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Five years ago, I entered a part of my life’s journey that was very new for me. It was a time when it hit me smack dab in the face that I had been living my life in a way that did not allow me to be a happy fulfilled individual. When I began to really take a look around me at all the people enjoying life and realizing that I wasn’t, I began to read and study on things so that I could achieve happiness also.
To give a bit of my background, I was the oldest of two born in a small midwestern farming area. As I got older, our small country schools merged and eventually we were going to school in a small town about ten miles away. It was there that I began enjoying my life more and meeting more friends. It was a very good part of my life. I then went to a local small college and graduated with a degree in teaching. I taught away from the area for year then came back to a larger town about an hour’s drive from my home.
I chose to stay near family after a brief year’s time away from them. It was not a decision I ever regretted. As the years went by, I taught, I married, I had two children, and I ended up divorced. It was, I think, during this time that I had forgotten what I had known about life and friendships during high school. I saw my life as a series of responsibilities. I saw the financial responsibility of keeping things “going” so I could house and feed my children. I had the responsibility of helping to educate the children of others at the same time. It seemed that responsibility after responsibility was heaped on my shoulders and I began to allow that to sharpen my attitude.
It was during this time that “things” became more important to me. I began collecting “things”. I collected baskets, teacups, teapots, thimbles, and all sorts of items. At one time I had over 250 books on gardening, 13 of which were on composting alone. I was seeking to replace the need for happiness by accumulating “things” to fill the space of an empty heart.
I lived this way, miserably, for about twenty years. My children were then grown and on their own and I was at the age I could retire. I began to find activities and hobbies that I had not had time for before. My circle of friends widened and I was less critical of others but I still did not cross over into that life of happiness I had hoped for.
After thirty years in the same home and a lifetime in the same area of the state, I made a decision to move to the northern part of the state, about four hours away and begin life over. My son would be nearby but it would be a big change. I needed to begin to let go of some of the “things” I had collected because I had no intention of moving it all. So, began the sorting and letting go.
Letting go of the “things” was not as difficult as I had imagined. As I put aside all of those thing I had worked to collect, I realized that I still had an attitude that did not allow me to experience the kind of happiness that others had. It was not until a happen chance trip to New Orleans, that I began to learn how to live.
I had gone to see a college roommate of mine in Tennessee. She had lived in New Orleans for several years but had moved to Tennessee after being displaced by Katrina. Her sister had remained there so we decided to visit Sandy. Sandy was the most amazing woman. She was the kind of person who walks into a room with a smile and “hey there” on her lips for everyone. I never saw anyone who could remain immune to her love of life. She and I became fast friends and very good friends. After I left to come home, we called and talked almost nightly about all sorts of topics. She shared some books she had read and I just learned from her in very subtle ways. That friendship was one of the best memories I will ever hold. It was when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and not given long to live that I learned the most about “letting go.”
I was fortunate that I had told Sandy several times how much her friendship had meant to me because in those last months, I am not sure she remembered when or if we talked. One thing she did tell me that stuck was how fortunate she felt that she had led such a happy life. She told me that one of her secrets was to just enjoy the moment. She felt like every moment was full of beauty if we would only “let go and live.”
I still miss Sandy and I always will, but she is still with me. She is a big part of the reason that I can simply enjoy every day. I wake up with a smile and I give myself reason after reason every day to smile. I “let go” and allow myself the happiness that always alluded me. So, I would tell everyone who reads this to simply, let go! Let go of beliefs that hold you back. Let go of the fears of failure because it is through failure that we learn. Let go of resentments. Let go of it all and simply, live.
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