December 26th – The Best Gifts Can’t be Wrapped

I woke up today with mixed emotions, feeling both blissful and crestfallen. I am immeasurably happy because of Christmas successes, yet slightly melancholy because the days unfolding in no way resembled what I had planned for it. This morning I am truly ecstatic over the gifts Santa left behind for me and the ones I watched others open with delight, but I am sorrowful over what I was unable to accomplish that I wanted to. Ah, the unwrapping of Christmas..

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Thinking back to 30 days ago, to the first yuletide thought I had, the one occurring directly after the turkey was put away on Thanksgiving, I have to chuckle at how December 25th this year was so unlike what I had planned for it. I remember taking out the bins of nutcrackers and other decorations and scattering them around the house on black Friday thinking, “Tis the season and this year it will be perfect.” After that, all I recall is putting one foot in front of the other until today.

The list I made for gift buying could never possibly accommodate all I would have liked it to because neither budget nor logistics allowed this year, but it held a few names of people to whom homage had to be paid because of the light and love they share with us all throughout the year.

Soon after the quest began for the right and perfect trinkets which would say, “You matter” on this most sacred holiday, I had to hide the packages from our crazy paper chewing cat so that he wouldn’t destroy the corners of all the boxes and gift bags. I have come to believe he does this to somehow be part of the holiday bustle that goes on in our household. Each time I added another package to the pile, I touched the others in hopeful excitement that it would be perceived with the same spirit it was wrapped in.

Today, the wrapping paper which was crinkled in delight yesterday, now fills our recycle bins to overflowing. Our bellies are substantially rounder, at least in this house, and the day is over. But my heart has a tad of unfinished processing still needing to happen, which is why I must write about it.

Christmas this year involved an effort of accommodation which made it awkward to know where we could be and how we would possibly do it all. In my efforts to appreciate all of my family, I made a choice to honor my husband’s hectic work schedule and so, postponed travel plans up north. My son and I agreed that a slightly later celebration together would be just as cool. I also decided to say, “W\e will be here whenever you come, don’t worry,” to my stepson who always makes the effort to see us. This statement of “whatever and whenever” quietly spoken to my husband in the midst of reshuffling our day was made with so much love that I now realize it became the best gift I could ever give anyone. I gave myself and my family the gift of being allowed to set aside expectations in our showing up for one another and to trust in our love this Christmas.

What is it about holiday expectation that creeps in and tries to wreak havoc? Why have I been compelled in the past to analyze the gestures of others and what they mean to my big picture? At what moment did I realize I needed to remove travel stress from my husband this year? How was I able to stay in the now yesterday and allow this Christmas to unfold the way it did? What grace do I experience in my relationship with my son that made it more than OK to postpone our gift giving slightly? How was I able to set plans aside to take pressure off my young stepson in a way he wouldn’t possibly understand until he has his own children? When did it become possible to trust that my friendships are intact enough to simply have to put my immediate family first yesterday?

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I have no explanation for any of it except to say that somewhere in the midst of all the Christmas planning and hoping, Christmas spirit took over and it became about simply being with the person that is my right and perfect Santa, the man who stands by my side always. It became about realizing what was truly best for our family.

Today, December 26th I am in awe of those who thought of me yesterday with calls, texts and presents. I am astonished at the kind invitations we received from people we love who love us back. Beyond that, I am filled beyond overflowing with gratitude for my family. Remembering all the hopes and dreams that came up for all of us over the twelve months past, the challenges we surmounted, the triumphs and accomplishments and the ways we have done our best to show our love, I am proud and blessed,

No, my Christmas did not go at all as I had planned it weeks ago. A few invitations could not be honored and a few others came out of the blue. Yet, it went perfectly. At about 11 PM I texted my son who was celebrating with his girlfriend’s family up in Connecticut. Within seconds his response came back, “To all a goodnight, I love you mom.” What a perfect way to end the day.

And all was right and good with the world as my head hit the pillow shortly after that text. And yet, when I reached over to hug my husband goodnight, the tears simply would not stop falling as he hugged me..




~ Risk ~ Giving ~ Anyway ~

At the root of every one of your loving intentions (a gift, message, act of kindness) towards another lies a truth. A truth that says “this is what I want to tell you, this is who I am at this moment, this is what I hope to accomplish, this is what you mean to me, this is what I think you need, this is how I hope you will feel when you receive it.” I love you.

And you deliver whatever it is – the statement, the gift, with this intent.

And you are taken aback when the other person misunderstands, reacts, doesn’t “get it.” Disbelief sets in because they didn’t see the love behind your message, your gift your intent. Wounded, suddenly, because what was supposed to be right and good and true somehow went awry. Caught off guard, reeling from disappointment, you have a choice. You can either locker down, draw your weapon, go into an emotional cave based on their response or you can remember the way of Grace by staying open and loving, keeping your original intent at the forefront of your mind, of your spirit.

The latter, this way of Grace requires a willingness that will have to counter any old tapes that want to play for you. It will require putting aside unhealed wounds (you may not even know are still there), messages from others back when, former mis-steps, and any feelings of inadequacy or “less than” or shame that may try to creep in.

This is not an easy task.

In order to do it you will have to know that at the root of every one of your intentions and at the core of your truth, also lies the truth of the other, the receiver. Their truth, with no resemblance to the one you may have been offering, that says “this is what I believe you meant,” “this is what I heard,” “this was what I needed instead,” “I’m not sure who you are at this moment,” and/or “this is how it made me feel.” And all I wanted was to feel loved, but now I don’t.

Two distant truths involving the same interaction, the same exchange of words or gifts or energies that didn’t go as intended. They don’t always meet. Many times the two truths are so far away from one another that there seems no way to get back to any meaning that makes sense. One or both of you become(s) lost, confused, dazed and even frightened. You feel unheard, unvalued, unloved and alone.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, there may be two loving people afraid to believe what is happening or terrified not to. Hurt and confused that the gesture one made could have been so terribly misconstrued by the other. Or saddened because the message or the gift or the answer one received did not have the meaning the giver needed it to. And all you both wanted, needed, was to feel and give love.

And then what?

At the moment of your doubt, be willing to believe that within every situation there may lie yet another truth. The one that sits right there in the middle of the other two, but is actually deep in the heart of the universe, ever guiding, ever there to gather you back into a spirit of love and light and willingness. To guide your truth closer to his or to hers.

Know that within every exchange, every conversation, there will be three messages. The one you mean, the one the other person hears and the one that the universe grasps. They are all correct. They are all right. They all have a reason. There is no threat. The Course in Miracles teaches that “Nothing real can be threatened” anyway.

Remember that inside of every heart there are wounds that will make its’ truth different from yours. There are triggers for this heart in the same way there are for yours, based on all the gestures and motives and kindnesses and gifts given or received before and hurts it has perceived correctly or mistakenly forever, that may prevent that heart from feeling, reacting, giving, expressing or receiving exactly the way that you do. Exactly the way you thought you needed it to in a vulnerable moment.

The trick in these exchanges, these moments, is to be willing to let go of the outcome. To be willing to go to compassion. To remember to return to love. To listen without explaining. To sit still in discomfort around being misunderstood, because you remember that you understand. To remember to return to love. To remember what you meant when you gave the gift or made the gesture in the first place, even if they never do. To be brave enough to let the other person tell you what they needed, what they hoped for and what they want in a way that doesn’t diminish what you thought they needed, hoped for or wanted.

To remember to return to love. To hear the words and let them sink in and stay OK. To stand still in your love, your sacred love. The unconditional love you have found for yourself first and then for them. To Hold on and Let go. To keep on taking the risk to give. To return to Love.

With Love.

And If I Ever Touched a LIfe, I Hope That Life Knows That Touching Is, Was and Always Will Be, The Only True Revolution.” Nikki Giovanni

I have to laugh.  I just sat and re-read my last blog.  Holy blah, blah, blah.  A bit wordy, but therapeutic nevertheless.  Sometimes the words come out so quickly, flowing and spilling over one another into the next one so fast that it’s hard to realize that you are saying the same thing over and over.  As I read it my first doubtful, fearful thought was “Oh God, what the heck would anyone think of this wordy piece?” …but then, my second thought was how damn good it felt to type every single word of it, to run my fingers over the keys as the sentences tumbled over each other.  And wordy or not, I remember how much the message helps me by typing it and I smile because that truly is the point.

This whole blogging thing has been therapeutic yes, but scary too.  Regarding my last blog, I’d actually written a different version earlier, but was afraid to post it because it was more specific, more raw, more blunt and because it put stuff so “out there.”  I worried that it was too personal even though gracepaidforward is for the most part anonymous.  The other one included references to my little sister and to some of “our” stuff.  My beautiful and amazing little sister who probably doesn’t know how much of both I think she is. 

I referenced her as “the littler girl,” the one I wasn’t really there for and who I didn’t protect very well and who I just didn’t have the tools yet to know how to love and honor better.  The one I wanted to look like and be like and the one, the only one I know, who would ever truly understand. 

I was so afraid that she would be mad at what I had typed, that she might accuse me of delving too deep into the past and that she wouldn’t like what I had written, so I deleted it.  Ironically, only moments after I did I got a phone call from her telling me that she had seen the post.  She sounded teary when she told me that she had read what I had written (she didn’t know I had just erased it) and that it had touched her, had made her cry.  She said I should write a book.  And I knew. I knew that from that moment on whatever I wrote going forward would be perfect no matter who would ever read it and no matter what they ever thought.  That one moment between the two of us would be enough to make all the rest of it worthwhile no matter what. 

I really love my little sister and feel truly blessed that she made that phone call to me.  I love that she was willing to be vulnerable enough to do so and I really wish I had a chance to go back and do it all a bit differently.  A chance to be a big sister, to be her champion.  An opportunity to not spend so much time pretending I felt better in my skin than I did, so that I could spend more time telling her how wonderful she was.  A chance to speak up for her and for me so that we could be better in today.  Perhaps it’s not too late.  And so, little sis, if by chance you get to read this blog, this one that I will absolutely NOT delete, I love you and honor you and completely and utterly understand, always.  We have each other