Forgiveness and Freedom

I have been having a lot of conversations about the past and the events and people that shape us.  These life events and the people in our past can have a huge and lingering effect on our lives and how we react and respond to the world.  I don’t think we should shut the door on the past, but I don’t think we should spend so much time there that we miss the wonder of what is right in front of us now.  Yes, these things have shaped us and left scars on our souls in some cases. I am telling you it is nothing you cannot overcome if you choose to. You have already survived it, haven’t you?  We are responsible for ourselves and our actions.

Grief, childhood trauma, hell just trauma in general, disappointments and betrayal,  all these things can make you feel isolated and so alone in this huge world.  No one seems to understand.  Or do they?  I don’t think there is anyone I know that has not been through some major traumatic event in their life.  We isolate ourselves with our pain and our anger.  Trapped within a vortex of emotion swirling around us like a tornado it can be difficult to not feel helpless.  True we are helpless in the sense that we have no control how others will act or respond but do we want to live the rest of our lives based on how others have acted.

When you decide that what you have been doing is not working and take a good long look at  yourself, you will realize how much power you actually have.  For example, someone in your life has wronged you in a large way.  You now have some choices. There is nothing wrong with getting angry but if you continue to live from that space it will bite your little butt!  So you are angry, now forgive. Just forgive.  Forgive them and forgive yourself.  Sounds simple and it is even though we make it so complicated.  I think people have attached all kinds of things to the word forgive.  One of the on line dictionaries describes the meaning of the word forgive as “excuse, condone, pardon, forgive meaning to exact neither punishment nor redress. excuse may refer to specific acts especially in social or conventional situations or the person responsible for these.”  Another describes it as “to stop blaming or being angry with someone for something that person has done, or not punish them for something they have done.”  For myself, forgiving someone is something like this;  I acknowledge their action and the pain it has caused me then I simply let it go. I do not seek revenge.  I do not hold it over their head.  Now I don’t want you to think that this is instantaneous.  Sometimes it is, but for larger transgressions it can take a little bit of time.  It takes me a while to process or work through some things.  Some things are so large that in the process of forgiving the other person I end whatever relationship I had with them.  Sometimes in order to let go you have to let go of the person as well.

I was abused by a neighbour as a child.  This was a traumatic experience for sure and while I will not go into all of the details of the whole thing  I will share a small part of it with you.  I was abused then the abuser moved away.  What sweet relief that was for me.  Our family also moved to a different part of town about a year later.  I was walking to school in our new neighbourhood and low and behold there was the man who abused me walking towards me.  I was afraid, I was angry and I looked him in the eyes as he walked towards me.  I am also stubborn so I was not going to run away or switch to the other side of the street. When I looked at him and he recognized me the look of fear on his face broke something open inside me.  I was no longer the victim of his sick mind, I realized that he was the one imprisoned by it.  I was free and I forgave him.  I never spoke to him that day and I rarely ran into him again.  I just knew, even as a child, that it was imperative that I  let the anger and the hatred go or my whole life was going to be poisoned by it.

You will find your own strength in the letting go and forgiving.  I have to admit that sometimes I have to do this numerous times for the same thing or person.  Some things that I think I have worked through pop up again.  So I let it go, then I let it go again.  The forgiveness can only come when you have let go.  The power or hold of the situation in your life only loses its grip when you let it go.  There is freedom in that.

Peace and love to all
Donna

Shaped by the Past, Sculpted by Dreams

I have been awake at 4:44 am for the last three mornings. I am not sure why, and this morning I was having a dream about Alfred Hitchcock which will make my friend Debra laugh. So, I decided to sit and write while the coffee is brewing and see what comes up. I think about things a lot, my mind never seems to stop unless I sit and meditate and lately even that is difficult. I have this unsettled feeling swirling around inside me and I cannot explain it. It is almost as if I am waiting for something to happen and feel like my life has been in a holding pattern for a long time. Weird huh? I you have any insight into this please let me know.

One thing that has been on my mind lately is my childhood. Most likely because my sister is writing a book and we have been discussing some of these things lately. My sister and I are 13 years apart in age (she is older) and had completely different lives growing up. Her father was an angry abusive man and mine was the gentlest of souls who rarely got angry. Our mother met my father after her first husband was killed in an accident. It amazes me that four children in the same family can be so different and have such varied responses to life events and their memories of them. It makes me wonder how reliable my memory of events actually is.

Growing up in a family filled with alcoholism and all the dysfunction that comes with it teaches you some things. It teaches you to not take responsibility for your own actions. Someone else is the cause of your anger, your need to drink, your inability to get ahead in life etc. etc. It teaches you to keep secrets. God forbid if anyone every found out what really goes on in your home or your head. They would turn away from you in disgust, wouldn’t they? One of the biggest things it teaches you is fear and mistrust. When you cannot trust your own family how could you trust others? When you live in a constant state of fear it takes a toll on you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You are always living in anticipation of the next drunken tirade that is filled with discord and abuse, in some cases physical and in some cases emotional and in a lot of cases both. Not pretty is it? I remember phoning home everyday from school to ask my mother if she needed anything from the store just so I could check her tone of voice to see if she was drinking. If she was sober I would go home, if she was drinking I would go somewhere else. This is the only world I knew and alcohol was destined to play a large role in the rest of my life. I was enrolled in Life Skills 101 with an alcohol fueled instructors. I was taught to think and navigate life like an alcoholic. All I wanted was to be loved and spent many years looking for that in all the wrong places. I didn’t understand that I needed to love myself before I could offer it to or receive it from another person.

In my thirties I found myself drinking a lot and married to someone who drank enough that his work forced him into a rehab program. The alcohol saga continued, but it was a familiar one and I knew it well. Funny thing though, I ended up walking through the doors of AA in 1992 and my life was changed forever. It was in those church basement meetings that I was taught the healthy life skills that I was not taught growing up. It did not happen over night because my conditioning was firmly entrenched and they were asking me to feel my emotions and take responsibility for myself, both of which I had no idea how to do. I discovered that I only had two emotions, or states of being, angry or not angry. I sometimes still revert to anger in extremely stressful situations. However, anger is not all bad and boy oh boy can I get some housework done when I am trying to get rid of some anger in a healthy way. I have made a lot of discoveries about anger since then and that emotion is rarely caused by someone else or their actions.

It has been over 20 years since I started this journey of healing. I have learned a few things that have improved my life and me as a person. I still have much to learn, but look forward to it. It is impossible to know yourself with out understanding what made you who you are. One thing is for sure, you always have choices regardless of your life circumstance. Sometimes you may feel like you don’t have any choices but you do. You choose whether you are hardened or softened by your experiences. You can also make new choices every day. You and you alone are responsible for the person you are today. Your life experiences began to mold you, but you are like an artist finishing the beautiful sculpture that is you.

I guess I have rambled a bit, though that is not unusual for me. I understand my mother and what caused her to be who she was. I also want you to know that every time I think about her with love and forgiveness her spirit becomes lighter and brighter. The people who were in our lives and have passed on are aware of our feelings and the repercussions of their actions when they walked this earth. We get to choose whether we will hang on to the anger, bitterness, or whatever else we are feeling. There is freedom in fully accepting responsibility for who you are. You can let the past shape your future if you want. Sculpt yourself, paint yourself, sing yourself or write yourself a new future based on who you want to be, not what has happened to you.

Treat others with kindness and compassion
Hug yourself for me

Donna

The Same but Different

It is 5 am and the coffee is brewing. My slightly soiled chair is in the garage, so I now sit on a big comfy sofa to write, but my sunny yellow mug is still a part of my life. The only noises are the occasional car driving down the highway and the gentle snoring of a great dane named Georgia who has become my shadow and follows me everywhere in my new home. It is hard to move into someone’s home and find your place. This is not to say that the man I am living with has made this difficult, he has done everything to make me feel at home. My things are mixed in with his things and there are pieces of me and my life in every room. There is a blending that happens and it takes me a little while to settle down and feel comfortable. It is not the place that makes it a home, it is the people and our shared experiences. In my case home is definitely where the heart is and my heart has never been tied to a place or the things in it, my heart is connected to the people.

I have been talking to my older sister more than usual and am enjoying this new relationship we are developing. The picture at the top of the page is of me and my sister Marg taken last June at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. My sister has one of the best laughs, you know the kind that makes you smile or laugh just hearing it. Well, my sister is in the process of writing a book and I get to be a small part of it which is very exciting. We are having conversations now that were not possible before to some extent because our lives were so different. This is no indication of how we feel about each other, I love my sister dearly and she has been more like a second mother to me for most of my life. We are having conversations about things we would never have discussed 5 years ago. I am excited to get to know my sister on a different level.  I have a number of people in my life that I can have conversations with about life and the things that matter and then there are others where the conversation is kept light and just skims the surface of what really matters. This does not make one type of conversation good or bad, I think we need both.

I have been having a difficult time finding my way. I suppose I should give myself a break considering the huge changes that have taken place in my life in the last year and a bit.  The new man in my life, his name is Shawn, was a friend of Howard’s that I had  met once very briefly before Howard passed away.  One of the things that drew me to Shawn was how big his heart is.  He has a lot of room in that heart for a lot of people and that included Howard.  Now it includes me.  Howard’s sculptures have become part of the landscape here and his artwork is also hanging on the walls, sitting on the deck or a shelf.  Shawn’s heart is so big that he is able to include the people that I have loved and still love into it.  So, while Shawn and I are building a life together we both get to include the people and other important things from our past into it.  My heart has a lot of room also.  I will tell you more about all of that in a blog piece that I have called The Tale of Two Ravens.  I have started working on it but the time is just not right to tell that story.

The only reason I am writing this morning is to try and incorporate my writing into my new and busy life.  I have missed sitting in my chair connecting with all of you. The last year has been filled with new experiences, new people and new ways of viewing the world.  I think it just takes me a while to be able to process it all and write about it.  Sometimes I just don’t have the words to express myself.  Someone asked me yesterday to smell a healing spray they had made and give them my opinion.  It was the strangest thing, I almost could not describe the smell.  It just brought up so many feeling that words almost escaped me.  I couldn’t say, oh that smells like roses or some other distinct thing.  It smelled fresh and ancient at the same time, it was almost as if she had captured everything the entire world has ever experienced in a bottle.  Weird huh?  I think she has a gift.

Well, I hope you all have a wonder filled day and don’t forget to make your heart big and greet the world from that place.  Live with your heart wide open, it is worth it.

 

Hug everyone, Peace to all

Donna

Know Who You Are

I have witnessed three beautiful sunrises this week from the east coast of Canada. I am in Halifax, where I was born and spent the first 23 years of my life. The city has changed so much I barely recognize it. I have lived on the west coast for more than 24 years so I have officially spent more time there. I still refer to Halifax as home. For us east coasters our roots run deep. If we meet people anywhere in the world and they are also from the east coast there is an instant bond, a shared understanding of a culture and way of being in the world. I love the accent that rolls off tongues in that sing song drawl and can recognize it wherever I am. The accent will vary depending on whether you are from a big city, or one of the smaller towns which each seem to put their own twist on a way of speaking. For now, I just want to sit and listen to the people speak. I find comfort in those familiar patterns of speech from my childhood.
I woke up at 4:30 am this morning listening to the birds sing the beginning of the day into existence and even they sing a song that is different now. I lay in my borrowed bed comparing them to the bird songs of the west, unable to identify any but the crows. I am hoping to see a blue jay while I am here, they hold a special significance for me and they don’t exist on Vancouver island. We have jays on the island but the Stellar Jays of the west are slightly different. The eastern jays are brighter in colour and slightly smaller, though their screech is very similar. This trip has me comparing many things between the east of my childhood and the west of my adulthood.
I did think about moving east after Howard left this earth. I spent hours looking through the real estate listings and dreaming about a waterfront home along the Atlantic. My heart is in the west now though, with the people who have come to mean so much to me. I call them my soul family. I fit there amongst the cedars, bald eagles, mild weather and the laid back lifestyle of small town Sooke. I belong there now. Perhaps I had to leave there to know that. I wish I had the ability to be in two places at the same time. I just started laughing cause the word bicoastal ran through my mind. I am bicoastal!
When I arrived at my sisters home and unpacked my suitcase I found a note from the special man in my life. This man was kind enough to wake up at 3:30 am to drive me to the airport, I think he likes me. This small note brought tears to my eyes and melted my heart. His presence in my life has helped me to wake up parts of myself that have been dormant for a very long time. I thank the universe for him every day and appreciate the fact that he has the strength to walk beside me and encourages me to grow, heal, and live my dreams. His note was a little reminder of all that is waiting for me when I return. This was a trip of necessity, I needed to revisit the past and make peace with it to move forward with clarity and purpose. I needed to remember who I am. So, today I am going to visit with some of my cousins. I am looking forward to reconnecting with them and getting to know them again. They too will help me remember who I am.  
So while I was away living my life on the west coast the east coast has changed. I guess time stood still in my mind and I expected things to be the same. We change and grow and places change and grow. I am not the same person that left Nova Scotia many years ago. This trip has confirmed one thing for me, while the east will always be part of me I belong among the cedars of the west.  I have also learned that you need to know and understand the past to move in a different way into the future. Learn from the past but don’t dwell there or live from there, learn from it . Know who you are. Live your life with no regrets, just live!
Love to all

Donna

No Strings

I am sitting once again in my slightly soiled chair with a coffee beside me in my sunny yellow mug. It is five thirty in the morning and the birds are singing the sun up with cheerful little songs. It has all the makings of a wonderful day even though I have only had about four hours sleep. I had trouble settling down last night. There were a few things weighing on my mind and my heart. I have started making plans and dreaming and low and behold the universe throws a few curve balls at me just to see if I am paying attention and waits to see how I will handle it.

Have you ever had one of those moments where certain events in your life become clear in their meaning. I had one of those moments last night and I have to admit that it scared me a little. Actually my response was “well shit.” It reminded me that certain things are beyond my control. I can say I want this, I don’t want that till the cows come home and the universe in its wisdom will give me what I need. I never expected to fall in love with my life again, I never expected to feel or experience so much joy and peace again. Some of the best moments of my life have happened when I was not expecting it.

So I had a moment of clarity and it scared me. I am not sure scared is the right word. Perhaps it is more being unsure with a tiny bit of fear thrown in. I don’t know where this path will lead but I trust in the universe to guide me along and in the meantime will set the fear aside. No one knows what tomorrow will bring but I have had a few visions of the future and they do not coincide with what I thought I wanted. Perhaps there is a lesson in that. Do not be so tied to what you want and don’t want that you miss the wonderful people and opportunities right in front of you. Be flexible with your how your mind and heart respond to the events and people in your life. Be teachable.

I have ideas about how I would like things to be and have expressed a large number of those ideas on this blog. One thing that I do know for certain is that as long as I let my heart rule over my mind life is as it should be. The minute I start over thinking things and second guessing every decision, fears settles in and my mind gains control. Fear versus love the eternal struggle for control. So the universe is putting people and situations in my path to see if I can actually live what I say. Anyone can say anything, but can they back it up with action. The universe is saying enough talk Donna lets see some action.

So, I have said numerous times that it is all about living with your heart wide open. But what does that really mean to me? It is about others not about me. For one of the first times in my life, I have led a very self-centered life up to this point, the happiness of others comes before my own. I want the people around me to know what it means to be loved for just being them, no strings attached. I want to bring peace and joy with me everywhere I go and spread that around. I want the people in my life to know that they are appreciated and that I truly see them for who they are and that they are more than enough. I thought I knew what love was. The universe has shown me lately that I have only danced around the edges of it in the past. Well shit!

Have a bliss filled day
Hug people
Donna

Underneath the Towel

The urge to write this morning got me out of bed at 5:45.  This has not happened for a while so I thought I would take advantage of it.  I am sitting in my slightly soiled chair with my yellow mug of steaming coffee and life is good.  Oh good, the colour of my coffee mug reminded me that I wanted to tell you about this tree that sits beside the path to my door. This tree has beautiful hanging golden blossoms, almost like a wisteria, and when I walked by it yesterday it was literally buzzing.  I realized that the tree was filled with hundreds of bees, yes hundreds of bees working amongst the flowers.  Despite the fact that I am deathly allergic to stings, I love bees and their contribution to life on this planet.  Without bees we cannot survive for long. So allergy or not I smile every time I pass this tree and am grateful for it and the bees.

The bees also remind me of productivity and being part of a group working towards a greater whole.  Every bee counts!  While the bees pollinate the planet and bring beautiful life to this world, for me they can also mean death.  Just like everything and every person on the planet there is more than one aspect to everything.  Bees are so much more than just pollinators.  Just like we are so much more than the labels we have constructed.  The other thing that it brings to mind is how much we as people drag our past with us into the present and the future.  We base our expectations of and our interactions with others on our past experiences with others.  People betrayed your trust so now you don’t trust anyone.  Your heart was broken so now you guard it and don’t share it fully with anyone, after all they are just going to break it right?

I say fuck the past!  Some of that stuff was not fun to live through so why in the hell would I want approach the world and other people based on it.  Have I been betrayed, lied to, had my heart broken, been manipulated, gossiped about and had my life threatened?  Yes, yes I have.  The biggest gift the universe has given me is choice.  Regardless of what has happened in my past I have the ability to choose how I will respond.  So the day I started this blog in January, that is the day that I wiped the slate clean.  I decided to treat everyone I meet with an open heart and unconditional acceptance.  If I have an issue with someone I look inside myself not at them.  Oh there are some assholes out there and while I meet them with love and acceptance I also realize that some people are difficult to like let alone love and I don’t waste much time on them.

For example, if someone in my life does something and I find myself getting annoyed or pissed off I take a few minutes and sit with that feeling.  I get intimate with it so I can see what is really going on.  What lies underneath?  What the other person did was only a trigger for something else.  I am talking about the little things here.  The little things that people do that annoy you and drive you crazy.  You know, leaving the cap off the toothpaste, wet towels on the floor, never being on time, etc. etc.  They are little things in the grand scheme of things.  You choose to make them big things for reasons that have nothing to do with the acts themselves.  It is what lies beneath the towel on the floor that drives you crazy.  What that towel on the floor represents and brings up for you is the issue.  Look at that.  The universe sends us signs and symbols all the time to help us understand our true purpose.  Perhaps the towel is one of them.  The universe constantly reflects things back to us.  If the cap off the toothpaste represents a lack of respect or care then perhaps the universe is reflecting how that person feels inside.  Are you respecting them and treating them with love and care?

Now for the big things!  Yup, life and people have thrown some shitty things my way.  Despite the fact that I have been lied to and betrayed, I am not afraid to risk my heart.  To me it is harder to keep it guarded and closed off because that just makes me miserable.  What I find difficult is being judged by the ghosts of other peoples past.  If I am angry or upset by something I will tell you.  I won’t make you guess and I do not play games or make snide remarks.  People have done that to you before, I understand that.  I can also see through it and know what lies underneath simply because I look.  I look and I feel and I remember what it was like when it happened to me.

There are a number of things going on here.  I treat other people the way I would like to be treated plain and simple.  If I am not capable of giving something I am also not capable of receiving it.  Like attracts like.  If you want love treat those around you with love.  Not all of them are going to reciprocate because not all of them are capable of it.  Accept that and move on.  Move forward and surround yourself with the people who are capable.  Look inward for the source of your troubles because the only consistent thing in all of your relationships is you!  The changes must start within before they can move out into the world and the world responds in kind.

So, what happens when you look underneath the towel?  You see much more than a wet floor!  You see your own vulnerability, your fears, your unmet desires, your regrets and it bothers you.  It bothers you and it bothers you until you deal with what lies beneath the towel.  Once you do, you can deal with the towel itself.  Then you can get rid of the towel and dance naked with the other happy fools who had the strength and courage to deal with the towels in their life.
Much love to you all

Donna

Electrical Tape and Shrink Wrap

I am back!  It is just after five in the morning and I have my sunny yellow mug filled with steaming coffee and though my slightly soiled chair is in the room I now sit on my brand new sofa instead.  The need to write has resurfaced in a new way, perhaps because of my new perspective from the sofa.  I am looking around this yet unfamiliar room and seeing the old blended with the new.  That is also who I am, the old Donna intertwined with the new Donna.  A wonderful synthesis of all I was and all I can be.  Transformation can be beautiful and difficult at the same time.

I am driving back to Sooke this morning to visit the post office, drop off some things to a friend and plan on visiting my favourite coffee shop to see who is around.  I am also going to buy a piece of art that spoke to my soul and am keeping my fingers crossed that it is still hanging on the shop wall.  If it is not, it wasn’t meant to be mine.  If I am going to make a frivolous purchase that is over a hundred dollars I usually walk away from it for a few days.  I want to explore my feelings about it and know why I am buying it.  This piece of art is a local Native American thunderbird mask that gave me goosebumps.  It is a symbol of many things and the thunderbird holds special meaning for me.  The mask itself reminds me of the masks we all wear in our daily life and how important it is for me to walk this earth unmasked.  This is what the universe is asking of me.  Well the universe is demanding it really and every time I try to hide it thrusts me naked into the world and makes me deal with it.  Sometimes the universe has a funny sense of humour!

I like the fact that the universe and its strange sense of humour keeps me humble and on my toes.  It challenges me in the same way that the people I care about challenge me to be a better person.  The universe encourages me to grow and stretch the limits my own mind imposes on me.  My mind can sometimes be a dark and lonely place, but when I use it in combination with my heart and all the love it holds there are no limits to what can be.  There are no limits.  Unless you live in a constant state of fear, then there are limits.  This is what I think about fear, because I do have moments of sometimes overwhelming fear, what is the worst thing that could happen?  So, I visualize the worst thing that could happen and then think oh what the hell!

My entire life for the last year has been about overcoming fear, loss and doubt.  I think I am handling it really well, but I am not going to get cocky about it cause then the universe will send something my way to remind me that I am not all that.  I have done things in the last six months that I would have never thought of doing before.  I have started this blog, I have deep conversations with complete strangers, and I have reached out to other people in ways I never thought I would even though I am shy.  There is a contradiction for you, I am extremely outspoken and extremely shy.I have no idea where my life is headed or what my next great adventure will be.  Somedays I am okay with that and other days the uncertainty drives me crazy. Oh Hell, I drive me crazy!

I have met a young woman recently, who I absolutely adore.  She is brave, funny, strong, and has a huge heart.  I admire the fact that she is who she is without apology.  I also admire the gentle spirit she has when dealing with other people.  She has taught me much and I am sure will continue to do so.  So in the spirit of our blossoming friendship I will leave you with the following thought today.  Having trouble with something in your life?  Just visualize yourself using electrical tape and shrink wrap on it until it is small enough to handle.  Yup,  electrical tape and shrink wrap will help you fix anything!

Much love to all of you
Donna