Today I’m wanting to talk about letting go so you can love your life. This actually is coming out of a somewhat serious place for me. I just, this last week, I’ve been going to the veterinarian with my dog Duffy, and they’d been doing tests. We were trying to figure out if he can get his teeth cleaned. Seemed like just such a normal activity. But he’s 11, so they wanted to do a bunch of blood work, and he’s been diagnosed with cancer.
So, the idea of letting go and all that that entails on multiple levels, really showed up big for me this week. I wanted to share some of my thinking about this idea.
We have multiple places where we can let go. We can let go of our attachment to ideas, to things, to relationships. Sometimes we’re letting go of things like hurt or anger, fear, the need to control things. That’s another area of letting go. That is really important.
I think one of the things that’s been really interesting in this last week for me is that in some ways he looks healthy, and he’s acting healthy, and I’ve had to really sit with the idea of A) Life doesn’t really come with any, I don’t know, guarantees. It doesn’t come with a, a note stamped on your behind that says expiration date. I mean, none of us really know what that’s going to look like for us. And it’s really the same for, even my dog Duffy, right? All of our animals and our friends and our family.
There’s this life journey that we’re on, and it is our opportunity to have experiences. And one of my choices in having animals is the experience that they often don’t live as long as I do. In fact, I have no animals that have lived as long as I do. And in these relationships, especially with, like for instance with my dog, is so incredibly uncomplicated. It’s probably the most uncomplicated relationship that I have. And so, the idea of letting go of this relationship with Duffy ultimately is, I mean, it really breaks my heart.
And yet, if what I do, is I hold on to the fear, to the sadness, I will miss the moments where he’s still acting healthy. I’ll miss, the opportunities to cuddle with him, I’ll miss the opportunities to play with him and to have that experience of really being present in this moment. This moment that is still okay with this dog that I love, right?
And I think it also speaks to a deeper issue of how we let go and how it’s a choice that we’re making. Um, some of you who have been following me for a long time may remember that my mother and my mother-in-law were both living with Michael and I for a while. My mother-in-law for almost a year. And at the beginning of her moving in with us, she was diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer. And so the decision was, well, she ended up going on to hospice, and we ended up doing the end of life at home. With Michael and I working together to support her as she went through the end of life. And the thing that was really my, my biggest takeaway from that experience is we don’t get to take anything with us.
There’s no “thing” I’m going to take with me. I’m not taking my necklace, my sweater, my hair, I’m not taking jewelry… I guess that would be my necklace. I’m not taking anything with me other than the energetic signature that I live my life by. And so, if my energetic signature is one of fear or anger or regret or worry, it is the energy signature that I take with me.
As I sat with her, it was really clear towards the end that she was really scared. She had also created some stories around if she was a good person and she’d been a good, you know, religious person. That she would be saved. And not “saved” in the metaphorical soul saving sort of way, but that she would be cured of her cancer. Which then led to her trying to control everything and being afraid and trying to control are often linked very closely.
Having a Different Experience
What I realized as I was watching and sitting with her through this process was that wasn’t going to be a useful choice for me. It was a, it was her choice, and she got to choose it. I didn’t in any way try and stop her from having her own choice. You have so little when you’re at that stage in life where you’re looking, you’re looking at the expiration date in front of you. That you can only imagine what that might feel like. So, I didn’t try and change anything as far as how she was thinking about it. But sitting with her, what became very clear was that I wanted to have a different experience. Yet, I wanted to have a different experience of living my life. I wanted to love living my life, I wanted to see it as an expression of joy. And, this idea that you know be joyful because being alive is joyful and, taking that energy with me and that being my choice instead.
So that instead of worrying about some future that I’m, I have no control over and that I have no access to even know if it’s even going to be true, um, or how it’s going to play out. Like is it going to be horrible, terrible, awful, or is it going to be calm, fine and normal and natural? Like, like I don’t even know what’s going to happen.
So, worry ends up being that thing or anger or regret ended up being those things that we could get into a spiral around. And so how do you start to let go of those things? And again, it comes down to it’s a choice, and the choice may be to go, “Oh, there’s the fear,” I’m going to breathe into it. Just breathe into it. Acknowledge it. I’m going to understand that it is a normal experience when the world is beyond my control.
Then I’m going to just try and let it go. And as I practice this, it may be that I let it go for one second and then it’s back.
And then I breathe into it again, and over time it’s gone for a minute or two, and then it’s back.
Can I breathe into it?
And then it’s gone for, you know, 10 to 20 minutes. And then it comes back.
Again, breathe into it. I remind myself, I’m breathing into the pain to acknowledge that it’s how my brain is wired to respond.
And I’m having these moments of sadness like when I’m cuddling with Duffy. Where I have this moment of sadness and I, and I can feel that the tears welling up, I can feel my heart constricting. And I, I can feel the sadness just below the surface. In fact, I can feel it right now as I’m talking to you. And yet if I breathe into it…
When I breathe into it, I can feel my body relaxing. I can feel my capacity to be present with him. So when he comes to flying in through his dog door and the flip flap of the dog door, goes. I can laugh, and I can give him a cuddle, and I can tell them what a good boy he is and how much I love him. And I only have access to doing that with genuine joyfulness if I’m in gratitude for the fact that I’ve had this unique opportunity to have this journey, with this dog, at this time.
And so it’s a choice. And the choice isn’t that I just instantly feel fine. The choice is that I choose to acknowledge it and breathe through it. Each time it shows up, and I know it’s going to keep bringing itself to the surface, especially as I go through the process with him. Just like it did with my mother in law just like I will with my mom.
And it is this choice of breathing into and accepting that this is a place I have no controls. So, the only controlled that I have is what I choose as far as my attitude, as far as how I’m going to look at things, as far as what I’m going to do to support him so that he has the most ease of experience through this end of his life. And then I’m fully present to be there with him. And really also that I can stay present to just being totally in love with him until the moment that he passes. And then allowing that love to continue even past that, with joy and lightness.
The Benefits of Letting Go
There are, there are many benefits, and I’m not going to go through them all in this blog, but there are many benefits to the art of letting go. One, one of the benefits is that you start to create a shift of focus. You’re moving from these things that you can’t control, that are out there. I can’t control cancer. I can’t control the environment. I can’t control all the things that, that may have caused the cancer. I can’t. I can’t roll back time. Like I don’t have Mr. Peabody’s Way Back machine, right?
I can’t go back in time and do something different with him that might have made the difference. Like I don’t even know what that would be, but I don’t have that power, so I’m letting go of this need to control something that the die was cast at some point, in his genetics at some point in his life. The same as possibly true for me also. And there’s, there’s no undoing that. So how do I live in the moment with control?
I can’t do it with ease, and this is the part about loving your life, right? Is that there is an openhearted ease that we’re moving towards. I don’t know what happiness and joy look like for you. For me, it feels like ease and calmness and balance. And the willingness and the appreciation of being able to feel the emotion and then also to breathe through it. And not get stuck with either a really painful emotion, or even a really super happy one. Like nothing, none of them last forever. And I don’t want a forced pretend one. Or hold on terribly to another because it’s so painful and it’s easy to hold and just kind of wallow in. I want to be able to let it go.
I think the other thing that it really allows me to do, which I’ve alluded to, which is this ability to be present in the moment. So then I can be with Duffy while he’s fine. I can love and enjoy him while he’s fine. I can be taking steps to put him on some sort of herbs or medicine that might help support him as he goes through this process. But I can love on him, and I can play with him, and I can be joyful with him as we go forward. And if I hold onto the things that make me sad and make me afraid, I missed that opportunity.
The Invitation to You
So, the invitation to you is to consider what is it that would be beneficial for you to let go of. Just one thing that might support you in finding more joy in your life. And loving the life that you have and loving even the hard moments like this. Like this moment. For me, it’s painful, and yet I want the joy of the experience that I’m having with this wonderful, lively, little ambassador of joy that I have. Who is my dog?
So, many blessings to you and thank you for listening. Cheers.
I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
- What is one thing that you could let go of, to lighten your life?
- What does open-hearted ease mean to you?