Holiday Grounding 3.0: Generosity of Spirit
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
I never start Christmas shopping until the week (or day) before Christmas. I know, ludicrous. I literally have an emotional and mental block against starting any earlier. Call it procrastination, call it laziness, call it stupid, call it whatever you want— I’m cool with it. I love a hard deadline and have always been drawn to excitement and adventure with a heavy dash of adrenalin. Practical and organized are not typically words people use to describe me, quite the contrary actually. Lead with vulnerability, right? I’m also very cool with that.
That said, if you’re looking for a holiday gift guide, keep looking, this will surely dissappoint. If you’re looking for a strong shot of reality to take the edge off all the holiday frenzy, I’m your girl. I want to look beneath the liturgy of commerce, all the glitter and lights, and recover a far more beautiful and valuable thing. Your friends and pocket books will thank you. Let’s get grounded in generosity of spirit.
This week, we continue building out the Holiday Grounding series and I’m super excited to explore the practice of cultivating an inner generosity, which sometimes manifests in the form of a pretty package. Gifts are a significant aspect of the season, and there are two sides of that coin, like most things in life. If the stuff of gifts sits on the throne of this Advent season, the giver and relationship become obsolete.
Have you ever received a gift and thought to yourself, “hmm, this is so random, I have a feeling this is an unwanted trinket of old excavated from the back corner of a misfit toy closet and i’m now the lucky recipient.“ It sounds bad, right? Ungrateful, cynical, and well, totally fair game because we’ve all done it! Chances are, the giver of that gifted object wanted you to feel special, valued, so they scrounged up something quickly to wrap, give, and communicate that thoughtfulness.
In those instances, I feel so much love because there is no ego behind the gift. It’s simply about the act of generosity, the heartbeat of that exchange—that is the gain. What about you? What do you love about receiving a gift? Is it the wrapping job, the contents, the monetary value, or perhaps the intention behind the gift? We are all so unique and there are no wrong answers. Gift giving is a love language in and of itself and how many of us communicate feelings. There is nothing selfish or surface about speaking this language as your mother tongue.
I love receiving gifts with a story behind them that were meant just for me. Perhaps my most treasured gift I’ve ever received is a song my husband wrote and recorded for me last year. Besides being a brilliant work of art, truth and vulnerability bleed through the lyrics, instrumentation, and production. It cost him nothing, yet is worth its weight in heartfelt gold—it reminds me I’m treasured and deeply loved. Leave it to a song to paint passions and cut to the core of our emotions.
That’s lovely and sweet for sure and I’m grateful beyond measure. Here’s the deal though: for most of my adult life, the holidays have been incredibly painful as I’ve walked through loads of dark, chronic depression and anxiety, only heightened by the unrealistic expectations of all that is “merry and bright.”
Gift-giving felt vapid, rote, even obligatory. Sure, I still enjoyed the hustle and bustle of shopping and wrapping all to the velvety soundtrack of Frank, Bing, and Nat, yet my weak and wounded voice couldn’t fully join in. None of it really mattered, though it was a welcomed distraction. I’ve shared bits of that journey in previous posts, yet I feel it extremely important for you to know that this whole idea of holiday grounding, generosity, what have you, comes from a very sensitive and real place of pain—bleak days seen through a hopeless tear-filled stare.
Generosity transforms need into plenty. I saw this growing up in my own family as we experienced some stark financial stretches. It never mattered, my parents always gave out of their place of need, without hesitation. I saw miraculous provision appear time and time again due to this lifestyle of faith. Mom constantly delivered to neighbors, offered prayers for hurting friends, and they gave resources freely, whether in plenty or in want. Though there may have been financial lack at times, there was always abundance and generosity of spirit—a certainty that faithful giving always manifests a healthy return.
Many of you are staring felt needs down these days: need for connection, community, belonging, health, acceptance, provision, peace, perhaps even hope to get through the day. I know that feeling all too well, especially this time of year. You may have finished your shopping back in August, but you don’t care, all you can see is your pain. A couple of months back, my beautiful friend Ruthie Lindsey shared her inspiring journey through immeasurable physical pain and relationship losswith us on the blog. Her poignant words bear repeating:
“If we lead from a place of brokenness, insecurity or bitterness, that is exactly who they will think we are. But, if we lead from a place of love and wholeness, with compassion and strength, they are able to see us for who we really are. I started to speak out loud the beautiful things I saw in people, places and experiences I was having. I was looking for it and I was speaking it, and what’s so amazing is that as I was looking for beauty all around me, I was reconnecting with my community.
The more I made myself get out of my bed and connect and love people, the less I was noticing how much I was hurting. The very nature of pain is selfish and pulls our focus inward. When I focused my energy outward, when I was doing things that were life-giving, things that I loved, I wasn’t thinking about my pain.”
What do you desperately need to receive this season? Clarity as it relates to our needs and desires is clutch. I need healing in a few places of my life that feel very broken and unsettled. I don’t know what that healing will look like and what form it will come in, yet I’m committing to a simple practice of generosity that sees the world around me through the lens of beauty and possibility rather than hurt and unresolve.
Name the feeling
This practice starts with intention. What feeling is at the root of that which I long for and need? Is it healing, or love, or worthiness? Is it confidence, or chosenness, or validation? In my case, it is relational healing, so that is exactly what I will give away in whatever capacity I can. I’ll step into those shoes of empathy and see the gorgeous potential in everyone I encounter. Like attracts like and that healing will come, I believe that.
Oil & Canvas
Maya Angelou rocked my world with this one so I’ll leave you with it today as a reminder for us to dig down deep into our unique brand of generosity. She reveals, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Without a word or a deed, we have the power to be the reason someone smiles today. Your essential self, your brand of generosity, is so special and the world needs to feel it. That’s the most valuable gift the season.
Sure, that swoon-worthy oversized abstract oil painting I stumbled upon last week in Ed Nash’sBelmont gallery blows my mind. However, oil and canvas don’t exactly do it for me when what I’m really needing is a hug and to know I’m enough. Slow down, simplify, and give freely from your place of need—it’s a most courageous act of faith and a magnet for the rich favor awaiting you in 2017.
Love & Gratitude,
P.S (I haven’t forgotten about last week’s homework! How’d you do?? The suspense is killing me… please email me, I want to hear all about it.)