Here in the United States, many of us are busy cooking, traveling and getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow. This is one of my favorite holidays because at the core, it revolves around generosity, love, abundance and gratitude.
All around me, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about gratitude. Normally, I’m the first one on the gratitude train, overflowing with expressions of why I am so thankful in my life.
This year feels a bit different.
I’m realizing that although I am profoundly grateful for countless people, experiences and things in my life, it is also true that I possess a deep longing for more.
Sometimes this paradox can feel quite uncomfortable. How can I tap into my gratitude, abundance and good fortune, while also creating enough space and acceptance for the things in my life that still don’t feel quite right?
As women, many of us are deeply connected to the art of giving. In our parenting, our work, relationships and community contributions there is often an awareness of others and the essential need for generosity. We know that this is what keeps humanity and our planet alive.
While focusing on others and the common good, however, it is so easy to lose track of ourselves and the quiet voices that whisper from our souls, reminding us of the deeper longings, the unmet needs and the not yet fulfilled dreams.
For so many women, the balance between giving and receiving has gone off kilter.
This past weekend, I myself was struggling in a painful giving/receiving confusion. I wanted and deeply needed to nourish myself and to feel the tenderness, love and good fortune available in my life. Despite my longing to receive, my body had become contracted and stiff as a result of excessive busy-ness, old patterns and an over-extension of my energy. No matter what self-care techniques I tried to cleverly implement, my body just could not let the love in. As I squirmed in discomfort, I felt like a little girl desperately wanting something, and yet nothing could satisfy her longing.
As I tossed and turned in the ocean of my own emotions, and I felt the rigid contraction in my breath and body, suddenly, something shattered and awoke in me.
I felt myself driving in my car and I saw a vision of the gas allowing the engine to run. I imagined the people and machines that collected the oil to bring the gas to the station where I had filled my tank. I saw the place in the earth where the fuel comes from. I watched myself offer up money at the grocery store in exchange for my favorite nourishing foods. I gazed at the woman who bagged my groceries and helped me to my car and was aware of the paycheck she will take home for her service. I arrived at my office and spent the day sharing my presence and wisdom with clients. And I could feel each one of them returning to their homes, their families, their work and then giving of themselves after receiving so fully.
On and on the images of ordinary life went, flooding my mind with the interconnectivity of it all: the people, the resources, the objects, the food, the love, the presence, the earth…
And as I felt each gesture and exchange in just one day of my little life, I realized that the web of reciprocity is infinite.
There is NO limit to giving and receiving.
The only limit is my own fear that somehow I won’t get what I need or that there won’t be enough of what I want. This fear, can keep me brittle and impermeable to the gifts life is offering in each moment. In its grip, this fear plucks me from the river of life and removes me from her flow.
I offer this insight cautiously because it is a delicate balance between the relative and the absolute, the paradoxical and the mysterious. I am simultaneously a woman who has infinite capacity to give and to receive as well as a woman who has her limits. In the daily tasks of living, burnout, breaking points and boundaries are real and must be honored. In the larger dance of life, we couldn’t possibly stop the ebb and the flow, the abundance and the lack, the giving and the receiving.
And so here we are: both givers and receivers of this life.
So today and for the rest of this week, I encourage you to pay attention to this eternal dance of the feminine.
- How are you giving and how are you receiving in your life right now?
- What are you grateful for and what is it that your whole body still longs for?
Remember, there is enough space for it all: your appreciations, your heartbreak, your triumphs and your losses. Whatever your truth, I want to hear it, because to speak it is to set it free…back into the river of life.
With huge gratitude for you and in service,