The Art of Letting Go… The Ease of Letting Go… The Happiness in Letting Go
Here’s the latest from our “Baby & Beyond – What No One Else Will Tell You” columnist Natalie Magee about the lessons learned in 2013 and the lovely ease that comes from Letting Go… Hope you like her last article for 2013 as much as I do. Happy New Year! Tania
As I sit and reflect on the few days left of 2013 I cannot help but be reminded of the intention I set at the beginning of the year. Instead of making resolutions I focus on goals or intentions which, in my opinion, are much easier to maintain throughout the year than resolutions. My intention for this year was to let go, enjoy the journey, and trust in the process.
I started out the year about 7 months pregnant so I knew that 2013 would be a year in which I would have to surrender control. No longer would my days be about myself, they would come to revolve around taking care of another human life. I knew my baby would change my life, I just never knew how much of an impact it would be. As I stand on the edge about to say good-bye to 2013, now I have a clear picture of just how much I have truly had to let go.
Letting go can be cathartic in many ways. You start to lose your attachments to what you think matters, shifting your perspective to what actually does matter. The birth of my daughter Charlotte forced me to slow down. Sometimes I have to just sit on the floor and play with her for an hour to satisfy her need for my attention. When she needs to be nursed I have to take a time out and sit and nurse her, and it’s a process that can’t be rushed. I started to let go of the idea of a perfect house, a perfect body, and a perfect marriage. Not everything can get done in one day, and I now realize I have to be OK with this or else I’m out of the flow. My day no longer revolves around gym time; it’s nap time, and the only free time I truly have are the few hours to myself after everyone is asleep. I’m a night owl and a morning person now with few hours of rest in-between.
About eight months after Charlotte was born my hair started to fall out. The pregnancy hormones that once made my hair thick, shiny and soft were long gone, and my hair was coming off in clumps around the house and in the shower drain. My hairdresser told me it was time to cut it off even though I was holding on to a sad thin ponytail of hair. Once she started cutting I told her to keep going. I wasn’t afraid because it was just hair, and hair can grow back. Why hold on to something that was no longer serving me? So I let it go and I walked out of the salon with a new short cut that looked intentional instead of a mess.
After the hair came one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make all year. It was a decision I meditated on and thought about and talked over many times. The answer became clear after a yoga class one day, and the realization that I once again needed to let go of something that was truly only a thing. We needed to sell our house.
Of course, our house is more than a house. It is our first home, and the home of our first born child. We bought it four years ago after getting married, and it is a house I thought we’d spend the rest of our lives in. Yet, all of our problems could be traced back to the house. The universe was telling us to sell, but I wouldn’t listen. I couldn’t listen. It wasn’t until my husband accidentally fell down the steps holding our baby that I started to pay attention to the signs. Our house was eating up all our income and, with daycare expenses, it just wasn’t practical anymore. Once I made the intention to listen to the universe and let go, it became very freeing. The thought of moving and starting over and buying a new house is as terrifying as it is exciting. Once we sell our house we will be free to travel, to do more with friends, to enjoy our lives and not be stressed about financial issues. Maybe you have something like this holding you back in your own life, and you aren’t taking the time to see that by letting go you are allowing yourself a greater freedom than holding on.
The things I have let go of are only things – a house, hours spent at the gym or working, and my hair. They can all be replaced with better versions or something more productive. What I cannot replace is the loss of friends and family I have experienced this year. Some friends I lost due to having a child and no longer having space in my life for them. They are friends who are now on a different path than I, and so we no longer see each other. These are painful losses but not as much as the ones I lost to cancer, suicide, and a car wreck. Those friends and family members can never be replaced. Four lives that were each special to me in their own way and all devastating. That is the consequence of loving and caring about someone that death can take away from you. In this case, the art of letting go doesn’t mean forgetting it simply means you come to terms with acceptance. Acceptance is the only way we can ever truly learn to let go.
Here we are now ready to let go of 2013. Saying good-bye to a year, accepting it for what it was, and all the memories it held. 2013 may be a year in sum but it was made up of moments both everyday and extraordinary. When you reflect on the year, don’t forget about the in-between moments. The conversations you had, the decisions you made, the sunsets you watched and the oceans and lakes your feet touched. Accept your losses and your heartaches and the struggles you had. Each impacted your life in one way or another and once you learn acceptance you can learn to let go.
Once you learn to let go you give the universe an opportunity to fill the void. The universe can’t give you what you need if you’re holding space for something unnecessary to your growth. While I know the loss of friends and family can’t ever be physically replaced, the void in my heart can be filled with love, once I let go of the anger, the regret and the hurt that comes.
Our attachments in life bring us great joy, but the other truth is the more we love something or someone the more sorrow it brings when we experience loss.
Setting my intention for the year to come, I want 2014 to be about making space for what is to come. I want to free up space in my heart reserved for sadness or hate to let more love in. I want to let go of the friends I thought meant something for the friendships that mean everything. I want to sell my house and detach my roots so I can have wings to fly.
I hope whatever intention you set for yourself for the New Year you come to acceptance so you can let go of the old year. Treasure what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t. Know that while loss is never easy, each time you surrender you’ll find a flow within the universe and a purpose to your own journey. Trust that what is ahead is greater than what you leave behind. Know that YOU hold the memories associated with people and things in YOUR own heart and in the end that’s something no loss can ever truly take away.
“I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go. But what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye” – Life of Pi
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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.