Like most days, I woke this morning thinking about my characters. About their trials, victories, and missteps, and the best course to help them get what they want at the end of their story journey. Blame it on the holidays or the heightened awareness that another year is rapidly coming to an end, but hours before sunrise, when my creative energy is at it’s strongest, all I could think about was forgiveness. The more I thought about the notion, the more my mindset made perfect sense, since in real life, just like in stories, we expect to mess up, grow, and shift as a result of our experiences. In great books, characters evolve and are forever changed by the challenges written for them. But no hero I’m aware of has ever experienced transformation without making mistakes, learning to let go, and understanding that in order to move forward, he/she must forgive. Oddly enough, a journey that parallels real life. In the last month of 2016, during a time of year that is almost guaranteed to shine a light on old wounds, the unsaid, and things that were, might have been, or circumstances we wish were different, consider taking a page from a hero’s journey and forgive.

Forgive yourself, forgive others, including that person who has done you a great wrong, and as a result caused you monumental pain.

If you’ve been the perpetrator of that great wrong and have done something really awful to someone else, remove that cloud smothering your heart by making amends, and going forward, commit to never make that mistake again. If you’ve been on the receiving end of a great wrong, find a place to heal. Join a support group, enlist a counselor, a pastor, rabbi, friend, family member, or even a shaman. Once you are through the darkness and have moved into understanding, you might realize that we are all imperfect, all have done hurtful things, knowingly or unknowingly to other people. Instead of remaining stuck in anger, guilt, and pain use your, and other’s missteps as opportunities to shift and grow. Open your mind and your heart to understand that we are all flawed, but the way we handle our shortcomings is the difference between feeling rage, guilt, sadness, misery, and self-loathing, or enjoying peace, love, joy, giddiness, and abundance. Forgiveness is available to all of us, regardless of what we have done, or what has been done to us. Fortunately, this gift resides innately in every human heart.

Make this holiday season the turning point in your story. Let go, actively forgive, and allow yourself to be forgiven. After all, who hasn’t hurt someone in a moment of pain because of lack of self-awareness, courage, or information? Logic stands that if we’ve hurt someone else, then why can’t we forgive another who has acted in the same way toward us; acted as we have in a similar situation. Remember, the only person we punish by not forgiving, is ourselves.

Don’t wait, do it now, since in a wink of St. Nick’s eye, the 2016 journey will end and a new adventure in 2017 will begin.  Stay focused on the stories you love, the characters you cheer for, the ones who struggle, but in the end, the ones that have the courage to let go of what has been and walk forward into what can be. The heroes who are working towards being the best versions of themselves. Be that hero, the one you admire so much.

Go on, what do you have to lose? Take active steps to make this the best holiday season on the books. As far as the upcoming year? Well, find it in your heart to forgive and make 2017 the best experience of your life.

E.L. Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Makers/Coming soon: The Surge

Anger, guilt, resentment, pain, be gone; Making room so the good stuff can move in.

aka The Glamorous Wife

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