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Giving and Receiving

· Mindful living,Self care,Kindness,Transformation,Giving and Receiving

I love giving, it feels so good, and I take pleasure in thinking deeply – a little like Sherlock going into his mind palace - about the gift someone might like to receive. I don’t always get it right, I’m only human after all in the words of Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, but the thought is always there. Not just physical gifts but all manner of giving. I know of people who are doing a kind deed for somebody else every day through Advent and of others collecting an item each day to give to a food bank, such wonderful gifting ideas that I have belatedly started upon. I’m over the commercialisation of the season, and even adverts seemingly (and ironically) have noticed that we want greater meaning and connection with others from this time of year (whilst sneakily selling us products at the same time!).

During my gift gathering, I have found myself wondering what I would like for myself? I have traditionally focussed on giving but been less good at receiving. There are parallels with the start of my long illness where I railed against people helping me as “I am the one who helps others!” I think it comes from not wanting to appear selfish or perhaps the fear of not being in control. But a good life needs to be a decent mix of both giving and receiving, a constant circle. Am I denying pleasure to others by not properly receiving their gifts? The way I have thought about Christmas is similar to the way I have looked at how I'd like my life to be from the perspective of my death bed, and I wonder about January 2018 and the memories of Christmas I would like to have. This can really help to hone in on what’s truly important, and it’s not about ‘the stuff’ for me. It’s about spending time with those that matter and sending heartfelt messages and gifts to people who for one reason or another I won’t be able to see but are very much in my thoughts.

I love my family and friends deeply, but I also cherish quiet time on my own which can so often fall away at busy times. From past experience when things get pressured, I know that I may well need an emergency relaxation kit. Hiding in the cupboard drinking the cooking sherry is no longer an option for me, so I want to gift myself ahead of time some tools for surviving, and even thriving, the festive period. You cannot give from an empty cup, as someone once said to me, and now I have learnt deeply that this is true. I am noticing more when my cup just has the last dregs left in it and this is a call to swift action. So here are some items in my emergency kit that I can call upon should the earthquake hit:

  • A dog walk in the great outdoors - though I will need to borrow a dog since it is our first Christmas without our lovely Poppy, any offers?;
  • Deep breathing - meditation not medication is one mantra, the other I like to focus my spinning mind upon is from Thich Nhat Hanh, “Breathing in, I calm my body and mind. Breathing out, I smile.  Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is the only moment.”;
  • Some suitable music for dancing and/or singing;
  • A hot, bubbly bath (preferably in a locked bathroom!).

So I will give the gift of self care to myself this Christmas. No more will I think this is self indulgent, it is a necessity for me and all around me. As Shamash Alidina says, “Care for yourself first, then care for those around you. If you find it hard to care for yourself, you need it more than anyone else.”

I encourage us to receive the joy, beauty and pleasure every day this season; to nourish our souls and boost our spirits; and to be truly grateful for the abundance in our lives. I am going to channel my inner child this Christmas and recognise the joy and magic around me. The last gift I would like to give to those around me this Christmas is giving the benefit of the doubt. In our increasingly judgemental society it is so easy to criticise. Let’s be compassionate and walk a little way their shoes to try to understand where they are coming from. I wish to be a better person, to leave the world a better place than when I entered it. I also want to share joy, once I have received it, giving to others from that full cup.

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

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