by Sunny Simon

At a recent holiday party I encountered a young woman at the buffet. As we progressed down the food line she quickly introduced herself then immediately launched into a monologue. Cindy, my new acquaintance, was as she described it, “beyond stressed,” with everything on her to do list involving the holiday season. My first reaction was to nod signaling I understood the chaos she was describing, but a loud voice in my head announced I should suggest she leave the party and attend to more critical tasks before she hit the wall. My verbose inner dialogue had a point, Cindy was not enjoying the moment, nor my company, for that matter.

Following me to a quiet corner she continued to deliver a laundry list of incompletes between quick bites of food. I doubted her taste buds had time to savor the scrumptious food our hostess prepared. If I knew this young lady better I would have taken the plate from her hand and led her in some deep breathing exercises to get her in relaxation mode. Perhaps next I would have suggested she either relax and enjoy the party or politely say her good-byes and move on and tackle some of the important errands she maintained needed attention within the next 24 hours.

If you are not mindful in the present moment, then mentally you are somewhere in your head. What is the point of attending a function when you’re not engaged and happily enjoying the beauty and warmth of the holiday season? Young Cindy exhibited a classic case of someone who was overbooked and overburdened. Perhaps if she took a moment to slow down and really examine her priorities, Cindy might have concluded she was over ambitious in her plans to find the perfect gift for every person on her list, and maybe she might have ceased loading up her calendar with multiple events.

Just a reminder to all the Cindy’s out there. This is a wondrous the season of giving and receiving. One of the most precious gifts you can lavish on a stranger, friend or loved one is your attention. Stop listening with half an ear and make your time together rich with awareness. If you only have fifteen minutes before you dash off to the next party on your list, make those 900 seconds count. If you do, you will leave behind the perfect gift, your presence. Wishing the readers of CV Weekly  all the joys of this beautiful season! Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at