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On a gorgeous early fall afternoon, we were closing up the old family cabins for the season.  It’s a beautiful setting on the north shore of a lake in eastern Massachusetts, and regardless of how often we are there, the setting is so stunning that it’s nearly impossible NOT to take photos.  So we have almost annual shots of sunsets, water lilies, the early tupelo leaves turning red, and views of the water from the Adirondack chairs on the front lawn.  Sometimes, there is a sailboat out on the water . . . a lone sailor.  Free–in the sun and wind, alone but not lonely, with her thoughts, perhaps with her joys and pains. I pause, and I sit and watch her; she’s really moving because there’s a healthy breeze across the lake.

I love sailing, and I did much more of it when I was a kid. As an extrovert in an introverted family, alone for weeks on the remote shore of a big lake, I felt sometimes I was suffocating, constantly shut down. I knew I was too overwhelming for my dear family, especially my siblings–but I didn’t understand why I was that way. I just was.

As a child, I could take the boat out and take myself away from judgment and, instead, be inside the energy of the wind, feeling the speed of the little boat, the cool splash of the water. It was an energy that seemed to match my inner fires, and–as I worked out how to manage the sheets, the tiller, the centerboard, and my own body as ballast on one side or another–I found my loneliness subsided. I felt empowered, free, capable, forgiven.


As I returned to the day’s cleaning, re-familiarizing myself with all the little chores involved in packing things away so the mice couldn’t chew on them, I thought about forgiveness. I realized how we are taught to forgive others but never how to forgive ourselves. It has taken me many years and much work to forgive myself for being “too much” for other people.

What do you want to forgive yourself for?