Giving Back


I was finishing up a meeting with some friends today when the talk turned to the holiday season.  They suggested that I write a blog about how to control the typical stressors of the holiday season. As I mulled this over, one of my favorite people, Morgan Lyn, shared what she had recently done to make the season a little bit brighter.


“I bought coffee for the next person in line when I put in my order at Starbucks.”  She explained how it felt to watch each person in line follow suit. “I stuck around just to watch it all happen.  What a great feeling to see what I had started and watch it just keep going and going”.


It wasn’t surprising to hear that she would do something like this. This action was perfectly aligned with her character and her priorities in life.  However, it gave me a thrill to watch her talk about it and see how much it had deeply affected her.


There is no denying that this time of year can be stressful.  The days are packed with more shopping, cooking, parties, and commitments than you can fathom.  However, in all the excitement, it’s easy to lose sight of what this time of year is truly all about— giving back.


In lieu of this, I have a couple suggestions as to how you can “give back” this year in ways that will really matter.


Let one or two people into your lane while you’re driving.

Everyone is in a hurry this time of year.  Roads are backed up with shopping traffic and people are very low on patience.  My suggestion to you is let one, two or if you’re feeling overly generous, three people in to your lane.  Give them a big smile and watch their reaction.


Take someone lonely out for coffee or tea.

This time of year is so hard on the elderly and the ill.  They feel isolated in their homes and they dread going out in the cold. Even if they drive, they won’t take the chance in this cold, rainy, snowy weather. Please note that I suggested taking them out somewhere instead of visiting them in their house.  I’m pretty positive that a change of scenery and a reason to get dressed up is the best medicine you can give them.  All they want is a little of your time.


Offer to walk someone’s dog.

I take my dog for a walk every single day. If you only knew how much I dread doing this on those bitter cold days!  I would be overjoyed if someone in my neighborhood knocked on my door and said they wanted to walk my dog. It’s a good deed for the owner and the dog appreciates it too!


Take someone’s newspaper or mail to the door and hand it to them with a smile.

Now you’ll find out the second thing I dread— going out in the morning to get my newspaper.  What a good deed to get someone’s mail or newspaper and take it directly to their door! It’s just a kind gesture that goes a long way.


Send someone a handwritten note and let him or her know that you’re thinking about them.

Sadly, I receive very few handwritten notes anymore.  When I do receive one, it really makes me take notice. Imagine, someone taking the time and energy to send a note in snail mail! I’m not talking about sending a Christmas card— I’m referring to a blank note with your own thoughts and feelings inside.


Offer to watch someone’s child so they can get some shopping done.

This only counts if it’s your idea. You can’t wait for them to ask YOU.  I guarantee, this one would be much appreciated.


Stop and ask a clerk working in a busy store how they’re doing.

I’m not referring to the typical niceties. I’m suggesting you stop, look into their eyes, and ask them how they’re truly doing. You’ll be surprised how much they will appreciate this gesture.


Giving back doesn’t always have to mean you need to open up your pocketbook— all you have to do is open up your heart. There are plenty of ways to give back to people in need.  You’ll end up gaining more than you ever thought possible.






Enjoying the Holidays

The holiday season is a time of gratitude and thanks. We look forward to the celebration, bringing our families together and enjoying the quality time. We spend hours getting ready for the festivities and preparing for the feast. We envision how fabulous our time will be with our families and friends. In our heads, we play out how each minute will pass, how the food will be appreciated and how the love will be shared.


If you spend any time on the Internet, you can view the great photos of family and friends enjoying their time together. The food is beautifully displayed to perfection and each family member is having a wonderful time. However, things aren’t always what we imagine them to be.


I’m sorry to say that reality is often very different than our expectations. Our expectations lead to disappointment as we watch how things can turn out differently than we anticipated.  You would think after we reach a certain age, we would stop doing this to ourselves. However, life doesn’t work that way.  Again and again, we may be setting ourselves up to be more disappointed.


How can we stop this vicious cycle? Maybe I can suggest a couple mind shifts you need to make to enjoy this time a bit more.


Stop expecting people to be what you want, not who they actually are.

We all have a family member or friend that continuously disappoints us. They irritate us with their choices in life and let us down in their behavior.  Common sense would tell us that that after all this time, we would accept this and be prepared for what unfolds. But often we do the opposite. We may be setting ourselves up by expecting this individual to be more than they can possibly be.  Holidays are not going to change their behavior. They are not going to suddenly appreciate, change, or have any realizations just because of the time of year.  Accept who they are once and for all and stop expecting a different outcome.


Don’t focus so much on the details and miss the point of this time of year.

I appreciate a perfect ornamented table, a gourmet dinner, and everything that goes with it as much as the next person.  However, I’m aware that sometimes we can tie ourselves up with the details and lose our focus in life. Even I sometimes do it.  I, myself, have become obsessed with trying to find the perfect runner in the exact shade for the dining room table. This will become my quest and I will spend day and night searching for the only thing that will do. It’s a crazy waste of my time because in the end, no one but me even notices. Step back and take a good look at what truly matters in the whole scheme of things.


Whether you enjoy this time is completely up to you.  You are in control of your emotions during this time of year, whether you want to believe this or not. Take responsibility and make a decision to treat this year differently.