Thursday, December 19, 2013

GIFTS part 1

Not all gifts come wrapped in colorful paper with a pretty bow.  The gifts we give of ourselves, from our hearts, out of love and commitment, are such gifts.  They cannot be confined by space or time, and the exchange may last a lifetime, or a moment. They have many names, and frequently overlap one another - the gift of love, the gift of self-respect and self-esteem, the gift of trust, the gift of family, the gift of compassion and caring, the gift of understanding and forgiveness, and the gift of comfort and security.      

These precious gifts are given silently, without fuss or fanfare.  As a parent we give them to our children.  As husbands or wives we give them to our spouses.  We give them freely to our family, our friends, and when the opportunity arises, to others.  We do this because it is the right thing to do; it is who we are.   

It was well into adulthood when I became fully conscious of the many gifts given to me by my parents, and the role they have played in my life.  These words are a tribute to Josephine and Spartaco Renzulli, my parents to whom I owe so much.

Good things have happened to me in my life; I have been blessed with gifts and opportunities for which I can take no credit.  And in the rare dark days that I have experienced, there were dear friends who cared for me and supported me, helping me move beyond the sadness and pain to a place to heal.
What I have to say about gifts, and my understanding of them, is based on my personal experience with my parents and my family.  These gifts were generously bestowed upon me, by my remarkable parents.  I have tried to pass them on to my children, and to share them with others.  These are the gifts each of us can give to the world.

I was blessed at birth.


One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is a healthy sense of self-esteem, instilling in them the idea that they are persons of worth, healthy that the praise and accolades are appropriate and not mindless and unwarranted.  Excessive, unwarranted praise can be just as damaging as the withholding of approval.

I have grown to appreciate the immense value of this precious gift, and the important role it plays in our lives.  Withholding this gift from a child can have devastating consequences later in life.  It is difficult to pursue dreams and set lofty goals if you feel you are unworthy or undeserving.

Although I was not conscious of it at the time, I grew up feeling good about myself.  This did not prevent me from experiencing the usual adolescent crisis of self-confidence, especially where girls were involved, and later as an adult feeling somewhat uncomfortable in certain social settings.  But even then, at a deeper, core level, I thought of myself as OK, and could not imagine anyone not liking me.  As a parent I wanted to pass this gift on to my children; wanting them to know they were important individuals, and that they were loved.  This meant showing them and telling them. The gifts of self-esteem and love are intrinsically linked; it is difficult to imagine one without the other.   Some parents have a problem with saying, “I love you” to their children, and offer their love by their actions.

To our friends and others, we quietly nurture self-esteem by simply being a friend, offering support, encouragement, and caring.

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