Forgiveness: An Act of Radical Self-Care

Forgiveness. Ah, forgiveness, such a slippery slope (or so it seems). Forgiveness; it is one of the universe’s most healing energies, and yet one of the absolute hardest to harness.

How do we forgive those who’ve hurt or wronged us? How do we forgive those who’ve rejected or betrayed us? Those who’ve walked away from us, turned their backs on us, lashed out and scarred our delicate emotional complexion? How do we forgive the batshit crazies who judge us, but then slip into the darkness to study and imitate us? How do we forgive those whom we admire, find to be articulate and interesting, but who don’t reciprocate our attention? How do we forgive those who mercilessly critique us? How do we forgive those who – infuriatingly – just don’t care that we feel the way we feel?

More importantly…how do we get to a space of wanting to forgive all of these people???

Sadly, this piece isn’t a user’s manual to forgiveness (though I would be the first in line to read it, if it were, let me tell you!). This is more a manifesto on why we ought to forgive. The how is up to us, individually, to dirty our hands with and break beneath our grip and then rebuild again. It is ours, respectively, to taste, swish around our mouths, feel with our tongues, spit out and sip again. No one can tell us how to do it, but we can help one another understand why it must be done.

The truth of the matter is forgiveness is a selfish act. While it truly benefits everyone involved, at its core, forgiveness is an act of self-preservation. It is a surrender and release that involves the self and the self alone.

Sometimes forgiveness involves physical reconciliation. We sit down with a person and have a conversation; sometimes our willingness to offer forgiveness is a bridge, a rebuilding of a broken relationship. Sometimes it offers the other human being(s) solace, as well as lifts a weight from our own back.

Other times there is no conversation, no confrontation. Other times the forgiveness is exclusively spiritual reconciliation, one-sided at that. There is no broken relationship to mend, just a footbridge split in two; nothing left to our side but splintered wood, drenched to our knees, no way to cross.

The root of the act, in either circumstance, is really the same. There is no separation. Choosing to look a person in the eyes and forgive them, and choosing to close our eyes and forgive a person, experience, or force of energy that we can’t see or touch is the same. We do this from wherever we sit upon the planet, suspended in the uniquely erected reality of our own lives, and they are the same beast.

But, again, this doesn’t address how we move into a space of release, surrender and of desire to forgive. Sometimes these spaces, illuminated by soft, warm hues, seem beyond our reach. They are often surrounded by mucky moats (the kind with alligators and fairytale monsters), steep ravines, chasms in the earth that threaten to swallow us up if we even allude to a crossing attempt.

Sometimes the situations we seek to forgive utterly shred us at the mere thought. We are human beings, not pillars of stone. We carry with us the scars and battle marks of a life thoroughly lived. Gaping holes of angst and hurt, festering wounds of having loved and lost, the lacerations left by trust betrayed, trauma from the whiplash of whirlwind emotional connection, falling as quickly as it rose.

We are living, our, lives. We are meant to have these hurts, to experience these agonies, to suffer these grievances. We are also, however, meant to learn and heal from them. And no one (I mean no one) can mend these wounds but us.


Step one is almost always forgiveness. There’s often a whole other mountain still to climb, but forgiveness is the steadiness our shaky foot needs. Forgiveness is the balm for our burning lesions. Forgiveness is the cloak that will shield us from the night.

I believe we must always, without fail, forgive ourselves before we can truly forgive another. Just like we must know true self-love before we can offer all of ourselves outwardly in love, we must know the depths of forgiveness on a singular level to truly extend it without attachment. What I mean is, we are going to need to forgive those whom we no longer have in our lives. Or whom we no longer choose to have in our lives. We need to cultivate a space from which we can forgive without needing our container to be filled by the gratitude or mutual forgiveness of the other person, experience or force of energy.

The act of forgiveness must be enough, in and of itself, to offer us the release we seek.


So there is our answer, for this moment, this fragment of time inside which we are vibrating together. To move into a space of release, surrender and desire to forgive, we must choose love. Love over pain. Love over fear. Love over rage. We must put on our big girl panties and decide, for our own wellbeing, that we want to do this. Like taking our vitamins, getting our exercise, loading our plate with green vegetables. This is an act of self-care, self-preservation and, ultimately, self-love.

We are the only ones who can purge our own sacred fibers of the toxic energies we have let in. We are the only ones who can liberate ourselves from the suffering that harbored animosity creates. Only we can remove a tumor of hostility.

A most beloved quote of the Buddha comes to mind, here. “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Linguistic alchemy. Utter truth. May we hear it. May we feel it. May we digest and assimilate it.

May we release. Forgive. Ourselves, others. May we fix ourselves a tonic of peace, and pass on the poison. May we create for ourselves a life that is rooted in love, in truth. Because no one else can do that for us.


Flurry of Salt

Last night I dreamt I waded into a healing pink river of rose water. Salt fell heavy from the sky, bulbous white crystals of sea salt, filling the river and dusting my hair. I filled my spray bottle with rose water and felt the urge to drink, filling myself with the murky, healing, blushing stream.

Tomorrow afternoon is the new moon, and we will shift into the emptiness, the poise of stillness that invokes a new lunar cycle. Interestingly, the moon and sun are both moving into Pisces shortly after the new moon. As you may or may not know, Pisces personifies all things mother ocean, rivers, streams, watery emotional intuition, you get the picture. I’ve been talking for days about fluidity, expression, intuition…so my dream is really no shock. I’m just glad I woke up for long enough to enable Siri (Lord, while dreams may not, technology does shock me) to grapple with my slumber-drunk murmurs of pink rivers and salt falling from the sky (Siri’s sorry interpretation was close enough that my memory was jogged come morning).

So after steeping my dream ventures in an intuitive potion, I took to my ironically (but unsurprisingly) pink dream dictionary with its torn, tattered cover and precious, hand-written, 17-year-old inscription from my dad to my mom (which I only just noticed now, and am deeply moved to discover). To dream of the color pink predicts “unusually great success,” and salt is, “in all respects an excellent omen.” To dream of a river, “as with all water dreams, the meaning is modified by the conditions and appearance of the water,” which were healing, cloudy and pink. So now, the biggie, to dream of water…murky water “signifies difficulties” but calm water is a “favorable omen.” Gently flowing water “promises contentment and peace of mind.” At one point the water carried me downstream. It literally shifted from still water to moving water. I clambered back upstream towards the faceless, figureless, anonymous object of my attention. The object that was telling me I shouldn’t drink the water, as it wasn’t clean. Snow continued to rain in the form of salt.


Later I dreamt of a man, whom I watched as if from a distance, from overhead. I witnessed his story unfold as though watching a film. I heard nothing but silence and yet his whole life trickled through my consciousness, syllable by syllable, as if dripped meaningfully through the crown of my head from the cosmos above…like I needed to know his story. Like I would gain something from watching.

I felt this human being’s anxiety as if it were my own. I watched him run from his life, flee, I watched him cross a parking lot. I watched him look over his shoulder, I watched him get into a truck and drive away. Such a simple maneuver, and yet, I was profoundly aware that he had just run from everything he had ever been. Everything he had ever built. He had just fled his life.

My own heart pounded in my chest, the chest of the observer, Purusha witnessing Prakriti. All that can change. The eyes of the unchangeable, unfaltering, taking in all that is in flux. All that is unsure.

In my dream I knew the man, who was somehow me, had just left behind everything that no longer served him. His life, symbolic of what haunts and chases us, something he chose to slip from. Just a parking lot between him and freedom, or in this case, a pickup truck.

He took off and escaped the ensuing fog. The fog of all that sought to contain and keep him. Hold him down. It felt like people. He looked anxiously over his shoulder. He had come a long way, this barren parking lot was the last leg of the journey before that slip of freedom. A parking lot with no cover. No trees, few other cars, nothing but washed out asphalt. Nothing to camouflage him. Nothing to conceal his escape.

But he made it. And that’s all that matters.

I feel no urge whatsoever to interpret any aspects of the latter dream. It just flows out of me as I remember it, as I recall it bit by bit. The interpretation is intuitive, it comes naturally, like the same whimsical Cosmic deliverer who fed me this man’s psychic experience is whispering in my ear what this means. I just…know.

I know because I’ve been planning my escape, too. I’ve meticulously planned out my retreat. When to hastily bolt across that parking lot, my eyes fixed on that pickup truck.

There are parts of me, parts of my life, that no longer serve me. Attitudes and beliefs that have grown damaging. That have become heavy weights around my ankles, slowing me, making my journey unnaturally laborious. I see them, I feel their weight lovingly, I thank them for the grounding effect they have had. And I envision releasing them.

Tomorrow’s new moon is in Aquarius…again. A second consecutive new moon in the same zodiac sign is rare, and it signals opportunity of epic proportions. A chance to begin again. A second chance, if you will. A “do-over.” Anything, any intentions, that fell to shambles from last month, any bits of this year that felt spoiled or tarnished by moments of imperfection (also known as LIFE, you know, being human)…those are the target of February’s new moon intentions. Those are the seedlings that are shrieking for love and attention, shrieking for water. Rosewater. Healing and acceptance, asking, beckoning, begging you to wade in…take a seat. Stay a while. Cup your palms, let the water flow through your fingers, the salt cleanse your atmosphere.

So wade into this river, the healing body of your consciousness. Let the flowing rhythm wash over you, lick the salt from your lips. Fill your bottle, fill yourself, and don’t listen to the fears of your own psyche or anyone else’s. Be bold…cup your hands…drink the rosewater. Lift your face towards the flurry of salt.


I Will Pray

My secret is simple: I pray.

Prayer. So many implications, so caught up in politics and a thick could of confusion, or so it seems nowadays. What is your relationship to prayer? Does the word comfort you, cloak you with wordless warmth and familiarity? Or does it drag you back down memory lane, gravel scraping at your knees, images of parochial school and knuckle-wrapping nuns?

I was raised Catholic. Loosely, I should say. Both sides of my parentage are Catholic, but only my dad grew up with the whole nine yards. Altar boy (with a famous story that I always loved to hear him tell, of the time he disrupted the entire mass and ticked off the priest because he was snapping and unsnapping the buttons on his clerical apparel.

As a child I observed mass with my parents, but not every Sunday. It was sporadic, and yet totally meaningful. I was baptized, went to Sunday school, had first communion. In fact, my first communion ceremony is one of my fondest memories. Although I admit the fondness of my memories revolve primarily around food, and the lovely cream lace dress and matching gloves I wore for the occasion. If not for the letdown of how airy and tasteless the waffle cone host was (and the fact that an older girl had on a larger version of my very same cream lace dress), I remember devouring a delicious shrimp pasta dish at my favorite fancy restaurant on a sunny day by the river after church. It’s no wonder I’m such a foodie today. I digress…

I prayed every night. I asked God to bless my family, to hold them safe. I sent my energy out into the world and asked the Grace of our Creator to wrap every last suffering human being in its safe grasp. I prayed fervently, asking that those who were cold, hungry, sad, lonely, hurt and lost be removed, if only for a moment, from their pain and shaken by the remarkable sensation of a tight hug. An embrace. I energetically embraced the whole world, every night before I fell asleep.

Little did I know that was the beginning of my life’s purpose as an energy worker.

My relationship to prayer was, in part, fear-based. I didn’t fear God. But I was afraid that if I didn’t pray for my family to be safe, they wouldn’t be. I also remember the guilt-ridden moments that haunted me, the moments when I began to question just to whom I was praying. I couldn’t wrap my mind around this masculine, white-bearded man in the sky. I didn’t feel close to him. I started to feel more and more certain that we had an energetic Creator, but less and less did I associate this feeling with the man painted gloriously on the walls of churches.

I continued to pray. If anything, as I grew older my spiritually deepened with the intensity of a sharp decline, like that of the ocean floor when you’re wading carefully out and then, suddenly – all at once – the sand drops off and you’re suddenly hip-deep and your heart leaps into your throat. I looked up at the canopy of the sky and I was sure. Of what, I didn’t know. But I was certain. There was something more.

I had a conversation with a girlfriend one starry night, likely after sharing a midsummer joint laced with rebellion and perceived adulthood, about the afterlife. She was certain that we just become fertilizer after we die. I was emphatic. You’re telling me that if a car t-boned us right now and killed me, that I’d be nothing? Despite this conversation and all of my beliefs and my thoughts and my energy and my soul . . . that I’d just be GONEShe looked at me. Blinked. You’d just be worm food, she confirmed. I was aghast.

No. Fucking. Way.

I had a panic attack early one morning in my Art History class at 19, the room dark and cool, the projector’s click deafening and the art flashing across the screen vivid, color and texture giving life to centuries of faith. I suddenly felt, more powerfully than ever before, that there’s no way on God’s green earth that we couldn’t go somewhere after this life. It can’t possibly just end, lights out, sayonara. We are spiritual beings, we are comprised of great cosmic matter, our bodies are simply vehicles!

I stumbled into the fluorescent lighting of the University hall and clutched at my chest. Tried to calm my breath. Fought the inherent physical urge to hyperventilate that I had developed 10 years prior upon witnessing a cheerleading accident. But that’s another story.

I spilled into the women’s restroom and looked into the warped mirror. I didn’t have answers. What I had was a sensation. That sensation, I now recognize, was conviction.

When I lived in Italy, my relationship to the church was rekindled. I took Art History again, for fun this time, and fell in love with the romantic history of the abbeys, the chapels, the brilliant beauty that is mass, no matter the religion. I attended services in Italian and looked, awestruck, at the images of angels and demons, saints and monsters, decorating the very ceilings of these exquisite works of architecture. My heart broke for the fury and pain that shook Europe, and all parts of the world, at the hand of opposing beliefs. My mind expanded and contracted and expanded again. My soul opened.

But still, I was locked in a confusing ring of prayer and religion. Surely, they were one and the same. That’s what I’d always been taught. I finally felt protected enough, by the cosmic forces that be, to admit (at least to myself, in moments of quiet vulnerability) that I wasn’t religious. I confess, I even experienced a spell where I drove past churches on Sundays, saw families spilling out, and felt completely alienated from them. Like they existed in some fairytale bubble, believing some stories that were just so blatantly not true. I felt very distant and disassociated for a short time from the entire concept of religion. But quickly that softened. I came to see religion as a beautiful coping mechanism, rather than doctrine. 

Shortly thereafter, I found more meaning in the word spirituality. It was given shape and texture, as if dropped into the crown of my head by the angels themselves. Suddenly, my conviction began to take form in informal, unbranded magnitude.


When I fell, shattered, onto my yogic path five years ago, it was on my knees in prayer. I sobbed through every savasana. I set intentions. I prayed my damn heart out. I went and visited an ashram where Jesus and Buddha and Krishna all sat lazily together on one wall’s mural. No separation. One God, many forms.

Things began to make sense, but they were still so foggy. Alas, the sensation deepened.

When I met my main teacher, Seane Corn, a couple of years ago, I finally understood the conviction I had felt for so much of my life. God. She gave me back the G-word. The word I had come to cringe at, sure that it meant the white-bearded man in the sky with the harsh brow and many rules. But through Seane’s sermon-like practices, through the works of Marianne Williamson and Anne Lamott, I began to feel held and utterly understood by a vast sisterhood of likeminded seekers. I began to talk spirituality with my parents, openly, explaining to them my sensations and listening, cherishing, theirs.

Now, all these years later, I find myself praying upon waking, throughout the day, saying a blessing before each meal, upon hearing a siren, at the sight of a sunset, giving thanks as I go to sleep. Prayer to me is not the official business it was as a child. It is an act of gratitude, an act of service. My asana practice is laced with prayer. It is begun and ended with prayer. I invoke into my daily space the essence of Grace. I pray to the Goddess, the Divine Mother, the Universe, our grand Creator, God. I see that all is one. I see that there is no separation. I feel more connected now to the angels than I have ever before in my life, and that connection grows deeper each day. I feel connected to God with my bare feet on the earth before the crashing ocean or a luminous, sky-shattering sunset; I also feel deeply connected to God inside of churches. I no longer see any segregation. In fact, I see God everywhere.

I have learned that there is nothing more Holy than love. Nothing more sanctified than the commitment to embrace, accept, unify and adore. I have come to a place of clarity, understanding, utter conviction. Sure, I have some more words now to give weight to that conviction, some ways of describing the depth of my devotion. But there’s still no way to put words to what I feel. There’s still no way, nor a need, to describe in analytical terms the sanctity of spirituality. It simply is. We simply are.

But one thing is for certain. When I am asked how I can be so calm, when anyone asks how I’ve gotten from point A to point B, whenever I ask myself how in God’s name I got through anything, how I find the courage to look fear in the face and choose love . . . when I wonder how I will one day get through the inevitable heartache that life dishes out, my answer is simple. I will pray.


Falling for Two

I recently fell in love with two people…at the same time.

…I know, right?

It’s a confusing and whirlwind experience to love one person, but to love two? Differently? But at once? So. Incredibly. Strange. I found myself identifying with lead characters in Renaissance time pieces, the Queen falling in love with the King and his bastard brother simultaneously; I had flashes of Guinevere, King Arthur and Lancelot; I seriously considered, for once, sincere compassion for reality star love-seekers who claim to be “in love with more than one girl/guy” as the show progresses. I didn’t know it was possible.

Well, I assumed it was. I used to have dark thoughts in my last relationship (the one where I was a bit of a co-dependent cling-fest), fantasizing masochistically about the potential, the very possibility, that there could be another girl in the world who would make my [then] boyfriend happy. Perhaps, gasp, happier than I made him. It was nauseating to consider. I could hardly hold space for such a thought in my mind.

Now, years and many lessons later, I am of a completely different mind. Not only am I now fiercely independent and utterly cling-phobic, but I have come to see love in a whole new light. I no longer subscribe to the traditional sense of a soulmate. In fact, I believe we have soulmates…plural. I believe my dearest friend Summah in Australia is my soulmate. I believe my mumma is my soulmate. I believe my ex was my soulmate. I believe I will end up married one day to my soulmate. Why must there just be one? Why must we deny that love operates boundlessly, a sacred exchange, an energetic currency? Why do we fight the fact that love exists on many planes, transcendentally and irrevocably? 

Of COURSE there is more than one person in the world who could (and would) make each of us happy. We’re ignorant to argue that. I feel comfortable making such a bold statement because, at one time, I was one of those paper bag over my head “say it ain’t so” people.

Now, this is not to deprecate happy “soulmate” couples. Not at all. Those who’ve found their “one” and who couldn’t imagine life with anyone else. I love that. I get it. I in no way deny the existence of such unions. I hope to find one myself one day. My point is simply that it should be just that, in it’s very base form; a union that is so wonderful, any other potential union fades in comparison. Rather than blatantly claiming there’s no one else in the world that could suit us, we simply choose the love that so astronomically outweighs the concept of ever being made happy by another. You see the difference?

Anyway, in my mind-boggling love triangle (which neither of these people knew of outright, and I wasn’t in a relationship with either of them so the emotional tennis game was really just happening in my own realm), I was fascinated and horrified that I could care so deeply for two people. Two totally different people, in two totally different ways.

Then my mom (AKA my saving Grace, confidante, psychotherapist, best friend, twin flame) made a revolutionary observation: every single person, thing, concept, activity that we love is one thread of Divine Love. There is no separation. To love one person, to love the other person, to love myself, to love yoga, my mom, hiking, mother nature, kale, blue skies, Christmas morning…to love anything is to swell love itself. To inflate, stretch and thicken the very essence of love absolute. It’s all one vibration. There’s no differentiation between loving yoga and loving one’s partner because to love, unbounded, to love fiercely and wildly and with reckless abandon…is to expand one’s capacity for love, period.

Once I realized this – once I felt it in my every pore, my every cell – I was able to be present. I was able to understand, without flailing for insight and probing for answers as to why? and how? I suddenly embraced the way I felt and released any attachment to what it meant, I just gave it space to breathe and realized how that one steady pulse of love vibration resonated throughout my whole life. I began to see that the more I loved – the more people, things, experiences, places – that I loved, the more intense and consuming my capacity for love became. Then I got my answer…that’s exactly how I came to love two people at once in the first place. By liberating my control over love, I had given wings to my capacity for love. I had done it myself, without even knowing!

When we love unabashedly, without apology, we emancipate the sweetness that we are from the shackles of reason and justification. We realize that some things don’t need confines, definitions, rules and regulations. Some essences of this life are meant to be felt, shared, experienced and released.

Since falling for two, I have been able to appreciate my love for everything and everyone in my life. I have been utterly released for the feelings I even developed for these two human beings…because I realized it wasn’t about them. No matter how wonderful anyone is, love is always, always a reflection of ourselves. Narcissism aside, I mean this modestly. We see everything through our own lens, we project our entire lives. To love anything is to love everything. 

So fall in love. Every day. Fall in love with everything that entices you. Fall in love with the way people make you feel, fall in love with the way it feels to breathe, fall in love with the sparkle in a stranger’s eye, fall in love again and again and again and again. The Law of Attraction is simple. Falling for two, three, four, infinity…is training for the love of life. Love madly, love fiercely, love daringly. Because to love anything…is to love everything. And what else could we possibly be here to do?