I felt silly writing a blog. I wondered, "Why would anyone want to listen to me? What is so important about my life, my experience, what I have to say?" And then I remembered, my life is a gift. And so is yours. Everyone’s is.
I spent 15 years giving, giving, giving from a strange place. I only realized it at the end, just before I decided to sell my business and live the life I’d always said I wanted.
I was feeling burnt out, and I worked/gave from this place of ‘have to.’
I realized I’d been operating from the fundamental theory that I had to give in order to be worthy of receiving. I had to keep giving to deserve what I had.
The theory, put in practice, gave me a high level of success. I loved my work, managed my own thriving business, helped lots of people, and had lots of friends.
Yet, I wasn’t happy. It didn’t feel sustainable. I was exhausted all the time mentally and emotionally, and towards the end I felt resentment every time I had to work.
I was still grateful that I got to do it, mostly loved it while I was doing it, and loved the people I did it with but something wasn’t right:
True giving doesn’t expect a return.
True service doesn’t have an agenda.
True love doesn’t have an inferiority or superiority complex.
I don’t have to do anything to deserve sustenance; it’s a basic human right. My existence, the very fact that I'm alive, is a gift. I did nothing to deserve my birth, it just happened to me. We all come into life this way. And if we are lucky, as wee-ones we are taken care of, without doing anything to deserve it.
The nourishment we receive fills us up, and when we are full, we have a natural, unique, creative overflow that pours out to the world.
From this perspective, my giving (work) becomes a natural outpouring; my part in relationship with life. I give because I have something to give. Why would I want to keep it? Hoarding is constipating, hard. Giving makes room for me to be filled, nourished, and inspired by others. Everyone is taken care of. Each one of us is good enough from the start.
This is radically different than the, "I give therefore I deserve to receive" model where to be good or worthy enough to receive I have to do enough to deserve it. The ego is on a never-ending rat race to prove that it's enough, finding ways to prove it (either in family, friend groups, volunteer activities, and/or money-making work), constantly rating itself against everyone else, and ending up as either a have or a have-not. This model comes from a paternalistic, white-supremacist patriarchy that wants to control us, but we can get into that later.
In October of 2014 I left my job and my former home in Philadelphia to think deeply about these things, dismantle oppressive patterns, love myself, and live from a different place. I finally felt nourished enough that my cup runneth over and I am giving what’s flowing to the world. This blideocast (blog, vlog, podcast, art mash-up) is my gift, received and given.
And although it’s several years later, and I’m back in Philadelphia, and working again in a very different way, this blog is still important to me.
Thanks for listening. And thank you for living your one, precious life, caring, and re-membering y(our) humanness.
* My thoughts on giving and receiving (and the dismantling of unwell patterns) have been deeply influenced by a number of people. At the top of the list are Octavia Butler, Bell Hooks, Eve Ensler, Samantha Rise, Sophia Wise One, Brene’ Brown, Amanda Palmer, Howard Zinn, and many others. Thank you!