A Different Kind of Gift

A number of my Facebook friends love taking tests. You know what I’m talking about, right? For example, there is the Color Personality Test, How Old Do You Really Act Test, and the What Should Your Parents Have Named You Test. (I got Emma by the way).

     Well, I have a test for you. It’s about gift-giving. Coincidentally, this is my birthday month, and I can tell you precisely what will happen. My friend Nancy will give me some wonderfully practical item (last year it was organizers for my luggage) that I will keep forever. Janie will send me something lovely, but it will probably arrive in November. She has a loving, generous nature, but tends to run behind a bit. From my husband, it will be something he knows I want even though I never expressed it. He is perceptive that way. 

     My pal Samantha loves sweets. Consequently, my gift from Samantha will probably be some luscious chocolate-fudgy something or other. She gifts me with something absolutely over-the-top, and I love her for it! 

     Birthdays are fun, and presents are great, but let’s get serious for a moment and talk about a different kind of gift. Rate yourself on the non-material gifts you offer the world. Are you generous with your compliments? Do you lavish praise on others, especially those who desire your approval. Are you taking the time to offer encouragement and a helping hand? Do you mentor and act as a role model for others? Do you give of your time and stay present in the moment when interacting with loved ones? Is gratitude high on your priority list?

     If you passed this quiz with flying colors, I applaud you, but if you came in a little lean, no worries. We are all a work in progress. I’m making kindness a priority this year. On my Vision Board, I posted a sign that says, “Kick up Your Kindness Level.” One of the ways I am doing so is by using the website, More Love Letters. 

     The founder, Hannah Brencher, a Ted Speaker and blogger, was my inspiration. Feeling lonely and depressed when she moved to New York City, this real-life hero did something about it. Hannah started writing and leaving love notes all over the city. She tucked them away in library books, coffee shops, and even bathroom stalls. You can read more about this kindness movement in her  book, “If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers.”

     Each month I go to Hannah’s website and write a love letter of sorts to someone who could use a dose of encouragement. If that act of kindness appeals to you, head over to her website now.

  This week, make it a point to shine your light on others. Caring acts bless both the giver and receiver. And thanks for reading this post and being a loving change agent!

Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear how you made the world a little brighter with your act of kindness.

How to Recover From a One-Two Punch Life Event

Sometimes life hits us hard with an adverse event throwing us off balance. In return, we react, we adjust, we recover. But what happens when two major life issues clobber an individual in one year? What is the process for getting up, fighting back, and returning to normalcy?  

   A client of mine learned to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and rebuild. For Rhonda, it started when her long-term job with a major financial institution was made redundant. Walking out the door on her last day with her pink slip and severance package in hand, she stayed positive. She did something quite wise, Rhonda decided to take a breather. She deferred our work on her job search for 30 days.

     When I caught up with my client to schedule our first session, she answered the phone in a calm, professional manner. It was what she said next that left me with no words. Rhonda explained she was sitting in a hotel room with her husband and two dogs because her home burnt to the ground in a Northern California fire. 

Picking Up the Pieces

     There you have it, folks, two major life events mere weeks apart, both traumatic, both requiring emotional and financial recovery. Where to start? After processing the initial shock of dual events, Rhonda drew on her resilient nature and began to design a plan. Although highly independent, she knew she must ask for and accept help from friends and agencies. The family made plans to move out of the hotel and into the home of a distant cousin.

     After some counseling and joining a support group, Rhonda and her spouse began finding glimmers of that elusive silver lining.

Now unencumbered by a mortgage payment and Rhonda’s job, the two began discussions about fulfilling a dream and moving to Colorado. While warming to their newfound freedom, their burden became lighter as they anticipated positive psychological changes.

Trauma Recovery

     I suspect at the outset of the tragedy; the couple experienced situational depression. Who wouldn’t? Rhonda told me they left their home mere minutes before the fire consumed it.

     People do recover from trauma, and looking back, Rhonda reports having a stronger appreciation for life. Those two events stacked one upon the other were severe, but change often provides new opportunities. 

     In tough situations, lean into resilience, but the life lesson here is don’t try to go it alone. Whenever a traumatic event impacts your life, ask for help, seek counseling, and as you work through recovery, train your brain to see the positive.

Dear Reader,

When the COVID-19 crisis is over, I suspect there will be multiple stories regarding one-two punch life events. I am publishing this today, to remind us, that on the other side of the toughest situations, it is possible to rebuild.

Stay safe.

Love,

Sunny

Be That Person

Recently I read this post on Facebook: “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” I smiled because my dog thinks I’m pretty special. I can tell because he follows me wherever I go, spends hours beside me at my desk, and shows immense gratitude when a dog cookie appears.

Waiting patiently

But I have a bit of a spin on that sentiment. My thought is: “Be the person you wish you knew.” I’m talking about the one you could have used in your life to make things just a bit easier.

I lost my mother in my early twenties. Sure, I survived as a motherless young adult; however, I yearned for a wise aunt. Someone I could turn to for some mature sage advice, someone who knew my mother, someone to share the loss, the tears, the triumphs. And someone to watch me walk down the aisle.

Who was that missing person in your life? Maybe one of the cool kids who would have invited you to sit at that coveted lunch table and helped you feel comfortable? Or perhaps a wise mentor to show you the ropes when you got your first job?

What if you had a teacher who encouraged and showed an interest in you? Or a coach who believed in you? Maybe it was a parent who was missing from your life.

As luck would have it, I am fortunate enough to have nieces providing me with the opportunity to perform the role that was missing in my life. Think about it. Who is the person needing you in his or her life?

When you find that individual, make a difference, be a helping hand, and a hand to hold when needed.  Listen with both your head and your heart. Lend a shoulder to cry on, then speak your truth. Never withhold a dose of tough love if that is the required remedy. As Aristotle advised, “Lead from your heart and mind and listen to theirs.” Do these things, and you will be a positive story in someone else’s life. 

This week I invite you to spend some time identifying that person absent from your life.  Know that you are the missing link in the presence of a friend, a child, or at this point, a mere stranger. Pursue and build a relationship. I promise you; it will be fulfilling. Someone out there needs you, your talents, and your superpowers. Be the person you wish you knew.

Dear Friends…Rather than give you another article about Covid-19 and how you can help, I am resurfacing an old blog. Both now, and when our global future brightens, we all need to be “that person.”

Sending you lots of love. Stay safe and stay well.

Sunny