Christmas is approaching. In the past, Christmas was something I dreaded. I didn’t want any happy Christmas music or Santa Claus and I especially dreaded the whole gifting routine. If I didn’t spend a lot of money buying presents for everyone I loved, I must not really love them, because in my mind presents equaled love. So if I couldn’t come up with the perfect gift for someone, I didn’t really love them. And I would always go on and on about how the holiday season isn’t so special—why can’t we all behave with kindness and give presents all year round? I was really good at wearing the Grinch hat. (And I adore that book.)
But I think the root of the problem, since I was very young, was not knowing how to receive. I turned my nose up at gifts. I told people not to worry about me and to place their focus on others who needed it more. I believed I had everything I needed, and if I didn’t, I could buy it myself. There was no need to surprise me with something that I most likely didn’t want or need. Just leave me out of it.
And that left me out of a lot. I essentially blocked that thing called the Christmas Spirit and I was just fine with that. But those of you who know about that Christmas Spirit and who really enjoy the holidays can understand exactly what I was missing out on. The holidays made me miserable. I just wanted to skip the months of November and December and go on a cruise.
But something different happened this year. I went to a conference in October and found a subject I really wanted to learn. It’s called the Body Code System. This doctor, Bradley Nelson, who created it, was up on the stage showing us how it worked and he did it with this magical kind of ease like someone who really knows something like the back of their hand, and I wanted that. I wanted to know what he knew and I wanted that knowledge to be second nature and I wanted to use that knowledge to help myself and others. I wanted it so bad I could taste it. I went to his web site when I got home to look up how much his program cost and it was a thousand dollars. If I had had $1000 lying around with no particular purpose right then, I would have bought it and I’d be learning it right now. But I didn’t have $1000. And I knew that if I started saving a little money each month it might take me around six months to be able to buy it. And I knew I could do that. I’m very self-sufficient and if I want something I find a way to get it. But just for fun I asked God: Is there a way can I get $1000 sooner?
One morning shortly thereafter I was walking on my treadmill watching TED talks and this one came on called “The Art of Asking.” The talk was by a musician named Amanda Palmer who has since written a book on the topic and is currently using her own technique to share her music with the world. It seemed a little “out there” but I was touched by her sincerity and by the goodness of her heart.
And then I had the thought: what if I started a campaign? A fundraiser? What if I could simply ask for help in raising this $1000? And in return I could offer to help anyone who contributed by sharing what I learn? Wouldn’t people go for that? Immediately I heard a chorus of negativity in my head say all of the lies I believed: “You can’t ask people for money.” “You can’t take a handout—that makes you weak.” “That’s like receiving government assistance—that’s for poor people.” “It’s shameful to have to ask for money when you have what you need.” And so on…and on, and on. Apparently I had many beliefs about asking for help.
But I thought, why not? It wouldn’t be easy. All of these nasty negative beliefs made me feel like a beggar. I might invite some criticism. I’m sure Amanda Palmer has had her share. But what if I could raise the money in two or three months rather than six or eight? I could be learning sooner, I could be helping myself sooner, and I could be helping others sooner. And most importantly, what if there’s a lesson here for me—that I need to learn how to receive?
I know what you might be saying, because it’s kind of a focus in our culture: It’s better to give than to receive. Receiving is selfish. Asking for help is weak. The truth is: there is balance in everything. In order to give, someone needs to receive, and in order to receive, someone needs to give. The flow of the universe is about both. My attitude has always been very one sided: I need to give. I feel compelled to give. Give, give, give. What happens when you give and give and never allow yourself to receive? I’ll tell you what happens: you start to feel resentful. God gives and in return he (hopefully) receives our gratitude. The earth gives and in return she (hopefully) receives our respect and our care. Parents give and in return they expect the same things. Really, every time we say the words “thank you,” we are in the spirit of receiving. Feeling grateful and making lists of things we are thankful for is really in the spirit of receiving.
So I decided to go ahead and do something courageous. I found one of those fundraising web sites and I put myself out there. It wasn’t comfortable and it really stressed me out. I even had a new stream of toxic thoughts that said nobody was going to contribute and people couldn’t afford it and it’s the holiday season and how dare I ask people for money at a time like this? But I have had to put that all away and humble myself enough to allow my friends to support me, because I want this really badly. And being on this side of things has changed my heart a little. You might say it’s grown a few sizes. And it’s been awesome. I feel loved and I feel brave.
I am, however, only halfway to my goal, so I still need some help. If you would like to support my cause, here are the ways you can do it:
- This is the fundraising web site (they use WePay and they take a percentage): Fundly.com
- Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org
- I accept checks if you still like writing those. Email me and I’ll give you an address.
- Or, if you know me, I also accept cash. 🙂
Oh, and one more thing: I’m sorry to anyone whose gifts I rejected at Christmas. That message is particularly for my mother, on the off chance that she reads this.