[Own Your Life] The Gift of Attention

Dear Difference Maker,

I think we’d all agree that the Holiday Season is all about children and for those of us who are just little kids in big bodies now, it’s a time to revisit the child inside each and every one of us.  Because it is a fun time for so many, some of us can get over energized from all of the activities.

The most calming force I’ve learned to use with children (and adults) who are bouncing off the walls with excitement, is to give the gift of my undivided, emotionally available attention.

Like most people I’ve had tough growth years along the way. One of the things I enJOY the most about this season are the family stories that come out of the holidays.  I have two stories for you today that I hope will put a smile on your face and a chuckle in your heart …

Reaching out …
0000 mary-3


The Gift of Attention

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Giving Behavior Affirming Attention and Focus
Excerpt from Connecting With Colors: Synergize Your Life Self-Paced Online Program

The real power of compassionate attention is that it causes positive behavioral change—instantaneously.

Connection is about more than simple acknowledgment; it’s about the necessity of reaching out daily to be emotionally available, through compassionate attention, to the individuals in our lives, no matter what age.

You can make a difference in how well we all do by the kind of attention you decide to give each other.

When you remain consistent in offering attention in a positive and behavior affirming way, it becomes a “conscious” act that offers profound healing. This, coupled with a decision to simply slow down and energetically connect with individuals, will create alignment that generates long-term solutions.

How you decide to give your attention will determine how easy it will be to enjoy and get along throughout the years.

“Behavior-affirming attention” includes our true attitude behind the tone in our voice, the language we use to teach or to offer choices, and the age-appropriate expectations we put in place for children.

You’ll find that the very best place to begin is with Behavior Modification’s #1 Rule: Before you can change anyone else you must first change yourself.

You simply cannot have an attitude and keep it a secret!  If you don’t particularly like someone you will not be able to work with them successfully. You’re either contaminating or contributing to an outcome based on what you’ve decided bout any given situation.

To see an improvement that’s immediate, you must change your attitude: fear, judgments, entitlement, prejudices and condescending labels. Do this, and you’ll affect and heal unproductive behaviors, seeing better results than you could have imagined. Change your attitude, and you shift the resistant energy between you and them in an instant.

The Christmas Contract
Excerpt from Gifts by the Side of the Road by John Wayne “Jack” Schlatter

Note from Jack: Some of my father’s greatest teachings were not through words but through fun traditions…

During our early youth, our father established a wonderful, yet educational, Christmas tradition.

To understand the total impact this game had, you must understand that our father had many outstanding qualities.  But the most important one was integrity.

I can’t remember him ever breaking a promise. So you can imagine our excitement when he announced it was time for us to make a list of the presents we desired. He even supplied the paper (lots of it, by the way) and the pencils.

With total sincerity, he said, “Whatever you want, boys. Don’t hold back.” And we knew he meant it. Like I said earlier, we had learned that his word was as good as gold.

So with great enthusiasm we began this most exciting and pleasurable task. Among many other things, each list contained a pony, a high-powered rifle and so on.

Now, there was one catch… there was the “contract.”

The contract was the understanding that any acts of mischief, broken furniture and/or windows, undone chores, grades below a “B” or ignored curfews would cause one request to be removed from the list.

Oh, and we made out the list on the first day of September.

By the September 3rd, the pony had been removed from every list.

Shortly thereafter, the high-powered rifles followed. It was a great tradition that created a lot of laughs and enjoyment as we related the story to various guests, girlfriends, future wives and grandchildren.

But it was not until I was in my 20s that I discovered the lesson behind the tradition. Dad was teaching us to dream big, that no goal was beyond our reach, if only we would pay the price.

And you know something, dear reader. I firmly believe with all of my heart that if we had truly behaved for those four months, on Christmas morning there would have been four ponies standing in the back yard.

I recently read this wonderful story from a parent that I thought would be fun to share with you because, after all, when we think of Christmas, we think of children and the difference they make through bringing us love’s purity and Joy!

The Magic of Children and Christmas



My husband and I had been happily married (most of the time) for five years but hadn’t been blessed with a baby. I decided to do some serious praying and promised God that, if he would give us a child, I would be a perfect mother, love it with all my heart and raise it with His word as my guide.

God answered my prayers and blessed us with a son. The next year God blessed us with another son. The following year, He blessed us with yet another son. The year after that we were blessed with a daughter. My husband thought we’d been blessed right into poverty.

We now had four children, and the oldest was only four years old. I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant it. As a minister once told me, “If you pray for rain, make sure you carry an umbrella.” I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children each day as they lay in their cribs. I was off to a good start. God had entrusted me with four children, and I didn’t want to disappoint.

I tried to be patient the day the children smashed two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks.  I tried to be understanding… when they started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare bedroom, although it took me nearly two hours to catch all twenty-three frogs. When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and rolled up in a blanket to see how it felt to be a hot dog, I tried to see the humor rather than the mess.

In spite of changing over twenty-five thousand diapers, never eating a hot meal and never sleeping for more than thirty minutes at a time, I still thank God daily for my children.

While I couldn’t keep my promise to be a perfect mother, I didn’t even come close… I did keep my promise to raise them with His word. I knew I was missing the mark just a little when I told my daughter we were going to church to worship, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along to “wash up” Jesus, too.

Something was lost in the translation when I explained that God gave us everlasting life, and my son thought it was generous of God to give us his “last wife.”

My proudest moment came during the children’s Christmas pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds and my youngest son was a wise man. This was their moment to shine.

My five-year-old shepherd had practiced his line, “We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.” But he was nervous and said, “The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes.” My four-year-old “Mary” said, “That’s not ‘wrinkled clothes,’ silly. That’s dirty, rotten clothes.”

A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd, which was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing. I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying, “Mama-mama.” Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly as the wise men arrived.

My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt at the manger and announced, “We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur.”

The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the pageant got a standing ovation. “I’ve never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one,” laughed the pastor, wiping tears from his eyes. “For the rest of my life, I’ll never hear the Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense and fur.”

“My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest blessing,” I said as I dug through my purse for an aspirin.  -Author Unknown

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