Letting Go. Learning to let go of what you don't want to make room for more of what you do want in your life.
I've no place to escape; I'm surrounded; there's at least a dozen of them, big boxes marked "this side up" - their ugly brown mouths gaping open - ready to eat up my past. Pressure on my chest, my throat constricts, and I swallow back tears.
Was I really ready to let go and leave this life behind to create a new life designed by me, rather than what I’d been taught my whole life?
When you see my photographs; a smiling face, traveling in a beautiful place, eating on the waterfront, overlooking a sunset with the love of my life; you may not be aware of all the things I let go of in order to make space to create my new life.
I had to be willing to let go of deeply held beliefs I’d received since birth. I needed to let go of some relationships and expectations (mine and others) that were exhausting my life away. I also needed to let go of the physical stuff cluttering my life, using up valuable energy, space, and time with very little return.
As I started clearing out, I didn’t let go of everything all at once. Some things were more easily let go than others. Some things, I quickly removed from my life. Other things took time and deep consideration. The things that held deep meaning for me or inspired me, I kept or packed to be carried with me in my new way of life.
Letting Go as a Practice
Letting go wasn’t a once-off and it’s all done affair. It became a practice, opening up space for continual growth and renewal. Like the way trees let go of their leaves in Autumn. A tree doesn't let go of her leaves just once or twice in a lifetime. A tree lets go every year to preserve itself through Winter and make way for new growth in Spring. Just the same, the practice of letting go is ever present when living an inspired life. Though letting go can be difficult at first because of attachments and the false sense of security they give you, you’ll find rest and rejuvenation in letting go. Then you'll feel the magic as you make room in your life to discover new talents, new ideas, new friends, and new curiosities without being attached or trapped by the idea that there is only one way and the permanency that comes with it.
What do you want to make room for?
Imagine something wonderful you’ve wanted to do for a long time. What would you do if you had more energy, time, or space?
An exciting new project; is there a cause you’ve been wanting to get more involved in, or would you create something new?
Take your pen, dream in detail, and write it out. What is it for you?
Would you make a special creative space to paint? Learn photography? Write your memoir? Make a film? Learn to sing? Travel to France, or Rome, or Iceland? Study the history of your own town? Become a math whiz? Start a club? Would you read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf forever? Is furniture making something you’d like to try your hand at? Do you want to start a blog about stargazing or cooking, or gardening, or tools? Maybe you’d love to start a charity to help abandoned animals? Volunteer?
Write out your fantasy project. Have fun, use all your senses, and dream.
Now that you’ve had fun dreaming, answer the following questions …
- When you think of letting go, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
- What things are you doing that take up your time but don’t offer anything in return?
- What physical things are creating unnecessary clutter in your life?
- What beliefs do you want to let go of in order for your dream to become a reality?
- What stories from the past are you playing on repeat that no longer serve you?
- What expectations of yourself (and from others) are exhausting you or holding you back from doing something you'd love to do?
- What toxic relationships are you nurturing that cause you anxiety and stress?
- Are you willing to take steps to let go?
It all begins with a decision (and that’s not easy) ...
It wasn’t easy for me to let go. That top photograph I snapped is a very real reflection of my feelings at the time. As I cleared away old beliefs and packed up physical boxes, I shed tears during the transition. But I was willing and at peace with my decision because I knew why I was doing it. I didn’t want to live 65 years of my life doing what everyone else expected me to do, only to discover in later life what I really wanted. I’d watched many others before me act out the same monotonous routine - week-in, week-out, right on schedule, with little time left for spontaneity, spirituality, connection, exploring the world, learning about other people’s way of life, or even realizing their own desires and creative talents.
No, that wouldn’t do.
I wanted to craft a beautiful life – a life of purpose and connection to the Divine, to nature, and to our fellow human beings. A life that delighted my physical senses and satisfied my spiritual inclinations.
And so, I made the decision. I said, “Yes, I’m ready to let go.” And I took the first step.
More on that later ...