Parting is Such Sweet Gratitude

“If the only prayer you ever said was ‘thank you,’ that would be enough.” – Meister Eckhart

First, thanks to the many of you who got in touch as a result of our last newsletter to share your recommendations for “My Year by the Water.”I have been incredibly moved by your heart-warming emails and invitations to:

  • Meet for a guided walk around Walden Pond (that would be a yes)
  • Stay at a cottage in Helen Keller’s hometown (another yes). After all, Helen was the one who said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
  • Co-host writer’s retreats in Pebble Beach, at Wellesley College, Lake Michigan and Chesapeake Bay
  • Visit Whidbey Island, Niagara Falls, Bonita Springs, President’s Channel on Orca’s Island and a refurbished water tower in Mendocino County.
My sister Cheri has been fielding your responses while I’ve been experiencing, first-hand, the benefits of Maria Kondo’s bestselling book The Life-Changing Joys of Tidying Up.
Once I’m on the road, I’ll be responding personally to your gracious invitations and figuring out how and when we can connect on my travels. For now, I am “releasing” 95% of the belongings I’ve collected over the past 12 years here in Reston.  Suffice it to say, it’s been an eye-opening experience.Heartfelt thanks to Mary Loverde (author of the Invitation and I Used to Have a Handle on Life, But It Broke) for helping me adopt a “feng shui” mindset. That means, we only keep things in our home and life that are beautiful, meaningful and functional.  If you touch a “possession,” and it doesn’t spark joy or have a significant story, it can be passed along and paid forward.

That philosophy is great in theory. It can be a challenge to pull off in practice.

What finally made these decisions easier was when Mary suggested I change the questions I was asking. For example, instead of asking, “Do you know how much I paid for this?!”… better questions were, “When was the  last time I wore this? How often do I use this? Yes, it’s lovely … does it deserve to be stored away, sitting in a POD for a year?”

Once I adopted this mindset, I experienced the “life-changing joy of letting go.” It became clear that the compulsion to hang on to stuff can be unhealthy and counter-productive.  Keeping things because they “cost a lot of money” can bog us down.  Moving things out can be a freeing catalyst for moving forward.

Still, I was feeling some nostalgia as I went for a walk on neighboring paths for the “last time.” I felt a little sad saying good bye to the home I lived in for years.

Then, I remembered Meister Eckhart’s quote and I had an epiphany.

What if, instead of feeling sorrow for letting things go … I felt grateful and let things go?

Now, as I donate items to Goodwill and gift the majority of my possessions to friends, I look around with gentle joy in my heart. I feel no conflict. No regrets. Only peace.

“Thank you favorite chair, for the many happy hours I spent in you in my morning ritual, sitting in the sun and reading the paper with a cup of coffee in my hand and my dog in my lap.”

“Thank you Lake Audubon for your daily reminders of what’s right in the world, for your inspiration as I woke up to you, walked around you, wrote while looking at you, and swam in you.”

“Thank you pots, pans, dishes and glasses for the many meals you helped me create for laughter-filled gatherings with family, friends, and clients.”

Thank you Mary for changing this experience from one of sadness and sorrow to one of appreciation and anticipation. For helping me free up space for new experiences , new adventures, and new relationships.

How about you? Are you parting with something?  Are you feeling sadness or sorrow? Could you instead feel gratitude, which could provide a sweet closure and free you up to move forward to what’s next?

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