“Letting Go...Embracing Change...”
Living the Life I Dream
Lately my life has been full. My oldest is home with all his worldly possessions after serving five years in the Marines. My middle has taken over the entire basement with his art studio. My youngest, who is wrapping up her last year of high...
Stop buying new stuff. If we really want to get a handle on the stuff we have, we have to stop adding to it. We have to commit, for a month, a week, a day, that before purchasing anything new we will make sure that 1. we don’t already have...
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~ Lao Tzu My daughter finally chose her dress for prom. A lovely black and gold number that I’m sure she’ll look stunning wearing. As she finalized the order, she realized she...
“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” – Martin Luther
Lately, I find myself faced with an endless to-do list that in spite of my best efforts just keeps growing. It’s all good stuff. First world problem kind of stuff. It’s just that there’s a lot of it and for every thing I’m able to cross off, I end up adding two or seven or ten new things. We all have busier times. I assumed that after a week or two, things would ease up. Sadly, they haven’t and weeks later this list of things I need to take care of just keeps getting bigger.
I’ve tried breaking tasks down into smaller chunks. I’ve tried scheduling tasks to a specific date and time. I’ve tried making a master to-do list. I’ve even tried delegating. While each of these strategies has it’s merit and some items were completed, many more are still left undone.
The worst part of all this is how I feel. I feel guilty that I can’t seem manage it all. I feel stressed about the magnitude of what I’m facing. I really want to schedule these appointments and run these errands and make the calls. I really want to finish my docent tour and gallery talk for the art museum and wrap up my EFT certification. I really want to join the class and paint the bookshelf and have lunch with my friend and write. No matter how hard I work, how much I do, there’s just more at the end of each day and I end up feeling like some incompetent looser.
I wasn’t surprised when the crash came. The alarm went off that morning and I just crawled back into bed. I couldn’t do it. Not that day. I stared at the bare branches outside. I contemplated the quagmire in which I found myself. I asked for guidance.
Then I got up and did some laundry. I cleaned my son’s room, hung a rack in my daughter’s closet, and fed the dogs. I sorted through items in the garage and changed the cat liter. I had tea with a friend and chatted with another online. I watched a movie and a television show. I waited for divine intervention.
Finally, it came.
And I realized that I really just needed to let it all go. The answer is not in doing more. It’s in focusing on doing more of the right things. I realized then and there that I needed to redouble my efforts with the important, if I was to have any chance at getting a grip on this crazy making to-do list.
So, I decided that instead of thinking about what I was grateful for, I would write it down. Instead of meditating once a day, I would do it twice. I committed to walking an hour instead of my normal thirty minutes and doubling my time on the yoga mat as well. I promised that every single time I felt the least bit of stress or overwhelm, I would stop and tap. I decided I’d continue to focus on family and friends. I vowed to pray for guidance and pay attention to the signs instead of going it alone.
I realized for me, the best strategy to get a grasp on the overwhelm is to dedicate myself to those practices that strengthen my connection with spirit and honor this earthly existence. A to-do list has it’s place, and I need to keep mine in it’s proper place. I need to remember and focus on what’s most important. I’m trusting if I can do that, everything else will fall into place.Read More
I was chatting with a friend recently when he mentioned that he was living on Ramen until his next paycheck. His rent had recently and unexpectedly increased when his roommate moved out. Being the generous sort and with the holidays and such, money was just a bit tight. He wasn’t complaining. He just stated it as fact and we moved on to the next bit of conversation.
Later that day as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I noticed the avocado, clementines, and pears on my counter. Someone would need to eat them in the next day or two or they’d end up in the trash. As I put items in my pantry, I wondered for the thousandth time who bought the gigantic box of saltines that sits on the top shelf. We’re mostly gluten free and the box is untouched. I thought about my friend and his Ramen and I pondered whether or not he would appreciate a bit of my bounty.
As soon as this idea pop into my mind, I immediately followed my usual pattern. Without a second of hesitation, I began to talk myself out of it. What if he thought I was being stupid? What if he didn’t like the items I shared? What if he were insulted by my humble gift? What if I made him feel bad by giving him some food to tie him over until the next paycheck arrived? What if? What if? What if?
Normally this monologue results in one of two things. I either give up the idea and do nothing, or I drag it out so long that someone else does the very thing I was contemplating doing. This time I changed the conversation in my head. I asked myself if the shoe were on the other foot, if a friend showed up on my doorstep with a few items from their pantry to tie me over until my next paycheck, how would I feel?
To be completely honest, I have an immensely difficult time accepting any largesse be it material or in the form of a kindness no matter how small. I’m frequently dumbstruck when someone does any thing nice for me to the point of feeling flabbergasted and acting stupid.
In spite of this, anytime someone spends a second thinking about me from the stranger who holds the door open to the friend who brings me cookies to the co-worker who helps me redo my garage storage system, I’m truly feel immensely grateful and completely humbled.
The number of times I’ve sat alone and waited and wished without any result that someone, anyone, would take a moment and notice that I needed something and reach out and offer it are too many to count.
I admitted that if the shoe were on the other foot and I was the one eating Ramen and my friend showed up on my doorstep with a bag of items from their pantry to share with me, I’d be a little surprised but deeply touched. Even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I’d still be happy and feel loved.
I packed a grocery bag and dropped it off. My friend? He accepted the gift in the spirit that it was given.
I’ve made what I believe to be an important decision. I’m no longer going to wait to be kind. I’m no longer going to worry about how my actions might be received. I’m no longer going to question whether or not I should give. I’m just going to do it.
At the end of the day, I only have control over how I think and feel and behave. From now on, I’m going to act on the love. When given an option, I’m going to step up instead of opting out. When in doubt, I’m choosing kindness.Read More
“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” ~ Nicole Krauss
A few days ago, I came across one of the funniest pieces of writing I’ve encountered in a long time. It was so funny that I decided I had to share it with my husband. I started reading the article aloud to him, but barely three sentences in was laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face. I composed myself. I started again. This time I was only able to read a couple of sentences before the laughter and tears stopped the words.
This cycle of reading, laughing tears, and recompose went on until I finally got to the end. My husband was clearly enjoying my hysteria much more than anything I read. As he returned to his work, he kissed me on the forehead, and noted that he needed to record my laughter, so he could listen to it anytime he wanted.
One of the ways I earn a living is as a professional organizer. Recently, a client and I had spent the better part of the morning sifting and sorting through a lot of boxes in the muggy Georgia heat. As we were wrapping up for the day, she stopped and began to express her appreciation for the work I was doing.
I, of course, threw the compliment right back at her. I reminded her that she was the one who had made all the hard decisions and had really done all the hard work. I was no more than an extra set of hands just helping out. It was then that she looked me right in the eye and simply said, “Denise, take the compliment.” So, I shut my mouth as she expressed her gratitude. I accepted the compliment.
Last Thursday, I was in Atlanta for an event with Living Walls. Each year a group of artist are carefully selected to paint large scale murals on the sides of buildings. As I stood on the corner of Edgewood and Boulevard, I had the privilege of watching a young artist floating high above me in a cherry picker intently painting details on his masterpiece.
As I watched him work, I carefully snapped a few photos, trying to capture the best aspects of his beautiful and intricate painting. I was mesmerized, but finally realized it was time to move on. I took in the painting as a whole, yet again. I scanned it for any delightful details I might have missed. Finally, I glanced up one last time at the artist. He looked down at me (it was the first time I had seen his eyes leave his work), smiled sweetly, and gave me a little wave. I smiled and waved back.
This is all to say that I find myself wanting to linger over delicious meals and take long walks with people I love and adore. I want to listen intently and really, really hear what’s being said in the space between the words. I want to hold hands and hold space, share moments, and love with my whole heart wide open. I crave community and connection, a cup of hot tea, and hugs. I want to roll up my sleeves and give every ounce of love and support I have. I want to look people in the eye and tell them how much they mean to me and how blessed I am to have them in my life. I want to laugh and cry and laugh some more…all at the same time.
I find myself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer mass of it all and I’m tired. I’m very, very tired, and I’m scared.
In the end, only love is real.
So, I’m letting go of all that is not kind, that is not compassionate, and that is not loving. I’m not going to worry about crossing things off the list or rushing towards the end. Instead, I’m putting my plans, my projects, my programs on ice. I’m embracing generosity, reverence, respect, and empathy not only for others but for myself as well. I’m closing my eyes and breathing deep. I’m reaching out to hold hands and hearts. I’m just going to laugh until I cry and cry until I laugh again.
Because, in the end, only love is real.
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Over the past eighteen years, my hair has been every color from a too dark brown to a light, light blonde. I’ve had highlights and lowlights and washes and tints. I turned my hair green once and a lovely shade of apricot on two separate occasions. All of this has been in an attempt to cover the gray that started poking through somewhere around my thirtieth birthday.
My grandmother’s hair was completely white by the time she was eighteen. My mother’s by the time she had me at twenty-two. I always thought their white hair was beautiful and unique. Neither of them attempted to color their hair, ever. They accepted their genetics and wore their snowy locks like a glorious crown.
In spite of this example, when I found my first white hair, panic immediately set in. I didn’t feel ready to be a white-haired lady and I rushed off to find a solution to what I deemed a problem. I’ve been doggedly trying to cover my white hairs ever since.
At first it was easy. A trip to the salon every six to eight weeks kept my locks the dark brown of my youth. In recent years, the quest to cover the gray has become tedious to say the least. Nothing I or any stylist does effectively conceals the abundant white hair for any longer than a couple of weeks.
There have been many times, especially in the last few years, where I have considered just giving in to my gene pool. I’m tired of trying to solve this problem, tired of sitting in a salon chair, and tired of the white halo that still emerges after every attempt to hide it. I’ll let the white grow in for a month or two but, in the end, I always head back to the stylist for another hit of color.
I have several friends, who like me, started silvering at a tender age. Unlike me, they didn’t hide it. I think they’re beautiful. In addition, whenever I see a woman with snowy locks, I always do a double take. I think they are stunning. So the questions remains, why can’t I do the same. Why can’t I allow nature to take it’s course.
A few weeks ago, frustrated at this dilemma I did an image search for “white hair” and came across photo after photo of gorgeous white haired women. I drove my spouse crazy forcing him to look at the pictures while I discussed at great length whether or not I should just begin the silvering process. I politely accosted several women to discuss their beautiful heads of white hair. They were all kind enough to offer me tips to make the transition easier.
In the end, it all came down to Denise Wade. My best friend for fifteen plus years, she grew up in her mother’s salon and has built a stellar career as a stylist. She gives the best cuts (if you live anywhere near Temecula, CA you must look her up) and I knew that she would be brutally honest.
She’s not a fan of gray hair, but I pled my case, showed her some photos, and promised that I would not become frumpy. I explained that I was going for hip and fit and mature. After much contemplation, she decided that my skin color might be compatible with white locks. She decided I could give it a try.
Prior to visiting her in California, I had already allowed about three quarters of an inch of white to grow. I had also done a pre-cut to a chin length bob to get rid of the old tinted hair and to make the transition to white faster. Over the next four days Denise worked her magic. Two rounds of highlights, several rinses, and a cut later, I was not quite white but considerably lighter and shorter then I’ve been since my mid twenties.
The whole experience has been unnerving to say the least. I don’t think I look bad but I definitely look different. People who’ve just met me, have had favorable comments, and my friends are supportive. My kid’s reactions have been reserved and in a moment when I caught my poor husband off guard the man agreed that I looked like a middle-aged southern belle. Yes, he still regrets it. Bless his heart.
Everyone says it’s a process and I keep reminding myself of this every time I catch a glimpse of the stranger in the mirror that is now me. In the end, when the last remnants of brown and blond are ancient history, when my hair has grown into the style I want, and when Denise Wade gives her final approval, then and only then will I decide if I like this silvering thing.
If at any point I tire of the process, I can always haul my self into the salon for a color fix. In the meantime, I’m just going to keep leaning in and embracing the change. Thank goodness silvering is a choice.
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