Giving and receiving

Did you grow up with the idea that “it is better to give than receive?”

It is a message I absorbed growing up, and I used to think it was about generosity. I hear a “lyrical” version in my head and think it might be from some rendering of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. I thought it meant that I should always be giving, that somehow to receive is weak. 

I now understand that this belief no longer serves me. It has gradually been unfolding especially in these last couple of months of reflection. I have a deep longing to give, and to be of service in my life. It is a part of what I consider my purpose for being on earth. But now I recognize that receiving is also an act of grace and an act of faith. 

Receiving with gratitude is a beautiful experience. When you are open to receive you allow others to give and to share with you. You allow the generosity of others to come into your life. As humans, even though we can be tribal creatures, we also have a very natural “tend and befriend” instinct that allows for our survival. Giving and receiving are often reciprocal activities, but they do not have to be. 

In receiving, we make room for others to share their gifts with us. We open the flow of giving from ourselves as well.We start to give from true generosity rather than a scarcity mindset that may be present about not being worthy unless we can give. 

I grew up with an abundance of love and care from my parents and family members. I consider myself one of the “lucky ones” in that regard, especially when I hear stories of neglect or abuse. So I guess my belief that I can and will always give comes from some sense of always having enough.

As a very independent person, I have struggled with asking for the help I need at times. Even last December, when my husband suspected I needed to go to the hospital, I told him: “I am fine, go to work, don’t worry.” Finally I had to surrender to his help when I literally could not get myself up off the couch to get my coffee (that never happens) all morning after I returned from an international trip. The pain was too much.

I accepted help (not that he would have given me a choice, he told me later). Later, after my appendix was safely removed, I visited my parents and my mother expressed such profound gratitude to my husband, I realized that this event was meaningful for so many reasons. 

My advice to you is: do not be afraid or reluctant to receive. You are worthy of receiving love and kindness. Everyone is worthy of that. If it touches you and inspires you to give to others, so be it. But if you are in a position where you cannot give at this time, then just gratefully receive.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

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Back in the day…

Last night I needed to find a quiet place to work, a place where I could absorb literature related to oncology research and therapeutic potential for a certain plant compound. I worked in the morning at home well enough, but in the afternoon, I was unable to get traction on the work.

That sometimes happens to me. I try everything I know how, and still I am so completely distracted that I need to have a change of location (see yesterday’s post. Perhaps it’s why cube life did not suit me.). 

So I put my stuff in my backpack and headed off to the University of MN. Even though it’s been over a dozen years since I finished my master’s degree here, I love being back on a campus. I love the atmosphere of learning and growth. Even though the science library was far too crowded to find a quiet place to work, I walked around campus for an hour or so. 

The humanities library was much less busy. Ahem…

Well, let’s just say I was a science major in undergrad and a liberal studies major in grad school. My grade point was about 0.7 points higher in grad school. Also, my undergrad was at Swarthmore, where the motto was “anywhere else it would have been an A.” ‘Nuff said.

My study hide-away

As I sat in the quiet of the library, around dinner time (that must be the reason it was less busy, perhaps), I felt that familiar sense of focus and calm. I have attention issues (diagnosed late in life while I was working on the grad thesis) so focus and calm are not exactly my strong suits. Unless I’m under deadline, that seems to be a motivator.

There is something about a library, and the unquestionable nature of being here. Working at home, I always see the undone dishes, the piles of laundry overflowing, my cats that do their best to be adorable at the wrong times (like when I have a deadline). 

In the quiet library, in my study cube, there are no distractions. There is just the pile of research articles, my laptop, my water and a snack. 

Perfect environment for being on deadline with a topic that twists my brain in all kinds of fun ways.

What is your perfect environment for working?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Wellness Wednesday – step away from the desk

For those of you out there who work at “desk jobs” where you spend a lot of time at a computer on a typical day, this one is for you.

There are days when I am at a keyboard for a long time. Whether doing research for a client, or writing or emailing or on a teleconference, it can mean long hours of being in one position or just sitting. Most of the time, I am restless enough that sitting for more than 45-60 minutes is impossible. I get up, walk around, get some tea, stretch, take a few deep breaths.

It can be harder when you are in an office, or a space without as much privacy. When I worked at an office, there were long hallways where I could get up and take myself for a walk. I tend to drink a fair amount of water and tea in a typical day. So getting up to go to the bathroom could be a mini-break. 

Getting up and taking a break has some great benefits. For one, you will get some circulation to your brain and body. Sitting for long periods is hard on your body, so standing now and then is not a bad idea. Some people like standing desks, and I used to use one of these occasionally. For about half an hour twice a day or so I would elevate the desk (especially during conference calls, which could make me a bit edgy) and try to adopt a good posture for standing. Or I would pace a bit in and around my cube. Fortunately it did not seem to disrupt my coworkers. 

Another benefit is that you might use your break as an opportunity to make a transition between projects. I am typically juggling anywhere from 3 to 7 projects at one time. It can be difficult to pull my mind from one topic to another. So a mindful break for 10-15 minutes can be helpful to allow a “rest and digest” of the item I just finished before moving on to the next task or project.

Now that I work at home much of the time, I find that scheduling a mid-morning dance class or a mid-day yoga break can be a great opportunity to move and get away from the desk. I typically return refreshed and with new vigor toward whatever project I face. Getting out for some fresh air can be great: just a 10-20 minute walk has benefits. Since it has been a bitter cold in MN this week, I have not wanted to do that so much…

How often do you get up from your desk? Do you have particular habits that help you remember to do this at least once every 2 hours? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Oh the drama

The night of the election I stayed up until the 1 a.m. captivated by the drama of election returns, of the great sweep of the Democrats into the House of Representatives. After hanging out with some like-minded local political volunteers and neighbors, I came home feeling optimistic, happy and excited.

Turning the t.v. off was hard, but I reasoned that more would be known in the morning, and sleep was a better use of my time than speculation. In the morning, I spent time listening to my public radio station, reading news stories and absorbing the social media feed from my friends. I commented, considered the implications of the results and attempted to connect the dots.

After about 2.5 hours of that, my body and synapses were already feeling burned and tired. I opted to attend my favorite Wednesday Zumba class. It is a great way to dance it all out, and to get out of my head and back into my body. Ahh!

Since I had an interview in the afternoon for an Upwork contract, an opportunity to do some writing and research for a bio-pharmaceutical company, I did not turn the radio back on when I returned home. Instead, I showered, had some lunch, got quiet and prepared my questions for the interview.

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In the process, I was captivated by the research I was doing and felt a sense of flow emerging. I had no feeling of “FOMO” by staying off of social media. The storm of opinions will continue to brew while I get my work done, I told myself.

I figured I would return to it in the evening, flip the radio on and begin consuming the drama once again. But something in my body said “no, not right now.” I opted to run an errand, go to the grocery store and take care of the mundane habits to which we all must tend.

I listened to another chapter of an Ann Patchett book which I’d downloaded on Audible over the weekend as a “treat” to myself for those times when I want a break from work.

I considered my unwillingness to listen to the talking heads. I meditated. I wrote in my journal. I took my own advice from yesterday.  I felt peaceful and centered.

There is a theatrical aspect of politics which lends itself to using these stories as a form of entertainment. It is a serious endeavor, to be sure, but it is also drama. I have no wish to hear the president’s voice. I had already heard a bit on the car ride on the way home from Zumba, so promptly turned it off. He is not a good actor at all. Seriously.

Normally I love analyzing the semiotics and messaging of campaign language and considering the meaning behind the results. I expect I will return to that sometime.

For now, the dust will settle and I will turn away from it for a bit. With my new work contract starting, I am excited to make some “real monies” again as I joked to my husband. I shall savor that, and enjoy every moment of it.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Wellness Wednesday – rest and digest

Now that the excitement of this midterm election has come to a close, it is time to rest and digest. After all the “aerobic” energy of the campaign and election season, and as we process the results, we must enter a season of pausing and reflecting.

I am relieved this election cycle is over. Some of the returns have yet to be finalized but I am happy to see that the turnouts were high, and more women were voted into office than ever before.

Rest and digest.jpgThough I did not get to bed very early because I was still watching election returns, I know I will need some down time to recover this week. I identify as an introvert, so I am aware of my need for more down time than the average person. I have found that if I approach life in terms of cycles of intense activity followed by adequate rest, I am able to make better decisions for the long-term.

Maybe it is a product of age or maturity but I feel like it is easier to see the big picture than it used to be. I recognize that it is necessary to regroup and recharge between the intervals of intensity. As it turns out, this is how we best deal with stress in our lives. Stress in itself is not bad, and is in fact necessary in a healthy life.

But chronic and unrelenting stress for long periods take a toll on our bodies, our immune systems and our mental health as well. So take a break, gather your energy, allow some time for reflection and recovery. We will live and be stronger in case we need to “fight” another day for important causes that matter to us.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Dropping the illusion

It is Day of the Dead in Mexican tradition, and Samhain in the Celtic transition. How fascinating that separate cultures and traditions celebrate similar human experiences. It’s also a bit amusing (or perhaps disturbing depending on your perspective) that religions tried to either co-opt or quash the celebrations.

The Catholic Church tried to get people to stop celebrating Halloween in favor of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. But it did not work, and I think one reason the church has been successful in Mexico is that people simply adopt and meld both traditions in a kind of mash-up of pre-Hispanic and indigenous traditions.

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If you want a charming and beautifully-rendered movie about the traditions of Dia de los Muertos or Dia de los Santos (Nov 1-2), check out Coco, a Disney Pixar film about the choices we make despite our families’ desires for our future.

But I digress.

What about illusions? Wasn’t that the topic of this post?

Yes. I am getting there.

The illusion that most of us live by, and what drives so much divisive politics is that we are all separate, as human beings, as cultures, as groups.

The reality is that we are all part of one miraculous and unlikely part of our earth’s existence: humankind. Whether you believe our origin is divine or a product of evolution, we are one species.

Separation is the illusion.

We are all in this together on this small planet. I believe we are becoming more and more aware of that as humans evolve. We are made up of matter and energy, swirling together in an amazing array.

Those who cannot see that perhaps lack the ability to look beyond their protective egos and reptilian “fear” brains to the wider world where we are actually just part of a larger story of the universe.

What if we dropped the illusion? What if we began to see each other as one amazing sphere of beautiful energy that can ebb and flow? What if we allowed for the mystery that we are all connected, in ways we are only beginning to understand?

What a world it could be. What a vision to embrace.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

Accessing your dreams

Lately I have been getting more regular and deeper sleep. I have made a commitment to allow my subconscious to work on things for me while I am in dreamland.

It can be a very incredible thing to write down my dreams, and consider what they are telling me. Since I no longer use an alarm to wake up, and tend to drift awake naturally, I remember my dreams so much more often. I am pretty convinced I am accessing a more intuitive part of my consciousness. It is really fascinating. But some of them need a little more processing before I share them here. 😉

Do you write down your dreams? What are they telling you? 

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Happy weekend, all.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Energy depletion or renewal

On Wednesday I had an interview for a technology company that I like, but in a retail environment that would be a different experiences for me. On paper, it seemed very exciting. I liked considering the advantages of this part-time opportunity. I believed it would allow me to ramp up my other efforts a little more mindfully and without rushing.

The interview went well, and I even advanced to the next round with a higher leader in the organization. But as I was considering the nature of the work environment, and my preference for adequate personal space and solitude in every day, my body felt a noticeable depletion of energy rather than excitement.

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I’d been excited the day before about getting called so quickly for the in-person interview after the phone interview. I am eager to learn the technology, and to help people use it better, the original reason I pursued the position. Also, they were seeking bilingual Spanish speakers and it would be an opportunity to keep my skills sharp. But the thought of an 8-hour shift “out in the open” on a retail floor made me feel drained and tired.

That is okay. I would not necessarily have been able to visualize and imagine myself in the setting to consider whether it is a fit without actually being there and observing. My body is giving me signals to help me figure out the next steps for myself. Typically when I pay attention to my energy levels, and move in the direction where the energy lifts rather than falls, I am happier.

I thought that learning and practicing sales and marketing techniques would be good for my own business. But there are other ways to do this, and I will not give up on that idea.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com