Here in the US, we’re less than a week away from Thanksgiving. It’s the time when we're supposed to be thankful for all "our blessings."
For people who have been to hell and back this year, for those who’ve lost a loved one, for those who have had their hearts ripped out and stomped on, it can be an insensitive thing to hear the words...what are you grateful for?
If you're someone who's had a gut-wrenching year, I can imagine that you’re thinking...I don’t have anything to be grateful for.
There's been too much heartbreak this year...the unexpected loss of a loved one, the breakup of a marriage, the dramatic ending of a relationship that you didn’t agree to, the exasperation of working a job where the risk is high for covid and with minimal appreciation, the devastating loss of your house to a fire, and on and on.
"Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward."
C S Lewis
I’m always shocked a bit when I realize that we’re so close to the end of another year. It’s like suddenly there’s talk about what to have for Thanksgiving dinner and what will Christmas be like.
As we inch closer to December 31, we have choices we can make.
We get to decide how we want the rest of the year to go and how to finish it up.
And how we want to enter into the new year.
Whether it's been the toughest year of your life or you've been able to sigh and say, well, it wasn't that bad compared to 2020, I want you to pause for just a second.
And think about the hard parts of 2021.
Before we can move on to the next step, we have to let go.
It sounds easy, simple. Right?
But when you have a broken heart or you feel crushed by a huge sucker punch life has given you, it is NOT EASY to let go. ...
Forgiving yourself involves many things but mostly it has to do with letting go.
When you can forgive yourself, you are free of the cycle of beating yourself up.
When something we do hurts someone else or when we make a poor judgment, we can get stuck going round and round, thinking "if only."
We can be harder on ourselves and not be able to forgive ourselves when we think we've done something "wrong." We get stuck in shame, especially if we were shamed as children.
I asked a few people this week if they could forgive themselves.
Sometimes I was met with a puzzled look. Other times, an almost tearful look.
I got these answers:
"I think about it every day"
"I think it's hard"
"I don't know how to forgive myself"
"I never thought about it"
I realized most of us don't really know how to forgive ourselves.
I thought about this topic a lot and came up with a few things to think about:
1. It won't help...
The answer to your best life might be surprising.
We all know it's not about having gobs of money, although having your basic needs met is crucial.
Yet in this world where people are stressed, anxious, and not happy in jobs that are way too stressful and demanding, it's time to do what we can do and take ultra good care of ourselves. This is what makes an ordinary life the best life.
We live in a world where we don't know what will happen with the pandemic or the climate crisis. It's a crazy time in history and by many predictions, it will get worse.
So...here's the deal.
There are way too many things out of our control.
We can choose to start loving ourselves so that we can be resilient and contribute to helping figure out how to help in our own unique way.
When we let go of how we think life has...
What is it?
It's different things to different people.
I think of it as having a high regard for your well-being and happiness. It’s about prioritizing your needs and what you want in life.
Think about someone you love.
Close your eyes and bring up a clear image of that person who’s very dear to you, someone you absolutely adore.
What is it that you love about them?
Is it their unique way of showing up in the world? Is it their wit, their generosity, their deep caring for other people?
Or is it that they're badass and they never give up?
Take a moment to savor their uniqueness.
Now. I have a question for you.
Do you love yourself as much as you do them?
If you answered yes, what are the similar traits that you have in common with this person? What you admire in others, you probably have some version of yourself like...
Telling someone who loves you and who is trying to help you but isn't really helping what you actually need...well, it's downright hard.
Having the confidence to say what you need to your friends or family is perhaps one of the most challenging things that we do.
Because we don’t want to drive them away. We know they have our best interests at heart but...
When you feel funky or overwhelmed and you think you're going to burst into tears, this is when we all need someone who cares to step in...but in the right way.
It’s the times when you can’t help yourself. The negative thoughts take over and bring you down, down to the deep dark hole.
You say negative things like:
What's wrong with me?
I hate my life
Why is this happening to me?
I should have...
Everybody else does this, why can't I?
Now we're in the hole and we don't know how to get out...
We all start out curious, unedited.
We don’t worry about what our bodies look like.
We know how to eat when we’re hungry and we don't care what anyone thinks of how we dance.
We know how to play without holding back.
Well-meaning parents correct their children, wanting them to be their best but what children hear is something else. The child begins to question herself.
When I was young, I started picking up on messages that I needed to act a certain way because it was really important what others thought of me.
My young brain heard..."other’s opinions matter more than what I think of myself."
This version of me at 17 believed that if she was friendly and popular that everyone would like her.
It was easy for her because that was her nature...friendly and open.
She knew without being told that it wasn't nice to say things that might upset someone or make them...
It doesn't matter whether we're letting go of physical clutter or emotional clutter in our lives.
It's straight-up hard.
In exploring around all the edges of what it means to let go of clutter or anything in our lives that we need to let go of...I'm finding one thing to be true.
It's about fear.
Letting go involves letting go of your fear.
I remember a time way back in 2008 when I began a year-long leadership program.
In our group, we all were all challenged to get clear on our personal strengths so that we could be impactful leaders.
We began this process by engaging in a high ropes course.
The high ropes, if you've never participated in one of these intense experiences, helps you discover your personal courage as well as your strengths.
On the first day of the course, we had to climb up a 25-foot redwood tree. (I'm actually not sure how high it was but let's just say...
“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace." Ajahn Chah
When I heard this quote the very first time, it stopped me dead in my tracks.
I knew it was true.
But I didn’t have much experience with letting go.
I come from a family who loved to keep things. Everything, actually.
There wasn’t a whole lot that got thrown away. Letters, old bank statements and checks for years and years, clothes that no longer fit, even empty boxes...because, well, the idea was that we might need these things SOMEDAY.
And yes, my parents were of the Depression-era. I get it.
It was a time that affected that generation for their entire lives and my parents and grandparents were deeply impacted along with everyone else. They didn’t believe in getting rid of anything.
So I grew up with the mentality of keeping things, unaware...
I learned the secret to not quitting from a very wise Marine Corps officer several years ago when I worked on a US Marine Corps base in Okinawa, Japan.
I was working out with Marines as I did every day on the base and I was on the 4th round of doing pushups on 2 gymnastic rings in the middle of a very high-intensity fitness workout. (That’s hanging onto 2 rings that are suspended & you’re supposed to do pushups while you’re hoisting yourself on them & maintaining balance at the same time)…you know, crazy stuff like that.
It was hard, to put it mildly. I’d already been rowing, then before that pushups, then squats. I was exhausted.
My head said, "what are you doing out here? You’re too old to be working out this hard, just quit. You don’t have to do this. This is insane. We’re all crazy. Quit."
I looked to my left and decided to ask Mike who was working out next to me why he...
Fall is a time for us to slow down, to ground ourselves and to nourish our bodies. This retreat is designed to help you stop and listen to what it is you need right now. It's a fun and restorative weekend with mindfulness exercises, morning yoga, an online cooking class with the fabulous Chef Bai, healthy recipes to try at home, meditations and group calls to connect you with other women.