I went to the Arthritis Centre last week to see Carol, the woman who guided the 9 week course on fibromyalgia that I attended. Living with chronic fatigue, her love is wind surfing in Maui and teaching agility training with dogs. Me? I much prefer cats to dogs. I am guided primarily by my eyes as I walk barefoot on South Chesterman Beach, gathering shells and taking photographs, keeping far from cresting waves. In spite of our differing loves, and perhaps because of them, she has been a valuable resource; the combination of social work skills and a wonderful sense of humour suits me perfectly.
The last time we met, we did the pillow dance: Carol shifting her tall frame with a pillow behind her back, high and then low, on her lap and then discarded all together, as all 4 feet and nearly 11 inches of me seemed to mirror her pantomime. While the chairs remained uncomfortable, the laughter seemed to help.
But I digress.
I was early, so I glanced at the books in the hallway. You Are Not Your Illness by Linda Noble Topf, drew my attention. Initially it was the title and then, as I wandered through the pages, it became the quotations. I have always, it seems, been drawn to quotations, writing them down on scrapes of paper or into notebooks and sharing them with friends. Now, however, I have another reason. Our daughter, Hilary, sells small posters on Etsy (Raincity Prints) where she uses her wonderful sense of design to transform quotations into art.
As I glanced through the book the following day, the 'wonderful art of receiving' made me stop and read that section. I find it way easier to give, whether it be time, a gift/present or a compliment. Receiving generally brings a blush to my cheeks. The author says that when she watches her cats she sees that the act of receiving and accepting has its own special powers. She continues that we discover this when we are the neediest, and that 'it is usually because we have not allowed ourselves to receive rather than because nobody has given.'
Linda Noble Topf writes: 'Devote three full days to just receiving what others give, no matter how great or small the act may seem. Give nothing in return beyond a simple thank you.' She followed her own advice, and continues by saying that she has given special attention to how she received the various gifts. She lists them. Three examples are: the letter carrier brought her mail directly to the house, rather than leaving it in her box by the street. Someone visiting, complimented her on her hair. Her husband came behind her and surprised her with a kiss.
In a few cases, the non-deserving voice (that many of us know so well) made itself known. 'I'm not worthy of the attention' is one phrase that the author uses. However, with mindful attention, she found her heart opening and, when this happened, she knew clearly the pleasure in the giving that her friends and acquaintances had felt. This pleasure was increased because they saw how much their gifts had meant to her.