One of the best gifts we can give another is our time and our undivided attention. Showing up when someone is in need is priceless.
I’ve recently been the benefactor of friends showing up for me when I was faced with a significant obstacle in the daunting project of moving over Easter weekend. What could have been overwhelming and exhausting situation actually became manageable and fun. What caused this complete turnaround in attitude and experience?
It was friends who physically showed up — proactively offering helping hands and a hot cup of coffee, brainstorming problem solving ideas and most importantly……making time for me when I needed a break.
Not only was my attitude improved in spite of some obstacles, my friendships with 4 very special people grew exponentially. I was so grateful for their generosity of time and kindness in the moment. What has so pleasantly surprised me is how that hectic week is now imbedded in my memory bank as a warm, positive connection. That human connection and their support continues to sustain me whenever I feel a little emotionally off kilter.
It dawned on me how essential it is for us to really connect with each other — face to face and heart to heart. The best gift we can ever give to another is the gift of our presence.
Little did I realize that in less than a week after that move, I would be helping my daughter through a frightening and challenging experience and that my emotional reserves would be tapped significantly. The kindness and support offered by friends served to fully charge me so that I was coming from a position of strength just when I was needed the most.
These generous deposits into my emotional reserves are not lost on me. They are essential in maintaining a healthy life balance. When you feel cared about, supported and valued, you feel it at your core. It fuels your inner strength and fortitude. It’s your springboard for paying it forward — enabling you to be the one making those emotional deposits for others.
We often hear about random of acts of kindness and while I am a big believer in those, I am challenging all of us to be less random and more proactive in our outreach to others.
Make it meaningful outreach — a personal visit, a long phone conversation, a real Face (to Face) time. There is no substitute for looking into another’s eyes, observing their body language, actively listening, giving a hug or sharing a laugh.
When someone is facing adversity, your presence will be invaluable.
Reflecting back on my experience with breast cancer 25 years ago, I was the benefactor of a lot of meaningful outreach from my family, friends and coworkers. There’s no doubt in my mind that the outpouring of support gave me strength for that battle. I am now more aware that it also touched my children in a positive way. My kids were scared. My family and friends proved to be a source of great comfort and encouragement to them. I can’t think of a better gift to give a mom.
You can put a real exclamation point on your outreach if you follow through later with an act of kindness like dropping off a meal, sending flowers, or running errands. Pay attention and you’ll probably get a great clue about something that would really mean a lot to another. They will be blown away that you were so attentive.
Last but not least, don’t wait for a life catastrophe to give the gift of your presence. Show up in meaningful ways for those you love. While birthdays and holidays serve to remind us to send a card or make a phone call, it is the times when you reach out for no special reason that put big deposits in our emotional reserves.