The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Life!

October 27, 2012

Let’s take care of ourselves — and others

Keeping the Faith

— Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Sept. 2, 2002. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

Several years ago, some organization got the idea to do a month-long promotion about a particular emphasis.

The idea caught on well.

Maybe too well.

There are now dozens of special designations every month, but October is particularly rife with “Awareness” promotions.

Here are some of the most common:

— Breast cancer awareness

— Bereavement

— Clergy appreciation

— Domestic violence

— Orthodontic care

— Pet care

At a glance, they may all seem quite different. However, they have a common theme take care of yourself    physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Women should seize the opportunity to take advantage of low-cost mammograms or no-cost screenings that apply for those who cannot afford them.

It’s a good month to schedule a doctor’s appointment, if you haven’t been this year, and it’s a good time to begin self-breast exams, if you have not already done so.

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Grieving is important. It’s necessary to acknowledge loss and to experience the pain, anger, frustration and doubt that goes with losing a loved one. This could be a good month to join a bereavement support group or take a “Walk to Remember,” such as the one scheduled this week at Raleigh General Hospital in Beckley. These are opportunities to express grief in a healthy way and to connect with other people experiencing the same emotions you are. You can gain a lot of strength from others and find therapy in offering them help in return.

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Few of us could manage the schedules most ministers keep. Not only do they spend time preparing sermons, Bible studies and spiritual development opportunities for parishioners; they invest countless hours visiting the sick, the bereaved, the troubled and the troubling. Ministers have to become masters of public relations. They are mediators in church squabbles, sources of counseling and information for all kinds of needs, and they are expected to be pleasant, generous, loving, kind and fair all the time and on every occasion. That’s a tall (and very unrealistic order). Today is a great time to send a note of appreciation and encouragement to your spiritual leaders. They do so much to take care of us. We need to take time to take care of them.

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There’s no time like the present for any person, young or old, who is living with physical, emotional or verbal abuse to become their own advocate and get some help. Agencies such as the Women’s Resource Center at Glen White serves six counties with a variety of services to help you find shelter, counseling, education and other resources. The most important thing you can do is get yourself and other loved ones to safety. Then, get the help you need to stay safe.

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People who get braces and other types of orthodontic care are sometimes perceived as vain and self-centered. Orthodontic care, however, is as much of a health issue as a cosmetic one. Misaligned teeth, missing teeth and other orthodontic problems can cause headaches, interfere with proper eating and contribute to numerous other health concerns. Getting them corrected even for cosmetic reasons is a good thing to do for yourself. The better you feel about the self, the better you will interact with others. Good self-esteem and vanity are not the same thing. It’s important to do as much as you can to improve how you see yourself, because your attitude about yourself will determine, in large measure, how others see you.

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This weekend is marked by many churches by a special ceremony called the “blessing of the animals.” The date was chosen because it falls near the birthday of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his love of animals and benevolence to them. Pets are wonderful gifts from God, but so many people do not care for them properly and practice good stewardship of these special gifts. If you have a pet, you have a responsibility to “bless” it by giving it the proper food, water, shelter and attention. Whether you feel your pet needs a special blessing from a spiritual leader or not, you need to give loving, responsible care to the animals you have taken in. They cannot fend for themselves. You need to make a commitment to meet their needs. Animals are the only things on this Earth that will give you unconditional love. You need to give them back some in return.

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Wherever you find yourself in this list of opportunities during the month of October, take the time to do something special for yourself or for others. Like the old song says, “Take good care of yourself. You belong to me.”  You belong to someone, and they are counting on you to be the best you can be. Don’t let them down.

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