Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle—Those are the 3 R’s that most of us are familiar with. I love these 3 R’s and I talk about the importance of being environmentally friendly in in the cloth diaper series (1,2,3,4, 5).
But today I want to talk about another set of 3 R’s: Refill, Reach and Replace. Much like the other 3 R’s save our plant and maintain the beauty of our earth, these new 3 R’s are there to sustain our souls, enrich our communities, and build partnerships. All of the R’s are there to make a world a beautiful and wonderful place. But my sincere hope is that sharing these new R’s will help you reflect on your ability to make a difference in your own life and the life of others around you, the same way that the original 3 Rs allow you to make an environmental impact on the planet. Each of these work independently and collaboratively to help make things better.
It’s important for me to start with refill. What I mean by refill is refill your cup. You can’t fill someone else’s cup if you haven’t refilled your own. Life, as wonderful as it can be, also drains a little bit from you everyday, and some of us are walking around with empty cups.
An empty cup can make it hard to get out of bed. It doesn’t afford you the ability to have patience when your loved ones are just flat out annoying (cause if we’re keeping it real, just cause we love them, it doesn’t mean they don’t get annoying.)
Not having enough in your own cup makes dealing with some of life’s challenges nearly impossible.
Moving about with nothing in your cup can eventually lead you to feel like you’re nothing, or make you feel like nothing you’re doing is good, or meaningful, or valued. It can also make you feel exhausted and unmotivated. It’s not good for you. It’s important to fill your cup up. Maybe you can’t manage to have a full cup everyday. But, you need to do something to add to your cup weekly, but ideally daily!
So, how do you refill your cup?
You’ll have to answer that one. I can share with you a few things that I’ve done to refill my own cup and hopefully give you some ideas of where to start.
· I started a Book Club. I wanted a place to connect and challenge me while also motivating me to carve out reading time for myself. Reading itself can be a cup filler.
· I try all the seasonal drinks at Starbucks. Some are really great, and some are meh. But it’s fun for me to give myself that treat every couple of weeks.
· I get a massage. There’s A LOT of great benefits to a massage. It’s not something I consider a luxury. It’s a wonderful way to fill my cup mentally and physically. You can save money by getting massages done at a local massage school by their students.
· I’ve been doing my nails here recently, and I’ve been really loving having some glitter on them! Color Street has been a game changer for me, and so much so that I’ve started to sell them. Learn more here!
· Calling a good listener or wonderful encourager. I’m a long winded, talk in circles, repeat myself and verbally process kinda lady. I have a few wonderful women in my tribe that are so compassionate and patient to let me get things off my chest without interruption or judgement. Not everyone can do this for you, and that’s okay, we’ve all got our strengths. But you should find someone who can listen when you need to vent.
· Going for a walk to take some pretty pictures. You can add filters or not, but then share them with others so they can enjoy the beauty too. Your walk doesn’t have to be outside, but for sure walk around somewhere that you will be passing things that bring you joy.
· Watching or reading something funny. A big belly laugh, the kind that makes your eyes wet with tears and aches to your sides from laughing so hard, is probably the best way to refill your cup.
· Riding in the car with the music up loud giving surrounding cars a full concert complete with air guitar and a synchronized dance routine.
There are so many options for refilling your cup. Sometimes it’s good to spend some dollars on yourself, and other times money is one of those areas that’s maybe draining your cup. Whether it’s expensive or free, you gotta refill your cup.
Sometimes though, what you need to “top off” your cup, so to speak, is to help fill someone else’s cup. You can’t sustain your own cup doing this, but it can be a nice way to help your cup “run over,” which leads to the second R.
There’s two ways to look at this one. You can reach out to others looking for assistance or you can reach out to offer assistance. Both of these are important, and there should be a healthy balance of you doing both of these.
Sometimes it’s easier for us to give help than it is to accept help. I get it. I would rather run myself completely ragged trying to “do it all” by myself. When I do eventually ask for help or accept help that someone is offering, I find myself apologizing. I’m basically saying “I’m sorry I couldn’t do it all by myself.” WHY AM I DOING THAT?! We use the phrase “it takes a village” all the time, but then won’t let the village help. If someone is offering to help you, do yourself a favor and take it! The biggest mistake I made after having my c-section was never taking anyone’s offer to come help me with the baby. People would ask here and there if I needed anything financially or physically, and I hardly ever took them up on it. Even after I’d healed, it still would have been nice to have some help with the dishes or picking up a click list of groceries, or holding the baby while I took a nap. I think I get so worried about inconveniencing people that I won’t ask for help or accept it when it’s offered. If I would just stop trying to be some super human who can do it all, I’d probably save myself a lot of frustration, exhaustion, and even sometimes alienation if I would just reach out and ask for the help that I need.
On the flip side of the coin, reach out to others and see that they need. This could be as simple as pushing someone’s grocery cart to the corral. Seriously, do you know how helpful that is when you’ve got a baby in the car or it hurts to walk a lot? Here’s some other ideas that I’ve encountered recently:
· FOOD. My family is all about food. This could be taking a meal to a family who maybe needs some support whether it’s for a joyous reason such as a new baby(or babies) or maybe to someone who doesn’t get many visitors or could use a smile and home cooked meal.
· Know any parents with no family that’s involved locally or at all to help give them a break? Maybe offer to keep the kiddos to give them an opportunity to go refill their own cup.
· Comment on someone’s picture, post on their wall or send a letter in the mail. Take an opportunity to tell another person how wonderful they are. I can tell you from experience, it means a lot to hear that you’re doing a good job, you’re looking great, or you’re being thought of.
· Think about some things that you really care about. Animals? Babies? Environment? Fitness? Specific cause? From there, see where there is a need for your money or time, and then donate it! Maybe a local group needs a fun person to come teach a Zumba class at their organization and you’re an instructor, or perhaps a group is $100 shy of reaching their fundraising goal and you help them raise that last little bit. The sky is the limit here and there is no specific group that you have to give time or money to, as long as it’s important to you and their mission is supporting that passion of yours.
· Carpooling. If you’ve got a car or boatloads of cash to spend on Uber/Lyft/Taxi etc, then you don’t have to think about how you’re getting to and from places. But, if you don’t have a car or cash, this can be a really stressful part of your day. If you’re feeling up to being extremely helpful, by all means, go out of your way and just be extra helpful. But what I was really thinking about, is when you’re already going to be passing by someone’s house and you’re going to the same general direction/location, just go ahead and carpool to help alleviate some of that stress, at least for one leg of their trip. This is especially big with coworkers or for people going to the exact same event as you anyways.
There are so many ways to reach out to people. Keep healthy boundaries with this, and don’t take advantage/be taken advantage of. Don’t give so much that you’re emptying your own cup. Some people reach out all the time without ever returning the favor and aren’t grateful. It’s important to remember that people’s time is a gift and you should be thankful and appreciative when they give you any of it. If you feel that you can never reach out to someone or you find something is constantly leaving you feeling like you need to refill your cup afterwards, it may be time to reflect on the last R.
Replace fits in beautifully with refill and reach, and just like the other 2 Rs there are lots of ways to think about and implement replace. You really want to make sure that you’re replacing the negatives with the positives. This can be with thoughts, people, and situations. If something is not bringing you joy, you don’t need it in your life. Practically speaking, you can’t escape everything that brings you down at any point ever. But, every area that you can replace something negative you should. This can be really simple like replacing an ill fitting sweater with a comfortable and well fitting one.
Another area that has been really standing out to me lately is with social media. I’ve got a lot of people in my circle that have been talking a lot about how much various things on social media have been bringing them down and emptying their cups. What I’ve found has been super helpful is the “hide this post (and posts like it)” button, the “unfollow/snooze” button or simply the “unfriend” button. Social media doesn’t have to be a dark and negative space. They’ve taken great lengths to help you structure your newsfeed with more of what you want to see. So just replace the things you don’t want to see on your timeline with things that you do. Follow pages and join groups with similar interests as you. Except on days that something really sad happens on a community wide level, for the most part I love scrolling through my timeline, because I have replaced all the things I don’t want to see with the things that I do.
Replace can also be a good place to talk about replacing toxic relationships with healthy ones. Someone may not be a bad person, but they may be a bad person for you.
Replace can also be a good point to bring up our thoughts. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. This can be SOOOO much easier said than done. Sometimes it’s not possible for us to do this on our own and we need to reach out. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can also be a good way to refill our cups. For example, maybe you’re frustrated being stuck in traffic. I mean, c’mon who LIKES traffic? But, it could be a great time to pick one of those options for refilling your cup. Or you could explore your city and try to find new back road routes home instead of sitting at lights. Whatever you need to do to replace that negativity hanging out in your car from traffic into something positive.
I hope that you’ve been able to see the interconnectedness of Refill, Reach and Replace. Each of these are important as solo dolo actions, but when they’re working together in a cycle especially within an entire community, it can make a huge difference. Share some ways that you Refill, Reach, and Replace!