How to care big with confidence.


Being accused of over-caring ever since I was a child gives me the incentive to ask an obvious question; Is there such a thing as caring too much? As an eight-year-old girl who fell deeply in love with my newborn sister and wanted nothing more than to care for her, was I caring too much? When my husband takes calls from his mentally ill clients 24/7, does he care too much? As my daughter stays at home and raises her son through his formative years, will she care too much for too long? Watching my friend take off a week of work to travel out of state and ensure that her niece’s wedding goes off without a hitch, do some speculate that she cares too much? Does my friend wonder if their speculations are correct?

Caring is an adjective that means “displaying kindness and concern for others.” It is a noun that means “the work or practice of looking after those unable to care for themselves, especially sick and elderly people.” Caring is also a verb which means “feel concern or interest; attach importance to something.”

Lack of care relates to such things as being careless, cavalier, flippant, forgetful, inattentive, inconsiderate, indifferent, lackadaisical, lax, neglectful, negligent, reckless, and unmindful. It can lack consciousness and in extreme cases become bad faith, corruption, dishonesty, and dishonor. Personality disorders describe an inability to care about others as anti-social and only to care for oneself as narcissism. Being without conscience defines criminal psychopaths.

Caring is an act of a well-formed conscience.

The beauty of a woman is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows. ~ Audrey Hepburn

Why then is caring ripe for concern, something at risk of being done too much? The problem isn’t with the caring but rather with managing significant energy. When one’s care is as tall as a skyscraper, as wide as a western sky, and as deep as the ocean, one needs a plan that moderates without hindering an expansive heart.

Care big through steadiness and attention to basic needs.

Those who intensely care risk extreme emotional highs and lows, anxiety and depression, as well as exhaustion and burnout. Carers may give generously to one aspect of their lives while minimizing or completely ignoring others. Here’s the rub. Human beings have basic needs, and there are natural laws that when ignored dole out painful consequences.

There are five broad categories which every person must attend to regularly, even those, especially those, who are saving the world. One’s vocation includes marriage, parenting, creative brilliance and uniquely serving others for the greater good. Strengthen one’s physical body and expand one’s inner life. Perform work and manage workspace. Engage socially with friends and community.

Care big by prioritizing what is most important.

Those who care do so about many things. Carers fulfill duties necessary for functioning families. They listen to their friends and volunteer in their communities. Carers also feel intensely about many things from today’s hot and humid weather to the power-hungry Little League board, and the latest war declared on the other side of the planet. Because carers have an enormous capacity to care, they can take in a lot of noise through meetings, news, and social media. When left unchecked, all of this caring can rile up the mind, exhaust emotions, and deplete the body.

To avoid caring-fatigue, focus on 1-3 priorities in each of the five broad categories with attention to what is most important and will have the most impact then join with others who share these priorities. To care about everything willy-nilly wastes precious energy, is emotionally discouraging, and impedes action which leads to positive results.

Care big by believing others and giving them space not to care.

Carers find it hard to believe that others don’t care. There is the temptation to cajole, bombard, and press others into caring via lengthy monologs, social media blasts, pity parties and guilt trips. All of this devours energy. To genuinely care takes energy-conserving restraint so that respect for others shines first. When an adult says through her words or shows with his actions that they don’t care, believe them. Permission granted not to expend energy on others’ disregard.

Of all the blarney thrown around on this big, beautiful planet of ours, the myth of “caring too much” is one that grabs my heart. Our hurting world needs more care, not less. We need people who care big! Go forward with confidence by focusing steadily on the highest priorities and join with others who care with and for you. There’s no such thing as caring too much.

I’m Angie McIntyre and I believe that care leaders merit support, running is better than complaining, and wellness is for everyone. Do you?


How to say yes in a world of no

photo-1458662236860-b721a6735660Recently, I caught myself in a bad habit. The tricky part is that this habit isn’t obviously bad, like snapping at my loved ones or watching too much sports television, of which I am guilty. In fact, this habit is often portrayed as a virtue. In other words, I thought this bad habit was good.

Aiden was in from college last week and asked me to help him to get off to a good start on his summer fitness program. This included, among other things, running. When the conversation turns to running, I light up like the sun and can sometimes be blinding with my enthusiasm.

Immediately, I told my son about my latest and greatest pre-run fuel, a combination of energizer, nuts, and dried fruit whirled in a blender. No thanks, momma. While driving to the park where we would run, I expressed my immense joy at finding a running shoe that fits me perfectly and asked if he had a good running shoe. Not needed, momma. O…kay…then, while walking before our run I suggested breaking the isolation of running by joining RunKeeper? Nah.

No. No. No.

A quick google search of “how to say no” demonstrates our cultural preference for, the need for training in, and dare I say, virtue in saying no to the tune of 132,000,000 hits. Titles like, How To Say No To Anyone (Including A Good Friend), 10 Guilt-Free Strategies For Saying No, and How To Say No At Work, frolic through the pages of Forbes, Time, and the Mayo Clinic.

Honestly, I’ve said no to many people and opportunities quite easily over the years. Aiden, my apple, didn’t fall far from this tree.

Again, a quick google search of “how to say yes” is telling. With only 43,000,000 hits and lackluster titles such as, Don’t Be A Word Bore: Alternative Ways To Say Yes, and others which address being affirmative in different languages, it appears that saying yes is as easy as breathing while saying no is painfully daunting.

But wait a minute. Aiden and I are good at saying no. And I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of noes, especially of late, therefore many people I know are good at saying no too. As a thick-skinned gal, I tend to not personalize this phenomenon, but it doesn’t feel good. It just doesn’t.

After a few noes from Aiden, my energy began to drain and I felt confused. My mind began to race with thoughts, double checking myself. Am I being too enthusiastic? Is my information wrong? Am I being pushy? But my son did ask for my help, my information was good enough, and since when did enthusiasm become suspect?

Perhaps the problem isn’t with saying no. Perhaps the problem is with not saying yes.

I stopped in my tracks and asked my son a question, “Do you think you can find a yes?” A big grin crossed his face and he answered, “Yes.” We both laughed

A few months ago I watched the TED Talk, My year of saying yes to everything, by Shonda Rhimes, the “the titan behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder.” Shonda got me thinking about my own noes. I realized that I was saying no out of habit, fear, or worse, to things big and small. No, I can’t run a half marathon. No, I can’t stop to watch a movie. No, I can’t sell our house during spring baseball season. And, dang it, I was feeling good about those noes. You know, I was setting healthy boundaries and conserving my energy and prioritizing and…and…was I?

How is one to say yes in a world of increasing speed, demands, and expectations in order to grow love bigger? Here are a few ways to begin.

Say yes to physical wellness. Get rest. Eat an extra serving of vegetables. Do a 7 minute workout. Set your next fitness goal.

Say yes to your primary relationships. Negotiate differences with your spouse. Stop and listen to your children with the goal of understanding each other. Call your parents. Comment on your siblings’ social media. Support their dreams physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

Say yes to your secondary relationships. Family first but friends not last. Accept their invitations. Invite them to your home and activities. Make and keep promises. Encourage their children.

Say yes to your neighbors. Buy their Girl Scout cookies. Purchase their products and services. Attend the school championship game. Go to church.

Say yes to the trustworthy. If someone you know lives as a good parent, entrepreneur, optimist, runner (ahem), or other positive role or trait that you desire, listen to them and take action.

Say yes to those most in need. Help the young. Encourage the discouraged. Reach out to the marginalized.

Say yes to the enthusiastic. Each person has a passion, gift, and talent to share. Enjoy their enjoyment. Feed off of their energy. Cheer them on to victory!

There will be times when a no is necessary. Last week I said no to a woman’s demand that I attend a meeting. Um, no. No explanation or excuse. No pontification that I needed to put my family first. No emotional energy expended at all. Just, no thank you. It was easy, really. However well-intentioned, she and her meeting didn’t fit any of my above criteria.

Aiden and I talked about our shared habit of having a negative first reaction and saying no. He then downloaded RunKeeper, was eventually fitted for running shoes which he appreciates, and now chooses to chew nuts and dried fruit before his runs. I found a half marathon in October to train for, watched Sandlot with my youngest son, and our home is for sale.

Cool things happen when we say yes. There are power and positive movement for both the giver and receiver in saying yes to the right things, in the right way, at the right time. How can I say yes to you? How will you find your next yes?