A Season for Giving; A Season Forgiving

To prepare for an upcoming call with my life coach I followed my usual routine, preparing written notes on what was weighing heaviest on my mind. Note: Yes I do use a life coach. I find that the combination of her wisdom, daily journaling and the occasional glass of wine keep me moving on my path of joy and positivity. I’m not quite sure whether this time of year factored in at all, but my topic was forgiveness. I needed to forgive some people in my life for the perceived wrongs they had committed against me. Since I did not have the opportunity to do so one on one, I role played with my coach. Visualizing my “offenders” sitting across from me in my living room, I began with the most recent, rattling off a list items and scratching them off line by line. It was cleansing to think them, write them down and read them. When all were expressed, I firmly declared, “I forgive you.” It was more powerfully immediately healing than I imagined it would be.

For the next person, I did the same thing. Her list was much smaller, consisting of only one item, but that had invoked a feeling of trauma within me. While I was writing it out, a strange thing happened. A conscious thought came to my mind about how after she did what she did I had behaved pretty badly myself, dragging her name through the mud by reporting the story to whomever would listen, and many people did. It was an eye-opening moment, which resulted in my remorse. Despite her behavior, I wasn’t proud to act that way; it wasn’t at all in line with the compassionate person I strive to be. After I wrote “I forgive you” under her entry, I added “and I ask for forgiveness. I am sorry for what I did.” An amazing feeling of calm overcame me (it wasn’t the wine) and I wished that these two people were standing in front of me right there and then.

I found this forgiveness activity so successful that I grabbed a fresh piece of paper from my notebook and visualized my life’s worst “offender” (my ghost of Christmas past perhaps?) and bravely began to write. I completed an entire side of the page before I was mentally exhausted and he was forgiven. Woah. In that moment I was thinking that sometimes the best of the written word isn’t reserved for the New York Times bestseller list, but in my own damn journal.

I’m glad I took the time to do that clearing of my heart Chakra. I feel like I shed every Holiday pound in the process. I learned so much. First of all, that I’m grateful to have so few people in my life that I feel I need to make amends with. Next, I gained an understanding that each of us has a different interpretation of what is necessary to receive or give forgiveness for. I am only able to understand those concepts according to my own values and beliefs, not other’s. Which is why it pays to communicate responsibly more in the moment when I have been hurt.  Otherwise the other person walks around clueless. If anyone needs to forgive me for something, visualize me in the living room, or better yet, step forward, let’s talk. We all will work better if we learn to share the love. Time and relationships are too precious to hold grudges, and forgiveness is a mighty elixir.

To All for 2017: Good Tidings of Comfort and Joy with lots of Love thrown in.

Photo Credit:  Megan Rose

Greetings and Inflatable Penguins of Joy

 

 

 

I have to write in the language of beauty and love, nature, life. Some call this fluff, I define it as the wonderful things that happen every day. I don’t know much about the scientific perspective of nature. I’m not a botanical expert by any means and I have a difficult time identifying flora and fauna, especially by their Latin names but I am able to describe to you the awe I experience when strolling beneath a canopy in a forest or walking through a grove of palm trees or down the shores of my favorite beach as the shells wash between and beneath my toes. I can tell you about the excitement of a toad as he becomes startled and jumps out of a leaf pile, and I sense the feeling of the creek bed as the stream of water runs along it. I believe all of these things are here for us to notice.

I’m not adept at Search Engine Optimization or keywording to lift my content to the top of a Google list, but I can tell you what it feels like to witness the smile of a child as he receives a gift from a loved one or two people in love as they gaze into each other’s eyes or smile in connection. There is so much love here on this planet, so much kindness, so much giving, yet there is so little time and so many barriers in the way. Somehow I am drawn to point it out and write about it, love it, live it.

Today on the commute home I took a moment at a red light to notice my surroundings. The falling snow was shimmering in the glow of the streetlights with the black sky as a backdrop. That, coupled with the house displays brightened the night. Some were intricate and precise while others consisted of a single strand of lights randomly tossed over a small tree and an ornament propped up on a porch light; possibly a lame attempt by a teenager to appease his nagging mother. I am intrigued by the row of inflatables on one front lawn with a penguin situated behind a drum set in the middle. He waddles back and forth swinging his green vinyl sticks. He is silly and amuses me. It makes me happy that so many people still take the time and make the effort to decorate.

And so flows the humor of life, wrapped up between all the beauty. Like beauty, humor is found daily, also worthy of the writing. It is offered everywhere and a gift to all willing to receive it. It is easy to miss, overshadowed by the distraction of screens. But they are all there, nature, beauty, love, kindness, humor, waiting to be noticed by onlookers like me and you, and enjoyed. Have fun.

 

Sharing my calendar today: Kisses and hugs forgive and love

A little meditative humor for the holidays: take a deep breath and stay in the “present” moment

Peace and Joy everyone!

Impeccable Me

I just finished reading a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Excellent read by the way. The first agreement is “be impeccable with your word”.  As a writer, I found that statement really made an impression on me.   Words are very powerful.  You can choose the wrong one and alter the meaning of something important or say the wrong thing and change someone’s life forever.  I choose the words I use very carefully when I am writing.  Not so much when speaking because of the spontaneity of the moment and tendency to respond on a quicker basis. To know my truth, to live it and to speak it every day in every situation is whom I strive to be and worth the challenge. Claiming to live under the pretense of joy, love and compassion, I’d better put my money where my mouth is.

I am grateful to have a gift to put words together in a meaningful, constructive and entertaining way when some people struggle to assemble even a sentence.  I feel a responsibility to be a woman of my word and stick to it.  I need to be better at that, and spend less time passing judgment on others and situations.  I will start in my thoughts first, long before they become my words, especially on paper.  I often wrongly pass judgment on myself, so I must start a great big campaign to toss out words of encouragement and kindness to myself.  If I don’t matter to me, how can I possibly matter to others.  And I will be conscious of practicing that theme of joy, love and compassion until it’s expressed every time I speak, write or think.  I’ll be impeccable.

Culture and social media make it easy for us to throw our opinions out quickly without thought. Surveys, comments, reviews on everything imaginable. Life rated. Very few opportunities exist for us to just stand back, watch and listen without distraction of phone or computer. I’m taking every chance I get to slow myself down to the point where I’m ready to remember the importance of my word. To think before I speak. People often pay me compliments on my writing, calling me inspirational and funny.  Before I am any of that, I’d like to be known as someone who is impeccable with my word, for this by default can only result in natural transition to speaking and writing the language of love. And I want to make it my purpose to do that loud and clear and consistently. I can only imagine how satisfying that will be in the effort to being at peace with myself. What a goal.

 

And now, sharing a Little Joy:
Waking up and hearing a lawyer commercial: “We have all of the extensive resources you need.” And thinking I just heard, “We have all of the expensive resources you need.”

Going out for lunch when it is 20 degrees outside and returning to the bonus of a second row parking space, only to forget after work and doubling your walk backtracking when you remembered!

Mother and Son

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As my youngest rolls into his third decade on this planet, I can’t help but wonder where the time went.  It seems like just yesterday that you were doing laps across the front yard in your pull ups pushing your Fisher-Price Bubble Mower.  Now look at you working proudly as an auto technician living at home paying your rent and keeping your mother good company

The boyhood years were wonderful, watching you play in our country yard, solo or with your big sister.  There weren’t very many neighborhood children, so you had to be content with those imagination fueled joyful destinations like your custom-made tree house or the immense hole that you dug in the faraway parts of our backyard; perfect for contemplation. You spent all day long there in the summertime and in the winter would come and place your chapped red cheeks in my hands to warm them up while you cried after being out for too long until your little hands were frozen. This became routine in the colder weather.

The hardest times were after the divorce combined with the bullying and cruel years of high school.  Those moments when I questioned your behavior…was it normal teen, depressed, bipolar?  There were pressures from all sides, including inside. Take him to the counselor because of his anger, his lashing out, his verbal abuse his violent actions.  Come to find out you were merely speaking a different language because you didn’t know how to say, “I’m hurting, I’m angry, I’m sad,” and I was so busy trying to overanalyze that I wasn’t able to hear, wasn’t listening.  Until that night in the garage when you yelled profoundly, finally getting through, pleaded with me to understand, and slowing down, I did.  The night that I finally stood still long enough to see what the world was like through your eyes and we both cried.  I remember that being your breaking point into the threshold to adulthood and mine as a parent.

There’s been a lot of learning for both of us.  And even at your worse moments when you were throwing chairs into walls and calling me a f__king b__tch I have loved you.  I’m sorry we had to endure those moments.  But now come the rewards.  Knowing how to communicate your true feelings, facing your trauma and processing your anger have all been steps in you finding yourself.   I’m proud of the man you’ve become and not even because you hug me Good Night now and tell me that you love me.  But because you have experienced the pain that life can produce and keep moving forward anyway.

I’m not sure how this Mother and Son thing is supposed to work. I fell in love with my very first sight of you and never let go. Even when I couldn’t help or even understand you I never gave up on you. And I’m grateful you never gave up on me. To every mother who is blessed with a son I wish the same.

From the Sanctuary

From the Sanctuary: It’s been awhile since I’ve written that and it feels good. I have been away from the pen, notebook and keyboard, a psychotic break deviating me from even my most passionate of tasks. I had forgotten how hard it can be to get into recovery mode, it’s been 18 years since my Bipolar Disorder showed itself, and this time again it presented itself quickly and harshly without known warning or triggers.  This second one reduced my 19-year-old son to sobs when he saw me. I was so delusional that I didn’t even recognize him. After a week-long stay in the hospital, I lost my urge to work to cook (OK, so I lose that one when I’m healthy) to do chores, pay the bills, get out of bed, to live and to write. Every moment brings a mental struggle. Eighteen years of symptom-free living had me comfortable, a healthy stretch indeed, so I’m glad to be working my way back to self.

When people learn about my bipolar disorder, their response is usually surprise. Relatively speaking, I’m high functioning for someone with a severe mental illness. I’m not someone who makes a habit of broadcasting my ailments, but if I can help others by sharing my imperfections and ways to make them better, I do. In my mind, that’s what we’re here for, to help each other. I’m training now to become certified as a peer specialist, to work with other groups and individuals who have serious mental illnesses to help them in their transition to recovery.

Bipolar Disorder won’t be the main theme of this blog although I will pay it a bit of occasional humorous attention when deserved as I capture life writing here. Yes, it’s one of the things I laugh at about myself.  This is a place instead reserved for my favorite parts of life, nature, people, laughing, positive upbeat incidences, random acts of kindness and every day happenings that I deem worthwhile to document. You won’t find politics or negative news or celebrity gossip in this space. If you crave that, consult the mainstream media. As opposed to the previous subjects, those topics do not come pouring out of my heart and soul onto the keyboard. I hope to spread joy, love, compassion, nostalgia and many, LOL moments. And when I write about my nature outings, I hope that it feels like you are walking by my side enjoying too.

Because I am a fair weather nature fan and hiking in the warmer temperatures, we’ll settle for something on the sentimental side for now. This year’s Thanksgiving dinner had me seated around a table with dozens of people. We were all acting crazy, laughing and trying to outdo each other in our good-natured teasing. Earlier in the evening we joked of our collective aging and the aches and pains that came with it. But while we gathered there, all of our ailments were cast aside for the moment as we threw one liners at each other across the table. Later, right before he said goodbye, one of the guests with stage four pancreatic cancer gave me a big hug and expressed concern over getting test results the following day. I told him that I would pray for good news. As he headed out the door, I silently said a prayer of gratitude for my managed by medicine Bipolar Disorder.   And then I thought about the love of the holiday, my friends, family and him all the way home.