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.
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,