Live Generously This Holiday Season

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live_generouslyIt is that time of the year. The holidays. I love the holidays with all my heart and look forward to all the excitement they bring – family gatherings, the first winter snow, decorating my home and shopping for loved ones. Along with all these wonderful times also comes stress. I have found that often the same things that bring joy also bring tension. The posture of my heart dictates my overall holiday experience and I’ve discovered the best way for me to truly enjoy and make the most of this time is to live generously. Living generously can help alleviate stress and help you refocus on all the blessing this season brings. It’s also a great way to center your heart and mind to prepare for what’s to come in the new year. As the holidays quickly approach, I hope you’ll join me in embracing the generous life. Here are some observations and ideas to get started today.

Generosity is a mindset.
Consciously deciding to live more generously touches every part of life. The word generous often triggers thoughts of monetary giving. Yes, financial gifts are most certainly a way of spreading generosity, but thats just the tip of the iceberg. Once embraced, generosity can be expressed anywhere through anything.

  • Time – As a full-time mom with a husband who often works evenings and weekends, I covet my “me-time”. That glorious mid-afternoon break when my kids are napping or the evening wine wind down time once they’re out for the night. I do whatever I please during this time which often involves sleep, books, wine, Gilmore Girls or all of the above. I discovered that this window that I’ve carved out just for me, could be an opportunity to for me to be generous with my time. I use it to call girlfriends who I know could use encouragement. Prepare meals for mom friends with overwhelming schedules. Simply snuggle my three-year-old to sleep because he’s begging to be close to me. And with my mind focused on generosity, I’m saying yes more too. Watching a friend’s child even though it means rambunctious kids and destroyed house. Letting someone in front of me in line because I’m in no rush. Sitting with my husband on the couch watching an action movie (not my choice in entertainment) despite a sink full of dirty dishes. Sure, I still need time to decompress, but giving some of my me-time away also fills my heart. 
  • Forgiveness – It’s amazing how children are so quick to forgive. They’re the definition of forgive and forget. Grudges don’t really exist among toddlers. This truly inspires me. I took a hard look at myself and realized I often let my emotions get the best of me. When this happens, I’m easily offended and hurt. I do my best now to take step back and not springboard immediately to an angry response. Case and point, my spouse. When I think the best of him, I see the best in him (rather than a man who is really trying to push my buttons by throwing his clothes BESIDE the laundry basket rather than IN it). I know he loves me and isn’t intentionally trying to upset me. But when we do disagree and respond promptly in sincere forgiveness, we resolve the situation and feel better much faster. Choosing to be generous with forgiveness is a true gift to yourself and others. 
  • Self Acceptance – Has anyone else had a day when they beat themselves up mentally from the moment you woke for the day to the second you drifted off to sleep at night? Guilty here. And as moms, there is always an opportunity to feel less than or not enough. In fact, embracing motherhood for what it is can often be challenging (more on that here). But when I stop and truly recount the beauty in the life we’ve created for our family, I sit in awe. I feel so grateful to be where I am with full hands and a full heart. Then I think, I must be doing something right.
  • Out of Abundance – We all have so much. Too much, in fact. Multiple times a week I get stressed out because of said “stuff” and the mess it creates. When my best friend said she was looking for a dresser for her son’s room, I quickly realized that we had an extra not in use and I offered it to her. She graciously accepted. I can’t begin to list all of the “extra” baby clothes and accessories that were given to me by friends and family out of the overflow of their own stockpiles. And when the needy family we “adopted” through the Columbus Mom’s Blog requested bath towels on their Christmas list, I knew I had to give them the new ones I had just purchased for my home – my old ones were just fine for us to keep using. Giving out of our abundance not only blesses others but brings satisfaction to our souls.

Generosity changes you and the beneficiary.
When the woman in the Starbucks drive thru honked at me because I didn’t promptly move up 18 inches when a small space became available (little did she know that my infant was crying and I was frantically searching for his pacifier), I rolled my eyes. But then was reminded that I have no idea what she’s going through and felt prompted to purchase her drink. I drove away wishing the best for the woman and hoping she too felt a sense of peace and love. I’ve been in tune with the feelings I experience when I receive and can tell you that one of the first thoughts is that I’m undeserving. Accepting a gift – even a free one – can be hard and humbling. But allowing the giver the opportunity to extend generosity and choosing to accept their kindness creates a mindset of gratitude and affirmation.

Generosity creates a chain reaction.
This is simple. The more generous people are with me, the more I want to reciprocate that generosity to others. The impact of receiving opens the heart and mind to further extending acts of gratitude. Figuratively keeping our hands open creates a posture ready to give to others and also willing to receive.

I challenge you to consider adding more generosity into your life not only this holiday season but year round. You’ll be surprised with how many ways you can incorporate it into your daily routine. And the best part, it impacts both yourself and others in a positive way. Truly, you have nothing lose, but much to gain by living generously.

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Emily Bice grew up in a small, Ohio farming community west of Columbus. It wasn't until she met her college sweetheart and future husband that her mind was opened to living elsewhere. They say love makes you do crazy things which lead Emily and her Texan husband to living in Central America for two years. After much adventure and traveling, she ended up back in Columbus where the real adventure began: motherhood. She is the mom of two young boys and an infant daughter and wife to the ultimate man's man. She's living her dream as a stay at home mom but will be the first to admit that she is far from having it all figured out. Her hardest parenting moments are typically around nap time and bedtime and after particularly rough episodes she can be found online shopping. In a former chapter of life, Emily worked in non-profit raising funds and awareness for important causes. Today, she spends her time playing and snuggling with her three children, traveling to and from her husband's lacrosse company's events and socializing with friends and family. When she has any free time, she usually wastes it trying to figure out what to do.