Jelaluddin Rumi, the 13th century mystic poet, was truly one of the most passionate and profound poets in history. These hundreds of years later, his poems and quotes still find their way into the fabric of our world, still striking chords with those that read or hear them. Still leaving people wondering what the intention of a particular quote may have been. One of my favorites is this one...
"Out beyond right doing and wrong doing, there is a field.
I will meet you there." Rumi
As with many of his quotes, there is still much debate of what he was referring in his poetry. With this quote, I like to think he means that there is a place where our limited beliefs and ideas on what is right and wrong are no longer important. A place where we can communicate with each other. A place where we can leave our conditioning and old understanding behind, drop our defenses and open our hearts. A place where there is hope for reconciliation and mutual understanding. A place where the first seeds of forgiveness can be sown.
In working with people through the Grief Recovery Method, although forgiveness is one of the three components of completion, it can be one of the most difficult concepts for people to understand. Through time, we have confused forgiveness with condoning an act or event that impacted our hearts in a painful way. We believe that if we forgive another, we are trivializing the pain that they caused us. We feel that we are letting them off the hook for something horrible that they did, and accept that their actions were okay. That is not forgiveness.
The definition of forgiveness in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines forgiving as "to cease to feel resentment against." When we think about forgiveness in those terms, we begin to understand that continuing to harbor the resentment and anger towards someone who offended us begins to limit and restrict our own ability to move forward and participate fully in the life we are living today. That anger and pain continues to resurface and invade our life whenever something stimulates the memory of the event and the hurtful emotions that are attached to it. We continue to hurt ourselves because we hold on to the hope of an apology...an acknowledgement...or some sort of retribution for what was done to us. We continue to hope for a different or better yesterday when all we really have the power to do is the ground work for a better tomorrow.
As people slowly come to realize the definition of forgiveness and to understand that we forgive in order to reacquire our own sense of well being and joy, you see the change begin. That subtle shift where the anger starts to lessen, where the painful lines of hurt begin to soften a little and a different view of the world begins to seep in. It is beautiful to be part of and to witness. It is more amazing to experience within one's self.
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong."
When Gandhi said forgiveness is an attribute of the strong, he understood that forgiveness is hard work. It takes intention, and commitment and it takes a strong person who is willing to revisit the pain of the past and make a decision to let that pain go. It takes a willingness to let go of the hold that the past has on them, and build up from where they are today, without the pain of the memory dragging them back down.
Often, the act of forgiving opens up the possibility of looking at the event through different eyes. When you forgive and set aside the pain, there can be an new awareness develop as well. Not always, but sometimes. Sometimes the event was so horrific, that the perpetrator can only be viewed as evil. Again, your forgiveness of them does not take away from who they are or what they did, it is solely to relieve your heart of the pain that it has carried.
But every now and then, I see Rumi's quote come into play. 'Out beyond right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there' Every now and then, by making the conscious decision to take the action that is forgiveness, we open our hearts up to something more. Sometimes in forgiveness we see what happened, or what was said, was a difference of beliefs, education, life skills or upbringing. It was not necessarily a matter of right doing or wrong doing, but rather a difference in understanding as a result our individual beliefs or stories, based on what others might have believed to be true at the time. Sometimes, if we can drop that view of rightness or wrongness...we can see the field beyond. And in that field, there is hope and possibility. In that field, by planting the seeds of forgiveness, there lies the potential for growth, reconciliation and a softer, kinder world than the one we often see today. In that field lies the opportunity to seed change.
It struck me this morning, in fact about ten minutes ago, that my own self talk and demands were causing my heart rate to rise and a certain level of anxiety to peak. I was rushing around the house (well, my version of rushing anyways :) ) having loaded the washer and the dryer, gone through the mental list of supper options, brushed my teeth and washed my face, and prepared my home office through my own series of rituals to get ready for my days start. As I reminded myself I had to settle down at my desk and tackle the next item on this week's to-do list, another part of my brain was complaining that I so wanted to write! In fact I realized I was beginning to feel angry that I had words in my head and thoughts on my mind that I needed to take time to get onto the written page, but by the time I finished going through the bills and emails and expectations of those on the other side of that computer screen, the energy and most likely the desire would be gone. Those ideas would be silenced for another day....and would likely moved on...because I didn't take the time needed to honour them and get them onto the written page.
Then it hit me, in the midst of the frustration of what wasn't going to happen, as i realized that there is not one soul here that is telling me that those are the things I must do first....except me! I am the one putting the pressure on myself about what needs to be done when and for who. I am the one that is prioritizing the needs and once again putting my own at the bottom of that list of priorities. I am the one that is saying what this day's accomplishments needs to entail for it to be successful. I am the one who is creating the frustration and the raised heart rate and the agenda of what needs to be done when. And with that sudden realization I stopped, turned around and left my office, grabbed my laptop and moved to my writing corner.
So here I am. And as I sit here, I have to keep asking myself why it is that I continue to do that to myself? Why do all of us continue to put those pressures of what is most important on our allotted time, when the reality is that feeding our spirits and our souls is the truly important work. Exploring what it is that is making us tick and feel joy and provide contentment and peace is the truly important work. What things will allow us to be our best selves and fulfill our highest purpose in this world as we continue on this journey is the truly important work. But it's not the work we do is it? It's not the work that we put first on our daily schedules or at the beginning of any list.
The truly important work is the work that we leave at the bottom of the pile, for when everything else is finished and we can tell the world outside we accomplished something that they can see as a 'result', while inside the work that calls to us lays dormant and unexpressed because all of our best energy and effort was put into the other stuff. Our creativity and our heart's desires are twisted into something else that allows us to do that which is expected by the outside world. Then, at the end of the day, when we finally do allow ourselves to move into the things we want to do, the time and effort needed to put that creativity back into its original form, the form that will allow us to grow and thrive, is too much work to be accomplished on this day. We are tired, and spent so we put it off until tomorrow, and instead zone out for the remaining hours of the days through getting lost in the television, or the surfing or whatever mundane actions quiet the frustrated spirit inside of us that is asking why it was hushed and put on hold yet again.
So this morning, instead of listening to the side of my brain that was pushing me towards that to-do list, I chose instead to listen to that little voice that was calling for me to pay attention to my heart instead. I am so glad I did. I feel my breathing beginning to slow again and my deeper self saying thank you, as these words pour forth onto the page.
Don't get me wrong. I know as well as anyone what needs to be done in a day. I know those bills need to get paid, that the chores need to be done, that the work that makes this life possible and affordable has to be taken care of. I know that family needs to be supported and loved and acknowledged. I know that. But what I have to remind myself of, and maybe you do as well, is that we have a choice and the control over how it is that we get those things done. I know I do...but I forget that, even with all my education, and experience and even my teaching others....I know that, and from time to time I forget. We all forget that the only one in control of us, our activities and our decisions is... well...us!
My scenario was that I told myself I have to do these things and do them now. After all, we had the time away embracing our desire to spend time on the coast, feeding our souls, so now that I'm home I need to put all that behind, buckle down, do the catch up work. Forget about what it is that I need to do to feel that same sense of peace and joy I feel when I can travel until what's sitting on my desk is done.
But that's crazy! I haven't spent the last years of my life making all I do portable only to be on lock-down when I return home! I haven't followed my passions for travel and writing and photography only to push it onto the back burner when I return to the 'real world' that is my life! This real world is my life, and it should be just as vibrant, and nourishing and spirit nurturing as time away is! So why do I not make it so? Why do I let it become mundane and routine and lost in a creative void instead of embracing the knowledge that this is it? This is the work of my life...sharing my experience, and my passions and my dreams from where ever I am at any given moment.
I know that maybe, because of the way I've worked to design my days, I have a different flexibility than another who has a more typical job that requires a daily trip to the office or another structure that provides the income that makes one's world go round. In that way it may be easier for me to go from my 'working' space to my 'writing' space with a simple spin on the heel. I'm 'lucky' I know, I've worked so hard to be this 'lucky' and I embrace it wholeheartedly. But you have choice too! Yes, you may have to be in that building from nine to five, and once you're home your energy for what feeds your soul is sapped... but what if you were to wake up a half hour earlier in the day and feed it then? What if instead of the radio on the commute to that place you listened to books or podcasts that fed that desire for deeper knowledge or learning? What if your lunch hours were spent taking care of your body and spirit in ways other than just feeding it...but maybe meditating, walking, yoga? Couldn't that be a possibility?
There are countless ways that we can work what's important into our days, but we have to do that. No one is going to do that for us. No one else is going to suggest that you put 'their' stuff on hold while you take care of your own. That isn't how this world of ours works I'm afraid. But that's okay, because we have choice and control and the ability to use it...but only if we decide to.
I feel so much better already! Now, when I head back to the 'other' room, I head back feeling content that I took time for me. I've had my moment, I can blow out the candle and let the incense burn itself out (some of my own writing rituals), reopen the blind and head into what also needs to get done, knowing that the voice inside me is content and happy that it was listened to. I can also remind myself that tomorrow I have the same choice. Tomorrow I can start my day with spending an hour on the guitar... or going through some of the thousands of photos I want to work on...or writing another chapter in a book thats living inside me. I can choose to make these things a priority. I can choose!
And so can you. Believe it or not, in this moment in time, so can you. It doesn't have to be a big, cumbersome all day event. It can be one little thing that lets that little voice of longing be heard.
What can you do today that will make your spirit feel listened to and supported on this journey? Maybe you should go and do that.
Have you ever read Mitch Albom’s ‘The Five People you Meet in Heaven’? Its one of my favourite books…well, maybe I should really say most of his books are ‘one of my’ favourites! But that one I love, mostly because in it Mitch proposes that heaven will be whatever we really, really want it to be, based on our life experience, our favourite moments and places, and what our perfect place would be. What a wonderful idea!
What is most incredible about is is how blessed I am that I am living in my heaven as I write. I’ve always loved and cherished this little nook in the world, but every year I think I cherish it more. We’ve created a little campground, up on the hill, in back of the main yard. It’s got the most beautiful sunsets over the Assiniboine River Valley. It’s so quiet, you could literally hear a pin drop, except when the generator is running to charge up the batteries in the 5th wheel. When it’s off, there isn’t a sound. Not the hum of a furnace, or traffic, or anything. What there is are birds, insects, the gentle breeze and occasionally the howl of coyotes in the distance.
We put our camper up here early in the year, and take advantage of as many moments as we can. I can tether my cell to get a little wifi reception, to work on things that I’m passionate about pursuing. The cell phone might ring, but most times not. And for the most part it is absolute, blissful peace and tranquility. It feeds my soul and nourishes my spirit like nothing else seems to be able to do. Time at the ocean comes close, but that always comes at a cost…the price of energy expended to share that space with the hundreds of other people who have chosen that as their get away of choice. This is different. This is ours, and the only other people that might be here in this little niche are those we’ve invited to embrace this with us.
I like the camper, because that is ‘my space’. Cecil prefers the quiet and the rustic life he can enjoy in his cabin, just feet away from where our camper is sitting. On the deck of the cabin, we’ve got the greatest swing that was given to us by friends who were moving and decided not to take it with them. We can sit and swing and just stare out into the beauty of the valley for hours, without the need for a word to be spoken. Just drinking in the beauty and the quiet that is this place.
We all need that ‘place’ that is ours to go to. To gather our spirits, reboot and reenergize our souls and ground ourselves for all that the world throws at us. I know how lucky I am to have this, and hope that you have a place of your own that does that for you. It doesn’t have to be large, or remote or even space that is your own, if it’s somewhere that allows you to breathe more deeply and connect more solidly with the source of what keeps you going day after day. If you don’t have that space for you….you need to find one. Honor yourself by making finding that space that is yours a priority, not something that you’ll do one day. Something you will do now, before the world pulls any more from you that you don’t have a chance to replenish.
Some people are pulled to nature, as I am. Others find that in a sacred building, a sanctuary, a coffee house that affords them a corner to themselves, or a museum. It can be on a bench along a small strip of greenspace, or a walkway along the water’s edge. It can be whatever your idea of Heaven might be, even if it’s a sacred space you’ve created in your own home that is yours to go to and be undisturbed for the time needed to replenish yourself. The where is as individual as each of us are, but the need to find this and gift it to ourselves is universal. Have you found your little peace of ‘heaven’ here on earth that nourishes you? If not, what are you waiting for….because you know it’s waiting for you.
As the first long day of 2015, and #IWD draw to a close, I've had much to reflect on. Earlier today, my friend Kubeketerya from Uganda asked the question, what am I and the other elite women doing to celebrate the day. I was very quick to respond that we are by no means elite, but we are very blessed. But this evening as I soaked in a long hot bath, made luxurious thanks to the bath salts from @SajeNaturalWellness that my friend Lisa sent me, I realized that in this broken, struggling world, my friends, family and I may be considered among the elite. We have safe homes, hot water, loving relationships and all the comforts that make for an amazing life. On this same day, so many other women are struggling just to get through the day, feed their children, have safe drinking water, and freedom from persecution. We do not live in the fear and heartache that our #MMIW sisters and their families are walking through on this very same day. So how do we turn this extraordinary, privileged status that we are graced with into action that will make our world a better, more compassionate place for all? As I contemplate my own next steps, I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
It can be hard. It can be really hard to figure out who you are in this life. Especially after years, and years of being the 'roles' that you've lived. We become so lost in those roles. Whether its the work we do, the gifts we have, our station in a family or a community, we become so much of what we do, that we forget just who it is that we are. It happens to almost all of us.
I get that. I live it just like you do, but I am intent on continuing my growth towards who I am and how I want to be spending my time. That can be difficult and it can be scary.
I have recently taken a big step back from the work that I have been doing for the last twelve years. It was time, and I knew that, because the joy that filled my heart in doing that work was no longer present. And if we don't have joy in our lives, what else is there?
It is frightening when you step away from the security of knowing what your income will be, what the expectations of the role you play are, what is familiar. But there is a there is a comfortable peace that comes with those big decisions if your heart knows that they are right for you. And my heart seems to know.
Cancer was definitely the catalyst to make the decision, but only a catalyst. So now at 54 the real work begins, the work of ensuring that I remain authentic to what fires me up, brings me to joy and breaths life into my spirit. I know that I cannot support others to do that, if I am not living those values myself.
Initially there was a certain amount of guilt in that I am spending so much of my days doing the things that I love to do! Playing more deeply with my photography, learning more about social media and website development, writing...writing, writing, writing. And expanding my coaching business and what it can offer others. But the funny thing about doing what it is you are meant to be doing is that things begin to flow, and they begin to fall into place in some most unexpected ways. They days go by and if someone asks what you did, it's hard to explain because on one level it could be seen as nothing really, but on a level that really matters you did everything! It's a wonderful place to be.
The one thing I am very intentional about is that whatever I am doing, it is aligned with my passions. My list is always close at hand, and if I question something as to whether it is moving me closer to my vision and my passion I pull that list out and read it through one more time. If the answer is no, then I put the request or the activity aside, and return to what fuels my spirit. That can be challenging in it's own right, because so many of us live our lives as people pleasers that have spent decades saying yes to what matters least, sacrificing what matters most, in an effort to please others in our lives. To not let others down. To not be considered selfish or self-centered by those we love.
But the truth is, that those that love us are going to keep loving us. They will begin to see those actions not as an insult, but as you making self-care a priority in your life, and respecting that. And in an ideal world, they will see the value of doing that for themselves as well when they see you lead by example.
So here's to always growing and to growing all ways. Here's to taking the leap of faith that this is what is meant to happen at this stage of life, and trusting that the net will be there to catch you. Here's to knowing that the universe will provide for you when you are aligned and living the life that you were intended to live. Sharing the gifts that only you have to share, doing the 'work' that your gifts and passions were intended to do. And spreading the light that is YOU into this world. Here's to each of us being who we truly are...being Truly You!
Note to my readers: I need you to know that if you do decide to click on any of the advertisements on my site, I may receive compensation as an affiliate of these businesses that I support...but I hope you know that in doing so you are supporting my own vision of living life on my own passionate terms and being truly me!
It takes time and energy to become who we truly are! In life, so many things can get in the way of our figuring that out..but the time comes in each of our lives where we need to be able to do that if we're going to live happy fulfilling lives that are authentic reflections of our best selves. These are just things I've learned along the way. I hope that they might help you in your own journey into being Truly You!