Tag Archives: Giving

The 7 Gifts That Give You Everything

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By Derek Rydall

Nothing enters into this world except through the process of giving. If we don’t give, there can’t be more. If you want more to come into your life, you must let more life come out of you! You are a divine power plant, and a power plant doesn’t receive energy, it generates it. Even the word human comes from a Sanskrit term for ‘man’ that means ‘The Dispenser of Divine Gifts’. That’s who you are, that’s why you came here — you really are God’s gift to this world!

But there are many forms of giving. And you must engage all of them to fully activate the Generator in that divine power plant and create unlimited abundance in your experience. Continue reading

A Lesson in Happiness and Love I Learned from Rob Lowe

rob-lowe-300x150I’m not a particular fan (or not) of Rob Lowe, but several people had recommended his memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, so I decided to read it.

It was very interesting for many reasons, and I was particularly struck by a story Lowe told, recalling a visit to the White House during his time on the show The West Wing: Continue reading

Just Notice: The Gift of Seeing and Changing Lives

Xan you remember the people you saw this morning on your walk from your house to your car? From your car to your office or into the grocery store? While we are aware that there are other humans crossing our paths, we don’t always notice who they are or what they’re doing.

 

I got inspired by a kid ❤️

Posted by Joyce Gilos Torrefranca on Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Joyce Torrefrance, a student from the Philippines, shared this post of a child she passed on the street who appeared to be studying at a makeshift desk on the street. With further investigation, news outlets were able to identify the child as 9 year old Daniel Cabrera who studied on the street as his mom Christina Espinosa worked in a shop nearby. Since the loss of her husband 2 years ago and her home to a fire 5 years ago, Espinosa has worked hard to provide for herself and her three children. Continue reading

How to make the New Year a YOU Year (Vlog)

On Intent.com, intentions are set by the community year-round to fulfill personal goals, reach for our dreams and realize our inner potential. What many tend to forget is that the most important step in reaching for the starts is reaching inward, giving ourselves the love and care we need in order to go forth. Whether it’s January 1st or any day of the year, there isn’t one day or moment that isn’t bettered when I take the time I need for me – it makes me a better friend, a better partner, a better daughter, and a better person all around when I have a full tank of my own from which to give to the world around me. Though it may be counter-intuitive, it’s giving myself the love and care I need that’s makes it much easier for me to do my favorite thing in the world: loving and caring for others.

Tell me how you plan to give yourself a little extra lovin’ in the New Year in the comments box below!

For more, check out my website, The Light Files, and follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Like Laura’s post? Support these similar intents on Intent.com!

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5 Tips to Deepen Intimacy in Your Relationships

innersexyDeep connections, quality relationships – the experience of feeling seen, heard and understood brings us the greatest joy in life. Here are 5 tips to deepen intimacy in any relationship – a friendship, family or love relationship.

1. Ask for Help (sooner than you want)

Our attachments and intimacy with others are bred through our vulnerabilities.

The meeting of our vulnerabilities is the sweet spot. This is where we have the ability to truly see one another. The experience of being seen and seeing is called mirroring. Psychologically, it is the bridge of intimacy and forges a strong bond (attachment) – knowing someone else will accept and be there for you, even (especially) in your weakest moments.

Take a risk of to be vulnerable and open yourself up to share from the heart. What is happening under the surface of your life and the veneer of your persona? Tell your partner if you’re sad, afraid, hurt or emotional. Practice staying authentic and articulate about your emotional state and ask for understanding, tenderness or help.

2. Let Your Partner Take the Lead

In relationships we tend focus on ourselves and assume that our needs are more important than our partners.

Flip it. Just for this month, practice allowing your partner’s needs to take priority. What if their needs are just as (or more) important than your own?

Self-abandonment is not what I am suggesting. Assuming you have healthy boundaries, attune to what your partner wants or needs. Ask them. Let your partner take the lead. Where do they want to go to dinner? Where do they want to go on vacation? What do they want to do this weekend?

This is a Buddhist/yogic concept of expanding the definition of who you are to include the ‘other’. Widening our perception of Self to include another breeds understanding and union. Instead of using a relationship or looking at our partners as a means to meet our needs – we elevate into a selfless, giving, generous approach. Much like building a successful business or any join venture, ask:

  • “How can I help you?” 
  • “How can I give more?” 
  • “What do you need and how can I serve?”

3. Set a Daily Check in with Your Partner

Set aside 10-20 min. a day to tune in to each other in full presence (no cell phones or TV, please). A great time to do this is at night. Take 10 minutes each to reflect on the day. Listen athletically to each other and offer support or feedback. When you can manage, try to go to bed at the same time, cuddle and reflect out loud – What went well? What was disappointing or frustrating? What do you intend to create for the next day?

Practice gratitude together. Get in the habit of reflecting the positive and holding each other in positive regard so you mirror back to your partner their positive attributes. Encouragement and support changes our biochemistry. Consistency in authentic connection is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Commit to a daily check in.

4. Show Up with Fresh Eyes

See your partner anew. We evolve and change constantly. Our hopes, dreams and skills shift. When we’re in relationship, it’s tempting to view our partner through an old, outdated perspective – who they were, how they acted or what they wanted before. Give your man (or woman) the space, just like a child, to shape shift, change, learn and grow. Tune into them – ask them “Where are you at today?”  “What are you feeling/wanting/dreaming of?”

Try silently observing and allowing them to show you who they are. Open your eyes and your mind. This creates more spaciousness to feel held and supported in who we are authentically – today. Let yourself be surprised. Seek to learn something NEW about your partner everyday.

5. Breed Affection

Bring more affection into your relationship. After years of listening to couples in therapy, I can tell you – it’s often (if not, usually) the smallest things that end up fracturing and eroding a relationship. Know the little things that your partner needs, wants or delights in.

  • How can you show random acts of kindness?
  • How can you be more affectionate?
  • How can you sweetly surprise them and bring a smile to their face?

Gentle touches, thinking what they might want from the grocery store or reaching out sending them a text or a note at work in support go a long way in building a foundation and reservoir of love.

Leave a comment and share – how do you deepen intimacy in relationships with those around you?

‘Tis the Season for 3 Types of Gift-Giving

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 6.38.17 AMGift-giving is a complex human story which can either be inspired by the expectation of reciprocity or pure unselfishness.  Various religions deem giving as holy, a liberating act taking you out of the self and into the larger context of humanity.  And if you feel lonely and stressed, counselors and therapists will advise you to volunteer in order to meet people and get involved.

Basically, there are three styles of gift-giving.

To

  • Someone you know
  • Someone you don’t know
  • Someone you don’t like

Giving to someone you know sets the stage to reinforce a happy relationship. You think about the gift from the recipient’s point of view, and place a value on the relationship. This type of present involves planning, imagination and effort.  You are rewarding another person. Consequently, you are enhancing your own reputation, romancing someone, banking a favor or attracting an ally. Often there are invisible strings attached.

Giving to someone or a group you don’t know makes you an anonymous giver. The act is not about receiving acknowledgement for the thoughtfulness of your gift. The gift is an act of compassion, a spark of genuine concern to help others and put back some goodness in the world. This is the social glue which brings people together for common values.

Giving to someone you don’t like involves loving your enemy – an enormous potential for spiritual expansion. Of course, you could take the low road and make a metaphorical statement about your relationship like giving a set of knives to suggest that you have been stabbed in the back. Another option is to give a gift which highlights a salient weakness like giving a diet book to an overweight person. However, to create harmony out of discord by forgiving this person you don’t like can help you shore up your own weakness. Does the object of your anger/jealousy mirror something about yourself that you don’t like? Do you have a fear or insecurity which you are projecting? Have you honestly assessed your own shortcomings?  When you forgive, you achieve equanimity – you get even.

Aim to accomplish all three diverse styles to satisfy the different parts of your personality. Take an inventory of which personality trait dominates. Don’t forget to give yourself a gift.

What type of gift giving will you be doing this year? Share your tips in the comments below! 

UNICEF’s I Believe in Zero to Save Children from Preventable Disease

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 8.50.25 AMMy Conversation with Caryl Stern, President US Fund for UNICEF When I was in college, I wrote my senior thesis on the Convention of the Rights of the Child.  I no longer know where that document is or even remember the details of that in-depth study that consumed my last year of college.  What has stayed with me forever, however, is the belief that children have the right to live, to be protected from abuse and exploitation, and deserve basic human rights.  I was also always inspired by the work of UNICEF, and for my first book, 100 Promises To My Baby, I donated 10% of my proceeds to their programs for children affected by HIV and AIDS. Thus, when I had the opportunity to hear Caryl Stern speak about her new book, I Believe In Zero, I was already convinced of her intent that no child should die from preventable causes.

Currently 18,000 children die every day of preventable causes – from things like unsafe drinking water, malnutrition, and lack of access to immunizations.  This is truly unacceptable, and we, as a global citizens, should not think it is ok. I have met many people doing incredible work for others, but Caryl Stern truly impacted me in a way few others have.  In fact, I was so moved by her book that I decided to buy several dozen books to gift to my daughter’s classmates.

In the book, Caryl shares through her own personal stories the plight of children around the world, as well as potential solutions to many of these problems.  The book is hopeful, inspirational, and yet very real, at the same time. I reached out to UNICEF to see if I could interview Caryl for my book, Living With Intent, as she is someone who embodies passion and purpose in a unique way.  I was honored to have a one-on-one conversation with her about 10 days ago in NYC to talk about her book, her family, her work and her intentions.

The US Fund for UNICEF is in a non-descript office building near Wall Street in NYC.  I was escorted up to a waiting room where, while waiting to be called into her office, I watched a staff meeting in a conference room enclosed by glass walls.  The staff at UNICEF seemed multi-cultural, relatively young, and animated from the peek I had into their meetings.  After a short wait, I headed to Caryl’s office and was welcomed by her friendly staff. In the first few minutes of meeting Caryl, I knew this woman is a both a force of energy and passion, but also incredibly warm and welcoming.   Her desk was full of papers and books, not messy or particularly neat, with photos on the shelves, including those of her two sons.  A packed suitcase stood on the floor by her desk, an obvious reminder that she is a woman who lives on the road (something she talks a lot about in the book – balancing her need to travel with being a mom.)

In listening to my recorded interview with her, I realize I was really nervous, chatting for about 10 minutes about my intent before even letting to her speak!  Once she spoke, I was put at ease by her friendliness, and became totally relaxed. Caryl begins her narrative sharing two powerful personal family stories.  In 1939, her mother and uncle boarded a ship as children to escape from Austria during the Nazi invasion.  An unknown woman, whose name they will never know, made sure they boarded that ship safely to escape the horror that could have killed them.   Through her mother’s story, Caryl knows the power that even one person has to save another’s life. That same year, her grandfather boarded the SS St. Louis on a journey that became known as the Voyage of the Damned because Cuban and US authorities denied entrance to the passengers (mostly Jews) saying that they had fraudulent paperwork.

The ship was sent back to Europe, and most on board perished from Nazi persecution.  Her grandfather, one of the few survivors of that journey, taught her “what happens when the world turns its back, ignores the facts, and allows innocent people to die.” In I Believe In Zero, Caryl shares her travels to witness the plight of children around the world, and the work that UNICEF is doing to alleviate their suffering.  From the rainforests of Brazil to Mozambique, Darfur, Bangladesh, and post earthquake Haiti (just to name a few), she shares intimate moments, putting names and faces to the mothers and children whose lives seem so unjustly marred by war, famine, ecological devastation and disease.  But the power of her stories are in the details and emotions she has witnessed – from holding the hand of a woman whose child is dying of tetanus (a preventable disease) in Sierra Leone to sharing an apple with a woman in the desert during the food shortage in Kenya, just 48 hours after Caryl excitedly (and nervously) meets Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Its Caryl’s ability to make everything personal that I realize makes her so authentic and relatable.  During the talk I attended, a young boy asked her, “What is the most difficult part of your job?”  I expected her to answer with a story about witnessing famine, the death of an infant, or meeting children of war, but instead she replied that it was being separated from her two sons.  In the book, she shares the story of being at a refugee camp in Darfur, and getting a phone call from her son in NYC who needs help with his English homework.  Any mom can relate to this feeling.  As a mom, Caryl is constantly figuring out the balance of serving both her children and the world! During the interview, when I applaud Caryl’s belief the no child should die of preventable causes, she responds that her hope is that others will adopt this intent to make it a rallying cry of their own – that it is the ones who stand on her shoulders who will convince others that no child should die of preventable causes and do something about it.  As she speaks, I am reminded once again of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and how the mandates in that charter need constant re-affirmation, communication, and action.

I am inspired that there are people like Caryl Stern who are leading a global community of individuals who truly believe that we can help one another. I strongly recommend Caryl’s book, I Believe In Zero.  It is entertaining, hopeful, and a first step to educating oneself about issues affecting our children.  Caryl has generously donated profits of the book US Fund for UNICEF.  I also encourage you to check out www.unicef-usa.org to learn about the programs and important work that UNICEF is doing daily to help children around the world.

Empower Your Kids for #GivingTuesday

Screen shot 2013-11-12 at 3.41.25 PMIt’s a quiet evening in the Gobes household.  The autumn sun sets early as the rich aroma of Barefoot Contessa’s boeuf bourguignon peaks our appetites.  With a click of the mouse, my cozy, quiet, comfort-food kitchen is suddenly infused with emotion as my family quickly transitions from hunger to contemplation to tears to determination to inspired action.

My children and I are wrapped around the sound of a news story aired by NPR online, brought to living color by Paula Bronstein’s stirring photo of a Filipino expressing his raw suffering after Typhoon Haiyan.

For a long moment we four are suspended in stillness as we connect with his suffering.  His tears flow through our eyes as we watch the computer screen in silence.

I break the hush and spend a few minutes talking about what it means to be human.  This man is a stranger.  He is thousands of miles away, but his pain is as familiar to us as our own breath.

My youngest children are 9, 7, and 5.  They know suffering, or at least they think they do.  Their low points are dredged up by missing sneakers on gym day, by two green brussel sprouts on a dinner plate.  But their imaginations are fertile and their capacity for compassion is immense.  They examine the man’s expression and begin to list emotions he might be feeling.  They, too, feel those things.  They connect the dots.  He’s just like us.

“How can you help him?” I ask.

“We can send him blankets!” suggests one.

“He’s not cold, he’s wearing short sleeves,” says the other.  “How about pillows?”

“How can we get the pillows to him?”

Maybe the best way to help him from so far away is to raise money.  He can use it to import what he needs,” I suggest.

“Can we color him a picture, Mommy?” my little one requests.

“You bet, babe.”

My 9 year-old seems to be experiencing a paradigm shift.  She picks up the house phone and begins to dial with great urgency.  She’s recruiting her besties to lead a fundraising effort – a good old fashioned coin collection.  Empty your piggy banks, fellow third graders!  The people of the Philippines need our pocket change!  She disappears into her bedroom, chittering quickly, hashing out details and coordinating collection locations.

My 7 year-old has settled back into her book Big Nate, but upon absorbing her big sister’s charitable enthusiasm, she ditches the read and picks up a marker.  “How do you spell typhoon?”  She churns out several posters as I type emails to friends soliciting support for the children’s mission.

My 5 year-old is on the edge.  He’s constructing cannons out of Tinker Toys and monitoring the commotion cautiously.  “Mommy,” he ventures, “Can I ask Jack and Billy to give quarters to that man?”  I respond in the affirmative and hear his barely audible, “Yessssss.”  He continues to quietly play with his cannons.

“Can you believe that a 5 year-old boy like you can do something important like this?  You have the power to help a grown man feel better.  You’re like a superhero.  What do you think about that, buddy?”

“Good,” he mutters, not lifting his head.  But I can see past his long bangs that he’s smiling.  The enthusiasm for this project is contagious.

Big sister returns to the kitchen, placing the cordless on my desk.  The plan is a go.  The  primary players are enlisted.  We decide to collect change until Thanksgiving and have a coin counting party on #GivingTuesday.  They’re excited to be part of such a special day.

Dinner is hot and it’s time to eat.  I take a moment to reflect.  In the time it took a pot of stew to boil, my children adopted a cause and took action.  I’m reminded of a quote by Seneca, “It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste of a lot of it.”  No wasted time here.  Giddy-up.

Give what you can, how you can, where you can.  And be sure to give your all on #GivingTuesday.

Is it Possible to Give Too Much?

Giving Hands I’m a giver. Being born with a giant heart, I’ve spent my life compassionately trying to help others whenever possible. When I see a group of kids standing outside the grocery store trying to raise funds for whatever cause, I always open my wallet. Same with those who show up at the doorstep. I’ve given up nights and weekends to serve on volunteer committees. As an employer, I’ve showered my staff with bonuses and growth opportunities in gratitude for their service. At home, we regularly clean out our closets and cupboards and donate any excess we can. These actions, as small (or big) as they are, have just been a natural extension of what I stand for. Being of service to others is very fulfilling and, frankly, something the world needs more of. However, like all good things, it can have a dark side. Yes, I do believe it is possible to give too much. Let me explain.

When I went in to business for myself in 2008, we were blessed with rapid growth and business “success”. As our employee size and bottom line grew, I knew that I wanted to give back even more. I created a program for our employees to pick a cause in the community and take paid time off to volunteer. We also donated to many others causes through sponsorships and workplace giving programs. I was invited to chair a local non-profit event, which was a pretty big undertaking, but my big heart told me to say yes as I dove right in to the responsibility. And, any time a friend asked for support on a project of their own, I was there to help them in any way I could. It felt great to have the capacity to give back so much. So, what was the problem?

After several years of very strong business growth, we experienced our first major down cycle. The company started losing money. Fast. Instead of laying people off right away, which would have been a strategic business decision, I felt compelled to work even harder to get our profits back up and keep things chugging along. Tried as I did, the economy was taking its toll. I was essentially losing tons of money to keep others on the payroll. Ouch. The ship was taking on water fast and I had to do something before it went under. Alas, I had to get smart and do what my heart dreaded – lay people off.

At this point, I felt like a failure. I was stressed about money. My heart ached for those who had to find new jobs and I felt guilty because they would struggle to pay their bills. I was hard on myself for not magically pulling it all together. On top of that, I was spread very thin with my volunteer work, my home life, and I had just recently become pregnant with our second daughter at the time. People continued to call on me to ask for help, but I finally had to draw the line in the sand and say “no”. I just couldn’t do it any more. It was time to help myself.

I secretly wanted my former employees to be like “thank you for keeping us on so long even though I know you were losing a lot of money.” Some of them did. But, others, of course, were stressed out about their own situation and a little less gracious. Some even hurtful. I wanted the organizations that I volunteered for to be like “Oh, we totally understand. Go take care of yourself and your family.” And, some of them were. But, others seemed disappointed and became less friendly when I couldn’t put in the hours any more. I wanted the friends whose projects I couldn’t support to be like “I understand you can’t support all of them..” And, most of them were. But, others took offense when I didn’t help.

So, here I was, at a pretty low point in my life. I was trying to resurrect my business, feeling horrible about it, and trying to take a step back to pull myself together so I could focus on what mattered most, the beautiful life I was creating inside my tummy. And, instead of offering support, some of the very people that my big heart had gone out of its way to help in the past were upset or disappointed in me because I could not or would not give to them any more. That twisted the knife even more. And, it hurt.

But, I couldn’t blame them, really. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t their fault. It was I that had taught them how to treat me, after all. I had spent so much time give, give, giving that I never set clear boundaries for myself and what my personal limitations were. In my eagerness to help others, I forgot to help myself. People got so use to me being a “yes” that they seemed less than satisfied when I finally had to say “no.’ Also, it had occurred to me that, even in my toughest times, I never asked anybody else for help. I had let the world know that I was a huge giver, but sent a message that I was some sort of superwoman that didn’t need any help. Therefore people were, go figure, not likely to offer their support. Truth be told, whether in the form of understanding, compassion, or just a little pat on the back to say, “it will be okay,” I would have been wide open to receiving that type of encouragement.

Like with all times of trouble, here within lied some incredibly valuable lessons for me. I used the turmoil I was experiencing in my outside world as a reflection of my inner-workings and took some time to go inward and grow from it all.

I’ve since prioritized what matters most in my life and choose to focus my time and energy on what makes my heart expand with love. I accept that, inevitably, I will have to disappoint some people along the way. And, unapologetically so. We simply can’t help everyone. I’ve discovered that we can work more efficiently and have a greater reach when our own truth and boundaries are honored. Often, saying no to others often means saying yes to our own life and dreams.

I’ve learned that everything needs to be in balance to experience harmony. So, I’ve put my intention out into the Universe that, as much as I give, I also want to feel supported. It’s a yin and a yang thing. And, since then, many special people and blessings have turned up in my life. When we are open to receiving, the Universe shows up for us.

Don’t get me wrong. I still have the same big huge heart that I was born with. And, when my cup floweth over, you betcha I’m going to share with those who need it. But, now I am careful not to empty out my own cup completely in the process. I have to honor myself and my family first. Then, I can divvy out what’s leftover as I see fit. People respect and understand personal boundaries. But it is up to us to effectively communicate them.

It’s amazing how much more you can give when you’re careful not to give too much. It’s also pretty remarkable just how much more support you receive once you open yourself up to it and let the Universe know you are ready.

To my fellow big-hearted ones, may you continue to bless others with your graciousness. But, please remember to take care of yourself and be ever-so-careful not to empty out your own cup in the process.

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