Sometimes we learn from our own mistakes and experiences. Sometimes we learn from other’s mistakes and experiences. One thing I learned from someone else was how holding onto grudges and pain from the past destroys joy. I learned I don’t want to hold onto grudges.
There’s this woman I knew who could hold a grudge like nobody’s business. She was the queen of grudges! There were times she would talk to me about things people said to her in high school that really hurt her. She would talk about it as if it were yesterday and still held onto all that hurt, pain, resentment and anger 40 years later! I consistently saw her using up so much energy holding grudges and holding onto things that had happened long ago. I saw how it turned her into this bitter, unhappy person. I realized life is too short and precious to waste any of my time or energy on that. That doesn’t mean I never get hurt or upset, but I let things go and move on. This has helped me maintain a better state of mind and more happiness and peace in my life.
This goes hand in hand with forgiveness and what forgiveness is and is not. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. I once heard someone say that short of brain surgery there’s no way you can just forget a hurtful or horrible thing someone has done to you. What it does mean is that the original feeling associated with that person dissipates until we no longer feel it.
Forgiveness does NOT mean going back to or staying in an abusive or toxic relationship. The relationship I had with this woman was very toxic and unhealthy. Since getting out of that relationship I am a much happier, more independent and confident person. I think remembering what this person did to me is important in keeping me from going back and getting abused and misused again. However, when I think of this person I have no negative feelings. I never wish anything bad on her. I don’t feel sad, angry or hurt when I think of her, and I even pray for her and those around her. I have forgiven, moved on and also kept my mental and emotional well-being in tact.
Holding on to things can eat away at us and feeds into anxiety, depression and OCD. Talking things out or being able to step away from our own self-interests to look at things from someone else’s perspective are great ways to move on and rid ourselves of grudges. This also helps with forgiveness, which really can do wonders for our mental health.
A strange thing has been happening where I live. Trees are budding. My Rose-of-Sharon shrubs have new flowers blossoming when normally they bloom in July or August and are completely dead by now.
We had a terrible windstorm not too long ago. The worst one I’ve seen in almost ten years. Trees were knocked over, limbs were ripped off, fences, garbage cans, trampolines and swing sets were blown over and away. My shrubs looked like they were dead. The leaves turned brown and shriveled. And yet, there are new flowers blooming. And I’ve seen new buds on my neighbor’s trees.
I love symbolism, and I see it everywhere. I see these trees, shrubs and flowers reflecting the beauty and strength that can come from going through hard, hard things. The difficult things we go through—the difficult things I have gone through—don’t have to kill or maim us. They may hurt. They may, at times, make us feel weathered, shriveled, ugly. But they are also what makes us bloom and blossom. We become stronger, more resilient and beautiful through the winds that beat upon us. And we can share that beauty—beauty and light—with others around us.
Even through the hard, hard things—like this year of 2020—there is still beauty. There is still newness. There is still time and room to grow. There is still more to become.
I went for a hike in the mountains a few weeks ago. The leaves were starting to change, the air was cool, but not cold, and I was reminded how much I need to be out in nature. Mountain therapy truly works for me. Fall is my favorite season, my favorite time of year. I wrote this poem while I was hiking and thought I’d share.
Some say fall is the time when everything begins to die.
I say it’s the time everything comes alive.
Leaves explode into vibrant reds, yellows and oranges.
Wind dances through the trees, whistling, rustling, then stillness.
Long shadows stretch as far as they can in the dimming moments of dusk.
And the songs within my soul blossom and burst forth.
Some say fall is the time when everything begins to fade and die.
I say it’s the time when everything comes alive and shouts for joy.
I used to be a dreamer. I had so many dreams when I was in high school—dreams that couldn’t happen where I was. I couldn’t wait to graduate and move away to college because that is where my dreams were going to come true. So I moved away to college and expected all the things that couldn’t happen before to happen. I expected the people to be different. I expected my dreams to come true. But they didn’t. None of the things I had planned, expected or dreamed happened. And I became extremely depressed. So depressed that I decided to take a semester off and move back home.
I remember there was this one day, as I was trying to figure things out, that I finally realized it wasn’t the place, it was me. I just needed to change my perspective and my attitude. So I resolved to go back to the same college with no expectations other than to have fun and be happy. And you know what? That’s exactly what I did. I had fun, and I was happy—very happy!
I recently found this quote by Eckhart Tolle in his book Stillness Speaks that says, “You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” Sometimes we think changing our circumstances, like I did with moving, is what will bring us the happiness we’ve been wanting for so long. We think that is what will make all our dreams come true, but I have found that the greatest peace and happiness you can have is by understanding who you truly are and acting according to that—and you can do that no matter where you are.
Back in January I had surgery and couldn’t exercise for six weeks. I never really quite got back into a good routine, but I’ve made more of an effort the last few weeks and have done really well. I forgot just how good it feels to exercise consistently! I always feel so good when I’m done with a workout. My body feels good, my mind feels good, and my emotions feel good. My consistent exercising hasn’t been a cure-all for my depression or anxiety, but I do believe it has helped, just like it has helped in the past. So if you find your depression getting worse, or even just not getting better, ask yourself if there’s anything you need to change or adjust. And if you don’t have some sort of exercise routine, it may just be the thing that helps.
Walking through that door makes the blue a little lighter. She holds space as I gently spill. We sit, we talk - we water, dig and bury. Nurturing a shoot. Aiding it in light - to find its path through thorns - Malan Wilkinson