Ann Crews Melton
Time spent with friends is an important component of self-care ... especially when wearing funny hats. The author, right, attends high tea with Pastor Jenny Hallenbeck in 2014. (Submitted)

Fall is by nature a more "involved" time -- school is back in session, clubs and service organizations resume regular meetings, and every weekend is packed with festivals, fundraisers or walks to raise awareness and contribute to a cause. This issue we highlight women involved in our Bismarck-Mandan community, whether as elected officials or as "unsung heroines" who give of their time and talents away from the public eye.

As many of the women highlighted note, giving back is a rewarding experience. If you are new to the area or looking for a way to connect, I hope you will find a cause you are passionate about and pursue it. But I'm also aware many of you are already not only committed, but perhaps overcommitted -- women are now well documented as caregivers for not only our immediate families, but often extended family, friends and the organizations we feel passionate about.

My friend Jenny, aka Pastor Jenny Hallenbeck at McCabe United Methodist Church, recently attended a day-long training on homelessness organized by the Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People. The training included a session on self-care, which Jenny relayed is a message she hears a lot as a minister, but one that other caregivers and volunteers may not hear often enough. She shared with me her own lessons in learning not to overextend herself in a job that often requires 24/7 availability, and noted that becoming a martyr and burning out ultimately will not help anyone, especially yourself.

With that in mind, for our "Unsung heroines" profile, I intentionally included a question about self-care. Columnist Marnie Lahtinen also writes in this issue about being proactive with your own health -- something women may not want to make time for, but personal health is just as important as serving others. I hope you will take a few moments for yourself as the busy fall continues and holiday planning gets underway, and reflect not only on how you are or can be involved, but also on what you can do to be kind to yourself.

Ann Crews Melton is a writer and editor who lives in Bismarck. The mom of an 18-month-old, she serves on the board of the North Dakota Humanities Council, but also makes time to share coffee with friends and read good fiction.