Gifts in Exile

The next three weeks of The Writer’s Journey Roadmap will feature three questions by author and consultant, Peter Block.

“What are the gifts I’m still keeping in exile?”

–Peter Block

Answer this question. Answer it with your full heart, without holding back.


  1. Fran Stekoll says

    Three fears: Living long enough to fulfill my dream of my Mothers retreat
    Not passing away before I have enough in the bank to care for me so my family won’t have to.
    Staying healthy and losing weight to fulfill the rest of my life in good shape

  2. Fran Stekoll says

    The gift of sharing myself totally with my world through writing
    The gift I need to give myself to get in shape
    The gift of having enough in my bank to take care of me so my kids won’t have to

  3. Hazel Muller says

    One gift that I feel is still in exile is being recognized as a good writer, a wordsmith, with a published book with a real publishing firm, not just my own self-published ones. I work hard and really make an effort to produce the best product I can but still not many will even take a look at my books.

    Another gift would be to free my mind from this crippled, painful body. I am not sure that is a gift I could give myself and still exsist on this plane.

    • says

      Hazel, I know its hard to not have that outside recognition, and it is a powerful affirmation to have it, but even when you have a “real” publisher–it’s still up to the author to get their work into the hands of their readers. Publishers really don’t help with this anymore–unless you’re at the very tippy-top of the author pecking author. We writers are expected to write–and to find our own readers. That’s just the way the game has evolved after so many years. It’s sad, but true.

      • Bobbie Anne says

        Thanks Hazel and Laura for your post. I’m a writer and poet as well. These are gifts that were in exile for a bit for me, but no longer. Writers write. That’s what we do in a blog, letter, story or poem. I write everyday. Getting published is icing on the cake. The words matter. If what you write makes someone happy or empowered or inspired you are sharing your gifts!

  4. Jennifer Ire says

    The gifts I have exiled:
    My love of and abilities with math. I exiled this during my adult college experiences it was easier to put it down than continue trying to persevere through the harassment of being female and black and good at math.
    My love of words and writing, which came with a sometimes overactive imagination. That fled while writing a dissertation.
    My gift for making delicious, tasty nutritious food for friends. Life has set me down where it is impossible to do this for other than myself, such a treat.

    • Debbie says

      Jennifer – I also grew up in a time where girls were not supposed to be better in math than the boys. But I was and still am. What I enjoy the most is integrating that left brain function into my right brained creativity. Just an interesting thought – I have always like cooking because, for me, it combined the formulas & ratios of mathematical structures with the creativity of flavor, color, texture. I am glad you are beginning to name and reclaim your gifts.

  5. Vicki says

    I have no idea. Does this refer to gifts I’m withholding from myself? Gifts I could be sharing with or giving to others? I’m drawing a complete blank on this one. It’s probably good experience for me to learn that some days words will pour out of me in a beautiful and meaningful way, and other days, not. Maybe this is just a part of the process?

    • Ilana says

      Vicki- Thank you for sharing with us the steps you went to to respond to this prompt. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who struggles sometimes. As I looked at your final entry “Peace” my response was, “What a beautiful word.” IM

  6. Ilana says

    What Gifs am I Holding in Exile?

    All of them. When I was a baby my grandmother used to love me. She died when I was very young. I don’t remember this happening but my mother told me about it. “Oh how she loved you. She’d pull up your tee shirt and blow in your belly. She would tell you how beautiful you were.” She could have stopped there. She should have stopped there. Had she stopped there I would have had something beautiful to hold onto instead of the weapon she gave me to flog myself with. But my mother was never good at holding back harmful information. “Grandpa Solly used to tell her not to do that.” She spat out in disgust.

    Grandma Rachel was my mother’s mother and Grandpa Solly, my father’s father. My mother hated him for the same reasons she hated my father. Her declarations of their flaws was the background music of my life; always humming softly, just out of view or taking center stage in her frequent rants against both men. But I digress. Grandpa Solly used to tell Grandma Rachel not to tell me I was beautiful because “It’ll go to her head.”

    There were hundreds of other reasons why I taught myself never to acknowledge anything good about Little Ilana but this one was concrete, comprehensible to my child mind. It became a hard and fast rule, “Don’t ever let anything go to your head. It’s unattractive and you’ll be proving Grandpa Solly right.” I carefully deconstructed my face in the mirror. ‘Ugly’ I chanted to myself. ‘ugly ugly ugly.’ What I said, ‘stupid.’ What I thought, ‘wrong’. If ever I did catch myself thinking something nice I remembered Grandpa Solly’s words. “It’ll go to her head.” I carefully exiled all my gifts in order to keep his prediction from coming true.

    I suppose it will be hard for you to believe that. I have responded readily to prompts like “Tell me about a time you did something with excellence.” And “Make a list of the five things you are most proud of.” Yes, in this safe space I have pushed those limits and complimented myself but all the while Grandpa Solly’s voice lay like a shadow over me. “What if they think I’m high on myself?” But it was what Laura had asked for so I had committed the egregious sin of acknowledging my gifts. Fearfully and with misgivings I forced out beautiful thoughts about myself. I think I even apologized when responding to a comment on the excellence one, saying “I’m not saying I did it better than anyone else but better than I do other things.” I’ll do my best not to apologize now. So, with your permission I will answer the question. What gifts did I have that I exiled in order to keep from “letting it go to my head”?

    To make it easier I will concentrate on that little girl. That tiny, shy, terrified little girl I have come to think of as “Little Ilana”. May I tell you about her? Please? I spent so many years hating her but she really was a lovely child. Wow. It was so hard to say that. I’ve been staring at my computer screen for several minutes trying not to delete it. As I stare at the words visions of her tangled hair and scrawny little body float through my mind, challenging my right to say anything nice about her. She was, though; lovely, I mean.

    Little Ilana cared so deeply for those around her. She was sweet and kind. Never could bear to snub anyone or leave them out of a game. She was good with shy kids because she understood them. She was very gentle with others. At summer camp, a place where she did feel safe, she would draw all of the shy kids out of their shells. There was one girl in her tent who she nick named “Face” because, according to Little Ilana, she had such a beautiful face. The girl wasn’t really all that pretty but she was nice and to Little Ilana that was the same thing. Face had happily accepted her nickname and for three wonderful weeks the entire tent affectionately called them “Face” and “Short-Stuff.” She was fiercely loyal. If anyone said something mean about a friend of hers or worse her family she never forgave them.

    When Little Ilana was a freshman in college, yes she was still freakishly small so the name still fit, she was out with friends one night. She looked up into the sky and saw a million diamonds scattered across an enormous swatch of deep black velvet. “Look how beautiful.” She breathed. “Oh, they’re there every night.” Someone said with a dismissive air. “I never take that for granted.” She replied. He had called her cynical but I think he was the cynical one. She was taking the time to appreciate the beauty around her. Little Ilana never took a pleasure for granted, no matter how small. She loved hot showers, the sound of rain outside her window, the way it felt to crawl into bed when she was tired or the sound of the wind in the trees. As a matter of fact her ability to appreciate a blessing, no matter how small, truly was a gift.

    Little Ilana had lots of gifts but I exiled every single one of them. I hated her for being unacceptable to the grammar school teachers and the other kids in junior high. I hated her for not being able to earn the right to not be abused by her brothers and parents. I hated her for being so small and timid. I hated her intensely just for being her. I am now embroiled in the battle to reconnect with that little girl. I need to honor her gifts. I need to establish a new understanding of her. I so desperately need to love her. It’s a long road but I’m not going to give up.

    I’ve written so many fanciful stories about her, trying to appreciate who she truly was. I’ve spent hours looking at pictures of her, trying to see the beauty in those big chocolate colored eyes. I want to feel sad for her and rage against the people who abused and mistreated her. I want to see her as an innocent victim of their abuses rather than the disgusting little creature who deserved what she got. I want to thank her as the hero who survived all of it so that I could live. She did it for me, so that I could grow up to be the wife, the mother, the woman that I am today. I want to love her and finally let in her beautiful gifts. I’m not there yet but someday… Someday I am going to accept her as the lovely child that I know she truly was.

      • Vicki says

        Ilana, You have been heard. I hear and feel every word you wrote. Thank you so much for sharing what you did. It is painful to have hurt so deeply as a child. For me it just carried on and on and on into my adulthood, affecting every choice I ever made in my life and every thought I ever had about myself. Now, in my late 50’s, things are much better. There’s more growth ahead, but I feel so free of many of those old pains now. It can happen for you, too. It probably IS happening for you right now. You just may not feel it yet. Don’t give up. All the qualities you shared about Little Ilana are a part of grown up Ilana. If you go back and read all the good words about her, guess what? They are YOU!

    • says

      Wow, Ilana, that was one of the most honest, beautifully rendered healing stories I’ve ever read (and you know I’ve read thousands!). I was particularly moved by this section: ”

      To make it easier I will concentrate on that little girl. That tiny, shy, terrified little girl I have come to think of as “Little Ilana”. May I tell you about her? Please? I spent so many years hating her but she really was a lovely child. Wow. It was so hard to say that. I’ve been staring at my computer screen for several minutes trying not to delete it. As I stare at the words visions of her tangled hair and scrawny little body float through my mind, challenging my right to say anything nice about her. She was, though; lovely, I mean.”

      You courage, your passion, your commitment to yourself and your healing shine out of every word in this piece. And beyond that, it’s beautifully rendered. The words sing. Bravo, Ilana. (And I like how close “bravo” is to “brave!”)

    • Terry Gibson says

      Hi Ilana. What you’ve written here is just so passionate, it makes me teary. Your descriptions are so vivid that I couldn’t help but identify with that beautiful, loving child. Thank you for that. Nobody should have ever hurt you. Hurt us. Made you stop loving little Ilana. I smile knowing that you are reacquainting yourself with her and cherishing her with gentleness and compassion.

      • Ilana says

        Vicki, Laura and Terry- I cried as I read all of your responses. Thank you so much. This piece really did dig to the depths of my hurt. It was very difficult to write but I think what I learned both by writing it and by reading your responses, is definitely worth the effort. I am more sure now than ever that I will one day be able to love that little girl. Thank you again, sIMz

        • Vicki says

          Ilana you already do love that little girl. You just can’t feel it yet, but you will.That little girl sure does love you and is glad you’re not so scared now. Take care.

          • Ilana says

            Vicki- That still seems so far away but I have trusted these kinds of predictions before and they have always come true. I will cling to yours as I did those of my sister-survivors in the past. I hope one day to look back on this and smile… Thank you again, IM

    • Jennifer Ire says

      Thanks for speaking this. Thanks for the confirmation that my life was not so unusual after all. The words to me were” You’re no good like your damn father.” I can testify that the other side of the journey is wonderful. The love of your little girl will be amazing and so very sweet it will heal your heart. I trust you will get there soon and enjoy knowing you as you are. Enjoy the journey and the sweetness that awaits. Thanks so very much

      • Ilana says

        Thank you, Jennifer. It is amazing to realize that others can understand how I feel. I thought I was the only one and that my feelings were unwarranted and made no sense. So lucky to have found so many to share with once I broke the silence. IM

    • Debbie says

      Ilana – I once read somewhere that the most devastating enemies are not those without but those that take up residence and live in our heads. I am glad you on the journey to bring this beautiful little girl’s gifts back from “exile”. You did survive! You are here and so is she. Much of what you identify as her gifts I have seen reflected in your writing over the past year. Maybe, eventually, some of the compliments can “go to your head” and take up residence – kicking Grandpa Solly’s critical voice out once and for all!

      • Ilana says

        Thank you Debbie. I hope you are right. In the past year I have changed things about myself that I once thought were a permanent part of my identity. Who knows? Maybe I can boot Grandpa Solly out of my head forever. Will keep working at it until I die, though.

        • Patricia says

          I am supposed to be somewhere — and I can’t pull myself away from your sharing, llana! And all the comments.

          I will take the time to read every word of your story and each response when I have the time later in the day.

          Thank you all for such rich sharing and beautiful writing……sigh…..That ‘Little Ilana’ comes through loud and clear to me — and she IS lovely and much. much more!

          Solly came through as a dark, menacing force of negativity and abuse. I have heard so many stories from people in my life — who, when confronting their inner Sollys, have said they had to make the choice to end it. Choice.

          One of my friends was abused well into his teens. When he was 35, he came to the realization that the abuse lived on in his mind — through negative, punishing self talk — even tho he had not seen the person since he was 18. That was the beginning of letting go and making different choices — with support and caring people.

          SO GLAD you shared! You are LOVELY!

          • says

            Patricia, sorry for the delay in getting your comments up–I only have to approve the first time someone posts. Now that I’ve approved your posts, they should go up immediately from here on out. I love that you were spellbound by the writing here.

  7. Terry Gibson says

    What I Keep in Exile

    So much! Myself.

    Today is another day where my I-hate-Terry self is reigning supreme. I haven’t felt this for about a month so it’s feeling bumpy and intense.

    I exile my ability to feel free. At these times, I sting and stab myself (figuratively) repeatedly with people’s previous and current judgments of who or what I am. Then I practically brandish a gun to ‘finish off any budding confidence’ with the onslaught of people’s bigotry as evidenced in the buildup to the US election in November. (Wait. Let me clarify. It’s everywhere in Canada too. Our government has gone so far backwards, I can’t bear to think of the future.)

    If I ever had a chance to meet my younger self (as I may have, had I had a daughter), I would be gentle with her. I’d approach her without loud noises, knowing she was jittery because of the bloody fist fights during which she witnessed and felt sheer terror. I would listen to her. She needed that badly. I would stay engaged with her. When she mispronounced her latest ‘big’ word acquisition, thanks to her love of reading, I’d repeat the word, very tenderly, with her until she got it right; after all, that’s what excited her–words and using them well.

    If she tried to tell me about what the uncle did to her, I would reassure her she’d never be hurt again and I’d see to it. And if she confided her secret to me, how happy she was that that uncle thought she was “special,” like he told her, I’d wince inside to hear her innocent vulnerability, happy to get any attention she craved in between long periods of neglect. I’d rage inside that her own uncle took advantage of that precious child by manipulating her emotions.

    I’d treasure her, answer all her little girl questions, for she was an inquisitive little beast. From opening her eyes every morning, until she collapsed into sleep every night, she was keen to learn about every single thing her eyes alighted upon. I would take her back to Brownies straight away, having felt her deep disappointment at never being allowed to go back–just because it made her little self happy. I’d never lock her in a closet, teaching her to confine and restrain herself until she didn’t know how to grow any more. Until the point where, as an adult, in a whole apartment, she’d inhabit only an eighth of it–so used to being locked into a box-like space.

    I’d take pictures of her, so she’d know she was important and loved and worth having her picture on the wall. She’d know I valued her more than the world itself and would always be there for her. I’d never isolate her from her little friends. Who could do that to such a naturally social soul who loves people?

    I would never shame her. Humiliate her. Ridicule her. I’d help her explore all her interests and gifts, not regiment her high school subjects in later years either, railroading her into being someone I want her to be. However, I would guide her, provide structure and safety. I would make her feel as vital to the bigger world out there as anybody else; she’d learn that nobody is better than her, that we’re all equal. Above all, I’d instill her with the knowledge that her body was beautiful and that a woman’s sexuality is a gift, not an evil, as depicted in society from the beginning of time. She could love whomever she chose and I would reassure her that anybody who has captured her heart would be welcome at my table any day.

    Finally, having stepped back a bit, I would encourage her never to return her unopened gifts. I would tell her to “Go for it!”

    In that spirit, I will try to let this exercise help me let up a bit on myself. Then I will slowly but consistently begin shaking and tearing the tape off the many gifts I was given.

    • Ilana says

      Terry- Awesome. The whole thing. At first when you said you were having a I-hate-Terry day I thought this piece was going to go very differently. Instead you turned it into a picture of how things should have been. Reading it I felt like I was crawling under a warm cozy blanket, a safe place where the children are all treated gently, with love and tenderness. I enjoyed reading it but in addition it is helping me in my own writing. I am trying to honor “Little Ilana” by having John and his wife Lily (from my book) treat her the way she needs and deserves to be treated. You’ve given me a great place to start. Thank you! IM

      • Terry Gibson says

        Once again, I’m sending you a huge thanks, Ilana. It seems we bounced off each other on this prompt. Your exquisite piece brought me out of my mood as I read and then wrote. Your portrayal of little Ilana gave my younger self flight! I don’t look at her very often but suddenly I was, and with as much compassion, love and tenderness as I would feel befriending you or another sweet victimized child. I’m so proud of us both! Can’t wait to give you a hug, if it feels okay to you.

        • Ilana says

          :) I’m sure it will be, Terry. You’ll recognize me. I have chosen to go by Ilana that weekend. Yes, I think we really did bounce off each other this week. Here’s to helping each other. IM

          • Terr Gibson says

            As Laura says to us prior to a retreat, “It will all be okay.” Simple. Succinct. I cling to those words all the time. When they tell me at the airport I have to give up that piece of carry-on luggage, I offer gifts of Canadian maple syrup instead. Although I don’t carry the stuff around like toothpaste. :)

    • Debbie says

      Terry – mostly I will echo what Laura and Ilana have already expressed – tear open those gifts! and what a wonderful place you would have created for little Terry! And as I read, the adult Terry kept coming up before my eyes and in my mind – especially with this paragraph “I’d take pictures of her, so she’d know she was important and loved and worth having her picture on the wall. She’d know I valued her more than the world itself and would always be there for her. I’d never isolate her from her little friends. Who could do that to such a naturally social soul who loves people?”

      I thought of you at the retreat this summer and how people were drawn to you, your wickedly dry sense of humor, how your eyes light up with mischief – all the while observing others with kindness. Seems like you are creating many aspects of the life you describe already for yourself, and those lucky enough to spend time with you.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Debbie, thanks. Your words make me smile, especially the last paragraph. I’m thinking: She’s on to me. What to do now? Hmm. Let me see…

  8. Jennifer Ire says

    Looking into this prompt again last night I discovered another way to look at it. I first did the gifts meaning talents or skills. Last night I found gifts to have another implication for me. I can’t remember to sequence of thought that led me here but it was more interesting than the first.
    I hope this is allowed, but I needed to shout this aloud to the world.

    The gifts I have exiled are:
    The gift of abundance of every good kind: Instead I made decisions that brought me an abundance of student loan debt that seem to be a particular kind of cancerous growth.
    The gift of home and land. When I saw how my grandfather was cheated out of the land that was his home, I believe that I exile my desire and expectation that I can receive land and home.
    The gift of kindness: As the person who exemplified kindness was taken away from me I decided that I could not find kindness in this world, and turned towards those who would be unkind, and that is what I have found.
    The gift of simplicity: Life in my home country was simple and due to experiences there I left in search of something exiling simplicity in favor of complexity that is not understandable to me.
    The gift of friendship: As a stranger in a strange land with so many barriers to deep friendships, I have made friends. I find that in my friends’ worlds after twenty years I am generally their only friend, black, immigrant friend. A lonely type of friendship which I am not certain they notice.
    The gift of an enjoyable life: In Trinidad the purpose of life in enjoyment. We live to experience enjoyment even when times are hard, I believe especially when life is hard. Our Carnival is particularly the means for us to dance off the year’s aggravations or troubles or whatever and for two days occupy the streets and dance and dance and dance away those troubles allowing the psyche to be free and open to a new possibility the next year. I exiled myself to a country where sometimes I feel joy is a sin. I have not been able to afford to return for Carnival since I exiled that gift of abundance by doing a masters’ degree and receiving debt in return. That is a killer of joy.

    • says

      Jennifer, you responded perfectly. I especially loved this, even though it made me feel bereft since I am product of my driven, workaholic, non-joy affirming culture. Thank you for naming it so baldly:

      “The gift of an enjoyable life: In Trinidad the purpose of life in enjoyment. We live to experience enjoyment even when times are hard, I believe especially when life is hard. Our Carnival is particularly the means for us to dance off the year’s aggravations or troubles or whatever and for two days occupy the streets and dance and dance and dance away those troubles allowing the psyche to be free and open to a new possibility the next year. I exiled myself to a country where sometimes I feel joy is a sin. I have not been able to afford to return for Carnival since I exiled that gift of abundance by doing a masters’ degree and receiving debt in return. That is a killer of joy.”

      • Jennifer Ire says

        Yeah, I had to say it to myself. I had to face that so I can release it and turn it around. Felt like I was hiding from myself, not taking responsibility for the results on me of what I decided to do. Now I feel free.
        Maybe I will go home for a visit soon. I am smiling already.

      • Debbie says

        Jennifer – thank you for sharing that not all cultures place the highest value on how much can be done in the shortest period of time. I have struggled with this aspect of US life that you name. Joy does feel like a sin, and frivolous and without value. And yet, without joy our souls starve and wither. Your writing makes me want to learn the dance steps of Carnival, to be able to join in this tradition of dancing away the cares of the past year in order to be open to what is yet to come – with joy!

    • Ilana says

      Jenifer- Isn’t it an amazing feeling to learn something from your writing? Then to want to shout it aloud to the world! I hope you do recapture the beauty and that it is as wonderful as you remember it. Then selfishly, perhaps, I hope you write about it and share it with all of us. IM

      • Jennifer Ire says

        Yes it is. And it is so surprising when I find the courage to say it out loud. It takes me out of the idea that I am alone and special or different, either in the experiences I think I alone have had, or the insights they have brought me. Then the joy comes in from being simply human with every other human there is.

  9. Debbie says

    I was still new to archetypal symbols that would, eventually, become second nature to me. That is why the stark outline of an open hand with the spiral design etched into the palm was so intriguing. It was hanging on the wall of a small store on the streets of Hillsborough, NC. Not a hotbed of integrative medicine in the mid-90’s – or even now, for that matter.

    Somehow I had made a cosmic connection with this small shop, resulting a rare afternoon off from school and work, indulgently sauntering up and down the aisles of the recently opened store. The owner was engaged in a animated conversation with another customer so I was free to browse. And that is when I saw it, this primal drawing of the hand and spiral.

    Not yet being schooled in all of the “official” meaning or rituals, I had only my intuitive response to guide me. I was pulled toward this piece of artwork with an unrelenting attraction. Moving directly in front of it, I studied it closely. Dark sooty lines made up the outline of the fingers but a much more delicate touch had been applied to the creation of the spiral design. Somehow the artist had been able to blend primary colors into a gentle stream that filled the shallow spiraled canals with the look of a frozen rainbow and slight shimmer when it caught the light.

    I felt the desire of intrinsic to my generation to possess this thing of such attraction and beauty. Glancing at the price tag, I sucked in my breath. No way on the pittance of an income I currently lived on as a nursing student! Looking over my shoulder I checked out the inhabitants of the shop. The owner remained engaged in conversation with another woman.

    Feeling somewhat sheepish, I reached my own hand up to touch the stylized hand hanging on the wall. My forefinger traced along the outline of the thumb. Then continued along the remaining fingers until I could go no further and the line ended. Still, I could not pull myself away from the mesmerizing image. As if in a dream, I reached up and laid my hand into the outline.

    The physical sensation that immediately started in my own palm took me completely off guard. Quickly, I pulled my hand back, turned it over and started dumbly at it as if I expected to see the spiral had jumped off the wall and onto me. Interestingly I also noted the sensation lessened dramatically when I pulled my hand away , but it did not stop entirely.

    Being in need of more empirical evidence than one experience, I placed my hand into the smoky outline once again. And, once again, the energetic connection was made from this spiral of the artwork into my living flesh. This time when I pulled back in amazement, the sensation did not end.

    “Can I help you?” I nearly jumped out of my skin as the shop owner came up behind me. Struggling to gain my composure, I stammered something about how interesting and unique this artwork of the hand with the spiral was. Her detailed explanations of the origin and continued meaning of this symbol barely registered. I could not draw my attention away from the tingling in my arms and hands.

    Sheepishly, I summoned all of my courage and asked “Have you ever heard of someone whose own hands tingled and reacted to this artwork?” At that, she paused in her lecture and looked at me more closely over the top of her glasses. “Are you sensing something from this healing hand?” she asked me. Even though I was blushing deeply in embarrassment and feeling like a complete lunatic, I answered honestly “Yes, I am. When I put my hand into the outline and then pull it away – well, I get this strange warmth and tingling in my palms.”

    There was what seemed to me an interminable silence as my words hung in the air. When she spoke again, the tone of her voice had changed from librarian to that of a wise crone. “Let me show you a special area in the book section that might be of interest to you.” And with that she turned and walked even deeper into the store, back into the musty recesses of the old building. I followed behind mostly because it didn’t feel like I had a choice. As I caught up with the shop owner, she was just pulling a slim manual from the shelf. “This is something you should read” she announced with conviction.

    I looked at the title “Therapeutic Touch; A Practical Guide” by Janet Macrae. Seemed harmless enough. “What does this cost?” I asked. “Normally it is $5.95 but we are having a special grand opening sale today so, for you” she paused, ” only $3.00. Fifty percent off.” I already knew I was going to buy it and so did she.

    I glanced back as I left the shop in the waning afternoon. The shop owner was standing in the door watching me walk to my car. She seemed younger and more vibrant than before with a soft golden glow that seemed to surround her. Maybe it was just a trick of the light..

    The gift I have been holding in exile is the gift of healing I can bring with my hands. When I was actively practicing as a hospice nurse, the energetic assessments I performed using my hands where at least as accurate as those with modern equipment and techniques. As I moved away from beside care of dying patients, there were less opportunities to share this gift with others. Or so I thought.

    Over the past twelve months, I have begun to get the tingling in my hands and palms again. I have found myself drawn to approach people I barely know to offer the possibility that I might be able to help them relieve pain, calm a headache, or ease an aching joint. Now that I am paying attention, I see there are many opportunities to practice this healing art within my current life and responsibilities.

    It feels arrogant and bold to state, healing energy flows through me, through my hands. Though I long to feel “special” this gift often causes me to feel “different” instead. What I do clearly understand is that I am merely the conduit for something much greater. And if I can get out of my own way, stay centered and quiet the ego – what flows through me helps others.

    As I put my life back together after the devastation of the past year, it feels important to overcome my hesitancy and concerns so that I might continue to find ways to serve and share my healing hands

    • Jennifer Ire says

      What a wonderful experience. It is not, in my experience, arrogant of you to state what you experience and have confirmed. Thanks for recognizing your gift and using it. I am happy that it came out of exile. Thanks.

    • Ilana says

      What a beautiful story, Debbie- I could feel my own hands tingling in response to your writing. It is beautiful to find something to value in yourself. It is strange how once I know a person, even in the virtual way I know you, hearing them say something good about themselves is wonderful. It does not feel like you are being arrogant, just sharing with us what your gifts are. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. IM

  10. Bobbie Anne says

    Thanks for sharing your story! Your vivid description of the painting and the surrounding was well done. Please continue to use your therapeutic touch on others, even if you barely know them. There is nothing more marvelous than helping others relieve their pain.

  11. Bobbie Anne says

    I have the gift of encouragement! While It wasn’t in exile, I was in short supply of it when it came to myself. I could help others, but as a caregiver for several family members, I tend to forget myself. Well, that is going to stop. In fact, I’m grateful for this blog. I thank all who have posted here. This is a special space. Right now, I am encouraging Bobbie Anne to keep right on going. Everything will be all right.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Yay, Bobbie Anne. Encouragement is like a bulletproof window to me. I give it but have needed to learn how to do it for myself. It gives me the strength to venture away from my window. So, consider me staggering into your livingroom, wobbling under the weight of a huge box. It’s yours now; I’m shy so I’m gone. Your gift awaits. We can all share it back and forth. What d’ya say? Can I have dibs for part of December? Anyone else need time? :)

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