So my gift list may be a little different...I preface my thoughts, because with the words “gift list” we are trained to begin evaluating where we too might acquire said items. But what if, before we spent another season standing in lines spending more than we have or should, we re-thought the word “gift”?
I will turn 40 Christmas Eve, and this year, gifts have lost a bit of the luster. Shopping, wrapping, and the brief moments of expectation as ribbons unfurl are failing to bring that special glimmer to my heart.
Perhaps it is because I have been on a two year quest, bit by bit, to change the way I live, or maybe it is due to the fact that in giving up part of my job to follow my heart my financial priorities shifted. Perhaps it is one too many stories of cranky people with anything but the Christmas spirit, but the real answer lies in the fact that, for me, the word gift has been redefined this year.
What do we really need? DO we actually think about that, or do we just throw another gift in the cart on the way out of the store?
This past year, there has been one too many shifts in the journey for me, and for many of the people I love, and I just can’t go back to gift giving as usual. So, let’s forego the boxes and ribbons and give a gift that might just change lives.
Gift #1 -Have an honest conversation with yourself.
Cost: Depends on how honest you are willing to be and who you select for this time of sharing.
You are thinking, “Wait, I start with myself?” Well, I told you this was going to be different. So I ask you, when was the last time you had a conversation of this sort? Sounds like a simple gift, but don’t leave out the words “honest and real”. With this gift, if we are truly willing to remove all the barriers and fear, bold change will finally have room to emerge. Maybe this conversation is something you know needs to happen, but hesitation has always gotten the upper hand. Maybe you are afraid of what will happen if you really spoke the words on your heart, but what we forget is that the regret that comes from NOT speaking your heart will have a much higher price in the long run.
Gift #2 - Time to Journal
Cost: a few sheets of paper and a little quiet time
Yup, we are still on you. In the midst of numerous responsibilities and distractions, we have forgotten the power of taking time to reflect. So how about grabbing a journal, spiral notebook, or the back of some wrapping paper and start a new habit. Pour out those thoughts, doodle, draw or make a 100 different lists, but get the thoughts out. As a society, our heart’s thoughts are suffering from constipation in the worst way. We seldom really share, and in this digital age, those thoughts often get sent out in a quick tweet rather than something we can go back and reflect on, even learn from. Give yourself this gift for just a week and see what happens. Just make sure you can go back and read what you have poured out, because for me, this is the most powerful part of journaling.
Gift #3 - Add to your idea of “Family”
Cost: Time and willingness to connect
Ok, time to not only rethink the word gift, but also the word family. We can sometimes become so focused on what is not working in our life we fail to recognize the people all around us who have incredible wisdom and compassion just waiting to be opened up for us to garner the good. I believe that we all want to be cared for, and yet we let so few people into our life. We somehow decide that it is better to keep up as many false appearances as we can rather than just letting others hear the truth and become “family”. Rethink who might be an excellent family member, and then let the walls down and start some “family” traditions and extend that circle of care in your world and theirs! You just might be the type of family member they need the most right now. Try writing someone a letter this season and let them know how much you appreciate the “family” relationship you have, and then make a list of who might need you on the same level. Let’s grow that community table.
Gift # 4 Learn Someone Else’s Journey.
Cost: time and a willingness to really listen.
There are so many ways to carry out this gift, and talk about change; you may never reach the bottom of the possible that comes with this idea. So what do I mean by learn? The challenge here is first being willing to put down the judgment and preconceived notions and let your heart be the guide in this listening task. Find someone who has a story that you know is going to be very different from yours, not that those similar stories are not powerful, but this time let’s shake it up a bit. Is there someone you know who has walked an incredible journey but you just have never taken the time to really ask about those moments of change, or perhaps there is an elderly person who often sits quiet and yet just below the surface is a great wealth of stories laying silent. Or how about jump on the world wide web and pick a topic you have always wondered about and find stories of people walking that path. If you find a couple inspiring stories, type up the link or print out the story and you have a great little gift. Challenge yourself out of your comfort zone, and watch your heart start to grow.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- On YouTube, type in: Caroline Casey: Looking Past Limits.
- Visit SnagFilms The Last Survivor and view of this amazing film about four genocide survivors.
- Dog lover? Watch this!
- Ever heard of Battens Disease?
Gift #5 Save the Life of a Family
Cost: A little learning and a few emails
As people open presents in living rooms all over the world Christmas mornings, there are families in many places that are simply wishing for safety. One such family lives is Kenya, and due to the current genocide taking place in Central Africa against the Banyamulenge Tutsi, they are in desperate need of our help. Visit the link on our website at www.theauthenticityproject.org and click on the tab “Save Justin’s Family” and you could give the gift of life for this family. Learn more, and if you would like to talk to Justin, visit the page for his email, for he would love to hear from you! Write letters or email and you could be the change that is needed. No mall lines here and you have the chance to give a gift that will make your heart soar!
[Photo: Heidi & Justin]
In the end, this season will come and go, and we will soon be on to the next holiday, but what if you left this one a little different. In the past year, dealing with loss of all kinds, I have found that the first gift we must give is to ourselves. Take time for you, and then do that for others. Those are the gifts I feel we need more of right now, and they are the same gifts that can alter our future. So off with the ribbons and miles of paper, try putting a little less in boxes this year, and do more out of the box. Thank you for being a part of our little world here, and don’t’ forget we are behind you 100% in this journey to authenticity. We send love!
**No one has asked us to feature any products/pictures - these are simply things we love and want to share!
Heidi Rickard is the Creative Director for The Authenticity Project, you can contact Heidi at TheAuthenticityProject@gmail.com