Every year, the holiday season is a reminder to be generous in both giving and receiving. In hopes that some of my experiences in learning these lessons will give you a smile and warm your heart, here are two experiences I’ve had in giving and receiving.

Be careful what you ask for!

Are you like me? Do you find it easier to give than to receive? Giving has always been easier for me, so several years ago I set my intention to really learn how to receive from people. It was like stepping into a foreign land, but I started to accept compliments more easily and to simply say thank you, instead of blowing off or negating the compliment.

Not long after setting my intention, a favorite singer-songwriter was in town for a sold-out concert that happened to be on my birthday. (I was on the committee to help with the concert). About halfway through the concert, the singer said, “I hear it’s someone’s birthday today!”

Oh. My. God. No!

Yes, he called me up on stage and proceeded to have the whole audience sing Happy Birthday to me!

There I stood in front of 300 people thinking, “I asked to learn how to receive and here I am. Open up to this. You can do this, Nancy.”
I dropped my shoulders a bit, smiled, breathed deeply and received the gift of that birthday song—all the way into my center.

The hidden gifts given every day.

A friend recently said, “Can you let in the beauty of a sunrise? Drink in the stunning scenery in nature? If so, then you can receive”.

I have always been able to enjoy the beauty of nature, of music, of a simple smile or hug, but never thought of those things as receiving. So, I encourage you to notice all of the beauty and love that you’re receiving every day.

My second story is about a recent transformative experience I had in giving. After hearing about a really cool charity project that helps families in need, I volunteered to help. This November, the generous woman leading this charity found a family to help. The single mother of three little ones had been homeless, is now employed and has a new apartment. She met with them, found out their needs and wants and then arranged for the family to leave their nearly empty apartment for the day. While they were gone, we volunteers came in, cleaned the whole place, filled it with all the goodies for the family and then disappeared before they came back home.

Imagine every drawer, closet and cupboard filled to the brim with necessities. Imagine every room decorated with the pretty things like new curtains and art work. New furniture, bedding, closets filled with clothing in all the right sizes. The kitchen was fully stocked with dishes, cookware and food in the refrigerator, freezer and in every cupboard.

At the end of the day, I walked from room to room — the apartment was totally filled with love, necessities, it was pretty and it was sparkling. When I left, my heart was all filled up too.

On Thanksgiving Day, we volunteers received an email telling us about the family’s response when they came home to their transformed home. One of the little girls went into her room and started giggling. She pointed to the top bunk and asked if she could go up there. She climbed up, lay on the top bunk, giggled some more and said, “It feels like Santa Claus has been here!”

The single mother of three little children was completely blown away by the kindness of strangers. As she looked around her newly furnished and decorated apartment she said, “You get me; it’s just beautiful!”

What I learned is that giving is the same as receiving. I received so much by giving my time, energy and donations to this family.

During this holiday season (and beyond), just notice what happens when gifts are given with generosity and received with gratitude. How do your relationships change/shift/grow? How does your experience of giving and receiving change and grow? I hope you find the lesson joyful!

I hope that your winter holidays, however you spend them, are touched by meaningful connections with people, with nature and with the Divine.

As we close out 2018, know that it means so much to me to work with you and support your health.

Thank you!

I wish you peace