Just One Thing To Do This Week: Reach Out

Los Alamos

As I continue my journey to improve overall well-being and the well-being of those around me, in the last few weeks I have committed to reducing the amount of sugar I consume to less than 24 grams and drinking two to three liters of water per day.

I did not have a problem meeting either goal as I was slayed by a nasty virus for a full week that left me unable to do much but lay on the couch watching PBS period dramas and sipping water all day.

As I started to feel better all I felt like eating was a bowl of cereal. I came to terms with consuming 12 grams of sugar in my cereal, then I happened to look at the nutrition label for the fat-free milk and saw there are ELEVEN grams of sugar in eight ounces of milk. As unhappy as I was about this revelation I ate it anyway and that was my total sugar intake for the day. Life is a series of compromises.

The next time I went to Smith’s I spent 30 minutes in a dairy case researching milk labels and helping customers reach items on the top shelf. (I am 5’10” and people routinely ask me to help them retrieve out-of-reach items on the top shelf at Smith’s). My research reveals that pretty much (“pretty much” is a scientific measurement) all milk (whole, 2%, and fat-free) has 11 grams of sugar per serving. The sugar in milk is naturally-occurring lactose, the same lactose that gives those who have “lactose intolerance” digestive distress.

I did find some pricey lactose-reduced milk that only had three grams of sugar per serving. I bought some for a taste-test. I will let you know how that turns out. There also are unsweetened almond, soy and rice milk options, but then you have to account for differences in protein, calcium, and carbohydrates. It always goes back to reading the nutrition panel and making informed decisions. Arghhh. Why does it always come back to personal responsibility? What a pain.

Now let’s talk about the one commitment I am making for this week—to reach out. What does that mean exactly?

Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal … anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.” It is true when I feel a need to isolate myself I am usually feeling a little beastly.

Human beings need to belong to a group and form relationships—this is a need that is as compelling for most as our need for food and shelter. The need to have an intimate relationship, to work well with others, to trade good news with family and friends, and even to share your personal life on social media are all ways of relating with others and fulfill our need for connection.

On Christmas Eve I received a card in the mail from an elderly Aunt that I have not communicated with in years. She sent a photo from 1964 of a family gathering at my grand-parents 50th wedding anniversary. I recognized the faces of my brother and sisters, mom and dad, many cousins and aunts and uncles. She sent this photo to everyone in the picture who are still alive. What a huge undertaking and I was so remarkably impressed by her kind and thoughtful gift.

Have I reached out to thank her? No. Well, not yet, but I will this week. I have written a note that has turned into a letter. I printed out some photos, and I am creating quite the little package to send her. I hope she feels loved and appreciated when she receives it. Reaching out to my Aunt Irma is my commitment for this week.

There are other reasons to reach out. Maybe you could reach out to someone who might be feeling lonely. Maybe you are lonely and need to reach out to someone.

My husband and I are fortunate to live on a lane with seven other households and we know everyone. We text, email, and phone back and forth as well as visit back and forth in each other homes. We have lived in this neighborhood for three years, and it is the first time in my life we have had this kind of relationship with our neighbors.

Previously we lived in neighborhoods with cordial but cursory relationships. Do you know your neighbors? This might be a good time to knock on a door and invite someone over for a cup of coffee, or maybe offer to shovel their walk, or ask if they would be kind enough to shovel yours, if they are able.

Is there someone you have been meaning to reach out to and just haven’t had the time? Maybe a family member or old friend who has fallen aside? Maybe it is even the person you sleep next to each night. We all need to feel loved, valued and appreciated. Whether you need to ask for it, or offer it, maybe the time is now.