Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sometimes You Have to Get to Give

Get—to benefit by receiving e.g., get flowers; to retreat or go to a new place, e.g., get away

Summer break in New York is finally here and I find myself in the “not-often-the-case” position of getting.  Two plus weeks ago I had surgery—something planned so that I would not miss the end-of-school-year activities and would not miss out on consulting/work time over the summer.  Get—both the receiving kind and the retreating kind have been part of this summer life.  Friends and family have showered me with visits and food and flowers and words of inspiration.   On a daily basis, it seems, someone arrives on my porch to offer support of some sort.  I have never been one to put myself on the receiving end…I can actually state that I am uncomfortable on the receiving end, yet I have found great grace and joy in receiving the gifts that have been poured out to me. 

This summer has also been one of getting away—not physically because I really did need the time to heal and a jaunt to the beach or to the mountains would have been impossible.  Rather, I have gotten away by turning off.  By sleeping, by being entertained by series where thinking is easy and the work to understand is minimal and by sleeping yet again.  I got lost in the world of series I have long wanted to watch but have not allowed myself the space to do so.  At first I thought I would get away through the pages of a book.  I found instead that soon after the first paragraph, my mind would wander, my head would nod and my eyes would become heavy.  Not so with Downton Abbey.   I can honestly say I never saw an episode before June 24 and I am now a proud viewer of all four seasons.  I retreated to England where beauty lives in the vistas of the plush countryside, the lilt of the language and the costumes of eras past.  What a retreat!  I became entangled in a land where civility and propriety are mainstays.  I got lost in the lives of Mary, Daisy and Grand mama.  I am not one to get away through watching, much less sleeping—especially in a few week sitting, and I find that it has been a delightful way to heal and renew.  Sleep, watch, sleep—all forms of getting away have served me well.

Today I got in yet another way of receiving.  Most of my work life is about teaching writing and writers’ workshop to others in one form or another.  Today I found myself on the receiving end of the writers’ workshop—and what a delightful experience it was!  Denise Leograndis, presenter for the Accelerated Learning Institute and author of the book, Launching the Writing Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide in Photographs, led me and a number of other educators down a path where we got to look at writing through the lens of writer.  I happily wrote, revised and conferenced with the goal of creating my own writing—a means to its own end—not a means to teach others.  To simply get.  And from that get—to create.

I am a fortunate girl.  It has been a summer of getting, of stopping, of slowing down.  They say, “It is better to give than to receive.”   I live by that life principle.  But this summer I have viewed this life truth in another way.  What better gift can I give to others than to allow them to give to me?  What better gift can I give to myself than allowing space to get away? If we are all givers then who will receive?  If I receive in gratitude and humility, am I not giving? 

So, I joyfully and gratefully get this summer.  I get to heal.  I get to write and create.  I get to renew by allowing mindless entertainment and sleep.  I get meals and cards and flowers.  I get to be loved.  And I get to love myself.

I get to give by receiving.  What could be better than that?