Custodians of the Caring Movement

4 Ways to Make Your Life Easier and More Fulfilling

We’ve been told that “life is hard.”  We’ve been told that marriage is “hard work.” We’ve been told that “nothing ever comes easy in this world.” Truth? Or self-fulfilling prophecy? 

It’s probably more accurate to say that an easy life can be elusive, but that’s quite a bit different than saying it is strenuous or difficult to achieve.

Finding a parking space is easy – but only when they are in abundance.  When an empty spot is elusive, it becomes harder.

soul body mind emotions in balance

But there are 4 ways to make your life easier and more fulfilling.  And the greatest minds have concluded that they center around the quality of our life on an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual level.  The surprise? Each is directly proportional to the quality of our relationships.

Good Relationships Keep Us Happier and Healthier

Now before you say: “great partners, like parking spaces, can be hard to find,” don’t think of relationships in the strict sense of a lifetime companion.

What is your relationship with your neighbor? Your community? Those in need? What is your relationship to exercise? Alcohol? Pets? The interior life?

Family, loved ones, and dear friends are absolutely part of the relationships in your life, too, of course.

But the common thread is that true fulfillment in relationships is about genuine connection.  This is one of the most satisfying joys of becoming a Custodian of the Caring Movement. Authentic community ties are some of the most enduring.

relationship connections, who to call or text

Tell Us Something We Don’t Already Know

Okay, so you may not be astounded to learn the importance of relationships.  But if we already know this, why do so many of us struggle in this area?

Are we treating the most important relationships in our lives properly?  Are we giving them the time, attention, and priority they deserve?

Do you know a lifelong friend who would think nothing of putting in a 70-hour workweek, yet they can’t “find time” to check in with you?

Or have you caught yourself (when stressed out) showing less patience and grace toward a life-partner than you’d ever show to a complete stranger?

Move from Deadlines to Lifelines

So many things in life are urgency-driven, but have you noticed that relationships almost never are?  In fact, they’re almost always the first part of our lives that we neglect until we can “find the time.”

Everyone wants deep, meaningful relationships.  But most think it’s a daunting or time-consuming goal. 

Building more fulfilling relationships every day is easier when you realize one fundamental truth:

The very thing that makes you feel happy or fulfilled isn’t the relationship itself, but the interactions within that relationship. 

The Custodian Connection

Custodians of the Caring Movement understand that the best path to enjoying fulfilling relationships is through meaningful interactions and consistently connecting. Just the act of expressing care to self and others – by putting caring into action – is all that is required.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, either. Moving the Caring Movement forward and reaping its rewards can be as simple as a friendly smile. A short note of appreciation. A wave. Saying “thank you.” A word of encouragement. Patience in line for coffee.

None of which is difficult.  Especially if you choose to see, feel, and consciously become aware of where there is a need – and then step up.

Small and Simple = Happy and Fulfilled

Being an active part of the Caring Movement isn’t about money or overwhelming commitment. It’s about  consistently delivering small and simple experiences that leave those in your orbit feeling genuinely uplifted.

One of the best ways to begin is choosing to give voice to the positive thoughts you have in your head. That’s right.  Instead of allowing them to evaporate, say them out loud! Don’t cheat yourself out of a valuable opportunity to move caring forward and enrich your relationships at the same time.

The world needs to hear that you care – now more than ever.  There is no doubt that you’ll make the recipient of your caring thoughts feel better. And in turn, their emotional response will give you an incredibly fulfilling sense of happiness and satisfaction as well.  When you raise someone’s spirts, you uplift your own at the same time. Wonderful, isn’t it?

You Care When You’re Aware

The last step in a more fulfilling life is a simple shift in awareness. The key is becoming more intentional. Getting into the habit of being aware of a positive thought and giving voice to it – as long as it is genuine, and you really mean it.

Most Custodians of the Caring Movement will tell you that it quickly becomes second nature to recognize or compliment someone they know.  And yes, if you’re shy and can’t voice it, you can certainly text it or e-mail it.  Action is what matters!

Caring isn’t just a holiday-time-of-year thing. It’s a day-to-day part of who you are.  Who WE are.

Simple, caring interactions are at the heart of Caring Movement and the foundation for meaningful relationships. And those very same relationships are the roadmap to an easier and more fulfilling life. For everyone.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caringresilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

fingers counting 1,2,3,4,5
Caring Action, Self-Care

Holidays in Full Measure

Kids are so great at counting.  They still tell you their age in fractions.  “I’ll be 5-and-a-half tomorrow,” you’ll hear them say.  They are masters of anticipation.  “Christmas will be here in only six more sleeps.” Some even “track” Santa on the Radar.  Somewhere along the line, we lose this notion as we get older (and stop counting birthdays all together).  But taking the full measure of things is essential this holiday.

Have you ever seen someone at a fitness center jump from one piece of equipment to the next? A little elliptical.  A bit of treadmill. A row or two.  Some weightlifting.  Good for them, they’re working out. It might have even been a great workout.  But they aren’t measuring anything.  Nothing is tracked. Reps weren’t counted.  Time elapsed was ignored.  The metrics were missing.  So, there’s no real basis for knowing if progress is happening or not.  This can happen during the holiday season, too.

holidays in full measure; counting fingers

Making It Count

Taking stock during the holidays before the start of a New Year is a wonderful idea.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all.  The simple notion is that when we’re measuring, we can show improvement.  Just count something.  It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it’s something you find interesting. 

Our lives are shaped by how we choose to spend our time and energy each day. Measuring can help us spend that time in better ways, more consistently.  But like most things, there’s a secret to doing it best.

Measure Backward Not Forward

With all of this counting, measuring, and tracking, there’s a trap to avoid.  Don’t make it about the results.  Instead, measure to discover something about yourself and you’ll get to know (and understand) yourself better.

It’s been said that 90% of life is showing up.  That’s a measure we should all be curious about.  Are you showing up? And if you are, is it to expend energy on the things that actually matter to you?  We’re all anxious for 2020 to be over and 2021 to begin.  But take a quick break from looking forward.  Be in the moment.  And try looking back as the year winds down. Now is the perfect time to take the full measure of 2020.  The good, the bad, and yes . . . even the “fugly.”

Face Unafraid The Plans That We Made

You can’t measure the spirit of the season, or goodwill.  But you can track different ways that you are showing up with grateful appreciation in your life.  Make a conscious effort to smile at someone every day.  Send a “thank you” text or email to someone every day of the month.  Make it part of the “to-do list” on your calendar, so you can keep track.

Measuring your personal value system may seem impossible, but it’s invaluable.  And it can be easy if you simply make a mental check list.  In fact, if you are thinking about something, then you can be tracking it, too.  If your mind is crowded with distraction, ditch the mental checklist and write things down instead. 

journaling

And To All A Good Write

The holiday season tends to be filled with lists.  Lists of gifts.  Lists of ingredients.  Lists of groceries. Even seating charts.  But those are for other people.  Consider a list that just for you.  An act of care for self.  Write down three principles, or morals, or ideals that are dear to you each morning before the hustle-bustle begins.  Make it a Decision Journal to track which choices you make and whether or not they align with your ethics.  A perfect gift of self… to self.  In this way we can ultimately do a better job of helping others. 

Believing Is Receiving

Remember, the things we measure in life are the things we can improve. As we inch our way toward 2021, what are you measuring in your life?  If there is something that you believe you would love to have — such as a more fulfilling relationship, a dream job, or a better local community — receiving it may very well come down to valuing it enough.

As for holiday wishes, here’s the best part: The moment you realize you already have everything you’re looking for, the universe gives it to you. In other words, it’s actually better to give and receive… if you’re open enough to accept it. 

You made it through the year.  And what a year it was, by any measure.  But soon the bells will start, and the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing, right within your heart.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

love letter in motion
Caring Action, Elderly, Unified Caring Association

How to Breathe Life into Someone Over the Holidays

Imagine being isolated and feeling a great sense of abandonment from loved ones. Imagine the despair and helplessness we’d feel. While this is simply a visualization, it’s also the reality for many of our elderly during this pandemic in nursing homes. The same is true for US Veterans in VA Hospitals.

Mrs. Rona has made many VA Hospitals and nursing homes close their doors to visitors. These visitors are the life line for many of those in long term care. It’s often the highlight of their days and whispers felicity into their souls. With everything being shut down, their joy is being shut down.

Hellen’s Loss

An extreme example of what can happen during these times comes from Hellen P. Here’s what happened in her own words: “My mother was in a facility in another state…with the close-down, she didn’t understand why we couldn’t visit her or drop off things (especially her favorite foods). Mom didn’t recognize the personnel in all the protective gear (they changed their policy to identify themselves every time they entered a room). Mom did what we used to call, “Turned her face to the wall”. She passed away on Mother’s Day from Failure to Thrive. She felt abandoned.”

This is just one story of the pain that this pandemic has caused our elder population. The great news is we can help!

We are the Solution

With the Holidays upon us, we have a huge opportunity to be a gift to those who may feel forgotten. The best part is this gift doesn’t cost much and benefits our well-being!

breathe life into someone by sending a letter

We are all invited to contact local nursing homes, VA hospitals, and other long term care facilities to see if they have any one in their care who could use a holiday card. Those of us who can afford to take it further are encouraged to ask about “adopting” a patient and providing them with holiday gifts.

These random acts of kindness can lift the spirits of those who may feel forgotten (especially during this time). At the end of the day, we will benefit from the small gesture as well. According to researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire “engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins, the brain’s natural painkiller! Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population.” Performing kind acts also:

  • Gives us energy
  • Increases our own happiness
  • Releases oxytocin which lowers our blood pressure
  • Helps to reduce anxiety

The Choice is Ours

Let us not forget the truth in the words spoken by Robert Ingersoll; “we rise by lifting others.” Now that we know an extreme example of how this pandemic is hurting members of our own communities and how easy it is to help, it’s up to us to decide if we are willing to be the gift this holiday season. The choice is ours!

By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

Support Love for Our Elders

love for our elders

Unified Caring Association (UCA) sponsors projects to provide care for the elderly as a part of the C.A.R.E. Program by UCA.  Love for Our Elders is a nonprofit sponsored by UCA to provide a vehicle for receiving and delivering love letters to seniors in care facilities.  It’s so simple to write a letter or record a brief video message to be delivered to our elders in their greatest hours of need.  The choice is ours to take action!

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

upside down man
Caring Action, Self-Care

The World is Crazy; So Here’s the Plan

Remember “normalcy?” It’s been a while. But before this current version of “crazy,” you probably thought elements of your “way back then” life were pretty crazy too.

upside down man

It didn’t require the first worldwide pandemic in 100 years to hear people saying things like:

  • “I’m not cut out for this.”
  • “I’m getting too old for this.”
  • “I didn’t sign up for this.”

It’s good to recall the words of Mrs. Nussbaum from the old neighborhood: “Always be prepared for crazy.”

It was her simple way of saying: “I don’t want to hear about things not being perfect. I want to hear that you are better prepared to handle it next time.”

She was tough, but fair.  But most of all, she was wise.

That’s because “being prepared for crazy” is a state of mind.  And it’s incredibly useful when it comes to sticking to goals and living a healthy, caring life.  Take comfort in this. Especially when the world goes crazy. Or stays crazy.

Bake In The Crazy

If you have a goal of lifting weights three times a week, you want to stick to it, right? Same thing if the goal is to sleep eight hours a night.

When everything hums along without any hiccups, it’s easy to stick to your goal. If traffic is light, or the boss doesn’t make you stay late, you’ve got time to lift.  If you go to bed on time, you’ll get the eight hours.

But what about when the crazy happens?  Isn’t that the catalyst for making excuses?

The goals are still important, but you didn’t expect the traffic jam.  So you give yourself permission to skip the weights. You didn’t expect the Peterson’s to over-stay their welcome last night. So it’s not your fault your sleep schedule becomes a nightmare.

Okay.  Fair enough. But the only predictable thing about life is how unpredictable it is.  So how can you stay on-track when day-to-day life is so dynamic?  How can you plan and anticipate for the crazy?

If Zig Happens, Then Zag

The Zig/Zag Technique is the ultimate way to plan for crazy and stay on schedule even when life goes bananas. Why? Because it forces you to create a strategy for dealing with chaos before you need to.

If you don’t get home in time to lift weights, then you’ll lift weights in the morning before work.

If you didn’t get eight hours of sleep last night, maybe you’ll work in a “power nap” during lunch.

The Zig/Zag Technique helps you to consider the unpredictable craziness that so often enters our daily lives. And it provides more options for sticking to your goals.  Life is a crooked line, after all.

Do Something vs. Nothing

Maybe the world is crazier than it used to be.  Or maybe it’s always been crazy, but we talk about it more now.  Either way, you can be sure of countless mini-emergencies every day.  Each one designed to re-route you from your goals. But you can do something about it.  And that’s the key. Something is always better than nothing. 

If you choose to plan for the crazy and use the Zig/Zag Technique to find options for staying on-track, then your day will stay on-course.

One other thing Mrs. Nussbaum used to say:  “Look, dearie.  Maybe you can’t always do it all. But you can always do something small.”

She’s right.

Forget the crazy.

It will always be with us in one form or another.

Doing something (however small) is at least a start. From maintaining goals, to pursuing a caring life – it all comes down to a willingness to start. Or get started over and over again. Comforting to know, isn’t it? And there’s nothing crazy about that.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!