Giving and Receiving by Cylvia Hayes

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This is a time of year with a lot of emphasis on giving.  There’s Thanks-giving and the consumer mania of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  And now there’s Giving Tuesday.  I’m not yet sure how I feel about that last one.  I almost did a post the night before Giving Tuesday to promote it but something just didn’t feel quite right about it.  The next morning my inbox was flooded with fundraising pleas from dozens of non-profit organizations.  Although I support their good work, I was turned off by the impersonal, consumerist feel of the Giving Tuesday hype. 
 
For me giving and receiving has taken on new meaning and I only want personal, authentic givers and receivers in my life.  Having recently learned the hard way that many who profess to be friends really aren’t, I now much more deeply appreciate the gift of true friendship.  There is something so beautiful in the simple act of one human-being really listening, offering up their time and attention to another.  I am much more aware of when I am on the receiving end of these gifts and much more generous when in the givers seat.  One of the very best gifts for both the giver and receiver is to be deeply present with one another. Genuine human caring fills a void that Black Friday just can’t touch. 
 
I’ve also had some insights into the importance not just of giving gifts, but of giving our gifts.  When my career was abruptly sidelined I lost the vehicle through which I felt like I was making a positive contribution.  This was indescribably painful and I knew that in order to cope with the ongoing ordeal of public shaming I needed to find ways to feel like I was making a difference.  So, I started volunteering for causes I care about – rescuing and rehabilitating injured wildlife and freeing dogs from lives lived on the end of a chain.  Giving my time, compassion and even my construction skills has touched many critters’ lives but I received the biggest gift – the fabulous feeling of using my time and talents to bring some healing and love into the world.  
 
And then there are the unexpected gifts, some of which are wrapped in barbed wire!  For instance, the blessing of time and deep reflection that came with the unplanned screeching halt of my busy and important professional life.  I certainly wouldn’t have taken the time for the deep meditation, reflection and spiritual study had I still been caught in the hectic pace of my busyness.  I have grown so much through these practices that as my career, my outer work is now moving forward again, I am going about it differently, continuing to prioritize time for the inner work.  The treasures I’m finding there are priceless. 
 
So yeah, I’ll buy a few presents for my special people and I’ll donate to organizations I support, and as I’ve been since I was a little girl, I’ll be overly excited to open any presents with my name on them!  But it’s the deeper gift, the gift of our true and genuine selves, the gift of time genuinely and lovingly spent together, that I’ll be most looking forward to unwrapping. 

By Cylvia Hayes

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