Presence instead of Presents

Date night?

For you, my dear
Presence is the gift.
My heart is here.
My thoughts not adrift.
I pack away
The source of distraction
for a pause of play
and intent interaction.
For if all were amiss
And this moment passed
The devices are cold
My heart would not last.
Presents are things
Of which I’ve no need.
Your presence it sings,
my heart is does feed.
-Heidi Forbes Öste (2012)

The house is prepared for the holidays. We settle in as the snow begins to fall. It’s the time of year again where the wish lists come out and thoughts of New Year’s resolutions start buzzing. There is only one gift that I wish to give and to get for my family this year: Presence.

All too often we find ourselves with iPad or phone holding our concentration. From the breakfast table to date night, there never seems to be a sacred moment without it. We used to say the world would not stop if we disappeared. Now each vibration causes a habitual pattern of thought even if we do not respond be checking to see the source. Most times, we cannot resist sneaking a peek just to make sure it is not “critical.”

Each year we struggle to find ways to reconnect, to discover who we are and where we are going. In our over-connected lives this often means one thing: remote location, no wifi. I look forward to a pause in the buzz. I long for the uninterrupted conversation, thought and silence. I crave a hike in the mountains, a walk on the beach, a game of cards, a snuggle in a hammock, sharing a nice bottle of wine with presence.

I hope you all will consider giving and receiving presence and the value of that gift. Extend it beyond your family, as you go about your holiday parties. Ask about people’s passions and take the time to listen with presence. You might be surprised what you learn. It might just be a present in itself. How will you share presence this holiday?

This post is dedicated to Björn; my hero, partner, playmate and champion who I look forward to sharing presence with.

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Giving because it feels good, Receiving because it helps.

Replicating the sensation I feel when I am able to help, as well as the comfort I feel when someone has helped me, is something I strive for in building 2BalanceU. Recently someone asked me why people would bother. This struck me as both an interesting and puzzling question. First of all, I know I’m not the only one who finds gratification in the simple act of giving (especially when it comes from so little effort and no cost). Is this a Western versus Eastern approach? Is it a gender based motivation? Am I being naive? If so, I prefer to assume the best of people unless they prove me otherwise (which unfortunately some do, but that is another topic).

So, fine, I built in an incentive system to the new version to help those who need a little push to participate. I must say, I am very curious as to see the results as to whether the incentives will be used, passed on to others, recognised as status, or ignored. If points are provided for all of activity beyond lurking or surfing (for example; inviting new members, posting an inquiry, recommending resources or events, sharing a resource externally, giving feedback, searching,…) do we derive satisfaction simply by participating? Of course, this is assuming that the activity provides us with useful information as well.

Given my natural curiousity, I felt the need to be sure that those who wish to can use their incentive points as gifts to others. After all, some of us feel there is far more to gain by giving than receiving when we already are blessed with too much. Perhaps is comes back to “karma” or just guilt or because we can. Whatever the motivation, it sure feels good to help and to know others care enough to reciprocate.

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Altruistic giving

It is a truly beautiful thing when one takes the time and energy to give out of the pure goodness of their heart. A gift, whether it kind words in a moment of need, a helping hand when one’s lost their way, or something more physical is hardly of relevance. The treasure is in the act and the thought, even unconscious thought, that is behind that gift. I have been blessed in my work to have been bestowed with many gifts. Each I wish to celebrate in turn and thank for their intent.

I write of this as I recently had lost my way, and was given the gift of direction and a helping hand. It was given in the form of a reminder in why I do the work I do and who I do it for. I do it, because I believe it will make the world a better place. I do it for my children and their children. I am passionate about supporting women who have the desire to be change agents, because they have shown me such altruistic hope. We have the gift to give in sharing what we already have, with so little effort and so much satisfaction.

This is simply a thank you to those who remind me everyday, who I am and who I aspire to be. I do not claim to be entirely altruistic. I bask in the warmth of the smiles and appreciation of those that my work will help. That is my reward. So, I wish to remind each of you what my grandmother always taught me, the importance of the words “thank you.” A little goes a long way.

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Giving Circles

Giving at this time of year is all part of each day. We prepare for our holiday feasts to share the bounty with our community, colleagues and friends. We prepare gifts with a special thought to each recipients particular needs and wants. Searching our recent memories for that dropped hint, from shivering hands in need of gloves to that favourite chocolate that seems to indulgent to buy for oneself (but is a pleasure to consume and perhaps share when received as a gift).

I have been hearing a lot recently about Giving Circles, a new trend in the US, that I love the sounds of. Groups of women are gathering to pool their donations for greater impact. They create formalized charters and vote on the recipients. It is really a lovely idea, and one that should be encouraged. I hope we can connect some of these giving circles to information on potential recipients and perhaps can encourage 2BalanceU members to create new ones of their own. This is a trend that I hope never goes out of style.

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Making a Difference

We all want to make a difference with our actions. Whether the difference goes noticed or not may be where we vary. 2BalanceU is build with the vision of empowering women through knowledge to create stronger communities, families, countries and naturally individuals. This is all about making the world a better place and allowing us to enjoy both the process and the result.

Why then should we not have the opportunity to make a difference in our own way, whether big or small? We enable women to discover the resources available to them and to rediscover themselves as a resource for others. This is critical to the way women interact. When moving through our lives, transitions often lead us to unknowns. We want to connect to other women who can relate and who we can trust in their opinions. Our time is precious, so we want good answers fast. Juggling everything from career, home, aging parents, staying fit and intellectually stimulated, relationships, travel to life’s unexpected occurrences, we can help each other be strong enough to take the dips and enjoy the rises.

As leaders in our communities, we must recognize that whether in a leading or supporting role, our balance is critical. Like an infectious smile, we can teach our communities, both professional and personal, to thrive on balance. With balance, we can achieve far more, with greater satisfaction. It is this balance that we strive for.

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