You've probably been running around trying to finish your holiday shopping the past few weeks. I'm not even done yet! It seems to get harder every year, knowing what the perfect gift is for each person.
And yet, we give so many gifts every day that we don't think about! That random hug, a phone call to someone who may not be feeling her best, a handwritten note of encouragement or cheer, or even just a passing smile. All these things are gifts because they very well could help turn around someone else's day.
Where money and store-bought gifts box us in, kind words and gestures open the giving spectrum up and out to a whole new level, especially if we give them away every single day of our lives. If you read Robin Sharma's book (I can't thank Susan Mazza enough for recommending it), that's what true leadership is. It's sharing the best of yourself with others all the time, and setting a positive example no matter what situation you're presented with. No title required.
We hear stories all the time about people who have lived through such painful experiences, and yet they find a way to turn a negative in a positive, by using their life experience to help others. In my eyes, those are the true heroes. And the leaders and role models we need so desperately these days.
And so, did you take a few moments to ponder the quote and question from yesterday? I hope you learned a thing or two about yourself in the process, as I did.
Here are the three things I'd put into my imaginary box:
1. Appreciation - Who couldn't use more of this? Parents especially go above and beyond the call of duty, often without being thanked for it. That's understandable, though, as children do not learn what it takes to be a parent until they actually become one! It comes with the territory.
BUT, across the board it seems to me that there's a widespread lack of an expression of gratitude in society these days. You don't have to be a parent to see that people seem to be so overwhelmed that they often seem to take kind words and gestures (especially on the road) without acknowledging them at all.
How easy is it to wave thank you from your car window, or actually say thank you in person? When someone does the kind thing - why not pay them back with a little respect? How often is it that someone pleasantly surprises us like that, anyway?
Anyway, to me, the words "thank you" are the two most powerful words in the English language. And yet, there are times when we forget to use them.
Are you keeping your gratitude in a box? Unleash it, by expressing it whenever and wherever you can. And a great way to cheer yourself up is to keep a gratitude journal. If you write in it every night before bed, chances are you'll sleep better. How sweet gratitude is!
And so, two possible symbols of appreciation I'd put into my imaginary box would be a blank writing journal and/or thank you notes. Reflection and expression go hand in hand, right?
2. Clarity - Sometimes, we seek answers that can only be revealed through looking inward, especially if they relate to health and/or career. When we have hard questions to answer for ourselves, we very often have to be our own experts and trust our inner compass. For me, this has been a lengthy process. While some "experts" can guide us (often at a high cost), it's ultimately up to us to discover the answers for ourselves. PLUS very often the best expert advice can be found in BOOKS - so the library should be our best friend! In essence, trust your gut AND those library bookshelves. They'll never steer you in the wrong direction.
By the way, there are a few people who might be reading this who have certainly helped me find clarity over the past year or two, so thank you! You know who you are.
Two physical objects for my box that symbolize clarity would be a magnifying glass and a compass. Focus and direction are the keys here!
3. More meaningful moments with family members and friends. As my children are teens now, I can't believe how the time has flown! With busy schedules, it's easy for time to just slip by. Before I know it, my first will be in college.
It becomes more challenging to find common activities to share as children get older, so parents have to work a little harder to discover them. We love to plan outdoor trips that take us deep into the natural world. In my eyes, it connects us like nothing else can.
My two symbols of special moments and family would be a photo album or a camera.
Are these all things I can give to other people? Of course!
They're also things that I can give to myself. I don't have to wait for anyone else to "give" them to me, but sometimes they do so at unexpected moments in time. You know what I mean?
So, while you're running around making the final touches on your holiday plans, please don't forget to give a gift to the most important person of all - yourself! You deserve it because you are simply extraordinary.
I hope you receive more than your share of the 3 things you placed into your box. If you give them away, they're certain to come back to you - just maybe not when or how you might expect them to. That's part of what makes life interesting, no?
When life gets crazy, please don't forget to stop and take in all those special moments that will pop up all over the place. You wouldn't want to let them pass you by.
And so, as these two posts began with a quote, here we will end with one:
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~Leo Buscaglia
Thank you so much for reading my blog this year! I wish you much peace, joy, and health during the holidays and throughout 2012.
For more inspiration, and a related picture book suggestion, perhaps you'd like to continue on with 6 Ways to be a Holiday Bucket Filler.