The art of forgiving

Mixed media journal page with forgiveness phrase: “The art of forgiving, moving, and letting go.”

My heart is still heavy from the all the events that have occurred across the country, and the world. It feels as if humanity is breaking under the weight of millennia of wrongs one group or person have visited on others. The collective consciousness that carries these wounds down through generations, passing the trauma like DNA. The violence and oppression that women, children and marginalized groups have borne for so long, and struggled to heal from, has to be acknowledged, as terrible as it is, if we are to move forward towards bettering the human race. There is an art to forgiving, but it is not a one size fits all, and the multiple layers that need to be addressed in many instances make it a difficult task that may take decades.

The “thoughts and prayers”, “calls for healing”, and similar phrases ring hollow when no concrete efforts at positive change are seen, and the same violence repeats a week (or less) later. I am tired of man’s inhumanity to man, of child abuse, spousal abuse, war crimes, workplace/school harassment and violence, greed above charity, the list goes on, we know it well. We can’t expect much from our elected officials as they benefit from the status quo, are insulated from how the real world works, and too many are fine with guns being readily available in order to keep their constituents voting for them. It matters not a whit to them as long as they can get camera time to support their viewpoint and deride someone else’s. It is an ongoing sad state of affairs, in which forgiveness is difficult to get to.

The key to decisions

Artist trading card with key on top layer

Research and choose, then adjust course as needed. I have found that is the best way to go. It is too easy to get caught in an endless research loop and never get beyond it to actually making a decision. Letting time pass with no course of action being put in motion. Many decisions are based on things that are finite, like vacation lodgings or restaurants, such decisions are not as weighty as buying a house or moving across the world. And even those can be undone given opportunity or the right set of circumstances. Missing the window of opportunity by dithering over the research can delay or add a layer of difficulty to your plans. I have been guilty of getting too deeply into the weeds of research, trying to find the perfect option to pursue to insure the perfect outcome. Which we all know is an impossible outcome to chase. Once I catch myself checking one more source or review, I stop and weigh what I have, the time being spent, and the actual importance of the plan. The I take a breath and make the decision, whether it is a yes or no.

The Dreaming Child

Boldly colored mixed media with text, photo and George Eliot quote

“Keep learning” is advice mentioned regularly, and good advice it is. From simple things like taking a new route on the way to or from work, cook a new dish, or listen to different music. To more involved ones like learn a new language, take a course, or tackle a new skill. Any one of them can shakes up the cemented pathways in your brain and open up all sorts of new and potentially amazing possibilities. Which then lead to more! The best part is that it is all up to you to take that first step and try something new. It doesn’t have to be grand and expensive, it can be as simple as a daily walk through a different neighborhood and grow from there. Start today, engage a friend or two, write it down and tape that first intention to your mirror. Just give it a go!

Believe in the Garden

Mixed media piece of butterfly on a rose and heavily detailed background

Though it is winter, and the garden is covered in snow, I know things are happening at the root level of all my plants. They are dreaming of spring and bursting forth into the sun. yet even during the winter months the exposed branches give structure to the garden, highlighted by snow and occasional bird. For many January can be a hard month. It is cold, dark, the weather can be unpredictable, the celebrations past, and resolutions sounding hollow already. Plus this year, still, we have the pandemic continuing to throw monkey wrenches into daily life. Both sides of that issue are feeling irritated about that, though some won’t dial it back which only adds to the general annoyances we are all experiencing.

I decided to start my year off with regular trips to the gym to keep both my physical and mental strength up. To get outside in the fresh air when I can. And I decided to take part in Creative Jumpstart 2022 to keep my creativity flowing. I have just finished the first week of lessons and it is a blast. It is providing me with the same sort of benefits as the gym and nature. It’s a trifecta of goodness to ward off any January blahs that might come my way.

The Holly and the Ivy

Christmas themed mixed media with The Holly and the Ivy text

December is underway, the yards and houses are starting to glow with Christmas lights, holiday cards are appearing in the mailbox, and our tree is all decorated. I am at odds with the passage of time this whole year, and likely will find that this month continues the same, strange pattern. I have been slow to finish up the last of the shopping, we all agreed that we needed nearly nothing, so the gifts are practical. It may not be terribly exciting, but there is a joy in listening and seeing what it is someone actually needs and giving it.

Chasing perfection

Cheerful mixed media with Deborah Day quote about being gentle with yourself.

This time of year it can be easy to get overwhelmed with trying to make everything perfect. The perfect tree, meal, gathering, gift, you name it we set up unattainable goals for the holidays. Every ad, movie and store is filled with imagery and stuff perfectly choreographed to make us think it will translate into a Hollywood holiday. Even though we instinctively know it, we can get sucked into the craziness and stress. For many this all starts tomorrow with Thanksgiving.

Here are a few tips to help combat the feelings of overwhelm:

1. Be gentle with yourself and others

2. Dial back expectations

3. Set boundaries that feel right for you

4. Try to avoid buying too much of anything

5. Give yourself permission to do self care

None of these are new, but they are worth keeping in mind. Find what works for you. Hike if you enjoy hiking, make art, knit, do whatever brings you joy and peace of mind.