giving presents of presence

Holy crap.  It's December 13?!

If you're anything like me, you're wondering where the heck did 2014 go?  It's hard to believe we are less than two weeks away from Christmas and three weeks away from a new year.  This likely has many of us reflecting over the past year and starting to set intentions for a new one.  It also likely has us eating more, sleeping less and generally a little more stressed.  Am I right?!

When I think about the 'point' of Christmas and what makes me feel happy at this time of year, I think about spending time with family and friends, watching Christmas movies, going for walks to look at Christmas lights, decorating and sitting in front of the Christmas tree, listening to carols, drinking eggnog and eating my Mom's Christmas baking.  And, when I think about the reality we often face around Christmas, I think about never-ending to-do lists, writing Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, and an overflowing calendar of social commitments (usually involving a lot of food!).  I know which side is more enjoyable for me, yet I struggle to remain there: it's so easy to get caught up in the madness.  So this year, inspired by the holiday campaign for the retail company I work for, I'm really challenging myself to choose happiness: to focus on and stay grounded in what I actually love about this time of year. Could you imagine how different it would be if we all did the same?  This holiday season, I'm challenging you to give the gift of presence to yourself, and to the ones you love.

What does it mean to give yourself the gift of presence?  To me, it means slowing down and paying attention to what you need.  It means taking care of your body and your mind.  It means saying 'no' when you need to. It means nourishing your body 80% of the time with foods that your body will love you for, and making the choice to indulge in all the other foods 20% of the time without punishing yourself.  It means taking time for yourself each day to check in.  It means getting rest.  It means filling your mind with kind and gentle thoughts about yourself.  It means finding joy in every task.  It means moving your body in a way that feels right, whether it's a run, or a yoga class.  Above all, it means taking care of yourself, before taking care of others.  Because if you're not showing up for yourself, how can you show up for others?

How can you give the ones you love the gift of presence?  Ask questions, and listen to their answers.  Disconnect from everything other than your connection to the present moment. Put your phone down.  Put your work away.  Stop thinking about that email you need to send, or the argument you had with your spouse, or the crisis you dealt with at work earlier in the day.  Give that person your undivided attention.  Look them in the eye.  Make them laugh.  Resist telling them how busy you are.  Invite them to talk about their holiday experience so far.  What's troubling them?  What are they enjoying?  Listen, listen, listen.  Play with your kids.  Take your dog for an extra walk.  Say hi to your neighbor when you see them.  Spread joy.  Show up.

My guess is that we'll discover that this is the greatest gift we could give ourselves and others.  Far greater than the latest Apple product or some other must-have gift we can't afford. We all want to be heard, and to be seen.  It's really so simple to hold space for ourselves and those around us.  And it costs nothing.  Commit to it.

be here.  now.