Releasing 2020 & Setting Intentions for 2021

Over the last two weeks, we looked at some of the big events going on in the cosmos, and we thought about the changes that they might bring for our own lives. We learned perhaps that while some change can be unexpected, some changes bring much needed and beautiful events, experiences and people to our world. As I have said before, change is the most constant thing in the universe. Helen Keller said, “A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.” See this week’s video here:

I do believe that in the year ahead, there will be some big changes for a lot of people. Our world has already changed in ways that so many of us could not ever imagine. Now that we have arrived at this juncture in our collective history, I wonder what now? What can we do to help create the world, and the lives that we desire for ourselves and for humanity as a whole? One of my favorite astrologers Rick Levine, says, “Think cosmically, but act locally.” So while we are thinking of bigger changes, sometimes the most important thing we can do is to focus locally or inward. Rumi said, “Yesterday, I was clever and I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wise so I am changing myself.”

 It is my hope that as we move into the New Year and a new energy, that we will all take some time to reflect, and to think about how we would like the New Year to be. I am making this video both as a way to reflect and imagine, and as a reminder to incorporate some of the tools that I mentioned throughout the year. Maybe in the next coming days, you can retreat for a moment to your sacred space, to spend some time in quiet meditation, visualization, and a bit of daydreaming. How would you like 2021 to be? What were some of the lessons that you learned in 2020? 

In just a few days, we will have closed the door on the year 2020. While some of us imagined that it would be a big year, we had no idea how intense and eye opening it would be on so many levels. This year I learned more about balancing the range of my own emotions—from sadness to joy. Sometimes these emotions happened so closely together that I felt almost guilty for feeling one or the other. Now I sense that it is all a part of the human experience. Do you have any ways in which you release the things that no longer mesh with your life? I think as we prepare to enter a new year it is a great time to mentally, spiritually, and physically release the things of the past that no longer serve your life, and to set some intentions for what you would like in the future.

In one of my first videos, I talked about creating sacred space. If you have some time in the next few days, I would highly suggest either creating or retreating for a bit to your sacred space. You might decide to light a candle, and play some soft music. Write down your intentions, and anything that you feel gratitude for from 2020. You might even surprise yourself. I love to write these things down on actual paper with a pen. But this should be a personal exercise for you, so you can get creative or not, as much or as little as you like. I think that this does require doing an inventory of your life, and I do think that requires some very serious thought.

Here are some questions to ponder:

·       What are the things that you want for your life in the following areas: What do you want for your spiritual life? Financial life? Physical, emotional, and mental health? What do you want from your relationships? From your career? 

·       What do you have as far as goals in these areas? 

·       Is there anything that you would like to start—your own business? 

·       Any new hobbies?

·       Is there anywhere that you would like to travel to when it is safe to do so? 

·       Any people that you would like to see? 

·       Are there any grudges that you are holding on to?

·       Do you have a lot of things that you haven’t been using that you could donate or sell?

·       Are there any new skills that you want to learn?

·       Do you need to relax more? Rest more? 

As you spend the time in your sacred space, allow the questions to come. Allow the answers to come, without judgment from you—just allow your mind to think things through. In a previous video, I talked about visualization and affirmations. Now is a good time to close your eyes for a bit, and just spend a little time visualizing the answers to the previous questions. Before we do that, we will do just a short breathing exercise.

Take in three deep breathes and as you inhale, I just want you to picture yourself inhaling love, good health, prosperity, and all that is yours by divine right. As you exhale, I want you to exhale any of the stresses from 2020, anything that cause you pain or sadness. The important lessons will remain, but the feelings will drift away. You will feel your body becoming more and more relaxed with each inhalation, and you do feel a sense of hope about how things could be. 

Remember Shakti Gawain’s tips for affirmations from Creative Visualization:

1)     Always phrase affirmations in the present tense, and not in the future. It is important to create it as if it already exists.

2)     Always phrase affirmations in the most positive way that you can. Affirm what you do want, not what you don’t want. 

3)     In general, the shorter and simpler the affirmation, the more effective. 

4)     Always choose affirmations that feel totally right for you.

5)     Always remember when doing affirmations that you are creating something new and fresh. You are not trying to redo or change what already exists.

6)     Affirmations are not meant to contradict or try to change your feelings or emotions.

7)     When using affirmations, try as much as possible to create a feeling or belief, an experience that can be true. Temporarily suspend your doubts. 

Here is a reminder of some Examples of Affirmations: (Florence Scovel Shinn & Shakti Gawain)

–        I am at peace with myself and with the whole world. 

–        I love everyone and everyone loves me.

–        My good now flows to me in a steady unbroken, ever-increasing stream of happiness.

–        Divine love floods my consciousness with health, and ever cell in my body is filled with light.

–        I give thanks for radiant health and endless happiness.

–        All that is mine by Divine Right is now released and reaches me in great avalanches of abundance, under grace in miraculous ways.

–        My life is blossoming in total perfection.

–        I am whole and complete within myself.

–        I now give and receive love freely.

–        I am an open channel of creative energy.

–        I always communicate clearly and effectively.

–        It is ok for me to have everything I want. 

–        I am open to receiving all the blessings of this abundant universe. 

For me, one of the ways that I release something is that I write it down as well, and then I might ceremoniously burn the paper. I release the ashes into the wind with loving thoughts.

I am thankful for each experience in my life because it helped make me the person that I am today. I also used to do this thing, where I created a little pouch, and if there was anything that I was worrying about, I would write that down on a paper and put it in the pouch. I would pray for some divine help on the issue, and give it a time frame. I want this resolved in 30 days, or in 2 weeks. Whenever I would worry about it, I would just look at the pouch and know that there would a resolution for the highest good of all involved.

Another pro tip, is that if there is someone in your life who is causing you grief, Marianne Williamson suggests praying for their happiness for 30 days. The theory is that happy people generally don’t have time to create grief for other people. So either they will stop whatever they are doing, or if won’t bother you anymore. I have mentioned this before and I think it is important to repeat that it is better to walk away from some people and situations. It might be hard, but your life will be better for it.

I hope that you have the courage to release whatever isn’t serving you or whatever is blocking your from living your best life. I also hope that you have the courage to embrace whatever comes to your life. As you go into the New Year, it is my personal wish and prayer that your intentions be made manifest, and that they unfold in beautiful ways, and bring supreme joy to your life. Have a wonderful holiday season, and a beautiful New Year. May the stars shine brightly over your week, and may it be a delightful one indeed.

The Grand Conjunction and the Age of Aquarius…

Last week we talked about the impact of eclipses and how we can deal with change. I mentioned that the solar eclipse on December 14th was setting the stage for a much larger cosmic transit. This week we are talking about that larger transit, and also answering the question–why does everyone keep talking about the Age of Aquarius? See this week’s video here:

Depending on where you are in the world, if you look up at the night sky, you might see what looks like an unusually bright and very large star. What you might actually be seeing is the conjunction of the two largest planets in our solar system—Saturn and Jupiter. It is a remarkable sight; Pluto is also close by, adding its own shimmer to the mix, and we can only just marvel at how amazing the cosmos truly are. This coming together of Saturn and Jupiter, however, has a more important meaning, than just a beautiful celestial sight, it foretells a new beginning for all of us. Some astrologers have hailed this momentous meeting as the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. You may have heard the song “Aquarius” which most people refer to as “The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” A few lyrics say,

“When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation

It’s a catchy song from the late 1960s by the group “The 5th Dimension” and it really highlights what some people think of when they hear, “the Age of Aquarius.” That would be themes of love, harmony, and just the elevation of humanity’s collective consciousness to a place of more empathy, compassion, and peace. The Age of Aquarius has been referred to as the Age of Freedom and Technology. Some people claim that this period will usher in a time when we are more concerned with the purification of our physical and spiritual bodies and cleaning up and taking care of the Earth. Some people say that it will usher in major innovations in everything from space travel, communication, and overall technology, while also encouraging the breakdown of systems that simply do not work anymore. Saturn in Aquarius transits have brought us the internet, the fall of apartheid, and so much more.

But what does this have to do with the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter? 

Well, on December 21st/22nd in some parts of the world, Saturn and Jupiter will have conjunction (a meeting) in the sign of Aquarius. This is important for several reasons. When Jupiter and Saturn meet it is called a Grand/Great Conjunction. They are also called “King Makers” or the “Royal conjunction.” It is said that when Together Jupiter and Saturn combine expansive and imaginative vision with the structure and discipline needed to both manifest results as well as strip away the inessential. This is momentous for many reasons. Although Jupiter and Saturn conjunct every 20 years, this is happening on the Winter Solstice at 0 degrees Aquarius. This indicates a new beginning. It is also the first time in over 200 years that these two planets are meeting in an Air Sign, and over 600 years since they met in Aquarius. It is the closest that Jupiter and Saturn have been since 1623. 

I mentioned that this meeting takes place on the Winter Solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight and the longest night. From that point, the days will begin to lengthen in terms of sunlight. The Winter Solstice also marks the day that the sun will enter the sign of Capricorn. This is a cardinal sign, and it means that this is the beginning of a season—the beginning of something new. When Saturn and Jupiter meet on this day, they will do so in the 0 degree of Aquarius. The 0 degree in astrology is called a critical degree. The 0 degree is also representative of a new beginning and a new journey ahead. Aquarius is the 11th sign of the zodiac. They are the last air sign in the zodiac, expanding on the lessons from their air counterparts—Gemini and Libra;

In modern astrology, the planet Uranus rules Aquarius—Uranus is the planet of the unexpected, but Aquarius’s traditional ruler was Saturn—the sign is coming home in a sense. 

It confuses a lot of people that Aquarius is an air sign because their symbol is the water bearer. However, they are indeed an air sign. The “Water Bearer” represents symbolically and eternally giving life and spiritual food to the world. The water from the vessel washes away the past, leaving room for a fresh, new start. The sign of Aquarius is forward-looking and growth-oriented. Concerned with equality and individual freedom, Aquarius seeks to dispense its knowledge, and its vision of equality and individuality, to all. This is important because when most people think of the energy for next year these Aquarian traits are what they are picturing. That of the humanitarian, the visionary, the intellectual, the innovator, and the progressive. Those are what I call the best of Aquarius. Like all signs, they also have their shadow side, and can be cold, eccentric, and distant. In fact, earlier this year when Saturn spent some time in Aquarius, the entire world experienced Saturnian themes of “restriction” with Aquarian themes of “social distancing.”

So is this conjunction the beginning of the actual Age of Aquarius? 

First, I should explain what an astrological age actually is. Wikipedia has a great definition.  “An astrological age is a time period in astrologic theology which astrologers claim parallels major changes in the development of Earth’s inhabitants, particularly relating to culture, society, and politics. There are twelve astrological ages corresponding to the twelve zodiacal signs in western astrology. Advocates believe that when one cycle of the twelve astrological ages is completed, another cycle of twelve ages begins. The length of one cycle of twelve ages is 25,860 years. The 25,860 years cycle is called the Great Year. 

Some astrologers believe that during a given age, some events are directly caused or indirectly influenced by the astrological sign associated with that age, while other astrologers believe the different astrological ages do not influence events in any way. Astrologers do not agree upon exact dates for the beginning or ending of the ages, with given dates varying by hundreds of years. Most astrologers calculate that one astrological age is around 2160 years, and because of this calculation, some figure that the Age of Aquarius has not started as yet. The ages move in reverse through the Zodiac, so instead of going from Pisces to Aries, we would be going from Pisces to Aquarius. Also, most astrologers do agree that the “age” doesn’t begin on a particular day, but that it is the result of a gradual transition called a “cusp.”

So the question of whether we are in the age of Aquarius or not is a difficult question. I will call the Age of Aquarius a bit of a salacious controversy in astrology because there is disagreement about this. There are three viewpoints here. 

The first is that it hasn’t started yet, and will start anywhere from 2500 to 3500 CE (Common Era). The second is that it started and we are in it. The third viewpoint, and the one you will probably hear the most about into next year is that it is about to start. 

And why are there three thoughts on this? Because, it all has to do with calculations. 

As with the birth chart, where there are three different methods for calculations, there are also different methods that people use to calculate other astrological happenings. This can be super frustrating if you just want a clear answer. I have my own intuitive feeling that we are at either the beginning or moving into what I would call the Age of Aquarius. One of my favorite astrologers says it ain’t so, that there are just a lot of cosmic energies that will tap into Aquarian energy, and that when the Age of Aquarius begins that it won’t start until a vernal equinox. Another astrologer that I admire said that the Age of Pisces is over and we are entering the Age of Aquarius, and that we each have an important role to play! I will actually let you decide for yourself. How do you feel about this intuitively?

I think that whatever you believe, we can all agree that the conjunction on the 21st carries with it a heavy energy of change, and the beginning of something new. Most people would welcome a new energy after the year that 2020 has been. I don’t think it will mean that things change immediately, but there is definitely no going back to how things were. There is a new energy unfolding, and as this year ends (maybe what we can actually do as a people is commit ourselves to helping create the type of world that we would like to see, and then taking actions to make it so. We may not be in the Age of Aquarius, but that doesn’t stop us from living more peacefully, more compassionately, and in a more loving way with those around us. I hope that as we look up to see the beautiful conjunction in the night’s sky, that we feel inspired to live the ideals that are the best of each sign—ad especially the best of Aquarius. More love, more harmony, more understanding, and more peace. May the stars shine ever so brightly over you week. Thank you!

Endings and Beginnings

When I was in college, and discovered the wild world of going out and partying with my friends, I fell in love with a song called “Closing Time” by a group called Semisonic. (See this week’s video here: )

This is one of those songs that literally signifies that the night/morning is over. Bars play it to say, “Alright, pack it up, time to go,” and people played it at house parties as a way to kick people out of the house. LOL. I remember singing it—rather mumbling it–while stumbling back to the dorm on cold Wisconsin winter nights and mornings. There was a line though that really stood out for me; it has stayed with me, and remains in my conscious mind to this day. “Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end…” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lived this line now…

I have discovered that life is an epic series of endings, beginnings, endings and new beginnings. Sometimes we have time to prepare for an ending and sometimes they catch us completely unaware. Sometimes we are yearning for a new beginning, but not quite sure when it will come. Sometimes we don’t even realize when something has begun. We fall into a beginning. But sometimes we are aware, relieved, and delighted that something has ended or that something has started. If the seasons are any indication, everything is in constant motion—spring, summer, fall, winter…then back again to spring. Endings and beginnings are a natural part of life and nature.

Lao Tzu said, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

In the Tarot, this is reminiscent of the Tower card, which in its traditional depiction shows a tower burning.

The tower had been struck by lightning—signifying upheaval, and unexpected change. There are two people falling from the tower, one person is seemingly reluctant—falling in a way that indicates that they were not ready for this change and will be forced out of the tower, the way that the other person is falling seems to indicate that they jumped willingly because they know that change is inevitable.

One more modern day description of the tower card from Biddy Tarot says, “The lightning represents a sudden surge of energy and insight that leads to a break-through or revelation. It enters via the top of the building and knocks off the crown, symbolizing energy flowing down from the Universe, through the crown chakra. The people are desperate to escape from the burning building, not knowing what awaits them as they fall. Around them are 22 flames, representing the 12 signs of the zodiac and 10 points of the Tree of Life, suggesting that even in times of disaster, there is always divine intervention.” This description provides a reminder that is so important to remember, especially when change proves to be stressful. There is always divine help! I believe that the cosmos are always moving and shifting in ways that ultimately serve to support us, but some of the transits can really add a jolt to our lives.

One of the cosmic happenings that instigates major endings and beginnings in our lives are eclipses. I am sure that if you have been alive on this planet for longer than a year, you have probably heard mention of an eclipse. In ancient times, people saw eclipses as bad omens, foretelling everything from poor harvests to the apocalypse. With advancements in science, astronomy, and astrology, we have a better understanding of the energy that comes with eclipses, and we know that often they speed up changes in our lives. As a side note, we are having this conversation now because in the weeks ahead, the cosmos are setting the stage for 2021 with some huge transits.

One thing that is setting the way for what many astrologers are calling a new day in our generational and collective consciousness is the Grand Conjunction between the two biggest planets in our solar system—the cosmic gurus, Jupiter and Saturn. This conjunction will take place on the Winter Solstice, December 21st in the sign of Aquarius. One of the events that is setting the stage for that transit it a total solar eclipse this week in the sign of Sagittarius. This eclipse hits pretty close to home for me, because my birthday is the day after the eclipse, and I was born at the same degree in Sagittarius where the eclipse falls. This won’t just impact me, but also my birthday twins—happy birthday!!! You guys know who you are. I saw that the eclipse was coming and intuitively felt it was a big one. I can consciously recall the eclipses of 2017—those were in the sign of Leo—my rising sign and it really changed my world.

My dream birthday cake set up lol!!! Unicorns everywhere!!!

Now, a lot of this will sound like a foreign language, so if you have any questions at all, please reach out, and I am happy to answer them. My email for this channel and blog I will also make a supplementary astrology video in coming weeks to just provide you with some basics. I’ve been interested in astrology since I was at least 12 years old. It is one of my hobbies, not one week goes by where I haven’t either listened to or read something astrological. Up until recently, I was afraid to call myself anything more than an amateur but I’m truly being modest if I say that. However, true to my Sagittarius sun nature, there is always more to learn. I love learning about the world, about people, and I especially love the cosmos and the mysteries of this great universe. Ok, back to eclipses. 

So what is an eclipse?

There is the scientific definition of an eclipse, and then there is what I call the astrological definition. According to NASA, an eclipse takes place when one heavenly body such as a moon or planet moves into the shadow of another heavenly body. There are two types of eclipses on Earth: an eclipse of the moon and an eclipse of the sun. All Lunar Eclipses happen at a full moon. All Solar Eclipses at a new moon.

During a lunar eclipse: Earth moves between the sun and the moon. When this happens, Earth blocks the sunlight that normally is reflected by the moon. This sunlight is what causes the moon to shine. Instead of light hitting the moon’s surface, Earth’s shadow falls on it. This is an eclipse of the moon — a lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse can occur only when the moon is full. Sometimes when the moon orbits Earth, it moves between the sun and Earth. When this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching Earth. This causes an eclipse of the sun, or solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow onto Earth. You can have a total, annular, or partial eclipse!

An astrological definition of an eclipse that I like is by astrologers Aliza Kelly Faragher and Sophie Saint Thomas. It says, “Eclipses are dynamic cosmic occurrences that activate the lunar nodes. Simply put, the moon glides across an elliptical that is constantly rotating around the zodiac. The highest and lowest points of this orbit correspond with the lunar nodes, which appear in our birth charts as south and north nodes. The south and north nodes, often referred to as the Nodes of Fate, symbolize our past and future — our karmic pathway. Accordingly, eclipses activate these nodes within our birth charts, illuminating our destiny.”

So they are like little destiny activation checkpoints. Eclipses are actually pretty frequent. They occur approximately every six months, and they happen in in groups of two or three. We refer to the transits of eclipses as “an eclipse cycle.” An eclipse cycle takes place when eclipses in a series are separated by a certain interval of time. This happens when the orbital motions of the bodies form repeating harmonic patterns. A particular instance is the saros, which results in a repetition of a solar or lunar eclipse every 6,585.3 days, or a little over 18 years. Eclipses also occur in opposite signs. Within the zodiac there are 12 signs. We can break the zodiac down into polarities. This is a sign and its opposite sign.

The last series of eclipses were in Cancer/Capricorn. In this year they shifted into the signs of Gemini and Sagittarius. On November 30th we had a lunar eclipse in the sign of Gemini—this occurred by a full moon, and on the 14th of December we will have a solar eclipse in Sagittarius. This is by a new moon. If in your own chart you have a presence of the sign of the eclipse, you may be more impacted.

Solar eclipses correspond with new beginnings and unexpected opportunities. Lunar eclipses help us realize the external implications of these shifts—our internal shifts. Eclipses impact everyone differently based on your natal chart, and ultimately your sign. Some eclipses may impact you and others will not. The eclipse on the 14th is in the sign of Sagittarius, and it is likely that other mutual signs—Pisces, Virgo, and Gemini will also feel some affect in some area of your life. Another important point is that eclipse energy is energy that you may feel immediately, or it will unfold over a 6-month period or longer. If you would like to look up your natal chart, I recommend the following:

I also found this helpful website for helping to determine how to find which house in your natal chart will be impacted by the eclipse.

I think it is very useful to know this information, and it can help you to prepare for certain things that may unfold in your life. After the August 2017 eclipse, a lot shifted in my own life, and a lot of energy moved quickly. Within 6 months of that eclipse, I had been in a car accident that forced me to get a new car and release some old energy, traveled for 5 weeks to do some deep soul healing, met my current partner, and received a promotion.

At a cafe in Abuja, Nigeria

I can look back at past eclipses as well, and actually mark major moments in my life. It can be that intense. Eclipses can definitely speed things up in your world. And it is not only your world, but the entire world is changed. So all of that to say change happens, but I think if you are cognizant of that, and prepared, you are better equipped to handle endings, and to embrace beginnings. You won’t always be prepared for change, and that is ok too, just take things one day and one moment at a time.

In South Carolina to see the eclipse, Aug. 2017

I think this quote from the Curious Case of Benjamin Button is perfect for dealing with change. ““For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

This transit also prepares us for the Grand Conjunction on the 21st of December which is the Winter Solstice—a change in season and sign. I will talk about this conjunction in another video/blog and explain—is this the Age of Aquarius? Really all of this is saying what we already know to be true. Our world has changed and is changing. The question is what role do we play in this? How can we help to not only live our best life with the tools that we have, but also help visualize the world that we want to see? Stay tuned!

May the stars shine brightly over your week, and it may it be a good one indeed.

Keys to Forgiveness

Last week, I had a lovely conversation with my mom. Thank you to everyone who watched that episode or read the blog! It was fun, but I also saw it as a meaningful way to cultivate some additional memories with mommy. She provided me with many useful nuggets of wisdom, and I will treasure those for as long as I am alive.

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the topic of forgiveness. Maybe that is because this year has reminded us so intently and intensely about the fragility, but also the beauty of life. Some things don’t seem worth holding onto when we know that it will all end. Doesn’t it make sense then to use the time that we do have to focus on the things and people that we love? Shouldn’t we focus on what brings meaning and joy to our lives? It does to me. Check out this week’s video here:

Having been on the other side of this perspective—having experienced depths of pain that nearly brought me to my personal limits, I can say that it is much better on this side. I share this information because there was a time in my life when I did not think this way. There was a time when I wanted to die. I am thankful for the people who poured into me, and helped to pull me from the quicksand of despair. It is work, and I don’t want to diminish that, but I want you to know that putting in the work, does work. Because I have been there, and because for the past several years, I have been genuinely happy, I can say that there is always hope for a better day and a better live. As long as you are breathing—thriving is possible. Release the things that no longer serve you, and free your mind. Peace of mind is absolutely priceless. 

Recently, I have had numerous conversations with different friends and relatives about forgiveness. Within that conversation, two questions came up pretty frequently. One was, “how was I able to forgive someone for something that happened?” and the second was, “how long does it take to forgive?” When I was having my conversation with my mom, she said two things that really stuck with me that pertain to forgiveness. In two situations, she talked about forgiveness. First, she said that she learned about forgiveness from her own parents. Second, she said, and I quote, “I have also learned to forgive because it is in forgiveness that you heal. When you forgive others, you are in a better place. I believe in sister Karma, and I believe that when you forgive someone, a higher power takes care of them and you are not destroyed in the process.” I think the crux of this for me is when she said that in forgiving, you are not destroyed in the process. 

My younger sister often says that holding on to grudges or certain old feelings, and not learning how to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. That is a little drastic, so she also says that it is like holding on to a burning log and expecting the other person to get burned. Essentially, she is saying that holding on to something that may need forgiving is allowing someone to occupy space in your mind rent free. 

In my opinion, forgiveness is something that occurs between people and it is also something that happens on an individual level. I think that most actions that precipitate needing forgiveness happens in interactions with others. Marianne Williamson in one of her books said –this is not verbatim–that we can live our whole lives by ourselves and never learn the lessons that we need to learn. But we can spend three days interacting with other people and our soul will receive such a profound evolution based on the lessons that we learn from one another. That thought has stuck around with me too. I also think that forgiveness is deeply personal, and sometimes the one who needs the grace of forgiveness is the self. Sometimes we need to forgive ourselves for things that we perceive that we did or did not do.

The Greater Good Magazine from Berkeley has an amazing and in-depth explanation of forgiveness:

“Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from legal accountability.

Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.” ~ Greater Good Magazine, Berkeley 

I really love that within that explanation of forgiveness is also the inclusion of an important point. Forgiving someone does not mean that you forget what happened, or that you have to be close to that individual ever again. It just means that you are realizing those feelings so that they don’t cause you unnecessary stress, high blood pressure, and even just bitterness and an inability to move on with your own life. I think when we hold on to certain things, it doesn’t allow us to move forward because we apply the previous experience as our point of reference.

For example, if you had your heartbroken, you might be tempted to think that everyone will break your heart. I think it gets worse if you have multiple heartbreaks. We can talk about healthy love another time. If you think every relationship will lead to heartbreak, you might not even try since you want to protect yourself. However, in doing that, you are missing out on what could be a beautiful experience. You aren’t hurting any of your past loves by doing this. They have probably moved on. Let yourself do the same. I tell my friends—if you want to get to Tahiti and you live in DC, you are going to have to take a plane or a boat. Most likely a plane. If you are afraid to fly, you will never get there. Forgiveness is a little selfish, but that is perfectly fine. Why? Because you do deserve to live a happy and healthy life.

On my own life journey, there have been people that I have had to release from my life. This includes people that I loved very deeply. The pain of heartbreak is very real. I once asked my mom if someone could die from heartbreak and she said yes, there is actually a medical term for it. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition that’s often brought on by stressful situations and extreme emotions. The condition can also be triggered by a serious physical illness or surgery. It may also be called stress cardiomyopathy, takotsubo cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome.” I will talk about this when I talk about chakra’s and how Mr. Rishi and his family helped save my heart chakra!

I can tell you from personal experience that most pain does not feel good. I have felt the pain of betrayal, ungratefulness, the breaking of my trust, and even physical harm. This video is about redemption from all of that though. I think that how we forgive is situational. Was the incident major or minor? Is it something that we can recover from—really recover from and not just how we feel at the moment? Can something be salvaged from this? Should anything be salvaged? We can love people from a distance. I would tell my younger self that it is ok to let some people and some situations go. There are indeed lessons, blessings, and people and situations that will last for a moment or a lifetime. As far as the relationship with self, forgiving yourself can be hard, but with practice, you can and will get there. One day, I got up and realized that some of the things that bothered me, just held no power over me anymore. I was doing the work to heal from those things, and it feels like learning another language. You practice, you learn, and one day you understand.

In the height of a major transformational moment in my life, my aunt presented me with this Buddhist Forgiveness Prayer. I repeated this frequently, as many times as I needed to. Whenever the thought of something came up that filled me with pain, anger, or rage, and I knew that I needed to be in a calmer place, I would say it like a mantra. It says, 

“If I have harmed anyone in any way either knowingly or unknowingly
through my own confusions I ask their forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions I forgive them.

And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions
I forgive myself.”

I believe too that as we are experiencing life, there will be many moments where things will happen and we will have to dig into our tool kit to find ways to handle situations. This prayer is in my forgiveness tool kit. 

Elizabeth Gilbert recounted hearing Iyanla Vanzant talk about her own experience with forgiveness. She said, 

“”[Iyanla] My love of you — it’s got nothing to do with you. I’m trying to save myself. So I love them. I get to choose my relationship with them. Doesn’t mean I will invite them for Thanksgiving. But I can love them from my altar and from my prayer table IF IT MEANS MY FREEDOM.” [Elizabeth]. I wept when I heard this. Your forgiveness of people who have harmed you has nothing to do with THEM.  Your forgiveness is about YOU trying to achieve liberty from the prison of your own suffering, your own anger, you own grief, your own darkness, your own obsessive thoughts, your own indignation. Love is the only way out of that prison. Radical, outrageous, nearly impossible, superhuman LOVE.”

I think this is how I saw forgiveness ultimately. I needed to free myself. I wanted to be happy and live my life without holding on to regret, or without beating myself up for things that I did or did not do. Self-love helps you to forgive yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat a good friend.

So, I guess to answer the questions that I had with my friends—forgiveness can take time. It is also personal and individual to you and the situation. Be gentle with yourself, but know that with practice, with time, and with your commitment to your healing, then it does get easier. I hope that if there is something that you are holding on to in your own life, that you can find the grace to afford yourself some peace and personal freedom. I am rooting for you. May the stars shine brightly over your week, and may it be an amazing one indeed.