Today was one of those rough days. The type of day where it feels like people and/or situations are taking a number and standing in line to try to pile it up on you. The kind that makes you look forward to getting home, taking a hot shower and putting it all behind you. I did just that when my day finally came to an end. I’ll spare the details, but my emotions definitely got their money’s worth today. As I was in that hot shower, I thought about my day and how I spent it (mercifully) behind my closed office door. I thought about how I openly expressed my emotions to some in my close circle. And then I could feel the guilt creeping in: “You shouldn’t have let so and so see you like that.” But I told myself to stop. To honor that today was just a bad day and that we all have them. Then I thought of a line from one of my most all-time favorite movies, “Gone With the Wind.” In fact, it is the very last line of the movie where the heroine, Scarlett O’Hara, simply makes the statement: “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
I repeated that line to myself a few times as I also told myself to just let today go. I decided to find the clip from the movie and share it on this blog in case it serves as a reminder for others who may need it. Not only do I love this particular line, but I also appreciate how Scarlett comes to the realization that she can always return home. By going back to the roots of who we are, we can figure out a way for moving forward.
I look forward to tomorrow.
When I first started this blog a little over a year ago, I had no real idea of what I was going to write about on a continuous basis. I’d just been told more often than not that I am a “great” writer (I quote that because it’s what others have actually said; it is not what I say about myself) and my testimonies could be of value to others; women, in particular. As with many other things in my life, I was hesitant to take the first step because I could not see beyond it. I wasn’t sure of how I would continually be able to come up with something to write and share. Although I don’t consider myself a fearful person per se, I admittedly have fears when I cannot see beyond what is immediately in front of me. And since life is all about not seeing past what is in front of us, I’m sure you can imagine what it must be like living inside of my head. There is an internal battle where the fearless side of me says, “just do it!” and the hesitant side of me says, “but wait, what if….?” Those “what ifs” have been and continue to be my worst enemy at times.
Yet, take the first step I did and my humble blog, while it still has no real direction just yet, seems to be developing into the tool that others thought it could be. I don’t have many followers, but the ones who do keep up with what I write seem to be impacted, or at least moved, by the words I share. During the days or weeks when I don’t write, I tend to be hard on myself and think that I am failing myself and my readers. But I also believe that I cannot write if the spirit doesn’t move me. In honoring what this blog is supposed to be about, I feel it is counter to try to force words into being. At times, I have had the idea of sharing words that inspire me when I am at a loss for sharing my own. Even if this means only sharing a one or two sentence reflection that moves me. I just haven’t gotten around to that though. Until today.
One book that I try to read on a daily basis is Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.” This gem found its way into my life last summer and I have easily fallen in love with the gentle reminders Nepo gives us through his daily reflections. Some days I simply feel good about taking the time to read a reflection, and some days, I feel like Nepo has written directly to me and whatever situation I may be going through at the moment. When I haven’t read my reflections over the course of a few days, I try to discipline myself to read each reflection I missed. Today was one of those days, and although the current date is Tuesday, February 19, it is the reflection from February 15 that stood out to me and immediately made me want to write this blog. This particular excerpt resonated with me the most:
“Being a Spiritual Warrior” (February 15)
“Life is hard enough without viewing all our pain as evidence of some basic insufficiency we must endure.
There is a beautiful Tibetan myth that helps us to accept our sadness as a threshold to all that is life-changing and lasting. This myth affirms that all spiritual warriors have a broken heart – alas, must have a broken heart – because it is only through the break that the wonder and mysteries of life can enter us.
So what does it mean to be a spiritual warrior? It is far from being a soldier, but more the sincerity with which a soul faces itself in a daily way. It is this courage to be authentic that keeps us strong enough to withstand the heartbreak through which enlightenment can occur. And it is by honoring how life comes through us that we get the most out of living, not by keeping ourselves out of the way. The goal is to mix our hands in the earth, not to stay clean.”
I absolutely love the line, “…but more the sincerity with which a soul faces itself in a daily way.” I believe facing my soul is exactly where I am at this juncture of my life’s journey. Reading this automatically made me think of another book from another favorite author: Paulo Coelho’s “Warrior of the Light.” Although not written from a daily perspective, “Warrior of the Light” is a book that also provides firm reminders for us to remain steadfast in the pursuit of identifying, honoring and living out our dreams. I read Coelho’s “The Alchemist” straight through, but I have personally found “Warrior of the Light” to be a book that I pick up whenever my spirit feels moved to. When I do, I inevitably always read something that speaks directly to my heart. I did a Google search of some of the quotes from the book and thought I would share some of my favorites. There may be one or two that resonate with you:
” ‘I’ve been through all this before,’ he says to his heart. ‘Yes, you have been through all this before,’ replies his heart. ‘But you have never been beyond it.’ ”
“He might dance down the street on his way to work, gaze into the eyes of a complete stranger and speak of love at first sight, or defend an apparently absurd idea. Warriors of light allow themselves days like these.”
“He is not afraid to weep over ancient sorrows or feel joy at new discoveries. When he feels that the moment has arrived, he drops everything and goes off on some long-dreamed-of adventure. When he realizes that he can do no more, he abandons the fight, but never blames himself for having committed a few unexpected acts of folly.”
“A warrior does not spend his days trying to play the role that others have chosen for him.”
“It is your blessing, the path God has chosen for you here on Earth. Whenever a man does that which gives him enthusiasm, he is following his Legend. However, not everyone has the courage to face up to his own dreams.”
And this one reminds me of how I feel about my journey in Love:
“After accepting love as a stimulus, a man faces the third obstacle: the fear of the defeats he will encounter along the way. A man who fights for his dream suffers far more when something doesn’t go well, because he cannot use the famous excuse: “oh, well in fact that wasn’t exactly what I wanted anyway… ” He does want it, and knows he is putting everything into it, and also that the Personal Legend is just as difficult as any other path – the difference being that your heart is present on this journey. So, a warrior of the light must be prepared to be patient at difficult times, and know that the Universe is conspiring in his favor, even if he does not understand how.”
Patience at difficult times and peace in knowing the Universe is conspiring in my favor, even it feels otherwise. I love and honor this reminder.
To all of my fellow Spiritual Warriors, I wish you patience, peace and love on your journeys. The Universe is conspiring in our favor.
I have been hearing a recurring message of “letting go” lately. Whether expressing frustrations to friends, calling my mother with emotional meltdowns or talking about life challenges during a monthly meeting of the women’s social group I’m involved with, the advice given has been the same: “You have to just let it all go, Rachel.” While I understand “letting go” in theory and believe I have been working on that for the past few years, especially through therapy, I find myself wondering: what does letting go actually look and feel like? One response I recently received was quite simple. Forgive others for any hurt they may have caused me. And most importantly, forgive myself.
These past five years have been somewhat emotionally tumultuous for me. I chose to walk away from a marriage and as a result, went through a pretty sticky divorce. I became a single mother (or “co-parent,” which I try to use more often) in a state that is 4 hours away from any of my family members. A year after my divorce, my house caught fire, causing my then 3 year-old son and I to live in temporary housing for 9 months while our home was repaired. I lost a very dear and close first cousin to breast cancer at a relatively young age during that same year. And while I did find love again, that relationship came to an abrupt end last year shortly before I was in a car accident that kept me out of work for two months. I don’t state these things as a means to say that I have been through anything worse or more difficult than anyone else. In fact, when I hear stories of other people’s life challenges, or a news story such as the tragedies that took place in Newtown, CT., I use that as a perspective for my situation and I remind myself that things could always be worse. Yet, in working on letting go, I’ve had to ask myself if I’ve really worked through these challenges or did I just put them down somewhere and get into survival mode?
I don’t harbor any animosity towards my ex-husband or the man who I was most recently in a relationship with. I am not angry at the Creator for having to lay my cousin to rest. Although frightened, I was not angry that my house caught fire or that I now have a car note as a result of my paid-off car being totaled in the accident. I believe I have made a conscious effort to look positively at the lessons learned from all of these experiences. Admittedly though, there are days when something will trigger a memory and I find myself hitting an emotional wall. For example, my ex-husband and I have to work together in the best interest of our son. Married or not, co-parenting is no easy thing, and there are days when we just do not see eye to eye on something. When those moments flare up, I find myself going back to the moments in our marriage when I was most unhappy. I have tendencies of reacting to something in the past, even though I am dealing with my ex-husband in the present. I also find that I tend to blame myself for making the choice to get married, for if I hadn’t done so, then I would not have been faced with the choice of leaving that marriage and ultimately subjecting my son to a one-parent household (that caught on fire). I have no regrets whatsoever about bringing my son into this world and as I have continued to work on myself, I have allowed myself to better understand that without my ex-husband, my son would not be the exact person he is. I just have these moments where I am very hard on myself about the choices I made for my happiness and the impact they have had on my son, even though I know in my heart that my happiness is the best thing I can give my son at this point in our lives. So why do I still feel frustration at times? Why do I have moments where the hurt from a past situation will be as vivid today as it was when the moment happened? Haven’t I forgiven my ex-husband and my now ex-boyfriend? I don’t wish them ill will and in fact, I still want the best for each of them. I think this is where forgiveness of self comes in.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I can be my own worst critic. Whether I am always consciously aware of it or not, I tend to place very high expectations on myself and when I feel I’ve fallen short of those expectations, I can be extremely hard on myself. While there was a point in time where I solely blamed my ex-husband for the demise of our marriage, that turned into me blaming myself for getting into the marriage in the first place. But as I continue to reflect on the notion of letting go, I am beginning to better understand that without these life experiences, I would not be the woman I am today and the woman I continue to become for tomorrow. I wouldn’t know all the things to consider when making the decision to join your life with someone else’s through marriage. Without the fire, I wouldn’t have gotten all the repairs I desired for my house (but couldn’t afford) before the fire happened. Although the car that was totaled was paid off, it was also coming to the point of being on its last leg. Without the accident, I don’t know that I would have received the same value for that car had I continued to drive it and then tried to sell it or turn it in on my own. I also would not have gotten two much-needed months off of work as a result of injuries caused by the accident. I am not sure that I have a reasoning for losing my cousin to breast cancer, but I will be forever moved by the grace and dignity she exuded during what she knew to be her final days. That is something I will always carry with me. I just have to remember to forgive myself. To let go of the person I was when I made some not-so-great decisions, while accepting the person I am as a result of those decisions. My therapist most recently reminded me that some of these life experiences will never really go away from my memory. They are a part of who I am and it is only human if I have a moment or even a day of reflecting on them and further allowing myself to feel the emotions of those experiences. The important thing is not to get stuck; in the past, in being angry at the person or situation that hurt me and in being hard on and unforgiving towards myself. In her words, she simply said: “It will all be okay.”
So I am learning to “let go” through the art of forgiveness. And like love, forgiveness must start within our own individual selves before we can extend it to another. I know that I have to go easy on myself and not be my own worst critic and friend. I understand that sometimes, I will have to learn to say “no” as a means of saying “yes” to me and honoring my needs. Before sitting down to write this blog, I did a quick Internet search of quotes on self-forgiveness and I came across one that stood out to me the most. The author is unknown, but the words are quite powerful: “You can’t undo anything you’ve already done, but you can face up to it. You can tell the truth. You can seek forgiveness. And let God do the rest.”
“Let God do the rest.” My beloved mother’s mother, my Grandmother Ruby, who transitioned just a few months before my son was born in 2007, used to say something quite similar: “Do your best and let God do the rest.” Perhaps this is why I was so drawn to the quote I found through my Internet search. I cannot undo my past, but I’ve been doing all that I can to learn from it, and I try to be honest and truthful in sharing my experiences with others through conversation and this very blog. I am working on better forgiving myself. I suppose that is all I can do as I continue to put one foot in front of the other on my life’s journey. And the rest…well, according to the unknown author and my Grandmother, is up to God.
“You are yourself, and as you are, you are perfectly good. Accept yourself.” (Osho) Love your self. Honor your self. And always…forgive your self.
Until next time…