Here’s what I missed out on when I spent all those years choosing not to forgive and let go, choosing to hold on to resentment.

I missed how funny my mother is–hilarious, really. How she can come up with a perfectly timed comment that, reflected on years later, can still make me laugh.

By focusing only on the bad memories, I hid the good memories–of Valentine’s Day scavenger hunts, rainy day picnics in the back of a station wagon, summer Shakespeare in the park, the time she forced us to watch the PBS version of I, Claudius and how we got really into it, making up dance routines to Beatles songs, and watching Bob Ross paint “happy little trees” with “little bits of color.”

I forgot how cool she is; how she let me get my ears pierced, dye my hair, and how she understood my desire to have at least one back to school item that was not purely practical. How she let me watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and how she danced the Time Warp in the kitchen, and how she taught me to jump to the left and step to the right.

In all that effort expended to make her into the bad guy, I conveniently forgot all of the times she stood up for me, whether to that boss who made sexist comments or to teachers in school who were inappropriate or demoralizing.

Most of all, I denied acknowledgment of how ruthlessly she raised her daughter to stand up for herself in a world where women are not taught to have a voice by default. No, wait–she did not simply teach me to have a voice. She taught me that I had a powerful voice, a voice with things worth saying and worth hearing, and a god-damned right to speak my truth, regardless of what anyone said.

What greater gift can you give to a daughter in this world?

The gifts of forgiveness are not solely in the realization of one’s own power and choice.

They’re also in the realization that when we forgive, when we powerfully choose who we are, we free ourselves up to see all of who someone else is.

Then we’re fully free to receive all of the gifts they’ve got to offer, even the gifts that are twenty years in the past, and when that happens, there’s such an expansion of feeling…blessed. Nurtured. Cared for. Loved.

In essence, forgiveness has given me the experience of receiving from my mother what I wanted all along, and what my Story insisted that she wasn’t giving to me.

This begs the question: Where in your life are you not receiving?

Where in your life might the thing that you want… be the thing that you are denying yourself?

I know–it’s tricky. This thing that I was denying was something that was so right under my nose, so obvious, so right there–and at the same time, my Story about my life was so, so, so, so very strong that I couldn’t see clearly.

This is the beautiful thing about expanding and seeing more–the question that opened one door for you can be used somewhere else.

If the question is “Where in your life are you not receiving?” it can just as easily be turned into an action step: “If it seems like I’m not receiving something, check for where I’m denying.”

Not enough money? Not enough time?

–Where are you denying something?

Feeling unloved? Feeling unwanted?

–Where are you denying something?

Experiencing frustration? Experiencing a sense of lack?

–Where are you denying something?

If the experience of receiving is all about our choice to open our palms skyward rather than keep our fists clenched tight…then what are we waiting for?

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