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Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

Beaded Beauty

Another Erica Experiment.

It started with a necklace.

A friend who liked it, who needed some beauty in her life at that moment and a little note to remind her of the beauty that was yet to come in her life.

Then there was a friend’s sassy new haircut that needed some sassy new earrings and it just so happened that I had created some fun ones recently.  So out the door and into the mail they went to find a new home and some new lobes to decorate.

Then there was the closet that was too full, and yet things that didn’t make me happy, or things that were either too big or too small, or in some other ways not “just right”.  And there are lots of other bodies that would be blessed by them, and that would be “just right” on… so out the door goes another 20 items.

And it occurred to me that it might be fun to add them up.  To keep track of the ways, and times I give… both as recognition for myself on the days when I wonder if I am “doing enough” or am “enough” and also to remind myself of the ways that I am here to give, to be of service, to use my gifts to make others lives just a little bit better.

I spent much of the last two years learning how to receive.  I had focused so much of my life on giving, and on the kind of giving until I was depleted, until I had nothing left, giving that left me empty.  And now after getting better at the receiving of gifts I am ready to learn my own balance… to be more open to the flow of giving and receiving.  To pay more attention to the giving that gives to me as well… and more importantly to get rid of my own bias that then it must not be “giving” if I get something too… so there was only one rule…

The only rule with these gifts, these 1,000 ways is that they must leave me feeling more full…

And it occurs to me that I have already received so much from these gifts.

I had the honor of seeing the necklace looking stunning on my friend’s neck and seeing her smile.

Getting a text from my friend who had gotten the earrings made me smile ear to ear.

And sometimes it is the intangibles… today it was a wonderful interaction with my favorite guy at the Post Office, the one who calls everyone by name and greets everyone with a smile.  Today it was a gift to give him a smile and return the favor.

And then it was to go to my local coffee shop to purchase some surprise coffee’s for the people at the Print Shop who went out of their way to help reduce my stress and print my items ahead of schedule.  And when I was at the coffee shop I ran into several people and of course great conversation and connecting ensued.

Getting a chance to connect with all of my friends and to feel like I live in a welcoming community where my participation, my gifts are valued.

So much receiving in the midst of giving.  It is all so intertwined and beautifully connected, just as we all are.

I am learning how to build my muscles… because I believe much like anything we need to flex and exercise these muscles too… The more I think about giving and receiving, the more I practice them both, the more they become like breathing… a part of my life that comes naturally, that keeps me lit with joy and that brings meaning.

The more I have acknowledged and honed my gifts the more easily I see how they can be of use.  Which reminds me of Marge Piercy’s words given to me by a dear friend years ago that still resonate today.

To Be of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil, 
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used. 
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real. 

Marge Piercy

I love seeing how life interweaves gifts, giving and receiving often making them impossible to pull apart.  Love weaves them together creating a beautiful gift in the entirety of it all. The ordinary creating extraordinary, the light merging with the dark and beauty shining through.

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I shared with you one of my Erica Experiments-  about saying Goodbye to TV.  And the truth of the matter is over the past two years I have been engaging in several other experiments, and I am ready to be brave and share some of them with you.

Here is a short list of what I have been experimenting with:

living with more intention,

saying no more often so I can say YES to the things that matter,

prioritizing differently,

surrounding myself with the positive in a conscious way while embracing those difficult things that are real and need attention like grief and loss,

choosing to turn towards the light,

embracing my flaws and being able to love myself in the midst of, in spite of and because of my imperfections

being vulnerable and courageous.  

learning new language that supports me- speaking to myself life a friend- someone I love, value and cherish rather than someone I have to tolerate.  

learning how to truly accept a compliment

learning how to allow myself to celebrate my achievements instead of constantly looking to the “next” way to prove myself 

thinking about and shifting how I show up in the world,

learning how to see my gifts, learning how to share them,

learning how to fill myself first and how to give from joy and abundance not from feeling like I “have to” or from a space of lack, 

learning that I am worthy of love and belonging

delving more deeply into my relationship with something larger than myself (aka God, the Universe, the Mystery) and shared some of that in the Benedictions post,

taking big leaps with owning my dreams and saying them out loud  

living authentically and being willing to risk dissapointment

learning to tell the truth- to myself and others 

learning big lessons about letting go, about deep trust, about listening to my intuition, about holding myself gently and A LOT about forgiving myself. 

At first I share what I have been learning only with my trusty journal.  And then because I can’t help myself I would strike up a conversation with someone and when I would share my struggle, or my truth, or my learning more often than not they would lean in, their voice would get quiet their eyes searching mine wondering how I could see straight to their heart and and they would whisper “me too”.  Time and time again I realized that I wasn’t alone.

Our hearts our so similar, they are jagged and cracked, tender and bruised and yet they are so beautiful.

In spite of it all here we are- our hearts still beating.  We marvel in wonder at one another’s courage, bravery and we love them so fiercely- and yet we forget to offer ourselves that same fierce love.

And then quotes would be on my Facebook page, I would stumble onto a blog post, or another conversation and I would be reminded that these are things that we all struggle with, that we all muddle through, and so often we do it on our own because we think we are the “only ones.”  And yet, we have this amazing connection, we have all of these wonderful similarities, and so often we don’t reach out to realize how achingly beautiful we all are, how wonderfully tender and resilient we are… we see it in others certainly, but we often refuse to see it in ourselves.

I have a picture of myself as a child on my fridge, now with a picture of my niece next to it and it is striking the similarities.  And wonder when i stopped looking at myself with kind eyes.  When I look at pictures of Annabelle I see a purity of spirit, a tiny human brimming over with love, with innocence and joy.  I see nothing but beauty.  So one of my grand Erica Experiments has been to look at myself through kind eyes.

In pictures when I look with kind eyes I see it all in such a different light, so full of possibility, so tender, so adorable, and I don’t pick apart and analyze any of it.  I think the random curls in her hair are precious and part of the very reason she radiates beauty.

What if we all looked at ourselves with kind eyes.  So that has been my road to self-love lately.  Asking myself to look with kind eyes at myself and the rest of the world.

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