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Gifting is about more than the parcel

Audrey Tang | Wednesday 16th March 2022 8:13pm

Hear Lorraine Lewis talking about The Lewis Foundation on this week's Wellbeing Lounge

I have set myself a number of fundraising challenges this year, and after I complete each, I wanted to take a moment to reflect. This follows Challenge 2: Rokart22 (karting race) organised by The Rotary Club in support of The Lewis Foundation.

Judge me as you wish, but my preferred "love language" (www.5lovelanguages.com) is gifting. I love receiving gifts, I love giving gifts, and I believe ANY time is gifting time if you see something and think someone would love it. Obviously I've had to learn to gift (in terms of not just financial expense, but time and energy) wisely over the years...but a present, especially one that's thoughtful (by that I mean useful too!) is, to me still, one of the best things ever.

Maybe that's what appealed to me about The Lewis Foundation - who gift care packages to cancer patients - the idea behind this is that sometimes people go into hospital with no preparation, and of those already facing an uphill fight, some don't have family or people around to support them. The Lewis Foundation provide not only the essentials and little treats to keep you occupied like a puzzle book, but the very act of showing up and gifting it transfers a message of love, support and knowing someone has your back.

Don't believe that you can gift emotion? Think about a card your son or daughter - or a niece/nephew/child has ever given you. It's just writing on a piece of paper right, and maybe a bad drawing...? Of course not, it's love wrapped up in an envelope (I still keep the birthday cards that a friend's daughter made for me).

But then it could also be because most of us have a connection with cancer, and you may know my husband had Hodgkins Lymphoma in his final year of Uni - he was advised to defer, but despite enduring chemo and radio therapy as well as surgery, he passed (top of his class), and has been all clear for over 10 years. He missed out on all the F1 graduate interviews though, but last year, he joined the Redbull racing engineers.

Anyway, while I'd originally set out to just support Diabetes UK this year, it turns out I've extended my fundraising to include The Lewis Foundation, and Level Water, as well as The Hope Centre - if you read my blog following my night sleeping rough! And for The Lewis Foundation, recently, I got a team together from NLive radio to race in the Rotary Club's Karting Tournament, Rokart22.

Yesterday was our heat and the team did me so proud - together they managed 264 laps in a super-fast session (a score which would have beaten 3 other heats, but came a respectable 5th in ours, with a shout out from the organisers for raising the most money of the night). The rules included 9 changeovers of drivers across 2 hours, and they weren't kidding when they sent us the rules saying "It's cold, wear something warm"...it wasn't just a case of frozen fingers, but frozen arms and shoulders from gripping the wheel in 10-15 minute stints! Even I came back smelling of gasoline and I was just the "pit girl".

So what have I learned from event 2 of 6 this year?

I learned that "gifting" can come in many forms, and that each of them is special and to be appreciated.

The Gift of Time

The whole team had to travel in from work to be there on time as directed by the rules. If they wanted to, they had an opportunity to practice, and the event itself ran near on 4 hours. We all work, but we all made the commitment, and we stuck to it. Every single person was so present during the night, despite 4 of us being presenters at the same station we've been remote, and two of the team were guest drivers (yes yes, from Redbull F1 (race engineers) ...my husband and his colleague) so we really only met in person that evening - but everyone really showed up for each other.

Time is special, and making the commitment to give it (and sticking to that because it's special to ALL involved) is so important in relationships. And within that, when together, that time spent can be made extra wonderful when you choose to connect - and although I was designated cheerleader - every single person was there at the side of the track to spur each other on.

The Gift of Knowledge

I am an organiser, I can put a team together, I can get people together, I can stay in touch and make sure you're at the right place at the right time and be on call throughout the night. I can also take on a job and do it well. I am not a race strategist...luckily my husband and colleague are...and they took on the direction of the times, the communication between drivers for the changeover, and when to hold off calling in a driver based on what was going on, on track. I learned loads from being involved.

I knew to step down, even though because I'd organised it it would seem I could organise the team on the day...and my husband and colleague knew to step up. We all had the same goal and it wasn't about ego nor about "jobsworth" - we all played to our strengths and we all worked together with the driving team so they were also happy with how the evening would run.

The Gift of "Charity"

I'm a huge advocate of volunteering and have done years of community theatre to raise money, but really until this year, I hadn't considered how much effort charities go to to set up events through which the participant gains so much (as well as the beneficiary of the eventual financial support). And I have to admit I'm loving the amount I'm growing from everything I've taken on this year, as well as being so proud of the fact that already while a small inheritance gift has enabled me to pay any "minimum sponsorships" I've raised an equal amount to everything I've put in already...and that's close to £600 - and it's only March...I am SO grateful to everyone who has donated...it's not as if anyone is financially well off right now!

I've often spoken about social-wellbeing as something which gives you a sense of purpose and connects you with your local community, and through both the Hope Big Sleep out and Rokart22, I've been able to speak with so many people making a difference, and the vibe is just wonderfully warm and fuzzy - it's good for the soul!

The Gift of the Social Media RT

You can tell it's 2022 if this is so normalised it's made the list!

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It's set up to get us addicted - BUT it means it's also potentially set up to raise awareness and spread positivity...if we use it to that end. Saying that, because many people who potentially could join the cause of positive promotion either don't really like it as a medium themselves or understand it's power only in the negative so avoid it, when you're trying to spread a little sunshine, it can be ever so hard to gain traction. That's why I always try to RT/comment/share/repost anything that someone is kind enough to tag me in (that isn't spam obvs), as well as shout out to all the people with a relevant social media account because it really can improve visibility of our work.

We hear so many stories of people getting hired over others because of their social media following, and I know that having a regular presence has helped me secure contracts - partly because it's as much my showreel, an opportunity to hone my teaching, writing and speaking (especially in terms of precision), and the platform I use to offer (hopefully useful and practical) wellbeing snippets.

Gifting a moment to yourself!

This one is a strange one...but especially pertinent for this challenge where I didn't drive. I liked the idea because I like motor racing, I know my husband likes to drive, but I also secretly hanker after the old fashioned glamour of the grand prix, and I got super-excited that there were pit boards AND that could be MY job!! I had an absolute blast!!

The Gift itself

For Rotary and The Lewis Foundation, we showed up. For my team I gave them a little token thank you as well as bought their refreshments on the night. For the service users - £1600 raised from our heat collectively will provide so many wonderful gift bags.

And embedded into every one of those tangible benefits and offerings is something even more special - something that permeates through every gift, because after all someone had to spare a moment to offer it...and that is love, and the message - I CARE.

So this week:

Gift time: Give yourself, or a loved one, your undivided attention for a set amount of time and see how much more deeply you connect, and enjoy the experience

Gift knowlege: Know when to step up and know when to step down - ask for help and/or offer it.

Gift charitably: Help out a good cause that you're interested in, OR even get involved yourself! It doesn't just need to be fundraising, you can donate time, skills, advocate for them on your own social media platforms - or write articles like this(!!), become a trustee to help the running of the charity, or even create an event of your own.

Gift a RT: Go on, especially if it's mine ;)

Gift yourself something: When we were young we wanted to be adults so that we could do what we wanted...go on...do it...

Gift a Gift: It doesn't need to be big, nor expensive, it can simply be a hand written note - the cost of a stamp.

...just remember when you gift you're not just giving the tangible, you're giving love in the beautiful wrapping that is you.

Dr Audrey Tang presents The Wellbeing Lounge on Tuesdays 9pm

 

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