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.
I stopped going to church my sophomore year in college. Nothing unusal there. Despite the fact that our parents sent us to a Catholic University so we wouldn’t lose our faith, everyone I knew stopped going to church their sophomore year.
I made a big mistake, though. The mistake wasn’t stopping going to church. That, I think, was a natural evolutionary step in my teenage struggle to differentiate myself. The mistake was tossing out the proverbial baby with the proverbial bathwater. With one giant whooosh, the whole thing flew out the window. I consciously wanted to toss out the dogma and theology and obligation and endless focus on sin, but in the same motion I threw out all the beautiful practices, all the prayer, all the mystical symbols and songs. I threw out every method I knew to connect with the divine.
It wasn’t until I woke up 40 and pregnant that I felt an urge to reconnect. I tried going back to the Catholic church, but it didn’t fit. Then, I tried Episcopalian and that went pretty well until one Sunday my 3 1/2 yr old asked as the priest completed the benediction, “Where’s God the mother?”
That sent me searching for a feminine diety. And when I discovered that not only was God originally the Goddess, but she was served by priestesses, well, I was tickled pink. Bye-bye all-male priesthood. Bye-bye only-male altar boys. Bye-bye boys in charge. The girls are back!
But you know what? That felt great for a couple years but not for long. It was still an us/them conflict. It just had the “us” I prefered. But was it really any better that girls and only girls were in charge of dogma and theology and practice? Why did it have to be one or the other? Why did one have to exclude the other? Why couldn’t we both be emissaries to the divine?
Last week as I was having chats with my best friend, my loving wise Voice, a phrase popped onto the page: I am my own priest. I sucked in my breath when I saw it. The seven-year old “good little Catholic girl” who still resides deep under my skin was scandalized. “Whaddya mean, I am my own priest?” I wrote.
But of course, the Voice is right. I am, you are, we all are, we all have to be our own priests/priestesses/shamans/rabbis/imams. No intermediary is required. No intermediary is necessary. Maybe no intermediary is even desired.
It’s lovely, it’s true, to pray alongside someone who has a profound prayer practice. It is divine to be in the presence of someone holy. It is comforting to hear someone else’s words of prayer and hope. BUT, you can do it all by yourself. You can do it right now. In your kitchen. At the computer. Lying in bed in the dark. In the shower. Driving to work. Folding the laundry. You have direct and immediate access to Spirit. We all do. We just forgot that for a few thousand years.
I find this a relief. It’s not about finding the “right” priest or shaman. It’s not about finding the “right” religion. The “right” prayers. The “right” ceremonies. It’s about connecting. It’s about standing in the sacred space that you create, calling forward the words that come from your soul. And connecting, really deeply and truly connecting with that which is holy.
That’s what we’re doing today on day 2 of the December Plan. We are all becoming our own priests, our own priestesses, our own shamans, our own rabbis. We are all stepping into our own divine power and saying to our divine Source: here I am. How can we get closer?
How are you connecting this December?
Here’s how I got LESS. I was writing on Jan 12th after a glorious inaugural booksigning at Wings Bookstore in St Pete, and I told DG that all Writing Down Your Soul needs is more Sharon Jebbens–the manager. What is Sharon? I asked, and immediately my hand wrote:
Loves the book
Embraces the practice
Sees the potential
Spreads the word
I laughed. All this book needs is LESS. (A whole new take on the adage “less is more,” don’t you think?)
Then I realized that Writing Down Your Soul’s readers are also LESS. So are all the guides, like coaches and therapists, who encourage people to start writing down their souls. Bottom line is everyone who falls in love with this book is LESS.
So the Voice and I were talking about getting more LESS. And the Power of Five showed up on the page. As soon as I saw the words, I knew what it meant:
If each person who reads this blog forwards it to five people…
If each person who gets the Writing Down Your Soul newsletter, forwards it to five people… (Don’t get it? Sign up here)
If each person who loves the book, tells five friends… Or gives it to five people as a gift… (You can get a signed copy at my website.)
If each bookseller tells five people who come into their store…
If each coach, therapist, hypnotist, acupunturist or other professional guide tells five clients…
Writing Down Your Soul would reach the hands and hearts of all who seek it–nevermind, make the NYT Bestseller Advice/How to list.
I know you have this power. I recently traced over 200 readers to one woman, Gwynn Kelley who came to a pre-publication Writing Down Your Soul workshop at Unity Church of Palm Harbor. She told a friend, Polly Memhard, in Riverside CT, who told her friend, Martha Howland. Between Polly and Martha over 150 people have been to Writing Down Your Soul workshops and events in CT. PLUS, Gwynn told her daughter who told a life coach in south Florida who called me to help her put together a women’s soul writing class.
I have story after story like this of one person who contacted another and another and suddenly a whole room full of people are reading Writing Down Your Soul.
I may have written the book, but you have the power to get it into people’s hands. Thank you for being the Power of Five. Five, by the way, represents change and anyone who engages in divine dialogue with their wise, loving, inner Voice is going to be guided to wise loving changes in his or her life.
Does the idea of having the power of five make you smile? Please start talking, forwarding, sharing, encouraging…spreading the word. I’m inviting everyone who demonstrates the Power of Five to contact me for a special invitation-only teleclass on Dec 29th to create the Soul Day that will call in a magical new year. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how you are the Power of Five.
Want to learn more about Focused Attraction? I learned it from Rev Lauren McLaughlin of UnityNow.
A friend sent me this video of Charice, Oprah’s teenage phenom, singing “Note to God” with a note that said, “I thought of you the moment I heard this.” At first, I thought, I don’t have time to watch this. But then I came to my senses. Busy doesn’t solve my problems. Writing a note to God does.
Enjoy. (Then pick up a pen and write your own note to God.)
Ellen DeGeneres woke us all up. My last post, the one about her commencement address at Tulane, attracted a huge spike of readers. I think I know why. Ellen laid out a way — an incredibly simple way — to SEE your Life Around the Corner, by “seeing” it on the page in conversation with God. Ellen saw herself sitting next to Johnny Carson on the tonight show. Given Ellen’s situation at the time, that could have been labelled totally absurd, possibly delusional. But, guess what? It happened.
Her experience has really stuck with me. So, this morning, as I was saying my prayers, repeating my Covenant and my Writing Blessing, I closed my eyes and had a little chat with Spirit, or as Reverend Lauren McLaughlin, calls it, the Eternal Life Force — ELF. I was just saying something to the Elf, when I saw in my mind a bright white glowing light about the size of a basketball in my hands. Instinctively, I looked down into the white ball.
OH, I realized, this is how Ellen did it. She looked into the future, into her crystal ball, so to speak, or using my new favorite metaphor, into her spy binoculars and saw the Life Around the Corner. Clearly. She saw herself sitting next to Johnny Carson. Not wishing or hoping or “wouldn’t it be great if…” but saw it. Probably felt the chair beneath her. Felt the lights, saw his face close up. She simply was “there” inside her future experience. Did it happen because she experienced it a decade in advance or was it always going to happen and in that moment she simply got a peak? Interesting philosophical, metaphysical question there. And I don’t have the answer. Not an intellectual answer. And guess what? I don’t care how it works; I just want to have the experience.
So, looking into my white ball of light, I said, OK, I get it. I’ll sit down with my pen and have my own conversation with Spirit and SEE my future.
I asked on the page, “What is in my life around the corner?” Out gushed a bunch of things: Being on Ellen and talking about her experience, being on the Oprah Soul Series and on her TV show talking about deep soul writing, being interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, shaking Neale Donald Walsch’s hand and hearing him say that deep soul writing is how he had his Conversations with God, and signing a half million dollar advance. All delightful. All powerful. All big.
But when I looked at the list, I said, “OK, I love them all and I DO see them all happening, but what ONE event, what ONE experience would be proof that all of this has transpired and more? What one experience sums up my Life Around the Corner?”
I knew immediately. I drew a bold dark blue ink square around the words: Walk into the New York city library and touch a shelf full of my books.
Even as I type that sentence, I feel tears. Tears are proof that this is THE apex experience I will have. I don’t know when. (When is not my job.) I don’t know how. (How is not my job.) Just know that it will happen. I am standing there right now, in my mind, in my white ball of light, smiling and reaching out and running my fingers slowly along the ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen books that I have written. I turn to my son and with tears in my eyes, say, “Here I am, permanently, in the New York city library. Guarded by the lions.”
Close your eyes, hold the white ball of divine light or the spy binoculars or become a hawk who flies ahead to see your Life Around the Corner. The image doesn’t matter. Just choose one that feels right to you and ask, “How will I know that I have achieved my Life Around the Corner?” Pick up a pen and start writing. See what images come through. No matter how wacky or amazing or unlikely or impossible — write them down.
Why? Because Ellen sat next to Johnny Carson. Because I will run my hands over my books in the main library in New York. (Oh, and be on Oprah and Ellen, and GMA!)
How about you? What are you doing in your Life Around the Corner?
Went to Dances of Universal Peace at the Sufi center, Rising Tide International in Sarasota FL last night. The Dances of Universal Peace are simple moves in unison, usually in a circle. As the group moves, you sing or chant beautiful prayers. One of the chants last night was “I am you and you are me,” as we moved our hands back and forth together. After awhile, it began to sink in. “Oh my gosh, I really AM this other person and he/she really is me.”
Well, this morning I was writing down my soul about this experience and realizing that this is another way of saying that psych 101 premise: whatever drives you crazy about the other guy is actually what drives you crazy about yourself. (Oh, we all hate that truism!)
So I asked, what do I do when my buttons get pushed by someone. The answer came quickly: 1. SEE the other person’s fear and recognize that it’s also your own, 2. CLOSE your eyes. With your eyes closed, stop looking at that scary thing and allow your inner eyes to see the truth that is right there in your peripheral vision, running beside the fear. 3. BREATHE (When in doubt, breathe, right? When my son calls upset in NY, the first thing I say is breathe!) 4. SAY something that is the opposite of the fear.
What’s the opposite of fear? I asked. Trust, the Voice answered. (Duh, I thought.) So for me I would say outloud, “I am safe and loved.”
Man oh man, that feels good and right. Now, all I have to do is remember to DO it. Feel the fear, close my eyes, see the truth, breathe the truth, and say it–out loud. I feel better already.