Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Give Less, Receive More

I just had a birthday, and while planning a small party with my closest women friends I very nearly wrote “NO GIFTS!” on the invitation.  Luckily I paused long enough to ask myself, “why no gifts?”  Do I enjoy giving gifts to my friends?  Yes I do.  Would I feel slightly disappointed if they told me not to bring a gift?  Definitely.  So what part of me was contemplating saying “NO GIFTS” and why? 

This got me thinking on the subject of giving and receiving.  Forgive me for assuming that this is more of a women’s issue, but why is it so common for many women to be able give, give, give, and yet be so wishy-washy when it comes to receiving?  Think about it. How many times have you flicked away a compliment with a self-effacing retort?  Or refused help when it was offered because you really didn’t want to bother or inconvenience the other person?

Women, we’ve got a problem.  The root of this issue is much deeper than I can dig up in a few hundred words, but when I think about being offered help, two images emerge: First, my inner child raises her chin and asserts, “I can do it myself!” And second, she feels embarrassed at being the center of attention as the recipient of a gift or help, even though, paradoxically, this is also what she craves. Could it be that we have unconsciously martyred ourselves on the altar of Self Reliance, thinking that this is what true equality means (it does not), and have hardened ourselves to our innate feminine receptivity?

I came across some material on love and relationships (an interest of mine, being a newly single woman) by intuitive Jennifer Hoffman ( and these two questions really struck me:   “Are you going to be the healer or are you willing to be with someone who does not need your healing?  Are you open to receiving the love that you are so prepared to give to someone?”  Ouch!  Tough questions.  And it’s not nearly as easy to say “yes” to them as one might think.  When I cast my eye around for single men I am no doubt still drawn to the fixer-uppers.  Why?

We’ve all been wounded in a thousand ways and have learned to refuse “gifts” all the time by closing our hearts.  Then we battle like hell to compensate for being “incomplete” by being self-less, giving, helpful wonder women…doing everything in our power to make others feel our love. The irony is we must risk being vulnerable and open to receiving if we are to reclaim our wholeness.  Give less, receive more, as it were.

When my birthday rolled around and my friends gathered, I was indeed showered with some beautiful gifts.  But more than the things themselves, I was really moved by how each item reflected the giver’s sense of who I am.  By opening my heart to receiving I felt known, and loved, and truly connected to my friends.  And that, it goes without saying, was the best present of all. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

Everyday Magic

The other night I was telling as story about something inexplicable that had happened when my friend piped up and said, “weird stuff always happens to you!”  I laughed and heartily agreed with her.  It’s true!  Apparently I was able to navigate growing up with my wide-eyed inner child still very much in tact.  As such, I am prone to magical happenings.  Perhaps, as someone else once suggested, I am a “powerful manifestor.” Or maybe crazy things happen to everyone but go unnoticed. Whatever the case, here’s the story.

Someone very dear to me has cancer, and I recently spend several weeks in Seattle helping to take care of her.  Part of being sick is accepting that everyone has an opinion about what you should do.  Amongst the flood of suggestions was one that she consult with Dr. Michael Lam - a Los Angeles-based physician who uses natural healing methods in synergy with allopathic oncology.  However, too many cooks in the kitchen tend to ruin the soup, so she settled instead for a local clinic that also uses an integrative approach. 

Meanwhile, back in London, another friend was having an interesting experience.  She had purchased several copies of a book written by a psychic she knew, including one for me. One evening she picked one up, opened it at random, and was surprised and confused to find that it was a book about healing cancer naturally – she thought it was going to be the author’s life story!  It didn’t take her long to work out that the wrong book was in the right cover – a mistake by the publisher.  In a panic she phoned the psychic author and asked, ”Is this a sign?  Do I have cancer?”  She was assured that she did not, but was told that obviously there was a reason that she received the wrong book.  “Hold onto it,” she was told, “and you will know whom it is for.”

The next day she learned that I was in America with my friend.  “Ah ha!”  She thought,  “This was Tricia’s copy all along!”  She phoned me, told me the story, and promised to send the book tout suite. 

Several days later it arrived.  I was full of anticipation as I ripped open the package.  The paper cover was indeed for a psychic’s memoir, but when I got to the title page I broke out in goose bumps as I read the words, Beating Cancer with Natural Medicine by Michael Lam, M.D.

I was, and still am, amazed!  What do you suppose the odds are that a psychic in Great Britain would have her book mixed up with one written by the very same doctor in California that had been recommended, and that it should just happened to make it’s way to me in such a round-a-bout way?  A million to one? 

That, to me, is the definition of magic.

As adults it’s easy to turn cynical and dismiss such occurrences as mere coincidences.   But where’s the fun in that?  The flip side of cold logic is the stuff that makes life juicy – the miraculous, the unexplainable, the magical. 

Mind-boggling things happen everyday in a thousand ways, but unless we view life through the eyes of our inner, magical child it's easy to miss the wonders that abound.  May this tale remind you to peek at the world through his or her eyes from time to time. I’d love hear what you see.

*  *  *  *

Want to welcome more magic into your life?  Check out Ursula James' new book The Source:  a manual of everyday magic.