(San Marcos River at Scull Crossing)
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
When it was the hardest to forgive others or myself, when it was the hardest to see my hand in every situation, when it was the hardest to accept my circumstances – then I knew it would also be the hardest to say the Serenity Prayer.
It felt like wisdom came easy to everyone but me. I felt like I was the only one in pain or hurting. No doubt my pain was real, but most of it was self-inflicted.
I failed to realize that every feeling was a choice and that I was the navigator of my destiny.
I will always be a work in progress. The question is – how much work am I willing to put in to become a better version of myself?
Here is my list, in no particular order, of how I have moved on, forgiven, or let go of things that held me back from being the best me that I can be.
1.) Go outside! Even if you can only go for 5 minutes to feel the sun, wind, rain, or wind on your face by all means go outside! Get out of your space. Today I fell in love with this shadow cast through my yard by a pecan tree that has weathered more than I probably will in my lifetime.
2.) Living in the present moment is critical. This step can and needs to be achieved at every level of forgiveness. Whether or not your forgiveness is towards yourself or others, matters not. If you refuse to live in the present moment then forgiveness will likely be impossible. How does one live in the present moment? I struggled with this question for years that felt like centuries. One night I prayed hard for God to tell me. Within an hour he answered me through the Paulo Coelho book I was reading. “Look at the horizon,” he said. When you look at the horizon you realize that everything is changing. Nothing stays the same. Birds fly, clouds cascade, cranes operate, dogs sniff, people walk, leaves rustle or the changes are more subtle tied to the sun and shadows. Everything is about movement. Nothing is static. The present moment is alive. Its heartbeat changes. Its breath changes. The present moment is the key to unlock the universe.
3.) Everyday you get to start over. In the morning there is an unending list of gratitude. Attitude is everything. I love being asked how I am because often my response is one of the following: Happy, crazy, or I have no complaints. There’s always something to bitch about, but why? When you acknowledge that you are grateful for the smallest things that can be taken for granted, suddenly everything feels like a gift. Millions of people suffer in ways that I do not. To become hardened by a candy shell of spoiled is to turn my back to those who walk the earth with me. My list looks similar to this:
- I am grateful that I can see and within this item is a subsection that could stretch from here to the end of my life. For all the things I can do as a sighted person I am grateful.
- I am grateful that I can hear – mostly to converse with my family and to listen to music, and the birds, and the frogs at the river, and infectious laughter. . . . .
- I am grateful for my simple home. Despite not having a few modern conveniences, I am blessed beyond belief to have what I do. Running water and electricity are at the top of my list.
- I am grateful to be an independent thinker that enjoys solitude.
- I am grateful for all of the love that others have bestowed upon me.
Try it! What are you grateful for?
4.) Learning who you are is pivotal. Being myself is my favorite thing about my life. Obviously, I cannot be anyone else, but when I was a child I wanted to be my cousin. I prayed hard to have her life. She had everything I did not, or so it seemed. You cannot change the spirit that choses your earthly being so you may as well learn your way around. Find out what you like and don’t like.
5.) And the trickiest of all is letting go of expectations. If I had not mastered this for my own life then I know I would be depressed. At 38, I believed I would have a loving family that surrounded me in the form of a husband and children. If I had stuck to that image then then I would push away the loving family that is around me – my mom, brother, and niece. Blessed beyond belief, I cherish their presence in my life every moment that I am given with them.
6.) Be honest about how you feel, and then inspect your feelings. Sometimes my feelings are hidden agendas from days before. I am careful to release trapped emotions in order to see the present moment without cloudy vision. I wear my heart on my sleeve. My heart is unprotected and pure. I feel what I need to feel when I need to feel it. I rarely apologize for being emotionally deep. This can be your biggest liability, but with every breath you will live an authentic life full of joy. The joy that you will live outweighs the pain.
7.) Know your power, not over others, but over yourself. You have the power to focus on and choose different emotions. When you focus on the positive you draw the positive to you. When you focus on the negative then it comes barreling into your world like a freight train. Make changes. Adjust. But know your power. For years, I was offended by someone else’s choices until it no longer served me to feel offended. I grew tired and wanted something better.
This is a simple list. This list is not a recipe, it is merely how I have remained stronger and braver than I ever believed. This is how I forgave myself and those around me but mostly myself. This is how I have experienced moments of freedom. This is where I found love and hope.