Letting It Go

This past year, Girls on the Run changed up our core values, mission and vision statement.  It was time. The organization has grown SO MUCH in spirit.  This constantly evolving “movement”  needed some new values to explain what it is all about.  Here’s what those look like:

Girls on the Run honors its core values. We strive to:

  1. Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
  2. Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
  3. Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
  4. Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
  5. Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
  6. Stand up for ourselves and others

A value, in particular, that is resonating deeply with me is this one:  Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making

Being intentional was a concept I did not understand until my early 40’s.  I simply made decisions without giving them a whole lot of thought.  At times, this has served me.  Thinking too much can inhibit our creativity…but on the other hand being mindful with each step we take definitely takes us in the direction of our dreams, goals, aspirations, with more precision and often times without as many hiccups.

I’ve learned that to be mindful and intentional, I have to be fully present. Over the course of my life, I’ve learned how to bring myself to this full-presence state of mind…but in my younger years, I was less able to proactively make them occur.   I feel fortunate that those moments of being-absolutely-present were sometimes just dropped into my lap.

I’ve titled these moments of crystal-clear-awareness “winks from the other side.”  You know,  those moments where for whatever reason, you remember them clearly, distinctly and with every detail branded on your brain. Often times they occur in quiet, without words or if words are present it is the space in which the words were said rather than the words themselves…it is the feeling of the experience that touches me.    The smile on a girls face.  The letter from a coach.  The tears of a proud father. These moments of clear memory occur and can only occur when we are absolutely present.  We are with…we are connected.

I’m currently experiencing a time in my life of great clarity.  I’m in the process of making a decision that is very much an intentional one.  I will be letting go of some elements of my life, that have become nothing more than habit, default, automatic pilot.  I have forgotten why I am connected to these things…and therefore I am intentionally setting out to “let them go.”

It’s a little like something that happened last week. My son cleaned out my car.  That meant emptying every little nook and cranny that was filled with old receipts, trash and old lip balms.  I had a small moment of panic once I realized he had done this.  What if he has thrown something away that is important?  But the truth is, I don’t know what he had thrown away and therefore I can’t miss it.  Those things we do by habit…I can’t appreciate until I notice they are missing (or until I notice that I have them).  And that’s where this intentional letting go is going to play out next week.

I hope you are sufficiently teased by all of this…I’ll fill you in on more detail on Monday…but suffice it to say…I’m scared and excited at the same time.  It’s a lot like eating a Warhead candy…both sweet and sour in the same exact second.  I’m quite certain that letting go will clear up a lot of space for something else to come along.  It will be mysteriously fun to see what fills in the space.

And that’s when I got to thinking…about another time…where I did precisely the same thing.

It was October 1994.  I was at what I knew would be my last Hawaii Ironman…sitting on a rock over looking the Pacific Ocean.  I had been there for a week, by myself.  I’would come down to this same spot every morning to write, to breathe to look out.  There was a turtle, the same one, who visited me there every morning.  I’m sure he came here long before I ever did, but I felt as if he and I were somehow getting to know each other.  I spent a lot of time by the water, thinking…mourning really…the fact that I knew this would be my last Ironman.  I had made a decision to let them go and let ME go… the competitive me…the competitive athlete…let go of this competitive life I had known almost since the day of my birth, 33 years before. I was just one year sober. There had been a lot of change already, but I knew I had to do this.  Something was pulling me to do it.

I wrote for hours in my journal about letting this go.  I cried…I smiled…knowing deep down that something would inevitably come along to replace it.  I did not know what would come, but I did know, without question, that it would be important.  I was sad.  I was pensive.  I was excited.

The following year my son was born and the year after that so was Girls on the Run.

I’m quite certain that when we  intentionally let something or someone go, something powerful comes along…Sometimes it just takes getting past the sour coating.

Can you recall a specific and intentional decision you made to let something go (a person, a job, a thought, a mindset) and becoming aware sometime later (either soon after or much later) that something beautiful, full and enriching had moved into the space?  I’d like to hear about that.

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6 Responses to Letting It Go

  1. Erin Cramer says:

    It awlays amazes me how you post or write just what I need in any given moment. Today, in fact, I am letting someone go. Someone who was literally by my side for two marathons, a half marathon and our respective divorces. She was my best friend and I don’t know how I would have gotten through those times. But today, it has become clear, that what we need now isn’t each other. It’s sad, when a friendship passes yet I have so many wonderful memories and a great appreciation for what she and I were for each other. I too am looking forward to see what fills that gap. Hopefully I will be aware enough, when it comes, to recognize it!

    Thank you Molly.

  2. Greg Ward says:

    “Letting a person go” – If one will use their imagination for just a moment, here’s one analogy I came up with about life: “Life is like a water balloon, squeeze it in the middle, both ends grow, but squeeze it too hard, it could break”. We only have one life to live, the exact quantity of time of which is unknown, (the water). After all, time is precious and we only have so much to give, (the volume). before our own respective candle blows out, (breakage). It’s a delicate balance. That being said, I have made up my mind to avoid wasting my precious time on life’s dead end streets. When it comes to friendship, we’ve all been in a position where we have held on to a substandard relationship far too long. Granted, it’s difficult to walk on, but trust me when I say, “It gets easier with practice!” Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever in as much as we might wish it would. Friendship falls victim to this phenomena more than we care to admit. Perhaps if we learn to remove the pressure in our life, our life’s balloon won’t break prematurely.

    A few months ago I wrote a poem about letting go of a person. It’s entitled, “Move Ahead”.

    Friends will come and friends will go…
    Show the negative ones to the door…
    Life’s too short to play their game…
    Some day they’ll see how THEY were lame…
    Your time’s too precious to waste my friend…
    Enjoy TRUE friendship ONLY, again and again!

    “Letting go of a thought and/or mindset” – Also referred to as, “battle of the wills”, it’s not just reserved for multiple persons. A battle of will may occur each and every moment of every day. If we don’t like something about ourselves, then change it if at all possible. We need to be in control of our own “self”, but then admittedly, it’s MUCH easier said than done. The older I get the easier this has become, however, one must learn how to become assertive first. There are books on the subject, self-help groups, or of need be, a psychologist. There is absolutely no shame it the later, and for those who learn to get in touch with their feelings, it’s like a special treat, or so I’ve been told! LOL

    We love YOU and EVERYTHING you stand for Molly! I know that you’ve heard it all before, but until that dreaded day comes when I can’t speak for myself, this may serve as a gentle reminder. Most importantly, I’m glad that your truck is receipt free! It’s like a breath of fresh air isn’t it? You know, it’s been scientifically proven that a clean vehicle actually runs smoother! Kind of like the human mind huh? 🙂

  3. Greg Ward says:

    I just has a passing thought, “It’s always easier to write a new script when beginning with a clean slate”.

  4. Rob says:

    Great post!

    Here is something interesting to think about… consider the phrases “let something go” and “give something up” and “offer something up”. Taken literally the words — let, give, offer — mean almost the same thing, but the phrases have very different connotations. When I was five years old my parents divorced. I carried that around for a few years before I “gave it up”. In that sense I was sort of “spent” on the whole thing. I gave up on the idea of their reconciliation, of anyone getting sober, etc, etc. I surrendered. I also realized that I had to “let it go” in the sense that I wasn’t going to let that drama spill into MY life… I was going to be proactive for my life, not reactive. Later on, being the good Catholic boy that I am, I came to see that perhaps I should “offer it up”… i.e. offer that experience, to the extent that I can, for some kind of good.

    So… let go? Give up? Offer up? “Give up” seems to say surrender or imply a sense of deprived-ness. “Let go” sort of says “For better or for worse, I’m done with this”.

    I like “offer up” because it seems to offer assurance that whatever you’re going through or have gone through doesn’t leave you, but is ultimately transformed and directed toward good. Maybe it’s just semantics but it’s an interesting thought exercise.

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