Archives for posts with tag: letting go

Funny thing happened yesterday, while I was sorting out what paintings will hang where, here in the new house… an ex crossed my mind. Oh, very briefly, and not in a weird or upsetting or chilling way. I was simply hunting for a particular painting I thought would be exceptional in a specific location, and I could not find it. I could not find it in the stacks of paintings in my studio closet, or in the flat storage cabinets along the wall, or stacked among the unsorted stacks-by-size, or… anywhere. Weird, right? I mean… not so weird; paintings sell. I don’t put much energy into selling art (not the sort of energy I put into painting paintings, for sure), but some of them do still somehow wander off in exchange for money. lol

I solved the mystery with an email search. I almost always email my partner when a painting sells. The subject line is pretty nearly always the same:

“[name of painting] sold! $xxx.xx”.

No idea why, exactly, I do this, but I do, and I can count on two things: firstly, batches of new work get emailed to a friend and attached (giving me a date they were created, and some notes about the new work, often including size, media notes, technical details, and title, if not also providing some insights into my inspiration at that time), and secondly, I email my partner when work sells (giving me details about where it went, and for how much it sold, and when). It only took a few minutes to find the original email with the new work attached… then a few more to find the sale acknowledged. (I could do much better with my business record keeping. lol I even think I should.)

That’s it, really. End of the tale. I sold the painting I had in mind to an ex, almost a decade ago, for a not-insignificant sum. In that moment of acknowledgement (and relief that I hadn’t just lost the damned thing), my ex crossed my mind. Briefly. Impersonally. Healing really does happen. Sometimes it takes more time than feels reasonable or convenient, but it can happen.

“K5: Gently Now” 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, May, 2010

This morning I sip my coffee and enjoy the quiet morning, undisturbed by thoughts of exes. They aren’t part of my life, by choice, and generally with good reasons.

It’s a new day. The sky is still dark. The house is quiet. The coffee is hot and the mug warms my hands pleasantly. I sit with my thoughts awhile. New beginnings will be soon enough. There’s definitely room in my day for “now“.

I talk a lot about making choices. I remind myself to make a new beginning, regularly. I practice non-attachment with commitment and discipline. I let things go. I move on. There is a serious reason why these are important practices for me; I have survived a lot through these practices. These are not practices for small circumstances, though it is the mundane petty things that provide the opportunities to practice regularly. These are the practices for the big shit in life.

Marriages that dissolve – with small children involved; sometimes people have to literally choose to walk away from their children to save their own lives. That’s hard. I can’t at all imagine what that must feel like, although I’ve had friends and loved ones go through it.

Jobs that end unexpectedly – with no opportunity to continue in a field of expertise or passion; sometimes people have to choose to undertake something entirely different, from the very beginning, without wanting to at all. Been there a couple of times, myself.

Abusive relationships – sometimes with real love involved; sometimes people have to walk away (in spite of love) to save their own lives – from violence, mental illness, or a narcissistic, petty, spoiled, unremorsefully callous loved-one unable or unwilling to make changes. Too many of us go through some version of this experience, sadly.

Sometimes life throws some very adult shit our way, seemingly forcing us to choose between our life and well-being, and what we think we want, or think we have, or think we need. It’s not easy. Sometimes the better, saner, choice is to just let it go. Begin again. Choose differently.

To escape violence in my first marriage, I had to reach a point where I was willing to walk away from everything. My home. My “stuff”. My existing social network. My career. My community. It was a matter of literally saving my life. I didn’t have much in the way of good practices for such circumstances then; I got lucky and made some choices that favored my survival. I’m grateful for that – and every day that my arthritis pain reminds me how mortal I am, it also reminds me that I have survived hell, and I am okay right now. Powerful lessons.

It’s tempting to work at things we’ve invested our hearts in, well beyond any useful point in making that effort. It’s tempting to excuse, explain, troubleshoot, or try again (and again, and again…). Sometimes those aren’t our best choices. It’s hard to be sure when that is the case, in advance, and we can be easily stalled by doubt. It’s emotionally difficult to choose differently, to select “self-care” from life’s menu, and “quality of life”, and to walk on from something we earnestly value, even when it is wrapped in misery. A good starting point is a realistic look at whether the thing we are valuing, whether it is a job, a relationship, a circumstance, or a possession, is truly all we think it to be. Is it just a “soap bubble”? What matters most? Have that and be controlled by it? Let it go and be free? It’s a choice. A really fucking hard one.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Letting go doesn’t necessarily mean there is no later follow-up, and there may be other actions to be taken… ending a marriage likely requires a divorce, for example – that’s a process that has a beginning and (hopefully) an end, but the process follows the decision to let go. The choice to act precedes the actions. Lost jobs are generally followed by new jobs – or some other new option for living life. Abusive relationships are… complicated. The ending of such things can be filled with further trauma; it’s rare that an abuser wants that relationship to end, themselves, they are invested because they specifically benefit from it. Things can get ugly. Scary. Filled with fear. Filled with sorrow. Filled with panic. Letting go – non-attachment- is a broad and well-lit path to emotional freedom. We can’t be controlled by what we are willing to let go.

It’s not easy. I’m having to let go of a specific, warm, and charming retirement that seemed so real and imminent, in favor of… no idea yet, but realistically I have to be willing to acknowledge that it won’t be that. I’m having to let go of a promising-seeming relationship (less difficult that it might have been, because the person involved made a specific point of burning bridges by way of mistreatment) – always painful. The worst? I’m having to let go of 42 original works of (my) art that I have not yet been able to recover, and may actually be destroyed (39 small works on paper, 3 canvases). It’s fucking hard, but even to continue to pursue recovering them (which may require litigation), I need to let them go, at least inasmuch as I have to allow myself to move on from grieving the loss, or being attached to a specific outcome. Still fucking hard. This? This is why I practice some of the practices I do, though; when I need them, they are here for me, reliably.

The sky is still blue. 🙂

I had a lovely weekend, in spite of the possible loss of 42 precious original works of art. No small feat, and I am smiling over my coffee, feeling wrapped in love and supported and cared for. (Seriously? It was like a vacation, crammed into one delicious day and night.) I am relaxed and ready for the work week. I’m grateful for my Traveling Partner. Grateful to have such wonderful friends. Grateful to be okay right now.  It’s a nice beginning to the week, whatever it holds.

…I use the words I have. I mean to say, I write more or less the same way I actually talk. It’s not always easy to read, and I’m sure cumbersome at times when simple clarity might have greater value. I’m tad surprised to have readers, and doubly surprised that many of them are my friends. It’s more than a little bit humbling, particularly when I feel those sensations of creeping self-doubt moving in to take over.

Self-doubt is a commonplace demon, honestly, and I’m pretty sure we’ve all kept company with that one at some point. Self-doubt can be so paralyzing, stopping me from painting, writing, or even connecting comfortably with others. Self-doubt backs me into a corner, and holds a fun house mirror to my face that shows me only flaws, until I question my worthiness as a human being, as an artist, as a lover, as a partner. Harsh. Self-doubt lies – using what appears to be truth. Oh, to be sure, if I can breathe through the panic, dry my tears, and take another look, self-doubt can also guide me to do more, better, and to reach for the next thing, and make it the next awesome thing about me… but… As likely as not, doubt will knock my enthusiasm into the dirt, and take away my joy for some little while, until I let go of the attachment to the target of the latest attack, and make my peace with being an imperfect being.

Begin again.

Begin again.

Self-doubt withers in the bright light of non-judgmental awareness. It’s a simple enough thing, requiring practice; I try to meet self-doubt with the certainty of change, a general attitude of acceptance, and a willingness to ‘just let it go’. If I’m not attempting to hold on to that which drives the feeling of self-doubt, it’s much less likely to undermine my feeling of worthiness overall. It works. An example? Well… It’s sort of personal, but here we go! Last night, toward the end of the evening, I felt waves of self-doubt wash over me after my traveling partner left… Maybe he’s been hinting he doesn’t want to be with me, and I don’t recognize it? (Holy shit – where did that come from??) Maybe he’s tired of me… not young enough… not thin enough… not easy enough to deal with… not rich enough… interrupt too much… too demanding (now damn it, that one’s just mean – I rarely make demands at all!!)… too something… not something enough… It cascaded one piece of internally directed criticism at a time, each seemingly built on something ‘real’… or at least real enough to drive doubt. By the end of the evening, I’d very nearly talked myself into feeling quite certain I was on the brink of breaking up with someone dear to me…without even exchanging harsh words, or enduring an uncomfortable scene. It was entirely, as far as I know, in my head. (Note that even now, many hours after this whole mess was put to rest, I still insert the ‘as far as I know’ clause in a sentence admitting I was tormenting myself with doubt? It’s weird how insidious doubt actually is; I felt it necessary to leave room for those fears and insecurities to be true…just in case they are. Doubt, you are a bitch.)

The temple of my heart is powered by my own feelings of love.

Love is a verb.

Other days, other doubts, I have been known to ‘stir the pot’ with foolishness like reaching out for reassurance, only… instead of just straight up saying “I feel insecure, and awash in self-doubt. I’m worried we’re heading for a break up, but that I can’t tell it’s coming. Can you please say something reassuring about your feelings for me?” (This would immediately put the issue at hand to rest, either with the requested reassurance, or the dreaded “Well…actually…” and the needed follow-up conversation.) That’s the fear, though, right? I don’t say that, because I’m terrified that the “Well…actually…” conversation would indeed follow. So. I often chose to wiggle into it sideways, fishing for compliments, or starting shit, sending an otherwise nice day spinning sideways into drama. This was not an effective strategy for me. I am surprisingly bad at asking the direct question, too; [lacking simplicity] I sometimes lose my way in the words, and head down the path toward drama in spite of myself. Ouch.

Doubt can be undermined so easily when I fill my awareness with the things that matter most.

Doubt can be undermined so easily when I fill my awareness with the things that matter most.

What did I do with this mess last night? It worked sufficiently well that I woke feeling comfortable in my skin, content, and fairly motivated to take on the day this morning. What I did was ‘let it go’. I practiced letting go of my attachment to the current relationship I share with my traveling partner. Sounds scary to see it text that way, but yeah, that’s what it takes [for me]. Your results may vary. I let myself really accept that ‘worst case scenario’ and made room for those feelings – the fear, the hurt, the doubt, the anger, the insecurity – and allowed myself, also, to make room for the awareness that I am okay right now… and likely would be quite okay even in the absence of this cherished relationship. Relationship comes and go, even the long ones. Ends are as commonplace as beginnings. It’s often the attachment to some tiny fragile detail that causes the cascade of painful self-doubt in the first place, but failing to notice that small detail as its own thing, I make things much bigger than they are. So, last night, I took time to appreciate small things I enjoy greatly about my relationship with my traveling partner. Distress took a back seat to the pleasure of savoring small things I greatly enjoy about ‘us’. My doubts kept chiming in with all the ways things have changed. Things we’ve lost over time. Things we didn’t/don’t have… but other people do (seem to, seem to, I remind myself – because appearances are only that).

Is love a journey or a destination? Or... is love a verb?

Is love a journey or a destination? Love… is a verb.

Before I went to bed, I’d achieved a harmonious equilibrium within my heart. Last night, I managed to avoid being pwned by self-doubt, which this morning seems an unreasonably large victory. It’s a new day. I love. I love deeply and well, and with my whole heart. As it happens, a very large portion of that love goes to my traveling partner, and I’ve got plenty more. If he did show up some evening and tell me “we’re finished as lovers, thanks for the lovely time”… I’d be okay. I’d be more than okay – I’d still be every inch and every moment this woman who I am, still very much able to love and be loved. I’ve worked to reach this place, and I won’t be so easily toppled from a comfortable sense of self… although I am aware how defining-ly dreadfully sad I would feel, for some time, to have to bear witness to the end of such a love as this one.  It seems fitting, really, to endure sadness when love ends, and the greater the love, the more terrible the sorrow.


Read all the books, and there is still so much more to know.

Emotions are so much of what we are. I’m incredibly fortunate to feel such nuanced complex emotions. With practice, over time, I’ve become more skilled at recognizing each basic emotion, the complex combinations I am capable of feeling and what they mean, or can tell me, as well as more comfortable with emotional experiences, generally. I am learning to recognize (and accept) that some emotional experiences are more like having taken a drug and being ‘high’ on that chemical cocktail, rather than an emotional experience specifically tied to real-life events in an obvious way (the difference between inexplicable irritability, for example, versus feeling sad over something obviously hurtful, like a death or a break up). Sometimes the body and brain get together and just ‘make shit up’ on the fly. It’s okay to recognize that and let it go, as a best practice [I find]. Your results may vary. I have definitely found that insisting every stray emotion be validated and insisted upon as an urgent communique from my heart is not helpful, because some of them are just biological noise.

Cautionary reminder: I am not a neuroscientist. I am not a doctor. I don’t have a ton of relevant research experience in the field of emotion, neurology, brain chemistry, the human experience, psychology, or medicine. I’m a human, sort of muddling my own way through this human experience, very appreciative for all the science that is out there (now), and a tad overwhelmed by how rich (and complicated) this being human thing really is – and hoping to do my best for the woman in the mirror. I read a lot. I practice. I continue to practice the practices that definitely improve my experience.

I’m glad you’re here. I’m moved that you’ve read so far! I hope some moment of that is worthwhile, or at least enjoyable. We’re all in this together… I recognize that we are also each having our own experience. Maybe we’re so very different that none of this applies to you, ever. That could be a thing. 🙂 You’re human though… maybe you’ve doubted yourself, too? It seems a bit cruel to take nearly 1500 words to basically say ‘I deal with self-doubt by letting go’. It’s overly simplistic stated that way. I hope I was clearer, earlier! Is your coffee cold, now? Mine is. The sun is up, too, spilling in through the open window, warming my hands and showing their years. It’s time to begin the day for real.

This moment.

This moment. A good one to begin again. 🙂

Today is a good day to recognize how complete I am, precisely as I am, outside the context of relationships, jobs, addresses, connections, hobbies, skills, experiences… all of those things are because I am, not what I am. Today is a good day to be present in this moment, simply to enjoy being, and being who I am. Today is a good day to embrace acceptance, and let go of attachment; it won’t change any detail of reality, itself, but it definitely has potential to change my experience. 🙂

I am relaxing quietly, music playing softly in the background – the sort of soft music that does well in the background without disappearing entirely. I have a tasty cup of coffee – decaf, but ground freshly from freshly roasted beans, and it is flavorful, warming and, when I am holding the cup in my hand, also peculiarly comforting. Plans for the evening fell through. I squash my disappointment with recognition that this is also a lovely quiet evening stretching out in front of me, suitable for all manner of taking care of me purposes.

I had rushed my shower a bit, feeling eager to see my traveling partner, and I make up for it now by lingering contentedly over my coffee. Later, I will sit down with pen & ink, colored pencils, liquid leaf, tiny brushes, and blank note cards; I enjoy hand drawn note cards as a small-scale art form which I can manage while also watching some sort of entertainment on the larger monitor that sits approximately in front of the love seat. Tonight probably Archer – I don’t feel like trying to hard at being an adult this evening. 🙂

One of many creative endeavors - and satisfying without being messy.

One of many creative endeavors – and satisfying without being messy.

Feet up. My own agenda. No pressure. No stress. How did I get here – from ‘there’? ‘There’ seems sort of long ago and far away right now… that’s a nice feeling. A lot of practice goes into this, and I still have difficult moments. Missing my traveling partner is one of the small challenges; I miss him almost more than I feel I can bear sometimes. I always manage to survive it. I’m learning not to linger on disappointment, or allow it to grow beyond the bounds of that simple moment of disappointment to become some sort of ridiculous pestilence of pointless drama. The results make the practicing quite worth it; there is delicious freedom in letting go, in moving past some stale brief moment of hurt – and there is growth.

A quiet evening contentedly sketching, coloring, sipping coffee and watching the grown-up version of cartoons is okay with me…in fact, there’s really nothing at all disappointing about such a lovely evening. Would I rather be hanging out with my dear love? Sure – and there are other days for that, the future is not now. This day, right here? This one is quite a nice one, and unspoiled by childish libido driven tantrums about sex, or lonely tears over hormones or distance. I can thank practices related to letting go, and acceptance, and gratitude as stepping-stones on this particular piece of the journey… Or I can just keep practicing. 🙂

If “practice makes perfect”… what are you perfecting? It’s a lovely night to practice The Art of Being, and take a journey to being the person you most want to be. That’s enough.