Early in 2021… when I really wanted to bail on release…I began to ponder a new word and have had a bit of a running list for most of 2021.
Despite adding words to my list, I persevered with release but once the 4th quarter arrived I began thinking in earnest about what my new word might be for this year and I spent lots of time thinking about all those words on my list.
Unbelievably, not one of them made the cut… I know, it even shocked me because they all have so much potential!
In late November a couple of things happened in my life…my sister’s ongoing issues and the anniversary of my mom’s death – one thing I’d like to solve, the other I’d like to forget – but those are a story for another day. Anyways, those things kept me focused on release for the remainder of the year.
December was so heavy and as a solace I spent lots of time reading poetry and listening others read poetry and the things I discovered were amazing.
First, I stumbled across Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day and a phrase from the poem just jumped off the page and into my head. I had never heard those words before… even though I have read/heard the last sentence of the poem dozens of times… this bit was a revelation to me: Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Wow. Just wow.
Now my intention is not for this to be the most morbid “Hello, New Word” post in history, but true facts… I am 61 years old. If I am blessed to live as long as my nana… I just have 26 more years on this earth. And if I am not that blessed… well, you see the dilemma. So this year I want to begin to really use the things I learned in my Year of Focus and my Year of Intentional Living (and yes, in my Year of Release) and begin to fill my life with the things that matter and stop with the things that don’t matter all.
But what are those things? I think have some ideas, but this year I am going to really try and not waste any time on things that don’t matter. I want to be able to look back and see there was nothing else I should have done because I lived a FULL life to the last moments. I think I am so blessed to have spent such a hard year with release… because release led me to this path.
It is almost as if release said to me… now you are ready… fill yourself up!
(And in case you think my word should have been fill… I wanted to focus more on the result of being full which I hope will help me make my choices of what I “fill” wiser.)
Because being full does not mean just doing all.the.things.
Just before the year ended I listened to an episode of The Slow Down and Ada Limón shared these words of wisdom:
One question that I often get asked is how to overcome writer’s block. And the funny thing is, I overcome it, by not overcoming it. I think it’s OK to not write. I think it’s OK not to talk, not to make, not to create, not to produce, produce, produce. How can we listen to the world if we are always talking to the world?
Wait, what? It’s okay not to talk, not to make, not to create, not to produce, produce, produce?
These words were a bit of a balm for my spirit, let me tell you and coupled with Krista Tippet’s conversation about listening to the silence with Gordon Hempton, I knew I was on the right path. (sometimes I need to have the message hit me in the face multiple times before I get it… thank you, universe for making that happen so brilliantly!)
So I invite you to come along on this journey to see what I will fill myself up with this year and, hopefully, as I am ending 2022 and on the cusp of 2023, I will be on my way to being full of lots of wonderful things!
P.S. If you would like to hear Mary Oliver read her poem, you will find it here!
I spent December as I began the year…in a struggle with this word.
But rather than the struggle of unpacking what needed to be released, the struggle this month is in the packing away of release.
Because I think release is not a word I can just pack away and move on from… instead (and despite how much it pains me to say this) release is a word I will carry with me as I go forward into 2022 because I don’t think my work with it is quite finished yet.
However, I am not the same woman who unpacked all the things that needed released, sorted, and tucked safely away. Thanks to this very hard year of work… I stand on the cusp of a New Year stronger and more resilient than I ever imagined myself to be.
Despite my struggle against it… release has helped me move onto a new path and led me to the word I will carry in 2022. I am not sharing that word quite yet… I still have a few days to spend tidying up release.
I really want to thank Carolyn for hosting us this year… and more importantly, for sharing monthly worksheets that truly aided me in my journey. Sometimes, all I could do was sit with those worksheets… and in those moments I was so grateful for her insight as to what we (I) might need.
Thanks to you, Gentle Readers, for coming along on this journey with me this year. Your kind comments of encouragement have helped me along the way… I am profoundly grateful for each of you as well!
I want to drown in my tears,
And my tears are my prayers. ―
Silly, silly me in thinking that I was done with release… because it is certainly not done with me!
This month I got to put into practice all that I have learned over the past year – active, painful, excruciating practice. Somethings are easy to release… like tears. Other things are not so simple as that… but those hard things are sometimes the most important to let go of… and realize I cannot control *everything* (despite wishing I magically could)! One thing I did not let go of was Carolyn’s prompt this month! And while I am not sharing what I wrote… I will share how I used it! It became for me a lifeline… each day I used the space to help me stay focused on what I needed to let go of… (sometimes this was as simple as letting go of frustration, anger, and disappointment… other days, it provided me with things that I still need to work on!)
Earlier this month, I posted that my estranged sister got back in contact with me…but it was not a celebratory reunion, but rather one of desperation as she had hit the bottom’s bottom. (I thought…hoped?)
And so began some days of anguished conversation… anguished on my sister’s part while I tried very hard to stay calm… except when I couldn’t… which was often… so often…too often. Yet, still she called, providing more practice for calm and lots of time to remind myself that this perhaps was the entire reason release picked me this year. I don’t need to solve every problem… for anyone but myself. I can’t control what others do, what they say, or how they behave… I can only control myself. (And sometimes even that is a challenge!)
And in a frenzied week of me trying to find a place to take my sister with a plethora of issues…too many to list here…but in a small miracle a physician deemed her a threat to herself and made her go directly to the emergency room. That ER staff fortuitously kept her until they got her on medicaid and then found a place that would take her for 5 short days. Yes… just 5 days.
(Can we just have a small aside for the staff at every emergency room in America? These are the unsung heroes of every hospital… the ones who deal with what has walked through their doors. I am sending a HUGE thank you to the ER staff that did the hard work for my sister… I am profoundly thankful for them… and my sister owes them a debt of gratitude, which, sadly, she will not remember and she certainly won’t ever thank them.)
I was incredibly surprised that my sister called me while she was in the “treatment place”. Sadly, I could tell that Fake Susan was back and with each phone call the lies and the nonsense got louder and louder. And I began to get the hint that this would just be a brief stint of re-connection.
But still… she called. She had no idea where she’d go after that brief five day 5 intervention and perhaps it was that fear of the unknown kept her calling. However, I was very honest with her… No, she could not come to stay with us. I made it very clear that I could not help her that way, I would be here cheering her on in her journey to recovery, but I could fix her.
Release… it is not a thing for the faint of heart and there were so many more tears.
Today, it seems that hint was correct. I have not heard from her since she briefly called to let me know that she was in a shelter and could I “pay to unlock her phone” (a sum of money that I cannot imagine was correct… but I said yes, I would pay them… which was, of course, not what she wanted me to say… or to do.)
I have no clue if she is still in the shelter or if she is not, where she is. I am not holding my breath, wondering if she will call or where she is… I am standing firm in release and letting my tears be as a prayer.
Release began this year as very hard work and it remains that 11 months in – no matter how I want to move beyond it. Some words linger on and gently remind my days… my hope is that release will eventually become that sort of gentle reminder.
A huge thanks to Carolyn for providing a space for us all to share our progress!
I will see you all back here on Wednesday!
I am unbelievably ready to release release and because that is all I could think about this month… I have begun thinking about my word for next year and some amazing possibilities are floating around over here! There is nothing like the excitement of a new word…not that I want the year to be over or anything… okay, maybe I do! lol
This was a very “loose” month for my word and me… I did not even look at Carolyn’s prompt for us this month! I felt about 3 minutes worth of guilt over this and stopped myself… October was so full of things I wanted to ADD to my life, I simply released that guilt and moved on. It is okay to “miss a month” for things that have been long anticipated! (Visit with my grands, AUTUMN, and yes… life!)
I really feel “done” with this word… on so many levels and the thought of spending another two months with it is a bit agonizing. On one hand, I feel a bit like an empty vessel… and I am feeling anxious and wanting to hold on to something…what I don’t actually know, but it is there, hovering around the edges…waiting (see above!!)
The good things though: I very much recognize that I have become more adept at keeping things put carefully away inside me, which is just so darned good! Those things are not rising to the surface on their own. I know they are there, but I am in control. And today, I think that is a huge improvement!
But as much as I am ready to move on from release, there are still things I need to
get rid of release. Things I put off because summer is not a time to spend indoors in boxes, closets, and those pesky junk drawers. And summer is well over and the weather is even cooperating…a forecast of a week of rain is just what I need for me to resume the Great Big Release project.
So I did some “mapping” this weekend and I am happy with my plan. First up, making the shift (finally!!) from my summer wardrobe to a wardrobe for cooler days! The in-between days have created some havoc and putting things away will solve that! As for the rest… well, it will be a bit more complicated to deal with but if I do a little bit each week then by the time the end of the year is here… I will have tackled and released a number of “problem” areas in my house!
A New Year with clean junk drawers (because you know I have more than one!) and fewer things sounds like a wonder to me! I am ready to turn the calendar over to November and get myself back on track!
What about you? How did your word show up this month?
I want to thank Carolyn again this month for hosting us all! Be sure you stop by to see what everyone has to share!
Everything in life goes back to the basics. — Kron Gracie
This month’s prompt encouraged us to go back to basics with our word.
Okay. So this month I tried to search out “back to basics” with my word and I had some wins!
This year I have really focused on staying in the moment, day, and yes, season. This was a huge change versus old me who was always focused on what is coming next, and yes…lots of time wishing for “my favorite season“. Not so this year… I stayed in summer right up to that last day. Yes, I was happy that as the month wore on, there were a couple of days that I was very comfortable in a sweater. But the release of summer and welcome to fall was a very happy occasion.
I also released the misguided idea that the only thing worth making is home grown. Case in point… tomato jam. In years past we have had such a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes that I can eat and preserve. Not so this year… but boy were we missing some tomato jam on our happy our table! So I let go of the idea that it needed to be home grown tomatoes and did a riff on this recipe… with a couple of cans of diced tomatoes. (The recipe is easy, it is super-tasty, and fills the void on my happy hour spread!) So… releasing misguided ideas worked very well this month. Likewise, since I knew there would be zero chance of being able to stop at a farmers market in the near future, I picked up a bag of apples from TJ’s late last week… there will be some apple baking this week!
Which brings me to the gardening portion of release… I have ripped out all the vegetable plants and have released the notion that there will be a garden next year. I think a pass is absolutely in order because this was a very unproductive garden year. We did not harvest our investments worth of veggies. So I have written in my planner for next April to pass on the garden and I am releasing a sigh of relief at that idea!
The other thing I painfully released was all my container gardens. Yes, they are all empty and tucked away for spring. We leave Friday for Michigan (at long last!!!!) and I did not want to return to dead, straggly plants to tear out. Yes it was painful, but my mid-October self will thank me for doing that work now.
I don’t know if any of this counts as being “back to basics” but it very much feels like it is. Every day life… living in the moment… about as basic as one can get.
I want to thank Carolyn for providing a space for us all to share our Word Journey. Please make sure you stop by this week and see what paths everyone is on this month!
See you all back here on Wednesday for some Unraveling!
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ― Life, the Truth, and Being Free
August…eight months “in” on release and still…the struggle remains real.
I started off the month in a good direction or at least I thought I did and then I just sort of set everything down and ignored it.
Because sometimes, I am my own worst enemy. It is easy to identify things that need to be changed in around me… but turning the lens inward is not as simple… or easy.
My notes to self this month simply said:
recognize things I can change versus things I cannot change
And there is my wisdom and my failure all in one little phrase. Like I said… the struggle is real.
Thank you, Carolyn for providing the space for us to share…and make sure you stop by and see how everyone else did with their word this month!