Posted By: Lisa Shea Forgiveness - 02/04/14 12:17 PM
Reading Forgiveness by Iyanla Vanzant - it's a 21 day step by step approach to forgiving. An interesting, useful exercise to go through. It strongly encourages journaling every day as part of the process.

Day 1 was about forgiving yourself for all the oh-so-human mistakes you might have made during life. We're all human, we all make mistakes. Learn the lesson, and focus on doing better. The beating-yourself-up over a past that can't be changed saps energy that could be used to make better choices going forward.

Easy to consider logically, but harder to put into practice. Still, her point is to work on it. Each time you work on it you get a bit better, and all that energy you free up can now be used for good purpose.

Do you beat yourself up over past mistakes? Can you try to release even a portion of that emotion and to accept you have learned from it?

Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/04/14 12:35 PM
Day 2 on #Forgiveness was to forgive your body. Come to terms with the shape and size it is. Whatever it is, this is where you begin from. This is so important to me, running a low carb website and working with people who are inundated with negative messages about their bodies. We are all on a journey. Our bodies are our "vessels" throughout life. We should care for them and appreciate them. To dislike them expends so much energy that could be better spent. No body is perfect! Every body deserves praise for carrying us around every day.

Do you care for and appreciate your body? Or do you tend to focus on a few negative aspects and only think about those?
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/04/14 12:45 PM
#Forgiveness Day 3 = forgive your life. Interestingly, while Day 1 / yourself and Day 2 / body did bring up issues for me to work on, I'm fairly at peace with "life". I used to have angst about not getting my degree / not going to MIT even though I got in. But now I've earned my Leadership degree at Northeastern and I loved everything about it. So I'm content. I'm content with where I am in life and I adore what I do. My only real issue is the clutter, but we're working on that. I love watercoloring. I enjoy photography. I love working from home. So on the "life" front, I'm ok smile.

Where are you in your thoughts about your life?
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/04/14 12:50 PM
Forgiveness Day 4 - Forgive your #Mother - I imagine all people have high expectations for moms. They're only human smile. To forgive is divine. I had my rebellious teen moments and my breaking-away young adult moments. Hopefully now I'm in a place where I understand she did the best she could and I didn't always make it easy on her smile. Also, so many people my age have already lost their moms. I'm grateful to be able to talk and spend time with mine. So, like Day 3, this was a fairly easy day for me. Still, a good topic to ponder and consider.

Are you at peace with your mother?
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/04/14 12:55 PM
Forgiveness Day 5 - Yes, Forgive your #Father smile. Dads have all sorts of bizarre expectations laden on them in our society. Tough & Gentle. There was a great SuperBowl commercial about a father leaping to save his child from all sorts of wild dangerous situations. We are trained to expect fathers to be that sort of superhero - always there, always protective, always dependable. The ultimate "Prince Charming". But few humans could live up to that! Dads do the best they can in juggling a variety of challenges. I'm fairly at peace with that.

How about you?
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/04/14 12:59 PM
Day 6 - Forgive God / Spirit / Cosmic Energy - This was easy for me. I tend to "blame" myself or other people - not outside forces. If there was a traffic jam or if I made a bad decision, it wouldn't occur to me to blame any outside entity for what happened. If there's a strong tornado, there's nobody to "blame". It is simply nature doing its natural activity. I'm sure we're all different in this regard.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/04/14 01:07 PM
Caught up to today!

Day 7 - Forgive Feelings. This meshes right in with my "aim to not complain" project. It's not about squelching emotions. It's about being aware when they begin, and find a way to aim that energy productively. If I sense myself starting to be cranky, I am mindful of it and figure out why. I get food, or a bathrobe to warm up, or I take a break. That way I don't let myself delve into stronger negative emotions for little reason. If something really is wrong - like a wrong order at a restaurant - I get it corrected without angst. If I get wildly cranky I forgive myself, try to figure out why it happened, and am more aware of that going forward.

Do you get swept away in strong negative feelings at times? Do you get a sense of what causes it? Stress hormones cause physical damage to the body. Is there a way to redirect the energy in another way?
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/05/14 05:24 PM
Day 8 - Forgive Mistakes / Weaknesses. This seems the same as Day 1 but I suppose part of the point here is to keep working on "sticky points" to try to get better at them. So it's probably good to do another round of working on forgiving your own weaknesses. We all have them, and it's good to come to terms with them.

I think this is why it's good to meditate on one's blessings when one goes to bed, to remember just how much we have. The weaknesses seem less important then. Yes you want to work on them - if I'm weak in public speaking I want to practice. Still, I don't need to beat myself up over it. I smile and keep trying.

Do you work on your weaknesses? Or gently accept them? Or let them bug you?
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/06/14 08:28 PM
Day 9 / Forgive your choices - this again seems similar to past days. I suppose the aim is to keep approaching issues from different angles until they're resolved. The idea is it's always easier to second-guess choices after the fact and after we know what happens. "In the moment" we can only do the best we can do. Accept that sometimes choices don't work out well, that we try our best going forward, and take those new days one step at a time.

I do try to make good choice - but it's sometimes hard to know. And sometimes there are just so many choices.

But, did you know, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice? smile
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/07/14 09:37 PM
Day 10 / Forgiveness and money. So many relationships collapse due to money issues. So many lives are stressed because of money. We get surrounded by images of things we "must have" - kids whine because they're poor, while they're playing with smart phones and watching large-screen TVs. Adults buy things on credit cards and are unable to pay them off. We spin our wheels on tasks which bring in little money.

I think this is a good topic for many of us to ponder. How do we feel about money? Are we upset about it? Envious? Petulant? Do we feel we deserve more? Ashamed we don't have enough? Think of all the better ways that energy could be used!

Imagine you're a waitress. If all day you're grumpy about money, your customers probably sense that unhappiness and don't give great tips. But if you're smiling and happy, and radiate joy while you help each table, you probably get larger tips. And that then equals more money smile.

Or at work if you're a happy, focused, team-building person, you probably get more raises and promotions on average than the distracted, grumpy person.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/10/14 08:08 PM
Day 11 / Forgiveness and Career. This was Saturday's focus. For me this was a quite easy one - I adore what I do every day. I am just so happy with what I spend my time on. I love helping BellaOnline editors reach their dreams. I love writing novels that provide healthy role models. I am having great fun with photography and watercoloring.

Every job I had up until now has helped guide me on the path here, so whether they were challenging or stressful, I appreciate them. They all helped me build the skills I now use.

How do you feel about your current career path?
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/11/14 02:21 AM
Day 12 / Forgiveness and Women - I pondered this both yesterday and today. Supporting women is key in every day of my life. My books support battered women's shelters. My websites support women in a variety of ways. I know our culture creates hurdles for women. I want to do my best to counteract that.

It also seems that, many times, women can undermine themselves. It seems primarily women who post the "ha ha look at this person's stupid clothes" messages, where the delight is in looking down at another person. Women can be snarky about how other women "should not be seen" on a beach in anything less than a burqa. In an era where we should support each other in all body shapes and sizes, it seems women are the most vocal in putting down others. Why do we perpetuate that kind of a message?

We seem to do that socially as well. We can be vocal about how others have flaws and failings, denigrating those who do not "measure up" in whatever way - and at the same time complaining that they judge us. If we don't want to be judged, shouldn't it mean we should resist judging others? Is judging necessary? Can we simply accept that we're all on a path and it's OK that we're at different stages on our paths?

Of course, am I judging others by pondering this? smile. Should I be more tolerant of those who actively post judgmental posts? smile.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/11/14 12:40 PM
Day 13 / Forgiveness and Men

It's interesting how some topics seem easier than others. This one is a challenge for me. I wonder if it is for all women - that we all have men in our lives who have hurt us. Certainly the statistics on how often women are abused by men seem to bear that out.

I certainly want to start with the thought that a man who deliberately hurts a woman is at fault and should take responsibility for his actions.

That being said, I think in many cases the man's aim is not to hurt the woman. It's more that he, himself, is feeling upset or trapped or hurt and he makes a decision in the moment which maybe isn't the best one. He's a human. He makes an unwise choice.

In my own life, I've certainly had my "heart broken". But looking objectively at the relationship, it was not a golden-perfect relationship. It had flaws and I tried to plow on anyway. If he did not want to, then it was best for us not to be together. A relationship only works if both halves want it. Should the separation have gone better? Certainly, but again, we're all human. We all feel angst and emotions during that time and maybe don't make the best of decisions. And that's understandable.

I think of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.' I think the same is true for heartache. We tend to look at the action as something Man X actively forced on us and we were a helpless dandelion seed adrift in the wind. But I think in most cases it's different than that. Usually we knew it wasn't quite right. We tried to force a square shape into a round hole and the pain is that we couldn't wrest the world into our ideal vision. Maybe, instead, we should have given ourselves credit for trying our best, appreciated the good times we had, and accept that this combination simply was not meant to be. Maybe even find a way to be grateful that things ended when they did both so they did not get far worse and so we are now free to pursue the path which brings us far better joy.

I'm not saying it's easy. But I see woman after woman wallowing in angst and unhappiness months or years after a break-up, and the destruction of their body's health seems a shame. We only have one body. We only have one lifetime. We should nurture the former and treasure the latter. To destroy and lose both over something in the past that wasn't meant to be seems almost a squandering of something precious.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/12/14 04:45 PM
Day 14 / Forgiveness and Ex-Partner

I think, again, this book repeats on certain topics figuring they are "sticky points" for many people and that iterations can be helpful. So rather than re-investigate the same situations from yesterday, I thought I'd take a different angle and look at my first boyfriend, who I dated all junior year of high school.

We met online, which nowadays is common, but in 1983 it meant an online BBS and dial-up connections and modems, and it was quite unusual. He lived an hour south. It was, as many teen romances tend to be, exciting and new and all-enthralling. Then we were looking at colleges and he started talking about marriage after that. I wasn't ready to lock myself in and broke up with him. He took it hard.

So while I tend to look at that relationship as a nice year which was a pleasant part of my growth, he probably sees it as me breaking his heart. Perhaps from his point of view I was 'the one'. He was ready to marry me. He was willing to put in the work. I gave up and left.

Should I have stayed, just because he wanted me to? Even though it didn't feel right to me? I tried to break up gently, but is the "breakee" ever going to see it that way? Are they going to remember the sharp edges and focus on those?

I think it's good to look at situations from all sides and remember that we're all human. We all have our own paths. Sometimes they merge and sometimes they diverge. We can't control what any other person does. We can only control our own reactions and our own steps.

I did the best I could with that relationship, and if I could have done better, I'm sure that could be said about any relationship.

I did meet up with him a few years ago and we had a nice dinner together, so I thought that was a good thing. We're both in happy relationships now. So life all worked out. And I do have fond memories of my time with him.

On an interesting note, though, I told Bob where I was going, who I was going with, and, afterwards, how it went. Apparently my high school boyfriend didn't do the same, judging by how his wife called mid-meal to ask where he was, as she was locked out of the house smile. So I found that an indicator that I'd made the right choice both then and now.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/14/14 01:27 PM
Day 15 / Forgiveness and Siblings

I suppose they call it "sibling rivalry" for a reason smile. I have five siblings - a full sister, a half sister, a half brother, a step sister, and a step brother. The relationship with all of them has changed over the years. We're all adults now and I think we're in a good place now. I wish I could see them all more frequently but we're fairly scattered. Facebook is good for keeping up with each other.

I think there are challenges with siblings, when kids, which are found in few other relationships. The most important people in the universe - the parents - are being competed for. And, being immature kids, things can be said and done that are hurtful. Those words and actions can be remembered for decades.

I think that's a key part of forgiveness - to realize we all make mistakes, especially when we're young, and that it's time to look forward. Dwelling on past situations just doesn't help anything. I'm sure I probably said things to my siblings when I was young that hurt them, and I don't even remember it. But maybe they do and it's "sounded in their ears" all these years. That would be a great shame.

I still remember an incident where my sister hand-made an item for my Mom and brought it to her. My mom thought it was a piece of junk my sister had wasted money on at a flea market and started berating the item. I had to leap in and stop my mother, and explain that my sister had made it for her. My mom back-tracked, but of course the damage was done. The incident still rings in my mind, how hurt my sister was, how upset I was by it, but it was just a momentary mistake by my mom and nobody else might even remember it.

Certainly I should learn from this - that there's no reason to denigrate something like that. One never knows the full history, and are the negative statements worth it? But I should learn from it and also release the emotions. It's not worth damaging current health and tying up current emotions over something decades old. I should accept it was a past mistake, I've learned something valuable, and I focus forward.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/17/14 05:21 PM
Day 16 / Forgiveness and Children

I've been pondering this one for several days. My first reaction is that I wouldn't need to forgive my son - I'm the one who needs forgiveness. I think of all the things I didn't do right in his life. I remember them keenly. Even little things like, one night when he dropped his bottle, I reached under the bed, grabbed it, and gave it back to him. Then he instantly threw up because I'd given him last night's bottle which had somehow fallen down there. Not that he was really hurt by taking a mouthful of the sour milk, but it stands out in my mind as me failing. And of course there are other situations that all stack up.

But the point of this exercise is to dig deeper and examine issues from all sides. I already am working on the "Forgive Lisa" aspect of things in various other days' exercises. So I gave this one more thought. Were there really things I might need to forgive my son for, that could be impacting our relationship?

I realized, after some pondering, that it's bothered me that he isn't trying to get a job / move his life forward. I know the job market is tough. But to not even try, or to not move forward with schooling, doesn't make sense to me. He could be writing novels. He could be doing all sorts of productive things.

Instead, what he does, along with helping my ex with random tasks, is to run a twitter feed where he shouts at people and swears. When I recently had an IM discussion with him about the nature of violence and pornography in video games, he began shouting at me. This all bothers me immensely. He's 25. He's an adult male. I make excuses and ignore it and figure "boys will be boys" - but at a core level this is not what I want to see in an adult. Male or female. One should not have to shout at another to force a point on them. Nor should one have to swear.

So I think this exercise has helped a lot, in bringing these feelings to the surface. Now I have to figure out what to do next. Clearly he's 25 and is an adult. And I did speak up the next day and indicate that his shouting was inappropriate. But maybe it is time for me to "unfollow" his feeds, if this is the way he interacts with others, so it doesn't upset me. I can love of him and also not approve of the way he interacts with his Twitter people.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/18/14 07:44 PM
Day 17 / Forgiveness and "Others"

Sometimes this book seems to be repetitively specific, while sometimes it goes a bit wildly in the other direction. "Others"? Others can apparently mean strangers, acquaintances, friends, co-workers, you name it. I think this is a bit too broad to work on all at once. So I'm going to segment this out.

Today I'll work on strangers. Probably has something to do with this CraigsList guy who is upset with me.

It's intriguing to me that I can feel hurt by strangers. With all the actual concerns in the world, and the real care I have for how I impact family and close friends, surely I can't reasonably be concerned about how every stranger out there interacts with me. Maybe their mother just passed away. Maybe their tooth is broken and they're in pain. Maybe they grew up abused and unloved and now this is how they see the world.

I certainly can't change strangers. They are on their own path and hopefully they will eventually find a place of greater peace and joy.

Also, if someone is a volcano, it doesn't make sense for me to take responsibility for that. I can't take responsibility for being unable to cap it. If they haven't been able to do it themselves during the years of their life, and their family and friends have been unable to help, then it is foolhardy for me to expect to do better.

I think I sometimes want to save every hurt puppy - but we just can't. We all only have 24 hours, and X energy. I absolutely want to be kind to strangers. I want to present a serene point of contact for them. My energy should be positive.

That said, if a stranger is in a position where they are hostile and unhappy, I also need to let them continue on their path. It could be that the very thing they need right now is time alone, to uncoil.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/20/14 01:00 AM
Day 17a / Forgiveness and Others - CoWorkers

I'm breaking this "others" category down into pieces as it is just too big to tackle at once. So today I'll think about the coworkers category.

I love the BellaOnline editor community and all the editors here. Over the past decade we only rarely have had an editor who is innately grumpy, and usually they fade away on their own. I have learned over the years to try my best, be patient, and to try not to take it personally if someone is cranky. People are shouldering great burdens in life.

So, when I think about "forgiving" coworkers, I have to think further back. If I ponder the topic, there are specific memories that bubble up. For example, when I was barely twenty I worked at a biotech, and after using the restroom my skirt caught in my pantyhose so my entire backside (underwear) was being shown. Two fellow secretaries let me walk right past them like that. I then came past them going in the other direction and a guy gently pointed out the problem to me. The women shrugged and said "we were going to tell you". Hmmmm, when? I remember being not upset as much as confused. Why wouldn't they have told me?

In two separate internet jobs I was promised money for work and was simply never paid. They kept stringing me along, having me do more and more work, often under great stress, and in the end I had to walk away without anything. That was frustrating.

But I look at the first situation as the women playing a casual prank. I didn't mind, and they weren't really being malicious. Just curious how long it would last. In the second, the people undoubtedly would have paid me if money started rolling in. They had high hopes for their projects. If I stopped coding their hopes went away, so their best chance was to keep me at it as long as I'd go.

In general I've been blessed at working in high-tech in quiet, supportive environments with people who were friendly and helpful. I had all sorts of helpful, supportive bosses. I had coworkers who were fun. Part of it was that I worked in an in-demand field and was an in-demand person, so I could carefully vet, pick, and choose where I was. I turned down some jobs because they didn't seem a good fit. I switched jobs if I got bored.

Since 1999 I've worked from home doing web stuff, so it's even more true that I have wonderful, ideal co-workers. I love my BellaOnline management team. They are supportive, kind, and smart. The editors are great and want to learn and thrive. So to me this is the ideal.

A friend of mine has been suggesting some fairly lucrative "real" jobs for me to take, but they involve an hour commute each way plus of course the actual time. The idea of "losing" all those hours every day, and not being able to fit in the things I love, gets to me. Sure I could use the lots-of-money. But I'd rather be poor and really happy with what I do, rather than rich and giving up on this all.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/20/14 07:03 PM
Day 17b - Forgiveness and Others - Friends

It's still so strange to me that this "others" category was so massive smile. Did her publishers tell her all she had was 21 days and she had to fit everyone in? smile.

I'm sure some categories I think are "easy" others find "hard" and vice-versa. To me, friends is quite easy. I have been blessed with incredible friends who I treasure. When I ponder about forgiving friends, I have to go way back, to first grade, to find something. I skipped kindergarten so was a "young kid" in first grade when age issues seem to matter. My two friends used to chase me around at recess calling me "baby Waller" until I cried. Back then teachers thought it was best to let kids work these things out on their own.

This is intriguing to me on various levels. First, I see the events from third person. I don't remember the in first person. I don't know that I remember them as much as I remember the memory of them. Next, how does the mind latch onto something that happened so young and consider it important? Surely millions of other things happened to me in those early years that were far more important, that I don't remember at all. Why do I allow this to linger and impact my adult state? Heck, the girls were just first graders with unformed brains. They're probably amazing people now. To "blame" them over whatever insecurities they had when they were 6 (or whatever) seems silly.

So, all that aside, my friends over the years have been amazing. Supportive, kind, helpful, and there when I needed them. If anything, I am struck by how a number of them currently are dealing with enormously challenging issues and holding their heads up through them. They are awesomely inspiring. It reminds me every day that, no matter what I'm facing, there are those out there who have far harder things to deal with. The more we all help each other out, the more we all rise and thrive and find joy in these preciously few days we have on Earth. It's stunningly true that we simply don't know how long we have. Each day is a gift.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 02/25/14 02:45 AM
Day 18 - Forgiveness and The World
Another case where this book becomes wildly vague and expansive in its categories. "The World"? The examples given are politicians and religious groups. The aim is to ponder how we sometimes malign entire groups of people, and why.

I try not to do this. I realize in every group that can traditionally be maligned - politicians, lawyers, used car dealers - that there are people who are honest and good. It's unfair to harm them, even just through constant teasing, about something they care about. I wouldn't want someone continually teasing me about being a writer.

I feel a twinge of sadness when I see generally disparaging posts about "all religious people are XXXX" or so on. People have different opinions and that's OK. If a group acts in a way which infringes on another group's rights, then legal action can be taken to create the proper boundaries. But being nasty about them personally doesn't seem to be constructive. They might feel the way they do because they were brainwashed for their entire life by their family and community. That's hard to undo.

If anything I would feel sympathy that they live in a state of unhappiness and hate. I'd hope that they can find their way out of it. Spending so much energy on fostering hate would, I would think, also fill one's own body with stress hormones. So it's not good for others and it's not good for the source person either.

My aim in these cases would be to look at the person / group's actions and be able to first say "I disagree with the action". Then it's a question of whether I feel their action is harming others or not. If it isn't, I need to let them hold their own opinion and be at peace with that smile. If I do feel their action is harming others - for example if I feel they're infringing on others' rights - then I should take some action. I would feel, if I just ranted about it and spread stress around, that I'd damage my own health, I'd damage others' health, and I wouldn't be doing much good about the issue I cared about.

So those were my ponderings on "The World" smile.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 03/10/14 04:11 AM
Finally tackled Day 19 of the forgiveness book I'm reviewing. It was to write a letter to yourself forgiving yourself. I kept putting it off as it seemed challenging. So finally I put fresh, clean sheets on the bed, fresh batteries into my LED candles, poured a large glass of water, and snuggled in with my laptop. And just wrote.

It was a good process. I think the work the previous 18 days on forgiveness did help. I'd thought about a lot of issues and was able to be more gentle with myself than before. I have made mistakes. I learned from them. I can't change the past. I can only do the best I can with each future day - each fresh opportunity.

If I "waste" energy on feeling upset about things I can't change, that is energy I can't apply to making this current day as productive as it could be. I have SO many projects that need to be done. People rely on me. I owe it to them to be fully present in now and fully dedicated to making this current day work well. Yes I want to learn from the past - but to wallow in it serves no good for the current people who need me. I should focus all my energy today on doing today's tasks as well as I can, with all the energy and spirit that I have.

I'm slowly getting there. But the letter did help.

I do suggest trying the daily exercises and then writing yourself a letter. Every step helps a little bit.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 03/27/14 06:34 PM
Forgiveness project - wrote a long private essay about my ex to help release those emotions. I was 18-and-a-month when I married. Too young. The past is in the past, and I need to release any tangle of emotions from that so I can more fully participate in my projects of the now.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 11/25/14 11:11 PM
I still think about this project - it was very worthwhile. I highly recommend people give it a try.
Posted By: Lisa Shea Re: Forgiveness - 01/25/20 02:51 AM
I just had an online conversation with a software developer, where his language was less than respectful. Rather than escalate, I stepped back and let him know I was done talking about the issue.

I'm learning more to take those steps back. I can't change other people when they use inappropriate language.

People in a customer service role who aren't capable of talking professionally with customers need to learn their skills. It's not up to me, the customer, to teach them that.
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