Happy Stuff: Making a Bad Day Better.

Yesterday was a tough day. It was one of those days that you sit in a room by yourself in silence and then out of nowhere this question makes itself known; Who am I and what am I doing?

This isn’t such a rare thought for me to sit on, but spend too much time sitting on it and you’ll be no one and do nothing. The question arose in me because this week has been rough for me health-wise. And when it’s your fourth day in pajamas- no matter how awesome your pajama pants are- it makes you consider your existence in that essential kind of way. I’m like, dude, why am I here? And feeling like a human wasteland is just not a good feeling. But also, it’s more a thought derived from our egos and it is mostly untrue. In a clearer head I know that my existence matters and everyone who is alive matters. That is true. One of the shitty goals of the ego is to make you feel separate– from earth, from society, and from God. The truth is that we’re connected to all of these things and that our existence matters.

So there I was feeling all down on myself and I’m like you know what? This is crap. I’m not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself. I’m going to do something happy. And strangely I felt this weird desire to run. Strange because mostly I hate running. But if I had energy, I would have put on those professional looking running clothes that my sister and brother wear when they go jogging and feel the wind in my face. But the truth is, I’d probably tire myself out getting dressed before even getting out the door. Plus it’s so hilly here, I’d probably vomit after the first hill. My fatigue level has been rough this week, which I think contributes to those existential crisis moments of Who Am I and What Am I Doing and Am I Going to Live on my Siblings Couches Forever? But you have to cut life into slices. Sometimes you take it by the week. Sometimes by the day. And yesterday, by the hour.

Sometimes you have to reach out for help, so I texted Gabe “Life is hard!” and he texted back, “Yeah, it is!” And I remembered, oh yeah, everyone’s life is hard. Haha. Then I was like, OK, I need to bring some happy energy into this room. And the quickest way I know how to do that is through music. So I started looking for energetic happy music to start. I was g-chatting with my friend Emily and I was like ‘Dude, I need some good music. Happy stuff. What movie has a great soundtrack?” And Emily responded “Beauty and the Beast.” Which made me 1. Laugh out loud. 2. Play that song “There must be more than this provincial life! and 3. Remember why I love Emily so much. So then I was like OK, more music. And I kept listening to different things and put together a playlist of upbeat stuff. And I don’t know how, but somehow Tom Jones “It’s Not Unusual” made its way onto the playlist, and if you can imagine a scrawny girl in her pajamas blaring the one and only Tom Jones and dancing like an idiot to that weirdly catchy tune, well then, maybe I’ve made you smile. Because soon I was laughing at myself and what a hilariously tragic day it was.

Next, I took out my favorite sharpie pen and decided to do arts and crafts, because it’s fun and, well that’s the only reason. The thing is, I’m pretty terrible at drawing and painting. But, I enjoy the process of creating. And in the last two years there is one thing I discovered I’m decent at; drawing straight lines. So I have all these pictures at my mom’s house, a few in frames and a few in a folder, of white paper with black vertical lines. Mostly because it’s all I can do and also it requires focus and patience and time, not unlike actual good artwork. And there’s something fulfilling about it. The more lines you draw, the more disorienting it becomes on the page as you continue. Like the lines in your peripheral vision become blurry and then start to move on their own. It’s weird. And fun. I show you.

First You Draw a Couple Lines

Then You Draw a Couple More

Then You Draw Them Till You Feel It’s Done

And that is the art of drawing straight lines. If you’re thinking ‘What is this hippie shit?” I hear that. It’s mostly meaningless. But I like how long it takes. And that it’s simple and looks that way but also requires patience and focus and something about it makes me usually feel a little better. SO LAY OFF ME AND MY LINES OKAY?! Jokes. This one is for sale for 1 dollar and is titled “Welcome to America.”

After that, I received an email from a stranger who told me she reads my blog and that it makes her laugh and she felt the need to reach out and tell me that. I was like dude, the Universe works quickly! I was doubting myself and then this stranger writes me and tells me to keep it up? Cray cray. Thank you for that email Annie wherever you are. Whatever convinced you to write me, pay attention to it, because that just happened to be something I needed to hear at the time that you sent it. Yay for serendipitous universal connections!

And then after that, I came across a video of a rather large dog riding a bicycle and I was like, holy cow, dogs are incredible. And if this doesn’t make you smile you may want to check yourself because there is a very real possibility that you are a robot. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just good information to know about yourself. Just watch.

A Dog Riding a Bicycle

And if that didn’t do it for you, then maybe you’ll appreciate this dog that dances better than you.

And if THAT didn’t make you smile, maybe this picture of a really cute baby I know will.

Dude, just look at her feet.

Something about this photo just makes me happy every time I look at it and I’m pretty sure it’s her feet. But who can say. Anyway, after the drawing, and Tom Jonesing, and dog cycling and baby photos, I felt a little better. Then I thought of the many ways this day could have unfolded; it’s very easy to fall into a sad day and stay that way. It has happened to me countless times. But I am realizing just how big our role is in the outcome of our days. I had a friend in high school say to me once: “Do you the know the difference between a good day and a bad day? ATTITUDE!” And I remember wanting to punch something when I heard that, but also, it’s kind of true isn’t it? Perception plays a huge role in our lives. If we look at life as against us, we’ll find opposition. If we look at life as for us, we’ll find peace. There will be good and bad days for the rest of our lives. There will be reasons to laugh and reasons to cry. But when given the choice on mediocre days, and we do have a choice, choose the laughter. It’s more fun that way. And most importantly, pay attention! The universe gives us signs and symbols all the time. It is up to us to piece it all together.

Health, Happiness, and More Happiness.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; The Game!

When someone asks me what Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or Fibro) is, I never really know how to put it. I usually want to ask “How much time do you have?” I remember once while being crashed on our couch at home, my mom read off a list of CFS symptoms and 5 minutes went by and she was still reading them off. It was almost laughable. I ran out of fingers and toes marking the ones I had. Since I’ve got the time, I’m going to put the long list here. You can make a game out of it; every time you come across a symptom that you have, take a pill! See? Being sick can be fun. I’m going to keep this list in my back pocket, then it will be accessible whenever I need help explaining the effects of the condition. Feel free to do the same. Ready? Go.

Pain●generalized muscle pain ●new onset headaches ●aching, burning shooting pains anywhere in the body  ●arthragia without joint swelling ● frequent and intense pain in upper spine and neck area ●abdominal pain. Post-Exertional Malaise and Fatigue●Flu-like or hangover feeling following minimal physical or mental exertion, sometimes immediate, sometimes delayed several hours or a day or more and associated with immune activation, with sore throat, tender lymph glands, general malaise, increased pain and cognitive symptoms ●Feeling worse after exercise, rather than better ●Taking a prolonged time to return to pre-exertional function level ●Lack of endurance. Autonomic Manifestations Orthostatic Intolerance:●Neurally mediated hypotension (NMH) i.e. problems with regulation of blood pressure and pulse, especially when standing still; with symptoms of dizziness, light-headedness, slow response to verbal stimuli; an urgency to lie down ●Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) i.e. Excessive heart rate during 10 minutes of standing still; blood pressure drop upon standing; light-headedness, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, irregular breathing, visual changes sweating, headaches. ●Delayed postural hypotension i.e. blood pressure drop after many minutes of standing, rather than upon standing ●tilt table test abnormalities Other autonomic manifestations: ●Palpitations with or without cardiac arrhythmias ●24-hour Holter monitor results with oscillating T- wave inversions and/or flat T-wave ●breathing dysregulation ●shortness of breath ●intestinal irregularities ●irritable bowel syndrome ●diarrhea ●constipation ●alternating diarrhea and constipation ●abdominal cramps ●bloating ●nausea ●anorexia ●urinary frequency ●painful urination ●excessive urination at night ●pain in lower abdomen. Immune Dysfunction●A general Ill or flu-like feeling, more frequent in the acute onset stage of the illness, less frequent in the chronic stages, most notably post-exertionally ●tender lymph nodes ●recurrent sore throat ●new food sensitivities ●new chemical sensitivities ●hyper-sensitivity to medications and their side- effects ●allergies. Sleep Dysfunction●frequent awakenings ●nightmares or agitated dreams ●non-restorative sleep ●variations in sleepiness and energy throughout the day ●hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) ●Restless legs syndrome ●periodic limb movement disorder (jerking or twitching during sleep). Neurological/Cognitive Symptoms●Easily confused ●Slow information processing ●Difficulty retrieving words●Occasional slurred speech ●Occasional dyslexia ●Difficulty with mathematics ●Easily distracted ●Forgetfulness (primarily short-term) ●Attention deficit ●Inability to focus vision and attention ●Inability to cope with fast-paced tasks ●Overall feeling of “spaciness” or “brainfog” Motor Disturbances:●Loss of muscular coordination ●Muscle weakness ●Muscle twitching ●Loss of balance and clumsiness Overload phenomena: ●hypersiensitivites to light, sound motion, odors ●Inability to block out background noise and focus on conversation●Informational overload with inability to multi-task ●Motor overload, with staggaring and weakness ●dizziness ●numbness●tinnitus (ringing in the ears) ●nausea ●shooting pain ●Overload may cause temporary immobilization. Neuroendocrine Manifestations ●loss of thermostatic stability (fluctuations in body temperature; fluctuations of cold and hot in different parts of the body; intolerance to extremes in air temperature; low body temperature) ●night sweats or other sweating episodes ●weight change, with loss of appetite in some patients or abnormal weight gain in others ●loss of adaptation to situations of overload ●anxiety●worsening of symptoms under increased stress (physical or emotional).

In other words: No, I don’t think that taking a magnesium supplement will make me all better. But thank you anyway. :)

Health, Happiness, Game On.

Night Life.

Once again, I’ve been up all night unable to fall asleep. Restlessness, achy legs and a moving mind have kept me up. But you know what the best remedy for insomnia is? Waking up! So I’ve been up reading poetry by Rumi and writing a little most the night. Here’s one.

A Still Heart

I have a friend
who closed shop on love.
When asking her what led her here
She placed one hand on her heart
And the stronger hand on her head.
“My memories,” she said. “My protection.”

She couldn’t forget
All the hurt
That broke her
Times before.
So she made up her mind
–eliminated risk,
Climbed in a benign box.

I grabbed her hand
The one on her head
and looked into her
with my third eye.

I have seen what love can do
It had killed me a few times, too.
But what she considers protection
In other light was a prison.
Hadn’t she heard?
The heart will continue to break
Until it breaks open.

All her memories
can do for her now
Is make her heart stand still.
And living things–
they die this way–
We are meant to move.

Health

Happiness

Insomnia.

California Problems.

I’ve been trying to put my finger on what makes California so…well, I guess I’m still trying to put my finger on it, so I’ll begin with a photo. The other day I was driving my sisters Gun-metal Grey Prius–which starts by pushing a button and appears to run off rubber bands–when I took a left turn and saw “THE HILL” to my right. I will randomly pass THE HILL while battling car sickness from the backseat or talking on my cell phone so I’ve never been able to capture a photo of it. But this time, I was all alone. I wasn’t on my cell phone,  and we all know I don’t have a real job so I have ample time to pull over and sneak through bushes to take pictures of things that I find noteworthy. THE HILL seems to embody almost everything I feel about California so we’ll begin there. Alas, I introduce to you: THE HILL.

Does this song pop in your head? Little boxes..on the hillside..little BOXES MADE OF TICKY TACKY! Me too.

Here it is close-up.

Boxes.

There are a few things about the photo that effectively sum up some general truths about California. Let’s start with number 1. The weather is basically perfect here. While there is a term called “June Gloom” which refers to a cloudy, overcast weather pattern occurring mostly in late Spring, it’s pretty much paradise the rest of the time, with a dusty cloud now and then and the average annual temperature right at 75.4 degrees. I’ve heard people complain that they miss not having four seasons here, which I get. I happen to love rain and we all know how much girls love sweater weather. However, there’s something to be said for never having to shovel a driveway or scrape away ice off your windshield with a credit card. (I lived in Colorado for 10 years; snapped one license and one library card in half.) It’s also comforting to know that if the air conditioner breaks in your car, you’ll survive. You’ll thrive even. Whereas if this scenario were to occur in New Orleans, not only would you literally vomit and die of heat exhaustion, you’d most likely be in a really shitty mood for the last few moments of your life. Having been here a few weeks, I’ve encountered the June gloom a couple of days; it’s tolerable. And it doesn’t last. The real problem is attire. It’s not quite cold enough to wear a real jacket but it’s too cool for short sleeves. These are called California problems, and they’re not real problems. You stock your closet full of every color cardigan, and you bring one with you wherever you go. It’s called cardigan weather people. You’ll get used to it.

Now let’s talk about outer beauty. A place that feels this good must look like trash, yes? It couldn’t have it all could it? Hahaha. The first time I stepped off of the plane in Orange County, I felt like I was in Never Never Land. A rainbow cast its arc over the airport and that song “I’m Walkin’ On Sunshine, Whoa-Oh, and Don’t It Feel Good?!” was playing on repeat from what must have been underground speakers placed strategically around OC. I remember thinking how beautiful the Ritz Carlton looked as we drove by and then noticing at the last second that it was actually a Walgreens. I couldn’t believe it. I kept rubbing my eyes and pinching myself. If this was all real, why in God’s name would you live anywhere else? “Holy shit. Is that a Burger King?” I asked, pointing to a beautiful stucco building with neon lights and palm trees out in front of the entrance. “The palm trees aren’t indigenous,” my sister reminded me. Which is kind of like showing a dude your boobs and then saying “They’re implants. Is that OK?” Sometimes it’s so nice I wonder if things like hangovers even exist here. It’s like this place was a movie set built in the 80′s that they never tore down and people just kept moving here so they said Ah screw it, we’ll just make this a town.

Speaking of Walgreens, (you know I gots to talk about Walgreens) let’s talk about overly conversational vendors. When you walk into the Walgreens on St. Charles avenue in New Orleans, you pass the same dude asking for money for food out front. It’s now understood that when you give the guy money, he’s going to buy drugs, not food. (I know because he didn’t accept food when I offered it. Cash only baby!) So I give the dude a buck or two, which I’m told only perpetuates the problem and I ought to be ashamed of myself but it’s what feels right so I do it anyway and enter Walgreens to get drugs of my own. Once inside, I’m lucky if I can find someone working there. There’s usually an obnoxiously long line with the clerk mysteriously nowhere to be found and a fire alarm going off in the back, which seems to alarm no one. In Orange County, you walk into Walgreens and are immediately greeted by a smiling vendor and asked if you need help finding anything today. “Uh, I’m fine, thank you.” But I say this with a little bit of scepticism because why are these people being so nice? Do they work on commission? As I get distracted by the “As Seen on TV” aisle and am considering whether or not I should buy Pajama Jeans, I see the same blue vested employee in my peripheral. “Find everything you’re looking for?” “Oh, uh..yeah, yes. Yes, thank you.” I’m nervous because I’m not used to being approached by smiling Walgreens employees and I’m wondering if he’s about to go postal up in here. “What are you up to today?” he asks and I feel like it’s a trick so I mutter something about living on my sisters couch and cautiously make my way over to the Indigestion aisle and look for the bottle of Pepto Bismol that is most economical. I peek around a shelf of “Snuggies” and see the blue-vested employee asking an old woman about her family and is ushering her slowly to the diabetic aisle. I thought the Walgreens commercial said “Perfect” didn’t exist? I pinch myself and get out of there fast.

What about topography? Well let’s see. You have the ocean on one side, the dessert on the other, hilly landscapes in-between and the outline of mountains in the distance. This means you can effectively surf, snowboard, rock-climb and camp all in one weekend. It’s like it’s never heard of the phrase Do one thing and do it well. California’s like Hey, Let’s Do Everything, and Let’s Do it All Perfectly.

There are a few questions I have about California which I have yet to find the answer to. For one thing, where are all the poor people? Like, is it illegal here? Something tells me that dude that I give money to outside the Walgreens on St. Charles Avenue wouldn’t linger here for long. But I don’t exactly know why. It’s like there’s no problems here! Or there’s no appearance of them anyway. Did you know they have scented dog shit bags here? I’ve also never seen a natural piece of litter here. One of the only dirty things I’ve seen since arriving is this:

Grime.

This is my brother-in-law next to a pool at a bank-owned foreclosed home that he and my sister were being shown by their realtor. (Note the June gloom in the background) But surprise, there were one too many problems with it. So far, it’s the only real glimpse of dirt or grime I’ve encountered. So once again, I took a picture. Here are some more photos of California I’ve taken.

Beverages.

The Waves Are Droppin Off At The Wedge Bro!

My Stupid Friend Jess, Trying and Failing To Fit In In SoCal

Most people are willing to tolerate general sameness, (the same weather, the same houses, the same freaking nice people) for the payoff of perfect in virtually every other category. But there’s also this grade school mentality I feel sometimes that I’m too much of a mess to fit in here. Like I’m under-dressed for a party, or that feeling you get when you’re peeing in a bathroom and you know people in the outside room can hear you. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something about “perfect” that’s rough to compete with. Something that makes you feel more spectator than participator. When My Stupid Friend Jess and I were on my brother-in-laws boat and we had just literally played in a pod of dolphins, we were laughing at how amazing everything about California is. Our conclusion was this: There’s nothing left to contemplate in California. It’s perfect here.

Health, Happiness, SoCal.

I Know I Know. Don’t Freak Out.

You’re in the right place. This is still the blog about fibro, pills, humor and attempted awesomeness. I gave the blog a little makeover and I’ve been putting it off  for a while now, but the time has come my people. First, I shortened the address from 25pillsday.wordpress.com to just 25pillsaday.com so we can all breathe easier knowing we have 9 less characters to type. Also as someone who’s 5.3 feet proud, I always argue that shorter is better. Secondly, all the crap that used to be at the bottom of the page is now easily accessible at the top. See?  Right over there. >>>>>>>>>  And that old picture of all those drugs that were the colors of library furniture have been replaced by bright neon cascading pills in the background. It’s all so magical. It’s funny that I would even consider so heavily the design or lack thereof of something that makes me no money  and is in most people’s eyes just a hobby. But truthfully, it’s my baby. I care a lot about it. And in recent nights I’ve woken up like Wait, should I put the links on THE LEFT SIDE?? Then I’m like OK there are wars going on and the location of links and font color is not so big a deal. I just needed to pull the trigger. So bang. I’m also reminded of the time I spent an hour picking out a dog collar for Monty and I guess it makes sense I’d take so much time with this. If you don’t like it, just give it a few days. If you still don’t like it, feel free to email me with only these words: YOU BLEW IT! I’ll know then what I’ve done. There will be some new additions to the blog but I thought I’d ease into those slowly. We’ll start just with cosmetics.

What else? I’ve spent the last two weeks in California at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Orange County, California. (Side note: I recently realized my life is whole lot like Rob Kardashians, and that makes me have quiet moments of extreme discomfort.) It’s funny, because both my sister Amelie and my brother-in-law Keegan work full-time jobs, like most normal people. So in the morning they’re getting ready for work and I’m laying on the couch lifeless, half conscious. Sometimes I don’t even wake up to them scrambling around because I think my sleep schedule is so incredibly screwy that I’m in my REM cycle at 8:30 a.m., but that’s something different altogether. Last week Amelie was putting the final touches to her work attire in the bedroom and Keegan was getting ready to walk out the door. I was fumbling through pills on the couch. Before he walked out Keegan asked “Are you sure you don’t want me to leave the car here for you? Like are you going to get restless?” Amelie and I answered in a monotone voice in unison: “No.”  “You’re not going to get bored?” Again, from both of us. “No.” Then we kind of all laughed, maybe for different reasons, and the functioning people went to work and I opened my book.

I am reading two books. I must admit, after I finished reading Freedom I felt like there was this new hole where something solid used to be. The way it feels after you lose a tooth. Then when I was in New York, my brother told me Strong Motion written also by Franzen competed heavily with Freedom so I brought it with me and have been enjoying that one too. It’s written in true Franzenian form and I once again feel like I’m getting a literary/science education just by reading the work, so it’s fun. But I don’t know that anything can top Freedom. OK I’ll stop talking about that now. Except wait I have one more thing. On NPR people with cool voices were all telling Jonathan Franzen he needs to keep an eye on Nell Freudenberger and there was all this jabber about the book The Newlyweds and so I decided to give it a try. So far it’s really good. She isn’t as inventive with the prose as he is but her writing is clean and the storyline has me going; a mail order bride from Bangladesh marries a 30 something engineer dude in upstate New York and there are hints of secrets and controversy and all the good stuff that makes good books good.

The other book that I just finished is The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav and it was really, really incredible. Not as dense as A New Earth but just as enlightening and really reassuring, especially if you fear death. And for a while I think I became a little too obsessed with this idea that I was going to die. In the sense that I would actually start to wonder, maybe I just won’t die. Like maybe I’m exempt? But duh, I’m not. And it’s cool, because he says all this stuff that makes so much sense and I basically underlined the entire book. I feel like I’ll just keep it at my bedside forever now. Until I..you know, die.

OK, that’s all the housekeeping for today. Or should I say book-keeping. Get it? Health-wise I’ve been managing pretty well. This morning was my first migraine I’ve had since leaving NYC two weeks ago. That’s a long time for me! Good stuff. Maybe I just need to be by the ocean for the rest of my life. California is awesome, but weird. I’ll talk about that next time. Cliffhanger!!

Health, Happiness, and Give It a Few Days.

How To Forgive.

The topic of forgiveness has been making its way into many conversations I’ve been having among friends and family lately. It’s also shown up in my books and things I’ve been watching, and I don’t take signs lightly. I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness and also about resentment. These are incredibly strong feelings to hold on to. Whether you know it or not, your willingness to forgive has more to do with you than anyone who has wronged you. The concept is simple; forgive those who have wronged you and free yourself, or stay angry and chain yourself to the past. I can tell you from personal experience that the latter makes life incredibly heavy and mostly uphill. The premise of this idea of forgiveness is one you don’t hear often but as I’ve been confronting this new definition, makes an incredible amount of sense to me albeit at odds with our typical definition in the realm of apologies. Ready? It is this: It is not our job to judge other human beings. Maybe you feel one or both of your parents did a less than adequate job raising you. Maybe you were wronged by a romantic partner or betrayed by a friend. Don’t you think it’s interesting that the wrongdoing could have happened something like 10 years ago, and yet you still feel the pain, hurt or anger as though the wound were made yesterday? This is the ego hanging on for dear life. The ego wants to see the person who wronged you suffer. They want to see them ‘pay’ for their crime. But as many people will tell you, or what you may have experienced yourself, is vengeance is often so exhausting that when you see your perpetrator pay for his crime, you often don’t feel any better. That is because your higher self doesn’t like to see fellow human beings suffer. Your ego does.

What I’ve gathered from recent material, is that forgiveness granted to others is a gift you give yourself. It does not exonerate what the other person did. It does not excuse them from their wrongdoing and it is not a symbol of weakness on your part. It is quite the opposite. If someone has wronged you, they will have to face those demons, the consequences of their actions, on their own. And you have to trust that they will eventually have to confront their behavior. It’s how energy and karma work. But whether you forgive them or not does not determine whether they will have to come face to face with their wrongdoing. It is impossible that they won’t. This is good news for us. This means we don’t have to hold on to what was done to us, we don’t have to take on the task of seeing perpetrators pay, and we don’t even have to wait for them to apologize in order to forgive them. The universe and karma will take care of these things for us. It is only our job to work towards consciousness and becoming a whole human being. And you can become neither of these things if your clawing away at a crime done unto you whether it be yesterday or 10 years ago. The resentment will infect all parts of your life, because it is such a negatively charged emotion, besides draining your positive energy and keeping you halfway in the past. It is impossible to become conscious and live fully in the present if you have one foot in your childhood wagging your finger at your dad. Here is the most relieving and powerful definition of resentment that I heard recently; “Having resentment for someone is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.” Nelson Mandela said that. And I think it’s safe to say that guy has good reason to hang onto resentment, and yet he let it all go. So can we.

So, of course, this is all easier said than done. How do we let go of the past? For one thing, look at the anger or hurt that you are hanging onto. Where is it coming from? First you need to ‘bring it to light’ as they say. Chances are you’re holding onto pain and haven’t even fully acknowledged it. But it’s there. Maybe you are drinking it away, smoking it away, sexing it away, manipulating it away, or betting it away. But once you stop, (try stillness, that is when many answers arise) you will feel those inner parts that are hurting. The next thing to remember is that by letting go of the pain, forgiving what was done to you, you are not excusing wrongdoing. You are freeing yourself. You are feeling the hurt of what was done, maybe even one last time, and then releasing it. You’re saying that you aren’t going to live with the pain, anger, hurt, sadness, exhaustion or judgement anymore. (Keep in mind, the person who needs forgiving may even be yourself.) I know that the word surrender seems to have a weak stigma attached to it, but it is the opposite. Surrender is the brave acceptance of what is and also of what was. Whether you accept the things that have happened in your life or not, the truth remains the same. Your anger at the past won’t change it, so it is time to let it go.

I’ve thought heavily the last few days of what sort of pain I’ve been carrying around with me. After a year and four months, I feel like I have forgiven whoever or whatever I was mad at that I am sick. In fact, I turned that emotion around into gratitude. Of course, I wouldn’t have chosen this. But since when do I know what’s best for me in the context of eternity? I don’t. But intelligent divinity does, and I’ve finally begun to trust that. Last night I tapped into a moment that my deceased step-dad and I shared on New Years Eve one night. He had been in a terrible mood for three days. He would stomp around the house angrily, slam cabinet doors, sigh heavily at small things. Finally he blew up. It was over this: a dryer sheet. There was a dryer sheet on the floor of our laundry room, and it put him over the edge. He reacted, threw his hands in the air, yelled something about respect and consideration and grew red and heated in the face. It was an obvious overreaction and clear to my mom and I that he was dealing with the hurt of something else. How could a dryer sheet make someone so mad? Those things smell awesome! My mom stayed very calm and told him his behavior wasn’t acceptable, and the two of us left for a few hours and allowed him to get his head straight. When we returned, the two of them spoke in our office for a few hours, and I got ready to celebrate the New Year. When I walked into the kitchen, Roger called me into the office where he and my mom were sitting. He was weeping. He told me “I can’t be who your dad was. And I’m sorry.” I remember holding his hand and saying “I don’t need you to be my dad. I just need you to be you.” We looked at each other and for the first time in a long while, I felt that we really saw each other. Each for exactly who the other one was, not who we wished them to be. It was a freeing moment. I learned then the power of forgiveness, and have since (over 8 years ago) tried to constantly look past the external reactions of people, and into what is real. People don’t act in poor ways for no reason. They just don’t.

I’ll leave you with one last quote about forgiveness. It was said by Iyanla Vanzant, a spiritual teacher and author. (Life Class anyone?) Here it is:

Until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.”

Pretty powerful no? Since I am trying to break the pattern of holding onto pain, or holding onto judgement for others behavior, I find that having a replacement reaction makes it easier. (Sort of like supplementing a cigarette with a cup of tea.) Whenever I feel that judgment stir in me, I take out my gratitude journal, and find something about the person or situation which I find…crappy…to be grateful for. Maybe someone wronging you taught you how to have self worth, how to tell the truth, how to listen, how to set boundaries. There are any number of things. I just know that the people in your life that have caused you pain were not just sent here to mess with you. The universe is not a random kid playing games. Like Nepo says, It is our job to make sense out of pain; there is a lesson in everything. It’s not easy. It’s hard as shit. But the reward of compassion is far greater than the result of resentment. The time has come to free myself this way. I hope you’ll do the same.

Health, Happiness, Freedom.