Episode 032 – The Best Present is Presence

Are you looking for a way to bring peace on earth and goodwill to all?  Start by giving the gift of your presence.


(c) Ann Thompson

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On Today’s Episode

Rhythm of Life – My Grandmother’s Sugar Cookies
Tune-up Tip – Superbrain Yoga: Help or Hype?
Random Riffs – What You Don’t Know About Jingle Bells and Never Thought to Ask
Feature Segment – The Best Present is Presence

Rhythm of Life – My Grandmother’s Sugar Cookies

Every family has that one recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation, and is made and enjoyed over and over.  In our family, that recipe is…my grandmother’s sugar cookies.

They are crispy and light, and delicious.  A perennial favorite.  And not just in my family.  We have given that recipe to countless friends, who have in turn passed it on.  Each time we do, it’s like sharing our family with them.  When they use the recipe, they remember me and my family, just as I do with recipes others have shared with me.

What are we giving when we share a recipe?  Sometimes a piece of our family heritage, our traditions, a piece of ourselves, and love.

If you know someone who likes to cook or bake, you can give them a real treasure by sharing your favorite recipe.

Tune-Up Tip – Superbrain Yoga?  Help or Hype?

There’s a new fad exercise out there called Superbrain Yoga, which touts cognitive benefits from 3 minutes of exercise.  This simple squat exercise offers benefits not just for young students, but also adults seeking brain wellness into their senior years, and patients with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Down Syndrome, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive delays.

According to this article, 3 months shows improvement; 7 months yields 20-35% improvement in cognitive abilities.

Other articles site support similar benefits:

Udemy Blog

But the Neurologica Blog provides an alternative viewpoint.

What’s a person to believe?
Could this 3-minute exercise really help develop your brain to the point of helping to overcome ADHD or autism?  Who knows?  Does it look like a fun and possibly helpful exercise?  Maybe it’s worth giving it a try.  It’s only 3 minutes.

Random Riffs – What You Don’t Know About “Jingle Bells” and Never Thought to Ask

We all know the song “Jingle Bells”.  You’ve probably sung it more than any song except maybe Happy Birthday.  How much do you know about this song?  And how many versions of it have been recorded through the years.  Here’s some Jingle Bells trivia.

  • Written by James Lord Pierpont in 1850 in the Simpson Tavern in Medford, MA.
  • Originally written for Thanksgiving as a winter song.
  • Had four verses, and the original chorus tune was a bit different than the one we know today.
  • First song sung in outer space on 12/16/65
  • A short list of artists who have recorded it:   Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, The Chipmunks, Judy Collins, Nat King Cole, Plácido Domingo, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Spike Jones, Barry Manilow, NSync, Luciano Pavarotti, Frank Sinatra, and Fats Waller.
  • Tony DeSare recorded 17 versions on his piano.
  • Multiple parodies have been recorded.

Can you come up with your own version of this song?  Comment below or on my Facebook page.

Feature Segment – The Best Present is Presence

What are you giving for Christmas or Chanukah this year?

Gift suggestions are widely available on the internet. Whether it be the top most popular gifts, or gifts to avoid, there are options for everyone.

Many of us spend a lot of time figuring out what to buy for people who don’t really need much of anything.  It can be stressful, but it can also be fun finding just the right gift.

Perhaps this year we can share the gift of one another’s presence.  This would be the right gift at Christmas, and all year long.  Here’s why.

Your presence offers connection.

We are so hyper-connected that we often miss out on the deep connections we so desperately need.  How many Facebook friends do we have? Are we only keeping in touch with our friends thru Instagram? We often forget that a few deep connections are worth so much more than a bunch of surface ones.
So your presence creates connection.  When you choose to spend time with people, you deepen your connection with them.  When you are fully present during that time, you deepen that connection even more.  And here’s something else:  When you take the initiative to help others, you become more engaged and energized.

Studies have been conducted on the correlation between connection and happiness, and living healthier, longer lives:

Very Happy People” – by Ed Diener and Martin Seligman
Loneliness” – by John Cacioppo
Before Happiness” – by Shawn Achor

Your presence offers comfort.

So often when someone is hurting, we shy away.  We don’t know what to say.  We don’t know what to do.  Sometimes people do need to be alone to process their pain.  But often what they simply need is our presence.  Whether it be in silence, a hand to hold, a comforting hug.  Or maybe a meal, laundry, chores.  Not trying to “fix” it or explain it away.  Simply showing love.  Simply being present.

Sometimes this comfort is simply to hurt alongside the other. Sometimes it’s to remind them that these circumstances will not last forever.  And sometimes it’s to lead the way to joy.

Your presence offers courage.

A scary or difficult event is always easier when faced with someone by your side.  The presence and solidarity of others provides courage you may not have had alone.  This is true in big and small ways.

  • Courage to try something different
  • Courage to persist through difficulty
  • Courage to come back from failure

Ken Davis‘ and Cliff Ravenscraft's story of trying something new.  Ken's book Fully Alive.  Cliff's Podcasting A to Z Course.

During this holiday season, as you look for that perfect something to give someone you care about, think about giving the greatest present of all – your presence.  By doing so you’ll give


And, you’ll be happier and healthier yourself.

Share your experience on how you’ve given your presence of community, comfort, and courage.