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.

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

Five Rules of Giving

 

I don’t always get it right. That was pretty obvious yesterday when I opened a “thank you” email. Although happy to be the recipient of some gratitude, I felt a twinge of shame. You see, in the spirit of giving, I extended a stranger a profession courtesy, no charge, no strings attached, just to be helpful and practice kindness. I like doing that. Later I grumbled in my head for at least 48 hours about the silence. Where was a gracious show of appreciation? I wanted something in return. Nothing much, just a thank you.

My “Aha” Moment

After receiving the email I realized the need to make some changes.  Obviously, due to my desire for gratitude, my act of kindness had a string attached.  A true and sincere giver expects nothing in return. Not only did I want a “thanks a lot,” I wanted it in my defined time frame. Like NOW! When I didn’t get it, I indulged in negative thoughts about allowing others to take advantage of me.

As this wasn’t the first time I found my  face red over fake selfless acts, I decided to teach myself a lesson and immediately  and began plotting to overcome my desire for give and take.

The result of my self-assigned homework, is my “List of Five.” Yep…five life rules I’m putting into action.

 

Rule Number One

If you’ve ever been to a second grader’s softball game, you may have noticed no one keeps score. Based on that philosophy, number one on my list of corrective action items is, “Throw away the scoreboard.”  That’s right. No more quid pro quo. No longer will I use a mental clipboard to keep score.

Passing On a Good Deed

Coupling my new rule with a familiar phrase and philosophy I penned, “Pay it forward,” as number two on my list. We’ve all been the recipient of kind acts. Passing on a random act of kindness makes our world a little brighter. My new mantra was kindness, whenever possible. As I considering it for a moment, I underlined it…TWICE!

One Way Giving

Often my expectations run high. Had I given freely, with no agenda, the thank you email would have been a sweet surprise making number three on my list, “Set no expectations.” 

Abundant Kindness

Reviewing my list, I smiled. Then another thought occurred to me. There is no such thing as too much kindness. Quickly I penned my number four, “Give, give and give some more.” 

 

Be My Best Self

Five seemed like the right number so the last thing I wrote is directed at being my best self. Any success I’ve experienced in my career was because I took my job seriously. Got it! My fifth and final rule is, “It is my job to be kind.”

This week I’m determined to put my big five into practice. Thanks for reading this post. I’d love to hear about your top five.