The Gift of Care

TL;DR:

  • The practice of choosing One Word can be more effective than making New Year’s resolutions. One student chose the word CARE and he demonstrated it every day.
  • Begin to see kind and caring gestures for you as gifts of care because it deepens your gratitude and relationships.
  • Give the gift of care for others by not only thinking of them but taking action and showing you care. When someone is on your heart or mind, it’s for a reason. Reach out and tell them or check on them.
  • The gift of caring for yourself has grown to be a most talked about thing and so important for our well-being. Learn a variety of different ways below.

One Word

In January, do you make a list of New Year’s resolutions and then after a few months, don’t remember what they were? That was me. Perhaps I was taking the wrong approach, but it didn’t work for me. A few years ago, a friend shared a practice that has become more popular over the years. Rather than making resolutions, choose One Word, an idea from John Gordon, to focus on throughout the year. For me, it’s really worked to focus on one word! (Read my blog post about it.)

So when we came back to school in January 2021, my class chose their one word. One student chose the word “care.” His name was Evan* and that is exactly how he lived and what he did daily…with CARE. He was not only one of the first people to notice when someone needed care, he was one of the first people to DO something about it too. Evan led with his heart and took action. He taught me and others how to care. Evan led by example and often put other people’s needs in front of his own. The kindness and thoughtfulness he shared went above and beyond. His gift of care was a gift to us.

The Gift of Care FROM Others

This past year and a half have given each of us a greater opportunity to demonstrate how much we care for others. In times of need, people generally step up to help and support. Remember times when you were feeling down, struggling with a physical ailment, or just experienced the loss of a loved one. Once others learn of your trials and tribulations, often more people come forward to express love and care. More friends and family ask how they can help. More people take initiative to interact and do what they can to help you feel better. While we are likely grateful and appreciate the support, may I encourage you to see beyond these kind gestures to feel it more deeply and see it as a gift of care received. 

So what’s the difference? Viewing acts of kindness and care as a gift pushes me to have a deeper appreciation for others in my life. Generally, when we receive gifts, there is an added sense of awe or gratitude that we feel not just in our minds but also in our hearts. For example, when someone reaches out to check on me, whether or not I’m going through adversity, I take in their care and receive it as a gift. The more things I can see and receive as gifts, the more blessed with gratitude I feel. This leads to a greater sense of overall and sustained happiness. (Read the first blog post in this Gift Better series about the many gifts to discover for a deeper dive into this idea.)

Why is this important to note?

Taking in these gifts of care also deepens the relationships you have. Each interaction is a gift and an opportunity to connect. The more you see and feel how they care for you, the more it connects you. Think back to a time that perhaps a newer friend reached out to ask how you are doing. How did that make you feel? How much did it make you feel cared for? Did it push your relationship just a little further? Now, consider seeing this kind gesture to be a gift you received…the gift of care. Can you see how adding this small extra lens helps you feel a little more connected? For me, this leads to wanting to care for them in return. 

The Gift of Care FOR Others

We all have many people in our lives. Some we know on an intimate level, like our closest family and friends. Others have a long history of friendship developed over years. And there are some we have only known for a short while. Regardless, all of these connections, if we value them, need some attention, an investment of time, and a desire to maintain or to build these relationships. 

GIVE the gift of care. It is a great opportunity to connect and deepen relationships. One thing I find myself sharing often is this:

When someone is placed on your heart or mind, there is a reason. Reach out to show you care.

Remember the story of the student Evan at the beginning of this post? He not only noticed or thought of others, but he also took action. May I encourage you to take action. It takes less than a minute to send a quick text to let someone know you are thinking of them. 

In whatever space you find yourself in, look for opportunities to show others you care. These are doors of opportunity to enrich and deepen relationships. In the past 18 months, I have been truly blessed to have made many new friends who I adore and cannot wait to meet in person. Most of these friendships started because they were placed on my heart—for a reason—so I reached out to check on them. That’s how simple it is to begin a friendship and continue it! Just keep sharing your gift of care! That’s how you can make an impact every day in every interaction.

The Gift of Care for Me

I have heard the term “self-care” used more often in the past year and a half than my whole life combined. The concept of taking care of ourselves and putting the oxygen mask on first has risen to one of the most talked about things we must do. Prioritize ME time and determine what activities help us feel renewed, restored, and rejuvenated. All of these things about taking care of ourselves have come to the forefront during this pandemic. 

By bringing more awareness and having more conversations about it, we learned more about how we define what is self-care. Every person has different ways to practice it. Some need more of it than others.

This summer, I had the greatest pleasure to be chosen as a Camp Counsellor in CampfireConvosEDU on Voxer with Sean Gaillard and Lainie Rowell as Camp Directors. We spent a whole week discussing all of the different aspects of self-care…from what activities we enjoy, to how we can more intentionally build it into our daily schedule, to sharing tips on how to take a break from work. 

The gift of care for myself is something I cannot take for granted. In order for me to be my best for myself and others, I need to give myself this gift daily. And not just daily but throughout my day. No longer can we hold off self-care for the weekend. We cannot wait until we get home in order to feel refreshed. We need to find ways that help us feel that way during the day. How is this done? By expanding the way we define what self-care is.

Tips for Self-Care

Here are some collective tips for self-care taken from the educators in #CampfireConvosEDU. (Thanks to all in the group for sharing!)

  • Find time away from work: do your exercise of choice, spend time outside, schedule a break in your day (even better, outside!), learn to say no, walk and talk, don’t respond to emails after a certain hour, and don’t mark everything!
  • Honor yourself: spend time by yourself, learn what refuels you (awareness), do what feels right for you to recharge, feel no guilt, take a break from social media, learn breathing techniques, meditate, live in the present moment, reflect, read, write (journal, blog), have a positive and grateful mindset, learn new things, drink water, build routines for self-care, reprioritize, schedule ME time or family time and put it in your family calendar!
  • Connect with others, play or listen to music, sing, enjoy a good meal, and show kindness to others

Mindful Moment

Step one: Bring to your mind the last few people you connected with. How did they show they care? Close your eyes. Practice mindfulness by breathing in their love and care for you. Feel it deep in your heart and dive into deepening the gratitude. With every next breath, fill your lungs with more appreciation. 

Step two: Each day, think of 2-3 people you can reach out to show you care. Who comes to mind quickly? It doesn’t have to be for a particular reason but could just be a “hey, I’m thinking about you” reason. Consider how wonderful it feels when someone reaches out to you out of the blue. You can offer that to someone else as a gift of care!

Step three: Take action! These people are put in your heart for a reason. Actually spend a few intentional minutes sending a text, DM, message, or email. Each time you reach out, the message you send is that you care. 

Gift Better Challenge

Next month, I will speak about the gift of opportunity. Until then, here are some ideas for this month’s challenge. Please feel free to tweet it out! Tag me and use #GiftBetter and #TeachBetter. Pick one or pick all:

  • Begin to pay attention to how others show they care about you. See it, feel it in your heart, and receive it as a gift of care. Spend some time breathing it into your heart and allow it to sit there. Then feel deep gratitude. Allow it to deepen your relationship.
  • Notice the opportunities you have to show you care. Opportunities abound; take as many of them as you like! It always feels great to give gifts to others. The more you give your gift of care, the happier you will feel. Trust me, it’s true! 
  • Make a list of things that help you relax, feel restored, and rejuvenated. Review the list shared above. Add something new to your daily self-care routine.

Let’s Connect!

If we have not connected yet, I am looking forward to meeting you. Feel free to DM me on Twitter. Let’s chat! I’d love to hear what resonated with you so you are welcome to fill out this form. I am grateful for your time and appreciate you for sharing your much-valued thoughts.

With a heart full of gratitude, Livia

*Evan’s name was changed to protect his identity.

The Gift of Gratitude

TL;DR:

  • There is a difference between gratitude and thankfulness in both English and Chinese languages.
  • Gratitude can be cultivated. Practice mindful gratitude moments to help nurture a grateful mindset and heartset. Take the Gift Better Challenge to practice gratitude. 
  • There is great power in words. Read tips on how to show deeper gratitude with our words. Gratitude is meant to be shared.
  • What is the gift of gratitude? Why is it a gift?

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.

– Henri Frederic Amiel

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