Posted by: Maryann McCullough | January 1, 2011

Story for January 2011



Maryann  McCullough



Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one’s giving bucket were like a toilet? Once emptied, it would automatically and immediately be refilled.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  * * * * * * * * *

It is such a part of being a woman – this need to empty ourselves as our way of expressing love. Our bodies themselves are designed to pour themselves out, not in dribs and drabs, but in the “good measure, pressed down, running over” style of generosity.

A child-filled womb aches to empty itself and present to the world the life it has been nurturing. Milk swollen breasts respond to our crying baby’s demand for suckling. Laps, especially the soft generous kind sometimes found in grandmothers are a place to find comfort and encouragement when the world has been unkind.

Reviewing the life I know best (my own) the full-on-the-inside moments were those when I had someone who needed what I was able to give. The “who” could vary – child or friend or spouse or student – but when it was right, that spending of myself left me feeling full to overflowing

.Does this mean that happiness comes from functioning like an open faucet? Perhaps someone will happen by and want a drink, so I must be ready.  No. A woman who generously but indiscriminately gives of herself can find herself empty at the end of a day, at the end of a life.

The brain and the will need to control the spigot.

Discerning the worthy recipient for one’s gifts is necessary. A favorite quotation of my mother’s “Don’t cast your pearls before swine” was originally spoken to warn me against kissing any jerks. Today, the broader implication implies choosing carefully before giving generously.

With career or job responsibilities generally a part of her day, today’s woman could easily spill herself away merely by responding to the cacophony of demands of those in her circle of responsibility. The journey from full to empty could be a short one.

Sometimes in those years when I was a teacher, my reserves would be dribbled away in the course of the school day, unselfishly doled out to those students who seemed to need whatever it was that I had inside. So often, when I would arrive home around 4:00 planning to care for the people I loved the most, I would find my bucket empty. Certainly my day was not foolishly spent but I questioned its wisdom. At times, little remained for those I loved the most.

Could I have done a better job of doling out in those days? Reserved at least 60 percent of me for late afternoon and evening?  Installed a dribbler valve on my capacity to give? Where can you find one of those anyway? While possibly prudent, I am not sure how practical attempts to stem the flow of something so intrinsic to a woman’s nature would be.

Maybe, to quote an Olympian, our role is “to leave it all out there in the ice,” to give all that there is with no thought of saving some for another day, and with no assurance of reciprocity for having been a giver of good gifts. I’ve often thought (and even said) “If I were god…” and I conclude by proposing changes in the way life happens. My design for the universe would be more a more equitable one. Karma would be as absolute as DNA.  And that  bucket of the generous giver would refill effortlessly upon being emptied.

But those are just my thoughts.

What about yours?





  1. I ask myself this question far too often as of late, do I think we have a limited source of patience and love? Yes, I have learned my own limits, however when doing the work that God has placed on our hearts (and I do believe teaching is a “calling”) we can call on the provider of our gifts for just a bit more.

    That being said, I also believe in many vacations to sunny spots to soothe my weary spirit!!! XX Love you Minnie

    • How wise of you to have discovered what it takes to fill you up again. Looking forward to being together in a sunny spot soon!

  2. As always, you’ve got me thinking, Maryann. Thank you for starting off this year by sharing your mind with the rest of us. We’re better off for it 🙂

  3. I would love to live in a world in which karma is absolute. Alas, in this one, bad behavior is too often rewarded and good behavior unappreciated.

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