Monday, November 5, 2012

The Practice of Letting Go

There's a book called, The Art of Letting Go, isn't there?

Okay, I just googled it. There are a ton of books by that name. Including one by Richard Rohr, which I've read and highly recommend. But that's neither here nor there.

I am convinced that letting go is very much like art itself. There are those who naturally excel at it. My boyfriend is one of these. Like any artist, he still needs to practice daily, but letting go simply comes much easier for him.

And then there are those who will tell you that they have no artistic ability. And since I believe that everyone is an artist, I will just tell them to go practice. Now, when it comes to letting go, I am one of these unfortunate ones without natural talent. I am much in need of practice.

I hold on like a hungry snapping turtle.

I know how to scrimp and save and never to throw anything away. I know how to sew patch after patch on my jeans, and I still wear clothes that I wore when I was in middle school.

I have trouble letting go of big things and little things, which is why the past week has seen me in tears more times than I can count.

The coming week will likely do the same, although thankfully my dreadful PMS should pass in a few days and I'll be more able to handle my life.

My life, right now, is about letting go. 

I told you recently that I had decided not to finish school and was picking up and heading to Bellingham. Well, plans have changed again. My boyfriend and I have a final destination, but as it's not for another four months, we're doing some traveling in the interim.

Me. Queen of home and hearth, she who never leaves the house, stereotypical Cancer Crab, I need my own kitchen, me... is going to be bouncing from home to home over the next four months. I'll be in California, Massachusetts, New York, maybe even Arizona.

And this means letting go.

Letting go of half of everything I own. Then going through the "keep" pile and letting go of more.

Letting go of a stable home, stable job, and having my own kitchen.

Letting go of how things are supposed to be and just trying to accept them as they are. 

Letting go of baking until my health improves. This has nothing to do with traveling and everything to do with the personal decision that the best thing for my health would be to take a complete break from baking. However, this also means letting go of my conception of myself as a gluten-free baker. It means letting go when I begin to fantasize about different flour combinations. Letting go of what I know readers want, letting go of the desire to bake for friends. Just...letting...go...

Letting go of my perceptions of who I am and the kind of life I am expected to live.

Letting go of trying to live for anyone other than myself. 

Letting go of my time table. Um...remember when I thought I would be married and having kids at 24? Well, I do. I let go of that one a long time ago, but right now I also have to let go of that awful "I'm thirty and not married and don't have kids, what is wrong with me!?" fear.

My life, right now, is about letting go.

And I am no Van Gogh. No Degas or Monet. I am someone taking her first painting class, timidly dipping my brush first in the green, then the purple, then the blue, as I attempt to create something resembling a garden.

I am a beginner in this art they call Letting Go. 

I look around my room, and see everything I am still holding onto. I fall asleep at night, my mind creeping back to everything I've tried to let go of.

I am practicing. Today, I decided to let go of the skirt I love with such passion, but haven't worn in years because it has a stain, and if you look closely enough, there's a tear in the lace. I decided to let go of the boots that are the perfect shade of blue... And as I'm typing this, I suddenly thought, "Why am I letting go of those boots? I'd better put them back in the keep pile." But I won't. Because it's all practice. The boots don't matter. Even if they are really cute.

It's simply the fear of letting go. I don't really know what happens next.

But every once in a while, I get a glimpse of the glory of letting go. I get a feeling, so tiny like the brush of butterfly kisses on your cheek, and I know that beyond the fear is something more. And so I continue to practice the art of letting go.

It begins with stuff. But that's not where it stops.


gfe--gluten free easily said...

Wow, Iris, this is such a powerful post! I LOVE the ending. I have problems letting go, too. In fact, I couldn't help but read about that skirt and think I bet I could tell her how to get out that stain and that lace could be fixed. LOL, but true. And boots the perfect shade of blue? Letting go of such can be painful, but maybe some things we're not meant to fix and sometimes the perfect thing is not what we need, huh? I admire you so much for continuing to re-evaluate and doing the things you're afraid of! You are inspiring to us all. I've just finished up another round of major introspection and am making changes once again, changes that include a LOT of letting go. I'm grateful to let go and looking forward to much more of doing so!


Melissa said...


Beautifully written post. I "get" it, but rather than saying I can't "let go" of things, I like to call myself a "non relinquisher." It sounds more intentional and by design, and not by fear of letting go. Sometimes a tweak in semantics is all you need. =)

Enjoy your rambling journey! You have plenty of time to for marriage and kids. Four months may sound like a long time, but it's just a fleeting second of time. Savor it as it unfolds, and enjoy the spontaneity.

Safe travels!

Cara said...

I give you lots and lots of credit and admiration, my friend. I love my life here (husband, home, family, etc) but so many times I wish he and I had the courage to "let go" and start over somewhere else. Maybe it will be in our cards someday. I hope this journey turns out to be a fabulous new beginning for you!

Michal said...

What a great post! And SO TRUE! I'm in a similar situation right now, a lot of things that I've been holding onto to I now have to let go of, simply because its time. Its all about moving forward, and progressing. Life is constantly about moving forward, and without this change we can't progress and better ourselves. Lots of luck to you on your journey of lessening down :)

Anonymous said...

Iris, loved this post...but just wondering, why are you quitting the gluten free baking for now? I too have been toying with abandoning my GF baking and I'm wondering if there may be something to it, and how it affects me that isn't just me. ;)That maybe others are having the same issues..? Maybe physically, spiritually or mentally?

You are always so articulate and honest about everything and often so relate-able. thanks!!


Iris said...

Hi Ali,

I have noticed for a long time that when I eat baked goods (even sugar-free), I feel like I have a reaction. It's mild and so if I just ate a small slice or small cookie, it wouldn't be a big deal. But I am not that person who can bake cookies and just eat one! So a small reaction becomes a big one. Rather than putting myself in the position of having to battle myself, I'd rather just let go of baking completely until I feel like my gut has healed. And I do feel like it will heal faster if I'm eating really simply and not baking for a while.

It's hard for me because I love to bake, but I feel like it's the best thing for me to do right now.


Susan aka paintermom said...

Thank you for sharing so openly. We all need to be reminded to let go. My favorite advice to friends in stressful times is, "Don't forget to breathe back out."

I also wanted to tell you that I read your post about meeting your demons the other day. One or two days later, I was sitting at my craft fair booth when a browser said, "I always have so many creative ideas but I figure ey won't turn ut the way I want so I never get started." i was able to share your words, that she needed totell her inner bossy person that it wasn't her turn right now. That this was about the process and the journey and that her inner boss was welcome to tell her everything she did wrong LATER. She lit up and said,"Thanks for the inspiration!" So, I thank y and the Cosmos for giving that to me at just that time.

Susan aka paintermom said...

BTW, I live in Massachusetts. I'd be happy to make GF food for you while you are here. Or meet for coffee so I seem less like a stalker!

Iris said...

What a great story, Susan! Thank you! And where are you in Massachusetts? If we're nearby, I would love to get coffee (except I don't drink coffee but you know what I mean) :)


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