mindful mama

The Daily Practice of Letting Go

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“Letting go” can oftentimes feel like a loaded term. Used extensively in the personal development world (hello!), sometimes it can have subtle, condescending undertones.

Like, just do it already and get your awesome on!

I mean really, if we could just let go, we would. Trust me, I get this. And honestly, I run into this dilemma often---actually, pretty much daily.

So I’ve been thinking about this idea of letting go quite a bit. I’ve also been feeling through it.

“Feeling through” means leaning in, pushing into our sore spots and cracking open tightly shut doors. For me, it also means creating boundaries where barriers used to stand. All of this generally ignites feelings of fear, uncertainty and oh-my-god-am-I-going-to-die-now-because-I’m-letting-my-guard-down?-and-shit!-they-could-really-hurt-me-because-I-love-them!!!, kind of thing. My inner critic definitely has a flare for the dramatic.

As this is something I’ve been working on, I thought I’d share what I’ve discovered letting go means. And what I’ve found it doesn’t mean.

Letting go means: softening (as opposed to puffing up or feeling like you’re putting on your armor) allowingopeningbeing (as opposed to doing) putting our heartfelt intentions out there, then letting what may, happen (and not worrying or obsessing about the outcome) facing our fears and moving forward anyway (letting go of the past, our stories, or whatever we’ve been telling ourselves that’s held us back all these years…) finding real, deep intimacy with our partners wearing what you REALLY want to wear getting that tattoo (or getting that one removed) praying meditating moving your body trying the new thing saying no to things that make you feel heavy following your joyline, step by tiny step counting on the people in your life who remind you of who you really are (because sometimes, being in the thick of our own lives, we easily lose sight of our beautiful, authentic selves) forgiveness

Letting go does not mean: being lazy that we’re not taking accountability for our own lives becoming a victim of circumstance allowing all hell to break loose because we aren’t in control of our own lives being passive aggressive---saying one thing because it’s “right,” but really feeling another denying what we really feel and shoving it down/away allowing our lives to be ruled by “should’s”

Letting go, I’ve discovered, is a practice. Not unlike meditation. Not unlike yoga. Not even unlike any other practice you may hold near and dear to you---like running, that saturday morning ritual, writing, or creating. It’s like anything that takes perseverance, lots of failing, and picking ourselves back up to try and try again. Every day.

Let go.

Try again.

Keep going.

Rinse. Repeat.

Watch your life expand. Open. Allow. Things you never imagined possible will start showing up and taking hold. Let it happen. Let go.

How To Get There: Start Where You Are And Take One Step At A Time

what_you_do_is_who_you_become Living in a city like Washington DC, it can be challenging to not get sucked into it’s overall cultural structure. Like a giant fishing net of anxiety blanketed over the entire beltway, people live here mainly to work. The majority are here because of career---as a stepping stone in politics, lifers in the Federal Government, or working with one of the many many private companies or nonprofits, all of which directly profit from the government in some way.

The energy here is heavy. Fast, but heavy. Like a very wet blanket that won’t shake off easily.

So naturally, it can be challenging to see (and feel) beyond what life feels like without a wet blanket weighing things down.

Imagine! What freedom!

Yet, it’s possible. There are enclaves and pockets of wonderful people doing wonderful things sprinkled throughout the city.

They just don’t make headline news. That’s saved for the politicos.

As a mother who is taking care of her son full time, that constant high strung energy can be stressful. It’s a practice in and of itself to keep focusing my attention back to the present moment, what’s important right now. Otherwise, it would be easy to get swept up in the frenzy.

Recently, I’ve had more conversations about career and work than usual. Which is a lot because it comes up fairly frequently. These conversations have been with friends from every area of my life, completely separate from each other. And it’s usually broached with the same question, in varying degrees:

“What are you going to do about work?”

I have the same thoughts. Constantly. Who am I? What am I supposed to be doing?

We tend to express our inner anxieties as external questions to those around us. When we ask: what are YOU going to do about X, it really implies that we are thinking about the same X in our own life’s context.

With that in mind, and my own questions about this topic, my girlfriends inquiries have given me pause.

It’s a really vulnerable place to be---unsure, exploring, understanding. Doing incredible amounts of inner work. With nothing tangible (physical) to show for on the outside.

Except, for me at least, through this work I am discovering more happiness. Greater ease. Fulfillment. Joy, even. (!!)

Striving for more on the outside isn't always the answer.

What if we were to let go a bit?

Yeah, that idea scares me, too.

What if we were to let our explorations take us where they may? Our interests open new doors of insight or delight? Our questions lead to more questions...and then to more questions?

Maybe we’d find what we’d love---and that we love ourselves in the whole messy process. Self compassion. Digging deep. Going in.

Letting go doesn’t imply giving up. It doesn’t mean we stop exploring.

It means taking one step at a time.

Letting go of the whole, huge outcome while still moving forward.

The other night I started researching self-compassion courses and trainings. How can I GET this even more? Really understand it? You know, how can I use this as my tool of service to help others?

The more I searched, the more my hut started feeling like a big cold lump in my gut. Hey, it said, slow down. One step at a time. Relax. You have a job right now (Little Mister) and it’s not going to last forever. Enjoy! And, trust. You’ll get where you’re meant to be going. One step at a time.

So, what can we do about that new career (relationship, life issue, insert-major-life-category-here)?

Start where you are.

Then, trust.

Trust yourself.

Striving for more on the outside is not the answer.

Go within.

Trust what you find there.

And take one. step. at. a. time.

Onward.

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My dear 12 friends who read this: this is my last post on The Pinecone Baker! But don’t worry, I’m migrating everything over to triciamartinowen.com and the next post will be coming from there. It’s still in infancy stages---very simple, no about page or logo (gasp!) yet---but, I figured I need to walk my talk about the perfectionism thing. It’s not perfect and I’ll be working on it little by little. Speaking of walking the talk, I also felt like I needed to do this concerning vulnerability, too---which is why I’m switching to writing under my name, instead of using a really cute domain. Changes! Eeek!

So much love to you and gratitude for you. Each of you. Many, many, many thanks for being witness to my journey back to center.

Present moment, future glimpse

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This weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing the Zabel brothers and their girlfriends. Wanting to do something unique and special for their mom who is battling cancer, they came to me with the idea of capturing them while gathering together and sharing a homemade brunch in her honor. It as a way to share with her a slice of their daily lives while keeping true to their roots and upbringing. I'm going to make a bit of a leap here, but the way both Andrew and Robbie were well versed in the language of food makes me think that gathering around the dinner table with good food and open conversation were priorities in their household growing up. Their easiness and respect of one another seemed to hint at a history of coming together at meal times, exposing a true generosity of spirit.

As a new mother myself, it was the first time I really took note of a sibling friendship. The respect, hilarity, and overall easiness these brothers have with each other is really moving -- and noteworthy. So often sibling relationships can be fraught with tension, that ease is the last thing that comes to mind. Watching them, I imagined Mrs. Zabel's warm, courageous, strong and real mothering speaking through her adult sons loud and clear. If I was her, I'd be so proud -- of both her sons and herself.

This was by far the best brunch I've had in a long, long time. Fresh and seasonal, everything was hand made right down to the tomato juice in the Bloody Mary's. It was inspiring to see how this food was made not only to eat, but to express a heartfelt affection and nourish the soul of everyone involved, near and far.

Necessities

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Recently, I've been having some loving and lovely heartfelt conversations with fellow parents. It's been so nourishing and restorative on so many levels, helping me put space and perspective on the intensities that can arise from the day to day of new family life. I have so much serious gratitude for these snippets of conversation, these moments of heart connection, that it's spurred a (much appreciated) shift of things inwardly. Since Little Mister came along, I've been pretty adamant about finding and connecting with other parents who I would be friends with even if we didn't have kids. For me, the quality of my daily interactions makes a huge impact on my overall wellbeing.

Getting outside as much as possible, play, real connection, healthful food, good great literature/stories that expand my horizons, nourish my soul and inspire me to be a better person--these are my necessities in life. It's reassuring to have a short list to go back to, lest I forget.

Fall renewal

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Resetting has been a theme lately. Starting fresh. Wiping the slate clean. Forgiveness. Let's reset.

May this fall bring renewal and deep healing. May our heart's burst wide open, allowing us and our most cherished ones to warm themselves at our inner hearth. May we find peace amidst the busyness of daily life. Joy appears in the little things.

One of my favorite yoga teachers, Elena Brower said it so well:

Stay close to your soul family. Give your attention to a child. Listen to music. Dance. Write. Say I love you. Support someone unconditionally. Listen when you don't feel like it; listen really well. Move your body thoughtfully. Give affection and mean it. This prayer has no beginning and no end. May this transition into fall reveal to you what you already know, and may this season be nourishing and revitalizing for you. --Elena Brower

True, Kind & Necessary

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Is it true, kind and necessary? This question was posed in the book Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne, pertaining to simple, kind speech. It's a filter meant to help us to speak less, but more consciously. It allows the true meaning of our words to come forth -- without any spin and counter-spin, noise or drama, they mean more.

The author jots down true.kind.necessary on his calendars or notebooks so he can carry them throughout the day. He notes "like everything worthwhile, it takes practice to consciously erect these filters somewhere between our minds and our mouths."

Like everything worthwhile...

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?