Archive for forgiveness

Dropping the Ball

By Guest Blogger, Carolyn Cook.

OMG, I forgot to blog on my assigned day.

I know in advance that I am forgiven, so I’m not even going to pretend to obsess about this.  I know that you understand how it feels when you drop the ball. Right now, my life is a like game of catch. Most days, the ball is winding up in my glove. But on days like today, I’m not only dropping it, I’m watching it roll down the street and into the storm drain. Goodbye, ball.

I can’t even think about taking an intentional risk today. Risk is built into the structure of my life.  I am taking risks every day, because of the choices I’ve already made:

I have chosen to homeschool my child.

I have chosen to move my mother, who has dementia, to an assisted living facility that is five minutes from my home, and to be actively involved in her care.

I have chosen a career in the arts, which means I make very little money for a very large commitment of time, energy, and emotion.

There are new risks I want to take, and I’m looking forward to the time when life feels safe and boring again so that I can shake things up with an exciting new venture. But now is the time to hunker down and deal with the risky choices I’ve already made.

My next blog date is my fiftieth birthday. If there’s any risk I need to take at this stage of my life, it may be the risk of slowing down, dropping more balls, and letting them roll away. I simply want to love my husband, my mother, my daughter and my siblings. I want to be grateful for this amazing life we have with each other before it slips away.

If there’s any risk I need to take right now, it’s the risk of admitting that I am not in charge. Life is too big for me to hold in my glove. I’m part of a team, and it’s okay to let other people catch the ball sometimes. That’s how the game is played.

This post originally appeared True Voices’ RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to a raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. She is now posting her insightful thoughts on her own blog here.

What Sucks and Saves, Simultaneously?

Apologizing.

Ugh. I so totally hate to have to admit to another person (or persons) that I’ve acted in a way that was, let’s just say, less than becoming. But in my life, I’ve had to apologize to friends, family members, clients, and colleagues for many, various transgressions, some intentional and some innocent and accidental. But while I was I was creating a list of the errors of my ways in order to illustrate my point, it occurred to me that each and all of these offenses, as different as they might seem, fall into one category.

I have offended by not showing up.

Literally.

I’ve not shown up by not calling, writing, or appearing when or where I said I would, or when it was just the right thing to do.

Figuratively.

I’ve not shown up by being there in body, but not in mind. I don’t know about you, but I can be in the same room with someone, supposedly engaged in a conversation, and yet be miles away. I don’t do it all the time, of coure, but I can be thinking of just about anything other than the topic of conversation. Thinking things like:

  • “What’s for lunch?”
  • “Why am I here?”
  • “I wonder how the dogs are reacting to this thunderstorm.”
  • “Wow, look his outfit.”
  • “Ooh. That’s a good topic for a blog post.”
  • “Who’s that over there?”
  • “Oh! I need to talk to her.”
  • “I’ve got to add ink to my office supplies-to-buy list.”
  • “Speaking of lists, I’d better go. Today’s list is so long, and I’m never going to get this time back.”

All of which lead to the next set of thoughts:

  • “Stop that, Laura. You get back here.”
  • “Now, what what was I just thinking about?”
  • “Darn it. How do I get that thought back?”
  • “I should have written it down.”
  • “Was it about something I’m supposed to be doing right now?”
  • “Who was it about someone I was supposed to write or call today?”
  • “Oh, no. Who is it I’m going to let down this time?”
  • “Crap. What is wrong with me?”

Can you relate?

I hope so, because that would mean I’m not alone. I hope not, for your sake and for the sakes of the people in your life.

Today.

This morning I wrote an apology letter to someone I really care about, and yes, it sucked. You know, all that grovelling, explaining my actions (or my inaction, as it was in this case), asking for forgiveness, and hoping beyond hope I’ll get it.

But while writing that letter, I began to experience something else – something in addition to the angst. What was it?

Relief.

I don’t know how this person is going to respond. Certainly, I hope she can find her way to forgiving me. What I didn’t do is kind of a big deal, and so it would be a big gift to get a sincere pardon from her.

But in a way, I’ve already received a gift. A gift from myself.

Apologizing and asking for forgiveness has already saved me. Saved me from having to slip out the back door of our relationship and then avoid her for the rest of my life. Saved me from the debilatating self-hatred that comes from not showing up for the people I care about, including myself. Saved me from all of the self-destructive behaviors I would eventually engage in as a result of that self-hatred.

So yes, apologizing sucks and saves, simultaneously.

Can we do better?

I believe we can. I believe that when we acknowledge what we’ve done, feel the impact of that (on ourselves and others),  and ask for forgiveness (from ourselves and others), then regardless of the other person’s response, we get relief. We can change. We are saved from being who we’d otherwise have become.

We can do better. We don’t have to spend the rest of our lives all twisted up – running, hiding, performing, hustling, and pretending to be someone we’re not, because we hate who we are.

We get to do better.

We get to be with the people who are important to us, really be with them. We get to connect on a level much deeper than we could the other way. We get to see and be seen, hear and be heard. We get to truly be with ourselves, too. We get to have different conversations in our heads. We get to love ourselves.

We get to be realAnd what a gift that is.

Forgiveness Day

… just a quick note to let you know that today is Global Forgiveness Day.

Is there someone you need to forgive or even want to forgive, but just haven’t had it in you? And if you did finally forgive, how would that affect your relationship with that person or group? Even more importantly, how would it affect your relationship with yourself?

The great, late Nelson Mandela said,

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

It’s true that when we haven’t forgiven someone or some group, anger turns into resentment, resentment festers within us, and eventually it becomes like an open wound, going with us everywhere we go, and quite possibly poisoning everything we do. Yikes!

Forgiving doesn’t mean that we condone another’s behavior. The Greater Good Science Center has this to say about what forgiveness is and is not:

“Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

“Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from legal accountability.

“Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.”

Although it’s not pretty, I’ll admit that I, too, have succumbed to the temptation not to forgive. And don’t worry, I won’t ask you to report in on whether or not that’s true for you. My only request is that you take a risk and join me, if only for this one day, and do yourself the giant favor of forgiving just one person or group, and just as GreaterGood says, empower yourself to… heal and move on with your life.”

If you’re wondering how in the heck to do that, go back to that Greater Good page, and look at the column on the right. It has additional articles on forgiveness, even one called “How to Cultivate Forgiveness,” as well as book recommendations, videos, and a quiz.

While it’s certainly vulnerable, and it may not be very fun for us to do this, both the relief and release will be liberating, won’t they? And just think of how much energy we will free up. What will you do with that energy? Whatever it is, I hope it allows you to be all that you are and to have the positive impact on the world that only you can.

Who knows? Maybe it’ll feel so good that we do it more than one day a year. 🙂

 

PS FYI: In the spirit of multi-purposing, I’m calling this post on Forgiveness Day the “F” installment in the AB…Zs of Self-Care series of blog posts.

The Risk of Juggling

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

Right now my life feels like a circus act.

I have two major professional projects going, my daughter is turning 13 at the end of the week, my mother needs my care and attention, and I’m on deadline with some collaborators.

I chose each of these circumstances. I have chosen to be head-over-heels in professional work, and I choose daily to love and nurture my mother and my daughter (not to mention my husband). I’m in all of these situations because I want to be here.

I’m fully aware that I can’t keep this up for long. Fortunately, I know this is a particularly busy week; things will settle down soon. But for now, I am juggling. It feels as if I have five balls in the air.

The risk, of course, is that I will drop the ball. Someone might be let down, even slightly.  Someone might see me as incompetent, even if only briefly. Someone might have to be patient with me. Someone might have to forgive me for something.

That someone might even be me.

Real jugglers develop a rhythm in their hands and arms, and a sixth sense about where the balls are in their trajectory. They know just how high to toss, just when to catch one ball, and just when to catch the next. They are calm. They are very, very present.

Maybe I can juggle the way they do – calmly, with quiet peace.

I’m taking the risk.

Carolyn Cook is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship.

This post originally appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.