Category Archives: Forgiveness

Owning Your Uncool

The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool. Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

There is a great scene in the film “The Holiday” when Kate Winslet’s character, Iris, is so distraught over hearing the news of her ex’s engagement that she starts breathing in gas from her stove as she is getting ready to light the flame for a cup of tea.  She then realizes what she is doing and scrambles to open the window, finishing the moment with a mumble to herself, “Low point!”

I love this scene because it reminds me of our humanity and the vulnerability we carry in our hearts that result in situations in our lives that really are “UNCOOL.”  It makes me laugh every time.  The scene has become an unfailing reflection of my own relationship foibles.  As I have opened this article with a quote that I also love, from another film (yes, I am a cinematic nut job), I can’t help but refer to it over and over again in my own life.  A lot of getting over our self- judgments that usually result in some misguided perception about who we are, is about owning those moments in our lives where we really do hit those “low points” and seriously act “uncool.”  Iris’s goofy attempt at poisoning herself with gas from her stove qualifies as one of these moments for me.

There has been a lot of talk over the past week about Miley Cyrus’s performance at the MTV VMA awards, and it has been funny to see many people’s reactions here on WordPress with the weekly writing challenge incorporating it as a guideline.  Most people don’t want to give any energy to the topic and the hype of this pop performance dilemma.  I totally understand it, as a person myself who has always rejected in some way through my own musical snobbery such mainstream musical gunk- which is why I have always related to the main characters in Almost Famous.

But I can’t help but notice that even those that don’t want to give any energy to the event still do by feeling the need to make their statement.  When I finally had a second to actually watch the video, I found myself laughing out loud- really.  Why?  Because here was a person engaged in one of those “low points,” one of those “uncool” moments where her immaturity outweighed whatever it was she was trying to do on that stage.  To me her performance was no different than a bunch of 13 year old awkward boys or girls having a sleep over acting outlandish about sex, a topic they don’t know anything about but want to be “cool.”

In my heart, I can’t help but be grateful that I now have enough wisdom to honor Cyrus’s process of growing up amidst all the labeling on this planet and the continuous blubbering over one concern to another regarding pop artists and what they are teaching our kids or what they say about our society as a whole.  In the end, we have to all own our “uncool” moments for what they are and love ourselves because there is nothing else left that is real but that love.  One day, I’m sure Ms. Cyrus will own her “uncool” also and be a person she herself can fully love rather than seek the hype surrounding celebrity marketing and drama.

For + Giveness & A Weepie Moment

Opening our mind's doors beyond limiting perceptions through forgiveness.
Opening our mind’s doors beyond limiting perceptions through forgiveness.

Sometimes in our lives you have an unexpected memory pop up, and you have to remember that there are no coincidences in our interactions with others and what they present to you in your heart, especially when there are no words spoken that specifically point to a past experience.  I am so grateful for everyone in my life, as they teach me something new every moment.  Recently I have been talking to a teacher of mine named Cliff Edwards that is publishing a book called The Forgiveness Handbook.  Cliff and I were talking about how forgiveness opens doorways in our lives to new possibilities because it gives us relief to our attachments to the past.  In my work, attachment is a major component to the creation of our limiting perceptions.

As I was pondering our conversation, a song by the Weepies came on called “All that I Want.”  As I heard it I started thinking about a moment in my life where I was told by my ex-husband that he had been having an affair.  That emotion of the past started creeping to the surface in the form of tears even though I thought it was gone.  I was in the middle of some hefty coaching training at the time, so I was constantly in a process, dealing with this giant eruption that just blew into my life without abandon and no warning.  I remember being on a lesson call, and I expressed to all my classmates how much of a struggle it was at that moment to feel forgiveness for the feelings of betrayal I had felt in that moment.  I could barely say the words without my voice straining with emotion, but I remember being told I needed to focus on what I needed at that point in time to take care of myself at that stage of my grief.

I realize now that I have not fully forgiven him.  It was not only for the affair, but it was also for bringing into my life this precious soul, his daughter, and how I didn’t want to hurt her by making a choice to leave the relationship.  I put myself into the situation, but I felt like a victim.  I didn’t want her to feel the pain I was feeling, I didn’t want the holidays to be ruined.  I didn’t want to lose her.  So I chose to stay, and exercise the desire to forgive in an effort to keep my life together.

In the end, it all fell apart anyway.  And in the end, I lost that relationship with his daughter.  But I do realize, that fully forgiving my ex-husband and myself will open new doorways for me and her.  I would have dreams with her, and we would be whispering to one another so that her father would not hear us talking.  When I would awaken I would just pray that her heart was full of the love she deserved and that she could forgive me.  Now, I need to fill my heart with the love I deserve as well, by allowing forgiveness in conjunction with this surrender to be complete.  Our potential in our lives to experience joy from moment to moment is so great.  Through the experience of forgiveness we finally become aware of our greatest potential to live and be loved.  The opportunity to align our self-perception with one of complete acceptance can set us free from the idea that we are not free.

Exercise

Close your eyes, and ask your heart to reveal to you a moment in time where you need to still forgive.  It could be anything- just trust what you see, experience the emotion and remember- you are not alone.

Facebook (What is it good for?)- Weekly Writing Challenge

Interchanging the word “Facebook” with the word “War” in the personally preferred Edwin Starr version of the hit Motown classic for my title has been a fun exercise for the day!  I have to thank the Weekly Writing Challenge for instigating this little musical  intrigue in my easily distracted mind.  Now down to business.

I once sat in a teaching by a Tibetan Buddhist nun that compared Facebook to the ultimate ego indulgence.  A place where egos run rampant with their over identification with self.  Where attachment to an “identity” grows stronger with every random post about what so and so ate for dinner or how annoying that guy was for cutting so and so off in traffic.   If I had to pinpoint the one thing that I learned from teaching people how to empower themselves it is that we have a choice in how we treat ourselves, others, and even in our use of a social media tool whether its Facebook, Twitter, or the next big thing.

I didn’t even use Facebook until around 2008, and I am even “of” that generation.  I resisted it until I could find a way to make it work in a meaningful way for me.  When I was training to be a life coach it was important to do your own personal work so you could help others authentically.  A big exercise we did was inventory our “incompletes” and make them “complete.”

This is where you interject, “What the heck is she talking about?”

Thank you for asking!

Incompletes- those little energy suckers (or BIG) that sit in the periphery of your mind, loaded up like a Twinkie with emotions such as guilt, shame.  The emotions never expire much like a Twinkie and its filling- and they clog up your life, unknowingly, like a backed up airplane runway.  You want to take off but “hello!” Traffic strikes again.

That’s when I met Facebook.  There were so many people in my life that I wanted to apologize to, make amends, let them know, “I am grateful for how you showed up in my life,” but couldn’t because how could I find them?  I got on Facebook and like an illuminated sky on a crisp spring morning I cleared my runway of all those stuck airplanes that were weighing me down.  So the question remains- is Facebook the “scourge” of the internet?

HappyBdayResized

There have been lots of posts about how everything is a choice, even Facebook (including mine).  So guess what?  For me it all comes down to perception!  I literally made Facebook “purposeful” and chose to engage with it in a positive, meaningful way where I could heal some old self-inflicted wounds and enrich my life.  And boy did it help me breathe.  To that note, I’d like to sing a rousing “Happy Birthday” and give my gratitude for the lightness I feel in my heart today due to this rocking scourge of the internet.  Perception is a shaky topic because people stand by them like they are a part of their body.  But when I can acknowledge and own the power it plays from the ignorant mind to the purposeful mind, I can determine its role in my life rather than allow “it” to determine me.

In the perfect words of Clark Griswold, “Alleluia!  Where’s the Tylenol?!”  Thanks Mr. Griswold for that perfect ending.

Let’s Rock Big Love!

WHERE’S YOUR HEAD AT?

Does your mind ever feel like this? Picture by Katie Lee found on VisualizeUS at http://vi.sualize.us/by_katie_lee_photography_balloons_inspiration_beautiful_picture_5zqt.html
Does your mind ever feel like this? Picture by Katie Lee found on VisualizeUS

A long time ago during my partying days, a group of my friends and I loved to rock out to the electronica song “Where’s you’re head at?” by Basement Jaxx.  I remember dancing on the rooftop of my friends’ enormous shared house on California Street in Washington DC during the summer when the low air quality fog hung over the city as the sun would try to peak through making it more amplified-  and soon, you could always count on that song.  Why am I rambling about this song?  Because I realize how this song has revisited me in a new era of my life, where I am always reflecting on just that- where is my head at?

It is a perfect question at a perfect time where half of what I am reflecting on is perception and mind.  In breaking down perception, the basis for my upcoming book, reflecting on your state of mind and how you are about to react to something is a valuable tool for living a life that is authentic and uncompromising.  What I do realize is that most of the time we are completely unaware of where our head is at- tethered like a balloon full of helium just bobbing along and carried off by any slight wind.

Just recently I orchestrated a large event and made a mistake that really upset someone.  When the victim of my own confused and overwhelmed mind confronted me about it, she expressed with great emotion her unhappiness.  I felt terrible and could not get the moment out of my mind.  I had a running tape of it secured tightly, rolling over and over again.  I relived my own feelings of shame and guilt without end.

When I went to bed that night, I had to acknowledge a few things in order to let it go.

1- Forgiveness of Self- I made a mistake, but running a tape of the incident over and over again in my head was completely unproductive and would give me nothing but more negative “feelings.”

2- Acceptance & Boundaries- I said I was sorry, over and over again, but she chose to still be extremely upset.  It is her choice alone.  There is nothing I could do to change how she felt.  This is a good boundary- that everyone is responsible for their own choices, and that includes in how they react.  My only role would be acceptance, and staying in my integrity.

3- Release & Heal- In accepting and creating a good boundary, the one thing I did have the power to do was envision this other person engaged in feelings of love and happiness.  I bathed the situation in love, and let it go.  Even in our boundary setting, which is primarily a function of the ego-driven mind, I can also recognize that we are inherently connected in spirit, and sending love and envisioning the situation transformed, it will help heal no matter what my mind tells me.

I acknowledge I still feel a little shame.  And I shall need to work on that, continuing with the above process.  But most importantly, I also have the opportunity to practice the new perception in my life that is at the core of my past experiences with situations like this one-

I AM LOVABLE.

Even though I made a mistake as we all do, or else what is the purpose of this life, I am not unlovable, as I might have acted out in the past.  But due to awareness, and processing my old perception of self, I can now come out of situations like that empowered with the knowledge of exactly where my head is at.  Time to groove on!

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Character to Be Loved

Me and my grandmother, Gertrude Grzybowski, right before I moved to New Mexico.
Me and my grandmother, Gertrude Grzybowski, right before I moved to New Mexico.

When I noticed the Weekly Writing Challenge this morning, I was grateful, because when I thought of all the people I would like to write about at this time, it was my Grandmother.  Gertrude Grzybowski, daughter of Dziadek and Babcia Perkowski- I don’t really know their first names- just grandma and grandpa in Polish.  They were potato farmers from Poland with a farm on Long Island, New York. They had a legendary flower pot on their front lawn made from an old toilet- a piece of cultural history.

My Grandmother has been very sick, in her late 80s living at a nursing home and trying to find ways to enjoy the last moments of her life, as she felt sad and lost trying to adjust to a strange place she was forced to call home due to her ailing health.  One of her last enjoyable activities was buying necklaces made by other ladies in the nursing home and wearing them all at one time.  It wasn’t NY high-fashion and it drove my aunt crazy, but it made her happy.  As I pondered about how I would write about her quirky character that she played in this life, I received a phone call this afternoon that I had been waiting for without any knowledge of when it would come exactly.

In my heart, I wanted her to be free of this body that was weighing her spirit down, and causing her the inability to live as independently as she has enjoyed for so many years.  My only living grandparent, Gertie, died this afternoon peacefully after suffering a stroke almost a week ago.  As people’s bodies start to break down, you find yourself as an outsider trusting the natural process of passing from one reality to another, but it is hard to stay in the present moment with them at times because you are constantly wondering- will this be the day?  I feel in her own mind, she was wondering the same thing.

You never knew what was about to come out of Gertie’s mouth.  She might shout the funniest thing, like her phrase that came to be her own, “That guy’s a bumb!”   Or she might just talk about how tired she was, and how she felt really alone, as all of her friends passed away with each year. Life seemed more and more like a foreign country to her with each passing moment.  She was not always the nicest person, but I always thought of her as this funny character in a film, navigating through this life as if it were one thing after another.  She loved Poland, and as a kid we always gathered our outgrown clothes for my Grandmother to send to our family there that had nothing because of the “communists.”  We were told, “They didn’t even have real ice cream.”  “Their” ice cream was more like half frozen sweet milk, barely recognizable by us spoiled Americans.

She prayed her rosaries every morning over her stacks of prayer cards, and every Friday she cleaned the altar and pews at St. Hedwigs Catholic Church.  I remember going to the masses growing up when visiting New York where the legendary priest would talk so quickly that it was like listening to someone pretend they were saying a mass and forgot the words.  Even though I didn’t understand anything because he was saying it so quickly, and with a New York accent, I was more than happy to spend 15 minutes less in a mass on a Saturday night.  Her collection of ceramic nuns in her living room and plates of the Polish Pope John Paul hanging on her walls would dance to the sound of her attempt to whistle while she swept the floors every morning in her house coat.

My Grandmother didn’t make it easy for anyone as they grew up in her house.  I was fortunate to be a granddaughter in her life that was told on her 16th birthday, “sweet sixteen, and never been kissed” with a giggle following her attempt to tease me.  She grew up in a time that lacked emotional education, a time where there was war and great financial uncertainty, and even though there were dark times in the house where she brought up 6 kids, there was a certain light around her that I enjoyed, and I will be grateful for every day.  During her last lucid days in the hospital my mother said she overheard a conversation with a male orderly who struck up a conversation with her.  He asked her about being a nurse, as she was, and how many kids she had in this life.  She said 8, which was correct- 6 living and 2 stillborns.  You never know what experiences people have had in this life.  Underneath the surface, there is always something lingering in someone that may be causing them pain and cause their personality to become distorted.   But the one thing we can always be sure of, as I was with my grandmother, our Gertie, is that inside their heart there is a place that just wants to be loved.

And so, as I come together with those that knew Gertie in many different ways- from sister, to aunt, to mother and grandmother- I shall remember that all you wanted was to be loved, and I shall send you that love with the hope that you are joyful in your freedom from the human body and in a place of peace in your heart.  Thank you for saying “I love you, Jess,” and reminding me that life does go fast, and every now and then we just need to remember that we are all human and subject to the foibles of our mind- but it is not our true nature.  I am grateful for all I have in my life, including you, and will remember to try and see beyond personalities into the human desire to be loved when we do not know how to love ourselves.

In one of our last conversations you said to me, “We used to have fun, right Jess?”  Yes Grandma, we did have fun.

Creativity for Peace Program- Prepare to Be Amazed!

Image by: Creativity for Peace Israeli May Freed, Creativity for Peace Director Dottie Indyke, Palestinian Jwana Ghaleb
Image by: Creativity for Peace
Israeli May Freed, Creativity for Peace Director Dottie Indyke, Palestinian Jwana Ghaleb

I don’t know if you have this radio program available to you, but if you don’t- you should check it out online!  One of my favorite things to listen to, be inspired by, and just plain “cry” to is Peace Talks Radio.  Weeks ago as I was driving to work, they were featuring one of my most loved programs on this planet- Creativity for Peace.  “What is this savvy, amazing, peace instilling program that you speak of,” you may ask?

Well!

“Creativity for Peace includes a camp experience in the high desert of New Mexico for adolescent girls from all sides in the Middle East conflict.   At the annual camp, the girls speak their minds and hearts about their own suffering due to the hostilities.  Despite being taught to see the other as the enemy, they learn to get along and even be friends.  More importantly perhaps, they learn important lessons in conflict resolution.”

I am a huge proponent of teaching people to listen- deeply listen- to resolve conflict and create healing in their hearts from traumatic or abusive situations.  This program to me represents everything that can be accomplished in our world if we understand that words much of the time are just expressions of emotional release, and many times once they are expressed without  judgment or reacting, healing can take place for both parties.  Incorporating deep listening practices into your daily routine can be life changing- especially with those people that really know how to “yank your chain.”

This particular episode that I was listening to had two young girls, Palestinian Jwana Ghaleb and Israeli Jew May Freed, who have attended the camp and continue to work with it to help other girls resolve their inner conflicts due to the outer conflict of their cultural society, particularly between Palestinians and Israeli Jews.  Their stories will drive you to great heart opening experiences, and give you the opportunity to see where you may need some healing yourself.

To listen, CLICK HERE.

I Shall Not Hate- Dr. AbuelaishA long time ago, I heard an interview by a Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, MD, MPH, where he talked about the anguish he experienced in losing 3 of his daughters and a niece due to an Israeli shell that hit his home in Gaza.  Dr. Abuelaish served as a doctor in Israel, and had dedicated his life to serving those that many would call his enemies.  In response to his experience, he wrote a book called “I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey”.  What was amazing about his interview to me, besides how incredible his spirit is to have dedicated his life to peace after an experience that could have perpetuated hate and conflict, was learning that one of his daughters that died in the bombing had actually attended Creativity for Peace, here in New Mexico.

My inspiration today lives in all of those that see beyond their own inner conflict and anger, and reach out to the world to heal rather than perpetuate the ego’s delusion of separation.  Deep Listening is a practice that can be instilled in all of us- and if our children learned it at a young age, I feel we could change the world.  To me, it is a meditative exercise that connects us to the hearts of one another, rather than our mind which is full of belief systems and a desire to be argumentative.  I hope that you have time to listen to this radio show today, or check out Dr. Abuelaish’s book– or just think about someone that you might be angry with, and see them with compassion for their ignorance that may have caused you pain- or have compassion for yourself, which is so hard and difficult to do for many of us.

Give yourself a hug, by giving someone else a hug.  Happy Friday!