Written by: Steven M. Goldsmith
All of life is about accepting change and letting go. We lose loved ones, people move away, the elderly pass on, flowers perish and trees fall. We have pets that touch our hearts and leave us with grieving sadness. We have Grandparents who make us feel special, then move onto a higher plane leaving us feeling empty. But we don’t have to feel sad or empty. Now I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt and it isn’t sad. Of course it is. But it is also the natural progression of life and it benefits us more to accept it, breathe and move on. As Francois de la Rochefoucauld so eloquently put it, “The only thing constant in life is change.”
Now, I have been struggling with what I want out of life lately. I’ve come to a fork in the road and I’m not quite sure which way to go. It’s scary and I often don’t want to make a choice…I want things to be as I have always expected them to be and have been used to. But the universe has a different plan…Change!
I am an actor by trade but have been on the fence of whether or not I want to do it anymore. I’ve had some challenging auditions lately and have been putting a lot of pressure on myself. The pressure naturally only makes it worse, but I haven’t figured out how to “let go” of that pressure yet. This was really magnified the other day when I had a pretty bad audition; over the days that followed, I kept beating myself up for it. I held on with such ferocity, as if I might die without the self-inflicted abuse.
I had no idea how to take my mind off of…well…my mind, so I took myself on a date to see “The Life of Pi.” At first I was cynical and wasn’t enjoying it, but once I relaxed and put my focus on the movie instead of my most recent “failure,” I was drawn in. But nothing hit me quite like the quote at the end of the movie: “All of life is an act of letting go, but what hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye” (now what he meant by “not taking a moment to say goodbye” might have been one thing, but I interpreted it to stand for many different situations. It can also stand for forgiveness).
This knocked me over the head, smacked me in the face and jolted me out of my negativity. “All of life is an act of letting go…” I was holding onto this terrible audition and feeling like a failure, telling myself over and over again that I would never be great and that I destroyed chances I may never again get. Holding onto this thought, at the time, was akin to not being able to let one off of life support…I couldn’t say goodbye to it.
Now I realize I was being overly dramatic, but in that moment, that was how I was feeling: hopeless, sad, grieving and lost. I couldn’t let go of my “story.” But if I just “let go” and allowed myself to “say goodbye,” it would be done. It wasn’t still happening to me. The audition wasn’t an endless torture in a chamber of horrifying tools. The horrifying tools were my thoughts and the chamber was my mind. It wasn’t still happening, yet I kept playing it over and over and over and over again in my mind like someone was holding a gun to my head saying, “YOU MUST FEEL SHAME AND SADNESS FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE.” And what for?
I’ve been so unsure of my current path as a performer, being faced with this fork in the road of possibly leaving the business and starting over, that I put an exorbitant amount of pressure on this one audition to prove to me that I was “supposed” to stay in the business. It proved to be the opposite. And maybe it was a nudge to say, “keep fighting, stay the course and don’t give up”; who knows. That’s not the point. The point is to learn to let go, say goodbye (albeit, grieve a little to feel the loss so it can be fully released) and go with the flow. Accept the natural progression of life (mistakes and all), accept change and move forward, not backward.
Yes, many horrific and tragic things happen in this world--things far worse than a botched audition--but once it has happened, there’s nothing we can do to change it. We can’t go back in time to “fix” or “stop” it from happening. Once it’s done it’s done, and the only thing that seemingly keeps it going is the mind.
A fork in the road, a bad audition, a loved one passing on, etc… These are things that we’re not meant to hold onto, but we tend to anyway. We do so because it’s hard to be faced with failure and loss. It leads to change, which leads to a different direction and eventually toward a new beginning.
Change is a gift that gives us a chance to release old hurts, learn something new, discover something great and start with something fresh. Who would we be if we stayed in the present and accepted the constant change in the world and in our lives? What wouldn’t we miss? What would we give ourselves permission to do? Byron Katie, the author of “The Work,” says that when we examine depression and sadness, the only thing that ever makes us unhappy is our RESISTANCE to WHAT IS. I truly believe that if everyone learned to “let go” and “say goodbye,” we would live a much more rewarding existence and co-existence. Letting go and saying goodbye…bitter though it may feel, sweet it actually is.
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A few months ago I invested in a documentary called “Project: Forgive.” I discovered the project on Kick Starter, which is a crowd funding website for creative projects and exciting endeavors. The inspiration behind the project is a man named Gary. A few years ago he received news that his wife Judy and their children, 12-year-old Alex and nine year old Sam, were hit by a drunk driver and did not survive. Gary lost his loving family because of a tragic mistake. Shawne Duperon, the producer of “Project: Forgive” is a dear friend of Gary’s and the driver turned out to also be a friend of Shawne’s. His name is Tom Wellinger.
Gary found it in his heart to forgive Tom. This courageous act inspired Shawne to develop this project so that others could share and explore the power of forgiveness. I will be traveling to Los Angeles in December to see the screening of the Documentary.
Before traveling to California I needed to go to Connecticut to visit my father. I purchased a roundtrip ticket and boarded in Harlem on 125th St, heading for New Haven. My brothers were meeting me so we could see for ourselves how far gone he was. My sister had just flown to Paris and we updated her when she returned. My eyes hurt, my mouth was dry and tears were stalling in my throat.
I texted my husband to tell him I made the train but I was interrupted by distorted sounds of vibrational chanting in Arabic. I looked at the guy across the aisle and mouthed, “What is that?” He shrugged and looked around. I stood up, searched for the source and spotted an old man wearing a grey suit, squeezed between two sleeping women. His mouth was moving and he was holding a metallic device against his throat. There were no plugs in his ears. I don’t know if he was talking to himself, to the women, or simply praying. Devout Muslims often pray five times a day, but this was 10:30 am, long after sunrise.
This guy didn’t care who heard him. His prayers traveled through the train car all the way to Westport.
My daughter texted me as I was frantically searching for my pink headphones:
“Thinking of you Mommy, good luck with Grandpa today. I love you.”
I texted her back:
“Thanks sweetheart, I love you more!”
I was anxious, but I knew this visit had to be different. I tried to meditate, but praying felt more comforting.
Today I will accept everything that is presented to me. I am letting go of all expectations. I know in my heart that my Father loves me. I’m not going to judge him or question him. I don’t know if he’ll live another month, a year or whether even he cares. It doesn’t matters anymore. Maybe today he will understand that his children never stopped loving him. I miss him.
My brothers and I waited in the car for our father. In a distance we saw a frail Man limping with a cane. He looked so small, so fragile. When he reached the car I could feel his fear. I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and make him well again. I hugged him and helped him into the front seat. He told us that his knees were in a great deal of pain (he usually has to ride on a scooter). The chronic alcoholism had wiped out all his vitality and belief in himself. Over the past twenty years there have been two interventions and family therapy, and my father has been in rehab three times. The week before my baby brother’s wedding, my Father spent the night in a half-way house.
During lunch my father recounted stories of our childhood. It was as if life stopped happening after 1995. I felt such love for my bothers as I watched them listening respectfully to him. We discussed difficult topics. My younger brother raised the question about my father’s wishes after he passes. He wants to be cremated; no service or memorial, unless, of course, we want to arrange that. The focus of this moment softened. As painful as it is to imagine my father gone, I felt held by my brothers and their ability to honor his wishes. The three of us were paying our respects to our ability to let go and begin again. We are no longer held hostage by how our father’s addiction has harmed or disappointed us. My intentions have changed. I forgive my dad and I have more room to love him.
Forgiveness is a tricky subject for all of us. It requires a great deal of maturity and the ability to let go. Personally, I have found that when I genuinely forgive, I feel a profound release and a feeling of grace. This deep letting go is almost a small near death experience. I am a new person and you are a new person. No more lacerating guilt, blame or stored resentments. Through forgiveness we develop a greater understanding of life and compassion for others as well as ourselves. The first step should be small and make sure you feel ready.
“Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.” --Rainer Maria Rilke.
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Are you feeling uplifted lately or are you down in the dumps? Who do you turn to when you’re feeling kind of blue? Who gives you that support and lifts you up? We all need support and it’s really important to find people we trust and that we can turn to when we feel sad and blue. So whom are you reaching out to? Who is your support system?
I find that when I’m feeling kind of blue and sad, I can call my best friend and say, “Hey, can I bitch for a second?” And then I’m begging her to make me laugh, because there’s nothing better in the world than laughing. It breaks you out of depression and makes you happier. It works every time. You instantly feel better.
Writing down my feelings and emotions helps to get them out as well. It feels like a therapy session and it's a lot cheaper. Possibly try doing that and see how you feel. Don’t suppress the feelings. Get them out in some way, whether you walk, exercise or laugh with a friend. Once you air it, somehow you feel lighter.
Then there is a wonderful universal law to try. Once you’ve gotten yourself uplifted to a more positive place, share your positivity with someone who is down in the dumps. Reach out and give that person a helping hand or a phone call…just show that you care. One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone is reaching out and saying: “I care.” You’ll lift them up as well as yourself.
Take one day at a time. Try as much as you can to be in the moment. Try not to fast forward to next week’s business conference. It is amazing how just by focusing on the moment, everything will take care of itself. Music is magic, turn it on. It shifts your vibration and energy helping you to be more in the now. We need to crawl before we walk and walk before we run, so don’t be in a rush. Take it as it comes, but keep on uplifting your energy and moving yourself in a forward direction.
Just like Gandhi says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It all starts with you. Take that first positive step. Then give back and get involved in helping others and your community. Whether you are a woman or a man, help extend the chain that links all of us together to heal. This is what community means: to share, support, help and give back! You will feel so good to get involved. Just look at how many lives you will help! Now that is what you call being UPLIFTED!!!
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Founder of i adore me
"The willingness to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is one of the great virtues to which we all should aspire. Imagine a world filled with individuals willing both to apologize and to accept an apology. Is there any problem that could not be solved among people who possessed the humility and largeness of spirit and soul to do either -- or both -- when needed?”
–Gordon B. Hinckley
This past week was the celebration of Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement…a day of forgiveness. It is a time when you get close to your inner being, look inside and ask for forgiveness for any sins you have committed, any gossip you have made or anything else for which you need forgiveness.
I was extremely reflective and asked God (as well as myself) for forgiveness. This year I made a pact that I will be kind and forgiving to me. I will be accepting of where I am in this moment in time. I will be more patient and I will be more loving and kind to whom I am and where I am.
I’d been putting so much pressure and angst on myself (as many of us do). That really just takes away from where we need to be and grow. When we stop and really take a look at who we are, what we want to do in our lives and all the people around that love us, there’s much to be grateful and hopeful for. As I’ve matured and grown in myself, I have learned to love the act of forgiveness. It is one of the greatest gifts that you can give, not only to yourself, but to others.
As the quote says, forgiveness is a “sign of spiritual and emotional maturity.” Take this time and become reflective and forgive anything or anyone that’s caused you harm and hurt your feelings. Just let it go and surrender it to the universe. It’ll feel like the weight of the world has dropped from your shoulders. Your heart will feel warmer and stronger.
Forgiveness is a gift, so use it in your every day life. Forgive others, but most importantly, forgive yourself.
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Founder of i adore me