Stick with Your Soul Food
One of my wisest friends sent me this quote years ago. I don’t know what prompted it and, truthfully, I just had to Google “in letting go we…” before this showed back up into my life. It wasn’t the quote I was looking for, but it’s better.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
I’ve kept journals since I was 8 years old. Before then (and starting again in high school), I would communicate difficult conversations through letters. I was the kid who would wander out to the fern patches in the woods behind her house and spend hours writing poetry and songs. And I would sing them, poorly. I can still remember being on an AirFrance flight, bragging to the pages before me that I could count to 100 in French. Prior to an anxiety-provoking trip to Southeast Asia, I drank too much and scribbled out my will on an instruction booklet I never read. I bequeathed my journals to my dear friend Amy, a published author, and requested she use my journals to write my life story (all 25 unremarkable years of it). During my bridal shower we played a game that asked my friends and family to guess what my most prized possessions were. Almost everyone guessed my engagement ring. I wrote “my pictures and journals”. Gorgeous and special as my ring is (thanks to my best friend and husband!) it didn’t even cross my mind. To say writing is a big part of my life might be the understatement of the century.
So one can imagine that my ill-advised decision to delete this blog in its entirety would eventually haunt me.
I told myself that, in order to fully commit to building my company, I had to let go of anything not directly serving my goals. Occasionally since then, the thought of this blog no longer being a creative outlet stung a little. I got angry at myself for deleting it altogether and wondered why I felt so strongly about pushing away something that served me so well and, really, took up very little time. As I was meditating tonight- finally in some peace and quiet, surrounded by candles and a sleeping puppy- I thought, “I need to re-build it”.
I stretched, felt the comfort and excitement of my decision, sighed heavily and opened my laptop to begin again. I knew I had a few pieces saved and I could re-upload and re-build from there. Out of curiosity I visited www.thelifestylejunkie.org and saw an “under construction” sign. Could I still own the domain name? I signed into Squarespace with a few different emails (I have about 20 domain names for various reasons that don’t matter) and, to my surprise, I did. Glad I didn’t have to conjure up the brain cells to think of another domain name, I signed in to Squarespace. Another surprise. I had merely taken the site offline so I wouldn’t be billed. The entire blog was there waiting for me, like a smiling friend you finally visit after years apart.
That sounds dramatic, though I assure you, that was the feeling. My articles. My thoughts. My experiences. I began to feel like I had to thank her (the blog, naturally), out loud, for sticking with me, knowing I’d be back after foolishly abandoning her for what I thought were more productive pastures. I felt a sense of calm. A part of me had been recovered.
I read a few old articles and updated some “about me” items, thinking about all the changes of the last 11 months. My husband and I adopted a dog, who we unapologetically and quite obnoxiously adore. I took on partners and re-branded my company to better serve our mission and purpose, which led to more work than I ever imaged, including navigating three podcast interviews broadcasted to over 100 countries, new relationships with interesting, like-minded people and a crash course in storytelling, business, law, marketing and public speaking. I traveled to Barcelona and Prague (for fun) and spoke in Stockholm, a place I felt oddly pulled toward at the beginning of the year, with colleagues. I began volunteering with The Honor Foundation, an organization with individuals who have given me more than I could ever give in return. A book I am co-authoring began to take shape as we worked with our writers- an experience I treasure and from which I’ve learned so much. We took our first big vacation with my husband’s family to Orcas Island in the Puget Sound, spending most days doing yoga on the deck or eating fresh oysters from the bay, and most nights watching the sun set over Canada (red wine in hand). Just this week we decided to try and start a family. We traveled to Mexico with our adventurous neighbors for wine and food under the stars. I went home to take care of my father, who lives with dementia, which inexplicably inspired me to train for a half marathon in honor of his courage and drive.
As I think about letting go of the life I had planned, 1) I’m delighted to say I’m living most of the desirable pieces I DID plan, and 2) I’m still very much a work in progress for the pieces of the puzzle that aren’t quite there yet. Some days I can lightly and confidently roll with the punches to accept and enjoy what is, and it’s unbelievably calm and clear. Some days I’m pulled in directions that echo the voices or values of others, which almost always ends in the oh-so- icky “this isn’t right” feeling. And sometimes, the things I let go of find their way back to me. Later, when I more fully appreciate their weight.
A statement (mantra, I suppose) I’ve been saying to myself over the past year when I feel particularly (and maybe obsessively) attached to a certain outcome, is “Let this be easy”. As in, don’t overthink it. Don’t push or force. This comes from my old yoga teacher and dear friend who used to say, “Breathe like it’s easy”. I would always think, “Of course breathing is easy. It’s so easy that its completely involuntary"”. It took me a few weeks to realize that I hold or restrict my breath when I’m attached to a certain outcome or under stress- likely for hours at a time. I also find myself holding my breath when I’m going against what I know to be true- say, telling myself that writing is a waste of time and should take a backseat until X, Y, and Z happens. But then I let the air out. Then I suck it all back in. Then I let it out again. Like it’s easy. And everything changes.
I suppose it’s the alternative version of “let yourself live the life that awaits you” or “get out of your own way”. And I’ve realized, giving yourself permission to do so creates a special kind of affordable luxury. Like it’s easy. And sometimes, the things you let go of come back to you in their truest, most valuable form. I’m sorry blog, I’ll never leave you again ;)