Seeing and the big “F” word: forgiveness

forgiveness, health & wellness, Journaling, meditation, thoughts for living, Uncategorized

You know the feeling. You had a disagreement with another person and in your mind you forgave. You were able to forgive them because you ended your relationship with them.  But did you really forgive them or did you just forget them?

 The answer to that question will be revealed next time you unexpectedly run into them in a location you weren’t prepared for, such as your local grocery store. If your heart jumps and your stomach feels anxious, then the energy of the conflict hasn’t subsided and, frankly, you focused on the forgetting but not the forgiving.

So what do you do when you come across THAT person? Here are some options, only one of them recommended.

1. Turn around and pretend you didn’t see them.

2. Ram your shopping cart into the back of their legs and pretend you didn’t see them.

3. Walk by them as if they were invisible and pretend you didn’t see them, or

4. See them.

As uncomfortable as it is, facing THAT person is a response coming from a stance of self empowerment. Responding as a whipped puppy with your tail between your legs will only add to the dynamic belief you were on the losing end of the conflict. Instead, take a deep breath, open your eyes, both in your head and heart, and see the person in front of you. What you discover might surprise you about them and yourself.

Now, for the awkward moment. Does seeing them include speaking? Maybe. But certainly on your terms and not theirs. You can say hello, or nod your head and give a small smile (but not the smirk smile) and keep walking. If they initiate a conversation, such as, “how are you?” say, “I’m great!” and keep on walking.

So the moment has passed and you SAW them, what do you do next to FORGIVE them?

Here are some steps that may help you with the process of forgiveness.

1. Write the person a letter stating exactly what they did that hurt you. Journaling can be a therapeutic process which can help you “read your own mind.” Journaling does not have to be limited to words. Incorporating art or other visual elements are as effective in processing your feelings. (Do not send THAT person the letter, but it might help to read it to another supportive person who can keep a confidence.)

2. Pray and meditate on the concept of forgiveness. Sometimes, we aren’t ready to pray for THAT person, but we can start the process by quieting the thoughts that racket around like they are on a handball court by focusing on the theme of forgiveness.

3. When you are ready to move to the next stage, pray for good things for yourself and THAT person. This action is empowering because it gives you control. When you start, you don’t have to be sincere, but over time you may find yourself believing that both of you deserve the gift of a life filled with blessings.

4. Understand that the role of forgiveness isn’t to change THAT person as change may never happen to your expectations and demands, but it is there to heal you and give you a better quality of life.

Forgiveness is a voluntary choice with a process and while forgetting may be a component of it, that, in and of itself, isn’t an indication of healing. If a chance encounter with someone with whom you have had a dispute has rattled your psyche’s bones, then it may be time for you to say “Oh, Forgiveness” so the next time you encounter them you can “See” them.




Digging up the writing grave

creative non fiction, thoughts for living

I have bought all the books on writing I know to buy. I have Stephen King’s On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft,  Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones  and Wild Mind, Living the Writer’s Life. 

writing down the bonesThey all say the same thing about developing your writing skill: write. Write Good. Write Bad. But Write. Reading about writing is not writing. It’s reading. All those authors, I’m sure, though are appreciative I paid Amazon with my debit card to buy their books. But their books, short stories, and essays are theirs, not mine.

Mine are still jam packed in my mind. They’re like a tight knot in my shoe laces. I keep picking at the strings until one end finally breaks loose and it can all become untied. And then, once the two ends are flopping over my shoes, I can then pick them up and put them in a nice, tidy bow.

If I were to recommend one of those books over the others, I pick Natalie and Writing Down the Bones. She offers the simplest, most practical approach in trying to teach someone how to write something more substantial than a letter to grandmother from summer camp.

Natalie is still around in Taos, NM, living the artist’s life there. Her’s was the first book on writing I bought, so maybe I have a loyalty towards her because she was my first kiss with the writing life. But I followed through on what she suggested as a writing practice. And her method left the best memory of connection with others through writing. The three of us–Geraldine, Valerie, and me–met in my second story apartment and picked scraps of paper with random phrases from my wicker basket. We spent 20 minutes in stream of consciousness writing and then read aloud to each other. I loved both Geraldine and Valerie and they tolerated each other for me. I think Valerie, who was an artist, saw the words as an amplification of the images she created. Geraldine, an activist, saw the writing as a confirmation of her beliefs. And me. I was a journalist at the local paper and I saw the words as beautiful, illuminated stepping stones through the dark cave of stories in my mind.

One of my goals I had when I moved to New Mexico was to attend one of Natalie’s workshops. I never have. I don’t know why. I guess I am afraid the sparkle of her personality in the written form won’t translate in a one-to-one contact. I met Jane Smiley in person one time and this happened with her. I thought she was aloof, shy, and awkward in person. Not at all fluid and flexible as she is in the many books of hers I read. I guess I don’t want to risk a similar disappointment with Natalie who has connected with me so well through her writing abilities.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read Writing Down the Bones. I think it might be time to excavate it from the bookshelf grave.