Moving On to Live

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Have you ever seen someone do something terrible and get away without any sort of consequences? Even worse is when they may get rewarded or celebrated and we somehow reap a negative consequence, while they remain unscathed. Sorry if I’m bringing up a foul memory to mind. It’s ok to take a second to let it flare up, stew, and simmer down if you need. I’m going to attempt to help us take that foul stew off the stove and wash it down the drain, so we’re free to enjoy life more with the air cleared.

I recalled this stench of resentment mixed with justice recently as I’ve been re-reading a story. It’s a story in the Book of Mosiah about this guy named Amulon and his cronies, as I’ve come to call them. They were unjust men, who stole from the humble, murdered the innocent, and were beyond any crudeness or lewdness we’ve been seeing on the news lately. Not only that, they were supposed to be the government and religious leaders.

Thankfully, the people finally wised up and had an uprising, but they somehow managed to escape before the people could sentence any sort of just punishment. Fast-forward, and we get to a point where a group of the most humble and kind of the townsfolk are trying to re-settle themselves. Guess who barges in to desecrate the sweet-prairie life they’ve established? Amulon and his cronies not only butt in, but the ruler of the larger kingdom that the townsfolk settled in dubs Amulon king over their little settlement. To suggest that Amulon merely bullied these townsfolk would be an understatement.

Thankfully, for their well-being and sanity, these weren’t your typical townsfolk. They were praying folk. They were inspired to be patient, and obeyed. Then in due time, the Lord miraculously delivered them.

In some ways, despite the miraculous delivery, I’d find this story to be anti-climactic. No just-consequences are ever mentioned for Amulon. He seems to go by with a free pass. But as I was reading this story again, I stopped to observe myself. I realized that in the midst of my justice-nature, there was a vein of loathing, resentment, and unforgiveness. The funny thing is, I’ve been the one shouldering this, while those praying townsfolk who actually went through it merely moved on. The way they let the past drop off and instead focus on enjoying life reminded me of this stanza in one of my favorite poems, “A Psalm of Life”:

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Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,— act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

 

The example of these townsfolk humbled me to consider that maybe there’s a higher law to live than merely justice alone. Grace.

To me, grace is a state where justice and compassion are held equally. Where there’s a higher hope than just punishment, but a hope that a person can be empowered to healing and freedom from their destructive state. That a past is not necessarily a future. That instead, a person can change and rise to his or her highest self. And we can hope to celebrate their rising rather than revel in their final defeat. Grace isn’t the expectation of witnessing this change occur, but holding the hope and openness that someday they will be freed from the darkness they’re living in, to be a person of light. And in the meantime, our joy isn’t capped by justice alone. We can let the dead Past bury its dead and act in the living Present. We’re free to move on and live.

 

Winter Reflections: A Grateful Tradition

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Winter, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, correlates with hibernation, an opportunity to rest from activity in order to reflect, ruminate, and realign for a Spring revival. Now that much of the holiday bustle has lessened, its a good time to experience this tradition of mindfulness. With our focus on gratitude this month, we can especially experience the healing gifts of reflection. May you experience gratitude for yourself as you consider your growth and joy in an area we’ve discussed this year:

  • Have you grown in your understanding and acceptance of boundaries for yourself? Maybe you’ve been able to graciously say no to requests that would have disrupted you. Maybe you’ve been able to just begin to identify settings, people, or activities that deplete you or strengthen you. By doing so, you may have begun shifting your energy investments towards the more edifying. You can thank you.
  • Self-worth: have you been able to shed some untrue beliefs about yourself and look into true mirrors that reflect your inner beauty and worth? Maybe you’ve begun living more in your element, recognizing what natural strengths you’ve always had. You can thank you.
  • Rather than relying on other’s approval, maybe you’ve been able to have your own back and approve yourself…or at least, maybe you’re trying. Do you feel like you’ve gotten to know your emotions a little more clearly? Just by knowing how to express your feelings to yourself more clearly is allowing you to practice more emotional self-reliance. You can thank you.
  • Maybe you’ve been able to see hurtful pasts in a new light, shedding a little more understanding or even forgiveness for those who gave you grief. Maybe you’ve been able to give yourself some grace in those past situations or just in every day fumbles. Or maybe these have been new concepts you’re just beginning to learn about or be open to. You can thank you.bart-larue-314562

Your winter gratitude reflection can be simply considering your growth in these areas discussed. If you’d like to commemorate your self-gratitude and progress, you can journal specific moments when you’ve seen yourself grow in a topic above. You can illustrate it in an art form, musically, poetically, or visually. You can review some of the photos you have from the year and reflect on relationships or situations you’ve grown in that you now see in a light of gratitude. Feel free to share with us an image or thought from your reflections.

I want to say that you, as a part of our Whole Women Link community, have given us a sense of hope. By seeing that there are other women seeking, implementing, and sharing healing truths, I know all of us together are making a ripple effect for good on our world. Thank you for being a strengthening link.cropped-cropped-womenlink.jpg

Gratitude: A Fruit Worth Fighting For

This month we would like to continue the focus on Gratitude that many people have in November. It feels appropriate to have the final topic of the year be Gratitude as it comes often as a fruit of our efforts to grow in other areas we discussed in previous months. If you aren’t there yet in your growth like many of us, don’t give up on finding gratitude. You may just still need to work through your current struggle, but it will be waiting for you on the other side.

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Let’s look a little deeper into the development of Gratitude. It seems it’s in the absence of something that we learn to really appreciate it.  I was driving to my office this morning and deeply appreciating the change of season while I am here in central Washington. Even though I previously lived in this same area, nearly 21 years ago and have since visited many times, it took living the previous 5 years in Orlando, Florida for me to more fully appreciate the changes of season, mountains, and unique aspects of this area.  I also now appreciate Orlando more that I am not able to enjoy its warm tropical weather.  I truly believe that it is the things that we struggle to achieve, must wait for, or are forced to go without that allow us to develop gratitude. Gratitude is worth the effort to develop.  Developing gratitude in our lives leads to abundance, positive emotional well-being, and even feeling connected to others just to name a few of the benefits. If I could fully develop any skill to increase my happiness, an attitude of gratitude would be top on my list.

So how do we develop an attitude of gratitude? One of my favorite teachers on this subject is the late Dr. Wayne Dyer. He taught that “abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tune into.” As stated earlier, gratitude and abundance are closely connected and each of us possesses the capacity to develop an abundant mindset. Each day our minds have to sift through more information than we can consciously process, which forces our brain to be attentive to what we have cued as important. For example, recently I made it a practice to look up each day and take notice of the beauty of nature around me and take a few moments to focus on what I uniquely like about the landscape. I have done it so often now, I don’t even have to think about it, but can just enjoy the feeling of abundance from the natural beauty that surrounds me.

While I have gained appreciation for nature in this way, we can apply this to anything.  Focus on “what is positive, abundant, or unique” in the moment and your brain will record that pattern with greater and greater ease. Your brain will begin to look for and experience abundance and rewire itself. We are not biologically set in our pathways.  This has been long since disproved, and a previous attitude of scarcity and not having or being enough can be replaced with a feeling of gratitude for what unique and positive aspects are present in your life at this time.  It is my hope that you will be able to see your life with new eyes, much like I did my home town, and enjoy life more fully. I wish each of us the ability to intentionally develop the gift of gratitude this December.

Challenge:

Try the G.L.A.D. technique once a day to train your brain to feel more gratitude

G – Pick one thing you are “grateful” for today

L – Identify one thing you “learned” today

A – Acknowledge one small accomplishment you had today

D – Remember one thing you delighted in today

(This is enhanced when you pick something new each day in each area)