Grace and Grinches

This time of year seems to bring out both the best and the worst in people. I almost succumbed to the latter this week after reading enough nastiness and social media BS to feel inspired to write a contrarian blog. But instead of becoming yet another grinch, I opted to write this appeal for grace.

The holidays can offer a beautiful time of year, but they can be really depressing and hard. Not everyone has a strong family, if they have a family at all. Some people are alone. Some people just feel bad. And others don’t want to be held, talked to, or greeted.

Holiday misery is a condition, a rut that sometimes we cannot escape. I have been there. One Christmas when I was in my early 20s I was so depressed I decided not to come home, and just sat in my house in DC, and tried to drown my misery in booze, food and other pleasures.

Today, I know that when I surround myself with such negativity, I often succumb to it. It’s so easy to lash out when I feel bad. And as you can see, it creates a ripple effect.

But I am older and more experienced now. Instead of contributing to the angst, this year I am simply passing on it, and choosing to be present for those who want a warmer conversation. I understand those who are suffering, but at the same time grace is about rising above, and offering a warm spirit no matter how hard the Grinches try to spread their seed of misery.

Desperately Wanting

Whoville
Whoville by L_D_SAINT

So welcome to the Whoville Christmas (from a Christmas Tree Jew, no less)! What could I offer during this time of year when so many people are focused on getting the gifts they want?

Perhaps what we all desperately want in our deepest innermost souls: To be acknowledged and respected regardless of place or time or position or race or…
We live in the era of the selfie and the like. People want to be acknowledged and want attention. Whether it’s a grocery clerk working extra hours or the social media celebrity posting their 80th selfie of the year, people do want their peers to respect them.

While social media empowers and amplifies this desire to a sometimes distasteful level, that base need to be liked remains. Just like it did before Biz, Zuck, Jack and the rest of the social networking pioneers empowered us.

Here it is, a big shout out to some of the many people in the online world who made my 2013 brighter.

Kaarina Dillabough: You coached me up off the floor last January. I will always be in your debt.

Scott Stephens: For being my friend on and offline even when my knee wouldn’t let me run again.

Margie Clayman: You are always lifting me up, whether you know it or not. You have a big, big heart, lady. Thank you.

Patrick Ashamalla and Shonali Burke: xPotomac… It’s back, and better than ever thanks to you.

Seth Godin: I did my rounds and made my amends over the past two years. You were the last one. Thank you for your grace, welcoming me into your office, and treating me with respect. I will never forget that. Thank you.

Andrea Weckerle: Thanks for asking me to help your Civilination fundraiser. It helped me, too, and I think we did some good.

Erin Feldman: We grew together quite a bit this year. Thanks for being my editor and mobile media cohort!

Jennifer Stevens: Hard to believe that we have worked on three books together. To our fourth next year!

Howard Greenstein: You really have become a fantastic friend. Thank you!

Mitch Joel, Jay Baer, C.C. Chapman, Tamsen Webster, Tom Webster, Scott Monty, Jeremiah Owyang, Christopher Penn, Laura Fitton, David Armano, Richard Binhammer, Todd Defren, and Jason Falls: You remain kind and present, and I have noticed. Thank you.

Jess Ostroff: You worked so hard to help me make my novel-writing dream come true. Thank you!

Rogier Noort, Ralph Rivera, Shelly Kramer, Todd Jordan, Brian Meeks, Ian Gordon, Chuck Hester, and Rob Whittle (who just published Pointer’s War), Susan Cellura, and so many others I can’t even possibly list them. Thank you for supporting me on Exodus. It was a scary leap of faith to publish that thing, and the most fulfilling words I have ever released to the world.

Brian Vickery: Your presence is amazing, consistent and always friendly. You rock, sir.

Daria Steigman: Where to begin? Nats, baseball chatter, and all things Exodus.

Bob Fine: Another Nats fan who has paid it forward in so many ways. Bob, I look forward to returning the favors.

Anne Weiskopf: You are a deeply courageous person. Thank you for your strength and beauty.

Bob LeDrew and A.M. van den Hurk: Your punk fundraiser showed me the good side of PVSM when I least expected it. Cheers.

Michele Price: Lots of love my friend for many good radio shows and conversations. Cheers!

Kevin Chick-Dockery: We learned a lot together, and more than any person you helped me to stay on Facebook. Because I really did come close to pulling the plug on the Zuck.

Brian Solis: Thank you for your words at INBOUND.

Kami Huyse: You helped on that thing via the backchannel. I didn’t expect you to, and you did.

Jason Konopinski: What a roller coaster ride of a year. You ended up where you wanted to be, and we got to share a few stogies along the way. Cheers!

Lisa Gerber: We are not alone. And we both like guac, who knew?

Liz Scherer: We seem to be on the same path of gradually softening, maybe. LOL! Love you, Liz.

Richard Becker: Your fight with cancer this year was scary and courageous. Congratulations on making it. Glad we will have a few more conversations about this and that.

Stacey Miller: It was a blast newsjacking and shredding up the social web together on behalf of Vocus. Cheers.

Brian Driggs: Your comments are insightful, your vision is admirable. Thank you for visiting as much as you do!

Grace is not my strong suit, so forgive me if I left you out in my sleep deprived dotage. If you liked this post, rather than sharing it, please pass the spirit along and give someone a random appreciation today. Everyone could use a little more peace and happiness rolling into the new year.

Thank you, and I hope you all enjoy the holidays.

Image by Barry Graubart

Fight Suicide with IMAlive 24-7

One of my clients, the Kristin Brooks Hope Center is hosting the first annual IMAlive 24-7 Giving Challenge to fundraise on National Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). People across America are trying to raise $50,000 to fund the IMALive.org crisis chat service. Any donation received during National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8-14) will count towards the IMAlive 24-7 giving event.

Suicide can be a moment of terror. In their desperation many potential victims can be talked off the proverbial ledge by an IMAlive volunteer.

IMAlive volunteers like one young lady Molly have saved thousands of lives by simply helping them through the moment. The above video tells you about Molly’s experience, and how saving people’s lives changed her.

Currently, the IMAlive chat service and hotline is available to people most hours of the day, but to become truly effective we need to become available every hour of every day. If successful, our IMAlive 24-7 Giving Challenge will make the chat service available every hour of every day through August, 2014!

You can donate, or fundraise. Several bloggers have already signed up to participate, including Frank Warren and the PostSecret Community; a team led by Bob LeDrew and Ann Marie ven den Hurk in memory of Jacob Weiskopf (Team Jacob); and Team Trey, and a group consisting of Olivier Blanchard, Margie Clayman and me who are fundraising in memory of our friend Trey Pennington. Join the effort by contacting Gloria Bell (gloriakbell @ gmail . com) or me (geoffliving @ geofflivingston . com).

Teams that participate can win an 11 inch MacBook Air by raising the most dollars (Frank Warren and I are disqualified from winning due to helping KBHC with this effort). In addition, one MacBook Air will be won by a randomly selected donor after the giving day. Finally, it is expected that their will be several matches offered by the Kristin Brooks Hope Center during the giving day.

In addition, donors will win awards for individual contributions of certain levels. Included are:

  • $25 Deck of Suicide Prevention Playing Cards
  • $50 KBHC Gift Pack (Deck of cards, UV Sunglasses, Stress Ball, Frisbee Flyer, Blue October Tee Shirt)
  • $100 Frank Warren Signed Galley Page, free eBook of Geoff Livingston’s novel Exodus
  • $500 Autographed Journey T-Shirt
  • $1000 Complete autographed Frank Warren book set

Individual teams may provide their own awards to donors.

Please join us, have fun, and save some lives. What do you think of suicide prevention or this fundraiser?

Photograph: IMALive’s Elena and Reese Butler accepting a GIve to the Max Day check with me and Frank Warren

Listen to Welcome to the Fifth Estate for Free

Speaker Drivers
Image by DeclanTM

As promised, Welcome to the Fifth Estate is being made avalailable to you for free via podcast. Each podcast is roughly 1/2 to 1/3 of a chapter, and approximately 15 minutes in length. The Fifth Estate Podcast will be posted every week by Friday until the book is completed. As the author and narrator, please excuse little hiccups. This is not a professional audiobook reading!

The first Welcome to the Fifth Estate podcast was posted today. It opens by discussing several media trends:

  • The overall market trends for digital media including the Like economy as presented in the introduction by Mashable Editor in Chief Adam Ostrow
  • An epiphany of realizing that social media is unavoidable
  • Understanding citizen media, and its role as the Fifth Estate

Listen to the podcast on BlogTalkRadio or subscribe to it on iTunes. Again, an episode will be published every week.

In addition, the first reviews and articles are coming in for Welcome to the Fifth Estate, and they are stellar:

Margie Clayman wrote, “I highly recommend you check out this book when it becomes available. It’s an extremely interesting snapshot of communication and society as they both exist today, right now.”

Fellow Zoetican Beth Kanter said, “If you’re looking for solid principles to think about social media strategy formulation, pre-order your copy of “Welcome to the Fifth Estate” now!”

John Haydon added that the book offers “four strategies that you can steal!”

Learn more about the book here, or order your copy today! If you would like an electronic review copy, please email your request to geoffliving [at] me.com.