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Giving presents is what everyone does – especially at this time of year.  Can we be more creative and find other ways to give?

What may come to mind first is giving money.  That’s an easy one to do, if you have it. You don’t have to have a fortune to give money, though.  In some spiritual circles, you’re encouraged to give, even when you don’t think you have it. Giving money can make you feel abundant.

Another one that comes readily to mind is giving time.  This kind of giving can manifest in many different ways.  You could, of course, give your time to help someone with a chore.  Sometimes just showing up and spending time with someone can be a gift.  It might only be your company that makes someone feel less alone.  Other times your presence might support what someone is doing.

Giving time, of course, can be about volunteering.  So often our time is taken up in self-centric activities, such as earning our wages or tending to our surroundings. Volunteering your time, giving it freely for the good of someone else can be very freeing.

Giving can mean handing over some of your possessions to those with less.  Maybe it is a gift you’ve purchased just for someone special. A phone call or letter might touch someone’s heart at just the right time and be a gift.  As I’ve found recently, giving my attention to a project can make a real difference.

An area of giving that doesn’t get talked about much is giving to yourself.  Maybe there’s something you’ve really been needing lately.  If you take the time and the money to go out and get it for yourself, that can be considered giving.  You might just decide to give yourself permission to go after what you want or to be sad because you didn’t get something you wanted.

Giving can happen spontaneously.  It can be so fast you could miss it, if you’re not watching. You could be walking along the street and come across someone who’s dropped their packages, stoop over and help them gather their things. Opening the door for someone who’s struggling. Giving someone space to express their opinions without interrupting or arguing could be a generous gift at times. Others may just need you to give them permission to be who they are or your acceptance for what they’re trying to do.

Perhaps you could give of yourself – something you know, what you’ve learned or what you think.  You could give a recommendation, a referral or a kidney.  I often like to give compliments. Giving encouragement can also be very helpful.  You could give a day off, a free pass, or a leg up.

Whenever you can give something to yourself or someone else, most particularly something of your own, it warms and expands your heart. And strengthens your giving muscle.

The words aren’t coming. Sometimes they get caught up when I’m focusing a lot of effort on something else.  I can feel it.  It’s not about being a writer and being blocked.  It’s about being a human being with issues and responsibilities.  And allowing them to take over.  It’s all there.  I know it is.

There are a few solutions I’ve found to release the clog.  One of my favorites is taking a vacation.  Even if that means taking a day or even an hour.  If I do it that fast though, I have to mean business.  No washing dishes, doing the filing or just doing this one thing . . .  I have to be serious about resting and/ or playing if I want the full effect.

Speaking of playing, hearing live music always opens me up.  I’m not sure exactly how that works. But almost without fail, when I listen to musicians (all right, they have to be half-way decent musicians) playing, within 24 hours, I have something to say.

Another remedy is to make a practice of doing one small thing for myself every day, for a few days in a row.  For best results, I must be sure to do something that’s really good for me.  Giving myself the chocolate sundae I’ve been wanting will only offer a momentary buzz.  It wears off quickly and won’t produce the kind of writing worth the calories.  It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or expensive.  A few moments of quiet may be all I need.  Perhaps it’s a talk with a good friend.  Sometimes I just need permission to write whatever I feel like, instead of what I’m trying to write.

One of my favorite and most effective ways to get things flowing again is to work my muscles.  I’ve spoken before of Natalie Goldberg’s  Writing Practice.   What an amazing thing that is!  I’ve often thought it would be really cool if Natalie would offer weekly (or even daily) writing prompts.  She’s very good at it.  There are quite a lot in her books.  But I can also pull a topic out of a hat.  Write for 10 minutes about hats. Many times I have opened the gates after a few days of writing practice.  If you don’t use your muscles enough they tighten up, too.  I stand by my statement:  Nothing breeds Writing like Writing.

Sometimes it is a matter of what’s going on in my head.  This does require a little sorting out of the priorities.  Writing about it always helps me. 

 But in the end it always comes down to just putting pen to paper or fingers to keys.  Voila!  457 words. (And I thought I had nothing to say.)

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