“Holding Tight while Letting Go”

I picked up “Live What You Love” by Bob and Melinda Blanchard to read yesterday morning. It was a random selection, something I do occasionally when I’m in between purposeful readings. The process: I stand in front of my bookcases and scan titles until the book I am meant to read jumps out at me. This book is orange. I don’t remember buying it, which is often the case – one of many impulsive book buys in my life. Trusting the Why will be revealed, I buy the books that speak to me. I don’t always read them until years later.I love the moment I understand the Why. This morning it was clear.

Timothy left for Utah last night and my heart is crying a steady stream of sadness, a whole body feeling that weighs you down from the inside. The outside can smile and express how excited you are for him. You can imagine his adventure and beam with pride at the young man you’ve raised. You can know with certainty that you have done a good job and prepared him well. You can know without a doubt that he will be better than okay – he will grow in so many ways. You can feel all of that incredible, positive, exciting stuff and still your heart will cry. Inwardly, knowing how much you’ll miss his smile, his laugh, his hugs, his sarcastic wit, and insatiable thirst for life.

You’ll feel like you should have paid more attention along the way. You should have realized the day he first left he wasn’t coming back. When was that day? It feels like it was the first day of Children’s House. He was three. I didn’t want to take him. It feels like it started then, his pull to leave – my pull to hold on.

Maybe I did pay attention but I didn’t listen. Maybe I’ve known for twenty years that he would leave me. My gut trying to tell me all those years ago, “Get ready. This one is going places. Prepare yourself. This one will love you fiercely but he’s gonna need you to love him enough to let him go.”

That is the Why of this book. As I read “Live What You Love”, I’m reminded of exactly what this child of mine is doing at this moment. He is living the life he loves, stepping bravely out there into his dream and I am blessed to be the mom who witnesses it. It is my honor to be the mom who encouraged the boy to draw geometric designs for hours and days and to love Frank Lloyd Wright to the point of obsession. Something inside me planted within him a seed that has grown into a passion for architecture and a spirit of adventure.

How lucky am I to be the mom who for years watched the passion he felt each time his foot touched the soccer ball, his enthusiasm and energy filling the space, allowing me to feel the excitement vicariously through him, that moment when his body, full of adrenaline pushed itself to be all that it could be. Now, that same young man has found a new passion for the outdoors and he’s moving to Utah to hike and explore a place he has grown to love with the girl he has chosen to share his life with. How lucky am I to be the mom of this young man?

So I’ll let my heart cry as long and as often as it feels the need. After all, I will miss him. But I will feel gratitude for all that this next adventure is with this boy of mine. Together we are growing as I learn to hold tight and let go in one grace-filled movement.

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How lucky am I to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.

Look, It’s ego.

“If you think you’re evolved, go spend a week with your family.” -ram dass

I’d like to expand this idea to say, “If you think you’re evolved, go interact with your family via facebook.’

I believe that I have grown in significant ways over the past 10+ years.  I’ve gone to therapy, read self-help books, learned to meditate, and I surround myself with positive energy on a daily basis.  I’ve become increasingly aware and make it a practice to be present in the moment.  I often counsel my children to observe their breath and be aware of how situations affect them.  “Let it go,” I say.  “Just breathe.  You are okay.”

And yet, this past week has been a huge screaming reminder to me that I am only one controversial issue away from losing my cool and getting sucked up into an email argument with a sibling.  After two days of back and forth correspondence, last night I found myself frantically typing away another letter in an attempt to be heard.  My heart rate was off the chart and my stomach hurt.  The keys were a blur as tears flowed.  My feelings were hurt.  I felt misunderstood and attacked.  When I could no longer see what I was writing, I stopped.  In a moment of clarity, I heard, “What are you doing?  Just breathe.  You are okay.”

I took a deep breath, wiped my eyes, and put my finger on the delete key.  I held it down until all of the desperation was erased from my computer screen.  I laid the computer on the floor, closed my eyes, and cleared my mind.  For the first time in days, I felt a little sliver of peace begin to work its way into my soul.  I sat with that feeling for a while and then went to bed.

Today I feel a bit silly.  Silly for spending so much of my week upset over someone else’s opinion of me.  Silly for letting my guard down so that my ego could wiggle its way out and take a front position in my life.  Silly for thinking that I had evolved to a point that this would never happen to me again.  But the reality is that ego is a part of us and for the majority, it never goes away completely.  Being aware of ego and how it feels when ego is in control is a huge step.  I recognize ego when I begin to feel the need to be “right”, that feeling that if I just keep expressing my view, the other person will hear me and will be convinced to agree, that feeling of not being able to just  let it go but having to argue a point over and over.

Ego sits waiting for a moment of weakness, for someone to ‘push our buttons’ or ‘trigger’ an emotion from our past.  Members of our family are often the most likely people in our lives to do this.  They know our triggers better than anyone.  Our history is entwined and their ego uses our ego to gain strength.  It is when both egos are in charge that things get out of hand, relationships are damaged, and everyone gets hurt.

The lesson is to recognize the feeling that ego causes and to move through it.  By bringing awareness to the ego, it begins to shrink back into the shadow.  Ego can’t function in the light of awareness.  The second our Self recognizes ego, it loses all power.  The practice is then to recognize ego faster and faster each time it tries to take center stage in our lives.  Last night, in a moment of exhaustion my Self was able to whisper to me, “Look, it’s ego.  He got you again.”

My first thought this morning was that I had wasted three days of my life engaged in negative dialogue, three days I won’t get back that I could have been focused on creating the life I deserve.  I realize in this moment that no time was wasted.  I was having exactly the experience that my Self needed in order to grow again.  I had reached one level of enlightenment and had grown comfortable but there is a higher level yet to be obtained.

The Universe places before us exactly what we need in every moment.  The past few days were a reminder and a lesson.  For that, I am grateful.