March 27, 2011

Tip of the day—Expand your circle

Sometimes people ask me how I have tips and freebies to post on the blog, and the answer is that I’ve learned a ton from the people whose lives have touched mine.  Friends, family, teachers, coworkers, even strangers have been wonderful resources to learn more about the world around me.  Everything from gardening skills to recipes to how to offer help to those in need has been expanded because of teaching and instruction from others. 

Recently I was talking to a group of people who had lost much of their social network.  They were in a sense starting over and had no idea how to introduce more positive, healthy people into their lives.  Below are some ways that I access social resources and have expanded my group of friends. 

Check websites.  When I started blogging, it opened the door for me to be influenced by even more people.  I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve made through blogging and couponing, and I’m constantly in awe of  how God uses each interaction for His good.  Checking others’ blogs inspires me to try different recipes, can different foods, and think about things in a slightly different way.  While some of my blogging buddies are those who I have never met in person, I feel a kindred bond with them that is difficult to explain. 

Get involved in a forum.  Forums such as Knoxmoms.com, one of my favorites, allow for a sounding board for ideas and questions.  I stay up-to-date on what is happening in the community and outside world. 

Social networking.  I’m not a huge fan of social networking, but it definitely has its place.  I joke that I have a Facebook page, but I don’t have any “friends”.  I have a page for CICT, but I don’t have a personal page for myself.  Therefore I have “Likers” but no “Friends”.  Only last year did I finally get on the FB bandwagon after  years of protesting.  I’m glad that I have because it provides me with a place to share and gather information.  I’ve heard from others about how it helped them reconnect with old friends and relatives too.

Find a group that is of interest to you.  When our daughter was just a few months old, I happened to drop into a Holistic Moms Network meeting in town.  Soon after I became a member, and the friends that I met in that group are some of the dearest I now have.  Like interests draw you together and provide you with an opportunity to get to know others.  I have learned so much through the friends that I made in HMN, and even though I’m not as active in that community, I still have a special place in my heart for that organization.  Think about what is of interest to you, even if it is something you don’t really know much about.  Find a local group and get involved.

Volunteer.  Community agencies and organizations very much need volunteer support right now.  Budgets are being cut left and right, and without community support, many programs will have to close.  Now is a good time to get involved!  Through volunteering I’ve made so many friends of different ages.  I think back to one of the dearest ladies I have ever known whom I would visit weekly at a nursing home in Athens, TN.  She carved an angel out of a bar of soap for me, and it is one of my most treasured possessions. I think about how much I learned through her about courage, patience, and love, and I know that I received more from the relationship than I was ever able to give her.

Faith.  Whatever your spiritual and religious beliefs are, becoming more involved in your faith allows you to meet people with similar beliefs and values.  I know how very difficult it can be to find a house of worship that fits your needs.  When I moved from West TN to East TN, I never thought that I would find a church that was a good fit.  Hubby and I spent months visiting churches, and we even joined another church for a while.  When we found Faith UMC we loved the people there, and when Pastor Paul Humphrey became the leader, we knew it was where we were meant to be.   Becoming involved in the outreach programs and ministries there has helped all of our family to make so many more friends than we would have otherwise.  I continuously learn from the people there about the Bible, grace, love, openness, and a multitude of skills.  One of the older ladies of the church gave me my first tutorial on putting up corn, and she was so patient with me as I phoned her every five minutes of the process to ask yet another question!

Now I know that not everyone who reads this is going to want to try these ideas.  Everyone has different levels of being introverted or extroverted.  As I always say on this blog, do what works for you.  By expanding your circle you’ll open yourself up to more information, ideas, and opportunities, but there can be some downsides to doing so as well.  Find the balance with which you feel most comfortable.

Have a blessed week!

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