How to Find Value and Meaning in an Authentic Life

This is not what I’d planned for my next post. In fact, I hadn’t scheduled a Hump Day post at all. But then my inbox gave me this gem, which arrived just in time to help me over a hump I’d been struggling with on another writing project. Don’t you just love when things happen at the exact right time?

Here’s what I was given — shared with me courtesy of Poets.org:


Give-Away Song
By Gwen Westerman

This is my give-away—
not because I don’t want
it anymore,
not because it’s out of
style or
broken or
useless since it lost
its lid or one of its buttons,
not because I don’t understand
the “value” of things.
This is my give-away—
because I have enough
to share with you
because I have been given
so much
health love happiness
pain sorrow fear
to share from the heart
in a world where words can be
meaningless when they come
only from the head.
This is my give-away—
to touch what is good in you
with words your heart can hear
like ripples from a pebble
dropped in water
moving outward growing
wider touching others.
You are strong.
You are kind.
You are beautiful.
This is my give-away.
Wopida ye.
Wopida ye.
Wopida ye.

Copyright © 2021 by Gwen Westerman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 26, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.


“‘Give-Away Song’ honors our Dakota value of generosity and sharing whatever we have with those around us. This poem is also a response to the missionaries and Indian agents who often reported that our ancestors did not know the value of things that the government provided them—blankets, flour, meat, food, tools, other supplies—and that when those goods were distributed, the people would immediately share with others who did not have as much as they did. But I think our ancestors did know exactly the value of things and that value only comes when you can share.”
Gwen Westerman

Photo: Natalie Wester

“Value only comes when you can share.” I’ve been trying to put into words the value-added of living an authentic life. A life that’s true to who you really are, and that boldly and unapologetically radiates your personal authenticity. In journaling about this as a memoir exercise, I kept coming back to the need for courageous openness and unrestrained curiosity, and the willingness to examine and generously share raw pieces of self under a probing, unfiltered lens. But what is the value?

The value is in the giving. The sharing of true self — the good, but especially the bad — with others. In giving away pieces of our hopes, choices, accomplishments, failures, and struggles by revealing and sharing them openly, we’re able to touch others with the heart, not only the head. Others who may find inspiration, comfort, or even redemption through our giving. The sharing of authenticity can have value in the lives of others, and it can add meaning to our own life in return.

How many times have bloggers here shared bare parts of their authentic lives, giving hope and voice to others in need of connection or inspiration? I know I have benefitted from many who share here, as they touch what is good in us with words our hearts can hear. And I know when I share I feel a greater sense of purpose and value. Giving away unfiltered glimpses into my journey to create an authentic life somehow makes that journey and life feel more meaningful… more… complete?

“This is my give-away—
 to touch what is good in you
 with words your heart can hear
 like ripples from a pebble
 dropped in water
 moving outward growing
 wider touching others.”

Gwen Westerman

This blog — published for the first time six months ago next week, for my 61st birthday — is a raw piece of my authentic self. As a recovering social media-avoider, I was uncomfortable with and afraid of being judged for such a public sharing from my heart and head. It is my give-away, and I have been humbled and moved by the tiniest ripples touching others. Thank you for accepting what I’m sharing and, in the process, giving value and meaning to my journey. I’m becoming bolder and more courageous because of you. That’s the power of giving away — it can nurture one end while nourishing the other.

What give-aways are you sharing, and how has the giving added value and meaning for you?

Have a wonderful Wednesday. Our regularly scheduled programming will return with Friday’s post.


Poetry Source Credit: https://poets.org/poem/give-away-song

All images from thehotgoddess.com retired_rewired_inspired.


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16 comments

  1. “Value only comes when you share.” What a great statement. This sharing of personal stories that originally felt selfish and narcissistic has been a much needed release for me. And for most of us I assume. But they have become a shared experiences with others who felt alone in similar situations so are actually a win win. Added value for both writer and reader.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. How lovely and beautiful and soft and strong! Such a goddess 💖 I actually just updated my tag line to create more pure of a focus and it’s exactly what you’re talking about! “Inspiring and empowering women to become their authentic goddess selves, unapologetically.” Gosh I hope I’m able to accomplish that for some! And also, no wonder we like each other!! Same wavelength 🌊 🌊 So happy you shared this, it’s lovely. Is Gwen your sister?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your new tagline, Libby! Yes, we’re definitely on the same wavelength 💙. Gwen Westerman is not my sister (but I noted the “Wester” in her name for sure😁). Thank you for your lovely comments, Goddess.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So much truth here, and something I struggle with. It is so easy to be vulnerable through a screen, and this time of isolation has only increased my tendency to do so. It’s something I struggle with—“how much of my lonlieness is my fault, really.”

    I read and shared this same poem on FB yesterday. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, great minds…
      Vulnerability is easier through a screen, for sure, and certainly driven by our need to connect during periods of isolation. Being vulnerable in real life is something I have always struggled with. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Laura❤ I love that we both connected with the same poem🤗

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Brad!❤ You were one of the first here to boost my confidence with your thoughtful comments and encouragement, which meant so much more than you will ever know. You give away praise and appreciation and loving acceptance in an always-authentic way that uplifts our community. Truly, I am very grateful to you, my friend 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

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