You see, umbrellas were for people who wanted distance. Too heavy a wind, you know, turned them inside out, and even the best of them only lasted so long.
But a rain hat, you know, the kind with a string, and you tie it under your chin. Now, that’s personal.
And after four dates, it turned to love. Finally, I understood why I had to wait so long. Dan was handsome and wise and soulful and kind, and he made me feel like I could do and be anything. We could.
And we got married a year later.
When I turned 50, Hector died of cancer. And as you can imagine, I grieved for a very long time. But his death reaffirmed for me the promise I made to myself when I was 41: that I would never take time for granted again. Instead, I would use it to let go, to create space for the things I really wanted and for what mattered most.
Here are five ways to let go I know work because I still use them every single day.
- LET GO OF TAKING THINGS PERSONALLY
One. Let go of taking things personally. I spent a lot of time wondering why Hector didn’t love me enough to marry me until I realized that his inability to commit had less to do with me and more to do with his duty to his family.
Now, I’m not saying that was not a hard pill to swallow, but there was a lot of peace in knowing that it was his issue and not some defect in me. If people aren’t giving you what you want, or if they’re just behaving badly, most times, that’s their problem, not yours.
- LET GO OF WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK
Two. Let go of what other people think. So after my husband and I dated for a couple of months, I took him home to meet my parents.
”He’s very good-looking,” my mother said.
”You know, Ted Bundy is very good looking.”
Now, I could’ve let this influence my actions, could have let my imagination run wild with thoughts of my new beau stabbing me while I slept.
But instead, I just chalked it up to my mother. There is a rule in business that states: Whenever you are putting something out there, 10% of people will hate it, 80% will be indifferent, and 10% will be your raving fans.
And raving fans are awesome, but if somebody’s not a raving fan, let that be okay too.
- LET GO OF TRYING TO BE SOMETHING YOU’RE NOT
Three. Let go of trying to be something you’re not.
Now, I have this crazy big personality that I actually call “the Big.” Some people really like the Big. Some people are fascinated by it, kind of the way they are fascinated by jugglers. And others just run away.
But it’s who I am. I have tried to turn down the current on the Big, but hard as I try, there it is. There are some things we just can’t change about ourselves, and that’s a good thing.
- LET GO OF THE NEED TO BE PERFECT
Four. Let go of the need to be perfect. Many years ago, I wrote a column for Shape Magazine, and I got a lot of mail from readers, including a very sad letter from this teenage girl asking for my advice on how to improve herself after her absolutely horrid boyfriend had her strip down so he could critique her body.
This is a true story.
I said, ”Dump him immediately, and never let anybody make you feel bad about yourself again.”
But we all know that feeling the need for perfection is not just about our weight. It’s also about keeping the house clean and the dogs groomed and the kids healthy and the bosses happy and all the balls in the air. It’s even about keeping our youth intact.
And yet, who wants to be friends with someone who’s perfect? Think about that.
- LET GO OF ”NOT YET.”
And lastly, five – my favorite! Let go of ”Not yet.” You know, when I left Chicago, my life was pretty good, it just wasn’t good enough.
If there is something you want to do, make a plan and act, but don’t wait. I still grieve for Hector, you know, it just comes in waves now. But it’s the phone call I can’t make that reminds me to make every day count.
And I encourage you all to do the same. Whatever that is, I say, ”Let go for it.”
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