“Between known, unknown. What I don’t know that I don’t know about me, people, life.”
Excerpt from Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free

My Sweet Love wrapped a large box with sticky notes attached: This End Up. Do Not Tilt. He let me know the package was heavy. The tag read: For My Sweetheart. Love, the Man of Joy. He placed it by the fireplace away from the other gifts by the Christmas tree. He laughed a lot that day. What a delight to be in the energy field of someone filled with joy. Anticipating a surprise for someone else can be as fun as the actual surprise.

After dinner, he asked for couch time. Couch time for us means an opportunity to vulnerably and bravely share thoughts, feelings, wonderings from inside ourselves. Like a debriefing of our individual internal worlds, we sit directly across from each other, make eye contact, and take turns listening with our whole selves from non-judgment and copious compassion. I usually massage his feet during couch time. He shared that he did not get me a feminine gift of a dress or a piece of jewelry. Instead, he gifted me a practical item. He wanted to feel at ease that I’d be okay with a functional present. I assured him I’d be happy with whatever he chose to gift me. My favorite treasure for any holiday continues to be the experience of our astonishingly meaningful, heart-centered love relationship.

“You can put bows all over you and sit by the Christmas Tree. I’ll be thrilled!” I told him with a radiant smile.

After a couple days of observing and wondering about the package, I convinced myself the item was a space heater. My Sweet Love wanted me to be warm on the porch where I have my office. Three walls of windows are not conducive to retaining warmth on a cold winter day in the mountains. Yet, I didn’t want or need a space heater. I had lived in cold houses and didn’t have an issue with layering up. I felt a moment of resentment as a stream of critical thoughts about my Sweet Love’s gift-giving tendencies chattered through my mind. None of these thoughts had anything to do with his generosity and everything to do with my past experiences of tension-filled, mismatched gift exchanges.

How could I disguise my disappointment on Christmas morning?

I understood the joy he had been experiencing even as I felt waves of disappointment and fearshame. I really wanted a personal gift. With this new intel from my mind, it seems my spoken words had lied when I said, “I’ll be happy with whatever you gift me!” I felt some relief when I thought, hey, I can get myself a piece of jewelry or a dress if that’s what I want! Because being grateful remains valuable to me, I promised myself I’d show surprise and thankfulness. In the new year, I would let him know my true feelings. I hoped he kept the receipt. My mind found some peace on this topic and no longer fretted.

Christmas morning arrived. After unwrapping other meaningful gifts together, I walked over to the large one. He helped me open the box, which had been sealed with packing tape. Inside I discovered more boxes and a yellow sticky note “Your gift isn’t here. You’ll find it in a closet where you go when it’s cold.” I laughed with relief and much surprise while reflecting on which closet. Ah, the one next to the front door where boots and winter coats are! He walked with me to the foyer and watched as I opened the closet door. On a beautiful metal stand, a peace plant greeted me. I squealed with delight and joy.

“Oh! Oh! Hello, Sweetheart! I can’t wait to name you!” I lovingly lifted her and the stand and relocated her to beneath the living room windows.

I beamed at my Sweet Love, abundantly grateful, and gushed, “Thank You!!” He smiled and kissed me.

How powerful the mind can be in inventing stories. Even a highly educated woman has a great capacity to fabricate thoughts as if they are facts. With only a few clues pointing to possibilities, her mind can turn the unknown into certainty. Like a trickster, the mind demands to know what it doesn’t know and will follow a trail of clues or a ruse to several incorrect conclusions.

I learned long ago human beings are meaning-making machines.

A friend called recently and asked what it meant that her floor vacuum cleaner had bumped into her mirror and broke the mirror. I said, “If you love having a mirror, it’s time for a new mirror.” She laughed when she realized her mind purposefully searched for a scary interpretation.

Something happens. Rather than staying with the facts of what happened, the human mind can travel with great effort attaching interpretations to what happened. You and I do this more than we might realize. To avoid pain and seek pleasure, the egoic mind often slops mud on direct experiences of happiness with tales of awful exaggerations or places pretty bows on quite excruciating experiences.

The human mind often resists radical acceptance of the complete sensory experience of what happened.

This morning a friend at the lake shared that his dog died over the holidays. He smiled and exclaimed, “I am doing really well!”

Yet, when I stopped running and looked at him, I saw the sorrow in his eyes.

“I’m so very sorry for your loss. Our pets are family members. My dog Layla died in Sept. 2020. I know how much I grieved and still grieve.”

Then he shared, “Yeah, it’s been difficult.” We both breathed in that truth.

The mind attempts to scare or disappoint or sugarcoat situations to create protective postures rather than welcome, embrace, and accept the unknown and the known realities of living a human life. Sometimes you get what you want. Sometimes you get what God/Universe wants for you. In this second situation, you can inhale and exhale a lively spectrum of human emotion, body sensations, laugh at your mind’s ability to invent tales, and connect with your soul’s capacity to experience self-awareness, joy, and wonder.


The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.