Editor’s Note: This month at Root + River we are musing on Nurturing and this musing is being led by Brand Strategist Chris Klonoski.

As with everything at Root + River, there’s an inner component and an outer component. We examine the world through two lenses: a rooted lens (inward) and a river lens (outward). The inner journey of self-reflection and awareness and the outer journey of expression, creativity and branding – the act of making a significant mark on the world.

By Chris Klonoski

Does the holiday season go hand in hand with the concept of nurturing? At first glance most people might say yes. If you celebrate Christmas as a religious or secular holiday, you spend a fair amount of time selecting gifts, decorating, cooking and entertaining. 

Checklists are made. Plans are made. Cookies are made. But are we nurturing? 

I assume a lot of these things began as nurturing. A kind thing you could do for another person. A gesture of caring. A way to say “you matter to me.” 

But for a lot of us, they simply became a to-do list item on the manual entitled, This is What You Do to Have a Successful Holiday Season – sterile, demanding and overwhelming. 

Blech.

I am negative compliant, my whole family is. We joke about being a family of two-year olds who just learned the word “no”. 

If you order me to do something, you can go right ahead and assume it Will Not Be Done. I’m not proud of this, but I don’t try to change it either. And truthfully, if you phrase your request as a question, seasoned with some sweet words, (and I like you) there is very little I won’t do for you. 

But for me, it’s all in the approach, the framing, the perspective. 

When an action is framed as a gift, something you are doing to encourage another person’s well-being or growth, or to show that you value or cherish them, everything shifts. What was compulsory becomes a choice. And choice is freedom.

A choice made, given with a whole heart and from a place of genuineness, becomes so much more. Both the giver and the recipient gain. 

For something to be genuine, it must be true.

For it to be true it must be based in reality. And we have developed some incredibly intricate and addictive ways to keep us from what is real. Tik Tok, Netflix, cocktails, gaming…the list of ways to distract ourselves is endless. The antidote is silence and space but immediately flipping from distraction to meditation is not possible for most of us. Instead, we develop a process for deliberately moving from diversion to reflection.

I read an article many years ago about Tiger Woods, one of the most successful golfers of our generation. 

The article described how he would simply slow down in the face of immense pressure and distraction. He would deliberately move a beat slower, take an extra pause, choose each movement and breathe rather than jerking through a challenging moment.

 If you weren’t looking for it, you would not see it. He wasn’t dramatic or showy about his change of pace. He didn’t discuss his process at length, or exaggerate his movements, he simply chose to decelerate, allowing him to see the whole board and trust his years of experience and repetition and instincts to make the next right move. 

I love the concept of developing rituals around everyday nothingness; using washing your hands as a reminder to exhale to a count of three, or using the act of wiping your kids fingerprints off the fridge as a trigger to recite a brief prayer of protection or gratitude for them. 

Seeding a habit of reflection instead of distraction around mundane tasks can build a bridge to those quiet moments where so much is revealed. Or, nothing is. I love those moments the most. No big revelations. No startling insights. Just…

Peace. 

Creating and then layering these triggers or habits into our regular day gives us entry points, small moments of reset that deliver us back to ourselves. Now we can re-enter the meeting, the discussion, the decision, in a grounded way. A way that allows our innate values and personal integrity to inform the equation. 

By nurturing our awareness of the self, we bring it forward into our actions. We remember the guideposts that matter to our well-being, or the goal that is desired. And our path forward is clear.

Now we are able to select the best social media strategy that feels right for us. 

Or, we suddenly have insight into an obstacle impeding the culture we are encouraging with the team. 

Or, we decide – with confidence and contentment – to skip the holiday baking this year. 

Slowing it all down nurtures our peace – nurtures our knowing – and allows room for all of that striving, working, grinding, exploring to take root and grow.

Chris Klonoski has 30-years experience in persuasive writing: editorial, speech writing, analysis, B2B & B2C, thought leadership and human interest. After working in various political positions in federal, state and local levels of government, she formed Proficio, LLC, a communications consulting company specializing in marketing, strategy, public relations, copy writing and community outreach. She works with Root + River as a Brand and Client Strategist.

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