Gifts that Keep on Giving: Your Story & Your Spare Parts!

Beth Jarman wrote to tell me about the holiday party she and her husband George Land are planning for their business partners from Mexico. “It is a great time, renewing connections and sharing stories. We have an annual white elephant gift which can only be something that has no redeeming value,” she says.

I started to wonder how many gifts we give without knowing we have outdone ourselves by presenting a white elephant.

Then I recalled this Native American wisdom:

Tell me a fact and I’ll listen.
Tell me a truth and I’ll learn.
But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.

Give the gift of story – it keeps on giving! And while you’re considering other gifts to pass on from your storehouse of abundance, have you ever thought about your spare body parts?

Last holiday season I sent out a story from my circle of friends in British Columbia. If you were on my mailing list at that time, you no doubt remember the gift of Shivon Robinsong to her long-time friend Joel Solomon. A kidney! That letter generated a huge response, reinforcing the power of a great story. Here’s Part Two of this beautiful story, from Joel one year after the transplant.
____________________________________________

Subject: Love Tsunami

From: Joel Solomon

I can talk a lot about my kidney transplant. The one year anniversary was November 14, the day before Gregor’s [Roberston] election as Mayor of Vancouver. That was a good First Birthday present for me.

Shivon, did you have any idea that your kidney, size of a small fist, could have so much impact on another body, being, and beyond? Can you imagine where it will carry me and all that I will see and do with it stashed snugly in my belly? Will you add anything I produce or accomplish or experience to your own resume? Where is me and where are you in this bionic mix?

I know there are angels. You are one of them. I know there are miracles. I am living one.

My primary health management plan over the years was to pour myself into life. I built a good collection of rose coloured glasses. I found a career that allowed me optimism and hope. Work enabled me to search out, learn from, and add support to outstanding leaders and initiatives.

The genetic code clock counted down my days. The concept of “finding a kidney” was confusing and frightening. My assumption was at best, reduced function and limitations of all kinds.

April 2007 the surgeon said, “find the kidney or go on dialysis by 2008”.

Social technology offered an avenue. Emails out to hundreds of friends and associates, virally informed a wide circle about my circumstance. My dear friend of 28 years turned out to be a willing match. Being so public about something so intimate required a lot of opening. My body’s acceptance of the new organ was an even bigger task.

“Acceptance” became my lifelong mantra. Try that one on. It’s good stuff.

Shivon’s husband Bill Weaver had the great idea to use Facebook to help keep friends informed of our surgery and recovery progress. Soon over 800 people had signed up. Photos, video, letters, and well wishes populated the site.

It began with the email search. Facebook at surgery time compounded the effect.

A tsunami of love swept over Shivon and I and our families. And it flowed in every direction.

I got lucky. The kidney took. I began a period of recovery that seems to continue now into the second year. Maybe I’ll keep feeling better and better for years! A lifetime of headaches has disappeared. Those of you with that affliction know how big that is. My energy returned in force. I am ten years younger now. Accelerated aging was reversed. My genetic legacy was transcended through modern science.

I got a major upgrade.

“Social media”, “Web 2.0”, “Open source”, now have a very human and personal meaning to me.

I’m grateful to the elixir medicine I will ingest for life. The team at St Paul’s are mythical to me. The love tsunami of community works.

Mortality is a given. Maybe I can remember. Maybe you can? I think it helps.

How beautiful to imagine that more productive decades remain. How humbling to consider all my blessings.

Keep all that love flowing everywhere we can. The more there is the more there is.

Learn how to give your bodily parts after you die. Consider doing it while you live.
____________________________________________

P.S. from Gail: I was in Victoria teaching at Royal Roads University in November and had dinner with Shivon and Bill, then the next night went to the Getting Higher Choir which Shivon founded. As I watched Shivon singing her heart out, spreading the gift of song to a community of some 500 singers in choirs in the Victoria area, I was awed by the miracle of friendship, connection, and generosity of spirit that has become my experience because of dear friends and clients who dream “impossible” dreams (and think nothing of it).

When Alice in Wonderland said, “One can’t believe impossible things,” the Queen of Hearts told her, “I daresay you haven’t had much practice. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!”

Let us remember the power of a better story to change ourselves and the world. This year In the U.S. and around the globe we have seen that what was formerly considered unattainable is indeed within reach. During the racial riots of the sixties I was a working student wife in Nashville (getting what we then called my P.H.T.– “putting hubby through”) My husband (now ex) had left Vanderbilt to enlist in the Air Force. This year we witnessed both a qualified women and an African-American man as contenders for the presidential nominee for the democratic party. Whatever your political views, Obama’s election is a turning point from our heartbreaking history of racism and slavery to inclusion and freedom. We are living a better story that began with an “impossible” dream.

In this season of celebration of the sacred and the uncertainty of the secular, let’s exchange our stories. Picture at least one impossible thing you envision for the New Year and tell your better story. Please send it to me and let’s track the “impossible” as it becomes our collective experience.

Here’s mine for 2009. This time of destructuring of our economy and revelation of greed and deception at the highest levels is the caldron of change that will lead to transformation of that which does not serve the greater good. Those who have been following their callings with integrity and vision will be heard. The work of our lifetimes will converge to place us in the right place at the right time. The language of the heart will be spoken and listened to with respect. We will give voice to the unnamed longing within people for which they have been unable to find words. We will tell the stories that show us a new way. We’ll confirm that we are the ones we have been waiting for.

It is my joy to support you in the journey of discovering your stories and speaking your truth.

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