Practicing Self-Forgiveness

Today I did this really wonderful meditation about forgiveness. It was all about releasing our anger and letting our energy better serve our growth. The idea of self-forgiveness as a gift. Rather than use our energy to hold ourselves back or punish ourselves, instead we give our energy to fueling and nurturing our own growth. Building the new rather than repairing the old. We cannot fix the past but be can do better in the future.

The Buddha said, “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” That wisdom just sticks for me. The Buddha reminds us we have a choice. We have the power to decide between carrying anger with us or choosing to let it go. I find this to be a truly liberating perspective. Just realizing that we have this option feels refreshing. So often we carry anger, hurt, or embarrassment with us long after an event has passed. Anyone who suddenly remembers their most vulnerable experiences from childhood and cringes knows what I mean. We punish ourselves unnecessarily when we carry anger with us rather than accepting the emotion and moving on.

It can be frustrating when we fail to learn a lesson sooner or realize we could have done something better. But rather than get angry with ourselves or feel down about it, we do have the option to accept this information and resolve to do better. Maya Angelou tells us, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” We can all do better and part of that begins with self-forgiveness which enables us to release that negative energy. 

What a profound and teachable moment. Forgiving ourselves today is such a gift. It frees us to nurture our own growth instead of cutting ourselves down. The reminder is to live in joy and practice self-forgiveness. To release anger because it both does not serve us and causes unnecessary harm to us. We get to choose how to live and we can choose to let go of anger so that we might thrive.

Writing Revolutions

As we enter into another year I am thinking less about the new resolutions I will make and more about the things I am resolved to not carry with me any longer. In order to make space in my life for abundance, joy, and love in the year to come I need to begin writing revolutions. This includes letting go of those things that are no longer meant for me. Releasing all that no longer supports and nourishes me and freeing myself from the obligations and burdens of the past in order to walk more confidently into my future.

For me this looks like releasing obligations made by a past version of myself. I started my writing revolution (I meant to type resolution here but I think the universe knows what I’m talking about so I am going to leave it – revolutions I shall have!). My process includes going through the previous year’s writings. I look for what goals I write and what dreams I still have on my list to achieve. There are two parts to this exercise and I missed one of them. I found my goals and dreams. I forgot to highlight the accomplishments and big steps I have taken forward. And therefore without the support of those accomplishments buttressing my dreams it felt as if my list of duties and obligations only grew while my progress remained stagnant. 

Logically, I know that I have just as many accomplishments as goals. But when confronted with multiple pages of work to be done and little to nothing on the list of accomplishments I felt rather defeated. And instead of coming into the new year refreshed, revived, and proud – I held back. I refrained from writing anything new simply because I did not have the energy to begin.

Therefore, rather than feeling defeated, I am embracing this teachable moment. I am releasing myself from those obligations. Yes, they were the dreams of a woman in the last year and some of them I will delight in achieving. But I am also allowed to release them to the universe. This choice frees me to move on to those things that are truly meant for me. I am setting myself free from the burden of accomplishing any more goals.

I may go back through the journals I have kept over the last year and highlight my accomplishments later. That process may lift my spirits and remind me of all that I have done in 2022. By the end of the year it’s easy to forget all I have done and experienced. Fortunately, keeping a daily journal and calendar helps me to keep track of these details. If you would like to join me in journaling daily – I write more about it here. Even without that reference point it is wonderful to feel as if I can still move forward with ease. 

I have done new things and challenged myself – I just don’t have a nice list organized. And I am done with carrying the load of that obligation forward. Instead, I will begin the new year with a fresh start and a clean slate. I will not burden myself with the work of a previous year. I will grant myself the grace and joy that only freedom from obligation can bring. This frees me to celebrate where I am and all that I have done (whatever that is). It brings me forward into a new day with joy, patience, forgiveness and grace. What a beautiful gift of a new day, in a new year, with nothing holding me back!

Do you journal or track your progress throughout the year? What tools do you use and do you find them truly helpful? What writing revolutions will you start this year?

Release Your Worries to the Universe

Sometimes the stresses of the world can be overwhelming. When I find myself loosing my cool I know that I have taken on too much. I recently heard about a concept where you, “listen like a sponge.” When we hear negativity we do not absorb it, we let it filter through our many holes. The wisdom that is meant for us will stick but the anger and frustrations of others do not need to reside with us. That negative energy is not ours to hold. 

Still, even with this knowledge, I don’t always practice it. On those days when I am loosing my cool I know it is time to let go of what I’m holding on to. I let go by offering these problems, worries, and concerns to a higher power. There is no issue or problem we have that the universe cannot solve and resolve.

Therefore, instead of carrying worry with me I release it. I do this by writing down whatever issue I’m having on a scrap of paper. Once you write out your concerns you can place them anywhere. You may burn them in a bonfire and let the ash of your worries be carried away on the wind. This is very cathartic and almost ads a ritual element to the process – if you like that sort of thing. Right now I have mine in a mason jar that I keep in my studio. You can write out gigantic problems, or even small ones that are persnickety, and place them in the jar. It is only important that you give the worries over to the universe. This simple action removes these thoughts from your head and enables you to let go of your responsibility for them.

Najwa Zebian writes, “Those mountains you are carrying you were only meant to climb.” Stop carrying the mountain, put it down. Free yourself from the burden of controlling or managing your own destiny. Embrace those things you can solve and complete. You don’t have to do everything, you only have to do your next right thing. Release the problem and let someone else solve it.

My job is not to control but to release control so that my higher power can get to work. The best way I have found to do that is by writing out my worries and getting my concerns out of my head and onto paper. I stop carrying mountains and leave them where I find them. I do the smaller things that I can, I solve the little problems that crop up. And somehow those really big worries find ways of working themselves out.

How do you let go of those things you cannot control?

Planning Ahead: A Gift to My Future Self

This overcast and rainy day has already been surprisingly productive. I have cleaned out bins, unwrapped packages, I have prepared a meal for my family from scratch and made enough to freeze some for a later date. What a gift. Tomorrow both children return to their respective schools and this deadline has me feeling the urge to be productive to move small hills before they turn into mountains. I am proud of myself and pleased with my progress. 

Each of these steps in and of themselves is small. They are tiny little leaps that collectively create a giant step forward. I am grateful to myself for making this possible. This work sometimes feels unproductive, it feels as if I am only treading water and not truly swimming but like ducks floating on the waters surface underneath the waves I am kicking like crazy. 

And that’s what these little victories are all about. They’re about making the time for the little things that collectively push me forward to my goal and also make everything else feel easier. It is caring for my future self. The preparation of a delicious homemade meal that is not just for this moment but will nourish my family in the future – I have given my future self the benefit of having a nutritive meal ready without having to put in the time or effort. I have given future me a gift. 

Much as the delivery of a utensil holder and shoes is not particularly glamorous – but past me knew we needed these things and did the work to select the perfect pieces that would fit tidily into our new space. The delay in their delivery could not be helped but the reward of being able to unwrap these gifts and clear up our counter is wonderful. It was a delightful surprise for my partner who knew these items were coming but didn’t know when. 

I watered and pruned our tomato plants. This year’s fruits have not been particularly abundant or delicious. The tomatoes are watery and lacking flavor – what I am most looking forward to is the opportunity to roast and freeze these tomatoes for soups this winter. I am still using the tomatoes harvested last year in this year’s bisques and sauces. Again, it’s small steps, pulling out the kitchen sheers and collecting the leaves that have fallen and that need to be pruned from the plant so that it may thrive and nourish those buds that will turn into fruit. 

I went through boxes of old clothing, items I had held onto out of sentimentality. Items that meant something to me at the time or that I felt were too nice to just pass on so quickly. Looking at those sweet pieces now I am struck by how silly it is to hold on to those items that do not serve me. I am holding on to clothing that some other child might wear. It might bring them joy and they might delight in wearing them. Therefore, I went though the collection again. I kept the pieces that were particularly meaningful, and let go of the rest. I do not need every garment. No child requires items that are too small for them to sit in storage. I am relieving myself from the burden of having to go through these items again in the future. 

It is a gift to have so much that we may share with others. It is a joy to let so much go out into the world to hopefully make someone else’s day brighter. I am so grateful that I have given myself and my family the gift of less. I am making room for the things that are truly meaningful and valuable to me. I am making space for the people and ideas that will spark my imagination and help me to move forward. I am not clouding my physical space or my mental space with accumulated items or tasks that belong to someone else. And let them! Let them feel the joy of opening a new treasure or of having something in their home that is useful and valuable to them. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of that chain of events and to give the gift of a better day to someone else. I am full of gratitude for what I have been able to set free today. It has been a liberating and exciting day. It feels quite powerful to be this light, to let this much go, and to be free of the burden of caring for or tending to these belongings any more. They are free and I am free and it feels wonderful. What a gift!

When you donate do you feel better? Does it feel this good for everyone else? The sensation is lightness isn’t it? Or do you feel something else?

Letting Go of Control to Accept More

We’re preparing for showings of our home, putting out hand sanitizer and shoe covers. Dusting and scrubbing all the nooks and crannies we may have missed in our first purge before the photographer came through. I am downsizing my closet and clearing out anything that makes our house look a little too full. Just because we’re ready for more room doesn’t mean the house has to look like it!

The process of trying to clean everything has been a gift, it has helped me to realize that when I am clinging tightly to the small things my hands are too full to accept the larger blessings and good fortune the universe wants to give me next. I don’t love this lesson but I’m learning it.

Therefore, I am intentionally making a point to only do the next right thing. This often means something small, organizing a drawer or dusting off the dresser so that I feel like I have done my work. In letting go of my attempts to control the results I free myself. Not only do I feel lighter but it leaves my palms open, ready to catch whatever comes next.

The housing market is wild in the mid-west and, from what I read, all over the country. If I focus my energy on clinging to what we have, I’ll never be ready to catch the good things coming my way. And I want to be able to accept the goodness the universe has prepared for me with open hands. I do not want to be so fixated on controlling every small thing that I have no room left to grab something big. It occurs to me that we do this a lot. Hoping for more while desperately clinging to the things we have – what if we just let go?

An Unexpected Exercise in Letting Go

Today the house photographer came to take pictures of our home, he did a lovely job. Since we moved into this house it has not been this clean. We scoured every surface, emptied every bin, drawer, puzzle, and verified contents. We donated clothing and shoes. We purged and polished, organized and eliminated. We have been up late every night this week preparing for this moment. To be honest, clean houses are totally overrated. Yes, it’s lovely to feel like I live in a hotel, to walk into the bathroom and see nothing but soap on the counter. But this space no longer feels like my home and really, isn’t that a deeper meaning?

We’re preparing to share this space with the world, to sell it to the next family in need of a home. People who are not us but will fill the same cupboards and shelves with their belongings. People who will love this home and make it their own. That is what this exercise is designed to do, to remove the personal and create a blank slate where another family can see themselves living, laughing, and coming together. 

It feels good to be done but this is the beginning of the cleansing, not just the surfaces and floors but the beginning of this home no longer being ours. We are moving toward our new home and towards what is to come, shedding our skin and stepping away from this home and the lives we have built together here. 

When this ritual is all done and this space is ready for a new family to love, learn, and grow we will gone. We get to take the friendships we have made with our neighbors. We get to build something new and different. All of these are bittersweet gifts as the ease of, “I made too much dinner, please eat with us,” and unscheduled playdates that last until bedtime will no longer be part of our routine.

This home was a cozy cocoon that held us safe all through new parenthood, grief, resurrection, and the pandemic. It has given us more than we knew we needed. It taught us how to be good neighbors, the value of a good play structure, walking trails, and the beauty of a garden. It has given us everything we needed to thrive and we have been nourished and nurtured within its walls, climbing them like ivy until we found there were no more walls to cover, no more updates to make, and we are ready for wilder wider spaces.

I am so grateful for this home and its gifts. I am grateful for the people we have known, the first steps and parties, the blowout fights and crying fits, all of those moments have brought us to where we are right now and I am truly grateful that this space has been so patient and generous with us. We could not imagine where we are now when we began our journey of homeownership so I won’t project where we will be in the next ten years. I will only say that I am grateful, fortunate, and so humbled by all we have been given so far.