Giving the Gift of Your Heart

by Patricia Spadaro

HeartBetter than bigger is the gift of the heart.

As little children size up their stack of birthday or holiday gifts, bigger and more always seem better. I’ll never forget the sobs that came from a little niece of mine one Christmas morning when she finished unwrapping the two gifts my husband and I had given her, only to see that her sister had an extra package from us to open. She felt cheated, even though we had carefully spent equal amounts of money on them both.

As adults, we may still pull out the mental measuring stick when it comes time to open our gifts. Yet take a moment and think about the times, as a child or adult, when you felt most happy, joyful, or at peace. Were those moments really defined by how much money someone spent on you? Or was it the time and attention you received or the intimacy and connection you experienced that made you feel exuberant?

The best gifts aren’t necessarily the biggest and most expensive ones. As the renowned Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran wisely observed, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Do you have an experience you can bring to mind to remind yourself of that truth? I do.

One summer day, not long after my husband and I had moved into a new home, my almost five-year-old neighbor Sophie peeked through the bushes separating her backyard from mine and introduced herself. After she and I had exchanged some important facts about each other, like how old she and her sister were and the names of my kitties, she suddenly asked, “What’s your favorite color?” “Well, I like yellow,” I replied. In an instant, she was off, disappearing around the side of her house and calling behind her shoulder, “Stay right there, stay right there!” When she returned, she came bearing gifts. “Here’s a flower from our garden,” she announced, “a yellow flower.” With a smile big enough for the both of us, she stretched her arm toward me. She was carefully holding between her fingers a perfect yellow pansy.

It’s been a few years since Sophie graced me with her pansy and I’m sure she’s forgotten all about it. But I’ll never forget her gift—and the smile that leapt from her heart and landed smack in the middle of mine. Sophie knew instinctively what the beloved classic of India, the Bhagavad Gita, has taught for millennia: “He who offers to me [God] with devotion only a leaf, or a flower, or a fruit, or even a little water, this I accept from that yearning soul, because with a pure heart it was offered with love.” It’s not just what you give but how you give that counts. It’s not the size of the gift but the size of your heart.

How big is your heart?

Clearing Space for What’s Important

by Patricia Spadaro

altar-candle-vaseI just posted a new article on “Clearing Space for What’s Important.”  It occurred to me, why wait until the new year to start a new habit? Here’s a good one to start right now, before the holiday madness sets in:  Getting your priorities straight. Making room for what’s really important at the end of the year. Letting go of some of the things on your “must-do” list.

The paradox / mantra / mindful intention that can help you with this habit: “Saying no, when appropriate, will enable me to say yes to what’s really important.”

So check out these 4 steps to creating your “end-of-the-year” resolution. I encourage you to take time to do it now. Otherwise you might find, as Ginger Rogers once said, that “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll stand for anything.”

I invite you to share what’s working for you:

  • What new choices have you made for how you will spend your time?
  • What’s most important to you?
  • What have you crossed of your “must do” list? And how does that feel?

What Counts

by Patricia Spadaro

“What you see with your eyes shut is what counts.” — Lame Deer, Lakota

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Know Your Strong Points

by Patricia Spadaro

“Know your strongest point—your preeminent gift; cultivate that and you will assist the rest. Every one would have excelled in something if he had known his strong point. Notice in what quality you surpass, and take charge of that. . . . Most do violence to their natural aptitude, and thus attain superiority in nothing.” […]

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10 Tips for Coping with Criticism

by Patricia Spadaro

“Pay no attention to what the critics say; there has never been set up a statue in honor of a critic.” —Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer (1865 –1957) We all get hit by life’s slings and arrows from time to time. These can come from a resident critic—a family member, friend, or coworker who always finds […]

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Seeing, Really Seeing

by Patricia Spadaro

“The meaning of life is to see.” –Hui-neng

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