News Coverage of the Event in 2015
The Independent Florida Alligator
Rachel Hofer always wanted to understand mental illness.
It came from a love for her community and concern for mental health awareness, a desire that pushed her to become a counselor and form Loving Therapy and Life Coaching, a Gainesville nonprofit mental health counseling service, in 2013.
“I’ve always been a really deep thinker,” she said. “My friends tell me that I’m very self-reflective and I always have been.”
Now, Hofer, 32, is pushing for statewide recognition of National Forgiveness Day, so people with disabilities and people who have been bullied can address and forgive the mental damage done.
The purpose of the day is to celebrate the power and importance of forgiveness, Hofer said.
“It doesn’t mean that you pretend that something negative didn’t happen to you, and it doesn’t mean you weren’t wronged,” Hofer said. “The focus is really on self-forgiveness here.”
“National Forgiveness Day is a big thing that can help people who have been through a lot in their lives,” said Daphnee Paul, who graduated from UF last May with a degree in family, youth and community sciences.
Paul, 24, a volunteer with Loving Therapy, said she was bullied as a child and even attacked by a group of boys. She believes people hurt themselves when they bottle up their feelings instead of forgiving those who have hurt them.
“They’re only hurting themselves by keeping it inside,” she said. “It’s good to talk to a counselor and let it out.”
Rachel Wayne stood in front of a microphone on Saturday and spoke about bullying.
She talked about her cousin who was bullied throughout high school for being gay. He had to deal with online bullying where people liked a Facebook page created for him.
“It’s impossible to forgive yourself for the mental loops that you go through in struggling with this [trauma] if you keeping having people tell you, ‘well this happened to you because you were x or y,’” Wayne said.
“You’re not the reason anybody did this to you,” she said.
Rachel Hofer, who works for Private Reflections Counseling, LLC, a company that provides mental health counseling, decided to hold the event because she said forgiveness has been incredibly powerful in her life.
“I don’t think anybody has walked through life and not been hurt at some point,” Hofer said. “We want to validate the pain but help people to let go of that so they’re not continuing to focus on that.”
At the event, guests were encouraged to participate in dancing and the open mic, where they could speak about different topics, such as mental health and forgiveness, read poetry and perform music.
While attendance was low, Hofer wasn’t discouraged, and said she plans to do it again with a bigger budget.
“Forgiveness is just a hard topic for people to come out for,” Hofer said, adding the event was worth it.
Comedian Alyson Chadwick performed a routine to bring some laughter to the event.
Chadwick said she feels the topic of forgiveness is really important.
“I mean, in comedy there seems to be — in any creative endeavor, when people get into it, there seems to be — a higher level of mental illness,” Chadwick said. “I think that we need to treat mental illness the same way we treat physical illness because it is a physical illness.”
Tannu Jiwnani, 24, who is graduating from UF in December with a master’s in information systems and operations management, attended the event after hearing about it from a friend.
Jiwnani, who had never previously heard about a forgiveness day, said she feels that it’s good people are taking initiative and talking about mental health issues, not only in women but people as a whole.
“It’s covering a large group of people,” Jiwnani said, “helping them out to live life better.”
The Gainesville Sun
“If we can’t let go of our past hurts and our wounds . . . then we’re just going to be stuck and re-traumatizing ourselves,” said Rachel Hofer, founder of Gainesville-based Loving Therapy and the event’s co-organizer.
Hofer said the event will address both personal trauma and national tragedies, like the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and others like him.
There will be an emphasis on self-forgiveness, as well.
“It’s something that everyone has experienced, and just talking about it is healing,” Hofer said.
Fourteen states, excluding Florida, have a proclamation recognizing a Forgiveness Day in October.
Hofer said she’s asked Gov. Rick Scott to make a similar proclamation, but hasn’t heard back yet.
“Whether it’s state-recognized or not, we’re celebrating it,” she said.
“I think Forgiveness Day is a great idea because, just like Valentine’s Day, it may give people just that extra push to do what they already want to and know they should- to move closer with people they love.”
Click the document above to view the petition in google docs and click in the form below for an invitation to sign this October. Pass on the Love! Share the invite to sign the petition and to the event with 3 other people!!!
“WHEREAS, both wisdom proverb and research admonish to us the need to remove anger, hurt, bitterness, and unforgiveness from our hearts by forgiving ourselves and others as essential to living healthy, happy, stress-free lives; and
WHEREAS, it is important to take time to repair, restore, rebuild, and revive damaged relationships through the power of love and joy of forgiveness and to seek peace as well as justice;
WHEREAS, volunteers and supporters from Florida and across the nation will join together throughout the month of October to celebrate National Forgiveness Month, Forgiveness Week (week leading up to the third Saturday of October), and Forgiveness Day (the third Saturday in October); and
WHEREAS, people of diverse race, sex, religion, background, and life history will be asked to practice forgiving all others, forgiving themselves, asking bitterness to be removed, and asking joy to be restored also through loving expressions in art, poetry, and appreciating diverse cultures;
WHEREAS, this observance is to create an awareness and understanding of the power of love and forgiveness in producing good health, happiness, and stress-free living in the lives of individuals in our homes, work, and worship environments; and
WHEREAS, Florida will be the 15th state to issue such proclamation;
THEREFORE, I, _____________Governor of the State of ___________, do hereby proclaim October 17, 2015, as NATIONAL FORGIVENESS DAY, and encourage citizens to forgive themselves and others on this day and throughout the year.
Why: To Celebrate National Forgiveness Day and to promote an awareness of the importance of forgiveness for our community and nation. We are also celebrating SConnection’s new Gym, Loving Therapy, Inc. gaining non-profit status, as well as many community partners.
This year we invite you to upload and share videos about what forgiveness means to you on the event page, beautiful stories of forgiveness, submit artwork and poetry on the page, and to practice the principles of forgiveness.
One Definition is: Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
It is important to note this point from Psychology Today Magazine:
“Mustering up genuine compassion for those who have wronged us, instead of allowing anger toward them to eat away at us, is the course of action recommended by most psychologists. An exception to the belief that burying the hatchet brings peace to the soul may be sexual abuse: Some victims of these crimes are empowered when given permission to not forgive.”
Forgiveness is a process. Forgiveness does not mean we do not feel badly when we do wrong, or others do wrong against us.
BE HEALTHY – BE WELLTHY – BE WISE PLAN OF ACTION
Declare the day a joyful day. Speak the truth with love. Ask good questions. Listen with understanding. Think in silence. Do not give permission for anger and hurt to take away your joy. Restore relationships by asking what you can do to make the relationship better.
Use your 7 super powers. You have the power to control attitude, honesty, communications, love, encouragement, forgiveness and being humble and admitting shortcomings. Say these 21 wonderful words as often as possible: I’m wrong. I’m sorry. Forgive me. Thank you. You’re welcome. Please. What is your opinion? I love you. Yes dear. We is the most important word. We are all made beautifully. Know that the power of love and the joy of forgiveness exists inside of you. Love to all.
Ask for forgiveness and forgive others. This may bring about a beautiful reconciliation.
Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. That is not always possible; it’s an attitude of the heart. Forgiveness means you let go of seeking out justice for the wrong done yourself with your own hands. Reconcilition has been attempted but is not an option. It means you were wronged, but forgive within your heart and wish the best for the other person. You may report to the appropriate authority, and then let it go. They may still have consequences and no longer be a part of your life but you wish them the best.
If you are a person of faith find forgiveness also through prayer.
Find peace through love. Love yourself. Love others.
Stories, Videos, Art, Poetry, Dance, Music
“Laughter is a huge part of forgiveness! It helps us to love ourselves with all of our flaws, faults, failures, quirks, and idiosyncrasies. Blaise Pascal has said, ‘The same things make us laugh and cry.’ Laughter is good medicine.”
“Art has to be a kind of confession. I don’t mean a true confession in the sense of that dreary magazine. The effort it seems to me, is: if you can examine and face your life, you can discover the terms with which you are connected to other lives, and they can discover them, too — the terms with which they are connected to other people.”
— James Baldwin, 1961
On what Baldwin says here: When we are able to look ourselves in the face and truly accept ourselves with all our faults and failures we can represent that through art. Art is a process that helps us to do this and only when we truly see ourselves and love every part can we truly see and love others and feel that connection- and vice versa. Art is a part of how we know ourselves, forgive ourselves, love ourselves and others.
Camus once said, “We all carry within us our ravages, our crimes, our places of exile.” Are there ravages you still inwardly struggle with?
Rachel Hofer, MS