Most weren’t “things” at all
As the year comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about the best gifts that I received this year. Four that touch both my personal and professional lives (and which generally involve the idea of “connecting”) are:
The gift of nature. I recently took stock of the parks and trails I’ve visited this year and am happy to say that I’ve gotten outside a lot in 2016. We’re blessed with a plethora of parks and natural areas and I try to get to them as often as possible.
But you know what? We can experience the wonder of nature even in on our own backyards. We just have to slow down and open our senses to what’s around us. Just last week, I was taking the garbage out at the crack of dawn. I stepped out onto the walk as a flock of crows flew in front of the moon. It was such a beautiful and unexpected moment – the sky between light and dark, the cacophony of the crows, the back drop of the moon – that I’m still thinking about it a week later. Nature is a gift to be treasured and protected (even if experienced while hauling the trash to the curb).
The gift of coaching relationships. When I was working toward my coaching certification at Duquesne University, we were told that coaching is a word-of-mouth business that takes a few years to build. This year was my third year in coaching and, sure enough, things started to fall in place. I did more coaching this summer and fall than I had in all of 2015. More importantly, I’m grateful for the privilege to collaborate with so many incredible people who seek coaching as they pursue their best lives. And here’s how awesome my clients are: over the past week (during a busy holiday season), I heard from three existing and one potential client about scheduling sessions. I love knowing that they’re getting ready to map out their next year and view coaching as a tool.
The gifts of compassion and connection. I can’t stress enough how much our lives are enriched when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and connect with others. Our relationships are deepened, we feel less alone, and we become better connected. I’ve felt “held” by many throughout the course of my life and hope that others have felt the same coming from me. Whether it’s a friend reaching out on a tough day, my wife believing in me, or people sending business leads, the support is always heartening. Here’s just one teeny, tiny example of a time that others’ love and compassion were flowing this year: I wrote about losing my health insurance this fall and received oodles of messages of support (compassion) and shared experiences (connection). Thus, compassion and connection were two of the best gifts I (or anybody) can receive in any given year, and so happen to be among the best gifts that we can give.
The only gift that was an actual “thing.” I was hanging out with my nephew this fall and he was showing me some of his favorite things that had belonged to my brother. It was a special time for us, made all the more special by what happened next. My nephew suggested that I should have something that belonged to my brother. He buzzed around looking for something to share, saying that “this is important.” So there we were, two years after my brother’s passing looking for that one right thing for me to hold onto. We decided upon a set of antlers in the end. Jimmy at one point mounted three racks that were significant to him. Not only were the mounts crafted by his own hands, but he wrote the story of each on the flip side. I’ve journaled for the last 20 years and never would have guessed that he had done his own form of journaling. What a gift it is to have a glimpse into his experiences in the woods (and to have a 16-year-old nephew who wanted to share this). I’ve never hunted a day in my life and yet this is something I’ll treasure always.
There were other gifts bestowed upon me in 2016, but these are a few I’ve been thinking about this week and wanted to share. What were some of your “best gifts” received (or given) this year?