The gift of letting go

Judgement has saturated our lives and spoiled our ability to kindly connect with each other and ourselves. I’m amazed at how quickly it activates, always on the heels of observation, with bias following closely behind.

Observation: I completed two days of heart health exercise this week instead of three.
Judgement: I’m slipping on commitment to my heart health. 
Bias: I’m bad at exercising.

Observation: That woman had cosmetic plastic surgery.
Judgement: That woman has low self-esteem.
Bias: Women spend too much time caring what others think of them.

Observation: That person attended a Donal Trump rally.
Judgement: That person must be stupid.
Bias: People who think Trump would be a good POTUS are absolute idiots.

Observation: That person got their Master’s Degree in Social Work.
Judgement: It’s so naive to think you can change the world.
Bias: Liberals waste their time tending to their bleeding hearts.

Sure, there’s an appropriate time and place for judgement—like in a court room. But mostly the judgement I hear and see on a daily basis serves no positive purpose. News reports are usually accompanied by judgement, the nature of the opinion depends on what channel you’re watching. Talk shows are full of it. “Reality” shows are open range for viewers to spew their judgement at pregnant teens, hoarders, and famous families.

“Sometimes it’s fun to judge!” I hear you shouting at your screen, or maybe only in your head. I’m tempted to judge that statement, ‘cause that’s how the vicious downward spiral of judging goes. Did you notice the judgmental tone of even that last sentence? See, it seems there’s no escaping it!

But there is.

We can practice letting go of judgement. We can ask ourselves, “Is this an observation or a judgement?” When we let go of judgement we make space for acceptance. When we stop judging others, our fear of others judging us dissipates.

Let’s all give ourselves the gift of kindness. And once we feel we have enough, we can share with the rest of the world.

Traveling light

IMG_5157Thoughts are like travelers we meet along the way; sometimes knowing where they come from helps us to understand them; some are entertaining; some are inspiring and make us change our direction; some carry so much baggage it’s a real drag to be around them.

I’m fortunate that the hater traveler is not part of my entourage. You know the one. They constantly tell you you’re doing it all wrong and question every single thing you do. I run into this one sometimes for sure, but can shake ‘em off pretty quickly.

My core posse tends to consist of the planner, the photographer, and the mountaineer. The planner likes to (as you may have guessed) think ahead, strategize, and structure. The photographer insists on documenting, documenting, documenting. And the mountaineer is constantly pushing to ascend another peak. Having these fellow travelers around is nice, but I have to constantly manage them so they don’t rob me of the moment. Too much planning and looking ahead and I miss the incredible experience of being present. If the photographer had their way, I’d always have a device between me and reality—as a buffer and also to prove to myself that it all really did happen. The mountaineer’s ideal itinerary would keep me busy but leave me with no time to process, learn and grow.

I cross paths with these three time and time again, we walk together for a little while sometimes and then we say “until next time.” There are other travelers who I’ve had to say goodbye to altogether. They were keeping me from the path that’s right for me.

Prompt for Power Year clients:

Think about the habitual thoughts in your life. Is it time to let go of any of them? Email your thoughts to poweryear29@gmail.com or comment below.

Summer flings and goblin kings

When I was 25 I created a job posting for “Summer Fling.” It was a seasonal position with benefits, pay started at a penny per day DOE. Here is the position summary:

The Mission of Megatron (Megatron was my nickname, many still call me Tron, a nickname to that nickname) is to have a fun, memorable summer, by packing as many unique experiences as possible into two months. She seeks to spend some of her days running around, being a goofball with anyone willing to apply for this position.

I posted the position on the fridge at a party my roommate and I threw and counted on friends to spread the word. The one and only candidate who

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Summer Fling Position Description

applied for the job picked up on the playful nature of the game and mailed me a headshot along with their resume, which included relevant experience and fun facts. Two of my friends and I interviewed the candidate, which included asking them questions like “Do you like roller coasters? Can you please explain the physics of a rollercoaster to us?,” “What is your height? At what age did you stop growing?,” “Please open up your desk and chug the beer as fast as you can. You will be timed,” “What are your feelings about squirrels?” After listening to their solid answers we decided to hire them and they officially became my Summer Fling of 2005.

The idea most likely came during casual conversation. I imagine my 20’s self telling a friend, “A summer fling would be nice, fun and no commitment, I could post an ad, haha.” And then I actually made it happen.

I was recklessly creative and curious in my 20’s. As evidenced by my love for Jim Henson and all his creatures, I made my 27th birthday party an ode to him and billed it Dance Magic Dance on homemade invitations. I dressed up as Red Fraggle and some friends came in character as Ernie and the Goblin King. Everybody else came ready to majorly cut a rug at one of my favorite magical spaces in the world—Buntport Theater. When my

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Ernie and Red Fraggle, 2007

roommate of four years and I prepared to go our separate homestead ways, we threw an All Things Extinct party. One friend created a diorama of dinosaurs on their shoulder and head (this makes it sound like they only had one shoulder–they had two–the diorama only occupied one–aren’t you relieved I cleared that up? I am). After I watched a roller derby bout at Bladium I pulled one of the skaters aside and asked what it took to become a skater—and then I joined the league and skated for two seasons. When I recall all I did in my 20’s I am amazed. It would be easy to believe those were the golden days and now my 30+ life is on the decent. Easy, yet inaccurate.

I think it’s hard sometimes, to let go of a phase of our life. It can feel like we’re letting go of part of ourself, and oh how the ego can’t stand that! I like to think of it as letting go of the physical, and our strengths remain. I can let go of my 20’s body and still have my health. I can let go of my 20’s social life and still have fulfilling friendships. I can let go of bringing many different ideas to fruition and still be curious about life. I can let go of single ladies life and still hang out with Beyoncé on the weekend have fun with the single and partnered up ladies in my life.

Sometimes the phases we let go of aren’t the ones we’re most proud of, and we’re happy (or scared) to put in the work to transform ourselves. Other times the phases we let go of are filled with fun memories, and we appreciate those times for what they offered to us and we try not to get stuck on recreating them. Instead, we channel our strengths into the now, the environment we find ourselves in, and we live fully—free of ties to the past.

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Beautiful sunsets are great reminders to practice letting go—and to savor the moment.

Loss and letting go

We continue to lose daylight for another two weeks or so, until Winter Solstice. We have no say. That is loss. Involuntary and inevitable. My family lost a loved one to cancer recently, which inspired many thoughts about loss and letting go.

Just because we lose something doesn’t mean we choose to let it go. Sometimes we hold on, even though we know holding on won’t bring back the lost. There is comfort in holding on. We hold on until we are ready to let go. Letting go is a choice.

We can choose to remember after we let go. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting or abandoning. We can let go and accept the loss. When we let go and release our hold, we are open to now; we give ourselves the gift of being in the present instead of stuck in the past.

Gratitude: Week five

Well, it’s the final week of expressing gratitude for needs found in Maslow’s hierarchy. This week: self-actualization. Depending on which pyramid chart you look at, a variety of descriptors are used to explain what self-actualization encompasses; education, motivation, justice, honesty, altruism, creativity, emotional growth; morality, spontaneity, problem solving. Boiled down, self-actualization is to realize fully one’s potential.

Is this possible or are there just many false summits of self-actualization?

How many lifetimes does it take to get there?

It’s funny, I spent over ten years of my life dedicated to a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower young people to realize their full potential. All the while, I denied myself of exactly that. Because it’s terrifying to turn the eye inward. For real and for the long run. Not just for a moment until you see something that scares you and then you switch back to trying to empower everyone else except yourself.

It’s like someone shuffled up the pages of life’s instruction manual and I was trying to complete step two before step one. Life worked, just not as fully as it could.

I’m thankful for the perspective I gained from all the youth and families who I served while working in the non-profit sector. I’m thankful to be in a position of privilege, and that I feel less guilty and defensive about that position each day. I’m thankful for the education I received in college. I’m thankful for the access to free knowledge I have via the public library. I’m thankful for every step toward self-actualization that I take. I’m thankful to know how to navigate the line between self-awareness and self-centeredness. I’m thankful to know that fully realizing my own potential means I’m contributing to the greater good.

Holla days

For the past few years I’ve been working on reclaiming xmas. I didn’t realize this is what I was doing until recently, when I told myself, “It’s time to reclaim xmas!” and I thought about all the small changes I’ve been making to the rituals I choose to participate in during what can be a tumultuous season of consumerism.

Four years ago, my partner for life and I started a new tradition in our home. The xmas time capsule. On December 25, 2011 we gathered items from around our home and placed them in a box, wrote cards and letters of reflection to each other, and closed up the box—a gift to our 2021 selves. Each year since then, we’ve spent time together on Christmas Day, reflecting and packing away tchotchkes that reflect events and interests from the past year. This ritual has come to hold more weight than new gift giving and receiving.

A couple of years after the xmas time capsule tradition began, a xmas cube found its way into our home. More cheerful than a Festivus pole, our xmas cube was constructed by my husband, who initially used it as part of a prototype for a IMG_1344project he was working on. Rather than trashing the thing, we threw some lights and ornaments on it (and later a White Walker–what says winter is here more than that?). I especially love the xmas cube for its size. It doesn’t disrupt the Feng shui of our home and stores easy once xmas is over.

I brought up our one and only cardboard box labeled “XMAS” from the basement the other day and resolved to never have more xmas decorations or ornaments than can fit in that single box. In that moment I managed to tame the beast and freeze it to forever being nothing more than a cute little baby beast. Relief! Literally. A big sigh of it.

IMG_1341Two of the newest items in our box of xmas decorations are beautiful (and ginormous) stockings embroidered by my stepmom. She gifted them to my husband and me over the past couple of years and now they will hang on our mantle each December. I appreciate the time and love she poured into the stockings, and have been thinking a lot about how to incorporate them into a reclaimed version of xmas. Traditionally in my family, the stocking served as the appetizer of gift time. A warm up to the main event. And because of this, I think I probably sped right through the plastic candy canes full of chocolate kisses and whatever else (see? I don’t remember) was in my stocking as a kid. I think the stockings may serve as the main event for our reclaimed xmas. Like the single XMAS box of decorations, the stockings serve as physical visuals of containment. If I don’t contain consumerism, it’ll contain me.

Reclaimed xmas is an evolving process that happens in a dogma free zone. Maybe next year we’ll incorporate a winter solstice celebration—holla to longer days filled with light!