Let Go

Life is just one long exercise in letting go. Letting go of something requires change — and most of us resist change. Too frightening. Too unknown. No thank you. I’ll stay right here in my safe little world and hold on tight.

Letting go is an all encompassing fact of life which begins the moment we are thrust out of the nurturing womb of our mother’s body. From warm and safe to the cold, harsh reality of breathing on our own, our little body is forced to let go and learn independence. We crave the safety of the womb yet some unseen force pulls us forward; an internal drive to grow, change and break free. It is a life long battle.

I Don’t Want To

This is my first response anytime life seems to want me to let go of something or someone. Nope, I’m fine. I like the safety and security of my little world. And that is the key. Without letting go of something, our world just keeps getting smaller and smaller until one day we suffocate from the trap we have set for ourselves.

When toddlers begin discovering their independence, the first word they learn to use is “No!” And when that word does not yield the desired result they resort to crying, screaming and sometimes amazing displays of physical wailing and flailing. We really aren’t so different from a toddler, our bodies are just bigger and we get more sophisticated in our wailing and flailing skills. But, really, we often react with similar maturity when the change of letting go is knocking on our door.

The Letting Go Season

There are seasons of life that go hand in hand with letting go of something or someone. And, there are times when letting go is forced upon us unexpectedly. I am in a season of letting go and, in one case, I am hanging on for dear life.

Turning a child loose into the world is, without a doubt, the scariest letting go of all. First of all there is nothing to be done about it; it is inevitable and short of locking them up in a closet (for which a nice long stint in prison would be the likely outcome) there is nothing to do but stand by and wave goodbye. Hopefully when this moment comes the years of nurturing and teaching will pay off as they learn to make their own way in the world. We walked this path once but that doesn’t make this current season any easier on our hearts. What we do know is that there is life after letting go.

I am in a different kind of letting go season. This season seems to be a tsunami of letting goes. Some of them are small and seemingly insignificant, others, such as releasing a new adult into the world, are huge.

Letting Go To Grow

Life, as in nature, we must let go to grow. I am having a hard time letting go of certain possessions. Hanging on to them is making me anxious and yet I can’t let go. I’m just going to rip the bandaid off and do it. No looking back or second guessing. The what if you need this again voice will be ignored. But first, Thanksgiving.

I wish everyone a memorable Thanksgiving. Remember those that don’t have a home or family; that could be you one day. Invite them in, serve them a meal, and experience the blessings of the day.

Escape To The Woods

The Inner Voices

As the day grew nearer, I began to experience some very familiar sensations and thoughts. Questions began to pop into my head in the most unexpected times and places.

“Are you sure?”

“What if you need something or someone?”

“You don’t know who else is going to be around…if anyone.”

“You’ll be a woman alone. You will be vulnerable.”

Fortunately I have come to recognize all those inner voices as my brain’s way of working through the anxiety of doing something new. I had planned for this getaway and looked forward to what it might reveal. I have traveled alone many times, and have come to enjoy being by myself in public places. I can absorb the environment without care or concern for someone else. It is very freeing. This felt different; I was going to be alone in the woods. There are just too many movies about the bad stuff that can happen to a woman alone in the woods for me to enter unguarded. So I took Maggie with me. At least I knew that no one would sneak up on me with her around. She is my emergency alert system.

You Are Not Alone

As is normally the case, my fears were unfounded and I was in good company. There are forty six cabins on this property but because of how they are arranged, and the sanctity of quiet, it is hard to know there are other people a few feet away. I had the benefits of seclusion with the knowledge that help, should I need it, is a phone call away. Each cabin is equipped with a red phone through which visitors can contact someone for help. As I type this I wish I were back there right now. I can still see and feel everything.

It didn’t take Maggie long to feel at home.

After unpacking, storing my food and feeding Maggie, we went on our first walk. It was Wednesday. Middle of the week and just a smattering of campers were spending their hump day in the woods. The smell of camp fires filled the fall air making the whole experience complete. I knew I would not trust myself to build a fire, so enjoying the aroma of my neighbors was as close as I would come. I inhaled deeply and kept walking.

Throughout the trip I chose to take no pictures on my walks. I was determined to really see and experience what was in front of me without trying to capture an image. The image now lives in my head. As I walked I allowed my thoughts to become a descriptive narrative of what I was seeing and feeling. It is an amazing game to play to try and describe with words the magnificence of nature. Words, like images, can never do justice to the reality.

Eventide

Darkness comes early in the forest. Forest darkness is not like suburban darkness. This is the ‘can’t see my hand in front of my face’ darkness. Maggie and I retreated inside as the day had been warm and the mosquitoes were coming out for a snack; I, too, was getting hungry.

Having cooked my food at home I just had to heat and eat. I opened my bottle of wine, warmed my food and sat in bed to eat. What a delicious way to live.

Did I say there is no television nor WiFi in these cabins? The goal is to disconnect. I took this seriously. I left my iPad at home. I did not download anything to watch. I had music, but even that seemed out of place. Rather, I chose the silence of solitude.

Once dinner was consumed and the dishes done, I settled in to read. I brought my Kindle because I knew I could read in little to no light with it and the e-ink system allows me to feel as though I was not breaking the no technology code I had set for myself.

In this degree of quiet, every single thing makes a sound. The breeze floating through the trees caused something, possibly a pine cone, to drop onto the roof of the cabin. I jumped. What was out there? Maggie didn’t react so I assumed it was nothing. I continued to read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open a moment longer.

Time For Sleep

I never sleep well the first night in a new place. This was no exception. I moved in and out of consciousness vaguely aware of my surroundings when I heard a rustling sound. I didn’t have to freeze as I was already still. I kept listening and wondering what in the world was making that noise. It was coming from inside the cabin and very close to where we were laying. Once again, Maggie did not react so it couldn’t be too serious, and yet the curiosity was causing my imagination to create some version of the Graboids from Tremors. Was it possible that a worm like creature with gnashing teeth had hidden in the cabin just waiting for the opportune time to attack? I summoned what little bravery I possess I turned on the flashlight on my phone to investigate.

At first I didn’t see anything unusual. I looked on the bed platform near the window where I discovered, not quite a Graboid, but nearly as disgusting, a two inch flying roach. The rustling sound had come from it crawling around, under or through a pile of plastic grocery bags I had put on the side of the platform. I am in the woods surrounded by pine trees; I was not surprised by my visitor. I lived in Texas long enough to know where it came from and that it was no more enamored of me than I was of it.

Weighing all options, I knew the roach was not going to eat me alive or inject me with venom, I turned out the light to try and sleep. I would deal with it in the morning. However, as soon as I closed my eyes I envisioned it crawling across my face during the night. I either had to get rid of it or stay up all night. I chose annihilation.

This time, when I turned on my flashlight, it had crawled up the corner of the walls. I waited. Soon it moved onto the window shade; my opportunity had arrived. I rolled up some papers and slowly moved toward the window. I didn’t want to scare it back into the corner. I took aim and gave it everything I had. Whack! The sound of the paper hitting the blind caused Maggie to jump from the bed in fear for her life. I think I may have closed my eyes because when I looked the roach was gone. I looked between the bed and the wall. No roach. No roach anywhere I could see. I must have just stunned it and I hoped that was enough to keep it far away from me for the rest of the night.

Holding my phone close I finally fell asleep. When we woke the next morning I looked in Maggie’s water bowl, and there floating motionless, was the roach invader. Maggie looked at it then at me. I think she wanted a drink but wasn’t going near this creature. I carefully picked up the bowl and dumped it outside the door and filled it with fresh water. Now it was time for coffee and breakfast. A beautiful new day was waiting to be discovered.

Lessons Learned

After spending so long at home it is easy to become anxious of everything beyond the front door. I don’t work. I leave home to go to the grocery store and out to eat once a week. I love being home but there is a side effect to my lifestyle mixed with my natural introverted socially anxious nature; my world has become very small. This adventure reminded me of truths I used to know and live by; I am capable to do most anything I set my mind to doing. I can go into the world, try new things and face my anxieties head on and emerge a better version of myself.

I need to do this more often. Take a couple of days and just go somewhere and have new experiences. I think I should go to public places as well; find ways to be around more people then retreat back home where I am always safe and secure.

Life Inside My Head

The morning sun casts a golden glow across the landscape of my backyard. The sky prepares for the new day with a color that is reminiscent of sapphires. Soon dawn will give way to daylight causing the deep, rich blue to fade like a pair of jeans after years of wear. A new day has begun. A new day of a new week. What lies ahead? I know I must step out into the world to find out. No more staying home and pretending. Thus begins the internal dialogue.

Morning Rituals

I reach for my coffee cup. It is empty. Time for the next step in my morning ritual. First cup of coffee means writing my morning pages. The dumping ground for all the crap that circles around in my head. I need that place to rid myself of so many random and distracting thoughts. “What did I do before morning pages?” I mutter as I head back to the kitchen for my second dose of delicious, hot caffeine.

Morning ritual number two is coffee and 200 mg of Sertraline, which is the real secret to my sanity. My mind is an interesting place to live. And I live in my head. I live several lives in my head; not in the multiple personality kind of of way, but in a fantastical, what if kind of way. One day I dream of a quiet life in a small town and the next I am craving the excitement of big city living. The only life I no longer dream of is a rural farm life. I have come to grips with the reality that I was born in a city for a reason and until HGTV made so many different lifestyles look attractive, I never considered the rural life. It looks romantic and fun on television but the reality is that it is filled with the kinds of wildlife I really prefer not having as neighbors and the work is hard and dirty. I have the greatest admiration for those who are made of sturdier stock than myself and can live that life. I know my limitations.

While I don’t want to live a rural lifestyle, I need regular doses of nature to feel connected and whole. That is the reason I am headed to my personal getaway this week. I think I could live anywhere if I had ways to reconnect with non master planned nature. There are so many state parks in this country I would love to visit. I have a plan, but it must be strategized and implemented carefully so that I don’t send my husband into his corner to prepare for the boxing match of dreams.

Fear Of Decisiveness

I look around the suburban home I have lived in for 33 years, contemplating the last segment of life. I am a realist. I understand that I am living in the latter years of my life, and while I am not giving up to sit and rock – although I do love a good upholstered swivel rocking chair – I am likely making choices that will dictate where and how I live for the rest of my life. “We are only moving once” were the emphatic words of my husband when I discussed possibilities that would enable us to have the best of all worlds. Again I remind myself to “pick your battles” and retreat from this discussion.

I have no answers. I wish I had a crystal ball and knew definitively what we are supposed to do. So many people our age move closer to their kids and grandkids yet we are considering moving further away. In this modern age of connectivity we don’t have to fear loosing contact or being left out of each other’s lives by the distance between our homes. And yet…old fears of being alone crop up from my subconscious. These fears and doubts make me fearful and anxious. When I am fearful and anxious I attempt to fix all the ‘problems’ myself. It is as if when I put them in a box and tie a ribbon around them life will be perfect and all will work out just like in every fairy tale ever told. That, however, is not real life.

Tune To The Right Station

Real life is living each day being tuned in to God who doesn’t dictate a path but rather allows us to make choices and then learn from those choices. I am not a believer in cosmic fate; a predestined life that only has one outcome. That is terrifying. I know I would see something sparkling then wander off my path in search of the magic jewel and end up in whatever version of hell might really exist. It is much more comforting to know that God loves and guides. There are many paths that each life can travel, some better than others, but it isn’t an all or nothing game. Thank goodness.

So, when I get my brain into a tizzy over the future, I need to remember to step back and just live today. Go out into the world and make the best of today and let tomorrow take care of itself. And so, here I go.