Step Back Saturday–Forgiveness

I’ve been thinking about the concept of forgiveness on this cloudy Saturday morning. So many thoughts are buzzing through my head, and I’m trying to think about all the references I have ever read about. None of them feel right to me.

So I think about what forgiveness looks or feels like. Who or what have I forgiven? How did it make me feel? What was necessary to forgive? I think first and foremost, I have had to forgive myself for actions that I have either felt bad about or that I had no control over, but still had control over me. Then there are acts that people have done which have hurt.

For me it’s releasing the negative power or hold that this person or act has had on me. It’s accepting that it happened, noting the consequences, and being able to move forward in life without that it blocking or influencing everything I do.

So is that really forgiveness or is it letting go or walking alongside whatever happened? And do we ever really let go of something that has affected us so strongly that we feel anger or sadness about it?

Imagine holding onto anger, bitterness, despair, sadness, wrath, indignation, rage, misery, melancholy, anxiety, guilt, or shame. Do you feel the weight of that negativity? My shoulders hunch over just thinking about it. My stomach ties in knots. My head aches. My world looks dim.

What if I took that emotion and the act that caused it and placed it alongside me, instead of having it plastered in front of my face? What if I acknowledge that yes this happened, yes this person betrayed, hurt, tried to break me or this action happened that almost destroyed me, but I’m not going to let it. I’m going to walk next to it.

Two things will happen.

gerberdaisy

One. I will see the world as I did before–from a clearer, happier, fresher perspective. It’s like a dark cloud will have been lifted, and I can see how much love others have for me and that I have for myself. I see what is right here, right now, and I choose to be with what is positive. I have forgiven myself and others.

Two. I start to walk faster, surer, and with a confidence that negativity tried to take away. Soon what I placed beside me slows down for surely it can’t carry all that horrid weight. And I leave it behind. Sometimes it might get a burst of energy and catch up, but if I stay positive it won’t get ahead.

It’s a conscious act to do this. It can involve letting this person know that they no longer have that control over you and how their actions affect you. If that person is no longer here or seeing them isn’t plausible, write them a letter, read it out loud, and let it go.

Write about what you need to forgive, what is blocking you from moving forward, what fills you with the emotions I listed above. Write out the details and decide if any action with that person is needed. If not, let it be, accept that this person may never change, but it doesn’t mean they have that power over you.

Write down how you felt before you removed this block and how you feel after. Refer back to those positive feelings whenever you notice them catching up. Stay in emotional shape by doing what makes you feel wonderful, strong, and happy.

I would love to hear what your idea of forgiveness is and how it has worked for you.

 

Memoir Threads

Writing about your family or your childhood can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start. Having a theme like holidays and family vacations or writing chronologically are two ways to organize. 

I use memoir threads to brainstorm themes. For summer I suggest favorite summer activities from childhood. 

Write the theme in the circle. Then on each line brainstorm what you loved doing as a child during summer. 

Going to the beach

Climbing trees

Riding

Bikes

Hide and seek

Catching fireflies

Vacations  in Lake George

You can add more threads as once you open the jar of memories, they tend to overflow. 

Then take each memory thread and write about it. Use all your sensory details like smell, sight, taste, feel, hear, plus who were you with, when, and what feelings did this memory leave you with?

Some memories can be painful, especially if you were forced to so something you didn’t like each summer. They can be just as powerful and may help to write about from an older perspective. 

You may renew a love of something thst you stopped doing or want to visit old friends. 

The threads are endless. Make copies of your thread sheet, fill it in, and you will always have topics for your journal. 

Summer Fun

In my last journaling workshop, we focused on summer fun. When my boys were little, as soon as school was out we wrote everything we wanted to do that summer on a big poster board. 

Some staples were strawberry picking in June, going on vacation, swimming, picnics, bike rides, concerts, movies to see, family to visit, how many ice cream places we would visit and rate, etc. 

I made sure there was downtime, but it gave them structure and lots to look forward to. I haven’t done that in a long time. As adults we can get caught up in our lives and forget to enjoy life no matter what season we are in. 

The Northeast summers are so short, I want to be outside as much as possible. 

So here is my list for the summer:


By putting it in my journal, it becomes real and I remember to look up when Shakespeare is in Congress Park or that I still need to see Guardians of the Galaxy (although not in the theater at this point!) I have much to do still!

As you check off your summer fun activities journal about them so you remember the details and the joy. 

Then do it all again in the fall with apple picking, Halloween, and hay rides!

Create and decorate your summer fun list today. Put it in your journal or on your fridge as a reminder. Enjoy!

Step Back to Basics

It’s summer. The sun has mostly been out, everything is growing, the birds sing joyfully, and my dogs roll around in the grass. 

I love summer, but haven’t quite felt like I’m enjoying it. I’m busy and jumping from one event to another, one project to another, one unnecessary activity to another. 

I need to slow down and get back on track. How do I do that?

The first thought that came to mind is step back to basics. To me that means cutting back on what stresses me and fill it with what nourishes me and makes me happy. 

Here are some ways to step back to basics:

1. Cut back on what I don’t enjoy doing. Of course there are times when I have obligations to fill. I’m not someone who enjoys housework, but I make it better by listening to music or an audiobook or setting a timer to see how much I can get done. 

2. Go for a walk. Nothing slows me down and brings perspective quicker than taking my dogs for a walk. 

3. Listen to music. Discover new types or artists. 

4. Make time for a hobby that you love. If you don’t have one, then figure one out. Maybe it’s carving wood, painting, hiking, reading, pottery, photography, learning an instrument or language. What brings you joy?

5. Shut down the technology. My son yelled at me this morning as I’m using my phone to blog. He wanted me to talk to him and not get caught up in social media. I put my phone down until he left for work! It’s so easy to get dragged into someone else’s drama and not even know what the drama is! We feed off everyone’s negative responses. Stick to the facts and call that person if you are concerned. 

6. Be Still. Sit outside and enjoy the sounds, scents, and sights around you. Be in that moment. Or if you have a garden connect to nature and the earth. 


7. Unclutter your life by getting rid of what you don’t use and either give it to someone or recycle it. 

8. Eat close to home and food that is simple and fresh. Farmer’s Markets are abundant. Eat fresh and organic when you can. Eat what nourishes you. 

Here is a list of markets in the Capital District

Cut out the fluff and activities that don’t serve you. Do what moves you and makes your heart and body feel lighter. This takes listening to yourself and not loading your life up so much that your spirit is tamped down. 

There is nothing wrong with slowing down and getting back to basics. It also means getting back to the foundation of who you are. 

How will you step back to basics?

Contrasts

I’m sitting outside this morning thinking about how life is a balance of contrasts. Happiness and sadness, joy and sorrow, love and hate. It has always amazed me how I can feel those contrasts at the same time. 

I have worked hard to find a balance in between so that I’m closer to the positive, but life can be stubborn. It’s like a bully that just won’t back off until you face him and shove him back. 

I’m enjoying the solitude, the whisper of the wind rustling the leaves and yet I’m sad. I’m missing my son and as much as I have worked hard to bring happiness and joy to my family, we will always have this weight of sadness that sometimes is difficult to carry. It ebbs and flows through the different milestones, but somehow this year is tougher. Maybe because nothing stays the same and I’m trying to hang on to that sameness. 

Maybe my being positive isn’t enough to counteract all the negative. I don’t have the answers and maybe that is my problem. I’m not required to have all the solutions, nor am I required to fix everything. It’s hard enough keeping a balance within myself.  I only need to remember this so I can remove my cape and just be me. 

I know without the contrasts this would be a gray world. Sometimes gray is perfect, but most of the time I’ll take the contrast, because I have known true love, huge happiness, and pure joy. 

What contrasts are in your life and how can you find a balance between them?

Different Levels of Activity 

Sitting still is one of the hardest activities for me to do. Yes, I sit when I write, but my mind is extremely active as are my hands. To sit and let the world flow around me is very difficult. 

Even Dakota, pictured above, is waiting for me to say, “Wanna go for a walk?” His mind is in constant motion. But for a little while both he and I kept still even if our minds went crazy. 

I let the crazy fly through and move on. 


Even if I can’t be completely inactive, I try to take the time to sit and read. Dakota enjoys chomping on his toy, named Marvin, or chewing on a bone. Having that quiet time rejuvenates me for the chaos of my week. 

In order to go inactive, another word for downtime, I need to prioritize. I haven’t stopped for months, so I worked really hard to keep this weekend free. I may go on walks, tend my garden, read and write, but I’m home and in slow mode. 

Perhaps there are different levels that we should strive for. 

Stillness- simple meditation where we sit in a comfortable position, focus on our breath, and let our thoughts go.

Inactivity-Hanging out in your backyard, pool, beach, the woods, or anywhere you can relax and not be required to do anything. 

Slow Mode-keeping your schedule light, so that you can do something you love or be with those you love. No schedule. 

Conscious Activity-choosing to go to events, be with friends, finish that project you have left for months. You make a conscious decision to do what is important to you, not because you feel obligated. 

Busy Bee Mode-working, fulfilling family and other obligations, every day chores that must get done. Deadlines. Goals. 

None of these levels of activity are all good or bad. If you sat in stillness all the time or never had downtime, your body and mind might eventually rebel. 

Finding the balance and giving yourself permission to be in any of these modes are key to living a full life. 

What level of activity are you at today?