As much as I hate to admit it, I stink at forgiveness.
When I was hurt, all I heard was, “You need to forgive and move on.” I was stumped, what exactly is forgiveness?
My first stop was the dictionary for the definition of forgiveness; “to grant pardon for or remission of an offense, debt, etc.”
The word that intrigued me was “pardon.”
I suddenly pictured a judge sitting behind a court bench pounding her gavel or, the president signing a presidential pardon saying, “You have received special dispensation and thus you are hereby pardoned of your offenses!”
This hit home the fact that I have the power and a choice to make.
I imagined someone with whom I had been holding onto some hurt. I pictured myself signing a decree that, from heretofore this person is officially pardoned.
“Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.” ~Anonymous
I wasn’t condoning what they had done, I simply was saying I will no longer hang on to the negative energy that resulted from their actions. I felt the hurt begin to melt away.
I also pictured signing that executive pardon for all the embarrassing, hurtful and stupid things for which I judged myself.
If you’re struggling with forgiveness, give these steps a try:
- Make a list of the people with whom you’re currently holding a grudge. Don’t forget to include yourself.
- Go through the list and write down (or state out loud) what they did to hurt you. Dig deep, and don’t forget yourself.
- Before moving to the pardon, ask yourself, “What did I learn from this experience?” Don’t skip this as it can help you see patterns of behavior and/or help to avoid repeats of the situations and people that you are now trying to forgive. Again, don’t forget yourself.
- One at a time, imagine them standing before you. Declare that they are officially pardoned and bang your pretend (or real) gavel. Move on to the next person and, you guessed it, don’t forget yourself.
- This takes practice. You may have to run certain people or situations through the courthouse more than once. However, if there are people and things you just aren’t able to forgive and move past, consider seeking support from a licensed therapist or counselor.
By taking a few minutes to forgive, we can free up energy to begin again with a clean slate. What a great way to say good bye to 2018 and welcome 2019!
Did this work for you or do you have another way that helps you practice forgiveness? Please let us know in the comments below.
Since I last posted about my journey with food, I felt like I was wandering aimlessly and at the end of my rope.
I felt hopeless and helpless when it came to my weight. I had lost 9 lbs. since the beginning of the year but now it seemed the only way to get the scale to move was to starve myself.
I needed support and a plan but which one?!
I was confused by all of the ads. Oprah loves Weight Watchers, Marie Osmond loves Nutrisystem. Even Dr. Oz seemed to have a different health expert every day, tout the benefits of their weight loss plan.
Everyone had advice for losing weight.
Then I began having bouts of nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. I went for blood tests and an ultrasound to see if I had gallstones.
The ultrasound showed no gallstones but the blood work shocked me.
My cholesterol was 233! Thirty-three points higher than recommended!
My crappy diet was coming back to haunt me and it scared me.
Suddenly this was less about losing weight and more about being healthy.
A dear friend had been telling me about a program that she discovered about a year ago called CHIP.
CHIP stands for Complete Health Improvement Program and is sponsored by Rochester Lifestyle Medicine.
I resisted CHIP at first because it is about adopting a whole food, plant-based diet; no meat, no dairy.
It was hard to imagine life with no steak, butter, eggs, and OMG! No cheese or ice cream!
In my mind that meant food with no flavor and that meant SUFFERING!
But I watched my friend change her life over the last year simply by changing her diet and increasing her activity.
She’s lost 25 lbs. and no longer takes medication for fibromyalgia. She’s 65 years old and looks and acts at least 20 years younger!
And she certainly is NOT suffering!
So I checked out CHIP.
The program is based on studies by top researchers around the world like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and T. Colin Campbell. The studies they cite, like the China Study, are not funded by the pharmaceutical companies, the food lobbyists or others with an interest in skewing the results.
The program looked sound and I knew my current lifestyle was leading me down the path to heart disease and likely an early death. It was time to change.
In July, I signed up for CHIP and met 17 other people who were struggling like me.
Twice a week, we learn the truth about the typical American diet and how it contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and more.
They share with us the research about how eating a whole food, planted-based diet can reverse disease.
We look at the difference between the typical American diet and what research has found to be the optimal diet for health.
There is no judgment. No one is telling us we HAVE to change. They simply educate us and we decide the changes we want to make.
Some of us have jumped in and embraced the optimal diet. Others have decided to make a few changes each week.
I could not do this on my own.
I need the support of others who are going through the same thing. We encourage each other and talk about how to handle challenges like eating out or dealing with family and friends who are not supportive of our new lifestyle.
Since July 15th, I have been eating the optimal diet and I can honestly say that I love it!
My fear of eating bland, tasteless food was totally unfounded!
Along with a textbook and a workbook, they also provided us with a cookbook.
I am having a blast trying new foods and have learned how to change recipes to suit my new lifestyle.
And listen to this: as long as I am eating foods that are part of the optimal diet, I can eat as much as I want!
I feel like I should have gained 20 lbs. because of the amount of food I’m eating. But I’m actually losing weight! It’s crazy!
Am I perfect? Of course not. I eat potato chips and taco chips. And I still have a drink a couple times a week. This may change as time goes on but for now, I’m not going to beat myself up.
After one month of eating a plant-based, low fat diet, I have not only lost 4 1/2 lbs but I have lowered my cholesterol by 32 points! And, no more nausea, vomiting or pain.
It wasn’t easy getting here but it’s getting easier every day! I’m eating food that I love and I know is good for me. Physically I feel better and mentally I feel free!
If you’ve been struggling like I have, check out CHIP and see if it’s right for you.
And feel free to reach out with any questions regarding my experience.
To learn more about CHIP, go to Rochester Lifestyle Medicine and click on What Is CHIP?
If you do not live in the Rochester, NY area and would like to find the nearest program, go to Lifestyle Medicine Institute.
With the rash of shootings and violence going on in the Rochester area, our country and around the world, it’s hard not to be scared these days.
Living in a small town, it’s easy to turn off the TV and say “I don’t want to think about this because it doesn’t effect me.”
Or “I’ll just ignore it and it will go away.”
Or even, “I don’t want to think about this because there is nothing I can do.”
However, I know I need to do something, but what?
According to an expert on peace and nonviolence, Arun Gandhi, “The world is what we have made it. If we change ourselves we can change the world, and changing ourselves begins with changing our language and methods of communication.”
Arun learned from his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, that violence occurs everywhere. We may think we live in a world where violence can’t touch us if we only focus on physical violence. I know I feel pretty safe in my neighborhood and in most places I travel.
However, Arun Gandhi states in Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, that there is a more insidious form of violence, “passive” violence.
This takes the form of speaking to or treating others disrespectfully, name calling, bullying, even eye rolling.
Any act where it causes an emotional hurt is an act of “passive” violence.
For example, a nasty or hurtful Tweet or post. Mocking someone’s appearance. Rolling your eyes when someone says something stupid.
I remember being picked on as kid and complaining to my mom. Her advice was to just ignore it and the kids will stop. She was right but it took a while. I can still feel the anger and frustration I felt sitting in silence on the bus as some boys told me how fat and ugly I was.
And it doesn’t just happen to us as kids. Fast forward 35 years and there I am again, sitting in a boardroom having insults thrown at me by a superior.
The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is BS!
Gandhi explained that “passive violence ultimately generated anger in the victim who, as an individual or as a member of a collective, responded violently. In other words, it is passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence.”
With all of the hate speech and negativity being thrown around in the political arena, there has been plenty of fuel being added to the fire lately.
Could it be helping to create the homegrown violence in our country? I believe 100% YES!
We all need to get: Words are powerful.
What we are doing is NOT working. The answer is not more police. The answer is not meeting violence with violence.
“Be dominated by love, respect, understanding, appreciation, compassion, and concern for others rather than the self-centered and selfish, greedy, hateful, prejudiced, suspicious, and aggressive attitudes that dominate our thinking.” Arun Gandhi
It is not our job to try and fix what everyone else is doing. It is our job to be sure WE are doing the right thing.
What can you do to stop passive violence?
~ Stop, take a breath and think before you speak, act or respond to someone.
~ Ask yourself, “How can I respond with kindness and respect?” (Sometimes the best response is no response)
~ Give yourself permission to take a time out, if needed. Step away, collect yourself and then go back to “How can I respond with kindness and respect?”
In my case, I had to leave the toxic situation I was in. Fortunately, I had the love and support of my family and friends and a great therapist to help me sort through the anger, hurt and betrayal I felt. Not everyone has the support or tools to handle those difficult feelings.
Imagine what would be possible if we all practiced treating others with kindness and respect.
I try and meet each person with kindness and respect because I know how it feels when met with the opposite. And most times, people return the favor.
Kindness and respect creates connection and makes for a much more peaceful and productive world.
When it is not returned, I give myself permission to take myself out of the toxic space. I practice choosing to “go high when others go low” (Thank you Michelle Obama!).
We will only stop the out of control violence in our world by knowing that what we say and how we treat others matters just as much as physically injuring someone.
We CAN make a difference. As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Go to MK Gandhi Center for Nonviolence for more information.
Also read Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, to learn more about nonviolent communication.
This week I am inspired by women who are following their bliss and making a real difference in the world and am grateful to be a contributor to the Fall Issue of Get Real magazine.
Changing The World One Step At A Time, tells my experience of the first time I went into the Monroe County Jail as a volunteer with the Step By Step program. It is not only a tribute to the organization but to the work of Sally Kohler, the workshop facilitator, who tirelessly works to lift up women who have fallen.
Click this link Get Real Magazine Fall 2015 and download to read my article and be inspired by all the amazing articles and photos.
Thank you to Brenda Steffon, Melissa Pletscher-Nizinsky and Julia Kracke for creating such a beautiful, inspiring magazine. You and your staff have created excellence on these pages and I am honored to be a small part.
Who are the women that inspire you? Now go and let them know the difference they have made in your life. #liveinspired
Have you ever thought about your relationship to money? I say relationship because we all have a story about money.
I grew up thinking we were poor. There never seemed to be enough money for what I wanted.
Now mind you, I never went without food, decent clothing, anything really. But as a kid, I wanted certain things, as all kids do.
There never seemed to be enough when I wanted things like candy or a toy. I didn’t get an allowance so I would ask my parents for money when I wanted something. The answer was sometimes yes, but most of the time, no. Sounds normal, right?
But as a kid, I made up the story that I couldn’t have those things because we were poor. And my mind took it one step further down the victim trail to, “I can’t have what I want but my brothers always get what they want.”
What my mind failed to realize is that my brothers are 5 and 6 years older than me. They worked on a local farm or at the 5 & 10 store and earned their own money so they could buy what they wanted.
But my mind was determined to hold onto this scarcity mentality.
Fast forward to adulthood. I perpetuated this story by putting all of my families needs above my own. The kids needed new school clothes, ok. My husband wanted to go on his annual fishing trip, of course.
But when I even had the thought of spending any money on myself, my mind immediately went to, “No! You can’t have what you want! Remember, there isn’t enough for you!”
So I became resentful.
When I had enough of my resentment, I would just go and buy what I wanted. Then, guilt set in.
I felt so much guilt from spending anything on myself, I would sometimes not tell my husband what I bought. I thought he certainly wouldn’t understand spending $40 on a tube of face cream.
That left me feeling dishonest and like I was stealing from my family.
I knew I needed to break this pattern of behavior before I could really welcome any amount of abundance into my life.
My best friend, a former financial broker, suggested that in order to break through this, I simply needed some mad money. A certain amount of money each week, I could call my own.
My mad money was mine to do with what I wanted. I could burn it, give it away, buy a bunch of little things or save it for something bigger.
This made so much sense to me and immediately lifted a weight off my shoulders. I know this sounds crazy but this “allowance,” so to speak, opened up possibilities for me to not only get what I wanted but to give up the destructive pattern of guilt and resentment.
By releasing the emotional tie it had on me, I no longer let money control my life.
Now I’m rewriting my money story from a perspective of abundance and having all of my needs met. Even if it’s candy!
What is your “money mindset?” What would you like your relationship to money to be? What is something you can do today to begin a shift toward your new “money mindset?”
How many times have you said, I’ll take care of myself after I make sure everyone else is taken care of? Sounds familiar, right?
Problem is, there usually isn’t anything left and we end up worn out and stressed out.
If you’ve done any flying, you know that the flight attendants tell those who are traveling with children, that in case of loss of pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. We are instructed to put on our oxygen mask first, then help the children (and others) with theirs.
They know that we will likely run out of oxygen before we can help too many if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
It is selfish NOT to put on our mask first. We aren’t any good to anyone if we are lying passed out on the floor.
This brings up a point I hear a lot from women. They feel “selfish” if they spend any time or money on themselves.
The word selfish means “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”
I assert that it is selfish for us to NOT take care of ourselves.
But what does being selfish look like? We have to trust that we will not go off the rails, say the heck with everyone else and end up “lacking consideration for others.”
I am not saying that you should put ALL of your needs in front of others. I am saying that there needs to be a mix.
For example, I knew a woman who could not afford to hire a sitter so she could go for a run or out to lunch with friends. So she scheduled time for herself when her husband could watch the kids. She also found another woman who was in the same boat and they took turns watching each others kids so they could each have some time to themselves.
We need to take the stigma out of taking care of ourselves not only for us but for our daughters. If they see us harried and exhausted then they will likely follow in our footsteps or feel guilty if they decide to take care of themselves.
The message they are getting is that in order to be a good worker, mother or wife they must sacrifice themselves and their well being.
I don’t know about you but that scares me! I want my daughter to do and be better than me but the main thing is I want her to be happy, not exhausted!
If we all took a few minutes to be “selfish” each day, we could lower our stress and increase our health and well being.
Take a look at how you are feeling. Are you refreshed and engaged and looking forward to the day? Or are you exhausted and just getting by?
What needs aren’t being met? Do you need more sleep? To eat better food? More exercise? Time in nature or to read?
Commit right now to giving yourself something that you have not been allowing yourself and see how you show up afterward. I bet you are happier.
Imagine the impact that will have not only on you but on your relationships with our co-workers, families and friends. Don’t you deserve that?
Ready to take charge of your life? Join me for a retreat designed to help you learn how to live your best life! We will explore ways to shift our common belief that taking care of ourselves is selfish. We will uncover what is truly in the way of you making positive changes in your life.
Come and learn how to take good care of your greatest asset, you.
Enjoy this all-day retreat on August 23rd, 2015 at the beautiful and serene Chapin Mills Retreat Center. Located in Batavia, NY on 135-acres, this country retreat center will thrill your senses and ignite your imagination.
For more information and to register go to www.PeaceAndPear.com.
I hear people saying that in order to be happy, we just need to do positive affirmations and let go of negativity. I say the exact opposite.
In order to be happy, be sad. Let me explain.
The new movie Inside Out is geared towards children but I think it’s a movie everyone should see, adults included.
Without giving too much away, the movie focuses on a little girl named Reilly and how she deals with her emotions. There are characters that represent the emotions of joy, sadness, disgust, anger and fear.
In the beginning of the movie, each time Sadness tries to take over, Joy is there to push her away.
I did this for years.
I tried everything to make sadness go away because I thought something was wrong with me if I wasn’t happy all the time. I tried pushing it down, denying it, resisting it. I tried talking myself out of it by doing positive affirmations.
You’ve heard the saying “What we resist, persists?” That is exactly what happened.
Before I knew it, I wasn’t just sad, I was depressed.
There were times when I felt like a deep dark hole was opening up and swallowing me. All I wanted to do was check out of life and sleep.
Then, after a while, I would begin to feel better and come out of it. (Those who have that hole swallow them up and don’t come out, need to seek professional help)
When we resist feeling any emotion, it causes a reaction.
Shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, compiled data that showed we cannot numb one emotion without numbing all of our emotions.
Basically, by not allowing ourselves to feel and process our sadness, we are not able to experience true joy.
In our society, it often seems unacceptable to express sadness. We can feel we need to put on a happy face and act like we’ve got it all together.
When we do that, our sadness festers and ends up coming out in other ways. It can manifest itself as depression, illness or destructive behavior such as addiction.
Or we could have an outburst and explode when we have reached our limit.
However, by acknowledging and experiencing our emotions and talking to an empathetic person, we will find that sadness or any emotion leaves as fast as it came.
This is what happened to little Reilly. Once she allowed herself to talk to her parents about her sadness, it opened the door to true connection as well as letting Joy once again be a part of her life.
The real lesson here is that emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. We all have them and all they simply want is to be expressed.
What about those positive affirmations? It is unhealthy and unrealistic to expect ourselves to be happy all the time. If we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, then we can use positive affirmations or gratitude to reconnect with hope and faith. That way we won’t end up wallowing in negativity.
What emotion are you currently not allowing yourself to experience? Who is your go-to person when you need empathy?
If you are open to it, practice allowing difficult feelings, share with an empathy buddy and see what happens. I bet you’ll be amazed at how much happier you will be when you allow your emotions to just be.
How many times have you let yourself be taken advantage of or sucked into someone else’s drama just because you didn’t want to come off as cold or worse, the “b” word?
This was the case with a client who was wondering how to deal with someone in their life who was being self-destructive. She stated that her friend was not only hurting themselves but those around them. Many of their family and friends had gotten so irritated or resentful with how her friend was behaving they stopped having contact with them.
My client didn’t want that to happen to her but she could feel the irritation and resentment beginning to creep in. She did not want to lose the friendship they had built over the years but she also knew she needed to honor herself.
There are two things we can do so that we don’t feel taken advantage of and get sucked into other people’s drama.
- Put a “hedge of protection” around you. In order to not take on the other person’s emotions or negativity, putting up this barrier protects us. But we also have to make it so that our love and compassion can pass through the hedge to them. This is not a physical barrier of any kind it is simply a mental awareness that if we are down in the muck and mire with them then we are no good to anyone.
- Surrender. This does not mean to give up. It means hand them over to their higher power. They are on their path and we are not responsible for the choices they make. Don’t try to change them. If someone is a danger to themselves or others, then by all means, contact the authorities, get them professional help. However, it is not your job to “fix” someone else’s life. You are there to love and support them if they want it but be sure they are driving their life, not you.
A few years ago, I had a friend who often wouldn’t show up when we had made plans. I loved her and I knew this was not her but this was her pattern. Connection was something she struggled with.
This pattern led other people in her life to get angry and stop contacting her. I could feel that beginning with me as well. I realized I could not change her so I knew I had to be the one to change.
I told her that I was not going to show up for any meeting with her unless she confirmed with me the day before. A few times we had a date planned and when I didn’t hear from her, I simply sent her a text telling her that I would not be there and that when she wanted to try again, just let me know.
Because of this, I was able to let go of my resentment and not feel taken advantage of. I chose to honor myself as well as my friend. We now have a great relationship and she lets me know when she can’t make our coffee dates.
What relationships have left you feeling resentful, taken advantage of or gotten sucked into the drama? Right now, how can you practice surrendering and putting up your hedge of protection with those people?
I sat listening to a friend who was recounting a meltdown she had recently. Someone had pushed her buttons and suddenly, she found herself saying things she never thought she was capable of.
Afterwards she felt such regret and said, “This is not who I want to be.”
It became clear that her automatic reaction when triggered was to fight. She had developed that survival instinct as a little girl and it’s still there even though she’s an adult.
Chutzpah is a Yiddish word that means “shameless audacity.” I think of it as having guts, nerve or backbone.
I think this woman has chutzpah. And not all of us do.
There are those whose first reaction is to run away when there is confrontation. I fall into this category.
However, when I avoid the uncomfortable situation or person, I end up feeling defeated. My confidence and self-esteem take a hit.
A few years ago, the leader of an organization was continually putting me down. Even though they stepped over the line, I lacked the chutzpah to say, “I won’t be treated this way.”
Because I am a person who chooses to lead with my heart, I mistakenly viewed standing up for myself as being arrogant. But each time I backed down, I felt weak and like I dishonored myself. This was not who I wanted to be.
I had heart and not enough chutzpah. My friend had chutzpah and not enough heart.
Chutzpah by itself can come across as arrogant or mean. Heart alone can be viewed as weakness and a doormat.
The sweet spot lies where we have both heart AND chutzpah (heartzpah?! :). It’s not easy to find that place, it takes practice.
For fighters, it means forcing yourself to take a time out before you start saying things you’ll regret.
For those of us who take flight, it means giving yourself permission to stand your ground.
I think Brené Brown said it best, “Don’t puff up, don’t shrink back. Just stand your sacred ground.”
It can be scary and uncomfortable as we practice something new. But that’s where our growth lies, in those scary, uncomfortable places. And there is great joy and peace of mind knowing that you can handle anything or anyone who crosses your path.
In order to be the person you want to be, what do you need to practice more of, chutzpah or heart?
The number of chronic procrastinators has quadrupled in the last 30 years to nearly 20 percent of the population, according to Dr. Joseph Ferrari, associate professor of psychology at Chicago’s De Paul University. It is an insidious habit that will sabotage your success and drain your energy.
Fear of making a mistake, fear of failure or even fear of success can be causes of chronic procrastination.
Procrastination may be a problem if you:
•Have been financially impacted because you didn’t cash a check on time or delayed filing your taxes to the point of incurring fines or penalties.
•Have become exhausted and/or given up working out because you had to watch just one (or two or three) more episodes on Netflix before going to bed.
•Are constantly making excuses because you are late.
•Friends, family or coworkers point out your procrastination or the consequences of it.
The good news is procrastination is a learned behavior. With the proper structure and lots of practice, new habits can be formed. It will take time and patience though.
“Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” according to Dr. Ferrari.
Here are a few steps you can take to begin to break the procrastination habit:
•Make a to-do list of 5-6 things daily.
•If necessary, begin by tackling just one and break it down into small steps.
•Pay attention to your thinking — if you notice you want to procrastinate, decide to just keep going.
•Acknowledge and reward yourself for what you have accomplished.
•If you find yourself procrastinating, don’t judge yourself just focus on the next item on your list.
As you begin to take even small steps, you will notice your production increasing, your energy level rising and your happiness begin to grow.
This was written for Rochester Women’s Network’s column Women At Work and was published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on April 21, 2015.