compliments: a gift received is a gift given

The last weeks of school, a colleague and I helped some stellar seniors develop, finesse, and practice their graduation speeches. And they rocked it! As I sat and listened to them, a river of emotions swelled within the banks of my heart: joy, honor, pride, sadness, closure, gratitude, humility.

Naturally after those speeches, as is the blessing of being surrounded by good-hearted people, I was showered with compliments for my coaching. And my responses to those compliments vacillated throughout this range:

“It wasn’t just me.”

Change the subject.

“They worked their asses off.”

<Insert minimizing joke here.>

“So how are you?”

Pretend like I didn’t hear.

Since then, I’ve been reflecting on how I receive compliments. Or rather, sadly, how I reject them: how I catch them, wad them up, pop them in my mouth, chew them, and launch them, with a trail of dangling drool, back at the person. And in my reflection, I reverse the roles, feeling the sting of my own saliva-drenched compliment smacking me in the face. I hate when people reject, minimize, or divert my compliments. I am known to emphatically say when people do so: “Thank you Mary,” as a way to model for them how to respond to my compliment. But to model is not just about creating a sentence frame… to model is to live a certain way, to not just carve a path but to walk first on it…to embrace the receipt of compliments as much as I embrace the gift of compliments.

In my reflection, I’ve wondered: what does a compliment signify? It is a present, bow-tied and delivered with an anticipatory, heavy-lidded bow of the eyes. It is a kiss, echoed in the thundering hooves of a heartbeat. It is a party, decorated with polk-a-dot banners and balloons of joy. It is a standing ovation, a thousand feet rooted into the earth lifting the honored into the sky. It is a rumor of the Divine, sacred glimpses into something beyond the wall-papered halls of humans.

How dare I reject that.

Part of my reflection has been thinking about how I have received other gifts that blossomed from someone’s garden of love. When Dave asked me to marry him–with a ring tucked into a plastic egg from a quarter-operated toy dispenser from CVS, in the red F-150 outside Chili’s during a rain storm, not on his knee physically but only in his heart (and perhaps in his version of the story)–I squealed; I cried; I said “yes;” I leaned in for a kiss; I celebrated; I basked in the moment, elongating it into an eternal ribbon in my heart.

I did not play humble.

I did not change the subject.

I did not pretend like I didn’t hear.

I did not minimize the moment by making a joke.

And in my surrender to the compliment, not only did I receive a gift, but I gave one as well.

When I think of that story, and when I think of my own moments of complimenting others, I realize that giving a compliment is giving a gift. A compliment comes from a place of love, a place of dignity, a place of light.

When I am the recipient, I need to honor–with authenticity and vulnerability and joy and grace–this sacred passing of love, dignity, and light.

Advertisements

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather Wheat
    Jun 11, 2015 @ 09:30:19

    So good. I’ve been on the receiving end of the “Thank you, Mary!” admonishment many times. Love you mean it.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Halyma
    Jun 11, 2015 @ 09:34:49

    Yes. Well times for my own existence and well expressed. Thank you for writing this little piece of reminder.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Curiosity Travels

"Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity."

Young Adventuress

The Solo Female Travel Blog

Young Adventuress

The Solo Female Travel Blog

teaching With "Ang-sigh-eh-tea"

The life of a teacher who struggles with anxiety and depression.

Sampa Sympatico

A Yankee Teacher's Experience of Sao Paulo, Brazil

LINDSAY JILL

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Once Upon a Time in México

Living my dream of teaching, traveling, and discovering culture

Teach. Travel. Taste.

A peek into the life of an American teacher in Colombia

2seetheglobe

Adventures in Globetrotting

Nomad Notions

Tales of Expat Living, Teaching, and Tramping in Taiwan and Beyond.

Sojourners' Journal

“Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people." —Albert Einstein

Middle East by Midwest

Observations and Experiences of Bahrain

Ex(pat) and the City

The life of a twenty-something Canadian living & teaching in Korea.

International Schools Review

ISR Blogs are open to site members and visitors alike. Your Voice Counts.

Teaching - Traveling - Learning

The Life of An International Teacher

LOVE.LIVE.LIFE.ABROAD

THE ADVENTURES OF A NOMADIC TEACHER

pedagogyofthereformed

Teaching in Brooklyn in Spite of Everything

Actively Dying

by Peter Fall Ranger

Practicing Presence

An attempt at mindfulness in life, learning, and love

chanyado

Chanyado. Shade. Respite from the sun. A place under the tree to rest my head, and wiggle my toes out in the sun.

The Educationista

Life. Lessons. Inspiration.

Words Half Heard

writing into meaning.

gadflyonthewallblog

"To sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth."

Greatfull

A snapshot of my journey to living each day with gratitude and striving to be full of greatness

Imperfect Happiness

Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. ~ Mary Oliver

tspelczech

"I'm too old to live my life in fear of dumb people." - Charlie Skinner, The Newsroom

Perfectly Pleased

I take the little moments of life and write about them. Always with Love.

Cultivate Clarity

creative writing and mindfulness-based coaching, workshops, and retreats

Crawling Out of the Classroom

In everything that my students and I do together, we strive to find ways to use reading and writing to make the world outside of our classroom a better place for all of us to be

ADVENTURES ON THE YOGA MAT

writing into meaning.

AFFECTIVE LIVING

Teaching. Learning. Living.

Mostly True Stories of K. Renae P.

My Adventures in Teaching and Learning

candidkay

Taking the journey, bumps and all

jenny's lark

the beauty of an ordinary life

Nonlinear Compilations

Parenting, teaching, writing, and learning to find beauty in the present

Education Thunk

Thoughts and musings on education as it is, was and will be.

talk from chalk

What I've learned while teaching

Thoughtful teaching

Thoughts on teaching in the modern world.

Hope, Honor, and Happiness

A blog for the book “Kingdom of the Sun” and discussions on finding the Hope, Honor, and Happiness in education, life, and the seemingly impossible.

Secret Teacher

Life inside the primary classroom

A Confederacy of Spinsters

Sex, Dating, and Surviving Your Twenties

Miss Four Eyes

Seeing twice as much absolutely counts as a super power.

SCC ENGLISH

writing into meaning.

%d bloggers like this: