Poem: When I Look Back


When I look back
Let me look with love
When I think back
Let the warmth shine through

I can’t understand now
Why we all did
What we all did do

But when I look back
Let me take notes
And learn how to do better

Then when I look back
Let me look with forgiving eyes
And a laughing heart

When I look back
Let me look with love

About the poem:
Here’s today’s sketch and a poem.I realized that no matter how messed up things seem, everyone is doing their best. At any moment. That calls for forgiveness and the ability to laugh at your own choices. Looking back at your childhood, you’ll surely find many things to learn from, and many more to laugh about!

In 2014, I’m pulling together some personal stories for my daughters…just little moments, many of which involve poor judgment on my part. oopsie daisy!

Poem: I Don’t Understand You

You vex me, you perplex me
But anymore you don’t upset me
I love you

I don’t understand you
I might not recommend doing what you do
But I love you

It’s like you’re from another culture, but you’re not
It’s like we’re different genders, but that’s not true
It’s like we grew up in different cities, but we didn’t
It’s like we don’t have anything in common, but we do
It’s like we’re from different families

I really don’t understand you
But I do love you

About the poem:

Any psy 101 class will teach you that if you have problems between yourself and your mom or dad, you will manifest those in the rest of your life. We don’t need to understand, concur or stamp with a seal of approval any one else’s life in order to love them completely. Finding ways to accept and love those closest to us, though they vex us, is a source of healing that is at our fingertips.

Poem: Arrows that you Sling

2013-04-07 10.50.38 Cherry Blossoms on Steps

Are those arrows that you sling
With careful focusing
Aimed to harm lives
Or do you simply
At juggling knives
No matter
No splatter
I have superpowers
You know not of
Weapons flying in
Warp in a shield of love
To a clear mind
It ain’t no thang
I transform them
Not into a boomerang
But cherry blossom petals
That line my way
That spell out
A blessing to you
And sprinkle beauty
On my day

About the poem:
Some people say things to us that really aren’t nice. This happened to me today.
Oh well. That’s their business. I don’t know why they say it, what they really meant, if they were trying to be nice, if they’re emotionally disturbed, or how they were raised. I know everyone is doing their best, so why get mad or take offense.

I just know that if I meet their words with a pause, then acceptance, then love and compassion, I’m okay. As we used to say: Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me! (unless I choose to let them do so)

Still, it’s the acceptance part that guides us to seek out positive, encouraging people that propel us on to our dreams, and not continually delivering ourselves to the demands of the negative nelly’s of the world.

Poem: Not Even Green

2013-06-28 Gaksan (19)

Not even green
Is black and white


About the poem:

When I first thought of this poem (or it was delivered to me, whatever!), I was thinking about how in a situation, rarely do people see it the same way. So, maybe I’m not so goddang right as I’d like to believe. (Uh oh, so, maybe everybody else is not so goddang wrong.)

I was also thinking about how when I was learning to paint in Ghana, I was freaking out about color mixing and matching for this elephant I was painting. My teacher and friend told me to chill out because there is never a single color in nature anyhow. So, even for a color like green, you need to use black, blue, grey, white, yellow, etc depending on the light and …stuff.

The photo of ‘green’ is from today’s hike at my favorite Samcheonpo mountain, Gaksan.

Poem: Slow to Argue

Flaming emails
Snappy hot nit-picky comments
Smoking accusations about right and wrong
Impassioned, burning tirades
Storming in
Stomping out

None of these
Can hold a candle
To sitting
(Not smoldering)
Then speaking calmly
A little
Letting the fire die down
Being slow to argue



About the poem:
Arguing is such a fun sport, but like many sports it’s often just a lot of running around. I’ve sent some flaming emails in my day, and often been surprised at the damage they have created. These days, on a good day, I am slower to argue.

I love the Rumi quote,

Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,there is a field. I’ll meet you there

Being raised Catholic, I gotta say, I never heard anything like this. And at first, I didn’t get it. But now, I agree. Focusing only on my idea of right and wrong is often too narrow. There is something deeper, and that’s where I want to be.





Is forgiveness sometimes the wrong answer?

In response to a quote about forgiveness, a friend posed this question recently,

“Forgiveness is important in right context. But indignation for injustice seems equally important. They seem to contradict each other. If we forgive injustice, it would appear accepting injustice. How to combine forgiveness together with justice is a challenge.”

This is a tricky question and getting the answer right is vital. It’s important to realize that there are two separate questions here.

First, forgiveness is simply the ability to keep a loving heart toward every person no matter what.

Forgiveness is understanding that everyone is doing their best. Forgiveness is compassion in action. It means that when you hear about someone committing a crime or doing a wrong, you decide that you are that person’s brother or sister and that you are in this together, as a team.

Forgiveness means looking past the knee-jerk reaction of “he’s bad” to considering why did he do that? Given the same upbringing and conditions, would I do the same?

I once heard a radio interview of teen murderers. Nearly all of them had murderers in their family: their fathers or mothers, and most had multiple generations of murderers as their ancestors. One had five generations of murderers.

Would I be a murderer too, had I been the fruit of five generations of murderers? Yes, I think so.

Forgiveness starts from the place of realizing that everyone is doing their best always, and standing in brotherhood, side-by-side with everyone. It is identifying anyone’s struggle as my struggle. It is owning that we are all one; we are not separate.

Indignation, on the other hand, always feels like having a sense of separateness. An, “Oh, how dare they!” reaction. But when I search, I can always find a version of their fault in my own behavior. I can always understand that the offender did their best, and made a mistake, as I have made many mistakes and continue to do so in my life.

Forgiveness is reminding ourselves that we are one. We can feel each other’s pains and struggles as if they are our own, because we are all on the same team. Your failure is mine. My struggle is yours.

Now, a separate issue is how can we act to minimize the pain and suffering of our fellow humans, protecting them from harm and standing up for their rights.

So, this second issue is what steps can we take to effectively improve the human condition. If someone commits murder, should that person be locked away forever. Is there some service they can perform that will provide some healing to others and themselves?  Can they be rehabilitated?

Those are the complex questions we need to tackle, with a focus on how to effectively  improve the human condition.

But, as you can see, forgiving the person in no way removes responsibility for the action.

Forgiving is simply not allowing hate to simmer in our own hearts. Forgiveness saves the forgiver first and foremost. And by the inspired effective actions of loving hearts, the offenders and victims can benefit.

Maya Angelou said,

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

So, in response to my friend’s question, my answer is this:

Forgiveness is always the right answer. Because forgiveness is love and understanding in your own heart, there is never any context where it can be wrong.

Working for justice, peace, and human rights is also always the right answer. Doing so with a loving heart, one can be a powerful force for good. Complex problems require patient, open-minded, open-hearted individuals. Having a loving heart, one will be open to effective solutions and be able to negotiate difficult problems with poise and tenacity.

A simple test is, “Am I being loving in my actions to all?” If not, finding a way to become more loving will make you a more powerful, effective force for good.

Still not convinced?

Perhaps the best way to study what forgiveness and punishment are all about, is to study how you treat yourself. If you can forgive your own mistakes and your own past, do you need to also punish yourself? Or are there steps you should take: phone calls to make, apologies to deliver,amends to make, or secrets to uncover. Take these steps with a loving heart. Then think again about the initial question.

Forgiving everyone and taking effective actions to improve the human condition are perfectly in sync.They are both always the right answer.

This is not a one-time deal. It’s a daily practice. Forgiveness,  as part of your daily routine, will free you to continually grow as an inspired, effective, peaceful warrior.

About the author:

Joan Gregerson writes about life and love, and how to become a powerful force for good by tuning in to inner peace. Her books are available on Kindle and Amazon.