The Sharing Season

JOY-Quote-FPA week ago, I received an email responding to a holiday message I sent featuring a graphic of snowmen holding a menorah and Christmas tree. The email asked if I was taking “Christ out of Christmas.”

I responded by saying that the holiday season isn’t a religious event for me, but a celebration of sharing. That to me, the holidays are about sharing what it is I have to give—stories and bits of inspiration, my time, and the ability to ease someone’s pain or discomfort.

To me, these acts are the heart of the holidays or as I refer to this time of year: “The Sharing Season.” Here’s what I like to share most:

Sharing Stories – LISTENING

We all have stories to tell. What we decided to share and how we decide to tell our stories reveal a great deal about who we are as individuals.

In fact, the older I get, even better than sharing my stories is listening to your stories. Because I fully believe people will readily tell you who they are if we’re in the frame of mind to listen, to really hear what it is they are saying.

That’s why listening is a primary goal for me in 2015. I strive to hear more clearly the thoughts and ideas of those around me. Not only so I can better learn who they are, but so I can better understand who I am in relations to them.

Mari & ErinSharing Time – CONNECTING

The holidays to me are essentially about sharing time with my friends. Today everyone is impossibly busy with work and family and personal activities. With time at such a premium, there is no greater gift than an individual giving you his or her attention.

That’s why I believe that setting aside time to take a walk together, drink a cup of tea, or enjoy a meal is the backbone of a friendship. These simple acts of sharing are the ultimate compliment—that we are worthy of someone’s most precious possession—the hours, minutes, seconds that can only be given once.

Sharing with Those in Need – EXPANDING

I also view the holidays as the perfect time to give of myself to those who are in need. That’s why for several days, including today, Christmas, I’ll be spending the afternoon serving the homeless at the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDPSF) here in San Francisco.

SVDPSF helps 1,000 people every day through their programs providing beds and meals to homeless individuals and families, their domestic violence emergency shelters and survivor programs, and work with job readiness by providing access to computer labs, medical assistance, clothes and haircuts.

SVDPSF VolunteeringWhile volunteering, I’ll be serving dinner to some of the nearly 7,000 San Francisco residents that are living on the streets. This work, rolling up my sleeves and pitching in, helps remind me that there are many that need our help and that we have so much to give, even if it’s just helping to fold laundry, or sweep the shelter floor, or distribute a piece of fresh fruit.

Three Words – 2015

It wasn’t until I was writing this article that I dawned on me that each aspect of The Sharing Season directly corresponds to pillars that I’ve chosen to focus on for the upcoming year.

See, for the last several years, I’ve taken a cue from Chris Brogan and selected 3 words as the locus for the year ahead. Here are the words I selected for 2015:

  1.  Listen – To myself, to others and to my body. The world round me is communicating clearly, I just need to slow down and open myself up to what those around me are saying.
  2.  Connect – To my friends, to my creativity, to nature. These points of light are where I find my inspiration and carving out the space and time to allow the connections to form will be important as I move through the year ahead.
  3.  Expand – In new areas of personal and professional development. I’m looking to continually build out my emotional and mental intelligence, to experiment with new forms of communication and to travel to places that I’ve yet to discover.

To me, these three activities—listening, connecting, expanding—are the heart of The Sharing Season. Each helps us to appreciate our own relative wealth and share what we have with others.

These are the touchstones paving my path for 2015. What are yours?

This entry was posted on Friday, December 26th, 2014 and is filed under Erin Right Now.

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