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.

 

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?

Step Back Saturday

When I looked back at my week, I noticed I wrote many different phrases in my journal:

Bless this Hot Mess

Carry stillness and peace with me.

As long as there is the tiniest wildest chance, I can’t give up.

Speak my truth.

Stay out of it.

Mind my own business.

Luke was away, so I made a huge list of items I wanted to get done for my writing projects and the foundation. Add in working out for my next belt promotion, and my week was packed. The first message of Bless this Hot Mess came after I made my list for the week and realized how much I actually wanted and needed to get accomplished. Some items were on it to help me get caught up and some were to get ahead. I felt this message was positively blessing what I set out to do. Yea, I had a mess of work, but I can do it.

Carry stillness and peace with me was my goal to be at home in order to get the work done. I have a tendency to bounce around with my projects and in my car and maybe am not as efficient as I could be! My dogs and I established a routine and they benefited from my breaks as we went on more walks!

As long as there is the tiniest chance, I can’t give up. One of our young adult warriors has been struggling in the ICU and this week was very precarious for her. She is slowly getting better, but I worry about her and her family as I know what they are going through. Cancer is such a big pain in the ass in my life, because so many close to me are currently battling. But as long as there is hope, I don’t give up, and my wish is that those battling soak up that energy and belief.

hope

Speaking my truth is a practice for me. I feel that sometimes when I do speak how I truly feel, I’m misunderstood. So I’m working on clarifying my thoughts before I speak them. This connects to Stay out of it and Mind my own business. Speaking my truth has to be for me and my purpose. I tend to get involved where maybe I should not, but I’m a fixer, so it’s hard to walk away. I want to help others, but sometimes people may not want or need my help. I’m learning, but speaking my truth for me will not be overshadowed by fear, guilt, or insecurity.

What a week of productivity, extreme emotions, outspokenness, and chaotic peace! Next week I plan to maintain balance between my work and personal life and spread sunshine so whoever needs it will feel the love!

What was your week like? Reflect, appreciate, and move forward.

Step Back Saturday–House of Truth

Last night I had a dream in my childhood home in Greenville. This dream made me think about the Greenville House, and how patterns and themes are developed from our dreams if we pay attention and record the details.

I have dreamt of the Greenville House many times. The first was when I was about 8 or 9 and living there. I dreamt that skeletons walked the house, and I was the only one living there. This was one of my strongest and reoccurring nightmares, and after my father died, the house did feel empty.

I often dreamt of my dad after he passed. My dad died when Stephen was two months old and Nick was two years old. When Nick was ill at age 12, I dreamt of my dad holding him in the living room of the Greenville House. I thought it meant Nick would be healed, but really my dad was bringing him home.

I met many people living and those who passed on in this house. It became a place where the truth, no matter how hard, was shown. I named it the Greenville House of Truth. What was dreamt there synchronized with my life or prepared me for what was to come.

I would never have noticed these patterns if I hadn’t tracked or titled my dreams and followed the Dream Lightning process that Robert Moss developed. Why is this important? Because when I dream about the Greenville House, it’s like a telegram or a FedEx envelope being delivered overnight. It’s urgent, and I need to take action now.

When my dad is in the house, I’m on high alert. I’m not sure what my dream from last night meant, but at least I’m paying attention and am open to the messages.

First and foremost, keep your journal by your bed and record your dreams as if you are describing a movie in the present tense. Title each dream. If you notice that many of your dreams are in a certain setting, then make a subtitle. For example, I’ll title a dream, Tsunami: Greenville House of Truth. This creates a pattern that I pay more attention to. Do you recognize this reoccurring setting? Is it in this reality or only in your dreamworld? Does it vary? Who shows up there?

Journal about the patterns and themes and what this place means to you as the places and people in our dreams can guide us in our everyday lives.

Step Back Saturday

This week I focused a lot on the past and finding who I am in order to live a better life now. I also wrote about knowing where I come from and how I came into this world. Of course we KNOW how we came into the world, but what was our birth like, what kind of childhood did we have? What experiences shaped up to be the person we are today?

So the other day, my mom gave me some photos, because I told her I wanted to start writing about my childhood. This is some of what I have learned so far.

Perseverance

I was born on October 19, 1966. I was three weeks early. As the story goes, the doctors were told to get a priest as it didn’t look like I would survive. I was 3 lbs 14 oz., which isn’t bad in today’s standards, but not having all the equipment back then was why they were doubtful. I literally fit in my dad’s hand. I’ll have to find that photo if there is one. My father refused to let the priest come in and bless me. He knew, even if I didn’t know it then, that I was a fighter and would make it.

janinebaby
Here I am as a one year old!

I have always been a klutzy child. I’ve sprained my ankles more times than I could count, broke my leg at 5 years old, then fractured same one in my teens, then severed my ACL (again, same leg) at age 31. I’ve had multiple concussions, which would explain quite a bit. You see? Going back to my childhood explains why my body is hurting so badly today!

I also have had severe allergies since I was a teen. Food, environment, fragrances, you name it. The worst was poison ivy. I would walk our dog along the road, and I would get it. I even got it in the middle of winter, when I was chopping wood and a piece of wood hit my cheek. I think the reason why I can take my mind off pain so well is because when I literally had poison ivy all over my body and internally, I couldn’t do anything but lay on the floor and try not to scratch the hell out of my skin. Perseverance: I learned it from birth and so far it has served me well.

janine8
8 years old

Fortitude and Speed

We moved up to Greenville by the Catskill Mountains when I was 7. As you can see I was a cute, but goofy looking kid. Not sure what my mom was thinking with the ruffles, but I had to go with it. A main reason for why we moved to Greenville was because my brother and I were constantly bullied. I’m sure for me it had a lot to do with my glasses. I say I gained fortitude, because I had to be brave to go to school every day. My glasses would get broken, and those who I thought were friends went out of their way to tease me.

I say speed, because I remember racing home from school to my house as I was chased by kids who for some reason wanted to hurt me. This made me very intolerant to seeing other kids bullied, and it wasn’t until I was in 7th grade that I finally stood up to someone. I won’t mention his name, but from that day forward I stood a little taller. It’s a good thing, because I wasn’t all that fast in my teen years!

Janine9
9 years old. I think I get points for color coordination between my Mickey necklace and my sweater!

I still have that necklace. It’s one of my most treasured momentos from my childhood.

janine12
12 years old

Ok you would never know that I had curly hair! I think I was in my don’t show your teeth stage. I had very long hair before I turned 7. It was wild, curly, and always in knots. That may be why my mother cut it!

Confidence

I was extremely shy as a kid. I cried on the first day of school (wait I did that in college too!) and wouldn’t let go of my sister’s leg. I had a very hard time speaking to others and often had my head in a book. I had dreams of going to college to become a lawyer, so I forced myself to take public speaking classes. I also worked hard on getting rid of my Long Island accent and a family trait of mumbling. How was I going to defend the world if no one could understand me!?

As I grew older, I learned to speak up and not only express myself fairly well, but voice my opinion and stand up for what I believed in. I joined student council, wrote for our college paper, and went to some rallies.

Janine22
In Maine, 22 years old

I changed my major to my true love, English literature, and found my calling as a writer and editor. I spent most of my adult life raising my children, which I would never have changed for the world. The memories I have of my two boys are beyond priceless. What I learned as a child has only grown as the unpredictability of adult life has not only given me joy in the most precious gifts of my husband and children, nieces and nephews, but the strength to pick myself up after losing both my dad and son to cancer.

If I look close enough, I can see how so many different experiences and events in my life have prepared me for what was to come. Taking the time to absorb them and learn from them is part of what stepping back is all about.

Write about your birth. What are some major events in your life that have made you who you are today? What can you learn from them? How did they impact who you are now and what you do? What would you whisper to your infant self?

I would say, “Hang on to what and who truly matters and let all the other stuff go.”

Step Back Saturday

As I look back at my week, I noticed the tremendous emotional ups and down, chaos and tranquility, sadness and hope. This is what life is all about — experiencing sadness, so we appreciate the joys and coming to every moment with an open heart and present mind. Sometimes that can be hard, and we need comfort.

Every since I started this daily writing prompt in January, I am continually thrust back to my childhood, to what comforted me, and to what brought me joy. After reviewing this week’s prompts, I have that strong urge to go back to the topic of Twizzlers.

Who doesn’t love Twizzlers? At a recent movie, I did find out that one of my close friends doesn’t like them, but I won’t break up our friendship spanning about 8 years because of it!

Twizzlers, licorice, and I go way back to my life in Long Island, my parents, siblings, movies, and vacations. I remember vacations to Lake George and Storytown, which is now Great Escape, when we would get the long strands of red licorice and black licorice bites. We braided the red strands and then ate them whole.

licorice-lacesblack-licorice

Then there was Good & Plenty candy with the hard shell and the black licorice inside. Anything with that licorice flavor was well loved in our house.  Maybe we were given Ouzo, an anise flavored liquor, often as children to help with teething. What can I say? It was a part of our Greek heritage!

good-and-plenty

I remember the first time I ate chocolate twists. It was at our home in Long Island on Braxton Street. We were watching the very first Planet of the Apes and in addition to our usual red and black Twizzlers, we tried the Hershey’s Chocolate Twists. They were delectable and became another favorite.

chocolate-licorice

I think that’s why I love Twizzlers so much. They remind of the goodness of family, the gatherings we always had, and the comfort and love I felt as a child. The joke now is that I always have Twizzlers around, and they are a staple for every trip to the movies.

Twizzlers = Family = Love.

What is a favorite childhood sweet or treat that brought you comfort and reminds you of your family? What images and feelings does it remind you of?

Step Back Saturday

40000_faux_fur_muff1
Do you remember these?

As I looked back on my week, I noticed that I focused on a couple of the senses: vision and hearing. I wanted to think of something that had brought me joy as a child and was soft to the touch.

I had a hand muff as a child It was beige, faux fur, and I was probably 6 or 7 when I got it. We always dressed up for Sunday church and major holidays, so having a hand muff to go with my fancy jacket was key.

I don’t know if this is a figment of my imagination, but I remember having my muff when my sister, Stephanie, and I received our First Communion. Writing memoir can often be subjective, because we get this vision of fact in our head that is based on a child’s memory. Whether the details are exact isn’t a deal breaker. It’s gathering the sparks of memory that roll out into other threads of memory that count.

So I’m going with this story until I find photos that tell me otherwise. I lived with my parents, my brother, and two sisters on Braxton Street in Hempstead, Long Island. We could walk to school, and my aunt lived down the street, so we often visited. It was a close knit neighborhood where everyone knew each other.

I remember our white dresses and the veil that rested like a head band on my head. I have a memory of my hands in my muff and how warm they were inside. It was a cocoon of comfort until my hands got too hot and I had to take them out. The muff was soft and I would hold it and run my fingers through the fur because it was a prized possession.

I don’t know if it was tradition, but later that day we walked around to all the houses in our dresses and told the neighbors about our Communion. It was obvious with what we were wearing, but who could resist little girls in white, holding muffs, and smiling with missing teeth?

Neighbors gave us money, and we went home to celebrate. I guess there are two memories here, but that’s the joy of writing about the past. As it unravels, threads lead you elsewhere. Something soft, something white, but a wonderful memory of childhood and community.

What is something soft that you remember as a child? Maybe you still have it. Does it feel the same? What memories does it bring up by holding it. Look for photos to spark where you held it. Bringing the senses into memoirs creates the whole picture, so that others remember it along with you.

Step back Saturday

tractor-trailer

Looking back at my week, I actually accomplished a lot, managed to walk my dogs, and got some exercise in. I’ve been focusing on meditating every day, so all in all I felt positive. Yet last night when I went to bed, I felt anxious and out of sorts. I physically didn’t feel well, and I know that my emotions or some underlying issue affects my body.

I went to bed with this intention: What do I need to see? I had just seen this intention from Robert Moss’ blog (great one to follow on dreams) and it made sense to ask this specific question instead of getting deluged with too much insight. This was my dream:

What I Don’t Need Dream

I volunteered to drive a tractor trailer somewhere. I also told a dad that I would drive his son home after the soccer practice that my husband coaches. He didn’t ask anyone to drive his son, I just volunteered.

Then when I was leaving to go to the tractor trailer, I saw the kid’s mom and his sister in a cast. I was going to ask her to just go pick up her son, but I felt bad about his sister. She yells telling me to make sure I didn’t forget. No thank you or I’ll just get my kid. Then I realize that they live all the way in downtown Albany. I feel trapped.

I’m driving the tractor trailer and am pretty amazed that I can do this. I’m almost to my destination when I take a turn too sharply and the trailer flips onto its side. I get out and my phone rings. Some friend of the family wants to know why I haven’t picked up the kid yet. I explain my situation and say that they will have to handle it. I feel bad, but relieved. I turn around and the tractor trailer is gone.

Feeling: Totally trapped. Snowball effect of saying yes.

Reality check: Except for the fact that my husband coaches a soccer team, everything was extreme, which is common in dreams. If the dream was fairly normal like something I would do, then I may not have paid attention. The fact that I was driving a tractor trailer, which I have never or probably wouldn’t ever do was a big message for me.

The question that of what I needed to see turned into my asking, What Don’t I Need?

I don’t need to get involved with anything that has absolutely nothing to do with me. I don’t need to fix the world; I only need to work on me, take care of myself, and from that positive place, I naturally help those who need it. I’m not talking about family and friends where we want to help each other and that is what we do.

I’m talking about filling the space so that I don’t have any time to reflect or do what I’m called to do–write. I also didn’t take enough time to do yoga. It’s important to me and by stepping back and looking at my past week, I see the pattern of stepping in where I don’t need to.

Why do I do this? Well that’s a totally different journal entry. What I was meant to see is that I need to make space for writing and that is what I will do.

Catch Phrase to remember what I needed to see: CUT IT OUT!

What do you need to cut out of your life that doesn’t serve you or is stopping you from fulfilling your purpose? If you aren’t sure, write the intention “What do I need to see” in your journal and keep open to the answers. In addition write “What I don’t need.”

Step Back Saturday

stepbackgrass
Photo by Alysia Thomas

The weekend is finally here. There is so much to get done and that to do list may feel like it is only getting larger. Many of last week’s themes were about love and being positive. They focused on embracing goodness, being with people who make you happy, and being aware of anything or anyone who is usurping your life, your energy, or your joy.

Take today to get caught up if needed. However, don’t forget to step back and take in all the good you did in the past week. Be with people who make all the hard work worthwhile. And be honest with yourself: if you fell short of telling people how you feel, spreading good in the world, or fulfilling your life mission, give yourself a break and start over. Soak in the positive and release the negative.

Step Back Saturday

candle-burning
Photo by Alysia Thomas

During the weekend I like to step back and catch up on any journal writing that I missed during the week. If you like to record your daily activities, then it’s always a good idea to take some time each day to write them down.  I literally can’t remember what happened two days ago, so I always try to keep up.

But life gets in the way like it did this past week, so tonight I’m taking the time to step back, take a deep breath, and catch up.  My 19-year-old son had a very nasty virus this past week, which caused me to cancel appointments, delay deadlines, and put him first. Even at that age, our kids still need their momma when they’re so sick!

I had to reevaluate what my priorities were and let everything else fall back in light of family needs. How we react to setbacks can have a huge influence on how we move forward. For example, being home from college, my son wanted to be with this friends and continue having fun on his break. He complained and was very upset, and I truly felt bad for him.

But getting upset and being mad only made it worse and he realized that. So instead, we hunkered down by the fire and watched movies. Despite him feeling so ill, it was quality time together and I think he healed quickly by also stepping back and realizing that his body just needed time to rest.

So light a candle and take today to relax from the busyness of your life. Perhaps take that time to write from last week’s journal prompts or write about your life or your family. Journaling is a practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the more you find to write about.