Mar 15, 2011

What Can I Give You Today?

My husband has this saying that had been passed onto him by a friend.   When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you need to ask yourself is: do I want to get or do I want to give.
Although I may get the same results from choosing to either, my experience of life is greatly improved when I choose to seek to give. 
What can I offer?  How can I be of service to this person, situation or task at hand?  What is being asked of me right now that I need to show up for?  

And sometimes it's painful for me.  I have days where I feel the self-pity that  I have nothing to offer that would create a positive impact.  And there are moments of rage where I feel like I have something so great to give yet no one seems to want it. Do you relate to this?  I do my imperfect best to steer emotionally clear of either.  Both put me into a spin and then I spend so much energy getting myself back on solid ground, often with much humiliation and angst.   After years of doing this, I learned that it's just too painful to allow myself to go there.  So when those moments happen, I try to just connect.  The fastest way for me to break that egotistical, fearful, self-induced spin is to tell someone what's going on.  I'm angry that no one wants me.   I'm angry I didn't get a contract, house, job, etc.  I feel like such a loser, such a fraud.  I have to get it out.  I have to tell someone before it takes root in the channels of self-judgement.  And what I'm actually doing when I tell someone how angry and in what self-pity I'm in, is asking for help.  And in doing so, I'm giving someone the gift of showing up for me.  And that takes courage.  

What if they judge me?  Will they think I'm childish, immature, etc?  What if they don't realize I already know I'm being childish, self obsessed, etc?  What if they try to fix me like there's something wrong? 


But, if I don't say anything, if I don't believe that I have enough value to be heard, then not only do I take from myself the experience of being helped and loved, I take away the experience from another to help and love me.  And that's why I think it's so important to speak up and share ourselves with others.  No matter how we choose to judge ourselves, no matter how the world chooses to judge us, it's important to speak up and allow others to see us as we truly are.  If only to give the gift of reflection.  So that another can see himself in you as he reaches out his hand to help you.  


And isn't that all what we want?  A connection?  A sense of belonging?  A community, a family, a shared experience?  


Have you been on the other side?  Have you been the person that was trusted to listen to someone else's vulnerabilities and insecurities?  Didn't it feel like such a huge gift to be trusted in that way?  To be given the gift of seeing another as they are?   Have you ever felt the need to destroy someone who allowed themselves to be seen in this way?  I haven't and I haven't been destroyed either by exposing myself. 

How often am I willing to be vulnerable in this way so that I can be open to having true and honest connection?  

I had a fantasy when I was in my 20's.  I was going to make a lot of money and financially help my entire extended family and friends.  I think a lot of people in their 20's have this fantasy.  It falls along the lines of saving the world.  I also had this fantasy that I would have enough money that each day I could give a check for $1000 to a stranger.  One check a day.  I used to think about the people that would affect and how.  I would imagine their circumstances and think of how they would retell the story of an anonymous stranger just walking up to them and handing them a check that made their day, their week, their year a little easier. Have you ever had a really bad day and just wished someone would walk up to you and say, I'm here.  You're not alone.  I can help you and I will help you.  I think we all want that.   Perhaps not financially but that's the best i could come up with in my 20's. 

My fantasies of having that kind of money to give away were in direct reflection of the powerlessness I felt to make that money.  I had seen that, in the world outside of Rochester, MN, you needed more than just talent, intelligence and the beauty of youth.  You needed money if you wanted to have any real power to do any good or really affect people's lives.   However, I was naive.  I didn't know yet that listening to someone, showing up for someone and just being there, supporting someone emotionally could have an equal if not more powerful affect.   There's still a lot I don't know about living.  But I am constantly reminded by my husband and by the people that surround me today,you already have everything you need, it's time to give of yourself. 

So, that's what I try to do each day.  I try to look at opportunities and relationships as an opportunity to give something.  A smile, a thought, a different perspective, a hug, a bottle of water, whatever I have I try to give it away.  

Funny how richer my life feels. 

*All photos are are my 3 youngest sisters.  Margaret, Kathryn and Grace.  And Henry's cousins: Natalie and Peter. 

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