I am writing this on a small plane, flying back from Santa Barbara to my home. I spent last week visiting a former life peopled with current friends.
Isn’t it funny how the longer you live, the more it feels like you’ve lived several lifetimes? I lived one of my lifetimes in that sunbaked seaside town. Lillian was born there, in a house overlooking the Mission and Santa Cruz island. I wrote three books there. I grew my soul there.
Coming back used to be something I did every year. I wanted my daughter to know you could leave a place and stay connected. We don’t have a lot of family and I wanted her to know friends can be family, too. I also wanted her to know that you often must work to stay connected.
Then, after my divorce, it became too painful to go back to Santa Barbara. Because the me that had lived there was gone. I could only see the loss. I could only feel the ache.
Years have passed since that loss. And the loss of my dad and many other dear things.
Years of learning and grieving and learning again. So much learning about letting go.
It’s been a lonely journey at times, this learning. Letting go isn’t a skill we talk much about. It’s not bright and positive, it’s not about a shiny future.
Yet when I couldn’t let go, I became crippled by carrying the past. I cut myself off from people who loved me and from the parts of the past that could be reborn into something fresh.
Letting go, what does it mean, how do we do it? How do we move through the inevitable and crucial sheddings in life without becoming bitter and resigned? And so much letting go is not about loss but about growth!
I don’t have any answers, but I am writing a book about this, or rather, I’m trying to. I hope to have some questions to ask you, even interview some of you, for your insights and stories. Because here is what I do know: writing about my past has changed me. It has become a sacrament – the alchemy of letting go through creation.
As the American Thanksgiving ushers in the holiday season, may letting go be a skill you have in your back pocket. Use with love. And let’s talk more about this soon!
FAVORITE BLOG POSTS THIS MONTH
Why You Creating Stuff Matters
My declaration to claim the power of creation.
Navigate Your Life with Anna Guest-Jelley
My twice-monthly series, guest posts by women who are creating truer lives they treasure and how they do it.
WHAT I READ
The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo
This book is pure gold. If I wrote a book about what I teach at the Taos Writing Retreat, this would be it. For anyone who wants to write smarter, deeper, truer.
The Crack in the Teacup by Joan Bodger
Part autobiography of an amazing soul, part manifesto for living a rich inner and outer life, I could not put this down. Joan was a storyteller, Gestalt therapist, pre-school revolutionary, and wonderful writer. Read this to peer into another woman creating her life when it wasn’t at all easy.
The Yellow Eyes of the Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol
Frothy Francophile fun. If you need a reasonably intelligent escape over the holidays, you could do worse.
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Her newest is a young adult novel. I devoured it. Goodreads reviews are mixed but me, I loved it.
WHAT I WATCHED
The Bletchley Circle, Season Two
Four genius women solving crimes after being code breakers in WWII. Edge of your seat. More intense than first season but still okay for me (I’m highly sensitive to violence).
What could letting go look like today?