Learning the gift of receiving

With the holidays upon us I’ve been reflecting on the ideas of giving and receiving, and in general terms, I think I am inherently someone who gives and struggles to receive – I often have difficulty receiving or accepting help, support,and praise, yet have little trouble doing the same for others (in fact it often brings me great joy and a sense of purpose). This juxtaposition has begun to shift, and in particular, my journey with cancer has put my capacity to receive to the test.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word receive means, among others, to “be given, presented with, or paid (something)”; “suffer, experience, or be subject to (specified treatment)”; “greet or welcome (a visitor) formally”; and “serve as a receptacle for.” And in the last several weeks and months, I have certainly experienced all of these intensely, intentionally, and abundantly.

First, as I underwent my first round of chemo early last week, I truly received treatment. Rather than simply allowing the process to unfold, I chose to intentionally acknowledge its presence and welcome it in. I noticed the treatment as it moved through my body and tried to receive it. I felt it entered my veins and moved through my body, and I experienced my body trying to cope – the nausea, intense muscle cramping, headaches, chills, and rash. This process – in many ways an undesirable one – is certainly teaching me to receive in more challenging and complex ways.

My basket of well wishes and love :)

Second, I have been blessed with an incredible network and circle of support who have given me the gift of receiving. Through my chemo companions, overnight angels, guests and visitors, home cooked and delicious meals, care packages and gifts, cards, phone calls, emails, texts, hugs, healing treatments, messages and kind words, financial support, and thoughts of love and healing, I have been graced with the opportunity to practice receiving in a multitude of ways. Words cannot even begin to express how grateful I feel. I am overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of friends, family, and humanity more generally, and I have never felt more loved supported, and cared for than I do now. Thank you!

Lastly, I am learning to receive and embrace myself and the journey ahead. I am striving to focus on receiving the now, rather than what was or could be, and I am experiencing less disappointment and sorrow as a result. While the changes are subtle, I feel more self-confident and clear, and I am managing situations/experiences slightly differently. For example, rather than allowing things to stew inside, I am asking more questions and seeking clarity. I am also letting go of the things that no longer serve me. In short, I am learning to hear myself and receive me – my values, my desires, and my own self compassion and love. This too is wonderful.

I recognize I still have much to learn; I continue to have difficulty with receiving and in particular receiving gracefully. And so, as I enter this holiday season, a season of giving, I will continue to give from the heart. Yet, I will also be mindful of the act of receiving for they exist in reciprocity. According to Florence Scovel Shinn, “giving opens the way to receiving,” and this holiday I will try to receive more gracefully; honouring and cherishing the gift of giving.

Happy holidays everyone! Thank you for the most beautiful gifts of all – you!

With grace and love,





  1. Steven Barer

    Beautiful. I too struggle with receiving – am super happy giving, much as you’ve expressed here, and sometimes intensely uncomfortable receiving. Thanks for the blessings of your heartfelt sharing. I hold you in my heart for deep learning and healing, and the richness you’re experiencing living in the moment. I also struggle with worrying about what’s going to unfold in the future, which is not helpful, and can be harmful…
    I have literally experienced worrying myself sick… worrying and anxiety at times take me over. I’d love to learn ways to remain present and not as susceptible to this phenomenon.

    1. Cheryl (Post author)

      Thank you Steve. May we trust in the fact that it will all turn out how it is meant to :)

  2. Jill

    Cheryl you are doing an incredible job of verbalizing what I think many others in your situation struggle with, so not only do you help us understand, you give those people a voice too. You are a wee sweetheart, and we love you for that!

    1. Cheryl (Post author)

      Thank you Jill. Sending big love right back to you!

  3. Aunt Linda

    Cheryl you just make me smile when I read your writings. You are an amazing girl, and I am so proud of you. I think of you every day, and i wish that you were closer to Port Hope. I am sending you special angels to be with you, as I can not be with you. Big hugs and kisses. Merry Christmas. Love you

    1. Cheryl (Post author)

      Thanks Aunt Linda! I hope you have a very merry Christmas! Love you too!


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