Forgiveness; A New Beginning

Forgiveness is something we all like to think we can easily practice, yet many times struggle with in the course of our lives. No matter how trivial or astronomical of a problem, we tend to hold onto our judgements, anger and even hatred.

Why is that, when most of us think of ourselves as loving and easy going individuals?

We have a hard time with forgiveness because our mind gets in the way. The hypothalamus, an ancient part of our brain that’s programmed for survival kicks in when it feels it’s being attacked. It doesn’t know the difference between a physical attack or mental attack. All it knows is “this is wrong” and it will do everything to stop it. They hypothalamus is not programmed for us to be happy, at peace or thrive. It’s meant to help us survive. That’s it!

Forgiveness comes from below the brain, the heart. When we turn off the part of our mind that over analyzes why we are right, or plans an attack, or finds more reasons to feel sorry for ourselves we have a chance to experience

Forgiveness takes an understanding that we forgive, not by condoning one’s actions, but by letting go of the pain, the past, the story attached to it. We forgive so we can move on. Without forgiveness there is no way we truly let go of the event, and in essence we relive the pain over and over again, through our anger, justification and hurt. Through forgiveness we can finally move on from the pain that brought us there. We are freed. In essence we forgive for us, not for the person that committed the “wrong doing.” We can only be freed from forgiveness if we truly forgive, rather than simply saying “ I forgive you.” and hope the pain will go away. Many of us go through the motions but don’t have any heart in
what we’re doing. The magic only happens when we truly let go.

Letting go comes from an understanding that no matter how painful of a situation, no matter how wrong it seems the person who acted “unjustly” was acting from a place where he or she was trying to meet a critical need of his or hers and had no knowledge of how to accomplish this in any other way. Perhaps that was the only way they knew how to get the job done.

You see, everything we do, every action we take is to meet one of our basic human needs. The higher the need is to us the stronger our actions will be to fulfill them. Another way to let go and come to forgiveness is to see yourself in this person, and similar actions you might’ve done. Everything and everyone in our life is a mirror. We can’t see something in someone if it’s not true in ourselves. This is true with constructive and destructive behavior as well. Perhaps we haven’t committed the behavior in the extremity you experienced, but if it’s in our lives, if we see it in others than we have it to.

For example, take a child who’s being abused by her parent. Chances are she doesn’t go around beating her parent back, but she might go to school and bully a classmate or act out in class. She has similar behavior to her parent.

Esther On Pikes Peak

Eva Mozes Kor, an Auschwitz survivor, one who was subject to Dr. Mengela’s inhumane experiments was one of the first known woman to openly forgive her persecutors. She explained there’s no other way to live than to forgive. Holding onto anger and judgement poisons the body and weakens the soul. She never condoned they’re actions and even went onto building a holocaust museum. She taught, in the most eloquent, harmonious way what the power of forgiveness can do.

Immaculée Ilibagiza, a Ruwandan holocaust survivor wrote a book entitled Left To Tell where she talks about the horrors of the holocaust and how she came to forgive the killers of her family and village. She explained that by not forgiving she was no different than the killers of her family. A devout catholic, she turned to her prayers for answers and in it she realized the only way toward God and peace was through forgiveness.

I too had a chance to practice forgiveness in my life. Although not as dramatic, I had a hard time forgiving my father, who almost killed me several times in my life and later my abusive husband. I was able to forgive them by coming to an understanding that everyone that comes into our lives, no matter how briefly, as an angel and is there to help us with something; whether it’s to understand a difficult concept or to experience something our soul perhaps wanted to experience. The more I realized this, the easier the process was for me to forgive.

Esther Dance Pic

With the New Year just behind us, there is still a lot of built up anger, fear and grief over family conflicts, the stress of debt accumulation and the anxiety of finding a way to make this year better than the last. It’s an end but also a new beginning and with that an opportunity to let go of some long built up anger and pain.

I have a saying.

“To Every End Despite How Tragic Is The Light To A Beautiful Beginning”

I think of 9/11 as a great example of how the country, even the world seemed to come together. The tragedy was monumental, but seeing the kindness of strangers from around the world come to together with support made me focus on that, rather than the horror of that day. It was in this way I was able to let go of my anger and fear from terrorist acts by changing my focus. If we can forgive and let go of anger from the most vicious killers than perhaps we can begin to forgive our family, friends, clients and partners.


A great exercise in bringing forgiveness closer to you is to write a letter to the person. You don’t ever have to send it, but write down all your thoughts, all your hurt and then begin to write why you’re forgiving this person, how he or she is your angel and why you are thankful for the situation.

In closing forgiveness is a process. For most of us it doesn’t happen overnight and that’s ok. But if you really want to forgive by finding the blessings, the angel behind the demon and theunderstanding you are ready to be freed of the story, the easier and quicker forgiveness will happen.

Parents Worst Nightmare Turned Into Purpose

One of my goals is how can you take something most would look at as terrible, horrific, a tragedy and turn it into terrific, life changing, inspirational? My goal is to share how you can do it with anything, no matter how insane it looks, how impossible. Let me share with you what is deemed as a parent’s worst nightmare and how I turned it into my life’s purpose.

I recently came across two women who left the orthodox Jewish way of life, as well as abusive husbands and were alienated from their children. In both cases the community ganged up against them, making it near to impossible to get them back. Parent alienation happens to both fathers and mothers. The effects are equally damaging for the parent and children, but there seems to be a weird trend linking alienation from a mother using religion as a tool.

One of the two women, now an actress and model was recently on Dr. Phil, calling the Jewish religion a cult, while the other is an author, who published her very sought after book Unorthodox. She was fortunate to eventually getting her two year old son back. The age of the child plays a key role in the alienation process. The younger the child, the faster the process, but the less damage is done, therefore making it easier to retain custody of the child. The older the children the more time it takes, but the deeper the mark, therefore making it much more difficult to reclaim the children into their mother’s lives. I have met many others in passing who left the ultra orthodox way of life, losing their money, identity and children in the midst. There seems to be a pattern where if a woman in an ultra religious setting chooses to end the marriage, she is ostracized from the community and shunned from her children.

Because I came from an ultra Orthodox Jewish background myself, I was particularly interested in these stories and what the women took from it. I too was alienated by my children from my husband and his new community who were very much part of the process.

This scenario happens in every major religious organization. Women have fewer rights then men, are usually owned or subservient to the man’s wishes and when they try to make changes to their lives, take more control of their destiny, their husband, if abusive will continue his abuse in the form of alienation. This fear alone tends to keep many women stuck in a unhealthy pattern. Many develop severe depression even before the process happens. They feel imprisoned to their circumstance. They don’t see a way out.

For many years I felt chained as well. I felt damned if I left and damned if I didn’t. As long as I was in the marriage I would be with my kids. I didn’t really believe I would lose my children, but there was always something, a feeling, an intuition, a gnawing fear that a part of me would die.

It didn’t happen right away. My kids were older. We were all non observant Jews at the end of the marriage. In order to use the religion as a tool they had to be probed and taught to join the religion again. As soon as we began the separation process the alienation began. One by one my kids joined the ultra religious way of life, starting with my oldest, until finally reaching my youngest 3 years later. Almost as soon as they became religious they changed the way they interacted with me. They stopped communicating with me, found every excuse to stay away from my house, even when it was my week with them. They stopped eating the food in my house, claiming it wasn’t kosher, even though I kept a kosher home since I was born. I had no way of mothering them. Every attempt to connect, love or even discipline was met with hatred. They eventually shared how they wanted to just live with their dad.

After fighting with my ex, trying to convince my children how they need me, asking for advice from countless “experts” and answering countless motions my former husband brought against me I finally realized what needed to be done.

I gave my children what they wanted, one home with their dad, one way of life and true peace. I understood the power of surrender and acceptance. I knew that by me giving them what they clearly wanted everyone would be happier, including me. I knew I wasn’t abandoning them. I was loving them completely, as well as teaching them what self love is, putting a stop to the abuse going on in my house. I understood they were taught to hate me, but with me continuing the fighting it brought strain, pain and more hate rather than peace. The motions left penniless and I felt no control over my life and children. I knew for now this was the only way.

I looked at my situation as a new beginning. I knew if I reclaimed my life and worked on me, when or if my children wanted a relationship with me again I’d be in a secure financial situation to help them. I knew if I allowed myself to heal and constantly remained committed to loving my children and making sure they knew that, that perhaps one day they would know the truth and want more of a relationship with me. I began to trust, become really present and focus on how I can turn this into something good. There were months and months of agony, screaming, sheer pain from being away from my children, but I also knew, just as you heal from a broken bone it hurts, so too does healing a broken heart.

As soon as my children and I separated the relationship I had with most of my children began to heal.
The three youngest and I began skyping immediately. Every time we talk, even now all we experience is love. They are happier in their religious way of life for now and by me accepting them fully I show them the power of true love.

I now travel the country sharing my book Breaking The Chains To Freedom, and share my story of how I broke out of my own chains, how I took my pain and turned it into my purpose. I became a national speaker and life coach. My pain, which turned into purpose has helped many others heal from their pain.

When i recently visiting a domestic abuse shelter in NJ and shared with them my story of healing one of the women asked what the situation with my children are. When I explained to them they are still with their father and why. She looked at me and said,

“Perhaps your children are with their dad so you can do the work you’re doing. We need to hear your words of hope and inspiration.”

This was something I knew, but how wonderful to hear it from a stranger.

So how can one heal, move on and turn pain in purpose? It’s simple but one of the hardest things to do. If you simply change your perception and begin to look at all the possibilities rather than what you are missing, those possibilities turn into your purpose, your passion and your mission. Your pain can turn into you changing yourself, your community and even the world.

The other thing to always remember is

The Only Constant In Life Is Change!

My children in a day, a week, a year can call me up and tell me they want to stay with me now. They might or might not, but the important thing to remember is my constant love for them and acceptance to the present will not just help my own family but everyone I touch. It’s our perception that causes our suffering, never the event.

Lonely Valentine

Valentine is a funny day. Don’t you think? It produces so many different emotions; ecstasy when you’re in love, anger or relief when you’ve ended a relationship, sadness and depression when you’re recovering from a break up and sometimes peace when you’re alone. The key to these emotions is how you deal with being alone.

When I first got divorced I was officially alone for the first time in my life. I didn’t realize how scary that was for me. I was unsure if I should throw a party and celebrate or cry from the emptiness I felt. Interestingly enough I had felt alone during my childhood and my whole marriage. I was surrounded by people but felt alone. As I later evolved I pondered that idea. How can one feel so alone surrounded by people and others experience no loneliness when there’s no one else around? I realized that the feeling of loneliness comes from within. As human beings we all need human contact and human connection, but some of us don’t seem to need as much. Does it come from self confidence, security or is it simply a characteristic? From what I’ve learned and experienced I believe it’s a bit of all of the above. Self confidence and security plays a role in how we feel and act around others and when we’re by ourselves. When healing from a divorce many of us experience a drop in our self esteem. This can cause us to act from grief, pain and desperation. We might be acting extremely friendly and warm but the energy that encompasses us is pain and grief. People feel that and we might not realize how our behavior can push people away. I was always flabbergasted with how many people seemed to like me, but very few seemed to want hang out with me. This left me feeling extraordinarily lonely. It wasn’t until I began to reflect on my own behavior that I was able to shift this phenomenon. I realized I was scared of being alone and until I learned to be ok with this the feeling of connection would continue to elude me.

I began to create special “Esther Time” events, whether it was taking myself out to see a play, going to a nice restaurant, taking a hot bath and listening to some music or simply giving myself the attention and love I deserved. When I opened myself up to being ok with being alone I inevitably always met someone amazing who either became a good friend or simply created an entertaining experience. The key to shifting from loneliness to peace in your alone time is enveloping yourself with what you need and want, without searching for it outside of yourself. When you enjoy yourself, just being with yourself and treat yourself how you want to be treated people will show up and help you along the way. It might not show up immediately the way you’d expect but if you keep enjoying yourself, letting go of needing it from the outside that energy alone will surround you with the connection we all want and thrive by.