What an amazing collective exhale! For those of you who are new here, this month’s Home Work was to let something go. The following submissions vary greatly and each one is an amazing testament to the power of intention.
Enjoy the weekend read!
Dripping Springs, Texas & sometimes East Austin:
My commitment and consecration:
I will let go of the thought that I must always keep my home perfectly neat and clean, and that I must prepare 3 home-cooked meals for my family each day.
My moment of consecration was when I rented a small studio space in East Austin so I could get away from the June Cleaver standards/nightmare I had created for myself.
A few thoughts that came up through the month that threatened to derail you:
Will my family become ill or suffer from obesity or premature death because I neglected to watch what they were eating and prepare healthy meals for them? Will a neighbor show up at my messy house and judge me or call the health department? Will I flip my lid because I’m so attached to the thought that I need a neat and orderly space in order to do creative work? Or can I be creative in a messy environment? (The answer to that last question is YES, much to my surprise.)
How you felt after giving a full month’s intention to the letting go:
I felt so empowered and proud of myself. I let go of things that were VERY hard for me to let go — chores, housework, cooking and laundry. (I don’t love these things, but I’ve always thought I couldn’t live in a messy or cluttered home without going off my rocker.) So far, I’ve witnessed larger piles of laundry & taller stacks of dishes than I ever thought possible, BUT… we’ve survived. I’m now following my dream of creating art, alternative apparel & unique gifts that are in alignment with our whole “Cosmic Acres” journey and way of life. I realized I was using my “chores” as a cop out and it was time for me to let that go. Of course, chores still need to be done, and my house feels pretty gross to ME (not my boys) but so far this month, I’ve created 9 colorful pieces of art, sourced a ton of materials for future projects and overhauled my website.
I also put aside my fear of being judged and posted my work on my website and Facebook. Eeek.
Making space to create has shown me that I am full of ideas and art, and that my purpose here on Earth is more than just doing housework. I’ve GOT to let stuff go so I can make space for more important things, otherwise, I will leave this life with loads of regret.
I chose to let go of resenting my mother, because it drains me of positivity, inhibits my relationship with my own children, and frankly, is completely unfounded.
I’ll admit that minor annoyances that presented themselves throughout the month occasionally triggered the resentment. Although I have been allowing myself to be temporarily annoyed, I have worked very hard to DROP IT and move on, instead of obsessing over it. Additionally, I remind myself daily that my mother loves me as much as I love my own children, and as such, would not do anything intentionally to impede my happiness.
After a month of working toward this, I feel happier than ever, have more energy than I have in years (all that negativity was exhausting!), and appreciative for all the family and love I have in my life.
I was lucky enough to spend Mother’s Day weekend outdoors with my whole family, including my parents, my husband, and my children. As I inhaled the crisp morning air on a lakeside walk, I had the perfect opportunity to meditate on the unrivaled loved between a mother and her children. And I let go for good.
I am in the throes of life with a newborn, so I was not able to be as intentional with this as I would have liked. However, the timing of your challenge coincided with the start of something I’ve struggled with immensely the last few years: bloody hot summers in Austin with lots of small children clambering at my feet. That has been my repeated experience of the last few years. So, I chose to let go of the dread. I will not dread summer anymore. From now on I will simply expect fun to present itself.
What has threatened to derail me is the unprecedented HUMIDITY this season. Eeesh. And, that everyone simply loves to complain about the hot summers. But letting go of the dread has enabled me to truly appreciate the remarkably mild temperatures we are having NOW. If I don’t waste time dreading the future, my now is much more pleasant. Imagine that!
Ambergris Caye, Belize:
To let go of the emotional attachment to my family reaching out to me or interacting with me via email and facebook (since I live out of the country). I decided in a moment to just not spend time obsessing about it (and checking email and facebook to see if they would respond or comment to anything I had to say, or checking skype to see if any of them are logged in). I know where I stand with them, I don’t need these things as validation. I am not going to let this continue to highjack my mental and emotional well-being.
Thoughts that came up through the month that threatened to derail you:
Why don’t they interact in the only way we can right now? What does that say about me and how important (or not) I am to them)? This should bother me, they are my family, etc.. I need to tell them that this upsets me, etc..
How you felt after giving a full month’s intention to the letting go:
After about a half-day thinking about it I realized that giving some mental time to letting it go changed everything. I just didn’t think about it anymore. I know they are busy and life carries on and my value does not rest anywhere in this issue. It was nice to spend extra mental and emotional time with my husband and kids.
Santa Fe, NM:
I finished reading Loving What Is right before you issued this homework, so this was a very timely challenge. For homework #3, I let go of yelling at my kids. It wasn’t serving any purpose except to ruin our days. I was tired of being angry at such sweet little faces, and tired of being angry at myself for making them cry (usually because they were just being kids) and being a terrible mother. So, I told myself that there wasn’t anything I needed to do better, I was just going to give up yelling at them.
The thought that threatened to derail me? They don’t listen unless I yell. Which isn’t true – they are usually listening and choosing to do otherwise. Or the thought that the baby should be napping. That one really got me. I spend most of my days trying to get someone to sleep, or back to sleep, and I was getting over-the-top frustrated many times a day because it wasn’t working. So I kind of gave up the thought that she should be napping, but not really. She should, I just don’t yell at her about it anymore. Can you believe I was yelling at a baby? Silly. And pointless. And kind of mean.
It was hard not to let everyone know (at the top of my lungs) that things weren’t happening how I thought they should be happening. But even though I’m mom and I’m in charge and all that, maybe my way isn’t the best way. My yelling certainly wasn’t, and our days have been significantly better since I gave it up. My kids are happier and I feel like a good mom again. Oh, and my husband is yelling less too, even without my nagging him (if you can believe it).
I’ve suffered from a vicious cycle of anxiety and depression for longer than I’d like to admit. Much of it is fueled by my inner need to do the next thing, to be in the next place and to never really feeling full at anything. So I’ve decided to let go of that need to be someone, somewhere or something I’m not and to embrace my life, right here, right now. Tis has not been an easy task. It’s a whole mind shift and a daily commitment to find joy in what is. I’ve been praying about it and I’ve made progress, small progress, but I keep looking forward. Thank you for this opportunity and the motivation to know I can do it.
San Antonio, TX:
My wife filed for divorce last week. It’s been a while coming. Thank you for your writing. The assignment helped me turn the taking-off-the-ring into a letting go ceremony. Took a walk in a thunderstorm and talked to God and cried and got soaked through. But after, I feel like I’m going to be alright. Every time I’ve taken my ring off over the last year and a half (since she last wore hers) I felt terrible. Now I feel, not good, sorta sad, but willing to let go. Hard to describe.
My letting go project was that of letting go of thoughts and longing for a life in Tulum. My mantra has been “it’s just not time…..yet. Be realistic and grab hold of the beauty you have access to. But also, don’t lose sight of your dreams and still make it happen!” For months now, we’ve been trying to figure out where we would go after coming back from Mexico. I plotted, dreamed and cast a large net to see what would come back with the most fish and low and behold, the fish started flying in. Fish from Colorado, that is. ;) Once that became obvious and we began making more concrete plans, it started to feel really awesome and I’m now at peace with our decision. Over the month, we’ve found a house and secured jobs. The house I found kind of incorporates a little homework #2 action. I found us a house in the city (Denver) and it sits on a functioning, urban farm. Our landlady is our neighbor and she raises wolf hounds. AND – the house comes with a green house, a chicken coop and 8 chickens! It’s like that! “Find the beauty that surrounds you”, that’s another mantra.
Thoughts that derailed me……take no offense to this but seeing all the beautiful images of a place I love so much, filled with amazing people and the most out-of-the-world cenotes, derails me often. Instead of letting it eat me alive I’ve chosen to see my Mexico dream in different terms. Mexico isn’t going anywhere and there is absolutely NO reason I still can’t try to make that happen. We will be there again…….it’ll just take a little more time. Until then, I’m so lucky to have such a magical place to visit and hommies to hang with. (Berry’s, that’s you.) Planning a trip there soon so can’t wait to swim in the riviera maya with my peeps again!
I thank you from the depths of my soul for these homework challenges. It has given me such an excuse to live a life beyond my comfort zones. No other way to live in my opinion.
It took me some time to precisely decide on the commitment. My first thought, or rather wish, was to let go of all sugar, which right away unleashed a craving for sugary stuff which was amazing; I felt the force of withdrawal even before I had written it down or gotten into action. Weird.
So I did not jump right into it but thought about it for a while, watched the cravings and thoughts and took notes of benefits and tough parts of the project as well as possible roots of my “misuse” of snacks. This was highly interesting and I hoped it would be helpful in the weeks to come. My biggest worry, since I’m rather underweight, was not getting enough energy. I decided to let go of that aim of “sugarlessness”, and chose to focus on high food quality instead.
Next I collected what I would use instead of the convenient snacks – like homemade cereal bars or avocado mousse au chocolat … and looked for not-so-food-related hidden reasons which make me eat the processed stuff, like my emotional state or doing-what-all-do, to increase awareness of as much as possible of what is really going on, when I snack.
The commitment I finally chose was:
“I let go of processed food and snacks because it harms my body.”
I wrote down all the snack stuff which came to my mind and burnt the paper to hopefully turn all the cravings into smoke and ashes. The first weeks I felt good, there wasn’t much of a temptation even with snacks and sweets around me. I felt the power of the little burning ritual for quite a long time.
The thoughts that threatened to derail me most were:
“You will get seriously sick if you do not get enough calories.”
“You know your strength is not great when you see other people eat it, and you don’t want to leave the company.”
“Do you really think anything can replace those snacks? What else should have all the nice effects?”
“It might be easy if you clear all cupboards but you very well know the other family members will soon refill the supplies.”
This week the snacks sneaked back into my life while we had a friend staying with us for some days – different nutrition habits and needs, lack of time for cooking thoroughly – well known traps. The good thing about this is that it helps me see how instead of acting with awareness I am re-acting to circumstances and other people.
As for my own process of letting go?
It was a bit of a heavy month, as I found myself wanting to let go of lots of things all at once. I am going to cheat a bit and share one with you today and offer the other BIG one next week as a separate post:
My commitment and moment of consecration:
I let go of the thought that my children are a royal handful.
I swam alone (for a minute) through a dark cenote with bats over my head and ceremoniously proclaimed my girls “perfect exactly as they are.”
Thoughts that came up through the month that threatened to derail me:
But they are always needing, always arguing with me, always making messes, always demanding, yelling, fighting and never consider that I am human, too. They should be better behaved. They should listen to me without backtalk. They should not expect me to solve every tiny problem instantly.
How I felt after giving a full month’s intention to letting go:
Ridiculous and unreasonable for expecting so much of three children whom we’ve moved around repeatedly, made to learn and function at a high level in a new language and all without much support or many friends (i.e. FUN) to help them see the good in what we’ve been doing.
I also felt a strong need to check my priorities and slow my pace to allow for more time to enjoy our experiences together, not simply moving through them.
I realized how I reenforce much of the behavior by giving that same energy right back in the form of arguing, yelling back and solving their problems to stop the whining. I realized how essential it is that I am in a good space, myself, if I want them to be.
I was able to connect in many sweet moments with each one once I calmed my own energy and looked for the source of their frustrations. They reacted amazingly well in the times I truly listened to them. Imagine that.
Thanks to everyone who contributed, feel free to add your own experience in the comments, and here’s to continued renewal through the intentional setting aside of things that no longer serve us.