Indigo30 DAY 30: Farewell

We have arrived … we have come to the end of our journey together. I am so grateful for the time that we shared. I am grateful for the lessons learned, the friends made, the goals achieved, big and small and everything in between.

Endings are always odd for me, I have to admit. I’d have to sit down with someone a lot more clever than myself to dig up some psychology on why I tend to go a little numb during goodbyes, but I am fairly sure it has something to do with the fact that I have had many endings in my life.

As a child I had many traumas of “low-grade neglect,” as I sometimes call it, the child of functioning alcoholics, and I had to grow up fast. It has always felt like a loss, my own childhood, especially as I watch my own children grow, and realize I cannot remember very large portions of my early years. Then the storms really blew in. I lost part of my home to a forest fire when I was 14. I lost my entire home to some kind of “accidental” fire when I was 16. I lost my mom mentally that day, her eyes rolled back into her head and she never returned to us, but rather to the bottle and any other numbing agent she could find to escape everything but a shallow breath. I lost my dad 12 years ago to my mom’s alcoholism and addiction, and subsequently to a new wife and life that didn’t really have any room for me, my brother or our children. I lost my mom to the heavens 6 years ago when her addictions, sadness, depression and despair were finally soothed by death. I’ve lost two and a half husbands, all three to some kind of addiction, and my behaviors in response went from very bad in retaliation to very enabling to, at long last, albeit enabling for a while, a non-negotiable  break with almost no emotion. (They call me the Head Witch but I am starting to think of myself more as the Black Widow.) I am a single parent who is raising her boys with no family around but, as irony would have it, an incredible sister-in-law. I built a company from less than nothing. The loss and aloneness I can feel at times are paralyzing. Thousands of moments have passed, when I have felt like I had no options, no wisdom and no guidance, when I have looked up because looking down can become a tendency, and imagined a holy angel, my mother, and said, “Why did you leave me? I need you. I can’t do this all by myself.”

As I look back on my life and its abundant loss, mostly of love, harmony, security and family, I have learned the skill of resilience and grit, which I am so thankful for, because gosh I have needed it when crumbling was just not an option. The downside of steadfast resilience and grit is a kind of numbing, a hardening. And it makes goodbyes feel like just another loss I need to gut through.

Before I even started this program, I vowed to myself that I would go through all of the processes with you, and be my own student. In many ways I also feel like I have now become my own teacher; the brilliant and wise teachers I have had over the years have, through their teachings, brought me back to me. I often hear them tell me in meditation, “You already know this. You already have the answers. You don’t need me to tell you. You already have this in you. I am not your teacher, you are your teacher. Stop looking outside of yourself. It’s all within you. All you have to do is listen.” Without me realizing it, through years of yoga, meditation and inquiry, I have learned the most important lesson of all: to trust my own intuitive way of doing things. Intuition isn’t always pretty. Trusting it is sloppy at best. Intution is flighty and it wanders all over the place and most of the time, it doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s a confusing house of mirrors, with no apparent strategy and seemingly no end. And yet, we all sum it up — what our gut, or our soul, or however you want to describe the inner knowing — with this common phrase, “everything happens for a reason,” which is an easy thing to say if the trauma isn’t happening to you, or after you know said reason. And it’s irritating AF to hear when you’re running into mirrors, bloodying your head.

So much of what I have written — perhaps all of it — is me teaching myself through you. The stumbling blocks, the sticky spots, the blind spots that lead us astray, the quagmire that we sometimes wallow in — I am doing all of the same things. I just have a really remarkable tool that I never really understood nor did I realize I had until the past year — it’s a piece of my heart and soul that always whispers, “keep going.”

Keep going, it says. Even if you have to slow down, just keep going.

When you want to fall apart, go ahead and fall apart. And then keep going.

When you want to run like the wind in the opposite direction of all of your responsibilities and all of the things that you created by your own choices and actions, go ahead and run. And then stop, and turn around and face it all like a warrior. And keep going.

When you feel all alone, keep going.

When you feel completely supported and everything is ambling along with ease and gentleness and comfort, keep going.

When the road comes to an end, you better get your thinking cap on and figure out how to build a new road. Because you have to keep going.

________

I was born near the Yankton Indian Reservation in southeastern South Dakota, on a very cold winter’s night in February, 1974. I was only one of two babies born that day. The reservation is the homeland of the Yankton Sioux and covers approximately 262,300 acres. It is the second-largest Indian reservation in the United States that is located entirely within one county. Legend has it that while Lewis and Clark gathered with the Yanktons in 1804 on Calumet Bluff, a baby boy was born. Captain Lewis learned about the birth, sent for the child, and wrapped him in an American flag. Lewis gave a speech in which he prophesied that the boy would live to become leader among his people and would be a great friend of the white men. “Struck by the Ree” (1804-1888) grew up to become Chief of the Yankton Tribe. As a leader, he befriended the whites, yet remained dedicated and loyal to his people. I love this story. I love that — a spritual leader of Mother Earth and the Great Spirit, brought people unlikely to befriend, together, and was a highly respected Chief among his devoted people — was born where I was born.

I grew up from age 2 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Black Hills rise from the horizon, a gloriously dark, mysterious and unexpected island in a sea of green and yellow prairie grass. Its pine forests and granite peaks keep centuries of stories and history, while the aspens whisper in the breezes and cover patches of foothillls like a blanket made of golden threads. Home to the Lakota Sioux, who called this place Paha Sapa, or Black Hills, because its pine-covered slopes appear black from a distance. The hills are not only magical to see and feel, but the Lakota viewed them as the center of the universe, home to spiritually significant sites. The majestic buffalo, sacred to the Lakota, still roam. In fact, they roam on my brother’s ranch, and I have fed the enormous, beautiful beasts with my own hands, while tears streamed down my face in awe.

There is a book I cherish, called The Lakota Way. It speaks of the beliefs, values and wisdom that have sustained the Lakota people, the people of my birthplace and home, “since time immemorial” through stories — stories handed down generation after generation. The author, Joseph Marshall III, wrote another book, called Keep Going, the Art of Perseverance. This book always sits on my desk.

Before I leave you, before I say goodbye, I want to share a short piece of this book.

A young man asked his grandfather why life had to be so difficult sometimes. This was the old man’s reply.

Grandfather says this: “In life there is sadness as well as joy, losing as well as winning, falling as well as standing, hunger as well as plenty, badness as well as goodness. I do not say this to make you despair, but to teach you reality. Life is a journey sometimes walked in light, sometimes in shadow.”

Grandfather says this: “You did not ask to be born but you are here. You have weaknesses as well as strengths. You have both because in life, there is two of everything. Within you is the will to win, as well as the willingness to lose. Within you is the heart to feel compassion as well as the smallness to be arrogant. Within you is the way to face life as well as the fear to turn away from it.”

Grandfather says this: “Life can give you strength, strength can come from facing the storms of life, from knowing loss, feeling sadness and heartache, from falling into the depths of grief. You must stand up in the storm. You must face the wind and the cold and the darkness. When the storm blows hard you must stand firm for it is not trying to knock you down, it is really trying to teach you to be strong.”

Grandfather says this: “Being strong means taking one more step toward the top of the hill, no matter how weary you may be. It means letting the tears flow through grief. It means to keep looking for the answer, though the darkness of despair is all around you. Being strong means to cling to hope for one more heartbeat, one more sunrise. Each step, no matter how difficult, is one more step closer to the top of the hill. To keep hope alive for one more heartbeat at a time leads to the light of the next sunrise, and the promise of a new day.”

Grandfather says this: The weakest step toward the top of the hill, toward sunrise, toward hope, is stronger than the fiercest storm.

Grandfather says this: “Keep going.”

My friends of Indigo30, it has been a pleasure teaching you and learning with you. Thank you for listening to my words. Now go and share and do amazing things with the gifts you have been given from every teacher, including yourself.

Your Indigo30 is now complete.

Indigo30 DAY 11: The Stages of Change

Welcome to Day 11. I’ve armed you with tools, tips and tricks. We’ve talked recipes and ideas and hacks. I’ve stayed consistent with my message about balance, which can always be found on your mat and in your heart. For all practical purposes, you have what you need to keep going. The thing is, you are entering into a phase of the program that will push you in different realms, realms that can’t be soothed with some Magic Mushroom Powder or epsom salts. Your mood and emotions are one of the last-ditch efforts that your habits and your ego will call on when your will and determination are finally getting ahead. Social pressure will add to the dynamic, and it may only take once to hear, “Are you STILL doing that diet/yoga thing?” to make you cave to frustration, resentment, righteousness or dissolution.

Not everyone is going to love the Indigo30. Some of you are downright bummed out, disappointed and just plain irritated. It’s not what you expected and it’s not what you signed up for. Except that it is. But maybe the change that is occurring isn’t the change you had imagined.

Change is hard. No one likes it unless they choose it voluntarily. Let’s dissect change for a moment so you can see how it affects you, step by step.

The Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was developed by James O. Prochaska of the University of Rhode Island, Carlo Di Clemente and colleagues  beginning in 1977. It is based on analysis and the use of different theories of psychotherapy. The basic idea is that behavior doesn’t happen in just one step. People tend to progress through specific stages on their way to change, and each of us moves at a different pace. Sometimes, we go backwards and have to repeat a step over and over. In fact, some people never totally progress because they get stuck in a certain step and aren’t willing to do the uncomfortable and demanding work it takes to step off the hamster wheel, so to speak. And, trying to give someone advice or consequences for one stage while they are still in another … well, it simply doesn’t work; they aren’t ready. You’ve all experienced this yourself. If you’ve ever said, “Why couldn’t I see it when it was happening?” you know what I’m talking about and how it feels. It’s a hindsight thing. You just weren’t ready.

In each stage of change, we have to wrangle and wrestle with different issues. Messages will be heard differently, advice will be heeded or ignored, and conversation can either be considered, threaten, or dismiss. Knowing what stage you are in with certain things will also help you more insightfully understand which stage those around you in; and when you know this piece of information, your communication can be tailored in a way that’s more effective.

The Five Stages of Change include:

  1. Precontemplation. This is the first stage, and it’s when people are not yet acknowledging that there is a problematic behavior that needs to be adjusted, modified, replaced or totally stopped. People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habit(s) and do not feel it is a problem (sometimes it’s even your problem). They may be defensive in the face of other people’s efforts to pressure them to quit or modify. They do not focus their attention on quitting and tend not to discuss their bad habit with others. In some addiction circles, this stage is also called denial.
  2. Contemplation. Okay, so, there’s a problem. And, the person is still not sure they are ready to change. Here is when people have a bit more awareness that there might, af8b174b4c3132bee8fb6cc65345d8cb.jpgjust, perhaps be some consequences and even might spend some time thinking about the problem… but still aren’t ready to do anything about it. They weigh pros and cons, they may even consider the long-term impact, but are still not totally on board to lay down the habit and take any action. Overall they do not see yet that any benefits associated with the quitting or reduction of the habit will outweigh the short-term costs.
  3. Action/Willpower. Change occurs. Often because something drastic, some dramatic consequence, a serious wake-up call, or some impactful incident occurs that shifts the dynamic overall. It doesn’t always have to be negative, in fact, sometimes people move into the third stage because of something inspirational or even a program like the Indigo30, where others are participating and there is a new level of accountability. Nonetheless, the person believes they have the ability to change their behavior and are actively involved in taking steps to change. This is a miraculous stage, because it is when people start depending on their own willpower, versus the power of the default behavior. Overt efforts are made to quit or change the old habit. This is also the time when there is the greatest risk of relapse, so it’s imperative that whatever steps have been taken and the support that has been built stay intact so the person can leverage them and stay motivated.
  4. Maintenance. Ongoing, daily maintenance of the new habit is the ritual of this stage. Not only are the rituals maintained, but so is the willpower to avoid temptation and return to old ways. The goal of the maintenance stages is to maintain the new status quo. Progress made is a constant reminder. What one is striving for has purpose and meaning. Patience is a strong thread in the fabric of maintenance, as the person in this stage knows that it takes time to let go of old behaviors and successfully maintain new ones. Thoughts of “how I used to be” and old habits will regularly occur, but at this point, temptation is resisted.

You can probably categorize yourself as well as the people around you, witnessing your stage. Some don’t want to hear one word about what you are doing (they are in a precontemplation stage). Others may be asking you questions, and at the same time, challenging your responses — they doubt the process, argue their position and defend their behaviors (contemplation). Others are carefully watching and taking notes, gathering information and probably even planning their own journey to change. This is important for them; just as our pre-program week of preparation was for you. Diving in head first to behavior change (“cold turkey”) works for a few, but not for most. These folks are in an action stage. And finally and most excitedly, you may have people in your life who are really interested and want you to teach them what you are learning. They are committed and motivated — by you! They are in a maintenance stage.

Now remember — this stuff doesn’t just happen on its own. The habits, the behaviors and all of the effects have had lots of time to simmer. And when you cook it all down to its base, what you are left with is simple but powerful and all-encompassing for many: fear. Think about it for a moment — why, if change is something (the Indigo30, for example) that will only benefit you, make your life better, help you achieve things you never thought possible, improve all aspects of your life — why would anyone be so incredibly stubborn and reluctant to give up old patterns? In a word, fear.

Fear of admission — If you admit you have a problem, then by default, you acknowledge that you need to do something about it. Change is uncomfortable, but for many, mediocrity, status quo and old ways of being, while unproductive, ineffective, painful and even depressing, still may feel easier.

Fear of failure — Some people have tried so many times to lose weight, fix their health issues and problems, and what we see most — exercise more and eat less (only to end up eating more and exercising less) — that they consider each attempt a bona fide failure, whether they actually made progress or not. Failure in its actuality sucks for sure. The proposition of repeating it over and over is terrifying.

Fear of success — Oh yes, this is such an interesting one. So… what happens if I actually succeed? What kind of new pressures does that put on me to maintain? Some people have assigned their illness, their weight, and their health issues as their identity. So imagine what kind of life shift not even knowing who you are anymore is for someone who has attached so completely and entirely to their weight as identity, or their illness as who they are as a person. What if you suddenly had to change your name? It would be as if the old you just vanished; and with it all the stories, all the history, all the reasons to behave how you do. So when you are no longer Overweight-Mark or Tired-Jenny or In-Pain-Jane, the prospect of losing the story and the payoffs of attention, sympathy, lack of responsibility you get from that story/identity — is a big trade-in.

Fear of responsibility — From the trade-in I just spoke of, also comes a new responsibility that some people simply aren’t wanting or willing to take on. To accept the idea that they could feel better by changing their diet and lifestyle is to accept the fact that their own actions in part could have contributed to their illness or health condition — and owning that is not only difficult, but takes a huge amount of bravery and vulnerability.

________

In yoga class, I often remind my students to remember that all of the stuff I teach them is, in fact, just information. Ultimately, they get to decide what to do or not to do with it. It’s the same with this. You will, undoubtedly, go through some of these stages, if you haven’t already. Knowing that there are actually stages at all will calibrate your dial, even if you do nothing at all to progress yourself through them.

In the end, you just get up each morning and give it your best shot. I imagine all of you, deep down, are aiming to just keep learning and be a better human overall. I am too. Today I had a wild moment of insight while talking to a friend about a pattern I have of rescuing. I said to her, “Do I attract it? Am I drawn to it for selfish purposes? Do I need it to feel needed? Do I want it? Or is it … (I sat there for several seconds) … is it just a default behavior?”  I walked away from that conversation feeling somewhat more consciously evolved because I took a moment to look at myself and question my own interpersonal pattern, and went a step further and verbalized it to a friend, which made it real, and made me own it. There was no solution or answer; but the acknowledgment of it was likely a step I needed. Now perhaps, with that aspect of my life, I will move into a new stage — the action stage — and not rescue the wounded (ooohhhhh it’s gonna be hard.)

So take this information and let it distill. Be gentle with yourself if you are still in stages 1 and 2, and call on your people if you need help. Lead by quiet example and be confident in your choices to the best of your ability. Seek socialization, not isolation, unless you can feel in your bones that you need to ground and restore on your own.

And, above all, keep going.

B

Indigo30 Day 4: Wild-eyed and drooling

ADMISSION: I love gummy worms. The Black Forest kind that you can only get at Tom Thumb or Walgreens, the ones that are so soft and chewy. And today, I craved them like the desert craves the rain.

Okay it wasn’t quite that dramatic. But gosh at about 2pm, they sure did sound better than the carrots that were sitting all perky and bright in the Ziplock in my bag.

No doubt, you had some cravings today too. The cravings were either like someone annoyingly tugging at your sleeve or left you all wild-eyed and drooling, wanting to ravage the pantry in search of relief. No amount of “You should go to yoga” can temper a craving at its height; in fact, those five words can sometimes send you diving head first into the canister of sugar, even if just out of sheer defiance. I wish I could say that these days will be the only days you will find yourself longing for something currently forbidden, but they will likely be with you for the duration of your Indigo30 and beyond. Yes, yoga will definitely help, as will other distractions, like taking a walk, calling a friend, taking a nap, or brushing your teeth. But here is the clincher, my friends. If your habits are strong enough, if you have repeated them enough times, no amount of image6.pngdistraction will help. Your brain has learned that getting something desirable comes from a certain cue — i.e., “If you get an A on this test, we will get ice cream!” (see how early it starts?) or, “If I make it to Friday (or just to 5 o’clock) I get a cocktail,” or, “If I feel lonely, I will go shopping,” or, “When I hear my phone ding, I will stop everything to look at it.”  The real problem comes from when you get the cue and you don’t get the reward you are used to or anticipate getting. The result is a neurological pattern associated with desire AND frustration exploding in your mind. If the happiness you are used to getting from a certain thing doesn’t arrive, that happiness transforms into a craving that, if unsatisfied, turns to anger or depression. And no amount of distraction will seduce a strongly anticipated reward and its subsequent thirst. No amount of love, devotion, support or help can compete with the absolute stronghold of a craving.  This is exactly why habits are so powerful — they change our neurology. They construct neurological cravings. So when people quip, “Oh it’s just all in your head,” the irony is, they are right.

“There is nothing programmed into our brains that makes us see a box of doughnuts and automatically want a sugary treat. But once our brain learns that a doughnut contains yummy sugar and other carbohydrates, it will start anticipating the sugar high. Our brains will push us toward the box. Then, if we don’t eat the doughnut, we feel disappointed.” — (Wolfram Schultz, professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge).

It’s like the brain is in the honeymoon phase when it learns to anticipate the reward. It’s all fun and games until the toilet seat gets left up and you fall in.

Don’t lose hope just yet. You do and can have power over your cravings. There are tools and practices we can learn that can help us ignore the temptations. But the only way to suppress the habit is to identify which craving drives the behavior. We have to have awareness of the anticipation — a consciousness of it — we are at its complete mercy. And then, you have to have a plan to create a new habit.

If you want to go to early morning yoga every day, you have to chose a simple cue (like laying out your yoga clothes the night before) and a clear reward (a green star on the star chart). Seems simple enough. But that is not actually enough to make the habit last. Only when your brain starts to anticipate and expect the reward of the green star and thus craves the endorphins of excitement and sense of achievement, will it become nearly unconscious, or automatic, to lay out your clothes each night and go to yoga in the morning.

Burn this into your craving, lusting, habit-hungry/reward-crazed brains: THE CUE, IN ADDITION TO A TRIGGERING ROUTINE, MUST ALSO TRIGGER A CRAVING FOR THE REWARD TO COME. So for those of you who could seriously care less about a star on a chart? We need to find you a different reward. STAT. Or you won’t develop a craving for the reward of accomplishment, and you will give up, eventually, searching out something different that drives a zealous anticipation and a powerful craving.

None of this is going to happen overnight, so do me a big favor and right now, just take a deep breath. You are in a discovery phase, and these phases of personal growth can feel so overwhelming — the new routines, the new information, the new expectations. You are going to have days when grit will not win over grief. And it’s okay. What I can promise you is this: in the recesses of your mind and soul, you will remember these things. And when you are ready, which many of you are already, you will soak this up and keep going, no matter how many times you backpedal. You will call on your reserves and the people walking right beside you, going through the same things, and you will keep trying, until you come to a time when you no longer have to try so hard. When making a food decision won’t be such a negotiation. When getting up to hit the redeye class isn’t a chore, but a gift. When joy doesn’t come from a star, but from your kid or your spouse or even a stranger looking into your eyes and saying how much you inspire them. And then you will know that you have transformed into a better version of you. But it won’t come without having to tough it out, over and over again.

Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned. — Tony Dungy

KEEP GOING,

B

The Magic of Acceptance

I’m going to give 2014 an A.

And this year, for all practical purposes, was one of the hardest years I’ve ever had. Every single day it seemed, something wild happened. Good and bad. It felt like everyone else around me was experiencing it too – everyone I knew was going through some major challenges.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I never know how I feel when people say, on or around New Year’s Day, that they are glad to see the previous year go. No matter how tough the year has been, here we are again, getting to start fresh. As a bonus, we get all of last year’s mistakes and successes to learn from. I think it’s more the emotional trials and the disappointments that form our opinions of a “bad” or a “good” year. Those are the things we want to see go. And, we are still standing, we are probably stronger, and we might even be better for all of those hard things that happened to us. Why do we sometimes resent these times so bitterly? They FORM us. They squeeze us. They help us learn the lesson of discernment. And if we are very, very lucky, they teach us to be more accepting.

I recently had a good friend of mine write this in a note she gave me for Christmas:

“I wish I knew your secret for acceptance.”

Well, the truth is, I just hate being pissed off. When I’m angry it feels like the Resentment Vampire has her teeth in my neck and I’m getting sucked dry. I despise it. I can’t focus. I don’t eat. I don’t get anything done. And I look dreadful; skin goes bad, eyes get dark. And being angry, well, it’s just boring. Capital B: Boring.

So somewhere along the line, I figured out how to channel it. With anything that throws me off – distraction, irritation, feeling hurt or betrayed – after a little bit of time getting really present with it, I remind myself that this distraction or this thing that is making me angry, is someone else’s reality. I remind myself that the pain that someone else is causing me is simply them reacting because they are hurting about something. And when I can see that, and close this gap of judgment, it’s so very easy to accept and love them, no matter what they have done. I like to think of myself, in these scenarios, as a filter. Just letting the painful experience move through and out of the infinitely roomy spaces of my heart.

What prompted me to think about this was a little package I got in the mail a few days ago. It was from my Aunt Cindy, my dad’s sister. When my grandmother died a year ago, she left some things for me. Cindy packaged them up, and sent them to me for Christmas. Because my family had lost its house in a fire when I was 16, and because life for all of us spiraled so wildly into very dark days afterwards with my mother’s alcoholism, addiction and eventual death, I had no pictures of my mom. None.

Now I do, thanks to Cindy’s package. And the picture that touched me the most was a yellowed, cutout newspaper article from the Rapid City Journal, dated Sunday, December 26, 1965.

Kuborn-Hamblet

Kuborn-Hamblet

White mums decorated Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral as Miss Barbara Kuborn and Tracy E. Hamblet Jr., were united in marriage on Dec. 24. The morning, double ring ceremony was performed by the Rev. Vernon Raschke.

The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Kuborn, 214 St. Charles St. The groom’s parents are Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Rogers of 728 Lazelle St., Sturgis.

Escorted by her father, the bride appeared in a floor length gown of white peau de soie with a straight paneled skirt gathered on the sides. A long train flowed from a large bow at the back waist. The fitted bodice featured a scooped neckline with pearl and lace brocade and long tapered sleeves. A floral headpiece with pearl trim topped her bouffant shoulder length veil of illusion. She carried a cascade arrangement of pompons and greenery.

The bride attended Black Hills State College and was employed locally. Her husband attends the officers’ helicopter pilot course at Fort Rucker, Ala. After a trip through the southern states, the couple will reside at the Highway Host Apts., Ozark, Ala.

 

This is the gap of judgment I speak of. I have every reason in the world to be very angry at my mother and feel bitter about my past years. I remember very few happy days as child, and so many tears were shed watching her try to escape her life, until heartbreak and anger led her to drink herself to death two years ago.

And still, on December 24, 1965, she wore a floor length gown of white peau de soie. She was barely 19.

She was just a girl, blindly trusting love and wanting to be beautiful on her wedding day. When I think of her carrying white mums, with hope for the brightest future, and then when I think about how different her life ended up looking and how she died such a violent, painful death as her body simply could take no more abuse, no more poison, I know that anything less than acceptance and appreciation for every choice she made as my mother would gravely insult the life I have led. I refuse to deny my years with my mother and resent my past. My work is to accept her and therefore others, exactly how they are. Even those who cause me pain. Because at one point in time, maybe they were 19 too, newly married, having no idea how to do anything, really, and just trying the best they can with the limited amount of tools and support they had.

I believe in karma, and I believe that we are going to be given the same lesson over and over again until we get it. For some of us it will take many lifetimes. It’s so easy to see if you think about it – think about how many times you have had to learn the same lesson over again… how many times did you match yourself up with the same kind of person, only to end up with the same heartbreak? Guess what? It wasn’t them, it was you! You brought the same patterns of behavior to the same personality, and you got the same result.

Then maybe one day, it crystallizes. And you hear your quiet inner voice, replete with the fatigue say, “Yep, I’m done with that now.” And you know you really are, because instead of resentful, you are grateful, and you have finally unhooked yourself.

We can’t despise our histories. We can’t keep looking back and thanking God that the days are gone. I kneel as reverent to my past as I do to my future.

I find it so ironic that the newspaper announcement that my beautiful mother was in, referred to her physical wedding veil as a “veil of illusion.” We are all wearing a veil of illusion sometimes, especially when we can’t forgive and accept each other exactly as we are. We wear it when we think everything revolves around us, when we are distracted and irritated and think other people are “doing things to us,” when, in actuality, they are simply living in their own reality, dealing with their own struggles. We wear it when we can’t look back on our lives and consider that every moment of heartache is leading us to a moment of love. If we want it.

2014 gets an A.

And so does every other year.