Tag Archives: Letting go

The story of Keep Calm and Carry On

My friend, Manu, sent me this link the other day. I always say, “Everyone stay calm!” to pretty much every situation where people are too dressed up, too angry at petty stuff and too carried away in general. Lately, my own catch-phrase has been ringing in my head as I have dealt with some pretty stressful stuff. I had said as much to Manu, so when he saw this, he thought of me. It is worth the five minutes to watch.

The story of Keep Calm and Carry OnMAR 05 2012

You’ve seen the now-famous Keep Calm and Carry On poster and its many many variations, but did you know that this British WWII poster was never distributed to the public and was discovered only recently in an English book shop?

via The story of Keep Calm and Carry On.

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A Song For the Broken Hearted

I have a heart.
It is bigger than most.
It’s been broken and stepped on,
But was still full of hope.
Now I’ll keep it with me,
I’ve left it before,
I’ve lent it to others
But I won’t anymore

I think it’s the last time
this has to be it.
I swore I’d be careful —
be more careful with it.
But I never saw you coming
You surprised me with this
And although I knew better
I let go of it

I let go of it, and
I gave it to you,
And now I am holding
A heart broken in two
I’ve fixed it before
And I’ll do it again.
I love you so much
But this is the end.

You can say that I pushed you
But you know that’s a lie
I was doing just fine
And was willing to try.
To try loving and waiting
And giving you time
I don’t understand
How I misread the signs.

But I’ll mend my sweet heart
Put it back in my chest
I should’ve known better–
known better than this
And I’ll lock it away
This big heart of mine
Cuz I know I can’t take it
I can’t take one more time.

Still, make no mistake
I’ll take longer to mend
Because coming from you
This feels like the end–
The end of me trying
The end of my hope
You didn’t really kill it,
But you handed me the rope.

So life will go on
Like it always has before
And I will forget you
And forget you some more.
Remember I loved you
And remember I tried
I gave you my big heart
And you pushed it aside.

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We Only Get To Do This One Time…

Take A Risk

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about every tiny move I make. It seems as if the effort to find focus and direction in life has left me a little keyed up. I have been second-guessing my instincts. I have been letting worry get the best of me. I have found myself afraid to ask for the things I want most.

Fear is not an emotion I have a lot of trouble with, usually. Okay, yeah, sure, I have that thing about the dark. But other than that, I usually make a decision, for better or for worse, and I don’t let fear stop me from going after it. Sometimes I have gone after the wrong things. Sometimes my lack of restraint has pushed the thing I wanted further away. But wisdom and restraint don’t seem to be the issues I’m grappling with today.

Today I have been feeling afraid.

When I was a little younger and someone asked me if I thought they should, or should not, try this or that, I would ask, “If you do this, is anyone going to starve to death?” That may be a simplistic litmus test, but you get the point. We often censor ourselves, or keep from taking risks because of how we think other people are going to react, or how we think our actions will affect those around us. But really, most things aren’t life or death. 99.9% of the time, everything works out just fine in the end. You’ll live. I’ll live. They’ll live.

This train of thought reminded me of an essay I read, many moons ago, that inspired me to take up the “no one’s going to starve to death” attitude…

If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.

–Nadine Stair

I have no doubt that I will find the balance between planning and discipline and spontaneity and risk-taking. And when I find it, I promise to share.

For more wisdom from the elderly, Check out this blog.

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Hello Stuff, We Need To Talk…

Dear Stuff (and your friends, too),

I am not surprised you’re still hanging around my house, Stuff. You have lived with me a long time. Some of you have been here since I was a baby. I know a lot of you think that you are the embodiment of a special memory of mine, or that you represent people that I love, but that is simply not true. I have been trying to tell you this for a long time.

I know I send you mixed signals. In the past I have given a lot of you away to better homes. I admit, some of you I said were going to go live on a farm in Ohio actually got tossed into garbage cans. I have said, over and over, that I didn’t want you, and yet, I have kept allowing you to stay and have even added more of your friends to my collections.

Ceramic Vase, I know you think you are my mother, but you are not. You are simply a vase. You are not her words, her hands or her amazing poetry. You just sit on the shelf with the rest of your brick-a-brac mates and make me dust you.

Prom Dress, I know you know I will never wear you again. Why do you make me store you and move you time and again across the country? I’m beginning to resent you.

Beauty Products, there are simply way too many of you. It’s too difficult to keep you in line. I know you said you were using protection, but I swear you guys are multiplying.

Clothing, you are the worst of all. I am afraid 80% of you will have to go. I simply can not spend so much time and money washing you, ironing you, trying to find you and hanging you back up. You will find good homes. You are good Stuff.

Maybe that’s the hardest part about our breakup, Stuff. You are all good Stuff. But this is the end of the line. I am breaking up with most of you. Very few of you will be left here in the house and I want you to know, you are not allowed to multiply. If one more of you comes to stay, one of you will have to leave. One in, One out.

I’m sorry it has to be this way. I know you were hoping with all the distractions I’ve had that maybe I had forgotten about letting you go. I can see how you may have had that impression. I have left most of you in boxes, piled around the apartment, for over a month. But let me be clear, I have not forgotten. These are your last days. Say your goodbyes now, The Greatest Yard Sale of Time and All Eternity is coming soon.

For those of you unclaimed by family or unsold at the end of the day of the yard sale, know this: You will be taken to the thrift store and dropped off.

Thanks for being there for me when I thought I needed you. You may go now and help someone else.

 

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Purging Possessions

How to Tell the Truth About Tricky Things

Dad and Me

I love my Dad!

Over the last 72 days of this 101 day project, I have had a lot of opportunity to reflect on what it means to tell the truth. A big part of this Excess Emancipation project is the letting go of old baggage that no longer serves me. The biggest step I have made in that direction has been deciding to say, out loud, what is true for me. About everything.

I was taught, as I am sure you were too, that we should keep some things to ourselves in order to spare others’ feelings. While I think there is merit in that for some cases, I also think that in most situations, it is not helpful.

Let’s look at one of my stories. When I was 17, I had an argument with my dad that escalated into a full blown screaming match and ended with me standing on a chair, in the middle of the office, crying.

That statement is just a statement of fact. The argument happened. It escalated. I ended up standing on a chair in the middle of the office, crying.

What I do next with that fact is where it gets tricky. My experience was, that in that particular incident, I was standing up for what was right and got ridiculed for it. Who knows if that is actually what happened? Who cares? That is what I experienced, and only by telling the truth about our experiences can we move past them.

But how can I say that out loud? I have no desire to cause him any pain. How can I say what was true for me without hurting my sweet father’s feelings? Maybe I can’t. Would my dad feel bad if he read the paragraphs above? Perhaps. Would he agree with what happened? Maybe. Maybe not. Would he think I was just being a silly girl? Probably. But maybe not. Does any of that matter? I assert that no, it does not. NOT if I am simply telling the truth about what I experienced.

And this is why:

My dad is a grown man. He raised 10 kids. He is a great man who has helped many people. He loves his kids no matter what sticky situation we manage to get ourselves into. I promise, he has weathered far greater storms than me saying we got in a fight once. He knows I love him. I know he loves me. Do either of us have any illusions that the other is perfect? Absolutely not. I have enough faith in our relationship that I can tell the truth about it. And I have enough faith in him that he can handle it. After all, I am simply stating my experience, and that is the key.

If I had claimed that, “My dad provoked me because he hated it when I wore blue,” then that would not be my truth. That would be a wild guess about him. We have to be careful not to try to state “truths” about other people. We have no idea what they are. We can say what our perspective was, what we know our experience was, but anything more than that is conjecture.

I assert that if we freely state what is true for us, if we speak our truth, without name calling or judgements, it will, indeed, set us free. I have found that no matter how difficult the topic, if I stick to how life has affected me, the people I care about have not only accepted it, but have been very supportive.

Having said all that, I am lucky. I do not suggest anyone go around boldly speaking their truth directly to people who are emotionally, mentally or physically abusive. They will not hear it. No good can come from it. You put yourself in danger and are “casting pearls before swine.” Take care of yourself first. Make sure you are safe. Then, find your voice and shout from the rooftops.

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“Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” — Thoreau

Walden Pond

Image via wikipedia

Thoreau‘s final paragraph of Walden includes the line, “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” I am sure he meant this both metaphorically and literally. I feel like I have a fairly good handle on the metaphor. I’m conscious of and grateful for this precious bit of life I’ve been given. BUT, I have been slacking off on the other part — getting up early. These excerpts from “Walden” always reignite my determination to “make-up with mornings” and even learn to love them.

…All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, “All intelligences awake with the morning.” Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour. All poets and heroes, like Memnon, are the children of Aurora, and emit their music at sunrise. To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me…

…We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour…

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Honing my Habits

God Would Let Me Live In His Poolhouse

I feel like God's pool house will have a very Frank Lloyd Wright vibe to it.

I have spent a lot of time, over the last 20 years, ruminating on my reasons for leaving the Mormon church. I had many. Some were big. Others, admittedly petty. But the main reason was because I grew up feeling like shit. There was always a part of me that knew I was going to hell and tried hard to convince the rest of me that I was a monster. At the same time, the bigger part of me was constantly trying to calm down. I would whisper things to myself during particularly offensive sermons things like, “don’t panic,” and, “this guy can’t possibly be right.”

I should add that I DO think that a lot of the “crazy” I was exposed to was because of the radicalism in the tiny town I lived in, and not actually a part of the larger Mormon church.

My leaving the church was based entirely on my gut. For many years, I wouldn’t let myself read any of the many well-documented, historical accounts of Joseph Smith’s time that clearly dispute everything I was taught. Reading of any facts that are not church-sanctioned is forbidden. I was still so indoctrinated that I hadn’t yet realized that no one should shy away from any truth. I don’t just choose not to learn about any other subject out of fear it might change my mind. So, the fact-finding phase eventually came. In the end, it made no difference to me. I knew what I knew. It did, however, spark a fair amount of rage that I was ever subjected to such crazy-making. I wish I had no anger, but there it is. I am, for the most part, over it.

It was my daughter who helped me get over the “hump” about being okay with my choice to leave the church. I would look at my daughter and think, “There is nothing she could ever do, or not do, that would make me withhold my love.” I knew, from the second she was born, that even if she turned out to be a carnival madame, I would never stop loving her or wanting her with me. I knew, that as long as I lived, she would always find shelter in my home.

Knowing this truth led me to the greatest breakthrough I would ever have. I realized it was simply illogical to believe that a supreme being, like the Mormon God (who is said to be all-powerful, all-knowing and who loves us more than a parent loves a child. In fact, he is referred to as our “Heavenly Father” almost exclusively) would have sent down a list of requirements which, upon failing to follow, would result in our not being able to live in his neighborhood. As I watched my sweet daughter sleeping one night I realized that not only was the aforementioned completely irrational, so is the idea that in order to remain in our family units in heaven that there are a bunch of other “to do’s” on God’s list for us.

I used to play out the scenario of me dying, in my mind, and going to God for judgement. I would hear Him saying to me, “Now Rebecca, I told you that if you didn’t get married in the temple to a nice Mormon boy that you couldn’t live up here in our section of heaven and furthermore, you are now stripped of your family.” The whole idea, to me, is completely, totally and utterly preposterous.

I do not base my love or support or affection or shelter or help or anything on a sliding scale of Hannah’s obedience to me. It would be crazy to do so. And if it would be so ridiculous for me to do that, then why does it seem rational that God would do that? It just doesn’t jive. (As an aside, I know there are a bunch of you saying to yourselves, “You just don’t understand the nature of God,” I must interject that, no, I do not, but neither do you. And for those of you who are now adding in, “It is not ours to understand, all will be revealed,” I have to say, I totally agree.)

Nowadays I see others like me everywhere. They shuffle listlessly around Salt Lake area malls with blank faces and bags bursting with RC Willey bric-a-brac. They are good people. They don’t know why they are so depressed. They feel trapped. They double-down on the depression by seeing their sadness as further evidence of their failure to be the perfect mormon. They believe that “living the gospel” perfectly is the ONLY way they will ever feel peace. They are people who are wracked with guilt and who carry the heavy burden of knowing they haven’t gotten God’s To-do list done. It breaks my heart to see their needless suffering. And make no mistake, they are suffering, and it is needless.

Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE MORMONS. Maybe not the dogma, but the people, in general, I like. They are my people, after all. I do not doubt my Mother’s sincere love and belief in the mormon church. I do not judge her faith. It is a pure and beautiful thing. For her, I actually hope it is ALL true. She deserves a house right next to God’s in the hereafter. I am happy for the thousands of mormons out there who find their happiness through the church. I am grateful for their generally positive belief system. I know that one of the reasons I love it in SLC is because a large percentage of the population has taken 2 years out of their lives and given it to the service of humanity across the globe. I think “the church” is, mostly, a force for good — no matter what it’s based on.

But, for those of you who have read this missive and thought, “How sad for her that she missed the message,” or, “She must have read some anti-mormon literature,” or, “God loves us, he just hates certain behaviors,” or, “Women can’t hold the priesthood because they already have the gift of childbearing,” or any other common platitude, let me bear you my testimony:

I know that there is truth in all things, but no one thing can contain all truth. Just as you know, with all your “heart, might, mind and strength” that the mormon church is the only “true” church, I know with equal vigor that, if there is a great white God who sits on high, he and I are good. He loves me. In fact, He loves everything about me. He thinks I am earnest, hilarious, sweet and sincere. He cracks up at my hijinks and cries about my many failures. And if, when I die, I meet Him on the other side, I know He would let me live in his pool house if I wanted to. He would find all my family who had gone before and they’d throw me a party. He would just be glad to see me again. Period.

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