Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Gift of All: Notice The People in Your Life

Take Notice
Take Notice (Photo credit: brianstdenis)
by Sue Ludwig

While my daughter and I walked through thousands of people at the Festival of Lights in Cincinnati, I noticed a boy, maybe 8 years old, trying to get his mom's attention.

He discovered he could run and then skillfully slide along one of the zoo's slick wooden benches, gliding effortlessly for several feet. This made him smile ear to ear.

His mom was on her cell phone. He tugged on her sleeve 3-4 times, trying to get her to watch his incredible feat. She briefly looked his way, but by the time he slid along the bench and looked to her for approval, she had turned back to her conversation.

Finally, after several attempts, she watched the whole scene. He jumped up at the end (ta-da!) and she said flatly, "Come on, you're going to get a splinter."

I'm not recounting this to pass judgment on this mother - heck, I've probably BEEN this mother. But what hit me was that all this boy wanted was maybe 15 seconds of her focused time and attention. It's easy at this time of year to get caught up in the busy-ness of the season. So much to do, so many obligations, parties we think we need to attend, gifts to purchase.

I promised myself in that moment that I'd consciously give the most precious of gifts to my family and friends this season - time. Focused, personal, fun - time. There are so many ways to do this.

Besides spending time together, one great idea is to take time to make a gift for each member of your family. My brother's family does this every year. And regardless of what the other gifts are, this turns out to be their favorite.

I received a gift made for me by my nephew while he was in college. It's a working clock made out of a record (a real record!), a set of working clock hands, and a battery. He then surrounded it with quotes about time because he knows how much I love quotes. How cool is that?

And the best part is, he gave me the gift of his time when he had very little. And he thought about who he was giving it to - and yes, it still hangs in my office today even though he's thousands of miles away living his real world post-college life.

So relax. Say no to one party you half-heartedly attend every year. Have fun. Slide along a bench at full speed. Make a gift. Put down your cell phone.

Notice the people in your life. And give them the best gift of all.
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President and Founder Sue Ludwig is a practicing neonatal occupational therapist at University Hospital in Cincinnati. She is a sought after national speaker, consultant, writer and educator. Sue has published articles related to infant-driven feeding and developmental care in the NICU. She is also a published poet.

Sue is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and an ex-officio member of the Education Provider Committee for the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.
Sue lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.
http://www.neonataltherapists.com

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