Photo contributed by Carina Woolrich
“What do you need?”
What a good question. My friend Michael asks me this when he can see I’m wrestling with something. I have started to ask myself and others this question, too.
This year I had the opportunity to experience a lot of giving and a lot of receiving. Life gave me the chance to really dig deep and examine what it meant to give care – and also to take care. To give without expectation or acknowledgement – that is a true gift. Letting go of the outcome, was at times and still is, admittedly a challenge.
My tendency is to give so much care that I drive myself to the brink of exhaustion. This year was no exception and it made some of my own limits clearer. I am still learning what I can give without depleting myself. It has been a year of reprioritizing. What became even more evident this year is that giving the gift of time is the most precious and non-renewable of resources. To give your heart and your presence, even if for a moment, is priceless.
I am grateful for all the tremendous gifts I received this year – from wedding gifts to the generosity of time from friends, family, and also strangers. I learned from my friend Melynda to give myself permission to say “No” when things are too overwhelming…even if it means saying no to a 14-year tradition that leaves someone disappointed. I started practicing saying “Yes” to things that replenish me without guilt, like taking a bath or taking myself to lunch in a garden on a beautiful day.
While there is often tension with this giving and taking, once I give myself permission to say “No” there is often a place where I get to say a big “Yes”– and this is where I can find peace. No matter what happens in the outside world, I still need to find peace within so that my own joy thrives and fills me back up so I can give to others.
So in this holiday season where we all usually find ourselves depleted and exhausted, I ask you:
What do you need? What can you give yourself?
Wishing you peace, an open heart, and an untroubled mind.