I have been deeply engrossed in how to create a life for quite awhile now. I’ve held a Soul Day and created an Intention Mandala on January 1st for several years. Does it work? Well, let’s see… I’ve “manufactured” a major UPI blog presence, Conari came out of nowhere to ask me to write a book, Writing Down Your Soul is approaching its third printing, the new matching journal, My Soul Page, will be out in May, people around the world have fallen in love with deep soul writing, I averted bankcruptcy last year by diving deeply into my Soul Day process, and that experience created my next book, The Lotus and The Lily.
So, you’d think I know what I’m doing. You’d think my Soul Day process was complete. You’d think I could just show up on January 1st and go through my magical motions and VOILA 2011 would unfold as it should.
You’d be wrong.
It’s always new. It’s always a mystery. Something new somehow always lands in my lap and surprises me. Today it was a poem. By Hafiz.
I love Hafiz. I know Hafiz. I keep Daniel Ladinsky’s books close at hand. So I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised that the first thing I did on January 1st was ask Hafiz to step out of the 14th century and tell me what I need to know about the precious gift of 2011.
I closed my eyes and opened The Gift and read a poem I’ve never read before, despite reading this book every day for 3 1/2 years.
The Seed Cracked Open
It used to be that when I would wake in the morning,
I could with confidence say, “What am ‘I’ going to do?”
That was before the seed cracked open.
Now Hafiz is certain:
There are two of us housed in this body,
doing the shopping together in the market
and tickling each other while fixing the evening’s food.
Now when I awake, all the internal instruments play the same music:
“God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do for the world today?”
Thank you Hafiz, for my “theme song” for 2011. I printed out the poem, drew a cracked open seed in the corner, and posted it on my Intention Mandala for 2011. Every day for the next 365 days, Hafiz will remind me what my work is REALLY all about: Not me, but We. Not writing, but “love-mischief.
What a sweet blessing. Thank you, Hafiz, for showing me in just a few lines what the new year is REALLY all about.
Now, it’s your turn. Take your favorite mystical poetry book or sacred text or oracle card set, or anything really that speaks to your heart. Bless it, close your eyes, and ask from the deepest part of your being, “What message do you have for me? What do I need to know right now about the life that is right before me?”
Then open the book, let the words find you, and take them in. They are a gift. They are a blessing. They are an insight from your Self to yourself.
Heaven communicates with us so many ways. Synchronicity. Animal messengers. Signs and symbols. Dreams. Nudging. Knowing. Intuition. And deep soul writing, of course.
But have you noticed that when you are ready to hear something really important, something that may well be the next step in your soul’s great human adventure, it falls into your hands through a human voice? It might be something someone says, but often it comes through the pages of a book.
That’s what happened to me. As you know, I wrote about how to create a magical new year throughout December. I thought about it every day and shared my experiences with you in this newsletter and in my blog. I thought I had the process pretty well figured out.
Until New Year’s morning.
I spent the morning in deep dialogue with my divine Voice putting 2009 to bed and calling in a magical 2010. It’s a process I’ve followed for a decade and I know it works. But this year, I did something different. Before I said my prayers, before I picked up a pen, before I did anything, I picked up a library book. As I sipped my coffee, I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s slender new book, you are here.
Midway through I had to stop and catch my breath. Because everything in my understanding suddenly shifted 180 degrees.
Let me explain.
A week ago, I decided that the perfect name for 2010 is “My Breakthrough Year.” It’s perfect because it captures where I am. I’m in the fifth year of my writing career: In 2006, I called in my publisher. In 2007, I wrote Writing Down Your Soul. In 2008, I learned what happens after you turn in your manuscript: editing, book layout, cover design… In 2009, I learned what happens when your book comes out: how to speak, teach, travel, communicate through social media, work with a publicist, interview and be interviewed… Whew.
And so, in year five, I’m ready for the big breakthroughs. You know: the income, agent, multi-book contract, well-paid speaking invitations. I’m ready for my ships to come in.
And reading Thich Nhat Hanh, I discovered how to do that. Which is a really good thing, because I had something wrong, and I’m willing to bet you do, too.
Until I read You Are Here, I visualized my year as me breaking through barriers to reach what I want. But listen to what the Buddha has to say about creating: “This is, because that is.”
Not clear? Don’t worry. That’s why God gave us Thich Nhat Hanh, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Vietnamese Buddhist monk. To explain this profound teaching Thich Nhat Hanh writes: “This refers to the manifestation of phenomena on the basis of the law of interdependent origination. When conditions are sufficient, there is manifestation.” (p. 87) To illustrate, he points out that in winter you don’t see sunflowers, but that doesn’t mean sunflowers don’t exist. They are just waiting for the condition of sunshine to call them forth.
My eyes couldn’t leave the sentence, “When conditions are sufficient, there is manifestation.” I wrote it several times in my journal. I wrote it on my white board. I sat staring in space letting it seep into my cells.
“When conditions are sufficient, there is manifestation.”
I am still calling 2010 “My Breakthrough Year,” but I see now that my way to get that to happen is not to focus on me breaking through to what I want; it is to focus on creating the conditions that allow everything I want to break through to me.
Do you hear the difference? It’s huge. And it’s the miracle-maker that will create the year I want — and the year you want.
So how do you create those conditions? Well, my Voice and I had long, rich talks about how I can create the fertile field for my “sunflowers” to break through the soil and grow, grow, grow. Well, actually we talked about lilies. Ever since Michael said, “You are a lily,” in an angel reading with Margo Mastromarchi in 2007, I’ve had lilies on my altar. I love seeing myself as one of Spirit’s cared-for lilies.
Once I was clear on the conditions to allow all I want to manifest, I made a prayer mandala to imprint that image in my sub-conscious. I traced a dinner plate on a large sheet of paper. I drew a lily at the center of the circle. On each of her six petals I wrote something I do to create the perfect conditions for my year. Around the lily, I drew twelve small circles, each with a symbol of something I want to break through to me in 2010.
I finished with an angel reading, using Doreen Virtue’s Archangel Oracle deck and pasted copies of the four cards to the corners. Delighted with the results, I pinned my 2010 mandala to the wall next to my desk where it will bless me for the next 365 days.
Thank you for joining me in this delightful adventure to call in a divine new year. I share your excitement for what we are creating. Thanks for your emails and comments.
But please don’t worry if you haven’t started.
In the past, I did the whole thing in a couple hours the morning of January 1st. And I’m living proof that such compressed intention-setting works. So whether you’ve been preparing to call in your new year all month, or thought about it off and on, or are just now deciding that you do indeed want to call in a joyous new year filled with blessings and grace, I’ve got a plan. A Soul Plan. Take it. It’s my gift to you.
In Writing Down Your Soul, there’s a full description of a “Soul Day.” Here’s a shorter, specific January 1st Soul Day process to call in a divinely-guided and supported year.
If January 1st is not an option in your house, it’s OK. Just pick a time in the next few days when you will have a couple hours to yourself. The date doesn’t matter. Giving yourself the gift of a moment of time to stand in your power, acknowledge your heart’s desires, and call to you in concert with heaven does.
Here’s the New Year Soul Day that always works for me:
Set your intention.
- The universe is run on intention. Use that power to kickstart your year. Place a notepad next to your bed. As you fall asleep on Dec 31, ask for guidance on your Soul Day.You can ask for general guidance or specific questions like what is the name of my year.
- When you awake, lie still for a few minutes and allow insights from the night to come to you while you still have access to the theta brain wave state. When you’re ready to get up, jot down any insights, blessings, images.
Begin with prayer
- As you step into the space where you are going to call in your year, say the prayers that mean the most to you. If you don’t have a prayer process, start now.
- Stand and speak your prayers. Request Spirit, the angels, and your divinely-appointed guides to be with you as you begin the next twelve months in your soul’s adventure here on earth.
Have a nice long conversation with the Voice about 2009
- Ask for help identifying all the gifts buried in the experiences of the last twelve months. List them. Name them. Bless them. Say thank you for both the beautiful gifts you received and the more difficult learnings. Learnings are gifts, too.
- Review everything you accomplished this year. Let your heart be filled with pride for all that you accomplished.
- Forgive yourself for everything you didn’t get done. And anything you did that you wish you hadn’t.
- Release your prisoners. If you are holding someone prisoner in your internal dungeon for the harm they’ve done to you, let them out. (see blog posts on week 3 below)
Have a nice long conversation with the Voice about 2010
- Start talking with the Voice about what you want in 2010. Review the list of the blessings you created in your December Plan or make your list now in partnership with your divine Voice. Discuss what you want until you have a focused list of five to eight desires.
- For each of your desires, create a prayer statement describing it in the present tense as it looks fulfilled. For example, if you want a new job, write something like “I am doing my perfect work joyous as a result of my efforts.” You’ll type these statements up and say them every day for the next 365 days.
- Ask for a name for your magical new year.
- If you have card sets that you love, do a card reading or two asking for guidance on your year. I love to do a Medicine Card reading and an Angel Guidance reading.
Create a visual prayer for 2010
Create a prayer mandala for 2010.
- Use a dinner plate to make a good-sized circle on a piece of firm paper. Write a phrase or word for each of your prayer requests inside the rim of the circle (like numbers on a clock).
- Write the name of your year across the top. 2010 is “My Break Through Year.”
- Decorate the mandala. I like to write my core prayers in a border around the circle. Words like: I know. I trust. I love. I’m not sure what words I’ll add this year. Have to wait to see what the Voice suggests on January 1.
- At the center of the mandala, draw an image that captures your year. My “Break Through Year” is symbolized by a chair. (see Dec 28 post) I’ll draw a chair at the center and put a small wooden doll house chair on my altar.
- Conclude your Soul Day with prayers of gratitude and joy. You have been heard, supported, and guided to stand in your power and declare the life you want. Be thankful.
- Bless your prayer mandala and post it where you’ll see it every day.
- Type or print your prayer statements and put them where you’ll say them at least twice a day.
- Eat in joy. Have a delightful meal and toast the blessings of the magical new year that are coming to you
Bring your year to life
- At least once a day for the next 365 days, stand in front of your mandala, say your prayer statements and SEE all the good you have declared coming to you. Visualize it. Feel the joy you’ll feel when it happens. Smile. Say thank you in advance.
- Keep your thoughts and your eyes focused on what you want to attract in 2010. When you stray into fear and doubt, put yourself back in front of your mandala and remind yourself that you are divinely guided and all is well.
- Recognize good things when they come to you. Save evidence of your desires being fulfilled on your Evidence Shelf. (p. 228 in Writing Down Your Soul.)
- Keep communication between you and your Divine Voice wide open. Write down your soul every day. Pray every day. Ask for guidance and you will receive it.
See how easy it is to call in a magical new year? January 1st is my favorite morning of the year. When I pin my 2010 prayer mandala to the wall, I always feel lifted. I feel my angels beside me clapping and laughing. I know that I am blessed.
And you are, too.
I’ll be thinking of you on January 1st. And throughout the year as together we call in our magical years. 2010 is in for a big surprise! We alchemists are changing not just our own individual lives, but the life of the whole planet.
Please let me know how your New Year’s Day unfolds..
This week in our December Plan has been fun, fun, fun. As of last night, December 27th, we have a list with 27 delightful expectations for 2010. If you haven’t created your wish list, it’s OK, you can begin today or tomorrow or any day you want. Just sit down and get clear, really clear, about what you want to see happen in 2010.
Please note the use of the verb “see” in that sentence. It sounds simple, but it matters. It really matters.
Yesterday, I received a profound confirmation of the power of “seeing.” I had an angel guidance reading with Margo Mastromarchi, The Oracle of the Dove. When I asked about finances, the angels had this to say:
“Do not focus on what is going out. Focus on what is coming in and it will multiply. You are the only reason you do not see it coming. See it. See it as checks, checkbooks, bank accounts, receipts of paid bills…see only that. And as you see it, open your hands.”
Instantly, I recognized what I’d done. I’d put my focus for the last few months on paying bills. I’d made endless lists of what was owed and when it was due and then I jockeyed funds to make sure I had money in the right account on the right day. The only thing I’d been “seeing” was bills. And while I was looking hard and long at all that outgo, fear crept in. And once inside, it grew, and spread, and gobbled up all the air.
But since December 1st, I’ve added one delightful item every day to my wish list for 2010.
Wait a sec. I’ve got to stop calling it a “wish list.” These are not wishes. These are expectations. These are miracles. These are requests. Dare I say, demands? These are descriptions of the good things flowing to me in the next twelve months so that I can do the work I’m here to do and live the life I’m here to live. These are the ways I fulfill my purpose, my calling, my destiny. These are not wishes or pie in the sky dreams, these are real. And my eyes are fixed upon them. My eyes are now fixed on the horizon of Jan 1 and over that horizon comes my ship. My ships. My many ships. Filled with the 31 divine gifts of the year.
No more wishes for us. We are alchemists. And alchemists know how to use the power of this magical universe to create. Last week — forgiveness week in our December Plan — I suggested that we call this list our “Freedom List” because as our ships come in, we break more and more of the bonds of doubt, worry, fear, frustration, depression — whatever name you give to what you know is holding you back.
If you read yesterday’s post, you also gave your new year a magical new name. Mine is “My Break Through Year.”
So, today we wrap up this week in our December Plan to call in our magical new year with one last totally fun adventure:
- Look at your Freedom Lists
- Visualize ships laden with those expectations sailing your way
- Meditate on the name of your year
Mine is a chair. As I began my Freedom List, I realized that my expectations for 2010 fall into 4 categories: my work, the partners who help me get that work out into the world, my son, and my life partner. I know that when all four legs of the chair are in place, I will be living the joyful life of service I am here to live. And how perfect for me that the symbol of my divine year is also the symbol of the space where I work. I do, after all, spend my days sitting in my writing chair.
So, I’m headed to the craft store to get a small wooden chair to put on my altar. And when I draw my mandala for next year (you’ll learn how to do that in the next few days) I’ll put my perfect four-legged balanced chair in the center.
So your delightful task on this the 28th day of the December Plan to call in a magical new year, is to get a symbol for your year. If you’re not sure what that is, ask for divine guidance and it will come. On a walk, in a magazine, in your dreams, while deep soul writing…. It will come.
Then, follow the angels instructions:
“See what you want to see. See it coming…. See only that… See the flow and as you see it, open your hands.”
Me? I see a gorgeous, strong, balanced chair with four gorgeous strong balanced legs: work, partners, son, husband. That’s some chair. My goodness, it’s more of a throne!
This December Plan to call in a magical new year has been quite an adventure hasn’t it? The first week, we set our intention and created our personal processes. The second week, we unearthed all the gifts of 2009. Last week, we took a long swim in the cleansing sea of forgiveness. With each stroke we collected more and more of the cash that runs this miraculous universe.
You’re rich right now. Whether you see it or not, your pockets are stuffed with miracle cash. This week, you get to decide what you’re going to spend it on. The really fun part of our December Plan starts right now.
2009 has been a strange year for many. For some, it’s been downright brutal. But we are here. We are standing. We are alive. And January 1st is coming. We have done what we could. Now it’s time to gently tuck 2009 in her bed, bless her, kiss her, and say goodnight. It’s time to close that door and turn our faces toward the rising light of 2010.
2010 could be magical. It could be divine. It could be a year of wonder and joy. It could be. And you have the power to call it in. Truth is, like Dorothy, you’ve always had the power, but if you’re anything like me, you’re really just beginning to absorb that profound truth. Our December Plan is our red shoes. And I, for one, am ready to do some serious clicking.
Click I acknowledge that I am an alchemist. I have the power to co-create my life, my world, my year.
Click I know what I want and what I need. I don’t apologize for it. I state it. I state it loud and clear.
Click My year is alive. It has a name, a delicious, delightful, smile-inducing, heart-lifting, soul-popping name.
Click My year has a symbol. A picture. A thing. I infuse my year’s symbol with the power and joy of my new year. Just glancing at it makes me happy.
Click I believe. I believe in myself. I believe in my purpose. I believe that my soul is unfolding just the way it wants.
Click With my head high and proud, I joyfully take the next step toward my purpose. Toward my year. Toward my destiny.
Click I trust. I trust that I am loved, protected, guided, and led. Led right into into my magical new year.
I told you this week would be fun! Let’s begin with Click One:
I am an alchemist. I am a magical being. As Rev. Lauren McLaughlin of Unity Now states so elegantly and succinctly in one of the Twelve Affirmations:
“I am intimately connected to all the power of the universe.”
Say that. Let it sink in. It will start in your head as an idea, but let the words drift down to your throat, your heart, your solar plexus, your stomach, your bowels and down into your legs. Let the words flow out of your body and into the earth. Then back again. Draw the words up into your feet from the blessed earth that sustains you. For fun, when it reaches your feet, click your heels as you say it again:
“I am intimately connected to all the power of the universe.”
Then let the words flow back up through your chakras and out
the top of your head to connect with and attract the power of this beautiful universe — our home. Now and forever. This is home. This is your home. You belong here. You are one of its power children. Not a bad family to be a member of!
Till tomorrow’s blog, keep clicking!
We’ve been talking about forgiveness for several days now. And the conversation just keep getting richer and richer. Truth is we could probably talk about forgiveness with our inner divine Voice for a month, and still find more to say and more to forgive.
That’s why most people don’t begin. We sense instinctively that if we start to poke beneath the taut surface of our “everything is fine” mask, we’ll find dozens of wounds that need healing and there’ll never be an end to it. So why start?
Here’s why: forgiveness is the most delicious, most healing, most soul-lifting, joy-inducing thing you can do.
Want freedom? Forgive.
Want a vibrant healthy body? Forgive.
Want to find your purpose? Live your purpose? Forgive.
Want love? Forgive.
Want that magical new year? Gotta forgive first.
Forgiveness is the magic. It opens the door to a life you cannot even imagine at the moment. A life that’s yours, all yours, if you will just let go of the anger and resenting holding you prisoner.
St Theresa of Avila knew this way back in the sixteenth century. She explained it in her treatise, Inner Castle. In Entering the Castle, Caroline Myss gives us a modern insight into St Theresa’s vision. For Theresa, the soul has seven floors in the inner castle. Well, guess what’s on the first floor? Your castle’s dungeon.
“Everyone has a dungeon. It’s where you hold your prisoners…. Haul open the heavy lead door and walk down the damp, stone stairs. The atmosphere gts darker and colder as you descent. As you walk through, notice that there are cells for prisoners lining the walls. Everyone you cannot forgive or whom you resent or wish harm to is held by you in these cells. The parents you cannot forgive are in a cell; the business partner who cheated you and whom you still resent is in a cell; the ex-spouse is in a cell…. No doubt some of the people you hold prisoners are holding you prisoner as well.
Why do you keep prisoners? …you keep someone prisoner because you feel he has not been punished enough for the harm he did to you.”
It’s time to take a little tour of your own dungeon. Close your eyes for a few seconds and walk down the stairs in your own inner gut. Look around at the cells. Surprising how many are in there, huh? Glance around inside the cells. Who’s there? Any surprises?
Now, comes the fun part. And it’s easy. Instead of dissecting all the stories, reopening the wounds, explaining what happened, justifying your behavior or your motivation for locking them up, just release them. That’s it. Just release them. Here’s how you do it.
Stand up to stretch out your dungeon. Close your eyes. Put your hands in front of your dungeon like two doors. Visualize yourself walking down into your dungeon. See the cells. Walk up to each one and open it. Gesture for the prisoner to leave. No talking. No apologizing. No explaining. No nothing. Just open the cells and watch them walk out. When all your prisoners are gone, walk to the very back and release the pathetic prisoner in the darkest dankest cell. You know who that is. You.
When your dungeon is empty, call on Spirit to flood the dungeon with white and gold light. See the space being filled with this loving gentle healing light. Watch the cells dissolve. When the space is completely transformed from prison to light, say thank you and open your eyes.
How does that feel?
(If you don’t want to miss any of the rest of the December Plan, I invite you to subscribe to this blog at the top of the right hand column.)
Ordinarily I write one post a day in the December Plan. But today’s post on who really needs forgiveness has caused many a tear. These are good tears. These tears are little messages bobbing up from your soul saying, “Yes, oh yes. Please forgive yourself. There is so much ahead of us, so much beauty, so much potential, so much joy, but as long as you have this gaping hole in your heart, you can’t see all that good. And because you can’t see it, you probably can’t have it. So, yes, darling one, please forgive yourself. Because the truth is you are so much more beautiful than you can ever know.”
I’ve struggled mightily with this idea of not being enough. And for a very long time. I wrote this prayer, “Enough,” back in the early nineties, well before my divorce. The words still resonate today. To me, they sound like long slow deep vibrations from a bell that has been ringing for a very very long time. I am ready to stop clanging the bell of “not enough.” I’m going to say this prayer one more time today. Out loud. With vigor. I’m going to feel it in my bones and know that it is true. From this day forward, I am enough. I am more than enough.
Here. I think this prayer is for you, too.
A Prayer of Abundance (copyright Janet Conner 2009)
Dear God of the universe,
creator of all life, hear me.
This one prays.
In the mirror.
In the reflection that bounces from me to the world and back again,
there is a circle, a circle of sadness.
I am not enough.
They see “not enough.”
Therefore, I am not enough,
not good enough
not enough of something
not strong enough, perhaps
not smart enough, for sure
not handsome enough
not pretty enough
not wealthy enough, never wealthy enough
not fast enough
not clever enough
not tough enough,
but too tough sometimes and that makes me
not kind enough
something not enough
many things not enough.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter what.
The specific fault is irrelevant.
I don’t have to name it.
It’s enough just to know that I’m not enough
of whatever it is I’m not enough of.
Do You understand this, God?
Seems a bit convoluted, I know.
But circles are circles.
And everywhere I turn,
there are more of them.
If I look at my work – I’m not good enough
and, of course, they see I’m not good enough.
Therefore, I’m not.
And doesn’t my “success” just prove it.
If I look at my family – I’m not loving enough.
They know I could love them more.
Just look at our tensions
and You’ll see that I’m right:
I’m not loving enough.
If I look in the mirror – I’m not pretty enough.
There it is for the world to see:
blemishes, imperfections, crooked teeth, blotchy skin, ridiculous hair, flaccid muscles.
I think I’ll stop now.
But You see. Well, I see.
I’m not pretty enough.
If I look in my checkbook – I’m not rich enough.
Doesn’t take a banker to see I don’t earn enough.
Perhaps if I worked harder, smarter, faster, better…something,
I’d be better off.
But there it is: I’m not rich enough.
I could continue, but I need to move on.
There are things to do, people to see, problems to solve.
And I’m not organized enough to get it all done.
So I have to get going.
But first, I need to ask You this question. It’s important.
Why did You put me here if I’m not enough?
Why didn’t You make me pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough?
You could have, You know.
Even now, You could do it in a single breath:
Ask and poof, I am beautiful
Ask and poof, I am wealthy
Ask and I’m smart
Ask and I’m wanted
Ask and I’m wise
Ask and I’m…
What do I want?
What do I really want?
Want beyond wanting?
Need beyond needing?
What is the hole that must be filled?
Love…I guess. Yes, Love. That’s it, isn’t it?
If I had Love – enough Love – I would be blessed.
If I had Love – the right Love – I would be joyous.
If I had perfect Love, pure Love – Your Love – I would be healed.
That’s what I ask for, dear God.
That’s what I want.
Love is what I need.
Starting here. With me. Just me.
Fill me with the Love of the angels.
Build a bridge of Love across my doubts and fears.
Pour Love all around me
in my eyes, my mouth, my heart and my mind.
It feels good, this Love,
warm and calm and easy.
It has no ambition, but it won’t stay still.
It needs nothing, yet it sets my heart in motion.
This Love is peaceful, yet yearns to spread.
It oozes out of me and fills the room.
It swims out of the room and fills the house.
It radiates out of the house and seeks the world.
I guess it is enough, isn’t it!
Enough for me.
Enough for now.
Enough for always and ever.
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Have you noticed that when you set the intention to connect with your divine Voice on the page every day, those ten or fifteen minutes morph until it seems every moment becomes a vehicle for guidance, wisdom, and grace — even the most mundane?
Like running errands. After mailing three orders for Solarzar’s Theta Music CD at the post office yesterday afternoon, I drove to the library to return a book. The library is on the same street as my son’s high school. I’ve driven it hundreds, probably thousands, of times. Nebraska is an unremarkable street of typical Florida cement block homes. But yesterday something remarkable happened there.
Nebraska is a fun street in December. Many of the neighbors decorate for the holidays. As I passed one candy-cane filled yard, my eye fell on the plain brown house next door. The yard was overgrown, the roof layered with leaves. I know that house. It belonged to my first post-divorce boyfriend. He sold it before we went out, so I’ve never been inside, but he pointed it out once when we were driving somewhere. In the moment it took to drive past that house at thirty-five miles an hour, I felt a little twinge of neglect. He should have loved me more.
Huh? Where did that come from? I had no idea I was carrying any regret for that relationship. He wasn’t even the one who ended the relationship. I did. And I ended it ten years ago, for heavens sake! So why on earth was I feeling even the slightest speck of sorrow?
I know why. It’s because of this December Plan. This particular week of the December Plan. My old boyfriend’s old house had a message about forgiveness for me. And its not the message you might expect. The message is not about forgiving old lovers.
I realized as I drove past his house that any time anyone pulls away, even a little bit, and even for all the right reasons, and even because we ask them to, we feel at a subterranean level that somehow it was our fault. Somehow we were not enough. Not attractive enough, not smart enough, not clever enough, not rich enough, not organized enough, not focused enough…. Somehow we were not enough.
It’s a demented logic loop, I know. Here’s how it basically sounds:
If I were good enough, everyone would love me. They couldn’t help it.
So, if someone does not love me totally, madly, and completely…
I must not be good enough.
It sounds pretty comical laid out like that. But please don’t laugh. Look instead for the truth inside the loop. Go ahead, test it for yourself. Pick a relationship that didn’t work out. Even, or especially, one you chose to end. If you peek behind the door, I think you’ll find that at a deep emotional level, a deep irrational emotional level, you feel that somehow you didn’t hold the other person’s attention. If you had been just a wee bit more __________ — something – then he or she would never have turned to someone else, or fallen out of love with you, or simply stopped being interested.
Why is this such a big message? And why is it so important for this week? Because it proves that there is really only one person who needs forgiving.
Not the other guy. You. It’s always you. The wound is inside of you. It’s not about what the other guy did. That can and will be forgiven, but the first wound, the greatest wound, and the hardest one to heal, is inside of you.
Have you noticed that?
I thought I understood what I was going to say about forgiveness this week. After all, I’ve been there. Done that. Had about the most profound experience of forgiveness you can have. Even got the miracle to show for it. (Details in “How I discovered the Voice or how the Voice discovered me,” in Writing Down Your Soul.
I know forgiveness is key. The key, even. The key to moving on, breaking through, and experiencing miracles. So when the December Plan began to form, I knew forgiveness would be important. So important, it would have its own week. What I didn’t know is that it would have a life all its own. A life I was not in charge of.
This morning, I was sitting outside in the December Florida sun having my soul writing chat with “DG” about forgiveness when a shadow flitted across my journal. I looked up. A vulture was soaring directly over me. So close I could see her lighter brown underfeathers. I smiled and said hello. Then her friends started to show up. Within seconds, there were thirteen majestic turkey vultures circling over my teeny townhouse yard.
I’m used to birds blessing me with their presence, but usually my messengers are ospreys. I could hear my osprey buddies calling in the distance, but for the moment I was drenched in vulture grace.
Hmm, vultures, I wondered. Turning back to the page I asked, “DG, what do vultures have to do with forgiveness?” I knew it was no accident that I’m planning a week of forgiveness and 13 vultures show up. But I wasn’t sure what they were trying to say. So I went inside to get Ted Andrew’s Animal Speak.
Like most people, I have a simple and not particularly pretty image of vultures: they eat dead things. Well, yes. They do. But put in the context of forgiveness, maybe eating “dead things” is a beautiful thing.
The vulture, according to Ted Andrews, is symbolic of purification. “Its medicine would restore harmony that had been broken.” From a biological standpoint, the vulture purifies the area by eating what’s dead, and with it all the decay and bacteria that could potentially harm other animals or people. Well now, let’s think like a vulture for a moment. How does forgiveness purify us and our immediate area?
The opposite — non-forgiveness — is toxic. You know this. You see it every day in people who can not let go of their anger toward someone. Perhaps they’re endlessly obsessing about a scurrilous boss, an abusive ex-spouse, a faithless lover, or a soul-crushing parent. Everyone has someone in their history who has caused them harm. You do, don’t you? Quick. Fill in the sentence:
“I have not forgiven __________ for ___________.”
So what are you going to do? You’ve got a rather simple choice. Hold on to that anger till it makes you sick or call in the vultures to help you. And make no mistake, obsessive anger will make you sick. We know this instinctively, but there’s plenty of research connecting the dots between long-standing anger and illness. Just this morning there was an article in the St Petersburg Times about a study demonstrating that men who didn’t express their anger were “twice as likely to have had a heart attack or died of heart disease as men who openly expressed their anger. Risk was highest for those who walked away.” The article doesn’t say exactly what happens inside your body when you swallow your feelings and walk away, but we all know from personal experience that the fury, hurt, and shame don’t dissolve on their own. They stay alive inside our guts, our hearts, and our minds. And the more we dwell on them, the bigger and stronger they get until we can’t “walk away” because they show up unbidden in our thoughts and our dreams — sometimes every day.
Here’s what I learned on the page with the guidance of the vultures swirling above me.
Step One: If you want to “kill” your anger stop feeding it. Stop talking about it. Stop obsessing about it. Picture your thoughts as “blood” that feeds your anger. Stop feeding it. If you’re not ready to do that it may be because you’ve never really told your story. Not fully. Not consciously. If that’s the case, sit down with your divine Voice and tell your story one last time, pouring out all the gory details and your deepest thoughts and feelings about what happened. In the loving, gentle presence of the Voice, dig underneath the story to find the story beneath the story, the emotions behind the emotions, the deeper meaning of this story in your life. When you’ve done that — and it may take some time — state unequivocably:
“Thank you for listening. I am finished now. I have no need to tell that story again.”
Step Two: Name the gift in the unforgiveable. And yes, there’s a gift in there somewhere. If nothing else, it has brought you to the edge of Forgiveness Gap and freedom lies on the other side. If Nelson Mandela can forgive after 27 years of imprisonment, you can forgive. If the gift still isn’t clear to you, keep writing down your soul until you find it.
“Help me find the gift in this experience. I still have hurt feelings, anger, frustration. I still feel a need for revenge. But I want to let go. So help me find the truth, the big T truth, in this experience. What did I learn? How did my soul evolve through it? What good is there in this?”
Step Three: Make a conscious decision to forgive. State twice — out loud and in writing on the page — that you want to forgive, are ready to forgive, and are calling on Spirit, your guides, your saints and your angels to come to your aid to help you do it.
“Dear Spirit, I am ready to forgive ________. I want to forgive __________. I want to be free.”
Step Four: Open your fist and let your anger go. You can visualize that or, if you want to do it physically, write “I forgive ________ now and for all time” on a small piece of paper. Hold the paper tight in your fist feeling the tension and anger of your history with that person move through your arm and hand and out of your body onto the paper. Then open your hand and let the paper float to the ground.
Step Five: Call in the vultures. Visualize them consuming the paper and with it all the “bad” bacteria of non-forgiveness, vengeance, anger, pain.
Step Six: Thank the vultures for purifying your body, your spirit, your soul and your space. And step into your true home, Freedom.
How does the freedom of forgiveness feel? Perhaps you have become so light, you can soar with the vultures.
How many times did your mother tell you to say thank you when someone gave you something? Your wild child’s eyes were pasted to the thing–the bright shiny thing–or the food, the gooey yummy food, the ball, the chocolate, the book…whatever was hovering a few inches before you. But before you could grab it, your mother’s voice would slice into the air between you and the thing, and she’d say, “Say, thank you.” You’d mumble it, fast perhaps, but the words would come out, and once they did, you could have what you wanted.
Of course, there were those other times, when your bizarre great aunt, the one with the bright red lipstick and the strange smell and the very odd gifts, gave you something you really didn’t want, but still the insistent voice said, “Say, thank you.” And you did. And the strange thing was suddenly yours, too.
By the time you were four you knew the world runs on thank you. Please and thank you. If you want something, say please. Before you take it, say thank you.
So, let’s be four again. Let’s look at all the gifts you received in 2009. All of them. Even the “but I don’t want this” gifts. As you stare at your calendar or pour your story onto the page, see the gifts, name them, jot them down until you have a nice long list: The Gifts of 2009.
Then, sit with your list and say, “Thank you.” Thank you for the luscious things–the raises, the invitations, the payments, all the lovely people who said yes. And, thank you for the sorrows, the frustrations, the dead ends, the rejections, the people who said no.
Thank you for all of it. The whole thing. The whole story. The whole adventure. Why? Because it is your story. It is the expression of your soul on earth. It is why you’re here. Why you came. What your soul wants to experience, learn, know, become. As the Tao says: Everything is a movement toward your wholeness. Everything. Not just the good stuff. Everything. So say thank you. You are one year further along in your journey to wholeness. And that’s a very good thing.
Soon, you’ll be saying Please to call in the magical gifts of 2010, but for today, your job is just to say thank you for how your story unfolded in 2009.