Category Archives: Recovery

Let your head go

That’s what the yoga instructor said. “Let your head go.”

I’m pretty sure she was talking about physically releasing the muscles in our necks, thinking about relaxing and not holding our heads up, as we eased into humble warrior pose. Needless to say, I heard a bunch more.

I did ground my feet and feel the strength of my legs. I did bow my torso down towards the ground and aim my shoulder under my front leg. I did (my best to) clasp my hands behind my back and allow my arms to raise away from my back…as much as they would go. And I did let my head go. And I let my head go again.

As I held the pose, hearing the instructor repeat her loving challenge for us to let our heads go, I thought about how else I could let my head go.

I aim to let my heart and soul lead my daily actions more than my head. I aim to come from love – for myself and others – and live for joy. I aim to get out of my head and my “stinking thinking,” as I once heard it described, so that I can feel life more fully and show up as my best self.

And my head likes to get very involved in every process.

Now I’m not arguing against thinking things through. I’m not recommending that I don’t use my beautiful, powerful brain to figure things out. I’m not suggesting that there is no value in the incredible value that my mind brings to situations and challenges and opportunities.

But I know my ability to get lost in my thinking. I know my potential to overthink and, especially, over-worry. I have an amazing knack for getting lost in fear or over-analysis.

So I’m practicing letting my head go, just as I practiced during humble warrior.

I’m watching my thoughts and questioning if I need to follow the trail they’re carving in my brain. I’m observing the stories I make up in my mind and challenging myself to breathe, look again, and allow for a different – maybe even more pleasant – story. I’m noticing and noticing and noticing again.

I’m still invested in my meditation practice. I hope I always will be. I’ve witnessed how I can reach more stillness more often, and I love it. I’ve felt myself calm my heart, soul, and mind when the “stinking thinking” gets racing. And I love it.

I’ve let my head go. Again and again and again.

I’m going to let my head go some more.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Let go and let god

There really isn’t much more to say after that.

I learned “let go and let god” years ago, when I first crawled into Al-Anon. It was one of the many sayings and practices that saved my soul and helped me begin to piece my life back together.

It’s at least as essential now.

The book keeps moving ahead: The details are many and, at times, blurring – as exciting as this whole process is. The decisions seem nonstop and overwhelming – again, as exciting as this whole process is. What if I forget something essential? What if I make the wrong decision? What if I f—k everything up?

Boy my “editor” is potentially having a hey day judging my every move.

Let go and let god. I remember I can only do what I can do, and I’m honestly not in charge of everything (and certainly not in charge of how successful the book is…or isn’t).

My desire to help my dad – to ease his suffering and brighten his monotonous, depressing life – continues. And while I’m researching a few options to change the way things are, there are some ways I have to let things be. I can’t make his life great. I can’t ease his pain – physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise. Again, I can only do what I can do, and I need to let go and trust for the rest of it.

My need to continuously (and continuously) better myself. To be my best me. That is certainly something I need to let go (and let god) about. I know I am a work in progress, and though many of you might happily point out to me my highly perfectionistic ways of approaching my life and my self, I give myself more grace and mercy (thank you again Anne Lamott) than I ever did. I let go and let god and remember that I can only do what I can do, and that I am, by definition (as was pointed out to me many, many years ago) doing the best I can. Honestly, I know myself well enough to know that if I could do better at something, I most likely would. Yes – to my big brother – I even try to do “not perfect” perfectly.

Let go and let god. It allows me to breathe. It allows me to slow down, ponder, ease, and enjoy. It allows me to release my false sense of control and somehow know that everything will be okay. And if it’s not okay, I will get through it.

Let go and let god. One of the best things I ever learned. One of my most important lessons to remember.

Let go and let god.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Danny made me cry again

I called my father, Danny, last week to wish him happy birthday. He made me cry.

He was pleasant and somewhat engaging on the phone. Often he’s abrupt and clearly has no interest in speaking with me. I get that. It sucks, but I get it. His life is awful, and he’s understandably depressed. He’s only (now) 75 and mostly paralyzed and living in a nursing home. Who wouldn’t be depressed?

Those phone calls usually make me cry as well. This was different.

After a few minutes of decent conversation (yes, I know my expectations are low), he asked me “Are you okay?” That made me cry.

A few years ago I dealt with some health issues that made it nearly impossible for me to visit him. He’s (conveniently) about an hour’s drive away from me – it made sense at the time to put him halfway between PA and NYC. If I could, I’d move him now.

I couldn’t make the hour drive for quite some time, and every now and then I again don’t feel comfortable making it. And I guess I hadn’t been to see him in a bit (I’ve been very busy – have I mentioned that in addition to all the other wonderful, time-consuming aspects of my life, my book will be published this fall?)

To many, “are you okay?” might seem innocuous, a question to barely notice. It made me cry.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that Danny loves me. I never knew that growing up. His love was, I guess, shown in ways I didn’t understand. In his own admission, expressing love is not something he does; it’s more something he pokes fun at.

As a child, I lived with a huge hole inside of me, defining me. A hole that longed to be filled with my parents’ love. Either. Both.

So when he asked me if I was okay, I saw, heard, and felt the love. Each time I’m aware of his love, it knocks me over.

Each time I write about my longing for Danny’s love when I was little and my complete surety that that love was not there, or at least not shown, Danny’s friends – one, two, many – comment that he absolutely loved my brother and me. “He was so proud of you,” they tell me. “He talked about you all the time,” they write back. Each time it blows me away. That was not the Danny I knew. That was not the message I got. It was more rage and snide and poking.

I know enough to know why my father is crusty on the outside. Why he can’t express affection. I know that his mom “taught” him to not be as loving as he was. Every now and then he admits to me that he can’t admit to me (or anyone) how much he cares. He jokes. He teases. He neglects the simple words of love.

And then every now and then he shows me, when he asks if I’m okay. And I cry.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Categories: Recovery