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  • Stefanie Cohen

Accepting the Gifts

A moment of silence for all that we each have experienced over these past 12 months: ……..…………………………………………………………………………………………………..………………………………………………………………………………………………………...........………......................................................................................................................

This year has been full, for many of us, of exquisitely hard-wo

n lessons. Of both newly-uncovered and familiar pleasures and pain. Of seemingly endless opportunities to embrace challenges. To wade through grief(s). To navigate both closeness and distance.

To sit, sometimes squirming, in not-knowing.

I’m not going to tell you that “everything happens for a reason”.

I’m just not.

I don’t, frankly, believe it, and years ago, during one of the most intensely loss-filled 26 months of my life, I bristled whenever that sentiment was offered to me. But I do sincerely trust that we can discover the gifts in each of the events of our lives — circumstances under which we may come face to face with our strengths, vulnerability, capabilities; with the resources in our relationships, and with our edges of growth.

The greater challenge sometimes lies in accepting them.

I celebrated my birthday last month. (Stay with me for the klunky transition, here. Writing sometimes feels like I imagine surfing to — sometimes, I feel as though I’m carried smoothly aloft, and at others…I slide off my board right under the waves! ) ;)

The day for me was full of presents. I opened my various mailboxes to find friends’ drawings, poetry, sweet heartfelt wishes, and collaged cards. (Lesson #1: keep your artists close!) I allowed myself to truly breathe them all in; to accept and savor them, and to offer gratitude without simultaneously deflecting — with the habitual “No. Really, I couldn’t” that feels, somehow, disingenuous to me. The most significant gift, however, was the one that I offered myself — in making sure that I had an entirely unstructured, unplanned day.

In a transmission, directly from my four-year old self to my present-day one, I offered myself space to meander and the trust that if left to my own devices, I could uncover a day full of satisfying, quiet magic. I enjoyed it so much that I promised to offer that to myself on the regular.

I’m aware that this revelation about the need for open time is not rocket science for many. For me, however, it is in part due to this past year — from both an intense overwhelm and an ever-increasing intolerance for moving incessantly or too quickly from one engagement or task to another — that I have learned some of my own limits. That I have begrudgingly identified and established some boundaries. That I have, as well, with humility, learned how to reach for and gratefully accept support in ways that my 2019 eyes never saw available.

I wish for each of you the space and care to sift through what may feel like the rubble of a year to find the unexpected gifts you may carry forward.



photo by Stefanie Cohen -- altar for the full moon in Cancer, 2020

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