Letting Go {in order to follow your heart}

Saturday, 14 February 2015

We're all on a quest to do what we love. To follow our passion. To climb that rather tall, pointy mountain to the nether regions of our Purpose. 

Sometimes we start the Journey early. Sometimes we come to it rather late. Mine began at age 8 and it took a little over thirty years to finally put my hiking boots on. The reasons are many and varied but there's no Reversal of Time option available, so best let that one go and move forward.  

But that's not all I'm letting go of.

The last six years for me have been all about exploration. Dipping my toes in the vast ocean of books and publishing in a full-time capacity. Yes, I've been writing and editing for over twenty-five years on and off, but six years ago, I dove into the ocean with no flotation device and--whether I was making up for thirty lost years, or whether it was just simply My Time--I didn't founder. I swam like an Olympian. 

I put my heart and soul and time and energy and just about almost everything into my stroke. I learned a lot. I did a lot. I volunteered a lot. I gave a lot. I conceived and produced. And I achieved a lot. 

Then, a little over a year ago, I suddenly got tired. That's okay. It's normal to get tired from working relentlessly. But what got me, in the end, wasn't the fatigue. It was the fact that I felt sad. Really, really sad. 

It's taken me at least a year to discover why.

I was so darn busy, doing so much, putting myself out there, offering myself to others, championing others, fostering THEIR dreams, that I lost sight of my own. Even though I adore helping others and making them happy {and always will}, it was confronting to realise my own Happy was gone.

Some of you may know I started the 52-Week Illustration Challenge around this time {Jan 2014}. This was the very beginning of my reconnection with Happy. I've long wanted to illustrate my own work, and, after a 25+ hiatus with the art I so adored as a child, teen and young adult, completing this Challenge and reconnecting with my art {and illustration potential for my own books} has been truly life-changing. Suffice to say I'm now at the stage where illustrating my own books is becoming a reality.

This has me poised. Poised, with hiking boots on, ready to climb Purpose Mountain. I've been buggerising around at the midway point of this mountain for so long now, I've lost sight of the top, but now--I can see the mist clearing, and the summit is coming into view.

Breathtaking. Unless, of course, your hiking boots are stuck in the mud.

Don't get me wrong. Mud is good. It's great, even. It's earthing. It's real. It's even great for the skin. It's mucking in and getting things done and doing all the practical 'shoulds' that all of us must do to keep a respectable life/career ticking along. We do need some kind of mud.

But when we are spending too much time wallowing in it, mud can become suffocating and distracting. It can incite procrastination and resentment and excuses. It can be frustrating. Weighty. Energy-sapping. It can also hold you down.

That's when we know we need to let things go. Even the things we truly love.

In January this year, I made the agonising decision to let go of the 52-Week Illustration Challenge for 2015, leaving it in the talented, capable hands of Nicky Johnston and my phenomenal admin team. Around a year ago, I also began a gradual withdrawal from Kids' Book Review, again leaving it in the amazing hands of my amazing team. I still hover around the site and occasionally contribute, but I've put nearly six solid years into it and knew that it was time to venture into other areas--firstly the Challenge, and now--illustrating my own books.

But how do we know when to let something go?

I think we already know when something is coming up to its use-by date--whether it be a role, a situation, a habit, a commitment or even a person. We feel it coming ... and then the excuses and justification and inner-wrangling over head/heart begins.

I've wrestled with my commitment to Kids' Book Review for well over three years now. The site is too fabulous to walk away from, I value my colleagues too much, and I adore what the site does for both emerging and established book talent. I'm passionate about it, about literacy and about supporting books--why and HOW could I walk away?

So the wrestling has gone on for a long time, and it's such a relief to step out of the conundrum I've found myself in.

We can much more easily let go of things that mean nothing to us or that discredit or harm us {and if you are in this situation, stop it immediately!} but what of the things that mean the world to us?

Well, if that fabulous thing stands in the way of other things that mean just as much, if not more to us, we must also consider letting go. Seriously consider.

Here's a thought: What if maybe, just maybe, it's someone else's turn now? Someone else can do and feel and benefit from all the fabulous things that Kids' Book Review or {insert your situation or commitment here} brings?

Here's another thought: What will you be missing out on? Seriously? Will you be missing out on that much, in the end? Or, by letting go, will you be standing to gain more than you ever dreamed?

We need to let go so we can let other things in. If the house is full, you'll get nothing else in through that door. Letting go is NOT about loss. It's about letting fresher, newer, brighter things in. More opportunity. Higher levels. New concepts. A few more steps up that mountain.

Letting go is about Gain.

Having the courage to do this means we can welcome the most amazing things--sometimes bigger than we ever imagined.

Here are some other things I'll be letting go of in the coming months, so I can fully commit to my new direction:

  • feeling overwhelmed
  • second-guessing myself
  • questioning my ability
  • procrastination
  • long-windedness
  • emailing every day {I plan to wean myself down to checking email three times a week--I hear you gasp, but I WILL do it}
  • social networking with any regularity
  • saying yes to event requests
  • worrying
  • frittering time away
  • overcommitting
  • engaging in any kind of debate
  • giving my time to energy-sappers and time-wasters
  • feeding my fears--I'm going to get my shun on
  • saying yes to anything I don't want to do, or just don't have time to do, even if I'd love to do it!

What do you have to let go of? If you know exactly what it is but are unsure how to do it, it's time to have faith in yourself. If the thought of letting something go punches you in the solar plexus with a wallop of joy, you know what you need to do.

If the thought of releasing a certain thing or person or situation makes you want to yodel {quick! BEFORE the rational mind kicks in with ifs and buts}, you know what you need to do.

If you really love doing something but know that you'll never do that other thing you love more without letting the first one go, you know what you need to do.

HAVE FAITH. Miracles unfold when we have the courage to follow our path. When we trust the Universe to throw out that safety net. When we truly believe life has more in store for us than we could ever imagine. If we cling resolutely to the warmth of our grounding mud, we will never be free to go higher. It's in the act of releasing ourselves that opportunity arrives. It's like turning an ignition key.

So go for it. Let go.

Let me know what happens.


Anonymous said...

beautifully said- I couldn't put that feeling into words but you nailed it. xx

Susan Whelan said...

So very, very pleased to read this. Aside from the Susan Whelan the Wise comment (insert dismissive eyeroll emoticon here), I agree with all that you've written. I know what a long and painful process this has been for you and I'm so happy that you've been able to refocus and reevaluate your goals.

Sending you great big cyberhugs and high-fives. Can't wait to see what wonderful opportunities will come your way now that you have made room in your life for new adventures. xxxxx

Anonymous said...

Great post Tania and coincidentally guess what just arrived in my hot little hands? You're gorgeous new book - it's beautiful.

Sandy Fussell said...

I love the way you share and bare your heartfelt feelings. May lots of new beautiful things fill those spaces.

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