Wow. As some of you know, it has been a craaaazy few months for me. We moved out of our San Francisco flat at the end of May, were gypsies for nearly two months as we waited for escrow to close on our house, then moved in a little over a month ago.
This has been a humungo “spiritual opportunity” for me. (That’s the words to use when something is really hard but I’m trying to see the best in it!) Honestly, it has felt like survival mode most of time. The rest of the time, I’ve just been lost and dazed! There’s something about the way I’m wired that makes moving feel like all my cells get separated from one another and I’ve somehow got to round them all up again to get whole.
In the midst of all this chaos, there was a special birthday of someone I really love. I was so scattered and feeling like a shell of myself. I wondered how I was going to find the energy to celebrate her in the way she deserved.
Since the birthday gal is my beau’s mom, I started brainstorming with him about what we could possibly do. And then the magic started. Just that small movement into consciously focusing on who she is and what she loves was such fun for us. We honed in on her love of cheese and somehow the word “cheesy” fell into the mix. From there, we were off and running on a whole cheese theme. Bingo. We’d plan a whole big Cheesy Night o’ Delight for her/us.
Well, she loved the certificate we made. She said just that was an amazing, fun gift. But the actual cheesy fun was also so delightful. It was more than just the made-with-love cheesy foods or the delivered-with-joy cheesy jokes. It’s that we got to put a frame around an evening and make it into something extraordinary. We got to honor the birthday gal by loving exactly who she is. We also got to intentionally recognize that being together is what really counts.
I know she loved her present. But what struck me was what a tremendous gift this whole thing was to ME. Yep, a gift for me in this! I got to see that one of the things that always puts me in a good mood is when I’m thinking about a unique gift for someone I love. It never fails to get me out of my own little world and into a space where I feel connected and alive.
In fact, creating this gift for her reminded me that this kind of thing is one of the practices that has been a lifesaver for me over and over again in my life. It started back in the 90’s when I was grappling with a deep depression. Making gifts for people seemed to create a bridge for me that led me out of the lonely darkness and into a place of connection and light.
This is no small thing.
As I continue to wrestle with my lingering anxiety over losing my footing in certain areas of my life, I am dedicating myself to remembering to return to generosity over and over again as a way to re-ignite my life force. There is something so grounding about focusing all of my attention on someone I love — why I love them, who they are, what makes them unique—that it leaves no room for Squawky Polly yammerings inside my head about what’s wrong or missing.
This phrase just dropped in my head: “One of the things that always brings me back to myself is focusing on someone else.”
This, my friends, is truly life saving. Over and over again. I’m certain this will be my practice til the day I die. (And maybe longer if there’s some kind of something afterward!)
I invite you to practice this with me. I’m intending to put a big focus on creative and conscious gifts. Gifts with impact and imagination. Gifts that say, “I know you. I see you. I love you.” Gifts that bring as much joy to the giver as to the recipient.
Come along with me. We’re sure gonna have a gouda time!
P.S. Here are a few cheese puns to make you grin.
Customized card (top of page!) copyright Ian Fratar! Inside are drawings of all of us holding cheese wedges. Hee hee.
NOTE: This is a reprint of a blog post from 2013. Truth be told, I’m testing to see if I can add in some favorite old posts without them being sent to you. (When I last updated my website, we lost a lot of the old blog posts.) However, if you are reading this, something went technologically wrong! But I chose a blog post that I thought would be fun to re-visit. Apologies if it makes you bleu …