Monday, December 12, 2011

You Are The Present

How are you doing? As the holidays draw near, the days fill with opportunities to connect with friends and family, everyone really – or not.

I don't know about you, but I have spent a few tense holidays, unconscious, on automatic pilot. Growing up in an alcoholic family, my version of that was an exhausting attempt to make everything work out for everyone. Yikes!

This year I plan to break out from the well worn groove and connect with myself and others "presently". Maybe in quiet ways no one will notice, I kind of hope so.

While celebrating our connection and wishing you peace and joy, I think of breakout experiences to share.

When that gate shut behind us in the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in the Catskill mountains of New York, I knew something big had really closed. We would not walk back through that opening until someone in a uniform told us we could.

Members of the NAACP there had invited us to speak about famine in East Africa because we were involved in a project to raise awareness of about world hunger. As a guard escorted us below tiers of cells, inmates screamed down at us in such a roar I couldn't pick out what anyone was saying -- probably a good thing. When we reached an auditorium, he took us backstage to meet our sponsors.

As I waited backstage, I peeked out at rows and rows of black men wearing white tee shirts and green tennis shoes. The first speaker walked on stage, a thin white guy with glasses. They jeered. They howled. He continued with his talk as if nothing were happening.

I was next! As my pulse sped up, I thought the only thing I can do is be present, connect, not go unconscious like a robot on automatic pilot.

I walked out, took the microphone, and stood there -- gazed out at that green-sneakered sea of difference and let it in. Suddenly, as if it had a will of its own, my voice blurted out, "I've never been in a prison before." Over a ripple of laughter another voice from the back rows rang out, "Neither had I, honey."

When our laughter died down, that group of men, incarcerated in the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in the Catskill mountains of New York listened in total silence while I presented statics on infant mortality and starvation in Somalia and the horn of East Africa.

Those guys donated several hundred dollars, their gift to alleviate suffering across the world, an amazing amount considering their meager resources.

As I've worked with all sorts of people over the decades of my coaching experience, over and over we discovered that the present of our presence is always enough.

As you ponder your holiday lists of things to cook and presents to buy, how about including your presence, the most splendid present of all? What a gift you are!

Wishing you golden moments of happy, present holidays.

Love,
Mandy

For other presents look at my Amazon Author page for two books. Give the gift of happiness with Emotional Options. Give the gift of recovery with Travelling Free