Getting there

Getting there

Friday, December 30, 2011

Touched


It was on the front page of the Yahoo Canada website. Sometimes I go there to read the news, and there, in the first headline, was a name I recognized. I didn't just recognize the name, though. It was someone I knew many, many years ago. The headline read "Canadian producer, writer, dead at 63", and my heart skipped a beat.

When I was in my early twenties I was living in downtown Toronto. I was working in a very small veterinary clinic, just the vet and a couple of other staff. We had a small but devoted clientele, too, the kind that is small enough that you get to know everyone by name and personality. Due to our location in downtown TO we had a fair number of local "celebrities" as clients - actors, comedians, musicians, and the like. One of them was the Canadian producer and writer mentioned in the headline above.

I won't say I knew him well, as I didn't. But I did speak to him many times, when he would call or bring his pets in to see us. He was then about the same age as I am now, and he was doing very well in his career at that point. He was a nice man, tremendously funny, and seemed to enjoy teasing me. I didn't realize then that men in their forties can get quite a thrill from flirting with young women in their twenties - I suppose I was a bit naive in that regard. He was never truly over the line, but I recall once when he asked about my hair. I coloured my hair a flaming brilliant red back then, and one day with a grin he asked if ALL my hair was that shade. It took me a moment to realize what he was asking and when I did I suspect I blushed a shade far deeper than my crimson hair. He laughed, and apologized, and we both smiled. Ever after, though, when I saw him he would comment on how nice my hair looked and we would both giggle.

I left Toronto many years ago, but I never forgot many of the people I met there, including him. I didn't really follow his career, assuming he would do well as he was talented and bright and funny and just seemed the sort to achieve everything he wanted. I thought of him on occasion over the years, but never with any serious thought, in the same way I thought of many of our other clients from those days at the veterinary clinic.

In an odd coincidence I was talking about the veterinary clinic in Toronto just yesterday morning, and so it was on my mind. When I saw the headline on Yahoo I was saddened to see that someone I knew from then, and had liked so much, was dead. When I read the article, though, I was heartsick. He wasn't just dead but had taken his own life in a Hollywood hotel room. That bright, funny, talented, charming man had ended his own life far before his time to leave this planet.

He had left a final post on his blog, a suicide note I guess. I admit that I read it, which might seem voyeuristic but as a writer I know that even when we write just for ourselves we secretly hope someone will read it. And so I read it, because I know he left it meaning it to be read. It touched me, too, because I recognized the signs of someone in a deep depression (having once experienced this myself). I saw the hopelessness, the sense that the world has just stopped making sense. And I cried at the end, knowing that this was his final message to the world.

As I said I didn't know him well, and yet I've never forgotten him, either. I'll never forget his smile or the way he teased me about that red hair. I don't claim the right to mourn him - and yet I do. Because he touched my life, if only for a brief time. Because his loss is real and true and sad. Because he felt so awful about the world that he felt he needed to leave it. Because he will be missed. And just because he was the sort of person who would tease a naive twenty-something girl and make her feel special for a moment. There's something in that, I think.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Journey of the Heart - Ireland

One year ago today I arrived in Ireland. I had left London on an Aer Lingus flight, Heathrow to Shannon, and it just seemed like another leg of our trip overseas. It was only in time that I realized that it wasn't just another part of a trip, though. I discovered something in Ireland that I didn't even know existed. I found something I didn't know was lost. I found a country I loved, a people I adored, and a desire to share that with the world - and that led me to begin writing again, after years of silence.

I had loved my time in London, of course, but there is something about Ireland so magical, so mystical, that it begs to be written about. It is something just beyond your ability to describe it in words, and yet you feel you must try. Every day in Ireland was a new adventure, but it was more than that. It was feeling my soul open.

I had struggled for some time after my mother's death, but by the time I arrived in Ireland I thought I had healed completely. I was almost there, but not quite - and I only realized it after finding Ireland. I discovered that the missing peace - a deliberate misspelling - was writing. And I'm not sure I ever would have found it without a country that inspired me, and that needed to be written about as it burned itself into my heart.


I plan to return to Ireland one day and spend a few months there. I'd like to write about the history, and the people. I'd like to write, most, though, about how a country can change you, even a country with which you have no connection through birth or heritage. I'd like to write about how you can find a place that leads you to discover things about yourself that had been hidden from view, and about how it can take you down roads you never even knew were there. I'd like to write about the winding roads in Ireland, and about how they can end not just in little towns and falling-down castles but in the joy of self-discovery. I'd like to write about a journey that wasn't to a country, but into my own heart. I'd like to write about all those things, but mostly I think I will write about Ireland - and about me. And if no one ever reads it that's okay, too, because what I learned in Ireland is that journeys, and writing, aren't about making someone else happy. They are about making yourself happy. That's what I found in Ireland, dear friends - and I will be forever grateful to a small emerald green island surrounded by blue ocean.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Memories, December 24th, 2010

This morning I woke up thinking about where I was last year on this day. I wasn't even in Canada, you see. I was "across the pond", on my first ever trip to London. I spent last Christmas Eve in London, and magical doesn't even quite begin to describe it, dear friends.

We had been dreaming about and planning this trip for a very long time. We had long talked about when to go, and for some reason Christmas just seemed the right time. I suppose it's because every place seems to take on a magical glow at this time of year, and to see London for the first time at this season - especially for my daughter - seemed perfect. So, we left Canada on December 17th, and arrived just before Heathrow closed due to snowfall and poor weather, stranding thousands of passengers. We were so very lucky, and that was truly where the magic began.

On Christmas Eve day we had made no plans. We decided to grab a black cab, those ubiquitous fixtures of the London traffic scene, and head to Hyde Park. Hyde Park becomes a "Winter Wonderland" for the month of December, a place much like a Canadian carnival but bigger and with booths serving alcohol at every turn.





It's an incredible sight, really, as I'd never been to a carnival at Christmas before, and added to the rides and food booths are ones selling gifts and handmade items, too. There was that pervasive feeling of Christmas in the air, too.

We tried roasted chestnuts (which must be an acquired taste, and one we do not have), and hot egg nog (not even close to having a taste for that), and eventually settled on some lovely cinnamon and sugar churros. It seems the local pigeons and squirrels enjoy those, too...



Once we'd had our fill of churros and rides it was time to grab another black cab and head back to The Savoy, and on to Christmas Eve Dinner. We had booked reservations at a well-known restaurant just steps from the hotel, Simpsons on the Strand.

Heading out for Christmas Eve Dinner,
Savoy Hotel lobby,
London

We dined late that night, and by the time we arrived back in the hotel room it was dark outside. The butler assigned to our suite had left the makings for tea, as they usually did, so we sat and had tea by the light of the tree in our room. We had asked them to provide a tree, and not only had they done that they had provided a tree and baskets of decorations, so we had a real tree to enjoy, just like at home.






As the evening grew late we knew it was time for bed, but couldn't resist some photos of the Thames from our hotel room. When we went to sleep this is what we saw out the windows of our Edwardian-style room :




It's hard to put into words how it felt to look out that window over the Thames and to see London on that night. It's hard to explain how the experience is forever burned in my mind, or how I suspect I will always carry memories of last Christmas with me. It's hard to tell you, dear friends, because sometimes words just don't convey the feelings very well, and even pictures fail to do it. I can tell you this : today I woke up and started the day with coffee in my Union Jack-emblazoned mug. I went down and sat in front of my British-themed Christmas tree while I ate a raspberry scone covered in clotted cream. I thought about last Christmas, the special memories made, and about how the memories of every Christmas can be ones we carry with us every year, right to the end of our lives. 











My Union Jack mug - and the Snoring Scooby Doo
my daughter insisted on buying when she was 4!


I might not be able to put it into words, but Christmas is clearly a special form of magic, whether at home or overseas. It's magic whether you spend it right where you always have, or in a country you've never before visited. Christmas isn't in a place - it's in your heart, right along with all the memories of Christmases past, and visions of Christmases future. That's where Christmas resides, dear friends, and that is right where it belongs.

This song is played all over London during
the Christmas season. Today I present it to you,
dear friends, with my wishes for a very 
Merry Christmas! :)






Saturday, December 17, 2011

One Year Ago A Journey Began


I suppose I find it a bit hard to believe. It was a year ago today that my life changed forever. It wasn't a birth, and it wasn't a death. It was a trip, just a trip that I expected would be marvellous, but that I never expected would change my world - and yet it did.


You see, dear friends, a year ago today I was on a plane headed to London Heathrow. It was to be my first trip to the UK, 10 days spent in London and 10 days in Ireland. It was to be a special Christmas with my family, and it was - but it was also so much more. It became a turning point in my life. It became a time that changed so many things about me, including finding the path I am now on - as a writer.


Oh, I had always written things, but it wasn't until after this trip that I felt the burning need to write. I had so many stories to tell, stories that would bore if I told them to the same people again and again. So I decided I needed to tell those stories another way. Two friends suggested a blog, and so this blog was born.


And then, a few months later, another blog was born, one about life in my community. And that blog led to work - paid work writing. It led to job offers, some I accepted and some I turned down. It led to so much more, though. It led to discovery.


It led to me learning who I am, and what I care about. It led to the discovery of my passions, and to learning to explore them. It led to self-confidence, and self-worth, and self-trust. I had those things before, but in a much smaller measure. The trip changed my world, forever - because it changed me.


It was just a holiday, a trip thousands of people make. But for me one year ago today I began a journey to more than a destination. I began a journey to a new life, and to a new understanding of myself. Every journey begins with a single step, the saying goes. Mine began on a flight to London Heathrow, and the trip is still continuing. I never expected it, and I never anticipated it. Unlike my trip to England and Ireland this journey has been completely spontaneous - but I've never been on a better trip in my life. And the best part? It's not over yet. 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Public Eye Roller Coaster



Well, dear friends, it's been quite the roller coaster ride recently in my world. A few months ago when I began my new writing project, a blog about life in my community, I had no idea where it would lead. I thought I'd write a quiet little blog, hone my writing skills, and start submitting freelance articles to magazines. Instead that quiet little blog took on a life of it's own. It started to attract followers. It started to attract attention. It started to require work, it started to open doors of opportunity, and it started to become something I'd never anticipated.

You see, when I began writing it I under-estimated the level of interest I would find. I had no plan, no path, no goal, and no clue. So, this past weekend when things took a couple of unexpected turns, I was caught unaware, and I had to stop and re-evaluate things a bit.

The unexpected turns involved two things. One was an unsolicited radio interview. There is a reason I write, dear friends. I am quite camera and microphone shy, and I am uncomfortable "performing". When I write I can go over it time and time again, refining it carefully before unleashing it on the world. Not so with the spoken word. I cannot change those words or take them back if I find they do not please me. I fear embarrassing myself, or saying the wrong thing. Surprisingly the interview went well. I had been so nervous about it because before-hand a rather big deal was being made of it - and I felt some pressure  to perform well. I felt I was representing not just myself but my entire community, and I didn't want to let them down. I had some severe performance anxiety the night before, and a few friends and my family witnessed it as I fell apart a bit at the seams. The morning of the interview, though, my beautiful daughter got up extra early to accompany me to the radio studio, and she was my rock. She made sure I got coffee, she chatted with me, and she grounded me by telling me she was proud of me. After that I knew I'd be fine regardless of the outcome of the interview.

So, the interview and the ensuing congratulations were the high point of that roller coaster ride. As everyone knows, though, what goes up must come down - and I did, with a thump. You see, I got embroiled in a discussion on Twitter that went sideways.

I didn't even see it as an argument, but some people did. I was pointing out to someone in my community, someone that I think could be a tremendous voice for good, that they were being seen as consistently negative and that it was not conducive to change. I suppose I was a bit overwhelmed still by all the stress from the radio interview, and I got into it a bit deeper than I should have. I still believe what I said, though, which is that being chronically negative means that people ignore it when you bring up real issues. It's like crying wolf again and again and again - eventually people stop listening, even when the wolf is eating you.

It wasn't until the next day that I even learned this had become an issue. I received a message from someone telling me that as a community role model I needed to behave better. I got spanked, and I was startled for many reasons, dear friends - the most significant being that I didn't see myself as a role model.

I am a writer. I am a blogger. When I began writing it was never my intent to seek attention, notoriety, or "role model" status. In fact I toyed with the idea of anonymity, but realized it would never work if I wanted to do interviews and attend community events. I settled instead on "low profile", or as low as possible. What I hadn't really considered was what being in the public eye meant, or what it was to become a "public figure". I wasn't a politician or celebrity or community leader, so I was exempt from this attention, right?

Wrong. I learned this weekend that what I am doing, whether it is my intent or not, has put me in the public eye. I learned that I will have expectations placed upon me, and some of those will come from strangers who know me only through what I have written. It's hard enough to meet the expectations of those you know and love, but of strangers? I must admit I had to take a deep breath, and think about what I really want.

I admit I considered what it would mean to walk away from it all. To stop writing about the community, to simply pursue the paying jobs it had led to, and to remove myself from that public eye - to stop putting myself in a place where anything was expected of me. My favourite line about my community blog has been "no one hired me, no one can fire me" - and while that is still true I learned that I do answer to someone other than myself. I answer to those people who have put their faith and belief in me. I don't take that responsibility lightly, dear friends. It weighs a bit heavy, actually, and thus I found my new favourite word - balance.

I can never meet all the expectations, and I'm bound to disappoint some. I will never meet all my own expectations, either, and I accept that. What I can do, though, is learn from these experiences and move on. I can still be me, but a "me" who considers what my actions and words will mean to others. I've never had to consider that past my immediate family and friends - but now it seems I play to a wider audience. Now I have to consider them, too. I will make mistakes, certainly, and I doubt this roller coaster has levelled out for good. There will be highs and lows, although hopefully not again all on the same weekend. I am hoping, however, to find balance. I am hoping to find a way to continue to be me, to write the way I do, unrestrained and unfettered (and unpaid!). I am hoping that I do not disappoint too many when I falter, because I will. I am hoping that those who choose to see me as a role model realize that "role models" are people who make mistakes, do dumb things, get into disagreements on Twitter, and ride the same roller coaster everyone else does. I am seeking, and achieving, balance, dear friends. And if I can do that when I am both at the top and the bottom of this roller coaster ride then I think I just might be onto something.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kick at the Darkness 'Til It Bleeds Daylight


There are times, dear friends, when some simple words ring so true to me that they become almost a mantra in my life. I don't really have a mantra, I'm not a chanting type, but some phrases sing to me in a way that it becomes a running theme in my world. The phrase above is one of those.

The line comes from a Bruce Cockburn song called "Lovers in a Dangerous Time". The words are simple and yet simply profound, too. So often in life we find ourselves in dark places, in places where escape seems impossible. Places where the darkness is overwhelming, when it seems we can never overcome it. So, what do we do? I hope, dear friends, that we kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.

During the course of my other writing project I have had the privilege to meet some amazing people. These are people who run things like food banks and housing initiatives for the homeless, people like police officers and politicians (politicians of the sort who genuinely believe in improving their community). The one common denominator I truly note, besides their passion, vision, and drive, is their persistence. They too see the darkness. They see the problems, the troubles, the woes - but they don't give up. Every single day they go out into the world, and they kick at the darkness in their own way.

Once I asked the police officer I had met about his work. He had told me stories that quite frankly made me weep, made me despair for humanity. I asked him how he did it, how he managed to keep going for so many years in a profession where he saw such deep and unrelenting darkness. His answer? He replied that he had to believe he was making a difference. Maybe not a huge difference, maybe not a difference for everyone - but perhaps a difference in the life of one person, of one individual. He had to believe he was doing something to make the world a better place. He is, dear friends, kicking at the darkness with all his might.

This has become a mantra in my life, dear friends. I cannot change the world for everyone. I cannot make it a better place for every person in it. But I can smile at someone, or hold the door. I can exchange kind words, or hold a hand. I can write about those who touch my heart, and I can extend a hand in friendship. I can try to improve the life of one person, and I can try to help change their world, even if just for one moment. I can use every single day to kick at the darkness - 'til it bleeds daylight.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here Be Dragons


A long, long time ago, when vast portions of our world were as yet uncharted, maps would show what was known to exist, and, in areas where little was known, the phrase "here be dragons" was often used. Why "here be dragons"? Not necessarily because they truly believed there were dragons there, but rather that this was unknown territory. There could be dragons. There could be monsters. There could be all sorts of things, but no one really knew as they hadn't travelled there yet.

I've always loved the phrase "here be dragons", and in recent months it has come to be one I think about a great deal, dear friends. Why? Because I embarked on a personal journey, and discovered my map was a little sketchy. Large stretches of the ocean were uncharted. Large areas could only be described with the marker "here be dragons".  I didn't know what I would encounter in those portions of my journey. And if I didn't know then certainly no one else could tell me, either.

As I've travelled I've been mapping. Now there are new friends, new places, and new experiences on my life map. What I keep finding, though, is that just when I think I've reached the edges of the map it unrolls just a tiny bit more, exposing another stretch of uncharted territory - and the phrase "here be dragons". At times I am daunted - do I continue this journey when I may yet encounter dragons, more dragons than I have already slain on the trip thus far? Do I turn back to the territory already mapped and be content with only it? Or, do I chose another option, and instead embrace those dragons?

You see, I have found dragons on occasion. I have found self-doubt, and fear, and a crisis of confidence. I have, at times, found sadness. But I have also found joy, and fulfillment, and exhilaration. I have found that I can conquer self-doubt, and fear, and those moments when my confidence falters. I have found that the sketchy map I had at the beginning has been a good thing because I have been able to chart my own course, even if it led me into waters filled with dragons. I have learned to not only slay dragons, but to embrace them. And so I forge on ahead, heading deeper still into waters unknown. All I know about them is that "here be dragons" - and I'm ready for them.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Not Beautiful


It seems, dear friends, that every once in awhile someone takes a photo of me that I actually like. You see, I don't like photos of myself - and I never have. I suppose it's for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that I've never particularly liked my face. Perhaps that seems odd - how can anyone not like their face? And yet, I don't. I suppose it's because I don't think I'm particularly beautiful or striking - my face betrays a strong Germanic heritage, and in it I see traces of both my mother and my father. My parents were wonderful people, dear friends, strong and compassionate and loving, but they were not, in the classical sense, beautiful.

So perhaps it is for this reason that I am always startled when I see a photo of myself that I like, that sings to me about who I am, and that makes me believe for a fraction of a second that I might be beautiful. The photo above was taken this past weekend at a local gala I attended with my husband and dear friends. The friend who took the photo thought it would be a funny picture, a photo of me taking a photo - I don't think he realized how much I would like the end result.


You see in this photo you can't see my face, and yet I think it says many things about me. When I look at it I see a woman who is so engrossed in what she is doing that she doesn't even realize that someone is taking a photo of her. I see a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, one who isn't posing awkwardly or trying to fake a smile. It is one of the very, very rare photos where I see me. I suppose I see in this photo the person I have become in the last year - a person who embraces every chance, immortalizes every moment, seizes every opportunity, and marvels at all the beauty in the world. 

I will never be beautiful, dear friends. I may be confident, and I may be strong (and some of that may well all be a tremendous act, but I'll never let on about that, either), but I will never be a great beauty. I think, though, that over the last year I have come to not only accept that but embrace it, too. Being beautiful is likely quite wonderful - but being able to see the beauty around you is far more wonderful, I think. I have grown to appreciate all the beauty in the world, from the smallest flower bud to the most gorgeous sunset. I suppose that's why this photo sings to me, dear friends. It shows me admiring some of that beauty, instead of pretending to be it. It is, quite simply, just me.




Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gala Girl?


It seems, dear friends, that life takes such unexpected turns. This past weekend I was on Facebook, and I was a little bit tired. Life has been a whirlwind of activity with my new writing project, and I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself. I was bemoaning that state of affairs, and commented that after this season of endless galas that I didn't want to hear the word "gala" for some time. I got a response almost immediately from a dear friend. Her reply? "Cry me a river, gala girl".

That response stopped me cold, for two reasons. One, she was clearly right. Bemoaning attending these glamourous affairs seemed rather ungrateful. Two, the words "gala girl" - because I have never, ever thought of those words in relation to me.

Prior to this year I've never attended a gala of any sort. Oh, I've been to parties, some quite elegant (like New Year's Eve in an Irish castle) and some quite raucous (and sometimes elegant ones descending into raucous, again much like New Year's Eve in an Irish castle). But I'd never been to a real gala, never entered that world, and thus it's all been new to me.

I suppose I could have gone to galas before, as they have always been there to attend in my city. I just never really had a reason before. This new project, though, has been an ideal excuse. I have attended some events as a paid guest, some as a guest of others, and some as media (and found different perspectives each time). I have more galas coming up, too, and other special events requiring me to dress up and do hair and make-up - but I'm not complaining. My other life still goes on, too, the life of laundry and dishes and mediating arguments between my girls. The galas, sometimes with my husband, sometimes with a friend, and sometimes on my own, are just a value-added bonus to my life.

I don't think I'll adopt the nickname "gala girl". I think I am the same woman I always was, just one who had to buy some new dresses and learn how to read seating charts. I'm not really a "gala girl" - some days I feel more like Cinderella as I go from scrubbing toilets to swilling martinis with friends. I think, though, that I will savour every moment of these galas as this is all still so new to me, and I am so very lucky - and it has been worth every second of exhaustion, too.

Gala Girl ?







Sunday, October 9, 2011

Imperfect Thanks


Photo credit to The Artful Parent

What does it truly mean to give thanks, dear friends? It has begun to seem like such a cliche´, this "giving of thanks" we practice every year at this time. We gather with family and friends, and some of us might even go around the table asking each person for what we are thankful - and yet we have so much to be thankful for, most of us, and to limit that gratitude to one day seems perhaps the height of ingratitude.

I must admit I am like most. Some days I get so caught up in the day to day grind, the problems and issues and minutiae, that I forget all for which I am so grateful. Perhaps this is why having one day dedicated to giving thanks is so precious. Perhaps it is because it reminds us that we should be finding that gratitude every day of every year, and giving thanks on a regular basis. I try to practice this, and have tried harder this year than most of the other years I've spent on this planet - mostly because there is so much to be grateful for this year.      


I am thankful for a husband who loves me even when I don't particularly love myself, who supports me and encourages me, and yet also helps me to stay grounded. I am thankful for my beautiful daughter, who is the centre of my world, and has been since the day she was born. I am thankful for my wonderful niece, who moved in with us this year and turned our family trio into a quartet, and a much more interesting quartet, too. I am thankful for my sisters, who have over the years become my best friends and not simply my siblings. I am thankful for in-laws and a sister-in-law who have also become my family over the years, and who long ago ceased to be nicknamed "the outlaws". I am thankful for a best friend who knows all my secrets and flaws and still chooses to be my best friend. I am thankful for a male friend who started as a friend and has become the "brother I never wanted", with all that entails. I am especially thankful to have experienced a very special reunion this year, one about which I am not ready to write but which I hold close to my heart every day, and which brought me peace and joy - and another child. I find myself surrounded by family these days, a discovery that lessens the sting of the loss of my beloved parents.

I am thankful, too, for the new adventure I began this year. It all started with this blog and went from there, at a rapid and almost dizzying pace. With the adventure came new friends and new opportunities, new ideas, and new ideals, too. I have met people, gone places, and done things I never believed I would or could do. I have climbed a mountain, both in the literal and figurative sense. I have found people that I admire, respect, and adore. I am so thankful for the chance to do all of this, for the good sense I found to seize the moment and embrace it. I am profoundly thankful that the world granted me this opportunity, and that I chose to take it. I am so thankful for all my friends who were there before this adventure began and who stuck around for the ride, cheering me on, offering words of encouragement, and sharing in both my successes and failures.

My life is not perfect, dear friends, and nor am I. In fact, perfection is not something I seek. At one time I thought perhaps that was the goal, being the perfect person. And now I am thankful to see how wrong that was, how it is imperfection that makes the world an interesting place, and how we can only try to be better, not perfect.


My life is not perfect, but it is so very, very good. It is so very worth being thankful. So, for Thanksgiving this year I am thankful for so very much, but mostly I am thankful for the reminder to experience gratitude every day. I am thankful, dear friends, for every day and every experience and every moment. For this, dear friends, is life, the good and the bad, the easy and the hard - and I am thankful for this life, for every single second of it.

Photo credit to d.Sharp journal

Friday, October 7, 2011

Forgave


Well, dear friends, sometimes this life takes you on journeys you did not plan and did not expect. The last few months have been that kind of trip for me, as some of you know. This journey continues to take unexpected turns, and there are valleys to forge through and mountains to climb. This week has been no exception, and it has brought me to a place where I consider the nature of mistakes, apologies, and lessons.

The week began badly, I admit, and it was because of an error I made. It was an error in judgement, an error born of my own flaws and frailties. I hurt someone. I damaged a relationship. I was wrong, very, very wrong, and very, very repentant.

And then, just as I was moving on from that incident, after the one I had hurt was working on forgiveness, someone hurt me. They involved me in an episode that I shouldn't have been involved in, and they angered me. I was on the other end, this time, the victim, and suddenly I felt the hotness of that place.

What saved me from that incendiary anger, though? What kept me from tipping over the edge? It was because when I was the transgressor, when I was the one who had done wrong, I was forgiven. I was shown grace and dignity by the person I had injured. They told me I was wrong - they expressed their anger and their hurt - and then they forgave me, and we moved on. It was as if the universe knew I needed an opportunity to "pay it forward" - to take the forgiveness granted to me and bestow it on someone else. And I did.

I forgave the person who hurt me. I told them of my anger and my pain, and then I forgave them. It doesn't erase what they did, and I hope they learned what they needed to learn from the episode (as I learned from mine). What it did, though, was free me. I had been shown a kindness, and now I showed that kindness to someone else. My karmic debt was balanced. I know the universe doesn't design these things, dear friends, and that this is sometimes just how life works, with these little coincidences and synchronicity. To me, though, it seems this week has been designed to show me both sides of the forgiveness equation, to experience both ends in a short time frame, and to glean whatever lessons I could from it. What I learned is that forgiveness is a gift you can both give and receive - and that it is freeing whether you are the recipient - or the giver.