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We live in an older neighborhood. That was on purpose. My husband and I wanted a bigger backyard than most newer neighborhoods in our city provide. There were other reasons too: cost, location, and no HOA to name a few. Chickens were a priority. So was being able to do with our yard whatever we pleased, without permission from another.
But that meant we had to buy in a not-so-fantastic part of town and we were entirely okay with that.
My husband was recently talking to one of our neighbors. He’s an older man, someone who has lived on this street for a very long time. He wanted my husband to know how much he appreciates our family living here. My children are always outside, running up and down the street to their friends’ houses, riding their bikes, laughing loudly and playing, and this neighbor said that having them outside playing all of the time is such a joy. He relayed that the entire atmosphere and mood of our street and our little piece of this town has changed significantly since we moved in.
Now, I can’t know exactly what things were like before we got here, although we’ve heard plenty of stories. But I can attest to the transformation that has taken place in the time we have been here. I could tell you about the drug trafficking and the abandoned stolen cars and the police officers searching in the desert behind our house and the bikes stolen from our yard, and how all of that has tapered off over time and has essentially disappeared.
But the reason I wanted to share that conversation is because being present in your little part of the world is meaningful and this neighbor of ours confirmed that for me.
People see you. They see your children. There is a comfort that comes from seeing others regularly, your neighbors especially. There is peace of mind that comes from familiarity. And there is joy that comes from seeing others around you who are enjoying life.
But also, what you do impacts others: How you care for your home and your yard, how you care for your neighbors, that you wave and say hello when people walk or drive by, that you take a meal across the street when someone is ill, that you greet someone new with a plate of cookies, when you strike up a conversation with the mailman, or when you offer the change a burnt out light bulb in someone’s driveway.
And what really touched my heart was how my children have been a blessing to others. Just seeing them playing brings joy. It truly does change the mood of not just the neighborhood, but the people in it.
So be present. Let your kids play outside. Wave hello and ask how someone is doing and how you can help. Take the initiative to reach out or simply bring someone a plate of baked goods (even if they aren’t homemade!) All of this is especially needed in a time when so many feel isolated and unsure. Be the sense of sanity and surety that people are desperate to see and be a part of.Published in