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.

Introducing Irma

I could write about the day I met Irma. It’s a funny, and entertaining story, and I hate to tease you, but that’s a saga for another time. Today I’m going to reveal the Irma I know up close and personal. If you can relate to reinventions, creating a successful second chapter of your career life or if you just plain love motivational stories about dynamic women, then read on.

Recently my friend contributed a chapter to an international bestselling book, “Voices of the 21st Century,” a tome about gutsy women who carved out their own path leaving education, inspiration and a blueprint for other females in their wake.

As the book jacket proclaims, Irma Parone is a “sought-after leadership consultant, speaker and author.” Buy the book and read more of her back story. She writes of her career with authenticity, embracing all she is, displaying her kick ass talent of dealing with what life throws at her and coming out on top no matter the odds.

But there is so much more to the CEO of Parone Group.  She’s the gal you want to sit next to at one of those conferences for women. She will engage you and have you laughing from your first bite of the mixed green salad to the last morsel of the ever-present rubber chicken. During that luncheon, it won’t be all about Irma. She will pepper you with questions and quickly have you declaring your future dreams with confidence. Why? Because she is really, really good at getting women like us to believe in ourselves. My advice is lean in close, and listen intently because you will learn from her.

Parone is a fighter. Yep, she’s a badass who worked her way to the top in a male dominated industry without the help of any fairy godmother or female movement. I suppose the secret sauce to her success is a four- letter word: grit. She is persistent, never gives up and having discovered long ago that success and failure go hand-in-hand, is constantly learning. Irma is not shy about telling you what failure feels like, but she is the kind of woman who looks a problem in the face with a wink along with her trademark mischievous smile.  

Another factor key to Parone’s success is passion. Experiencing any employee issues? Just ask her about creating high-value service levels and trusting relationships that earn the support and loyalty of your staff. She excels at this and is passionate about creating organizational effectiveness.

Lastly my friend is never timid about seeking and receiving support and forever grateful as evidenced by the lines she wrote in the book:

I think we can all agree that much of the emotional and mental strength we possess often comes from the strong bonds we have with our amazing female friends. A trusted ally is a lifeline. Much of the time our female friends know and understand us better than our partners. A recent study done at UCLA revealed what we already knew. Friendships between women are special on so many levels. Yep, that’s the call we make when we need a listening ear, some wise counsel or a night out with a good glass of wine and some meaningful conversation.

I hope you all have a friend like Irma in your life. A lunch or dinner with Irma is better than any therapy session. Her wise advice and sincere caring come directly from the heart and there is always a pinch of spice that leaves me laughing.

It’s The Little Things

    For weeks I prepared for a very big move. I traded in life in the Golden State for my next chapter in the Sunshine State. If you’ve ever moved across the country, or across the street, you know when it comes to your personal belongings, there are many decisions to be made.

For me, the big stuff was a cake walk. Selling my furniture, giving away clothing, kitchen ware and electronics, all a no-brainer. It’s the little things that gave me pause. Articles like a mug, a shawl, a tray, a Christmas ornament, a selection of amazing spices,  all gifted to me by friends that I did not leave behind.

     That’s the way it is in life, right? The small items or happenings make your heart sing and bring you joy. A mother’s smile, a first kiss, the smell of coffee brewing in the morning, your fourth grader’s first home run, the list is infinite. It may have been Pooh who said, “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” Well said dear Pooh. And for all of life’s little things, we should express gratitude.

For the small things that bring me joy, I am grateful

      We can also view this “little thing” concept from a goal achievement perspective. Obviously scoring small wins count when working toward the big goal. As Van Gogh stated, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” He certainly proved it with each tiny little brushstroke. 

Something Small Goes BIG

Sometimes something small inadvertently turns into a big accomplishment. I once read that Dale Carnegie’s mega-best-seller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” started with a short speech that expanded to a workshop, soon after became a course and eventually, the book. According to Wikipedia, over 15 million copies of this book have been sold worldwide.

So maybe the life lesson here is dream big, but start small.

Stop for a moment and consider the possibility of something you started as a minor project. Is there promise is broadening the outcome? (Note to self: Listen to your own advice. Turn your career columns and motivational blogs into two separate books. )     

Two Take-Aways

Based on the experience, my advice is twofold. Take notice of, and delight in the small things.  Show appreciation to the guy who let you cut into traffic, the barista who made you the perfect Tall Flat White and the sound of your loved one’s laughter. At the same time, review your catalog of small projects and determine if you’ve created a diamond in the rough. The possibilities are limitless!!

Dear Readers,

My husband and I have now been in our South Palm Beach condo for a month. Our transition has been an amazing experience. Takes a bit of moxie to step out in faith, but well worth it.

Now that we are settled in, I am returning to blogging on a regular basis. Thank you for reading and I hope you will continue to subscribe to “Life on the Sunny Side.”

Love,

Sunny