Soul Matters – by Kate Ingram, M.A.

I haven’t been writing much lately and boy, am I feeling it. Writing is no different than athletic training: miss a few days and it all reverts back to flab. I miss it, particularly since my absence is not the result of a giddy rendezvous in the Tuscan countryside, but instead a heady cocktail of young children home for summer, prepublication details up the wazoo, and an aging parent who has been ill and whose life is in major transition. It’s been quite a party.

I find it no coincidence, seeing as I do not believe in such things, that I am reading Deepak Chopra’s “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” Law #2 of which is about giving. This summer foray of fun is providing ample opportunity to put this law into practice. I have a lot of time to think about giving and forgiving, which is really just giving to yourself. There’s nothing quite like family for providing ample fodder for practicing forgiveness.

The Law of Giving states that the Universe operates through dynamic exchange; giving and receiving are the two aspects of that flow of energy. Failure to give, or to receive, blocks this natural dynamic, causing stagnation, decay and death. Yes, death. Apparently, it’s not only blessed to give, it’s absolutely essential. The coolest thing about giving, however, is that you get what you give. It’s true. Deepak says so. You get what you give because everything is connected. So the wonderful energy generated by giving is itself a gift to the giver.

But there’s a BIG CAVEAT to all this giving: It turns out that it actually is the thought that counts. The intention behind your giving is all-important. If the energy behind the giving is begrudging and laced with resentment or expectation, you might as well fuhgeddaboudit. That’s just bad juju, and everyone knows it, particularly the recipient. Giving counts when the energy behind it is love, when the desire is to bring happiness and joy to another. It’s hard for something to flow when there’s a string attached. It gets caught in your teeth.

My mother’s illness has entailed many small incidents that culminated in a stroke in June. Interestingly, her unwellness has provided me the opportunity to give to my mother in a very different way. Historically, our relationship has been a challenging one. My mother is a frustrated actress. If you’ve ever seen Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, you’ve met my mother. Her illness exposed her real and vulnerable self, and I can relate to real and vulnerable. We actually had a pretty funny conversation during one ER visit about my bust-line which, at 49, bears a disturbingly similar resemblance to hers at 89, a fact not lost on me when she yanked her top up for the five handsome paramedics who appeared in her living room. When your 34AA bra is largely hollow inside, it’s a sad state of affairs. But I digress. The point is, and I do have one, that the energy between us shifted, and it felt good because I gave freely and she received freely. No expectations, no strings, just loving intent. It worked.

It did not go as smoothly with a sibling, whom I asked to come up from out of state both to have time with our ailing mother and to spell me. This gift was not given as freely as I might have wished. There was a misunderstanding and some ugly texts flew back and forth. The misunderstanding was, at least from my point of view, based on the fact that the “giving” of time was rooted in certain expectations, and with some feelings of imposition and resentment. My feelings were hurt, energy leaked all over the place, and being the delicate, sensitive flower that I am, it caused me to wind up physically sick. The lesson? Don’t text. Talk nicely to people; it saves a lot of misunderstandings and trouble. And oh yes, give freely.

I thought about all this giving business as I lay sick in bed, going over the argument for the thirty-ninth time and wondering where and how our interaction went off into the weeds. I finally realized that rather than going over it, I just needed to forgive it all: forgive my sibling and forgive myself. As Dr. Phil says, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” I want to be happy. So I forgave it all. And guess what? This worked too.

Forgiveness is how we unblock all the damned up energy inside; it loosens the logjam and restores the natural flow of giving and receiving. Holding on to pride, or anger, or the past, is like holding your breath: do it long enough and it will kill you. Giving and receiving is the universal breath of life. (This is me, not Deepak.) But my beloved stepfather, David, said it best:

“Cast your bread upon the waters and it will come back with jam on it.”

Hmm. I wonder if this works with bosoms ….

Kate Ingram, M.A.

Kate Ingram, M.A.

KATE INGRAM, M.A., is a writer,therapist and soul coach. Her first book,Washing the Bones: A Memoir of Love, Loss,and Transformation, will be published this month. For more information, please visit her website,

Posted September 11, 2013