Spark Inspiration

Giving Tree

As a child, one of my favorite stories was the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. If you have not read this book or it’s been a long time, here’s a brief synopsis. It begins with, “Once there was a tree and she loved a little boy…” At the beginning, their relationship benefits them both. But over the years, the boy returns only to take things she has to give (apples for money, branches to build his house, trunk to build a boat). Until all that is left of her is a stump.

Apple treeFrom my child’s mind, the message of the book was simple; give all you can to make other people happy. This was a message I took to heart. It was also a message reinforced by my parents, teachers and society. Good people give everything they have until nothing is left. There is something sadly romantic about this notion. But what I have learned is that it’s not romantic. It can feel stressful, lonely and empty.

As an adult, it has taken mindfulness and focus to overcome this early message and choose to live differently. However, it’s tempting, especially over the holidays, to give away all of my time, energy and resources to others. I want to find just the right gift. I want everyone to enjoy delicious meals and treats. I want to make time to join in the holiday festivities. But what this can really end up looking like is spending more money than I want, cooking in the kitchen rather than enjoying my guests, and being so stressed for time that I can’t breathe.

So remember this as you move through your holidays and throughout the year. Check in with yourself about you want. It may not always seem clear. There can be so many competing demands. But stop and think about what would feel good to you. Does it feel light? Do you feel relief? Or does it feel like trudging through mud? You may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. You may feel closer to the people in your life, including yourself. What a gift it can be to know and share your truest self.

At the end of the day, it is these seemingly small decisions and actions that make up how you experience your life. What life experiences do you want to choose to create?

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