Friday, November 30, 2012

Top 10 Priceless Gifts That Don't Cost a Dime -- for a Sanguine / Expressive!

In just under a month, Christmas tree skirts will be empty, trash cans stuffed, and many credit cards maxed.

What do you want to feel, after the frenzy of wrapping paper tearing -- and the ooooh-ing and ahhhh-ing -- is done: Relief that it's all over? Regret over the money spent?

Or satisfaction for time well-invested and gratitude for blessings beyond price?

One more time: Gift-giving shouldn't be panic-producing; it should be fun!

Over the last three days, we've been looking at custom-tailored gifts for each Melancholy/Analytic, Phlegmatic/Amiable, and Choleric/Driver PURSE-onality on your shopping list.

Today, we finally turn our attention to the PURSE-onality that's been wondering, "When's she gonna finally talk about ME?!?"

Keeping in mind that your Sanguine/Expressive's primary goal in life is fun, and that her primary emotional needs are attention, affection, approval, and acceptance, a real gift from your heart could be...

10. Laugh Together.

Borrow DVDs of comedians, relax on the couch, and chuckle along. Our family loves Ken Kington, Michael Junior, Taylor Mason, and Ken Davis. We've watched them dozens of times, and they're funnier each time!

Read comic books together. When Daniel and I were expecting Annemarie, we devoured For Better or For Worse books. As the kids moved through toddler and elementary years, we followed Calvin and Hobbes faithfully. Once they hit their teens, we became Zits devotees.

Listen to npr together. For years, Daniel and I had a weekly ritual of listening to Car Talk and howling together at the outrageous antics of Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers.

What other ways can you think of to tickle your Sanguine/Expressive's funny bone for free?

9. Laugh AT Them.

Audience laugher is a powerful opiate for a Sanguine/Expressive.

When Jonathon was four months old, it took me thirty minutes to dress him because he had just learned to laugh. Every movement, every sound, every facial expression I made prompted fresh bursts of belly laughter. I couldn't get enough!

Inside each Sanguine/Expressive is a stand-up comedian dying to get out and find an audience, any audience. Laugh at me, and you'll trigger my inner Sally Fields euphoria: "You like me! You like me! You really like me!"

There's pretty much nothing a Sanguine/Expressive won't do to get a laugh. After a recent women's retreat, I told my family how much the audience had laughed at an especially embarrassing story I'd told about myself.

"Mom," sighed Jonathon, "you'll share anything as long as it'll get a laugh, won't you."


(Caveat: I'm not advocating mockery. If you don't know your Sanguine/Expressive well enough to sense the difference between "laughing at" and mocking, skip this one.)

8. Speak Words of Affirmation.

Your Sanguine/Expressive's primary love language is words of affirmation.

I may have just kept 300 teachers laughing hysterically at a conference, but I still love hearing Daniel say, "You're so darn funny!"

You may be having a great day shopping with your BFF, but she still wants to hear,"I am so glad we're friends!"

If a husband is working through the "honey-do" list, he wants to hear, "I don't know what I'd do without you."

And a parent who's gotten the kids fed, bathed, read to, and tucked in bed really wants to hear, "You're an amazing Mom/Dad!"

Don't assume your Sanguine/Expressive knows what you're thinking or feeling or worry about inflating their ego. Say what's on your mind, and watch them thrive on your words!

7. Self-Edit (Then Speak).

The Sanguine/Expressive is the most NTN Personality: No Test Needed. In-your-face. Over-the-top. Force of nature. Larger than life.

So it's easy to assume that you can cleverly "bring him down a notch" or teasingly "cut her down to size."

Yes, I laugh at put-downs disguised as jokes. They're a form of attention, after all. I will take bad breath over no breath at all, any day. I'll even join in, as self-deprication is my type of humor; it's also my best cover for digs that go too deep.

But realizing the power of words, and choosing to leave hurtful ones un-said, is an especially generous gift for a Sanguine/Expressive  He's already been called "motor-mouth," "dummy," and "nuisance." She's already been labeled "air-head," "pollyanna," and "pest."

Take care not to add your voice to the echo of wounding words.

6. Invite Them.

Multi-level marketing companies make millions of dollars each year by inviting Sanguine/Expressive to join. And I've happily whipped out my checkbook at least a dozen times. $200 for a kit is a small price to pay for instant membership.

You can remove the price tag from belonging: Just invite, no strings attached.

Invite her for a cup of hot chocolate and a chat. Invite him to borrow equipment. Invite her to run errands with you. Invite him to be part of the praise and worship team.

In a new social setting, Daniel often invites me to (re)tell one of my favorite "same old stories." Even though he could tell it word-for-word (and with greater factual accuracy!), he still listens and laughs, drawing me into the new group.

For a Sanguine/Expressive, an offer of belonging is an irresistible invitation!

5. Take a "Mystery Trip."

The point of a "mystery trip" isn't the destination. The point is the excitement of having a trip planned for me and the anticipation of the fun we'll have along the way.

Keep things cheap and easy.

Fill a couple of thermoses with hot chocolate, hop in the car, crank up the Christmas carols, and drive down "Christmas Tree Lane" together.

Or pack a sack supper and go to the mall, cameras in hand, for some "Photo-Shopping" together. When you return home, make PowerPoint wish lists.

For non-Sanguine/Expressives, remember that perfection and achievement are not the goals of a "mystery trip." Having fun together is the goal.

If things "go wrong", relax and roll with it. No parking spots? If you vent your frustration, you'll spoil the fun.

Daniel's best move at times like this? He reaches over, grabs my hand, and says, "This just means I get to spend more time with you!" (I've learned to ignore the clenched teeth!)

4. Do a Chore Together.

I am the world's worst homemaker.

I hate cleaning. I hate cooking. I hate having guests over.

Cleaning is dull, boring, solitary work. Cooking takes forever, which means my kitchen becomes an isolation chamber. Having guests over is a double whammy: I have to clean alone and cook alone.

All that said, I love company!

Join me in the cleaning, and we'll have a party! Join me in the kitchen, and we'll make Disneyland the 2nd Happiest Place on Earth! Bring a potluck dish and promise not to check for dust, and you're welcome in my home any day, any hour!

Partner with your Sanguine/Expressive on a chore, and you'll turn boring into a blessing!

3. Re-Fill Their Love Cup.

Each Sanguine/Expressive has a Love Cup...with a crack. For some, it's a hairline split; for others, it's a jagged gash.

So a Sanguine/Expressive's Love Cup always has a leak, whether a trickle or a gush. They need constant re-filling.

This is a tall order. (Sanguine/Expressives aren't for sissies!)

Years ago, I read about a man who ordered a dozen red roses to be delivered to his wife each week. No personal note, no loving words, no special treatment to accompany the flowers. Just a weekly regimen of red roses.

While this might sound like the ideal solution -- set up a routine and let it run -- it's the worst possible scenario. Far worse than a completely empty love cup is the sense of being such a burden that a system is required.

Keep re-filling as honestly and spontaneously as you can. You don't need to fix the crack or keep the Love Cup full.

Just keep re-filling.

2. Be All Ears.

When Annemarie was old enough to walk and talk, I felt stalked.

She'd start telling me a story. As the story got longer, I'd try to escape upstairs with the laundry; surely, she wouldn't follow me up there?

But here she'd come, toddle, toddle, toddle, one-step-at-a-time, following me room-to-room, starting her story over and over again.

As a Sanguine/Expressive, she was relentless. She would keep talking until she felt heard. And she wouldn't feel heard until she had not just my ears but my eyes, too.

We finally compromised. I'd pile up the clean laundry between us -- so she could see my face -- and I'd sort and fold as she talked. Once she finally got me to listen to her entire story, she'd prance off.

I told this story while speaking to a MOPS group one day and then came home for lunch. Daniel was home, so I started telling him about how much fun the MOPS moms had been.

He finished his sandwich and headed to his studio, but I wasn't done talking, so I followed him. While I talked, he did what he needed to do in his studio and headed to the bathroom. (I did not follow him there!)

But as I sat on our bed, waiting for him to come out so I could keep talking, I realized: Sanguine/Expressive never outgrow the need to be heard.

We will keep talking. We will follow you wherever you go.

If you listen, we will finally finish.

(And then we'll leave you alone.)

1. Include Them.

At 6:00 AM a few years ago, our cat, Dusty, leaped onto our bed, landing squarely on my forehead. I screamed, and she dug in, using my head as her launching pad.

I was lucky to escape with only one long, jagged, bloody gash down my forehead. Unfortunately, we had no neosporin ointment at home. I had four classes to teach before I could make a Target run, and I didn't want the wound to close up.

The red line down the middle of my forehead created quite the sensation all morning. Students pointed, gasped, and gaped. Colleagues kept asking, "Do you realize you're bleeding?"

I finally got neosporin, covered the offending red line with Band-aids, and life went back to normal.

A few days later, a faculty member approached Daniel with the idea of having all staff members draw red marker lines down the middle of their foreheads for that week's staff meeting.

Daniel, who as a Melancholy/Phlegmatic hates pranks, threw up a red light to the idea, afraid I'd be humiliated.

But I love, love, love just the idea, even though it never came to fruition. I love imagining a room full of my colleagues, red penned lines saying, in effect, "You're one of us!"

And I am thrilled that They like me! They like me! They really like me! enough to come up with a crazy idea like that...for me.

* * * * *
For non-Sanguine/Expressive personalities, none of these may feel gift-worthy. Who cares about laughter or belonging or anticipation? Your Sanguine/Expressive, that's who! These gifts send the subtle message,

"I understand that fun, attention, affection, approval, and acceptance are vital to you. Rather than ignoring these needs and hoping they go away, I'm choosing to find ways to meet them because I love you. You're important to me, so what's important to you becomes important to me."

This kind of support in action is a fabulous gift for a Sanguine/Expressive!

* * * * *

Part 3: Top 10 Priceless Gifts that Don't Cost a Dime -- for a Choleric/Driver

* * * * *
Your Turn:

  • Which of these seems like a true fit for someone on your list?  
  • Which of these might be a struggle for you to give?  
  • Anything else on your heart!

Today's give-away is a set of all 31 of the Personality Challenge Bible verses printed on colorful cards and laminated for durability. (I've spilled coffee on mine and they washed right up just fine!)

Intentional image placement and word spacing aid visual recall.

All tucked in an organza draw-string jewelry pouch (in your choice of color) they're ready to slip in your purse and keep close at hand throughout the day!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Top 10 Priceless Gifts that Don't Cost a Dime -- for a Choleric/Driver!

It's less than four weeks 'til Christmas Day...26 shopping days 'til all Christmas Gift Lists need to be fully checked off.

Perhaps you took full advantage of Black Friday. Or maybe the thought of venturing into the crowds is enough to set off an anxiety attack.

Gift-giving shouldn't be panic-producing; it should be fun!

In yesterday's blog, I shared gift ideas custom-tailored for the Phlegmatic/Amiable PURSE-onalities on your shopping list. Tuesday, we focused on gifts-from-the-heart for Melancholy/Analytic PURSE-onalities.

Today, I'm focusing on our Choleric/Driver (the "Powerful Personality") loved ones, who often appear so "together" that we wonder if we have anything of value to offer them. (We do!)

Keeping in mind that your Choleric's/Driver's primary goal in life is control, and that her primary emotional needs are responsibility, achievement, appreciation, and loyalty, a real gift from your heart could be...

10. Offer to Take Orders.

Welcome any time, this gift is especially valuable when a Choleric/Driver is feeling overwhelmed. Bossing you around will give him a small sense of control; he’ll feel more hopeful immediately.

Annemarie often helps in my classroom. It’s amazing how much “stuff” she can de-clutter, how much trash she can throw out, and how many books she can re-organize in 60 minutes...and how much better I feel when she’s done!

So if you’re willing, say, “I have an hour during which I will do whatever you tell me.”

If he’s to overwhelmed to even know what he needs, try #3; or invite him to think it over, and then come back later.

9. Request “Expert” Help.

When I considered attending the Desire Conference, I asked Kathi if I could help her in any way. Attending alone, I knew that I’d feel -- and look! -- purposeless and foolish.

Kathi graciously invited me to help with her book table, “because you know my books so well!” Armed with a clearly defined role, I happily registered, arrived early, fulfilled my purpose, and never once felt foolish!

A Choleric/Driver wants to feel needed in a social setting. Give her a specific responsibility, preferably a task she is especially qualified to do. She will be far more at ease than if all she's supposed to do is “show up” (and then what?)

8. Share Time-Saving Tools.

Do not accidentally imply that your suggestion is necessary due to your Choleric's/Driver's ineptitude! Be clear that you’re making the suggestion because they are so capable and so busy.

Try something like, “Because I know you ______, I thought of you when ______.” 

I've said to fellow teachers, “Because I know that you like to teach vocabulary in context, I thought of you when I ran across VocabProfile. Copy and paste any text into it, and it'll tell you which words are in the 1st K, 2nd K, on the Academic Word List, and which are Off List.”

I’ve just started using Evernote, and I'm going to suggest it to all my Choleric/Driver colleagues who collect articles, images, comics, etc. Multiple tags for individual items means powerful storage and sorting!

Important caveat: No matter how certain you are that your suggested tool will revolutionize a life, simply share and back away. It’s virtually impossible to create a “teachable moment” with a Choleric/Driver. Your gift is in the sharing...not the results!

7. Public Acknowledgement.

I’ll never forget walking on stage to receive a major award during a Discovery Toys Convention.

The company founder looked me in the eye, smiled broadly, and said, “I am so proud of you!”

As I hugged the Vice President of Sales, he said, “When you look out at the audience, you’ll see what a standing ovation looks like!” He then grandly led me to center stage, gestured forward, and I saw thousands of women on their feet, cheering and clapping, for me.

None of them knew me. All they knew was that I had worked hard, very hard. And instead of resenting me, these women stood to say that what’d I’d done mattered.

Not all Cholerics/Drivers like the spotlight. But most crave to know that their efforts matter. “We couldn’t have _________ without ________!” is sweet music to Choleric/Driver ears.

6. Stand Up For Me & Stand By Me.

Because of their driven nature, Cholerics/Drivers can come across as independent, even arrogant. Acquaintances frequently watch for moments of weakness to “show them they’re not all that.” Even friends often back away at the first signs of difficulty, letting them trip, fall, and get back up on their own.

Almost twenty years ago, I walked far too calmly into the Labor and Delivery ward. Nobody called my doctor; Daniel was sent downstairs to the Admitting Department.

After a torturous solo hour of transitional labor without epidural and moments from an emergency C-section, I cried to the attending physician, “I can’t push!”

“You have to!” he yelled.

“If my wife says she can’t push,” Daniel thundered, striding into the room and elbowing through the hastily-assembled crowd of specialists, “then you will accept that she can’t push!”

Jonathon was born moments later. But I remember December 13 as the day Daniel stood up for me and stood by me when I could do nothing for myself.

5. Allow for More than One Right.
When our Fontana house was being built, Daniel and I got into an argument over the spelling of our street name.

He knew it was Toulumne while I insisted it was Toulumme. I had practiced the spelling aloud hundreds of times, specifically so I would not get it wrong.

We finally drove to the development, simultaneously shouted, “See!?!” in triumph...while pointing at different signs. Daniel became even more upset, because two different signs with two different spellings should not exist. I, on the other hand, was vastly relieved that I was not wrong.

Instead of going toe-to-toe with a Choleric/Driver, consider that she may be looking at a different street sign, spelled a slightly different way.

Allowing for more than one right allows for two winners and no loser.

4. Laud Their Lists.

A listless Choleric/Driver is a contradiction in terms. Show me a Choleric/Driver, and in her purse, on her refrigerator, in her notebook, or on the back of an envelope she will have a list.

I like knowing what's expected of me, and I love knowing I've fulfilled - and preferably exceeded! - those expectations. Making and checking lists helps me make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Protect your Choleric/Driver from ignoramuses who think calling someone "anal-retentive" demonstrates comedic talent. Such a label misses the point entirely.

I don't keep lists because I'm hypervigilant about details. I make lists because of the adrenalin rush I get each time I put a "check" next to a completed task!

(And, of course, when I do a task that's not on the list...I write it in so that I can check that one off, too!)

3. Be a Sounding Board.

With several projects going on simultaneously, a Choleric/Driver will often get bogged down but not readily recognize why.

Many Cholerics/Drivers are auditory processors; they don’t need to see a flow chart, but they do need to hear their own train of thought as they explain it to someone else.

When Daniel says, "So, tell me about everything you've got going," he demonstrates powerful, selflessness generosity.

And within minutes, I'm saying things like, “So that's what I should do next!” and “I knew there was a hang-up I wasn’t seeing; that's it!”

Your listening facilitates your Choleric's/Driver's self-discovery of clear thoughts and next steps.

2. Detailed “Thank You.”

Many people find a Choleric/Driver so intimidating that they make the excuse, "Oh, he already knows what a great job he did; he certainly doesn't need to hear it from me!"

Oh yes, he does. More than you can imagine. He doesn't actually need to hear about the "great job" he did; he needs to hear about how his efforts impacted you, specifically.

I keep thank-you notes from former students in my wallet. All I have to do is open one up and read the words, "I'm writing to say 'thank you' for..." and I am re-energized. Not because the student "liked" me but because they reminded me that I do make a difference.

Jot down few sentences detailing the difference a Choleric's/Driver's influence has made in your life. Deliver it via e-mail, USPS, or face-to-face over a mocha at Starbucks.

(For everything else, there's Master Card.)

1. Assume Positive Intent.

Annemarie read through this list as I was brainstorming and gave a hearty "Amen!" to this final gift, saying:

"I'm really not a horribly witchy person. I mean for things to go well and have no idea how they go so terribly wrong.

I'll be all proud of what I've done and then find out that everyone else is ticked off and hurt. Then it's all terrible, just terrible, and I don't even know why.

Poor child, she comes by it honestly! I frequently become so task focused that I simply don't see the wake of dead bodies behind me.

When your Choleric/Driver has "bull-in-the-China-shop" moments (or days), trust that the original plan only involved action, not collateral damage.

* * * * *

For non-Choleric/Driver personalities, none of these may feel gift-worthy. Who cares about recognition or lists or time-savers? Your Choleric/Driver, that's who! These gifts send the subtle message,

"I understand that control, responsibility, achievement, appreciation, and loyalty are vital to you. Rather than ignoring these needs and hoping they go away, I'm choosing to find ways to meet them because I love you. You're important to me, so what's important to you becomes important to me."

This kind of understanding in action is a validating gift for a Choleric/Driver!

* * * * *
Part 1: Top 10 Priceless Gifts that Don't Cost a Dime -- for a Melancholy/Analytic

Part 2: Top 10 Priceless Gifts that Don't Cost a Dime -- for a Phlegmatic/Amiable

* * * * * 

Your Turn:

  • Which of these seems like a true fit for someone on your list?  
  • Which of these might be a struggle for you to give?  
  • Anything else on your heart!

Today's give-away is a set of all 31 of the Personality Challenge Bible verses printed on colorful cards and laminated for durability. (I've spilled coffee on mine and they washed right up just fine!)

Intentional image placement and word spacing aid visual recall.

All tucked in an organza draw-string jewelry pouch (in your choice of color) they're ready to slip in your purse and keep close at hand throughout the day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Top 10 Priceless Gifts that Don't Cost a Dime -- for a Phlegmatic/Amiable

Black Friday is in the past.

On this day, many normally sane humans forfeited sleep, joined frenzied crowds, and forked over funds for stuff nobody needs. Then they bragged about what great deals they got and how much they "saved."

Gift-giving shouldn't be frenetic; it should be fun!

In yesterday's blog, I shared gift ideas custom-tailored for the Melancholy/Analytic PURSE-onalities on your shopping list.

Today, I'm focusing on our Phlegmatic/Amiable (the "Peaceful Personality") loved ones because many of these gifts may require some changes in plans (unless you, too, are a Phlegmatic/Amiable, in which case your holidays are probably pretty low-key to begin with!)

Keeping in mind that your Phlegmatic/Amiable's primary goal in life is peace, and that her primary emotional needs are self-worth, respect, lack of stress, and comfort, a real gift from your heart could be...

10. Together Time.

Just “hang out.”

No plan. No agenda. No expectations.

Phlegmatics/Amiables love “doing nothing” with friends and family for extended periods of time.

For non-Phlegmatics/Amiables, “doing nothing” is an oxymoron: if you’re doing nothing, you’re not actually doing!

Embrace the paradox.

“Doing nothing” with a Phlegmatic/Amiable is a gift that gives back to the giver. You’ll receive the gift of learning to be a human being -- even for a little while! -- instead of such a human doing.

9. Spotlight Strengths.

Because the Phlegmatic/Amiable is the most balanced Personality, she is often overlooked.

The Down-to-the-Last-Detail Melancholy/Analytic outdoes Martha Stewart with holiday home decor. The I-Won't-Play-if-I-Can't-Win Choleric/Driver receives year-end awards for outstanding work achievement. The Life-of-the-Party Sanguine/Expressive keeps everyone howling with laughter at the New Year's Eve bash.

And what is the Phlegmatic/Amiable's claim-to-fame? Exactly what does the Phlegmatic/Amiable do best?

Why is it so hard to come up with a quick answer?

Because it's the wrong question. The Phlegmatic/Amiable's greatest contribution to his relationships is not what he does; it's who he is.

In a world which sings praises only for measurable accomplishments, your Phlegmatic/Amiable needs you to reflect back to her the invaluable qualities you see in her and the inestimable contribution she makes to your life.

Give your Phlegmatic/Amiable her red carpet moment. A few words from you will mean more than any public ceremony. After all, the only audience she cares about is you.

8. Accept Answers.

For years, I just knew Daniel was holding out on me. I’d ask, “So, where do you want to go to dinner?” and he’d respond, “Whatever you want” or “I don’t care.” For the next hour, I’d badger him relentlessly, trying to pry out of him what he really wanted.

Since Phelgmatics/Amiables possess a will of iron, I never successfully cracked his encripted communication. We’d end up at dinner with me silently fuming because I just knew he hated my choice but still refused to tell me what he really wanted.

Turns out, what he really wanted was for me to quit trying to decode non-existent secret meanings and take him at his word. He really did. not. care.

So, when you ask, “Where do you want to go for dinner?” and your Phlegmatic/Amiable says, “I don’t care,” you can happily say, “Okay, then let’s go to Panera Bread!” Enjoy your soup and bagel...and trust that he’s enjoying his!

7. Clear the Calendar.

The holiday season brings myriad options for places to go, things to do, and people to see.

Christmas concerts; Scrooge plays; Santa Claus Lane. Classic movies to watch; cookies to bake; gifts to wrap. Friends; family; work associates. None are likely bad choices -- most are actually good or even excellent!

But for a Phlegmatic/Amiable, the best place to go is nowhere. The best thing to do is nothing. And the best people are beloved family members and friends who come to the house to visit.

Crammed calendar = a distressed Phlegmatic/Amiable.

Cleared calendar = a de-stressed Phlegmatic/Amiable.

6. Favorite Foods.

My mother’s holiday menu always honors my father’s Armenian heritage: tebulah, rice pilaf, cheese barek, and falafel.

My husband’s family has mid-western roots, so for the last two decades, every time Daniel and I have spent a holiday at my parents’ home, I’ve brought along mashed potatoes and stuffing.

And every time, my mother has masked her horror by asking, “Are you sure that’s necessary? We already have so much food!”

Even though Daniel is the only one who eats the mashed potatoes and stuffing, I respond every time, “Yes, they’re absolutely necessary!” For my Phlegmatic/Amiable husband, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving (or Christmas or Easter) without them.

Phlegmatics/Amiables so rarely express needs, let alone wants. When they let you know what they like, follow through...even when it doesn’t fit the menu.

5. Commitment to Calm.

For many Phlegmatics/Amiables, the emotional ups-and-downs of the holiday season feel like being in a small boat -- with no oars, no sail, no motor -- on choppy seas.

I'd come home from shopping, excited about finding a special gift, but mad about rude treatment from a cashier. After school, I'd gush over a gift from a student, but complain about the petty arguments about what we should and shouldn't do for our class Christmas party. Getting off the phone with family members, I'd anticipate our upcoming holiday feast, but fret about someone's unrealistic expectations.

It took me years to realize that my responses to typical holiday situations made my Phlegmatic/Amiable husband downright nauseated. (And it took many more years to learn how to "just let it go!")

"Let there be peace on earth" is every Phlegmatic's/Amiable's Christmas song and plea. I give a gift of infinite value when I "let it begin with me!"

4. Esthetic Expression.

In my twenty years of teaching, I've noticed that my Phlegmatic/Amiable students are often drawn to musical, artistic, and/or kinesthetic involvement.

When I was a teenager, my Phlegmatic/Amiable grandmother loved nothing more than for me to play "Oh Holy Night" on the piano while she sang along in German. Tears would twinkle in her eyes when we were through, and after she went home, I always found a dollar bill on the piano keyboard.

Although my singing makes angels weep, I still pull out my Christmas music this time of year. Daniel brings down his guitar (or ganjo or mandolin or harmonica or...!) and we sing to his heart's delight.

Your Phlegmatic/Amiable might appreciate your participation in an arts or crafts project: making new holiday decor or building a Christmas display. A walk or workout together; slow dancing under the mistletoe.

(A word of caution: dabble. This isn't the time to "dive all the way in." Avoid activities that involve terms like "competition," "renovation," or "marathon" -- see #7.)

3. Champion Choices.

Over two years ago, my Phlegmatic son, Jonathon, wracked up almost 30 hours of flight time when he helped fly a small aircraft from Milwaukee to Monterey.

He had a wonderful experience and determined to earn his pilot's license before his driver's license.

As of today, he has neither.

Jonathon completed private pilot ground school in more than a year ago. During the last two summers, he had lots of free time --and plenty of money -- to pay an instructor and rent a plane. He did neither.

Every now and then, I checked in with him, knowing how much more expensive it would be if he waited.

But wait, he did. So bite my tongue, I did. And still do.

Yes, it's tempting to drop hints: "Wouldn't it be great if..." To offer to help: "How about if I..." And to outright question his judgment: "Don't you realize..."

But even though I disagree with my son's choices, I choose to respect him. By not meddling. By not questioning. By getting out of the way. By letting him make -- and live with -- his own choices.

2. Decelerate & Desist.

This gift can overlap with #10, 7, and 5. But it's so specific -- and so vital -- that it deserves a number all its own.

Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life during these holy-days.

Saunter, especially when you're with that special Phlegmatic/Amiable in your life. Stop and smell the pine needles together.

Slow down. 


Meander through the mall. Pause for a cup of hot chocolate together.

Slow down. 


Give yourself plenty of time to prepare the big meal. Linger over the table to enjoy every morsel of nourishment and conversation.

Slow down. 


1. Easy-going Environment.

When I saw Daniel bee-line toward a hideous old chair at a rummage sale years ago, I knew I should have left him at home. My protests were futile; he loved the chair, and he was going to have the chair.

Over the next twenty years, he lounged in that behemoth daily. When it deteriorated beyond use, he mourned as if he'd lost a dear friend.

In a way, he had. He'd lost his "soft place to fall" at the end of each hard day. Realizing the importance of the comfort chair, I suggested a shopping trip, and we returned home with a new favorite chair.

You don't have to buy a new chair. Find what equals comfort and comfortability for your Phlegmatic/Amiable.

Ideas: Comforters. Quilts. Blankets. Over-stuffed pillows. Bean-bag chairs. Fuzzy throw rugs. Cushiony couches. Sweatshirts. Oversized T-shirts. Elastic waistband pants. Leggings. Slippers. Moccasins. The World's Softest Socks.

Make them available and encourage their use. When you show a Phlegmatic/Amiable that you understand their need for comfort, you signal that when needed, you'll be a safe "soft place to fall", too.

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For us non-Phlegmatic/Amiable personalities, none of these may feel gift-worthy. Who cares about calm or clear calendars or comfort? Your Phlegmatic/Amiable, that's who! These gifts send the subtle message,

"I understand that peace, self-worth, respect, lack of stress, and comfort are vital to you. Rather than ignoring these needs and hoping they go away, I'm choosing to find ways to meet them because I love you. You're important to me, so what's important to you becomes important to me."

This kind of acceptance in action is a affirming gift for a Phlegmatic/Amiable!

* * * * *
Part 1: Top Ten Priceless Gifts that Don't Cost a Dime -- for a Melancholy/Amiable PURSE-onality!

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Your Turn:

  • Which of these seems like a true fit for someone on your list?  
  • Which of these might be a struggle for you to give?  
  • Anything else on your heart!

Today's give-away is a set of all 31 of the Personality Challenge Bible verses printed on colorful cards and laminated for durability. (I've spilled coffee on mine and they washed right up just fine!)

Intentional image placement and word spacing aid visual recall.

All tucked in an organza draw-string jewelry pouch (in your choice of color) they're ready to slip in your purse and keep close at hand throughout the day!