be present

Wrap Yourself Up and Be PRESENT!

Your Presence

Holidays can be difficult times – for such varied reasons. We each have our own list of who we don’t really like seeing, what we don’t really like doing, where we don’t really like going and why we should forget it all this year and skip the holidays completely. Yes, it is supposed to be a time of joy… sharing, giving and loving. Why then, for so many of us, does it often end up being a dreaded time of year; a disappointment, or worse yet, exactly as bad as we expected it to be?

Why? Well, from a sociological standpoint, we have so many “fabulous reasons” to embrace. Thanks to a variety of alternative lifestyles, today’s families are generally “broken” or “mixed” to begin with… It’s not unusual to celebrate the holidays with “family” you just met or hardly know. By virtue of birth, death, marriage, divorce and remarriage the landscape of familyland as it used to be, has been devastated. Now, add in an abundance of alternative life styles and hey, is it any wonder that hanging out with the family is a little tense and stressful?

And then there’s what we bring to the party… We show up for the holidays with lots of presents… (get ready for a very cool PUN) and a whole lotta PAST! If there’s any time that we humans carry the past in our pockets, it’s holiday time. I know that I personally have total (and often totally inaccurate) recall about what it used to be like; those OLD familiar smells and sounds, the songs and traditions; the games we played, the inside jokes, all that warm fuzzy stuff that just gets better as the memories get older. And, oh yeah, I remember all that “other” stuff, too. “THEY” were always at least an hour late, he was always so loud and so rude to everyone, she always wore waaay too much cheap perfume, they never listened – just talked, she never helped clear the table…

Every December – for as far back as I can recall – I have watched my favorite holiday movie, Miracle on 34th Street. I lose it every time little Susan Walker (played by Natalie Wood) finds Santa’s cane next to the fireplace. Seriously, I’ve seen this movie at least 50 times and every time… I cry. I remember watching it with my family when I was a child and, later, with my own children. It’s a magical, feel good movie. Based on this movie, I have an expectation that the holidays will bring miracles. Just like in the movie, I assume that there will be bad guys, problems and upsets… followed by miracles.

Based on the past, most of us expect everyone and everything to be “just like it’s always been”. Cousin Mark and his family will be late. The Cramer clan will be early. Aunt Ruth will pinch your cheeks and call you Cupcake. Uncle Frank will eat too much and fall asleep right after dinner. Great Auntie Linda will give you pajamas. The twins will fight over their presents and Grandpa will get indigestion from overeating.

I am an adult… until I get around my brothers. At that point we revert to thinking and acting like the children we were. We play, giggle, pull pranks, get loud and get physical. Is it any wonder that I am treated, as if I was still ten or eleven years old? Oops, what happened to the holiday “present”?

So that’s what we bring to the party… We show up for the holidays with lots of presents… and a whole lotta PAST! If there’s any time that we humans carry the past in our pockets, it’s holiday time. Empty your pockets… and get PRESENT!





When was the last time you really acknowledged someone? I’m not talking about saying  “thank you” – even if it was a very BIG thank you. And I’m not talking about offering your appreciation or even giving up some praise. All of those things are very nice, for sure…  Acknowledging someone, truly and fully acknowledging them, is not about a quick “you rock”, a pat on the back or a nod and smile. It’s not even complementing them on how they look or what they did. Acknowledging is beyond praise… more than a confirming nod or appreciating. It’s bigger than any of those things.

When you fully and generously acknowledge someone, you see them for who they are, express gratitude for the difference they make in the world… and recognize aloud that they matter.  You hear them. You see them. You ‘get’ them. And you tell them what you see!

Acknowledgement is a glorious expression of gratitude that actually makes the receiver’s life bigger by identifying – out loud – the difference he or she makes in the world and creating a picture for them of what’s possible for the future… just because he or she exists! That’s huge.

And, joyfully, you, the acknowledger stands to win here, too. When we get beyond our fears of scarcity (where giving anything may mean none left for us), and our human penchant to give either credit or avoid blame (that whole deal where in order for someone to be ‘right’, someone else must be wrong), we stand in true gratitude and it’s an awesome place to stand! Studies actually show a high correlation between giving acknowledgement and our physical and emotional health. When we let someone know how their very existence  creates a future worth living into… we get to step into that future with them! How cool is that.

You have to listen. You have to be present. No judging. That’s what it takes to see whom they are, the contribution that they are – and that they make; and to see how much it truly matters. When you see that and you acknowledge it, BAM!!! The fireworks go off in head and heart. And then, my friends, we have only to express what we see… to describe those explosions. NOTE: This may take practice just like any other wonderful skill you seek to master. It’s worth the ‘work’, promise!

Ready for a practical, real-life example? Thought so…

These are typical Compliments/Praise/Appreciation:

  1. You look awesome tonight.

     2.  Thanks for inviting me to dinner tonight.

     3.  Hey, good job on the teleseminar.

And now these are truly GENEROUS Acknowledgments:

  1. You have a flair for color and style that lights you up and pulls others in!
  2. Being with you for dinner is like going to a party. You make everything fun and interesting. I feel so happy.
  3. What an inspiration you were on the teleseminar tonight. You speak with such conviction and passion. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Yes, it is a fine distinction between appreciation and acknowledgment, but, WOWSERS, can that little distinction rock someone’s world.  It says, “ I see what you did AND, even more important, I see who you are and I see: that, why and how much… you matter.”

Gift with purchase: When you train yourself to see the magic in others you are simultaneously training yourself to see it in everything… including yourself!