Let Go of the Rice

Oh My, What’s This??

Last week I finished a manuscript I have been working on for what feels like all of my life.  I don’t say that in an ominous or overly dramatic way, but in a matter-of-fact sort of way — that’s just the way it feels.  I have lived, breathed, and dreamed within the words of this manuscript, for what feels like ages.

I sometimes wonder if I was born with this book already inside me.  I kinda think I was.  Like back in May of 1970, when Dr. Whitton delivered me, he turned to my parents and exclaimed, “It’s a girl!” then added, ”Oh my, what’s this?  What are these papers??”

The writing process is one that’s all consuming, at least for this particular girl.  It’s a slow-high, brain-churning exercise, filled with more delete-backspacing than forward keystrokes at times.  But it fills me up.  From tip to toe.

I’ve found that writing is a process of letting go.  With each word I type, delete, re-type, massage into sentence structures — ultimately, I must let go.  Let go of my attachment to the words, to their message, to whether or not they will be embraced, rejected, cherished, ignored, rebuffed….  After all, that’s what trust is all about — letting go.

To trust is to let go of your anger, worries, fears, demons — whatever is gripping you.  However, like some things in life, trust and letting go can easily fall into the category of “easier said than done” — until you learn how, that is. Continue Reading

Can You Cure Your Addiction?

addictionJagged Little Pill

For longer than I’d like to admit, I allowed my addiction to hold me in some odd state of self-imprisonment.  My seemingly uncontrollable drive to “be productive,” or DO has been my jagged little pill, with edges ranging from ice pick sharp to moderately smooth, but the pill remains.

Here are some observations:

  • it does, on occasion still get the best of me
  • the more I’ve attempted to manage, control, coerce, or tease-out through logic, the more I’ve failed
  • the more I’ve failed, the more I’ve felt like a failure

So, where is the hope?

Look To The Granite And The Onion

The hope begins in the granite: your foundation, your belief system.  (Refer to the previous post for more on foundation – do not skip this part.  I spelled out my foundation, as did readers within the comments.  You must have a foundation first.)

Next, have you identified an addiction you’re struggling with?  It can be anything you feel powerless over, anything you know has control over you.

With your foundation and addiction written down, close your eyes and visualize a granite countertop with an onion sitting on top.

In your mind, take your addiction and wrap it around the outermost layer of the onion.  Wrap it so tightly and completely that you can see an opaque layer of your addiction coating the onion.  Use your imagination to see the alcohol, the gambling, the sugar, the whatever wrapping around the onion until the ends meet.  Picture your addiction permeating each layer of the onion, stopping just before you reach the center.  Continue Reading

The Window Beyond, A Tale of Letting Go

“I’m so angry I could kill him.  And to think, that was over two years ago.  If he walked in that door right now, I swear….” she stared into her coffee, absently adding another sugar packet.  That made four.  I wondered if she was even aware.

Her sister, or was it her friend — same hazel eyes, same heart-shaped face, leaned in to say something, then scooted back in her chair and shook her head.

Glancing up from her sugar with coffee: “What?  Say it.”

The sister-friend hesitated, “If only you could just let go.  He let go of you a long time ago.”

“LET GO?!  If I only knew how!”  And with that, she flung her chair back, grabbed her purse and scarf, and headed toward the front door.  Sister-friend rushed behind, with a look of slight embarrassment on her face.

At an adjacent table, I watched as two cups of barely touched coffee, one with a sunken sugar treasure, were collected and taken away.  Now, with no angry and somber faces seated directly in front of me, my eyes drifted to the window beyond.

Directly outside the cafe window stood a tree with few leaves on its branches.  A tree, “let go,” just beyond the window, few leaves, “he let go of you a long time…”, leaves hanging limply one moment, parallel to the ground the next — strong wind.  “If I only knew how!”  Clearly, the storm was approaching.  Content to be on this side of the window, hands wrapped around my Earl Gray, I sat perfectly still, staring at the leaves.  “Let go, he let go of….”  Leaves that held on so tightly.  Not a single one relented its grip.

And then I remembered.

A Tale of Letting Go

On a still day last week, I was looking out my window, yellow Lab at my feet, just as yours is now I’m sure.  (He was right.  She was.)  The remaining leaves on a nearby tree were dropping, kind of like feathers dropping.  I leaned into that and I listened by giving my full attention to them.  What they began to say to me, not in words, but in their very existence and how they were falling, was they were just letting go.  They were just letting go and drifting to the earth.

And amazingly, they had held on through all the storms of this Fall. None of all that rough and tough and turbulence took them down.  And after that, on a quiet, still day, in silence, they just let go.

The reward for holding on, is at some point, we just let go.”

That is the story of listening and letting go that Mark Nepo shared with me on the phone one afternoon, as we sat discussing his new book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen.  His was a tale of listening through giving his full attention to the message nature was delivering.  A message of holding on, and of letting go.

If Only and How?

If only the girl knew how to let go.  If only we all knew how to let go.  If only, after weathering years of all sorts of storms, we could, on a quiet, still day, in silence, just let go.  If only we could be those leaves.  But no.  Instead we try (and fail) to let go by ignoring.  By denying.  By repressing.  By making believe.  By, by, by….  Letting go will never work like that.  To let go of something, we first must admit it.

But wait.  Ignoring is easier.  So is denying.  Making believe, or blaming, yes, blaming, I forgot to mention that one before, making believe and blaming can even be fun.  Addicting.  (To be read in a whisper:  But admitting he has moved on without me?  Hush, keep quiet now, that way no one will hear how badly that stings to admit.)  So instead of letting go, we hold on a bit longer.

But all we’re really holding onto is our pain.  Pain that we are, in effect, prolonging.  If you’re ready to be free of pain and truly want to let go of anger and resentment, start by admitting the truth of the situation.

For those old-timer TLT readers, you may recall, the one and only quote on my blog for probably a year was this one by Hermann Hesse:

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”

That quote is also on my business cards, stationery, and some of my TLT merchandise.  I just love it.

I also see Letting Go as part of my overall philosophy, sandwiched between Trust and Peace.  So much so, that I had this piece of jewelry custom made:

letting go

It’s my personal formula:

By learning to Trust Life Todaywe are able to Let Gowhich leads to what I believe we seek most:  Peace.

 This is not only a formula, it’s a daily practice.

letting go

The more we hold on to, the more we’re weighed down.  You say you want to move forward in your life?  Well yes, I do too.  So, let’s begin by letting go of all that doesn’t feed our present well being.  The past is done, the future is still developing.

Look to the window beyond.  Let Go and Trust a greater outcome is already yours.

letting go

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The Secret to Breaking Out of Jail

Breaking out of jail

Breaking Out of Jail

There’s no nice way to say this:  being in jail would suck.  I’m not here today to put a positive spin on prison life — although, more power to the inmate who can.  I sincerely mean that; it would make one heck of a story.  In fact, if there are any inmates out there reading this blog, contact me.  I’d love to hear about your positive prison experience, how you gained a skill, or how prison saved your life.  I know those stories exist.  I’m completely captivated each time I hear one.

I’m equally intrigued by those of us living in our own self-made prisons.  Pay attention, I may just be talking to you.

Have you ever:

  • held a long-term grudge?
  • resented someone deeply?  (mildly?)
  • felt self-righteous because of what someone else did to you?
  • lashed back at someone?
  • deliberately chosen not to forgive someone?
  • thought of ways to get even, then acted on them?

I’m not talking about plots so sinister that they actually would land you in jail, I’m talking about the everyday stuff we do when we think we’re protecting ourselves — using our so-called defense mechanisms.  As long as I hold this grudge, then I’m protecting myself.  As long as I don’t forgive you, then I’m protecting myself.  As long as I somehow avenge what you did to me, then I’m protecting myself.

Now who’s in prison?  The person who won’t Let Go.

I call this:

The Prison of Self-Righteous Resentment

In the prison of self-righteous resentment, we get to be right.  Woo-hoo (said with flat, dry sarcasm).  Along with that, we get to be unhappy.  We have the displeasure of reliving the infraction over and over.

But we also get a catchy story to tell!  One that’s interesting.  And exciting.  Full of drama, action, and suspense.  One that gets us lots of attention.  People stop to watch the aftermath of a car wreck, don’t they?

Stop your drama.  YOU are the car wreck they’re stopping to watch.

And as long as you are the car wreck, you’re also the one remaining not-so-nice and cozy… in your self-made prison.

Here’s the thing:

You Have the Key

The cell you’ve fashioned may feel more airtight than any chamber you can imagine in the dankest, darkest dungeon, but turn around.  Look for the light, no matter how small it is, streaming through the keyhole.  You have the key. 

 

Breaking out of jail, key

 

(Or the slippers, Dorothy.  You’ve had them all along.)

Use your inner key:  Trust yourself.  Act on that trust, knowing you are strong enough to relinquish the grudge.  You’re strong enough to work through your resentment.  You’re strong enough to forgive.  Because each one of these acts is for the good of you, your health, your well being, your concentration at work, your even temperament with your children, your sleep at night, your inner peace.

It’s for the good of you.  And it starts with you, within you.  There’s no need for breaking out of jail — you hold the key.  Use it and walk out, directly into the light and life that await you.  Free yourself.

Let go.  Trust.

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