Let Go and Move On

Let go of old belief systems. You know, the things ingrained in your brain that hold you back or pin you down. You know what I’m talking about. It might be a family superstition, a religious dogma, an expectation or opinion of you, or a statement made against you. This could be a past humiliation, something that binds you in shame or guilt or causes you a lack of confidence. Many of these boulders of principle date back to our childhoods. Yes, I call them boulders because they weigh so much on our emotional bodies that we are unable to move our physical and intellectual bodies to start the work we need to do. When you can move this block in your mind you enter the wonderful world of emotional and spiritual freedom.

Honor what is true. How do you know what is right? First of all, the ego lies. When we choose to do the right thing it usually resonates in either our heart or gut, sometimes both. The guidance of prayer or meditation helps pave the way, not what someone else tells you is best for you. The answers will come, but you must be willing to listen to spirit.

Clip those wings and fly!

Owning Up

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

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Why is it so difficult for people to own their actions? A person who admits they’ve wronged another or made a mistake earns more respect than someone who points blame elsewhere.

The choices you make and the consequences that follow belong to you. When one continuously justifies their actions they will fail to clearly see their responsibility. In doing this they will continue the same path of behavior. When you stop making yourself a victim you will rise above the ashes.

Examine the situation. What can you learn from this? What part did you play in this? Did you provoke someone? Insult them? Did you take something that belonged to them? Did you invade their space? What is your relationship with said person? Do you have a long turbulent history with this person? Chances are slim that you are a random target.

Everyone has a dark side. Emotions often feed this part of us we fear or dislike. The bottom line is when we know the things we don’t like about ourselves it gives us the power to improve ourselves. It makes us more aware of the choices we make and the actions we take. We not only have the power to own our lives but we have the power to make the life we own as peaceful as we dare to be.

Peace cannot be found in the eye of the storm. When we change behaviors that no longer serve us we earn trust in our relationships.

Secure people own their actions. They learn from their mistakes. They conduct themselves in ways which enrich their relationships and end relationships that don’t serve conducive to peace and personal growth.

When you find yourself in unwanted drama, accept your position in it. Apologize for any wrongdoing or speak your peace. Let it go and move on. Until you let go, you will never move on. Until you move on, you will never find peace.

The Strength Of Fragility

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. ~Mahatma Gandhi

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We forget how strong we are until we are called to remember. We become as courageous and resilient as we need to be. Ever think you couldn’t bear the pain (physical or emotional) of some event only to find out you could?

Those we expect to crush beneath the confines of life often are those who seem to fair the best. What is it exactly that we deem weak? Is it a physical characteristic we find flawed or broken? Is it a show of emotion or a quiet forbearance? Perhaps we should never expect anything, but just be.

I do not think those who suffer in silence build the strongest defenses nor do I think those who share their burdens weather any better. Some draw on inner strength while others look for outside support. I think we are each equipped with what we need and our personalities determine the path we seek.

The absence of love whether through death or separation demands us to face the question of how we can go on. Though the space of another might not ever be completely filled, the closing of other spaces give us hope, and sometimes new direction.

Fissures of our souls are scars we carry deep within. It’s an inner beauty we must carry like badges of honor. It is a beauty of tender mercy to appreciate life’s lessons.  It is only in the darkness we begin to see the light… and oh, how beautiful is this life of ours…

Do you know of anyone who has suffered a recent loss, heartbreak, or disappointment? Did you reach out with a hug, card, or words or encouragement? It might be exactly what they need.

Have you been though recent trials? Did you find you are stronger than you ever imaged? What gave you the courage to pick yourself up and keep on? Sharing your story might give someone the inspiration they need.

How We Learn To Deal

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. ~Bernard Meltzer

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Twenty-two years ago today I was held up at gun point. To this day I almost never carry cash. I keep my car doors locked. I watch my back and am vigilant about my surroundings. When I must go out alone this time of year, I don’t even carry a purse.

The point is violence changes a person. Or, it changed me. At first I was distrustful, frightened, and on heightened alert.  I needed to talk about my ordeal. And I talked and I talked. I had been violated, and I needed to feel validated. I was physically unscathed, but emotionally damaged. I wallowed in my worry. It took me many more years than I’d like to admit to rise from victim to victor.

This was a decision I had to make on my own. Once I made the decision I had to take the steps to begin to heal. No one could do the work for me. I stopped taking medication for the anxiety. I let myself feel all the emotions running through me, and I learned techniques (breathing and visualization) to get me through panic attacks. I took a self-defense class and other precautions to help me feel in control of my personal space.

You may think from my first paragraph I have not arrived to this point, that I have not let the ordeal go. I have. You see it’s all a part of the forgiven but not forgotten theory which is one I’ve struggled to understand. I have always believed when someone said, “I forgive you, but I have not forgotten.”  that they were not being truthful. (My grandmother was famous for this.) I get it now. I forgive my assailant, but I have not forgotten the lesson she taught me. Being vigilant is my coping mechanism to keep me safe. Being aware helps me trust my instincts as well. I may not always be out of harm’s way, but I try not to recklessly place myself there.

Whatever choices we make in life come with consequences in which we must learn to deal. I dealt in my own way, piecing my life back together. I’m sure my attacker did the same. I only hope she learned to make better choices.

If “Tanya” is still alive, she should be about forty now. Whether she regretted her actions I will probably never know.  Regardless of her reasons behind the hold up, I hope she got a second lease on life. I hope she is free of whatever demons possessed her that day. I hope drugs and violence are no longer a part of her life. I hope she found the skills and support she needed to live a legal and loving life.

The last step of my healing is forgiveness. For some reason, that was never an option before now. But like I said earlier, I’ve changed. Today, I am finally able to say I forgive her. Merry Christmas to me.  Yes, to me…forgiveness is much more for the person releasing than the person to whom is being forgiven.

****I won’t be posting, visiting, or commenting until after New Years.

When Friends Move On

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

 

Everyone woman needs another woman to cry over liars, cheaters, haters, bad haircuts, and days gone wrong. They also need someone to rejoice over love, success, good sales, and the perfect shoes. No matter how much we love them, few men can do these things well. Seriously, they don’t even gossip correctly. The point being they claim they don’t gossip; they call it passing along information or telling things like it is. Well, women do that, too…we just add a bit of flair! Don’t look at me like that – you know you’ve not only gossiped at some time, but you enjoyed it, too!

Sometimes I’ve been Lucy and other times I’ve been Ethel. Either way, one was lost without the other. My first Lucy was my cousin. She was the fun one, the daring one, the pretty one. I was the voice of reason that eventually followed her wherever she dragged me. We shared everything, including relatives. We even shared chickenpox as babies. We swapped clothes and stories. We were one another’s guts and glory. We did things we dared not do alone. We got in trouble together. We cried together. We yelled at each other and smacked one another a time or two. We even yelled at others and smacked them in defense of one another.  We bragged about one another’s good points. We hugged each other when no one else knew our pain. For a long time we were closer than sisters. We drifted apart after we grew up. We talk occasionally on the phone or see one another now and then. I miss my Lucy. No one will ever take her place.

I’ve had substitute Lucys. One is my friend I met shortly after I moved hundreds of miles from home. We met when she moved into my condo complex. She was with one of my hair clients who happened to be her neighbor where she was moving from. We quickly bonded, and sadly we both eventually dropped the other friend. When our husbands went to work she’d traipse down the street in her pjs toting a pot of coffee. We used to joke that the neighbors probably thought we were lesbians. Though she didn’t have a child at the time, she babysat when my babysitter let me down. I cooked and fed her when all she knew how to do was pour cereal and milk.. We’ve stuck together through thick and thin. We eventually bought houses in separate cities, but continued to see each other often since we were only thirty minutes apart. The visits lessened through, but the phone calls were steady. We’ve cleaned each other’s houses, nursed one another while sick, cried and laughed together, and raised our children together. Once she came over to “babysit” me after surgery and decided I needed to go out for fresh air and ice cream…I fell down a flight of stairs enroute, but all was well as she was there to pick me up, panic a bit, and then laugh it off. Our days of physically seeing each other are almost nonexistent; however she is the one person I talk to almost every day. She knows what I’m thinking before I say it and vice versa. She’s not afraid to call me out for not listening or any other “unfriendly” thing I might be guilty of. We tell each other the truth even when it hurts, and eventually we forgive one another for the honesty. (Yes, your ass does look huge! What the heck did you do to your hair?) My Lucy is soon moving to Hawaii. I don’t know why I’m so sad…we’ll continue our phone conversations all the same. It’ll even give me an excuse for a great vacation. And better yet, it will make us get together for a fun Lucy/Ethel fling…maybe we’ll even invite the Ricky and Fred to go out with us!

People have drifted in and out of my life through the years. Friends have come and gone. The Lucys and Ethels have remained, even if only in my heart.

The Spin Cycle: Friends

Choosing To Let Go

Are your apologies congruent with your actions? Do you say one thing and do another? Sending conflicting messages? Or perhaps someone is doing this to you.

It’s difficult to forgive the unapologetic. But until you do, your life will remain stagnant. You can’t flourish in a broken system.

Forgiving doesn’t mean you are excusing ill behavior. You are simply moving past it.

Withholding forgiveness and suppressing anger is like letting poison seep into your body. Eventually it manifests itself in other ways, impairing emotional and physical health.

We often save others at the cost of ourselves. We must learn to release the offenses that hold us down.

Sometimes we are wronged and deeply hurt and forgiveness doesn’t seem like an option. When we dwell on pain, it eats away at us and causes us to be bitter.

It’s normal to feel anger and pain, but we can’t allow it to build up and suffocate us.

Though difficult to regain a broken trust, we can still choose not to let resentment rule our lives.

It’s easier to let go of pain than it is to hang on to hurt and anger. We benefit from letting go of grudges as we free ourselves by forgiving. When we stop focusing on our pain and anger we can get on with life. This isn’t to say we’re opening ourselves up for more hurt involving this person. It is merely to say we’ve let this situation go.

Sometimes we must distance ourselves from toxic people. It’s alright to protect ourselves by establishing boundaries or limiting content. After all what is experience if we refuse to learn from it?

We must realize the infraction was most likely about them not us. This perspective makes forgiveness much easier. Not taking things personally allows our hearts to open and forgiveness to enter. Though we can’t change the way people act, we can change the way we react to the things they do and say.

Both apologies and forgiveness must be sincere, heart felt and soul given. It allows both parties to move on.

Peace does not enter an angry soul. To forgive is to heal. To heal is to invite peace into our lives.

Living in the Gap

April 11, 2012 – Noisy Breakfast

Chomp. Crunch. Chew. Gulp. Guzzle. Spoon by spoon, the racket continues. It’s too early for this clatter. Is it me or the cereal that’s so noisy? Oh, that’s right, the cereal goes snap, crackle, pop…sorry, guess it’s me!

Recognizing And Rectifying Our Scratches

When we are wounded, the healing process often leaves a scar. Some scars are visible. Others are not.

I have scars all over my body. I was what I like to refer to as “an adventuresome child”. I have scarred knees from sliding into base while playing kickball on gravel. I fell out of trees and wrecked motorcycles. I ran through briar brambles and got poked with sticks. I wouldn’t trade a single scar for a childhood with less freedom to roam and explore.

Sadly, I’ve grown into a clutzy adult. And I can’t be trusted with sharp objects like knives and scissors because inevitably I will cut myself. I have a permanent scar on my knuckle from my hairdressing days, and generally cut it in the same spot every once in a while when I cut the hair of family and friends. In fact, my friend Patti once bought me a t-shirt that read “Runs With Scissors”!

While I’ve never been thrilled with the appearance of multiple scars, I’ve never been obsessed with them or considered trying to “shrink” them. Most of them have a story attached. Some of them include lessons I’ve learned.

And then of course, some of us, get scars in the way of stretch marks from bringing forth new life. I couldn’t begin to tell you the massive amounts of those I have. No one sees them, but I wear those with honor. I carry scars from surgeries as well. Those, also, are just bits and pieces of my life.

Like most people, I have carried emotional scars from my past as well. Those are the ones that others don’t readily see. Those are the emotional badges of the pain I have endured. What I have learned though is that I had the power to heal those scars. I had the choice of remaining a victim by holding onto those wounds or I could heal them by becoming a victor and moving on with my life. When I held onto them, I could not heal…they were festering sores. Healing emotional scars takes time and forgiveness. It takes a desire to want to move on. Sure, there might be a few scars, but I wear them proudly. Maybe the scars just prove that I have lived. Most importantly, I have endured.

When I was out walking this past weekend, I noticed the visible scars along the trunk of this tree. It had outgrown around the barbed wire fence that housed it. The property owner must have seen the damage caused to the tree. He rerouted the fence to the back side of the tree, and placed a board between them so that the wire would never again cut into the flesh of the tree.

How gracious of this landowner to see what he was doing to this tree and to make amends to prevent further damage. It makes me wonder if we realize the restrictions we put on others. Do we realize when we are holding someone back, hurting them, or scarring them in ways that might not be visible to the naked eye? How often do we think about how our choices affect those around us? Even when we do not intend harm, how truly innocent are we?

Cleaning Out The Closets Of Life

“Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
— Albert Einstein

Once upon a time, I was organized. I was neat. There was a place for every thing, and everything was in its place. My house was spotless. I controlled (or tried to) my world. I was a wee bit unhappy and had no idea why.

I am no longer organized, or neat and tidy. There is still a place for almost everything, but many things are not in their places. I have let go of control, and surrendered to the chaos of life. And I am happy. Go figure.

Sometimes, I miss my OCD days. Sometimes, I miss organization but not the stress of keeping things that way. I am enjoying spontaneity. Living deeper than a pristine surface is both scary and rewarding.

One of the items on my “to do” list was cleaning out closets and drawers. I made a small attempt at a few of them this past weekend. I purged with fierce determination. I let go of some of the clothes that I held hope of fitting back into one day. I decided that if I slimmed down enough to fit in them again, I certainly deserved to buy new ones! I ended up unloading six large garbage bags at the Goodwill. And that was only my clothes. I’m afraid to tackle my fabric stash. And I don’t even want to think about some of the other closets or the storage loft.

How have I managed to accumulate such a mass (mess!)? No, I am not a hoarder or even a pack rat though my kids might say otherwise. I’ve parted with many things over the years that I would have loved to have kept. It has become a matter of prioritizing, just as I have done in other areas of my life. As I pulled things from the back of my closet and stuffed them in bags, I realized I’d recently done the same thing in my life relationships. I’ve purged myself of manipulators, users, and toxic people. I only deal with them as is necessary. Just as I’ve outgrown some of my clothes, I’ve outgrown petty drama.

I’ve come to understand that not every thing in life is going to fit perfectly. If I feel stretched, I need to make a few adjustments on my end. Or I have to stop whining and accept the situation or move on.

If I can’t zip up my pants, I need to opt for the elastic waistband. My skin still fits me just fine.

Healing Within

I started writing when I was very young. I never knew quite why I wrote, only that I enjoyed it. In my thirties, I picked my pen back up and started writing with a purpose, though I didn’t realize there was a reason at the time. I turned to poetry. It was a form of self-expression that was cathartic for me. I was able to explore feelings, memories, and situations that made others, myself included, uncomfortable talking about. I was able to reach within myself and verbalize on paper things I couldn’t bring myself to say out loud. I also was afraid of what others would think of me if they knew my deepest, darkest thoughts. For a long time, I wrote for my eyes only. It was during this process that I encountered a book about poetry therapy. It was this book Finding What You Didn’t Lose by John Fox that opened a new world to me. It allowed me to explore and release things I held hostage inside me. He later came out with a second book Poetic Medicine that I found equally informative. That might not be the order in which they were written, but it was the order in which I read them. I even thought for a while that I’d like to go into poetic/art therapy. I still think it would be rewarding to help others break down the barriers and find catharsis.

Each of us at one time or another holds on to pain or negative emotions that we aren’t willing to acknowledge or work through. We must first own or accept it in order to let it go and free ourselves. We must not only learn to forgive others but to forgive ourselves as well. I think one of the biggest struggles is not to blame others for our circumstances. Sure, it might have been something someone else did that hurt us, but we must own our feelings. There is no room for finger pointing in healing. Our feelings are our responsibility. We have the power to release them. One has a choice of living in the past (no matter how painful it might have been) or forging ahead and creating new memories of positive light. It seems that most every good thing in life stems from love, so I use that as a starting point for myself.

Through poetry, writing in general, and many other art mediums, we are able to reflect on our pain, guilt, and any other emotion that is affecting our lives. We are given the opportunity to express these emotions, to let it them rise to the surface. We are able to take something nameless and give it a title, to make something beautiful out of it. We are able to cleanse our souls and move on with life. Of course, many artists create many beautiful works purely from those emotions that aren’t so desperate.

I realize people are different and work through their own reactions to their life circumstances however they see fit. I tried doing it myself in many ways that were not beneficial. Writing was the most rewarding to me. I wrote tons of gloomy poetry back in my day (and still do on occasion!). For years, I wouldn’t even look at it, and even once threw it all away, just to find out years later that I’d made copies of much of it. I find it interesting to see how much I’ve grown. I also see where I blamed anyone and everyone for my circumstances. I failed to accept responsibility for years. I can’t tell you for certain that writing enabled me to finally let go of the negativity or if it was trust in something greater than me. Maybe, it worked hand in hand. What I do know is that it took acceptance of my emotions, responsibility on my part, to let myself heal from the inside out. And though I long ago forgave those I blamed, it took forgiving myself, acceptance of my flaws to move on. And only after that was I able to find that inner peace I so desperately desired. I have found that nothing good comes from harboring ill feelings. I have no problem admitting that I still stumble and fall, and I just pick myself back up, dust myself off, and take another step. Life is a process, so I take one moment at a time and love along my way.

The Art of Forgiveness

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~Lewis B. Smedes

I am often curious about people’s inability to forgive. I understand that sometimes the hurt is so deep that forgiveness seems nearly impossible. But I also wonder if my definition of forgiveness is skewed. I can do as the saying goes, let bygones be bygones and move on with my life.

My grandmother (Big Mama) used to say all the time that she could forgive such and such for what she’d done but she could never forget it. My mother would get angry and say that if you remember what someone has done then you are not forgiving her/him. At the time I agreed with that statement.

However, I have thought about those words often and I think I have come to terms with them and understand what Big Mama meant by them. I conclude that you can remember the lesson you learned, and still love the person who hurt you. For example, if my friend betrayed a confidence, I could let it go and move on. I wouldn’t hold a grudge. However, if my friend did it a second time, I would continue the relationship, but I wouldn’t trust her with personal confidences any more. Have you ever heard the saying “You hurt me once, shame on you, You hurt me twice, shame on me.” ? I think that applies.  I think this is exactly what Big Mama may have meant by forgiving but not forgetting. I also think you may be able to do this by putting yourself in the position of the other person. I don’t think most people hurt others maliciously. I think they often unintentionally put their own needs above others. I know that analyzing a situation helps me understand it and allows me to move past it.

I’m not going judge those who cannot forgive for some inconceivable crime against them. I can’t claim to know their circumstances. But I do know that I have harbored resentment in my heart for past offenses and it stifled me. I was at a stand still in my own life. When I was able to release my anger and my pain and stop pointing blame at anyone, it was cathartic for me. I was able to love myself which enabled me to accept and impart love. In loving again, I was living.

Compassion is much easier on the body and soul a than antipathy. Either feeling is contagious and affects everyone around you. Negative energy blocks the path to peace. An atmosphere of bitterness is repressive where an environment of benevolence is inviting.

My opinion is that the art of forgiveness is the ability to move on.