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Letting go is an act of self-care

We are living in uncertain times. Daily life is uncomfortable. Things are unpredictable. I need comfort to feel safe. I need predictability to feel confident.

In 2011, I moved back to Massachusetts from five years in California. So many experiences behind me. The loss of my spouse in a fatal car accident, selling my house, buying another house, changing jobs, living with my daughter’s unstable health. My life had broken open. The bright corner of this was I was in love again but I left this new relationship because my daughter was worse and my mother was dying.

My house was rented so I lived in apartments, five of them during a two-year period. For various reasons, I’d lose one apartment and find another. Part of that journey was renting a room from a woman who later turned out to have a serious drinking problem. I was in the midst of an unstable household. My safety was at risk. My belongings were at risk. I had to get out. It was a harried process that resulted in renting a room from a couple who wanted to help. This is when I learned the lesson of what it means to choose to be right or choose to be happy.

The drunk woman owed me $500 from my month’s rent paid before making my hasty exit. She was unable to be truthful with me, rented my room before I left and collected money from the next tenant. I was furious. Injustice blatantly demonstrated. I dug my heels in and demanded the return of my money to no avail. She was illogical and disillusioned. She knew about my struggle with my daughter’s health. She knew about my struggle settling back in Massachusetts and my mother dying. She knew my vulnerabilities. She knew and yet she persisted in denying me what was rightfully due me.

A wise friend asked do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?

Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?

I couldn’t believe this injustice on top of all I had gone through and all I was facing. I chose happy and let go. It was a visceral release as I weighed my happiness over my demand to fairness.

By making the decision to be happy, I put down my victim costume and walked away. I was free and that was worth more than proving my point of what I was owed. With awareness I make choices every day what I battle with and what I let go.

Living in uncertainty breeds the need to be right. I got stuck in fighting for what’s right because it was a truth. I forgot about my priority meter and when I weighed this truth against what I needed, my choice was obvious.

Letting go is an act of self-care. Discerning what battle I choose is an act of self-care. Defining my needs is an act of self-care. Practicing self-care demonstrates to me the deep respect and honor I have for me. I do not abandon me. I choose to be happy.

We live in such uncertain times. There is peace in uncertainty when I let it guide me. Using discernment aids in the guiding. These are uncertain times and I choose self-care.

Embracing Uncertainty is a book about sleeping better at night…about easing the pain in our brains that comes from trying to control the uncontrollable…about making life more an enriching adventure than a continuous worry. It is about providing that something enduring to hold close, something that won’t wash away in the furious tides of change.”
“I was once told that certain Spiritual Masters in Tibet used to set their teacups upside down before they went to bed each night as a reminder that life was impermanent. And then, when they awoke each morning, they turned their teacups right side up again with the happy thought, “I’m still here!” This simple gesture was a wonderful reminder to celebrate every moment of the day.”
“Certainly, we all need reminders that we are privileged to be alive, that life is short, and we need to make the most of it. Unfortunately, most of us wake up leaving the teacup upside down, metaphorically speaking, dragging through the day, putting off life, thinking we will live forever but acting if we were already dead! No joy today. Another time perhaps.”
“From the hard times, wonderful self-discoveries can be made. In fact, some would argue that huge advances are not possible without the hard times. The nature of life itself tells us that there will always be…


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“And so it goes. Watch yourself unfold. Become the observer of your life instead of being trapped in the midst of the drama. When you are trapped in the drama, it is very hard to embrace the uncertainty. When you become the observer, you can be much more creative in discovering solutions to any situation or problem that comes your way.”
Trust that whatever you need will be there. And if it isn’t, trust yourself to find it. You are an excellent problem solver.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I remember a situation I had many years ago with a boss and it revolved around this thing of being right or being happy. Two years after leaving that job, it was still ruling my life because I was determined to be right. I was thinking what’s amazing and powerful is the 24-hour day. It’s sort of like turning over the cup. When you get up in the morning, you aren’t doing the Groundhog Day thing of reliving the day before. It is a new one and a chance for change. I think that is terribly powerful, that ability to change every day.

  • One of my favorite parts about the Groundhog Day movie is, it isn’t the same every day. Every day he grows, he learns different things, he makes different friends. What I like to think of is I can make my own Groundhog Day. Take each day as a time to do something new, improve myself.

  • I really resonated with ‘living with continuous worry.’ That took me back to reflecting upon what would it be like to let go of that and be in the world. I had an image of a white dove that was on my hand, and questioning would I make it if I had to let go of continuous worrying. Just reflecting and thinking about that—it would be wonderful to fly and feel free in the way I imagine a peaceful white dove to be, and to have that freedom. At the same time, I would really have to feel that I can do it myself, that I have what it takes to fully trust and I’ve got what’s needed. I will find it if I don’t have it. And it really circled back to a major loss in my life when my mother died when I was 13 years old. A hole that I was never able to fill. It always surprises me a little bit that one of those fundamental themes that I struggle with is still flying around and moving around in my life.

  • Great awareness. When you were talking about the dove, I thought of the QR, Quieting Response (see ????), worrying is the fist and the dove is the letting go and releasing.

  • Thank you as always. So beautiful. I love the image of the turned-over cup. It reminded me of something that Rachel Naomi Remen wrote in My Grandfather’s Blessing. It was a ritual I did for a while, and I think I’m going to incorporate again and do both rituals. She wrote, in the morning, get a special cup or mug and fill it with water to the brim. Each day we can fill our cup. Then walk it to an altar or special place where it will stay all day. You have to walk it very carefully or else it will spill. And then, at the end of the day, walk it back to a place where you can release it. I crave comfort and certainty at a certain level. At these times of uncertainty when I am aware of the voids in my life that feel ancient and unfillable, these rituals bring a measure of a kind of certainty in the now for me.

  • I was struck by the choice of being happy or being right. I had an object lesson in that yesterday. I think I’m going to choose happiness. Beyond that, I was struck by your saying there is a greater need to be right during times of uncertainty. I think that’s going to apply to whatever this political transition is.

  • What resonated with me was the uncertain times. It reminded me today when there’s a lot of uncertainty and it brought me to relationships, and relationships are different now. Friends don’t want to talk about what’s going on. I find my language is guarded, and conversations aren’t to the depth or degree that they were. I miss the depth. I found myself thinking I can’t do anything about it. I heard at a meeting last night to breathe in love from everyone and breathe out compassion to everyone. Breathing in and out to everybody and picturing it.

  • Thank you for your beautiful reading. So much to think about. It reminded me of the word expectancy. In times of uncertainty and even times of certainty, if I’m living in expectations there will be a difference of how I feel. But if I’m living in expectancy, then it doesn’t matter if things are uncertain or not. I’m not demanding any result, I’m not forcing it, I’m not trying to control it, I’m not worrying about it—I’m just letting go. It’s my challenge for today to live in expectancy.

  • Thank you for all these thoughts to think about. When we choose our battles, we are also choosing our victories simultaneously. That occurred to me during the meditation. On PBS, they were profiling artists last night, and a friend was talking about her life. She was remembering what her father always said to her—that at every juncture in life, for her to choose happiness. That is so important. I have a neighbor who is extremely negative, and next time we talk, I’m going to say ‘today, why don’t we choose happiness.’

  • Something I’ve had on my bulletin board for years is a cartoon. One person is saying “Where did you find that? I’ve been searching for it everywhere.” The other person says, “I created it myself.” What they are talking about is happiness.

  • Thank you for sharing this time, silence, thoughts, heart—I appreciate it so much. We are an anchor to ourselves, and this community is an anchor. I hope you have a gentle day.

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