How to Give the Best Present Ever

pup_11_rk0132_01_p“Giving is a difficult and almost contemplative art form that has to be practiced to be done well;to learn to give is almost always the simple, sometimes heartbreaking act of just giving again. To stop giving in any situation is to call an end to relationship. “

-David Whyte, Consolations

Every holiday season I am surprised how often someone with a deep sigh will say, “I have to go shopping and I really dread it, don’t you?” As much as I’d like to make them feel better, I don’t think I do. My answer to them looks something like this…”Actually, no I don’t ever feel the stress during the holidays. I love giving gifts…and I gotta say, I love getting them too.”

I am a Hallmark baby and even living in California, I have some deep-seated magical thinking that it might snow on Christmas Eve. There were many Christmases when my family had little or no money to buy presents, but somehow my parents always pulled it off. There were dolls who walked, Slinkies, diaries, and one Christmas my Daddy bought us “Hugo” and “Hildegard”, two tiny Dachshund puppies. In the neverending uncertainty that was our family, Christmas morning always happened.

The gifts I loved the most didn’t cost much. They were the ones that made me so happy I wanted to cry. I knew the giver really KNEW me, what mattered to me, what made me light up. Being known was the gift. 

I taught my kids the art of giving by refusing to buy the “hot toy of the season”. Year after year I kept my ears and eyes open to what they were excited by, what made their hearts sing and I would buy those things, hide them all year long in my closet or in the barn and when the holiday screech and scream arrived, I knew I could relax and enjoy feeling the love and gratitude that those holidays are meant to be.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The kids weren’t always happy when they didn’t get the “toy of the day” on Christmas morning. I did cheat and tell a relative or two what their dream items were and later at the family gathering, those relatives got the joy of being the good guys. That was their gift! But somehow, those boys learned that the gift was the thought and purposeful knowing, listening all year long for those clues that would lead them to a gift that says, “I know you love this…”

So this year, snow or not, I am relaxed and moving my heart slowly into this holiday season. I hope that you will do the same. Sit in your chair, lie in bed longer than usual while you ponder just what the people in your life truly want from you. Most of them want your presence not your presents. They want to feel that you truly “get them”. That you know them so well…It is the best gift you can give to those you treasure most.

Stay away from the malls if they take more than they give to you. Stay within a budget that helps you stay in the spirit and out of the buyer’s remorse that can kill the intention of gifting faster than anything. Trust me. We all just want that gift to show that we are loved and understood as the beautiful unique fabulous snowflakes that we are. 

If you are alone this holiday season and want to be standing under the mistletoe next year, you can find someone to share this next amazing chapter of your life. Ready to do whatever it takes!
Let’s talk! Next year can be the best holiday ever if you start today by calling me at 510-817-4242 to book at Complimentary Strategy Session. Give yourself this gift!

Donna Bailey, MS

Coach, Speaker, Writer and Expert, “Dating and Relationships for Grown-ups”

Donna’s Big Red Chair


Loving Me Warts and All




It really hit home today, looking at myself in the mirror way too early in the morning. Seems I have a little volcano growing under my right eye. I know my dermatologist has a better name for it and as I get older, I realize that I am getting more intimate contact from her than the lover I wish were in my life.


Some dear friends stopped by yesterday and our conversation always meanders in the most delicious ways that only people with history can seem to comfortably accept. I was telling them about the challenges people over 55 face when they are single and have the guts to stay out there in the dating frenzy. It’s not normal, you know, to be dating like this at our age!  That’s why we feel like teenagers when we do it. Because God never intended us to live long enough to recycle ourselves through this craziness at this time of life.  But back to the discussion…I told them that Boomers lived in deep denial about aging and the upside of it is that it keeps us vibrant. Downside…we are ageist and not even aware of it. You see, if we can’t see our own reflection in the mirror, “volcano growth” and all, then how on Earth can we accept and love those lines and wrinkles and warts and all when others our age (by the way) show up at the local coffee shop? That is, if we somehow get past a current photo of them to be there to meet us in the first place?


I am gonna start working on myself around acceptance of my own “warts and all”. Maybe I’ll start with this little skin tag that for all the world feels like I am on death’s door!  If I can get a grip on my own mortality, perhaps I will open myself to finding someone who is beautiful too, warts and all.


If you are tired of watching those sunsets alone and ready to really love someone, warts and all, get off that sofa. Give me a call at 510-817-4242 to schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session and let’s get you on the road to love again!

Donna Bailey, MS

Coach, Speaker, Writer and Expert in Dating and Relationships for “Grown-ups”

Donna’s Big Red Chair  510-817-4242 

Jerking Your Heart Around




When I was a little girl, my Daddy had a favorite prank he’d pull on Valentine’s Day. Now, you gotta know that he was one of the kindest, funniest men on the planet…certainly in that little town of Rocky Mount, North Carolina.


We’d go down across the railroad tracks that ran right through the center of town to the Walgreen’s to pick out our Valentines. Remember the ones in that cheap cardboard package covered in cellophane and coming four to a page? The messages were carefully prepared so you could give them to friends and then there was that “special” one that you saved for the one you hoped really liked you the way you liked them.


Daddy would choose the biggest ones. Using his hole-puncher off the bread truck he drove, he’d make a hole for the string to go through. Then, just full of spit and vinegar, we’d head out to the neighbors’ houses! Daddy would  hide down in the hydrangea bushes in front of the porch, holding the string attached to that Valentine. My job was to lay the Valentine on the porch right in front of the screen door, knock and try to keep from giggling while I jumped off the porch, joining my Daddy in the mischief.


Everybody had a porch in the South. How else could you keep up with what was going on in the neighborhood? And, at night moths would cover the porch lights, but the neighbors could still see that Valentine laying there. I almost died from waiting, but sure enough soon I’d hear the scraping of the aluminum door, see a big smile on their face as they reached down to pick up the Valentine. Then quick as a rabbit,  Daddy’d jerk the string, pulling it right out from under them and we’d jump up together yelling, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”.  It was a crazy way to spend Valentine’s Day, but I loved it!


I was thinking about that story today as I headed out for my walk and not sure at first what prompted that memory. And then I realized that though it was fun to share that prank with my Daddy, in real life when someone had jerked my real heart around, it was deeply painful.


Many of us have had people in our lives who couldn’t “do” relationships. They’re in, they’re out, they want it but they just can’t put both feet on the same side of the door. It’s “too fast” for them or they only want it when they want it. They get angry, sulk, withdraw and you don’t know what you did to “cause it”. Your head spins trying to figure it out until one day, if you’re lucky and smart, you realize it isn’t about you at all!


If this sounds familiar and somewhere along the line, you decided it WAS about you or that your “chooser” is broken, I’m here to tell you, you can find someone who doesn’t jerk your heart around. They are out there looking for you too. It takes some effort to get past the limiting beliefs about yourself, men and women, and how to find your next love. If you’re an adventurous romantic, you won’t let the past keep you down!


Are you ready to find someone who IS truly ready for love? Ready to do whatever it takes to find someone to share this next amazing chapter of your life?  
Then, call me today at 510-817-4242 or email me at to schedule your Complimentary Strategy Session. Your new year can be filled with love!

Donna Bailey, MS

Coach, Speaker, Writer and Expert in Dating and Relationships for “Grown-ups”

Donna’s Big Red Chair




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