My newest fascination:  Pinterest, the most amazing, satisfying and useful tool I’ve seen since Facebook.  It is basically a site where you share visual bookmarks of everything you love–a giant wish book you can organize to your heart’s delight by pinning onto “boards”.

But more.  You instantly connect with kindred spirits and discover new people, places, information/ideas you might not otherwise ever notice.  Sure you love your Facebook friends, but that doesn’t mean you want to be constantly inundated with their top 25 favorite sites of the day.  Pinterest is pure sharing and discovery, without strings attached.

But even more.  All of this instant connecting creates a very raw and powerful tool for marketing, communications and the human experience.

Why do Facebook and Pinterest thrive?  Because people need to give of themselves.  This is especially evident at Christmas time.  We wipe ourselves out looking for perfect gifts, but really it is so easy.  It’s that little part of yourself you need (and can afford) to share.  My grandmother liked to give Avon and socks.  I like to give books.  My daughter likes to give experience (tickets to a play, movie, etc.).  As a receiver of gifts, we should be especially thankful for those truly given in the spirit of sharing one’s self.  I have a bittersweet story on how I learned this.  My birthday is in early January, a notoriously sucky time for everybody.  One year when I was a young adult, my mother gave me a nice calendar for Christmas (one of her favorite items to give).  A week later, for my birthday, she gave me exactly the same thing.  I was so hurt, but I never said anything.  When she died a couple of years later I realized she wasn’t doing so well when she gave it to me.  But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally got the real lesson.  She really, really wanted me to have that dang calendar!  It wasn’t about what I wanted but what she needed to give me.  If I had saved her gift I’d have it hanging where I could literally see her love for me every day.

Oh yes I’m still on the subject of Pinterest . . . It is a powerful way to simply share ourselves . . .

Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.  — Howard Thurman (1900-1981), American theologian, clergyman & activist

To get started, you must sign up using your Facebook or Twitter account.  (I realize this is a turn-off for some people.)  Then you simply start pinning away everything you love or just catches your eye.  You can pin directly from your own Internet adventures, from your own files, or re-pin what others have pinned.  Plus, you can easily follow other pinners which is a great way to expand your discoveries.

At this time I don’t believe there is a way to keep your pins private.  Too bad because it would make a useful shopping/planning tool; however, a really fun way to use Pinterest is to make “gift boards” for others.  It’s purely a game, just like when I was a girl sharing the Sears catalog with my big sister.  We’d each pick a side and then we “got” everything on our sides–unless trade agreements were made of course.  On Pinterest, I gave a dreamy swimming pool to my entire family, a number of cute kitties to my daughter, and some very nostalgic memories to my sisters.  Pure fun in the name of love.

Sure, my hubby thinks I’m just playing pretend for 3 hours, but really I am organizing, planning, dreaming and connecting in a way that is quickly reshaping our world.  For example, in a matter of seconds, I discovered and pinned:

A beautiful picture of Saint Cecilia, my grandmother’s namesake.

This amazing creature.  I call him Little Angel.

All the uses for WD-40–I still have the email-that’s-been-around-the-earth-a-trillion-times, but so much more handy to have a quick pin.

Some lushy vintage curtains . . . thinking of painting my bedroom a soft silver . . .

Oops I forgot to mention one thing.  You can even create a Things Not to Do! board:

In the waves of social media, Pinterest is a whopper.  Ride it!