Category Archives: letting go

Ownership, Obligation, and Love

The question was never “What can be done?”

The question was always “What can you do?”

Or rather, “What can I do?”

When I start a session with a new client, I always start with: “How can I help you?” Because it’s a simple truth that we can only do what we can do. If a client said to me, “I need you to tell my partner that they’re wrong so that they understand how much I’m hurting,” my response would be, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that… I can, however, help you with your hurting.”

‘What can I do?’ is answered by what I can do.

Everybody has unique gifts, and everybody can use their talents to do something and be impactful. Unfortunately, a lot of the time we focus on trying to be like other people by imitating their gifts, or trying to make our own less noticeable. But if everybody did the same thing, there would be no impact. No change. No progress. No understanding. No growth. No empathy. No hope. … No Love.

What matters the most is being who you are, bringing who you are to the table, and then acting from that place. Knowing who you are, what you can do, and doing it is one of the greatest affirmations in the universe. It’s a way of taking ownership for who you are, why you’re here, and what you’re willing to do to contribute… and creating a path to Love.

Just the other day, I was thinking about my own gifts and how I wish to take ownership differently going forward. I had a great conversation with a dear friend (and gifted healer), and realized a lot of my desire for change was mired in conflating ownership with obligation (aka: externalized responsibility). I cannot be responsible for things that aren’t mine to be responsible for. I may think I should do it, but the bottom line will always be about whether I can. If it’s not in my wheelhouse – meaning, it’s not aligned with my own gifts, path, and capabilities – then I really have to let it go. Otherwise, I’ll expend a lot of energy for little or no outcome.

Ownership is different. Taking ownership is about claiming my place in this world, as I am, doing what I can do – not feeling responsible for others’ journeys, but sharing the road together. Ownership is standing unapologetically in my boots, for better or worse, and being. Being the best, most loving version of myself that I can be, in everything I do.

My friend reminded me of the importance of remembering the power of Love throughout this journey. Love of self, love for others, and capital-L Love. Love supports change and growth more than almost anything else. This means that Love is absolutely necessary in ownership, whereas obligation (especially externalized responsibility) usually involves some measure of fear.

So, in the end, when we look at the question “What can I do?” the answer should always be:

Respond with Love.

And the Universe emphasized that simple, yet important, truth when shortly after my call with my friend I parked next to a car that had this exact bumper sticker. I love how that works, don’t you?

Permission to Let Go

I missed writing a blog last week – did you notice? Several of you did and reached out to check that everything is ok (thank you). And if you didn’t notice, that’s totally ok, because I didn’t notice either.

Sometime during the afternoon on Tuesday I had the realization that it WAS Tuesday, and I had totally missed writing for the week. I think it had entered my mind sometime over the weekend prior, but I wasn’t in the mood or in a place to sit down and write, so I didn’t. Then Tuesday morning came and went, and I had no notice of it. I actually thought it was Monday.

When I finally realized that I had missed the weekly blog, I responded rather differently than I would have expected. I said to myself, “Oops. Oh well…” and that was it.

Let me back up though. The reason I would have expected more of a reaction is because many years ago I made a commitment to myself to always write every week, and to do so in a way that would benefit others. This weekly ritual was designed to be both an offering (it is always free), and a habit to reinforce my creative process. There have been very few occasions in which I stopped writing weekly – the main one being my time in graduate school. For the most part, however, I haven’t missed a week in over seven years (barring that graduate school period). So, why didn’t it bother me?

Not only did it not bother me, I saw it as an opportunity to reflect on the reasons for writing and the plan for the future. I started asking whether it was realistic for me to write a weekly blog when I am working on 3-4 books at the same time? Do people really read it or want it? Is it adding value?

All of these things, and more, came streaming in and out of my mind. In the end, however, I returned to the original premise of the blog, which is:

  • To make an offering
  • To maintain a creative flow

Those two things still hold true today, and are more important to me than ever. And yet, I also realized the importance of letting go of any judgment or self-criticism that would have had me reacting a differently than I did. I’m very happy with my response, because it shows that I have developed a level of self-compassion and patience that I didn’t have previously. It’s evidence of the fact that I am living more form a flow-state than a struggle-state (even though it often feels like struggle on the outside). My response shows me that my inner seas are calm and smooth sailing, and that is worth more than anything.

So, I have made the decision to continue to write weekly – though I will allow myself the flexibility of posting on a different day, sometime between Monday and Friday in any given week. Flexibility is a key component of flow, and will allow me to adjust my sails a bit and see what happens.

And I think that’s the most important thing we can learn in life, isn’t it? How to respond to ourselves with kindness, compassion and flexibility, so that we can raise our awareness and assess whether changes need to be made from a place of inner calm. Well, at least that’s where it is for me, today. And for that, I am grateful that I missed writing last week. it gave me the perfect opportunity to pause, take a step back, and move forward with more compassion, awareness, and alignment.


Acceptance Made Easy(er)

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about “acceptance” and how important it is for living a balanced and happy life. And I agree. Acceptance is one of the cornerstones of living well.

Where I have a teensy-weensy problem, however, is the connotation that has developed around the idea of acceptance.

To address this, let’s first look at what acceptance is not.

Acceptance is not:

  • Settling
  • Surrender
  • Giving up
  • A consolation prize
  • Relinquishing responsibility

Nor is it blind faith and/or an abandonment of free will. Rather, acceptance is a calm embrace of what is. It’s a knowing.

Acceptance is peace through wisdom.

Acceptance doesn’t require abandonment of understanding and/or exploration. Rather, it requires questioning. Questioning that moves us through to acceptance from a place of strength, courage, and presence.

Acceptance asks us to question everything so that we arrive at the knowing underneath, the knowing that was always there. There’s a quiet grace in true acceptance that transcends chaos and fear.

In other words, if it feels like settling or giving up, it’s not acceptance. Acceptance is an embrace, not a letting go.

Bottoming out and bottoming up

What if “bottoming out” actually required bottoming out?

We’ve all been there, or know someone who has. Hit rock bottom. Bottomed out. It’s a common metaphor used especially often in the world of addiction and recovery. It describes the point at which everything had no choice but to change. Some refer to it as the moment of surrender, or letting go to let God. I think of it as the moment of possibility.

Here’s the thing though… all too often, I see or hear stories of people who have bottomed out without actually doing so, which requires them to do it again (and again, and again). I’m going to paint you a picture.

photo 1Imagine we all live in barrels (bear with me), and at the bottom of those barrels lay all the sediment and debris from our lives. It’s the land of negative thoughts, pain, suffering, and fear. So, as we get close to that bottom of sludge and mud, we would naturally want to move as far away from it as possible. Hence, often times we hear of people hitting bottom and making changes.

However, “hitting bottom” can be just our big toe touching the sludge, causing us to instantly leap toward the top of the barrel in our best effort to avoid the boggy madness. Or, sometimes we can go in up to our knees before we jump to make a change. And sometimes, sadly, people drown in the muck from sitting there and staying in it without movement.

But, what if there were another way? What if I were to tell you that all that you know about positivity and hope is not only “above” you in the barrel, but the source of light is also below you – through the muck? What becomes possible then?

Here’s how I see it.

photo 2At the bottom of every barrel there is a hole. That hole may be tiny, no bigger than a pin, or it may be large, but it’s there. On top of the hole is a covering, not a plug. It just sits there. Occasionally it allows the muck to seep out, but mostly it just holds it all in place.

Now, what if swimming down through the muck and getting to the covering to move it out of the way actually allowed your barrel to empty the sludge? What if the way “out” of the bottom is actually through it?

Too often, I think we bottom up when we are bottoming out, which often leads to hitting bottom again (or grazing bottom, actually). I think, though, we’d have a lot more success in wellness if we chose instead to plunge deeper into the mess at the bottom to release it from our containers. Of course, that would require some work and support, but it would be well worth it if we could drain the barrel and exit out the bottom. That would truly be bottoming out.

From there, who knows where we could go? Anything would be possible. Which means, at the bottom of every barrel lies possibility.

Water is Life and other wisdom

Let Go… Live in the Now… Be the Change…

Those are beautiful and wise sentiments, aren’t they? I agree. There are so many truths in the wisdom and teaching that has been shared. All of these and many more are great suggestions for living a more peaceful balanced life. But… (you knew there would be a “but” from me, didn’t you?)… they can also be very shame-inducing and part of an endless cycle of fear, failure and lack.

Here’s why: Suggesting to someone how to BE, is virtually the same as telling them what they currently ARE is wrong. (Even without actually saying the words “You’re wrong.”)

“You’re wrong,” is an incredibly powerful statement. It negates and trivializes another person’s existence, experience and truth. Furthermore, these mantra-esque suggestions are statements of hindsight. They don’t express the actual work someone had to go through to arrive at this enlightened state and wisdom. (The Buddha didn’t just “let go” for example, it took a fair amount of searching, process and exploration for him to arrive at “letting go.”) And therein lies the problem I have with these distilled statements of truth.

Stating a simplified truth as fact disavows the process,
and the process is where enlightenment occurs.

So, my goal is to give some meat and substance to commonly-held truths or wisdom. My hope is that it will help you along your journey to know that you’re not alone and perhaps gain some insight into your own process, via someone else’s (aka: mine). Here’s a simple metaphor to get us started and explain my intention:

The example: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

In this instance, the wisdom statement made by a thought leader might be: “Water is Life.” The sages, gurus, and teachers who have arrived at that statement could more accurately say, “Water saved my life,” but it’s less auspicious. Most importantly, though, how they got to this simple truth might sound like this:

“I was thirsty, tired, alone, scared, and I didn’t know what to do. As I sat at the side of the road, several people passed me who told me there was water up ahead. A few strangers gave me sips from their own supply. Sips! Sips do nothing when you’re dehydrated! What were they thinking? Why couldn’t they just give me their water?! But finally, I saw a footpath, and I started walking. At first I stumbled. A lot. Then it became easier. Then the path stopped and I had to find another one. And another one. All the while, I was still thirsty, but there was some shade along the way, and I took refuge in it, pausing here and there. That was nice. Finally, at a bend in the path, I saw a well. At the well, I sat down. How was I going to get the water? Maybe someone else would come along who had a bucket. So I sat, and sat, and waited. Waited for someone else to come help me relieve my thirst. Nobody came. Heck, I didn’t even know if the well had any water in it. So, I walked on. Still thirsty, I thought of turning back. Many times. Actually, sometimes I did. But I remembered what one stranger said – there’s water up ahead. Maybe he wasn’t referring to the well. So, I kept going. It wasn’t easy. In fact, a lot of the time it hurt and I was in pain. But I kept going. Hoping the stranger was right. Then it happened. I heard it before I saw it – the gentle babble of a clear stream. Water! Open water! Flowing water! My heart sang! I found water. I found water!!! An endless supply of water. I walked over to it, cupped my hands, and took my first sip… I would be thirsty no more. Ahh, life.”

Much (much) later, that entire story would have been boiled down to “Water is Life,” a simple, easy truth. However, in that simple, easy truth we’ve lost the humanity in the wisdom. The story TAUGHT the truth to the teacher. And, in my opinion, the story is much more powerful, accessible and pure.

Sadly, a simple phrase, such as “Water is Life” can be shaming for some, and simply inaccessible for others, no matter how true it is. Which is why I hope to breakdown some of these sayings into bite-size stories that help them come alive.

As such, you’re welcome to send me your suggestions or questions for addressing other “truths” you’ve heard along the way and might be struggling with, and I will do my best to shed some light on them. And may I suggest the next time someone tells you to “let go” because it’s the path to happiness and freedom – perhaps you could ask them exactly how they’ve managed to do it, because the wisdom behind the truth lies in the story.


On Forgiveness

“Lucy…you have some ‘splaining to do!”  Who doesn’t remember that famous line from “I Love Lucy” – it’s a classic!

Well, friends, borrowing from Ricky, I have to say that I have some forgivin’ to do. Or I did. I felt stuck in some ways, and wasn’t sure why. I move forward deliberately in life, and I continually make progress – but recently I noticed recurrent thoughts playing out in the background of my soundtrack, like another story line. I’d be driving, and suddenly think of something that caused feelings of resentment or regret and the needle would get stuck on the record playing the same song over and over again – never loud enough to just turn it off, but just softly enough to raise my awareness to something that was stuck. On repeat. Annoying me. Time to take a look!

What I found was that I was harboring negative emotions toward others (ok, and myself) because of some past actions and events. These were things that no longer played an active role in my life, things I had moved on from, and things I no longer considered on a conscious level. But there they were, like white noise, stirring up old emotions I thought I had dealt with. Nope. Time to forgive.

So, here’s the thing…forgiveness is about us. Ourselves. Not the other person. It’s a simple truth: Forgiveness is a gift one gives to oneself. I know this. But then I wondered – Does forgiveness need to be face to face? Or, is it possible that the energy of forgiveness itself is enough to release us from the shackles that bind us to resentment, anger, hurt, and frustration? I believe it is. Here’s why:

Forgiveness is an offering. Therefore, it can be shared with another anonymously and be equally as effective. Its power lies not in whether it’s accepted by someone else, whether that person embraces or validates the forgiveness. Its power lies in the act itself. The decision to release ourselves from the imprisonment of the limiting negative emotions is powerful. To acknowledge the hurt and suffering we experienced as a result of something typically outside our control is powerful. It’s not about denying the event or transgression, rather it’s making a statement that what happened no longer fits our lives and then choosing to step out of it like an old and tired piece of clothing that has dropped to the floor.

Forgiveness, then, is a solitary act that does not require reciprocity, validation or acceptance by another to be effective. It asks only that our intentions be clear and our heart be true.

So, back to my own forgiveness. What did I do? I wrote letters. I wrote letters to each person or group that was holding me back because they had hurt me in some way, and I forgave. From my heart I forgave them and embraced myself. Did I send the letters? No. I folded them up and plan to burn them on the next full moon, releasing all of their energy. I did keep one, though. The one to myself. Because after writing the others, I realized I needed to forgive myself the most for choosing to hold on to the negative emotions (and giving them space in my brain and heart) when they weren’t serving my greater good. That letter is in my God box where it can contribute energetically to my ongoing growth in love and compassion. Cool.

Letting Go

Two nights ago I was channel surfing and I stumbled upon something I’ve never watched before. It was Joel Osteen’s program. At first I was going to keep switching, but something he said caught my attention. His sermon was on moving mountains, but the point at which I joined him he had just said something that stuck with me. So I listened. It wasn’t necessarily new to me. In fact, it’s similar to other ‘teachers’ I’ve read, and things I’ve taught clients of my own. But it was new words, and I liked them.

He said: “Let there be light,” as he was quoting from the Bible. But what he said afterward is what made all the difference. He went on to explain that the use of the word “let” implied that there was an opposing force already in existence. As an example, he said, “let go of my hand” implies that your hand is currently being held or restrained. Therefore, “let there be light,” means that there was darkness, through which light was needed. And instead of asking for light, God directed it to appear. As Joel said, he ‘commanded’ it. So, here’s the deal:

What if we used the word ‘Let’ more often in our lives – but with conscious thought? There’s a great Christmas song called “Let there be peace on earth.” A great idea indeed! But what if we invoked the power of that word for smaller, everyday things? Wouldn’t that, couldn’t that, collectively create peace on earth? Here are some of my suggestions, what would yours be?

Let me speak with love and grace today to everyone I meet.
Let compassion be my guiding star.
Let me choose healthy foods, just for today.
Let others share their light with the world.
Let acceptance be the driving force in interactions.
Let me share my experience and strength with others.
Let me be open to receiving the wisdom of others.
Let gratitude fill my every thought.
Let there be joy in my heart and a smile on my face.
Let me be myself, who I am, now and always.
And finally. . .
Let God.

The last one is quite possibly the most simple and the most powerful. There’s a saying many of you might be familiar with: “Let go and Let God.” Sometimes, it truly is that simple. We can pray for what we want or need, but without handing it over to God (the Universe, Divine Grace, etc.) we are not allowing our needs to be met. As with everything, it is a two-step process: 1) focusing thought, and 2) letting go. So, with my list above, I focused my thought and energy on things I think would make me, my community, my country and the earth a happier more peaceful place. But in the end, I’ve only taken the first step. The second step is to actually let those thoughts go. If you think of it this way: as long as you are holding on to the thought of what you want, you are not allowing the space for it to become reality. Do you see how that works?

If your hands and heart are full of the “idea” of something, there is no room for that something to become physically real.

Why? Because it’s trapped in the energy of being a thought, nothing more. It’s when we let go of the thought, that it finally has the opportunity to become reality. And God (the Universe, Divine Grace, etc.) has the opportunity to do their part by making it real, or better.

So, “let” is a powerful word indeed. But its true power is unleashed when we use it as it was intended: by invoking its power, and then allowing it the freedom and space to realize its potential. What would you ask for today? And are you willing to then let it go?

In Love and Light,

‘Leggo my E-go’

What is the Ego? And why is there so much fuss about it among the health and wellness folks? Is it really such a villain? I’ve read many different authors and spoken to lots of different teachers and guides about this exact subject, and I still don’t have a totally concrete answer. But I think I’ve been able to sort through it all and distill it down to a more simple truth: Ego is the absence of Spirit.

Now what does that really mean? Does it mean that if you have an ego, and act from a place of ego, that you’re not spiritual? Nope – we’re all spiritual. We’re all souls at the heart of our essence. Ego is the personality of the body, expressing itself on earth, and disregarding the true essence of our souls: Divine Energy.

A lot of what I’ve read suggests that in order to live a fulfilling life, the two are mutually exclusive and cannot co-exist. In fact, many of the people I consider to be mentors advise letting go of ego entirely. It’s what’s worked for them. And it works for millions of people worldwide. I’m quite sure the Dalai Lama has let go of his ego. But boy, is that a difficult thing to do. I’ve been struggling with it myself for years now – but I think the struggle is over. Why? Because I’m accepting that I don’t need to let go of my ego; I need to acknowledge it. I need to honor it, acknowledge it and accept it. And in validating its presence, it will no longer hold sway over my life – which, actually, is a form of letting go.

Let me explain: my ego – our egos – have protected us. They have served a purpose, and they have taught us well. They have shielded us from harm, and allowed us to make decisions that put us directly in harm’s way, in order to learn what we need to learn in this lifetime. Our egos have helped us to create the building blocks we need in order to grow and awaken to our true essence. Without them, we would be wandering aimlessly on a path that we didn’t know existed, and in a state of ignorance that may or may not be bliss. Here’s the catch, though: Our egos, once they’ve served their purpose and we’ve learned their role, no longer serve us. Once we’re at a point where we are awake enough to move forward without their protective layers and filters, we need to shed them like a snake skin we’ve outgrown. And that’s ok. It’s healthy. But when something has helped you, do you choose to work really hard to ignore it, toss it aside, and pretend it didn’t exist, until you get to a point where it doesn’t exist? Or, do you choose, instead, to honor it, thank it, and allow it to move on all on its own, naturally, and peacefully? Again, it’s a choice. I admit, I initially chose the former – at times begging the Universe to release me from my ego. It didn’t work. Why would it?

Instead, I now see the simplicity of releasing it through love, and honor. Validating its role in my life, and thanking it for keeping me safe and bringing me my lessons to get me this far. Now that I am more awake, I can take it from here. In a way, I realize that I need to treat my ego like an old friend – a faithful old friend – not a villain. Many authors/teachers may disagree with me, but that’s fine. This is my experience – perhaps it’s yours too. For me, the ego only becomes a “villain” in our lives when we allow it to, by giving it the power to distract us from our true essence.

So, while there are many perspectives on the ego’s role in our lives, I’ve added one more to the mix. I still agree and accept that the ego, by definition, is the absence of Spirit. However, I don’t like vilifying it to the extent that we create an urgency to relinquish it. The ego has been a helpful partner, and needs to be dealt with as such. But as everything has its time – it’s ok to part ways, even with the most helpful of partners. In fact, parting ways is a sign of true progress and growth, because it symbolizes a return to our essence, our spirit. With that return comes humility, grace and peace. All blessings, if you ask me. And without the ego distracting us from our purpose, these blessings have even more room to grow and flourish.

So, thank your old friend. Offer it your gratitude for keeping you safe and bringing you your lessons, and allow it to go peacefully, happy in knowing it served its purpose. By loving your ego, you will set it free. Then you will truly know what it is to live in Spirit – as your Divine self – open to your life’s purpose.

In Love & Light,