A gift is a thing given willingly, without payment
I’ve been thinking about gifts. I usually do in December.
My birthday hovers: I always feel a strong need to “gift” myself of something wonderful.
The holidays hover.
My spouse, a less-than-enthusiastic, yet practical and precise gift-giver said in passing, “Oh, let’s not exchange gifts this year. It’s exhausting.”
I probably have exhausted her over the years with my own beyond-exuberant-enthusiastic-desire to give her stuff. And, of course, to get stuff.
While the adult that I am understood her request, the child in me dropped, breathless, to the ground.
Yet what is left to give?
Perhaps it might be time for a retrospective, a relationship-to-gifts-inventory?
Here is a list of memorable gifts I have received in my life. The big ones. Here goes:
- High-top black ked sneakers
1956, perhaps the gift of my life. Bless my parents for going against their every Jewish parent instinct and honoring my deepest Ked desire. Through tiny steps tinged with shame, these shoes began walking me in the right direction.
- Fringed cowboy jacket
1958, again, Sidney and Tillie F. blew my cowboy fantasies out of the water. I knew even I would be okay, once I found home on the open range. And so, my cowboy fantasies took off, wearing this magical jacket, perhaps the best article of clothing I ever owned.
- Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel’s album
1965, from my monogamous friend, Gladys (camp name, Cauliflower, aka, Cauli)—everything changed with this album. I found myself inside the lyrics and music, and for the first time, I belonged inside those feelings.
- Pretty Bird, Snowball and Ringo
My parakeets, chronologically throughout childhood, my feathered friends, my connection to the Wild, while being right there, fuzzy on my shoulder. They felt me, knew me, and fully accepted me in my aloneness.
As I peruse this list, I see how each of these early gifts allowed me to lean more into myself, my real self, just a little more.
Here is a list of the punch-my-heart-open-drop-me-into-the-center-of-the-earth-trauma, allowing Grace to fill me up and gift me with rebirth
- Being a Stutterer
Opened me up to suffering beyond suffering— As I embrace that frightened child inside of me, I find my words alive in fluidity. As I allow myself to experience my own suffering, my voice returns.
- Being a Tiny Lesbian without Concept, without Name
Knowing I was the only girl on the planet wanting to kiss Natalie Wood; having to hide so fully from you that I was a mystery to myself. Being slowly able to touch the shame, the guilt, the doorways opened to becoming more alive, ever so slowly.
- Being an Addict
Took me down, separated me from people, places, and things—making my illusion of separation real. I never, NEVER would have found my way home without such a near-death experience that lasted twenty years. As I allow myself to experience the suffering that drove my addiction, that continues to attempt to fuel it, everything is possible.
- Kripalu Center Imploding/Exploding in 1995
Our founder’s fall from grace, the end of the ashram, the disbanding of the community appeared to be the End of Everything. Little did I know, it was the beginning of a new way of service, a new capacity to come forth, a way to develop that wasn’t available before. Allowing myself to experience this shattering, wholeness abounds.
The magical blessings, the gifts seemingly unearned, the blessings of grace
- The animals with whom I have been blessed as an adult—
Buzz the Bird—Teacher, guide, gigantic soul-partner of 3 ounces.
Lucy Kay Doodle—Party Dog Extraordinaire, my teacher.
Zac Joe Doodle—Best Friend of My Life, my heart.
Niki B—newly arrived, 25 pounds of instantaneous adventure and scrumptious cuddles.
- Swans on Richmond Pond
See picture (thank you, AJ Cole)
After living here for twenty-five years, with resident ducks and so many birdies, never before have there been swans.
To the Swans of Richmond Pond, you are a blessing and a gift.
- The Gift of Service
Giving it away, connecting with others—always the path to quieting my mind and realigning with truth.
- The Gift of the Glorious Berkshires
From the tiniest of chickadees, to every single chipmunk, to the massive gnarly tree rooted in the earth, grace abounds.
- The Gift of Twelve-Step Recovery
Keeps on giving and giving and giving and giving.
- The Gift of Marriage
Long-term, so imperfectly perfect, filled with lessons, with love, with safety and renewal.
- The Gift of You
Without you, dear readers, dear friends, life would be different, quieter, so much lonelier and aimless.
Your support gives me focus, connection, and hope.
The second is a meditation I recorded in January 2020. Who did we think we were then, I wondered? As I listened to it last night, I realized—yep, it is all still relevant. It is all still current. Loving-kindness is the way.
- The Kripalu Approach to Healthy Weight—On Line!
Do you find yourself struggling with food? Where is that healthy balance? I am delighted to offer this classic, this brilliant Kripalu core program, along with my dear colleagues, Dr. Lisa Nelson (the doctor you want and need) and Lauren Gernady, Kripalu School of Ayurveda faculty member.Please check out this link. It’s going to be good, and profoundly timely!https://kripalu.org/presenters-programs/kripalu-approach-healthy-weight-online-edition
- Wisdom Circle will be held on Thursday, 12/17, @ 2:00. Come and join us. Let us sit at the table together and feast on our connection.http://coacharuni.com/thursdaycircles/
Not to push away the suffering
But to remember—