“Letting Go...Embracing Change...”
Living the Life I Dream
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent Van Gogh I have friends, many friends to be precise, who annually choose a word to use as a touchstone or a reminder of how they want to live for the year. Over the...
I recently had the pleasure of being in Miami for nine days to experience for the second time what is known as Art Basel Week. Galleries from all over the world descend on this tropical paradise bringing with them the best works of art they...
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...
“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 would need new shoes. She has a pair of strappy, silver heels, but they would clash with her dress.
It occurred to me that I might have exactly what she needed. Excitedly, I hurried to my closet and pulled two plastic shoe boxes down from the top shelf. Each box held one pair of shoes. These were my fancy shoes. Since we wear the same shoe size, one or the other should be perfect.
As she tried on the beautiful, beaded sandals, I had to agree, they would clash with her gown. She dubbed the black pointy-toed pumps “ugly,” She was right. They were ugly and not in the style of the minute.
Shoe shopping trip planned, I placed my fancy shoes back in their plastic boxes and tucked them neatly on the top shelf of my closet. Over the next few days, even though they were out of site, I couldn’t keep them out of mind. I questioned myself as to why I was holding onto these two pairs of shoes.
I couldn’t honestly remember the last time I had worn either pair, and even after careful thought, I had no idea where I had bought them or how long I had owned them. I tried on both pairs again and teetered around the house to my husband’s amusement. Neither pair was the least bit comfortable.
Since they were in good repair and I have the space to store them, I argued (with myself) that I should hold onto them just in case something comes up. Every girl needs a pair or two of fancy shoes, right? Finally, I had to admit that in reality if something did come up, I would probably go out and just buy a new pair of shoes.
I’m a professional organizer, and while I’m sentimental, I’ve never even come close to being a hoarder. I throw things that are damaged or stained in the trash. I happily give away items that others can use. I’m on a first name basis with the employees at my favorite donation center. I encourage my clients to do the same.
In the past six months, I’ve redone every closet in my house, my pantry, and the garage carefully scrutinizing every item in each of these places. Tools, hardware, linens, kitchen ware, clothes, pictures, and decor were sorted through and those items we no longer needed were donated, sold, or trashed.
So, as I contemplated my fancy shoes, the ones that made the cut just a few months before, I had to ask myself why I held onto them. Even though they were in perfect shape and even though I had space, there really was no reason.
Then, it occurred to me that if I let them go, I would have extra space in my closet. An entire eight inches of emptiness. Excited, I racked my brain trying to think of what I could put there in place of the shoes, but nothing came to mind.
I realized that I would have to leave the space empty and that is when a deep, deep discomfort swept over my entire body and a knot slowly began to form in my stomach.
I know that in order to bring new, better, and right into your life you have to let go of old, lessor, and wrong. My mantra for the past five years has been “letting go…embracing change.” Yet, here I was with a death grip on two pairs of fancy shoes terrified of the eight measly inches of empty space on the top shelf of my closet that I couldn’t/wouldn’t be able to immediately fill.
I breathed deep. I settled into the discomfort. I stayed with it until it passed.
The next day, I tried on each pair of shoes one last time to confirm that they were indeed uncomfortable and out of date. Then I walked them to the dining room table and placed them there to donate.
I wondered what other things I had overlooked in my recent purge. As I poked through closets and cupboards, more and more items were added. The nearly new red shoes that I promise are filled with invisible razors and make me cry in pain at the very thought of even putting them on for one second, the plastic cup from the car dealership that nobody in my family will ever use, and several pillow cases, their mates lost long ago.
As I pulled each unneeded item, I made an empty space, and each time I felt the discomfort rise in my body, I breathed through it.
I keep going because I know that it is only in the empty space, in the quiet silent moments, in the free fall that begins the minute we let go of old things, old feelings, old thoughts, and old ideas that change can happen.
I’m making space and holding the emptiness sacred and waiting patiently for the change.
– Want to join in? We’d love to have you. Use #making_space and post photos of what you’re letting go of. If you want to see what else I get rid of, please feel free to follow me on Instagram or Facebook. If you’d like to receive updates in your inbox, you can subscribe using the box on your right. –
“All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe.” – Louise Hay
Yesterday, I woke up early and I sat in the pre-dawn hours, cup of turmeric tea close at hand, working on my May calendar. This monthly calendar ritual has become a favorite of mine. Frustrated with the limitations of every “time-keeping organizations” system on the market, I eschewed them all and created my own.
It’s a time consuming task, but I love it. Using a Moleskin, I carefully write each day and date on the top of each right hand page. Then on the top left side of every single page I write a daily affirmation. Finally, I fill in appointments I’ve already confirmed for the month leaving a space to list my accomplishments for that day.
I also have a monthly calendar pages for appointments and to help with long range planing. I tuck both into a leather portfolio given to me many years ago by a mentor. The the smell of the leather, the sound of the pen scratching out the details of my life, and the turning of each page filled with promise for the future centers me.
The night before my husband and I had a long talk. He has lovingly supported and encouraged me to find my path. I’ve been searching for my direction, but after several false starts (via career paths that were not good fits for me), it would be fair to say I’m a bit cautious. I don’t want to end up investing time and energy into something else that in the end does not ring true.
So for the past few years, I’ve treaded lightly. I’ve looked, listened, and contemplated. I’d like to be able to say that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt where I’ll end up, but I can’t. Not, yet. But things are getting clearer. I’m beginning to own my truth.
In addition, we’ve been able to set things up at home so that I can guiltlessly take more time to delve into these interests I’m pursuing. My responsibility gene is large. It’s difficult for me to pull away from that which I think I need to do and focus on that which I was put here to do. My husband was adament, “if not now, then when?”
I knew he was right.
So, I gave myself permission to lean in a bit. I decided I would take the time and invest. I made appointments with myself to learn and explore. It was scary but exhilarating, and as I finished planning out the month it felt right…very, very, right.
Literally at the moment I closed my May Moleskin feeling braver and more convicted then I ever had, my phone rang. It was my husband. One of key pieces we had in place allowing me to guiltlessly take more time to delve into these interests I’m pursuing had fallen away.
I tried to stay in gratitude, but I was livid. At the exact moment that I leaned in, the bottom fell out. I spent a most of the day racking my mind for a back-up plan, that is when I wasn’t fighting back tears or ranting about the unfairness of it all.
It was not some of my finest moments.
I capped the day with a bit of bad TV, then crawled into bed exhausted. I woke up this morning still angry. Normally I meditate first. Today, I checked my email and popped onto Facebook for a few minutes to make sure everyone was safe and sound.
Then I meditated.
I could hear my dogs, who are always close, breathing gently. I could feel the warmth of their bodies. I allowed all the thoughts, all the feelings, all the hurt and anger and confusion to drain from my body and as I sat, empty, I realized that key piece in place or not, nothing had really changed.
There’s always going to be a bump or a wrinkle to work around. Life is in flux. Life is always in flux. Always.
I just have to stay my course. I have to stay in gratitude. I have to accept what is. I have to keep moving forward in spite of the fear…that’s called brave.
So, that’s the plan. Whether the bottom is there or not, it doesn’t matter. The details always work themselves out. I’m staying focused. I’m moving forward.Read More
“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