Present on Purpose

 

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.

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  1. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    We had an elderly friend who lived next to the school playground.  We never understood how she could stand the noise, but to her it was the sound of life renewing itself.  She stayed there until she passed. 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    We don’t contribute the joy of children (55+ development) in our neighborhood (cul-de-sac) but we know each other by name and help each other out. I’ve just picked up the newspaper of a woman whose husband just passed away and she’d traveled to NY for the funeral; we cooked a few meals for a neighbor who had a devastating fall; neighbors have brought me soup, cookies and good wishes. Having lived in other states and known the isolation of busy people, we love living in a place where people care for each other. Good for you, Jessi, and your family, too!

    • #2
  3. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    This is the kind of (sub)urban renewal we really need.

    • #3
  4. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    There is true value in being “neighborly”. Growing up in what used to be rural lands, developing as suburbia, the neighbors were always helping, socializing, playing and working together.  Someone was putting up a fence or new roof, the rest of the neighbors pitched in. Husbands and sons worked, the wives and daughters prepared a sumptuous buffet.  (this was obviously when male/female roles were still more defined…) 

    This neighborly concept stayed with me, and I always tried to be social with neighbors in each area I lived.  People do appreciate being friendly (usually – there is the occasional neighbor who prefers his absolute privacy). 

    I am sad to report that my 92 year old Mom, who still lives in the house I was born, is now being shunned by some of her lifelong friends and neighbors, because of politics.  These are the same neighbors I worked shoulder to shoulder with as a young man.  These are the neighbors who attend church with my Mom (in fact, recently rejoined at her behest and prompting).  Just a few weeks ago, they were on my Mom’s back patio, and were blaming Orange Man Bad for the Neanderthals who were hesitant to get the vax.  My Mom asked, why they thought that, since Trump was primarily responsible for the rapid development of the vax, and encouraged everyone to get it.  They simply stated that he was evil, and asked if she would vote for him again, knowing how evil he was.  She replied yes, and they huffed out, without even saying goodbye.  My Mom was devastated.  

    Our nation is now being torn apart neighbor by neighbor by the evil propaganda spewed by the MSM, and our political beasts. 

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Nohaaj (View Comment):
    I am sad to report that my 92 year old Mom, who still lives in the house I was born, is now being shunned by some of her lifelong friends and neighbors, because of politics.  These are the same neighbors I worked shoulder to shoulder with as a young man.  These are the neighbors who attend church with my Mom (in fact, recently rejoined at her behest and prompting).  Just a few weeks ago, they were on my Mom’s back patio, and were blaming Orange Man Bad for the Neanderthals who were hesitant to get the vax.  My Mom asked, why they thought that, since Trump was primarily responsible for the rapid development of the vax, and encouraged everyone to get it.  They simply stated that he was evil, and asked if she would vote for him again, knowing how evil he was.  She replied yes, and they huffed out, without even saying goodbye.  My Mom was devastated.  

    I’m so sorry, @nohaaj. People have lost their humanity.

    • #5
  6. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Our neighborhood is amazingly stable. We’ve been here 32 years and all our immediate neighbors preceded us. 

    Which means that all our kids grew up together and left around the same time. 

    But I know for a fact there are younger families that have moved to the block behind us. Because we hear their kids hollering and their music at night. When that happens we open up all the windows so we can hear them.

    And during the school shut down I had the pleasure of meeting a few young moms whose children availed themselves of our swing in the front yard. 

    Last year the 30-something woman who lives across the street came over to say hi when I was in the front yard with my grand daughters. We chatted for quite a while, as she was leaving, the four year old said “thank you for stopping by!” She got a hug for that. 

    • #6
  7. Flicker Member
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):
    I am sad to report that my 92 year old Mom, who still lives in the house I was born, is now being shunned by some of her lifelong friends and neighbors, because of politics. These are the same neighbors I worked shoulder to shoulder with as a young man. These are the neighbors who attend church with my Mom (in fact, recently rejoined at her behest and prompting). Just a few weeks ago, they were on my Mom’s back patio, and were blaming Orange Man Bad for the Neanderthals who were hesitant to get the vax. My Mom asked, why they thought that, since Trump was primarily responsible for the rapid development of the vax, and encouraged everyone to get it. They simply stated that he was evil, and asked if she would vote for him again, knowing how evil he was. She replied yes, and they huffed out, without even saying goodbye. My Mom was devastated.

    I’m so sorry, @ nohaaj. People have lost their humanity.

    This is a powerful statement.

    • #7
  8. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel
    @bethanymandel

    Thank you for writing this for us!! <3

    • #8
  9. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    We don’t contribute the joy of children (55+ development) in our neighborhood (cul-de-sac) but we know each other by name and help each other out. I’ve just picked up the newspaper of a woman whose husband just passed away and she’d traveled to NY for the funeral; we cooked a few meals for a neighbor who had a devastating fall; neighbors have brought me soup, cookies and good wishes. Having lived in other states and known the isolation of busy people, we love living in a place where people care for each other. Good for you, Jessi, and your family, too!

    We live in the same type of neighborhood. We share picking up newspapers and packages when we are away for a few says.  Our next door neighbor was having some chemotherapy and my husband took her trash cans in and out. We are not all close friends but we will wander across the street when we see a few folks sitting on their front patio. And when I have extra cookies when I bake there are about 4 couples I share with. The main trouble is that we’re all getting old – there have been about 5 deaths since we moved in 17 years ago.

    • #9
  10. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges
    @JessiBridges

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    to her it was the sound of life renewing itself.

    That is such a wonderful perspective! 

    • #10
  11. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges
    @JessiBridges

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    We don’t contribute the joy of children (55+ development) in our neighborhood (cul-de-sac) but we know each other by name and help each other out. I’ve just picked up the newspaper of a woman whose husband just passed away and she’d traveled to NY for the funeral; we cooked a few meals for a neighbor who had a devastating fall; neighbors have brought me soup, cookies and good wishes. Having lived in other states and known the isolation of busy people, we love living in a place where people care for each other. Good for you, Jessi, and your family, too!

    That is absolutely wonderful! We live in a terribly transient and busy city and most of my life it has been the norm for neighbors to keep mostly to themselves. But I’ve found that when we open up to them and take the initiative, people are receptive. 

    • #11
  12. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges
    @JessiBridges

    Nohaaj (View Comment):
    Our nation is now being torn apart neighbor by neighbor by the evil propaganda spewed by the MSM, and our political beasts.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. It really is heartbreaking to watch this happen in real life. I know it’s common on social media, but you’re right, it’s happening in our own neighborhoods. I try not to discuss politics with neighbors because we are the minority (Conservatives) in our neighborhood. But at the same time we don’t hide it. Everyone knows us as the house with the Gadsden flag. So far it hasn’t caused any issues. 

    • #12
  13. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges
    @JessiBridges

    Annefy (View Comment):
    When that happens we open up all the windows so we can hear them.

    I absolutely loved reading your comment! Thank you for this. It’s very encouraging as a mom of young children to hear this kind of encouragement. Especially in a world where children don’t seem to be appreciated anymore. 

    • #13
  14. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges
    @JessiBridges

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Thank you for writing this for us!! <3

    It’s always my pleasure!

    • #14
  15. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Jessi Bridges (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    When that happens we open up all the windows so we can hear them.

    I absolutely loved reading your comment! Thank you for this. It’s very encouraging as a mom of young children to hear this kind of encouragement. Especially in a world where children don’t seem to be appreciated anymore.

    You know what I love to wake up to on an early Saturday morning? Hammering. Hammering and sawing. Cause I know that means someone is working on making something better. I’d love even more to see a car with a hood up, and a few guys leaning over, but those days seem to be gone.

    So you can only imagine how I feel when I hear young kids hollering. And I hope to heavens that my immediate neighbors felt similarly (lots of kids in the ‘hood back in the day, but immediate neighbors were sans children) They were amazingly tolerant – especially through the teenage years.

    One of my favorite books is West With The Night by Beryl Markham. There’s a wonderful line where she speaks of her father, who is speaking of East Africa. He said you could feel the future under your feet.

    When I hold my newborn grand daughter, I can feel the future. 

    I hope your neighbors enjoy the hollering and see your children and feel the future.

    • #15
  16. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges
    @JessiBridges

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Jessi Bridges (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    When that happens we open up all the windows so we can hear them.

    I absolutely loved reading your comment! Thank you for this. It’s very encouraging as a mom of young children to hear this kind of encouragement. Especially in a world where children don’t seem to be appreciated anymore.

    You know what I love to wake up to on an early Saturday morning? Hammering. Hammering and sawing. Cause I know that means someone is working on making something better. I’d love even more to see a car with a hood up, and a few guys leaning over, but those days seem to be gone.

    So you can only imagine how I feel when I hear young kids hollering. And I hope to heavens that my immediate neighbors felt similarly (lots of kids in the ‘hood back in the day, but immediate neighbors were sans children) They were amazingly tolerant – especially through the teenage years.

    One of my favorite books is West With The Night by Beryl Markham. There’s a wonderful line where she speaks of her father, who is speaking of East Africa. He said you could feel the future under your feet.

    When I hold my newborn grand daughter, I can feel the future.

    I hope your neighbors enjoy the hollering and see your children and feel the future.

    This is such a helpful perspective. I have really enjoyed yours and other comments on this post. Thank you!

    • #16