota, the spring is like the savior of my weary, weather-beaten soul.

Maybe that sounds dramatic, but it’s pretty true.
Springtime makes it easier for me to just BE - in my own skin, with other people, in extended moments of quiet solitude, in the present. Spring makes it easier for me to show love to myself, and to others around me.

Here are some of my favorite ways to show people I care. What are yours?

Expressing thoughtfulness.

Not a day passes where I don’t interact with my closest inner circle of friends in one way or another, but usually it’s through Snapchat.

Yes. I’m a 35 year old woman who uses Snapchat. Does that make me hip??

I, like most people, was wary of Snapchat and it’s somewhat creepy reputation at first, but then I heard internet person Hank Green talk about using Snapchat as a way to send personalized greeting cards directly to friends throughout the day.

I loved this idea! Now, anytime I see something where I’d think “oh, my friend would think that portrait of an owl is funny!” or “my dog is being adorable and I think my friend would really enjoy this.” I’ll snap a quick photo, add a little text and bam! Personalized greeting card!

Obviously there are lots of other ways to express thoughtfulness for others, but this is one of my favorites.

Being helpful and useful to others.

This is probably my primary way of expressing care for others. As someone who is good at a variety of things, including problem-solving, my default way of feeling valuable to someone is in what I can do for them. Maybe it’s through helping think through a gnarly problem at work, or helping move heavy furniture (yes, I love lifting all the heavy things!) 

However, I do recognize equating my usefulness to others as my primary value as a human being can be problematic sometimes. What about the times when I’m NOT useful? What about when I CAN’T help? Does that make me less valuable as a human being? Sometimes, it can feel like a resounding YES…which is...not ideal. (I recognize I have some more work to do in this area, but I also suspect I’m not alone in this either...)

I’m just saying, it’s good to recognize when your strengths are also your potential weaknesses.

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Holding space and being present.

One of the lessons I have learned most intensely over the last couple of years of hardship is that nothing is more powerful than the sheer presence of a loved one who is willing to hold space for you, and everything that comes pouring out of your wounded heart.

Presence is perhaps the best gift you can offer another person when they are struggling. But it is HARD sometimes.

Some people excel at this naturally. But for those of you who, like me, struggle with this sometimes, here are some things I've found useful when holding space for someone else's pain:

1) try not to swoop in to fix the problem, even if you think you can,
2) relate without taking over or minimizing ( “I know and I hear you.” vs “Oh yeah, but you know what’s worse…”) and 
3) respect their boundaries and hold your own.

I could write at length on each of these points, and perhaps I will in future, but suffice to say, holding space for people is not always easy.

Watching someone you love be in pain SUCKS. Especially when you know there’s really nothing you can do to make it stop hurting. But you can be there with them through the hurt. You can let them know they’re not alone, that you see them, and that you love them.

In my experience, there is nothing more profound than the love of someone who will sit with you when you’re at your worst and hold space for your pain.

Lastly, (and perhaps this should have been first) self-care.

I know some people are already sick of this term, but I want to be clear that I’m not talking about the kind of self-care that is bubble baths and wine painting classes (though, those things CAN be a part of self-care.)

Self-care is really about taking care of your own needs so that you can take care of other people. It’s about setting boundaries, saying no, doing the thing you should do over the thing you want to do, focusing on your well-being even if it costs you something in other areas of your life, and being real with yourself about what you need in order to be the strongest version of yourself.

I love how the Fab Five of Netflix’s Queer Eye talk about caring for yourself as a rebellious act that is a huge part of caring for the people you love. (Also, I just love their positivity and delightful adorableness in general and wanted a reason to talk about it... :)

Fair warning, beginning down this path of self-care might sound like a huge relief, (and sometimes it is) but it also forces you to confront some hard truths about yourself, what you need, and the patterns you’ve created that are actually working against you. Self care is not easy work. But it is necessary. 

Those are my main ways of showing others I care. What about you? What have you found is your primary way of showing others you care?

I’ve heard back from many of you that this series resonating with you. I LOVE hearing from you, and about your own stories with living honestly, so keep sharing!

I’m also curious what other questions these reflections spur for you? What questions are you wrestling with in your own life? Please reach out and let me know. I’d love to do an Honestly Q&A at some point in the series...

More on Honestly series

Books and media I’m loving now

I thought I’d put in a new section of the newsletter highlight some of the books and media that I’m loving right now, in case you’re curious what things make my heart go pitter-patter these days.

Tell Me More

Author: Kelly Corrigan

Tell Me More is a refreshingly honest book full of stories about some of the hardest things to say as a human being like: "No", "I don't know", and "I was wrong." 

OOF. All the feelz.

Kelly Corrigan's candidness about her own shortcomings makes it feel okay to own yours. If you're looking for some inspiration and real honesty about saying the harder things in life, check out this book

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