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Posts Tagged ‘Erica Experiment’

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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Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect.

As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.

—Thomas Merton, in a letter to Jim Forest dated February 21, 1966 

I have a wise friend who when I was in the midst of a whirlwind of change gently asked if perhaps instead of focusing on the what of the changes, the what of what I wanted to be and accomplish I would instead focus on the who.

This one shift altered everything.

Rather than looking at my list of to do’s trying to figure out if I was “doing” enough, instead I focused on whether or not I was who I wanted to be in the mist of it all.

It forced me to discern what kind of a person do I want to be, to really chew on that, to figure out what it would truly look like.  Do I want to radiate joy, do I want to be a generous listener, do I want to live out my compassion, what does a life of intention and integrity look like… what kind of a “who” would that be.

Who would I be if I lived out my principles in a more intentional way, if I fully leaned into a wholehearted life of being generous in spirit, in love, in honesty, in joy.

So that has been my latest Erica Experiment… looking at the “Who” of me and letting go of having to know the “What”.

And what has surprised me is that the whats generally fall into place on their own, they don’t need the attention I was lavishing on them, writing and rewriting my to do lists, adding to my dreams, berating myself for having such similar lists week after week because there are only so many hours in a day.

Instead asking at the end of the day if I crossed off enough on my list I have been asking questions like: did I live out love, did I offer my gifts to another, did I connect in a meaningful way, did I share laughter with someone?

Somehow life seems more full, and with less stress I am getting more done, and with more joy, with more gratitude and more grace.


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