Tag Archives: Letting Go

and back again: the completion of beginnings

IMG_0049IMG_0007

Lovers, haters, readers, followers, those who have listened and given any care or attention to what has unfolded in the past 12 months… lend me your voice. You’ve been listening to/reading my words and have acted as great motivators and a generous audience. I’d like nothing more now than to thank you publicly and also hear and read what you think or have to say in response to the past 365 days. The yearlong experiment officially comes to an end this week and like any program creator, director or implementor, I can’t walk away without an assessment of some kind. Has a year really gone by? What the heck just happened?

As in everything I do, I am always looking for feedback – the good, the bad, the kind of critique that makes me question everything I’ve ever done. Bring it! Now it may seem strange that I’m asking for your honest opinion on my personal-development model (ie: the way I’ve lived my life for the past year) but hey the whole process has been strange – no? Are you really surprised that I am asking? I am open and eager for your comments or questions.

Many are already asking me… “What’s next?” “Will you continue to let others lead your life?” I think I am more compelled by the questions like “What came out of the experiment?” and “Why did you actually follow through with it?” – “What did it do to/for you?” As I start out the next chapter of my new story it may lead with those questions, rather than jumping just yet into the “next”.

A year ago, my main goal of carrying out Living Chapters was to help me achieve the act of “letting go”. Honestly though, did I really know what that meant? And do I know any better or feel any clearer today about the concept? I thought “letting go” meant being a little more flexible, changing up a routine and letting go of controlling and planning every little thing. I knew it would involve loosening the reigns and questioning the direction and guidance that I have instituted over my life until now. I didn’t expect it to be life changing.

What I am beginning to understand is this – “letting go” is more accurately defined, in my mind, as the adoption of living a life with some kind of faith and trust. (not just simply becoming less of a control freak). It is not only about the faith and trust I put in my friends who have guided me, but the faith and trust I put in myself to make all things work for both myself and others in my life.  And the faith found in the unknown that replies back to us “Yes, you DO know what to do and things WILL fall into the places that they need to”. Throughout the year, I learned how to trust fully and become at home in this “unknown”. I learned how to sit with resistance and fend off fears. I consciously stopped trying so hard to force a future or figure it all out. And I gave a valiant attempt at focusing more on setting intentions and making mindful decisions. (still diligently working on all this!)  So yes, the year has changed me. If you’re interested in how…just ask.  Be specific as you’d like… I’ve been living my life as a semi-open book for the past 12 months.  I think I’m finally ready to share almost anything and have already experienced more honesty from myself and others than I thought humanly possible.

Your suggestions and support this year have given me a constant forward momentum and your questions can and will only motivate me to be accountable in living out the lessons learned from the entire Living Chapters experience.

(Please do respond here on the blog or leave your questions and suggestions on the Living Chapters Facebook Page) Your thoughts are important to me.

So what is next? I don’t know exactly? All that is clear is that I have come back to yet another “completion of beginnings”; a time to start fresh, build upon foundations, expand outward. And where I am physically, spiritually, mentally emotionally? All huge questions not able to be answered and edited into this last June blog post.

Here and now, I find myself in suburban Pennsylvania, a place in which I have not directly planned or chosen, facing what seems to me the most uncertain time of my life to date.  It is fitting to be here where I grew up, living with my mother the person who has made me who I am today and who has shaped and challenged me the most.  She has written more of my chapters than maybe even myself.  Here I am, living out what may be the last of her days, while simultaneously scheming my own departure for the beginning of my new unknown story. Right now, locked in position, ready to choose a new place to live, create a new job, direct a new life experiment to live out, develop and foster new relationships to commit to and dig up new adventures to navigate. In this completion time, I feel the most ready and open I have ever felt before such a beginning. I no longer have questions of what, where and when the next something will occur, Living Chapters has taught me that the how is more important. New chapters themselves will come and go throughout life but the way I choose to live out the story will remain the most important thing through any given plot twist. It is the choice of continuing to read between the lines that will ultimately lead my story onward. Thanks to all who have been witnesses of my story.

6/28/14

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get find out the rest of the story.

Redefining “having it all”

“You must give up the life you had planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”  – Joseph Campbell

Tomorrow is my 37th birthday, a few days before 2014. I find myself technically homeless sleeping on my mother’s couch. I don’t own a home, I’m not renting an apartment or even  a boat to dwell on at the moment.  I am taking a hiatus from my job and have been working on whittling down my belongings so that they can fit in the back of a pick up truck.  I am unmarried without children and currently not dating. I don’t have a pet or even any plants anymore (I gave them all away including the cactus that was living in my car for a while). My situation may sound bleak to some.  One might ask, “is this what you thought your life would look like at 37?”

I guess I never really thought too much about it. 37? Is there a “should” that life should look like? I had a long-lost friend, now a Living Chapters follower, call me a few weeks ago to ask if my “Living Chapters” project was product of a mid-life crisis. Mid-life already? Really? Well if a quest for self-improvement is the outcome of my mid-life crisis, it seems as though I am handling it pretty well. It may not be unique but creating a blog about life seems a bit better solution than purchasing an overpriced car, starting a fanatic workout routine/diet or getting a really bad oh-so-permanent tattoo. If you’re faced with crisis, of any sort I am always in favor of looking at the root of the problem rather than fixing the surface.

But honestly, no, I can’t say I really thought that I would be in this particular situation at this point in my life.  I guess I was convinced that I would own a home, be married, have 1.5 kids or have a stable substantial full-time job with health benefits. I thought I’d have at least one of these “rites of passage”. I must admit, I had NO IDEA that I would be making decisive choices to not obtain these things and still somehow feel fortunate, content and happy about it.  I was lucky to have an open-minded mother and supportive friends in my life who encouraged and helped me become confidant in my  decision-making.  So yes I have had good fortune on my side but luck has nothing to do with the task of creating your own path. Improvising your life may be rewarding but also takes a lot of work and ingenuity.

Our culture and society (although more progressive than some) has still to this day, left very little room for women to write their own stories from scratch.  From the time I was a little girl, it seems I have been trying to rewrite a pre-written fairy tale that was handed to me at birth telling me how I should look, act or live.  Who knew that improvising these past 37 years would have led me to such a fortunate (and free) place in almost mid-life.  In many ways it’s a pleasant surprise.  I had no idea that at this point, I would be nervous and excited, packing to move to a tropical island, allotting myself time to explore new talents, business ventures and personal growth.  I didn’t think I would be debt free, without regret, with a chance to reinvent my career and daily patterns.  I had no preview of how dynamic and fluid my life could become. Through my twenties and thirties, I have traveled the world, worked voraciously at creative endeavors and gained the most amazing and incredible people in my life. I have never strived toward having “it all” but have worked toward having an authentic and fulfilling existence.  In this past year especially, I have been letting the external ambitions, of what I had thought my life should be, go.  (the thoughts of “I need this job, this person, this trajectory)  These ideas have been difficult to shed but letting go of the expectations has created a new space and place for the potential that I am and will become.

The process of creating and implementing Living Chapters (writing the guidelines for my own script) along with my friends and fellow protagonist, Shannon Twenter, has taught me that letting go and trusting myself and those that I care about brings me closer to the only ambition I hold right now – a calm, more capable, caring and confidant me to take on the upcoming challenges and opportunities.

12/26/13

Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.

this ship is shipping on…

IMG_3380IMG_3428

Looking back at the the prologue, the first entry I posted before starting to live out any chapters, I noticed that I wrote about the idea of “letting go”. I wanted to let go of control, and of planning my life in a detailed way. The goal was to learn to trust and to watch life roll out in an organic way. I was curious to find out if it was possible to be guided by instinct or inner direction, (or in my case my friends) while at the same time be able to continue to make distinct and direct decisions for myself.  Through trusting my friends and trusting the process and also by addressing my resistance and fears, I do feel that I am just starting (after six months) to understand the balance that is needed for this to happen. Maybe with another six months practice, I will be able to utilize these lessons to help me move forward.

During the past nine months, I have been living on a boat upon Spa Creek in Annapolis, MD living as fluidly as I could taking each month as it came written for me, one day and challenge at a time.  The Living Chapters guidelines that I set up for myself, pre-project, somehow made this floating lifestyle seem much more manageable.  The rules and outline of the project gave me a distinct structure that I have been following as closely as I could.  If I found myself doing something that seemed a little out of the ordinary or questionable (like jumping rope in the airport in Boston or hanging out in an isolation chamber) I could point directly at the project outline for an answer to why this was happening and it just didn’t seem that strange anymore.  I was accomplishing a task rather than making an “odd choice”. And even though I have been asked by external sources to do all these tasks, the self-created guidelines reminded me that it was my choice to follow through with them whether I liked it or not. I sometimes even chose to elaborate on them.

Deciding to live on the boat before Living Chapters began, was in a sense creating a space and such a guideline to start out this adventure: giving myself a physical structural reason to live without excess belongings, a place to create new habits, to adjust to a more simple life style, and allow myself financially to continue working part-time only. Somehow diminishing my living space and eliminating the excess stuff, opened up new opportunities and new ideas. This choice brought me personal freedom and time to explore different ways of living. I feel that the process of living out these chapters openly is doing this as well.

Living on water, has been the closest that I have been thus far to the physical realization and feeling of “letting go”. I have enjoyed floating and respected the dwelling for its practical, simple, and independent living.  The boat itself as a home base has kept me strangely grounded in these changing months.  Like the rules of the project, it has given me a structure for being here, and it has held a place for me in Annapolis.  But as the seasons shift and winter arrives, I have decided to depart, drift away from the dock for a bit and metaphorically sail south. It is time to practice letting go just a bit more and take on the spirit of “saying yes to what life throws at you”. I have been given the opportunity to try out a new living situation and have decided to take it.  As of the end of November, I have abandoned ship and will be floating between staying at homes of friends and loved ones for this reflection month of December.  And although sad to leave “Morning Star” and the marina in general, I am excited to see what the warm air of the new year will bring.  In January, I am taking a hiatus from my job and will be setting up camp on a tropical island for a while. So in the first few months of 2014, you will find me living out new chapters on the island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.  Exactly what will manifest there and how long I will stay is still unknown. Only time and possibly the next few chapters will tell.

me on morning star

12/4

Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.

before the beginning

IMG_3269IMG_2892

In the past month, I have been unveiling the idea of “Living Chapters” to those outside of the participating players list and I have to admit not without a bit of anxiety along with a great sense of excitement. The process of telling people about the decision to do this made it all the more “real”. Talking about the project as if it were a new “life change” itself, a new job, house or relationship.  I told my mother, I told my professional colleagues, I told a stranger at a conference I attended.  Each time, getting a bit more comfortable, trying out this new role of blending my personal and professional life.  No use compartmentalizing the pieces of my life now, or holding back.  Everything is about to become transparent.

As the point of living chapters, is to push boundaries and test comfort levels, I specifically asked the writers to find the sore spots, throw me into uncharted territory, and pin-point my weaknesses (or if I want to be nicer to myself) areas with room for improvement.  Really now, what is a more uncomfortable than highlighting these aspects of yourself, not only to your friends and colleagues, but also to a potential audience of online followers? So here we go, the holiday weekend is over and I have a few days left to give myself some advice before it all begins. Below are the directives that I give myself for the process. If I stray along the way, please don’t hesitate to remind me of them.

Step one: Let go of control

Step two: Trust in my instincts

Step three: In case of emergency, be creative

What do you think? Did I miss a step… I’m in a good place to take suggestions for the next year.

the prologue

IMG_2915IMG_2905

This June will be the 18th anniversary of my high school graduation, one of the few moments in life when we all focus on and celebrate the idea of branching out and breaking free from the years of guidance and training from school and our families. We are told to set out and find ourselves but yet are not given a map.

Well it’s been 18 years since I was 18, and I am not sure if I have plotted the correct path to any eminent successful future, but I have found my way to my own voice and guidance and have started listening more intently to it.  Ironically, the message I keep hearing is “Stop planning, forget the map and just let go!” For some reason, I believe that now more than ever is the right time to take my own advice and follow through.

On June 1st, Living Chapters officially begins. Although I feel as if I have been living out chapters my entire life, I at this moment feel strongly about the importance of letting go of the planning and directing that I have been doing thus far in search of that specific outcome or greener grasses. Living Chapters is a process I have created to help achieve this goal of letting go.  I see it as an experiment or a performance of sorts, playing out, witnessing and examining this art form that we live and breathe each day.  It’s a chance to live out different plot twists and directions that I may have never chosen or found alone. An exercise in trust and collaboration and an uncommon chance to reflect on the decisions we make when faced with change, challenge, and discomfort.  It is a rare opportunity and moment in my life that I am able to devote this period of time to the observation of what can be learned if we decide to let go of the reins we hold so tightly over our lives.

OR – it’s simply an elaborate creative way to force myself into doing all the things I’ve been meaning to do in the self-improvement department over the past few years.  A way to follow through with all those un-kept new years resolutions and untapped adventures I’ve been hoping to engage in.  Either way it’s on! And as of June 1st I’m accountable not only to the 28 other individuals that I roped into this scenario but to myself to follow through with all the rules of engagement and whichever direction this may take.

I do not consider myself a person who unearths new wisdom, philosophy, or creates reflective prose, witty remarks or even humorous ramblings.  This is not what I hope to share in this upcoming blog – I do however lead a fluid and free existence transitioning often from one thing to the next, falling into new situations and engaging with a multitude of amazing people along the way. At the very least this project was born to share that.