We make all of these declarations and resolutions about what will be new this New Year, yet we rarely make room for it. What is there to let go of, to grieve, to say goodbye to, before allowing space for what’s next? Otherwise, resolutions are bound to fail…
I gave work six months notice that I would be leaving at the end of the year, yet the morning after my last day, I woke up with a sense of freedom followed by an overwhelming wave of anxiety. What had I done? What if I lost it all and became homeless?! Well, wasn’t that the point? Letting go of the idea that I would live in New York forever, letting go of what my vision of success had been (status and lots of nice things) to what it is now (amazing experiences, freedom, and healthy relationships).
I’ve been wanting to let go of being in one place, leaving it all for warmer weather and world travel. That requires a certain mobility, flexibility and trust that is not my natural inclination. I’ve thrived off of routine and stability. I’ve been a list-maker and a planner. I’ve broken up with guys who can’t plan ahead. I’ve found comfort in knowing how it would be, but lately I’ve realized that the unknown — while scary — is a lot more exciting and holds much more possibility than I could ever plan myself. So letting go of having it all figured out to make room for being surprised and delighted by life…
Moving to paradise had me so excited that moving out of New York didn’t really hit me until the day before I left. I was in my apartment, jumping over the boxes covering the floor like an obstacle course. I went through eight years of memories in a day. I found notebooks from my first year at Parsons. I had every playbill from every show I’d been to. I took a picture of each and let them go. Moving is a great opportunity to cleanse. Yes, I love those things but are they worth hauling around and storing in another place? I was astounded by all of the stuff I had packed away. Turns out, living in New York teaches you to be a master-tetris-like-organizer, so I had neatly stuffed things out of sight that I had totally forgotten about. Like my wedding book, pages of pictures torn out of magazines, detailing what my big day would be like, from the flowers to the gown. Letting go of wanting to have “The One” figured out and locked down by now, opening up to learning and growing from everyone I meet, falling in love with the world, and having my heart broken over and over.
Andrew Harvey got it:
“If you’re really listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold evermore wonders.”
And so I let my heart break over and over as I packed away, threw away, and gave away those things which held so many memories. By the evening I was exhausted. Luckily I had dinner plans with my good friend Carmen. When she asked how I was doing I burst into tears in the middle of Peacefood Cafe. I told her how I was going through all of these memories and it was so oddly lonely. Carmen, an Italian goddess who has lived longer than me and moved all around the world, smiled knowingly, telling me how she was surprised I hadn’t broken down earlier, given the magnitude of moving on. And, yes, she said it’s lonely because I am the only one going through my own journey — as only I can — and I am not alone. So I left New York the next evening, my heart breaking, letting go of having it be “easy,” perfect, and neat, and opening up to feeling and breaking down.
And feeling I did. I woke up the next morning in Pennsylvania (visiting family), feeling awful, tired, and sad. I spoke with my coach, Cora, that morning, and she reminded me that it’s okay — and actually quite necessary — to grieve and mourn what we’ve left behind. Luckily, I could do that being surrounded by my supportive family who gets it. She also reminded me that sadness and anxiety does not mean I’m moving in the wrong direction. Feel the feelings, the fear, the pain, and do it anyway. And, of course, the Goddess Oracle Card I chose that morning was Diana, Goddess of the hunt, moon, and birthing: “Keep your unwavering thoughts, feelings, and actions focused on your target, and you will make your mark.” So that night I finally booked my ticket to Bali. Letting go of procrastinating under the guise of “research” and “perfect timing”…giving space for it all to work out without controlling every minute detail.
A week later was New Years, spent at my brother’s house letting go of a lot. I found myself in tears for most of it, uncovering old childhood books, photos, and clothes. Sentimental at heart, I had saved a lot, evident in my “Boy Box,” full of letters and gifts from the elementary and high school loves-of-my-life; while it was fun to look back on, I tore everything up and threw it all away. More room for new loves-of-my-life. I even still had my My Size Barbie. As the name suggests, My Size Barbie is supposedly the size of a child; however, she is actually the height of a 3-5 year-old without the baby/toddler fat. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened up the box one Christmas to discover that I — at 8 or 9 years-old — was much larger than she. No wonder I’d never felt “tiny” enough while being thin in reality. No wonder my parents had resisted buying her for me until I wore them down with my begging. Not to say my body dismorphia is to blame on Barbie, but this clued me into where some of my ideals were coming from and who had made them up (an eight-year-old). Letting go of the childish idea that feminine is small and super skinny, opening up to the reality that there are many ways to be feminine: curvy, strong, confident, intuitive.
Suffice it to say, by the end of sorting through these things, I felt lighter. And exhausted, yet peaceful. Ready to move on and feeling something inside of me compelling me to leave more than ever. As Dad kept lovingly saying / singing to me:
Go. Go. Go out and see the world!
And so I left the East Coast, the frigid winter, letting myself land in California for a week to soak up the sun and sand with Mom before my international exodus. I have done so much clearing of the past, yet I know that in order to see and experience all that I desire in the world, my heart must keep breaking open and keep letting go. And so the journey continues…
What are you letting go of this year to make room for the new?