A Little Background

Getting married in 2013 put me through the ringer.

Let me be clear: everything about the man I married and our commitment to one another is totally dreamy. I’m really lucky in that regard.

Derek and I on our wedding day in 2013.

But planning a wedding and the logistics of starting our lives together just about did me in. There have been a lot of misunderstandings, arguments, and hurt feelings along the way. The life-altering events of that year made for an interesting 2014.

I wasn’t the same woman on the other side of it all. And, as a result, I went through a pretty rockin’ identity crisis. The next year brought a lot of soul searching; I’m only just now starting to fully understand.

One of the discoveries I made throughout that journey was the power of forgiveness. I’d heard people talk about “forgiveness” a lot but never quite grasped it fully. Now, baby, I’m becoming a master of forgiving.

Let’s dig a little deeper together, eh?

Why focus on forgiveness?

Simply put, forgiveness equals freedom.

During wedding planning, in particular, I felt weighed down by decisions I’ve regretted, mistakes I’ve made, and people / experiences that have caused me pain. Oh, boy, do I wanna be free of some of the things that’ve happened in my life. (There’s something about a big, life-altering thing like a wedding that’ll make you look back on your years.)

So, in 2014, the first purposeful forgiveness exercises I did were about things that happened a long time ago. They seemed easier since time tends to heal wounds. I made a long list of the junk I’d been carrying around with me. Afterwards, I went through each thing on the list and offered forgiveness.

The practice is a variation of Ho’oponopono, an ancient Hawaiian practice. It’s something that I picked up in the Get Rich, Lucky Bitch Bootcamp. (I’ve shared a bit about that with you here: camdenwatts.com/free-resources. But you could try out any version of forgiveness that makes you feel comfortable.)

Denise Duffield-Thomas runs the Get Rich, Lucky Bitch Bootcamp. A big part of the program is forgiveness exercises.

Confession: the first exercise didn’t feel that monumental. So, I tried it again later with things that felt raw. And, ooooooh boy, did the emotions start flowing. I honestly can’t recall what was on that list but I did some serious releasing that day.

Later on, I noticed that I felt lighter, happier, and healthier.

That feeling of freedom fed my curiosity.

What if I dug a little deeper? What would happen if I kept forgiving the memories, mistakes, and people I could think of each time? Wow, how good would that feel to be free enough to move forward, without the weight of those things holding me back?

In the three years since I started these exercises, I’ve done a lot of forgiving. Most of it’s about me and what’s happened in my life. I’ve never expected others to apologize for the things they’ve done to hurt me. It’s not about them. Forgiveness is about my life and what I want on a daily basis: joy, peace, and hope.

On the Other Side

Now that three years have passed since I started these forgiveness exercises, I’ve found so much freedom.

I don’t carry all the pains of the past with me. I don’t stress, worry, or jump to conclusions as often as I once did. I don’t fret about what could go wrong.

Instead, I’m living in the space where anything is possible. I’m giving myself permission to think big. (Like, really big!) I’m looking for like-minded people that also want to experience joy, peace, and hope on a daily basis.

That energy is what I want to bring to my personal and professional worlds. I want to see possibilities everywhere.

Shannon Johnstone, the photographer featured in my new documentary Good Thing, stops to take a photo of a dog.

It’s really lovely.

There’s so much more ease in my life, where stress and worry once used to reside. I’m so grateful. It has been really interesting to see how this shift in my world / mentality has shifted some relationships, too.

Why share this with you?

I feel like the world is more than a little chaotic right now.

It’s easy to read or watch the news and get completely bent out of shape about what’s happening in politics, our communities, and social justice (or lack thereof). There’s a lot to take in; it can be overwhelming.

But we’re not helpless.

We have the power to bravely seek peace, love, and joy on a daily basis by starting with ourselves. When we are happier, we can spread more joy throughout the world. We can choose to be patient and kind with one another on the highway, in line at the grocery store, and online.

When we decide to drop the weight of the past and focus on forgiveness, there’s a lot of freedom that leads to more creativity, possibility, and potential.

Last weekend, for example, I stopped and took photos of the tulips after church. It was a brief and simple moment. The light was hitting them so perfectly and they looked so pretty. But because I stopped to admire them, the guy behind me did the same. He looked so happy to discover them, and we chatted for a few moments.

Pretty, pretty tulips

A post shared by Camden Watts (@camdenwatts) on

We are not powerless creatures.

We have within us what we need to bring about positive change in this world, even if it’s a simple moment with a stranger admiring tulips in the morning light. We can heal, forgive, and feel joy if we’re ready and willing.

Forgiveness is powerful stuff.

I hope that you’ll give it a shot. And, if you do, please let me know how it worked out for you. I’ve become a little obsessed with it, and would love to hear from you in the comments.