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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Why Giving from the Heart Can Be So Scary


What kind things do you think but don’t say? How would your life be different if you expressed your love, desire, and gratitude more often to those closest to you? What do you keep to yourself because it feels too scary to share?

The following is an example of a seemingly insignificant moment that I’ve never forgotten because I chose to be guarded rather than vulnerable. When I was in 11th Grade, a friend and I set off on a late afternoon stroll through some pastures in Vermont. There was a golden hue as the spring day was slowly turning to night, and I remember looking at my friend and thinking how beautiful she looked. However, instead of sharing from my heart and telling her what I saw, I bit my tongue and said nothing. How strange to be too shy to extend a compliment, but this happens more frequently than you might think.

Telling someone what we think about them, even the nice things (especially the nice things) can make us feel really vulnerable. It exposes us. And, there’s the potential for rejection or ridicule. What if my friend had thought I was weird or what if she’d turned down my compliment by saying something like, “No, I’m not.” That would have hurt, or at the very least it would have diminished my gift. So, to protect myself, I kept my thoughts to myself.

But, what if I’d pushed through my timidity and my comment was welcomed with a smile? It may have made her day, or maybe even had a deeper, more lasting effect. And, it would have made me feel really good, too. Giving is a powerful act.

It’s quite common to clam up in romantic relationships too. What does your partner do that makes your life easier, more fun, or simply makes you feel good? Do you tell him/her? How often? Although it may sometimes feel contrary to what your mind is telling you to do, giving heartfelt compliments and expressing gratitude is essential to creating connection and intimacy. We may think that these things don’t need to be said, that the other person knows how we feel, but often they have no idea. And, even when they do know, it’s usually nice to hear it anyway.

This is kind of how it feels to be totally vulnerable
Before a recent date, I’d spent a long time getting dressed and styling my hair. One of the first things the man did was compliment my dress. It was amazing to see how something as simple as “I really like your dress” can relieve tension and bring about such feelings of joy. He recognized that I’d put effort into getting ready.

There’s a funny scene in an Adam Sandler movie in which Nicole Kidman’s character and her husband, played by Dave Matthews, tell each other everything they like about each other every time they separate or reunite. It’s funny because it’s annoying. I admit…if we spent all of our time complimenting each other it could get tedious. However, one heartfelt compliment that’s received with a generous “thank you” can be meaningful for both people.

So why is it that it can be such a challenge to share these thoughts? Here’s why: Seldom do we give a birthday present and the recipient says they don’t like it. Even if they abhor it, it’s usually received with some form of gratitude. However, we seem to have no problem rejecting a compliment, which is a gift of spirit. Sometimes we deflect compliments because they either overwhelm or embarrass us, or because we think that somehow it’s more polite; however, there’s grace in receiving. When someone says “thank you,” it honors the giver. What if I’d made a snide comment when my date complimented my dress? I might be thinking that I’m being humble, but really what I’m doing is insulting him.

Giving compliments from my heart can make me feel very vulnerable. My pulse quickens and my palms get sweaty, especially when I feel the stakes are high. Saying to a friend, “Hey, I like your purse” is no big deal. But, saying to a man I’m dating, “When you do x,y, or z, it makes me feel taken care of/cherished/appreciated” can feel really scary because it reveals something deeper. However, as you may remember from an article I wrote a few weeks ago, I’m on a vulnerability quest, and letting people know more often what they mean to me is part of that journey.

Would you like to join me? Let’s make a pact to compliment or express gratitude to at least three people this week, not just for the sake of a compliment but because it’s something meaningful we want to share from the heart.


Samantha’s Garlicky Grilled Green Beans

Although this recipe serves four, I can eat it all in one sitting. I love these beans that much! I first had them at my friend, Samantha’s, house last month (she’s the founder of the awesome Raddish Kids cooking club). I immediately purchased a grill topper so I could make the beans at home. It was easy to say to Samantha, “Wow, these are so good!” However, what I didn’t say is…“I really appreciate how you put so much thought into creating delicious and healthy gluten-free and dairy-free meals when I come to visit. It makes me feel loved and cared for.” This is the kind of expression of gratitude that we often leave unsaid, but it can be the most meaningful. It can feel harder to say, but that’s exactly why we need to say it.

You can purchase a grill topper for about $20. However, if you don’t have one, I’ve had good luck replicating this recipe on the stove with a hot cast iron pan; you just have move the beans around in the pan a lot so the garlic doesn’t burn too much. For some reason the charred garlic from the grill tastes really good (even though I usually dislike toasted garlic of any kind), but on the stove it seems to be more bitter. 


Serves 4

Special equipment:
Grill topper (this keeps the beans from falling through the grate)*

1 lb. green beans, trimmed
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ Tbsp. olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper and artisanal salt (such as Himalayan pink or French gray)



Heat a gas/propane grill with grill topper to medium heat. Meanwhile in a large bowl toss the green beans with the crushed garlic and olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Spread evenly on the grill topper and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Be sure to turn the beans frequently to ensure an even char. 

*This is the grill topper I purchased. This is not an affiliate link. I do not make money if you click here. I'm not endorsing this product. This is just in case you were curious what the heck a "grill topper" is =). http://amzn.to/1BAotMS




Recipe for Mustard-Thyme Marinated Grilled Chicken pictured here