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I’ve been thinking a lot about the year, especially as it comes to a close and the word that comes to mind is forgiveness. It’s been a year full of all kinds of forgiveness and mostly I’ve had to forgive myself.

I am hard on myself. I expect too much. I push too hard and that’s been a life long habit. At times, like with my career, it has served me well. In most other areas of my life, it hasn’t because I also expect too much from others. Since my sarcoidosis diagnosis, forgiveness has come slowly and sometimes painfully…literally. This year I chipped a tooth pushing myself too hard and sprained an ankle. I have to accept my limits and that is a work in progress.

But as I work on forgiving myself for what I can no longer do, and as I let go of guilt, I also find that I am kinder and more gentle with others. I don’t hold grudges like I once did and I am better able not only to let stuff go, but to be less opinionated about what isn’t my business.

I am learning to keep my side of the street clean. I am coming to better understand that if I just focus on my own behavior and my own reactions to the world that this is a big enough job to keep me pretty busy and I don’t have time to worry about the actions or reactions of others. This allows me to let go of the illusion of control. Other people don’t have to react to me the way I want them to and other people don’t have to think or feel the same way I do in order for me to accept them.

When I focus on doing the right thing for the simple reason that it is the right thing, without expectations of others as a result of my actions, then I have more peace and my heart is open to allow others the to be truly themselves and my relationships improve.

Even though the lessons have been physically painful at times and sometimes emotionally draining, I am still grateful for them. Learning to focus on myself and not on the approval or disapproval of others is freeing. I am able to live with more grace. I am able to love more fully.