Let’s be good neighbors, create great neighborhoods
“Try to remember the kind of September, when life was slow and oh so mellow…” lyrics by Harry Schmidt and Tom Jones
I am desperately trying to remember this kind of September but the images, like memories in the corners of my mind, are fading fast and sadly, they’re not being replaced by slow or mellow thoughts. The lyrics from this classic song came to me as I contemplated the remaining days of summer, the beginning of autumn, a rapidly changing landscape driven by chaos and pandemics, and the challenges we face in the waning days of one of my favorite months.
I’ve always loved September because it meant back to school, the fair, cooler weather, football games—normalcy. Growing up on a farm, it also meant picking cotton, dusty cornfields, making sorghum molasses, sweet potato patches—lots of hard, physical labor—but all that was made easier with the love and fellowship of neighbors and friends who helped.
As far as I can recall, we never celebrated anything called National Good Neighbor Day (coming this year September 28), but we lived it every day. Though we lived as close to nowhere as nowhere can be, our neighborhood was swarming with children, filled with wonderful role models, and protected by a million watchful eyes.
There was nowhere you could go without your parents knowing about it before you returned home, and this was long before cell phones and social media were even thought of or invented.
Times have changed and people are busy again, in spite of the pandemic, but next week, let’s take a moment and celebrate our neighbors and neighborhoods. President Jimmy Carter proclaimed this day in 1978 after it was created in the early 1970s by Becky Mattson, a Montana woman. According to www.nationalgoodneighborday.com, “Good neighbors make great neighborhoods,” and it’s true.
All neighborhoods are not created equal and now may be a good time to call your council person, school board member, or commissioner to insist that funding for more policing, improved schools, streets, traffic signs, services, etc., move to the top of the agenda.
The site suggests several ways to celebrate and here are my favorites: Host a block party, invite neighbors over for a BBQ, help a neighbor with a project, or go for a walk around your neighborhood. I call it being the kind of neighbor you’d like to have.
Neighbors watch and care for each other and they’re not just the people next door. Our neighbors in nearby communities and states are still hurting from weather-related and other disasters, and whether they label it climate change or Ida, Rose, Arthur, Odette, or a fire that destroyed everything in its path, when you’ve lost everything, Neighbors help you put things back together. Again, together we can do so much more than we ever could individually, so let’s start by being a better neighbor.
September is also National Self-care Month. This designation is so obvious it’s almost like saying you need to breathe to live. Self-care should be at the top of your list and that’s not the same thing as being selfish. When you take time to eat and sleep well, rest, exercise, think positive thoughts, and drink more water, you’re on the right track. When, not if, you do these things, the quality of your thoughts and actions improve.
Trust me, when you’re hungry, tired, and evil, nobody wins, and you shave years off your dreams and potential. When you are healthy and whole, all is right with the world. Try to remember that this September.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.