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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#SxSW 2011 Social Media Offline

Ted Rubin said it well, as we sat for a coffee in the Hilton with the buzz of South by Southwest (#SxSW) moving around us. “South-by is like Social Media face to face.” Everyone had a twitter handle @ and a hash tag # to find them and what they do. Celebrities and influencers have “followers”, “friends” and “connections” visible in their entourages and their VIP access. The refueling stations were gathering spaces for re-caffeinating bodies and charging multiple devices. Contacts shared by the Bump App and new friends were made by bumping as you found space to sit for panels. There was an App for everything, predominantly for iOS and Android (Apple iPhone and Google’s development platforms). Those who didn’t have one were quick to add “coming soon!” in their pitch. The few lucky/patient who braved the cues at the temporary Apple Store downtown picked up the new iPad2. Those of us willing to wait were mostly from overseas, knowing that it would be a while before they reach our markets.

 

After nearly a week of intensive panels, networking and checking out what is new and coming in interactive, I am excited about the future. As in any trade conference, it is easy to get myopic. Is everyone as uber-connected as this gathering of industry professionals often referred to as “geek fest”? Essential to remember that in order to rise above the 8% of “active” social media and smart phone users there will need to be continued expansion and development of infrastructure, accessibility, internationalization, aggregation and filtering. Cultural implications for organizations, leadership, and education systems will require greater outreach, training and better user-interfaces for the non-technical. Communications is changing, the tools are developing and I am very optimistic about their direction as long as we improve design for those who are already technically un-inclined. The more social the tools become, the simpler the interfaces, the greater access to tools that work in different environments for wider needs and people the possibilities are boundless.

 

Here are some of my tweets from during the last few days in Austin at SxSW:

 

Fellow #sxswi delegates, Don’t forget to listen /measure outside of the bubble too, 92 still not active in social media/ smart phones

 

Don’t calculate the ROI of relationships, not rich enough data, use dashboards -@jenvandermeer #mroi #sxswi

 

Wall street- customer lifetime value is not something the street cares about @janvandermeer#sxswi #mroi

 

Thanks @jenvandermeer from @dachis for a very entertaining presentation on the ROI of relationships #mroi #sxswi

 

Great conversation with @globewomen, looking forward to a great #GSW11. Thanks Irene

 

Confirmed speaking at #GSW11 in Istanbul. Looking forward to more inspiring conversations in May.

 

Just first did my Skype video meeting on my #iPad2, followed by call with kids, paid for itself already 🙂

 

iPad 2 Shortages Hit Web & Retail Stores http://t.co/3H9J5TM via @mashabletech @mashable

 

Achieving net-neutrality requires consumers raising their voice, speak up! @~BarryDiller#SXSW

 

The Internet is a miracle @~BarryDiller #SXSW

 

Make the truth your weapon and your strength @ch3ryl #pplpwr #SXSW

 

Overcome Fear of showing of your authentic self. What if it freaks out the white people @ch3ryl# #SXSW #pplpwr

 

Great talking to @michaelblonde of @commondeeds definitely an App to follow! #SXSW

 

Self-definition: own your space, name it and be proud of it @funkybrownchick #pplpwr #SXSW

 

CPM should die -@Jasonfalls #smaroi #SXSW

 

Unless you married your spouse 3 minutes after meeting them, understand relationships take time @Jasonfalls #smaroi

 

even data that is infinitely measurable isn’t infinitely perfect. Must measure over time@Jasonfalls #smaroi #SXSW

 

Better measurement tools are the next big thing to come @Jasonfalls #smaroi #SXSW #swesxsw

 

@Jasonfalls monitoring the conversation, consider not everyone is online having conversations, ask your customers #SXSW #smaroi #swesxsw

 

Getting ready for first panel on measuring social media #sxsw #swesxsw #smaroi

 

Balance between friend and general recommendation, why of results are key #bettersearch #SXSW #swesxsw

 

Are we losing serendipity? #bettersearch #SXSW #swesxsw

 

privacy in social search; consider value-add, but need consent, control @barneyp#bettersearch #sxsw #swesxsw

 

Mood-based search for things to do. understanding intent for search w/Moodfish #bettersearch #sxsw #swesxsw

 

Simon alpha recommends, allows customization @barneyp #bettersearch #swesxsw #sxsw

 

Web-> social -> interest -> inferred interest graph @barneyp (Bing) on #bettersearch #swesxsw #sxsw

 

Google Hotpot integrating social/location/recommendations #better search #swesxsw #SXSW

 

@charleneli KLM during volcano, FB direct response realtime

 

Evolution from information to relationship economy – @debs #behuman #SXSW

 

Congratulations @pblackshaw ! You are going to love Vevey! Welcome to my side of the pond.

 

Without new social contract, trust is fragile – @debs #behuman #SXSW

 

Technology changes, humans don’t @debs #behuman #SXSW

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You’ve Got Friend


With stress levels running at an all time high, I feel the need to take a moment to remind myself and others of the need and power of friendship. Here is beautiful rendition of the classic “You’ve Got a Friend.” Thank you my friends. Hang in there girls!

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Arab Women’s Day

Today is Arab Women’s Day. I want to simply send out my heartfelt support for the wonderful Arab women that I have met over the last few years both professionally and personally. You are an inspiration to us all. I look forward to helping create the bridges between all of us that enforce the bonds in our similarities, not our differences. Together we can make the world a better place for future generations.

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Gertrude Bell, Leader Before Her Time

I have just completed reading the biography of Gertrude Bell, Queen of the Desert, and was so inspired that I felt I must write about her in my blog. This Englishwoman lived in the turn of the 20th century through her intellect, tenacity, compassion and vision, she was instrumental in the architecture of countries and treaties in the Arabian desert. I am humbled by reading such a recounting of history. I can honestly say it was one of the best reads I have had in quite a long time.

I can only hope that given the opportunities we have today to participate actively in politics, in business in our communities that women can continue what she began by leading with compassion, humility and strength to that which we believe in. It is not about the recognition or being a “Person” of significance. It is about leaving a legacy of a world that is more peaceful and respectful of differences while recognizing how much we have in common to bind us together.

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Social Enterprise

A social enterprise in the academic sense is one that has a vision that is socially motivated for improving peoples lives. This said, when presented with a social enterprise that has the potential for making a profit, it is somehow tagged as unethical or evil. I argue that we should encourage more companies to think socially and remember their vision, as often the original vision is socially motivated. Profit produces incomes and it encourages innovation of better goods and services.

Building 2BalanceU has been a passionate endeavor for me driven by the vision to make it happen. The best bits of inspiration I have been given have often been from a fleeting interaction with someone unexpected. Opening myself to new experiences and cultures has helped me to learn and become who I am. I wish to provide a tool to extend that opportunity to women around the world to share and learn from one another. It takes so little effort to share what we already know. And it can make all the world of difference to the receiver.

Remaining authentic in our actions is critical for credibility. We intend to make a profit, as it will help us grow to create a better tool to a larger more diverse audience, compensate us for our efforts, enable us support our partners in their efforts and remain viable. We believe that we can improve peoples lives, including our own, in a profitable social enterprise.

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Women Sharing Wisdom

Round the world we are the same
Inside the different shades and names
Seeking balance in transition
It’s a woman’s constant mission

Our ambitions are unique
In the fortunes that we seek
Often fueled by inspiration
Shared success and new creations

Often too much information
Hard to reach our destination
Connecting peers to what we know
We both seem to learn and grow

Never turn down invitations
They often exceed expectations
If they don’t then nothing’s lost
A moment’s time is all they cost.

We were women before mothers
We were single before lovers
We’re alone before we’re friends
We all have wisdom to lend.

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Greetings Wise Women

There is much to say on the topic of “women sharing wisdom.” and the motivation behind creating a venue for women to do so in a constructive and beneficial format. The purpose behind this blog is to communicate my incentive and passion for embarking on such a journey. I wish to share some of the interesting and inspiring events and people that have made an impact along the way. I hope you will find this an opportunity for giving me feedback and expressing your desires in terms of how we best can enhance our work, both in our site and our workshops. Let us know where we are needed and what we can do better. I look forward to sharing with you and hearing what you have to say.

First Annual Girls Retreat 2005

The original group of friends that inspired my work on 2BalanceU was the result of a girls’ retreat weekend that became the spark. All educated, intelligent, adventurous women, we shared our stories, our time, some tears and lots of laughter. Some knew each other well, others not at all. We learned about ourselves, and each other through simple sharing. We realized what we were capable of and how easy it was to find the tools to make that happen. My dream is to create this on a global scale to connect women locally and globally for sharing with their unlikely and more obvious friends. We all have experience to lend both personal and professional. And we all need it once in a while. As we continue to reinvent ourselves through each transition in life, it is always comforting to know there is a supporting woman who has been there and can lead the way.

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