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And the hidden key to the majesty of life

How to Give without Being Burned

If you’ve read Lewis Caroll’s Chronicles of Narnia, innocence is like the key to the cabinet that takes you into the wondrous kingdom of life. 

So let’s start with examining what it is.

Like most people, I used to believe innocence meant “without corruption or wrongdoing.” I thought it was a naive childish quality that got replaced with experience. Whatever it was, I didn’t want to have it anymore. 

However, I now see it as a faculty that allows us to get into the soft, fleshy sinews of life. 
One of my favorite poets, David Whyte, wrote: 

I see innocence now as a lifeline to the majesty of our world. However, as we grow, the splinters of time get lodged under our skin, wounding this inborn impulse to give and “be found by a waiting world.”
The grace here is that our innocence can never be lost or tarnished. It’s always there. It’s just topped off with a thick dry crust, like a ball of dough forgotten on the kitchen counter. It is waiting for us to pry it apart with our bare hands and fill our nostrils with its fragrant bloom. 

So how do you reclaim your innocence?
You give of yourself fully. 

Simple as that.
Give yourself over to laughter. Give yourself over to nonsense. Give yourself over to love. 

Give yourself over to the grass underneath your feet. Give yourself over to the calls of inspiration. Give yourself over to the light shafts parting your sadness in the shower. 

Give yourself over to giddiness when you show up for yourself. Give yourself over to awe. Give yourself over to the person who has consistently shown you care. 

Give yourself over to this grand tumble of life and let out a few weeees! from the spin. 

Don’t hold yourself back from being found by our waiting world. 
If you’re wondering what that means, spend a few hours with children and let them show you the way. 

This winter, I had the beautiful chance of spending time with children. Many of my friends are budding mothers, and so when I visit them, I get to partake
in their exhausting worlds scribbled with questions, mess, and make-believe. 
One of my favorite moments was spending the day with a 6 year old girl named Tara and her 5 year old brother Jay in N. California. 
I will never forget the moment I met them. As they stole shy glances at me in their classroom, filled with parents, they were scanning me for something. It was like their eyes were asking: Is she one of them or is she one of us?

Whatever it was, I luckily had it as they quickly opened up to me afterwards, inviting me into their magical world. However, I noticed they did not do this with everyone. 
What was this thing? 

As I was listening to them sing their heart out in the car, laugh their heart out from nonsensical questions at dinner, swing their heart out in the backyard zipline hung on Douglas Firs, I realized what it was.

It was innocence, which I realized was one of the most overlooked gateways to deep rich living. 
So here goes my first distillation of the year. 

What is Innocence and Why is It Important?

Teachers come in tiny packages.

Of course, innocence doesn’t mean giving of yourself blindly. There’s a difference between childish naiveté and what I call seasoned innocence. This is innocence accompanied by wise discernment. 

What is the fine line between deconstructive armoring and constructive boundary setting?

It has taken me many years to clarify this line. For now, I think it all comes down to recognizing where the feelings are coming from. Is the impulse to withhold yourself coming from some fear running on autopilot or is it coming from your intuitive wisdom? 
For example, for many years, I was afraid of speaking live. This quite literally hindered my ability to be found by the world. This was deconstructive armoring that needed gentle unraveling and the brave choice to fully give myself in spite of the fear.

On the other hand, occasionally, I’d meet someone who I just didn’t receive a good feeling from. After a few interactions, I felt there was no alignment in core values, like reciprocity. In those cases, I chose not to give of myself, and instead, saved that energy for others who were aligned. 

The Journal

The Journal

PS: If you'd like a guided journey to unlocking this door and join a community of givers, check out my Unravel program. It is the shortest, most systematic, and clear path to the life that makes you feel most alive, held in the most beautiful community that will make your marrows bloom. 

How Do We Reclaim
Our Innocence?

7 year old Dandan allowing herself to be found by a waiting world, 
with her little brother along the N. Californian coast.

Seasoned Innocence

Giving Is Worth the Risk and Occasional Pain

Despite the richness that giving brings, we still see more cost associated with it than reward. The dominant belief is that giving makes you susceptible to getting taken advantage of. Giving of yourself leads to heartbreak and short ends of the straw. 

Unfortunately, in a world where our dominant culture is one of taking, this is often true. 
Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, came out with a TED talk: “Are you a giver or a taker?” In it, he identifies three kinds of people: givers, matchers, and takers. 

I’m a giver, so I've had my fair share of unreciprocal relationships. Yet, when I pulled back from giving, it felt like I cut the flow of my energy. It felt like I was closing the lid on the natural unfurling of who I was and my creative expression with the world. 

It has taken me a long windy road to discern my balance. At the end, I still believe giving is more than worth it, even if it brings the occasional burn. 

Because time and time again, I have found that the most exquisite relationships are formed when giving is met with giving. When givers come together, souls take flight. Marrows burst with ooey gooey goodness. 
You realize that withholding your giving is like robbing yourself of the deepest joys life can offer. 
Then slowly, at some point, you notice that when you give, it is the same as receiving. 

In fact, in my Unravel community, this is one of the most surprising findings of our members. The ones who transform the most are the ones who also give of themselves- they not only take the program, but support others and share their truths. 

I also want to clarify how giving has nothing to do with money. It is instead an orientation to the world. 
I’ll leave this distillation with the wise words of Robin Wall Kimmerer, a beloved botanist and writer. She writes: 

I love that. 
If you’re wondering what he means, look at the flower- the way it opens and allows itself to be found by the bees, the sun, and the hummingbird. 
Look at the sandy shore- the way it allows itself to be found by the crashing waves, our footprints, and countless other flippers. 

Look at the kiddos around you- the way they allow themselves to be found by each other and the day, as if every moment was a tin-foiled chocolate egg that presented a surprise. They allow enchantment to find them. 

In other words, to be found by a waiting world requires that we fully give of ourselves. We cannot be found if we are still hiding or barricaded inside our own defenses. 
At the heart of innocence, then, is generosity. 

Innocence is not something to be replaced by experience. It’s something to be kept alive as a precious flame. Innocence is your ability to allow yourself to be found by a waiting world, and to be found in a different way than the you were found yesterday.

We are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep. Their life is in their movement, the inhale and the exhale of our shared breath. Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put out into the universe will always come back.

Every moment can leave better, because it passed through you. Don't settle when you get your needs met. Pass something on, return favors with more, and watch your life take on a sweetness it's never known before. 
When you fully give of yourself, you also allow yourself to be found by a waiting world. It is standing on its tiptoes with bated breath, peering over the walls you have built, eager to make magic with you. 

The key is already in your hands. You just have to unlock the door. 
Peeping through with you,

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