do-ing Archives - Dr. Mary Pritchard

Are You a Do-er or a Giver?: The Art of Receiving

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Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor.I ran into my ex-boyfriend this past weekend. He pulled me aside and apologized for the way he treated me when we were together, acknowledging that I gave him my all and he gladly took it without giving much in return. Although I was grateful for his apology, I can’t pretend I am blameless in the downfall of our relationship.

I am a giver by nature, but I’ve learned that this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

You have to fill your cup. You then give away the overflowing, but you keep a cupful for yourself. ~ Wynonna Judd 

Too often, I forget this wise lesson. Instead, I give away everything in my cup until I am left with nothing but a dry, brittle cup. This is something I am still working on and why I know I’m not ready for another romantic relationship yet. I need more practice giving from my overflow and keeping my cup full.

But even more than that, I am working on learning to receive. I think we as women tend to be over-givers (or, in reality, over-doers); we do everything for everyone and then wonder how we got so resentful – or in even worse, sick. That’s what happens when we keep giving from our cups instead of our overflow. In her book Born to Receive, Amanda Owen actually distinguishes between giving and receiving and do-ing and taking. In my relationship with my ex, I was the do-er and he was, for the most part, the taker. This is not a healthy relationship, for obvious reasons. But I can’t blame him for being a taker because I was a do-er, rather than a giver.

Owen explains it like this: in an ideal relationship, there is an equal flow of giving and receiving from both parties. No one feels depleted or resentful because they are both giving from their overflow and allowing their partner to give back to them in return to ensure their cup stays full. In unhealthy relationships, one person tends to do more for the other person at their own expense (that is, they are giving from their cup, not from their overflow) and the other person takes, but does not give much back (so the do-er’s cup never gets replenished). While this may make it seem like the taker is just a jerk, that’s not always the case. People who tend to be do-ers often have a problem receiving. Thus, what could be a giving-receiving relationship becomes a doing-taking relationship because the doer doesn’t know how to receive.  Guilty!

Receptivity is a two-fold process for me:  1) I have to ask for what I want, and 2) I have to sit back and allow it to come to me and not try to control how it comes or try to give it back! Case in point, a good friend of mine gave me the $25 she owed me and I tried to give it back to her in case she needed it for something else. But that wasn’t fair to me or to her. My ‘offer’ to give her back what she owed me was, in essence, me rejecting her gift. How would you feel if you gave someone something that was valuable to you and they said “no thanks?” Exactly. Receptivity should benefit both the giver and the receiver. Otherwise, it’s not truly giving from your overflow.

So how do you learn to receive? Step one: you’ve got to learn to ask for what you want/need (note that I said ask, not demand – I’m guilty of getting so resentful that I start demanding rather than asking. A word of advice: demanding doesn’t work!). You can’t expect your partner/friend/mother to be a mind reader. In her book Queen’s Code, Alison Armstrong explains that to get your needs met, you have to know how to ask for what you want. To do this, you have to know exactly what you want and why you want it (in other words, what will it provide for you). Then in the ask, you inform the person from which you want to receive this whatever-it-is what you need and what it will provide for you. This is something I definitely need to work on! Step two: you have to receive this and relinquish control over how it comes to you. For example, if you do the cooking in your household but would rather have your partner do the dishes, you might say, “When I end up doing both the cooking and the dishes, I find myself getting resentful because I feel like my efforts are not valued. I don’t mind cooking dinner every night because I enjoy cooking but I would appreciate it if you would do the dishes for me. By doing the dishes, you make me feel appreciated and valued.” Then you have to let go of how and when the dishes actually get done. Your partner is not you and may not do the dishes to your liking, but getting mad at someone for doing what you asked them to do is not a good way to encourage them to keep doing it in the future!  🙂

Here’s my challenge for myself (and for you, if you’re interested). I am going to practice asking for what I need and receiving it in whatever form it comes in September. We’ll call it the Month of Receptivity Challenge. If you’re up for it, leave a comment and we’ll get a receptivity group going on Facebook!

Coyotes, Queens, and Lemonade

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A pair of coyotes trot through tall grass.My German Shepherd Kolby and I saw two coyotes on our walk this morning, followed by two hot air balloons. While these events may seem unrelated, I’ve learned that everything happens for a reason, and thus nothing is truly unrelated.

So when I got home and sat down for my morning meditation, I asked myself, “Why coyote? Why 2s?”

In Native American mythology, especially Cherokee, Coyotes are the tricksters. They love to play and have fun – albeit sometimes at others’ expense. The message coyote brought me was that I need to play more, learn to laugh at myself, take myself and life in general less seriously, and just have fun. Coming off the heels of hosting my first video interview series and getting ready to launch a new website and a new podcast, this makes perfect sense to me. Less work; more play, have more fun. Check.

What about the pairs – of coyotes and of balloons? In numerology, the number 2 is associated with all things feminine: gentle, tactful, diplomatic, forgiving and understanding. And this gets us back to what we’ve been talking about in the past few blog posts – be-ing a Queen.

In my 20s and 30s, I tended to act from a masculine rather than feminine perspective. I think this is fairly common among women in male-dominated careers or ‘corporate America’ types of jobs, of which I consider Academia. When you must be goal-oriented in your career and the pressure is on to do more with less, I think having these masculine traits can be of service. But, if you take those same traits into your everyday life – as I did for two decades – that doesn’t always work out so well…

What do I mean by masculine traits? In my experience, that has meant that individuals in their masculine tend to be very competitive, operating from a sense of lack or ‘not enoughness’ rather than a sense of collaboration or abundance.  Individuals who are more in their masculine seem almost distant from their feelings, as though their feelings can’t be shared or shown for fear of being seen as weak. So they appear to distance themselves from you just when you start reaching for the emotional connection required for most women to feel truly attached to someone.

That may not seem so bad, but it usually doesn’t stop there. Because I always felt like I had to prove my worth – in academia and in life – I tended to approach relationships from a place of fear rather than a place of love. I was vigilant, wanting to make sure I didn’t ‘screw up’ or make someone mad. Or even worse, I worried that they might find out about my ‘not enoughness’ and leave me. And because I was trapped in my own fear of being not enough, I didn’t trust myself, which meant I really couldn’t trust anyone else. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop – not a good place to find yourself in any relationship, but especially not in a romantic one. And after years and years of this be-ing (or do-ing, really) in my masculine, I got bitter and resentful. I wondered why I could never seem to be enough.

Until one day when I realized that I was.

I wasn’t broken, I didn’t need fixing. I was enough, perfect just as I am right here, right now.

And that is the secret every Queen knows: a Queen is gentle, tactful, diplomatic, forgiving and understanding because she believes in herself. She’s seen struggle, she’s known loss, and she made it through. She walked on the lemons life threw her way and not only set up a lemonade stand, but also became more confident in her ability to sell said lemonade and make a profit. She looks in the mirror and knows that her wrinkles tell her story, her lines and scars speak of her journey that is this life, and her tears are shed not only for grief but for joy and happiness, for lessons learned. She loves and accepts every part of herself – her shadow and her light. And she is proud – of her life, of her journey, of herself. She’s sees her own beauty and the beauty in others. She walks beside you, never stepping on you for her own gain. She remembers how to play and makes sure to take exquisite care of herself. She sees coyote and knows her message: Be true to yourself, child, you are not in this life alone. Play, have fun, ask for help when you need it, and most importantly, always be as gentle, forgiving, and understanding with yourself as you are with everyone else.

From one woman who would be Queen of Her Own Life to Another: Namaste.

Now go share your light with the world, and don’t forget to have a little fun!


Being Feminine in a Masculine World

By | Goddess Wisdom, Wisdom Blog | 9 Comments

Enjoying lifeWhen I began my healing journey in Fall 2013, I struggled with balancing my feminine, which I had been suppressing for nearly 40 years, with my masculine. As a successful academic at the pinnacle of her career and the sole breadwinner in my former marriage, I literally and figuratively wore the pants in the family. And it exhausted me.

So in 2014, I decided I would try to be more in my feminine by wearing more dresses and skirts. That worked great until I went back to work this Fall. Put me back in academia – in a dress – and I still find myself falling back into my masculine. Taking charge, forming committees, getting stuff done. One week back full time in the masculine world of academia, and I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open on a date with my man Friday night.

Then it hit me. Be-ing in my feminine is so much more than wearing flowing skirts and dresses. They are merely symbols of femininity, not the real thing.

Stacey Martino puts it like this:

“Femininity is an energy of openness! It has nothing to do with your hair, your makeup or how you dress. It’s not the “idea” you have in your HEAD. And it’s NOT weakness. Feminine energy is your best and most authentic self stepping forward with courage and vulnerability to BE who you truly are….no matter what the “risk”!”

But put me in an academic world and I close down. I focus. I become goal-driven. There’s nothing “open” about it. It’s an “eat or be eaten” cut-throat type of energy. Although I am certainly capable of do-ing what needs to get done, I’m not sure that’s who I want to Be anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not because while all that do-ing made me successful in academia, it made me miserable in my personal life.

So I find myself in a bit of a quandary. I don’t know how to “do” academia in a feminine way. And while you might think I should just be in my masculine at work and in my feminine at home, it’s hard to turn off do-ing when I get home. So I end up trying to be feminine and open when I get home, while battling my leftover need to “do” from work. It’s like I don’t have an “off” button. Trust me; it’s not a fun place to be – for either me or my man. (Although I am getting a lot of cooking and housework done!)

How can you “be” when the world is telling you to “do”? I have a few ideas I plan to put into place this week. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • Spend some time outside in nature every day – no pulling weeds, just sit and be.
  • Check in periodically throughout the day and ask, “How open do I feel right now?” Alternatively, you could ask, “How closed/tense/tight do I feel right now?”
  • Get up at least once an hour to walk around – no sitting at the desk all day.
  • Spend at least 5 min a day meditating – the more, the better.
  • Pull a card from your favorite deck – I like my Angel Cards and my Goddess Guidance oracle cards – and see what message your Guides have for you today.

Let me know how you stay in your feminine and just be. I’d love to hear your ideas!