Tag Archives: letting go

Prescription for Closure of 2016 and a Vibrant 2017

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Many of you are familiar with my “Prescription for Soul Health” that comes at the end of each year. I have participated in this process for decades and wouldn’t be where I am without a conscious dedication to both clearing out/releasing the past and setting clear and conscious intentions for the future.

Here’s your Prescription for Soul Health:

First, take some time to evaluate your year to determine whether you evolved in the way or pace that you wished. Note what is “same, different, better, or worse” than at this time last year. Consider what you could have done differently, what you did well, and what you would like to add or change for the next year.

Second, make a list of all of the things you’d like to dec2let go of from this year, including the thoughts that no longer serve you, the habits that get in the way of your growth, the beliefs about yourself, others, or the world that inhibit your evolution, and anything else that you know you need to change or eliminate in your life in order to move forward unencumbered.

Third, set a time/date before December 31st in which you will burn this list. Create a ceremony or ritual around this sacred burning so that you can mindfully and intentionally commit to letting go of the items on this list. Consider also burning and releasing old journals or diaries that hold negativity or difficult memories. Although many believe these documents are parts of history to be maintained, these items also contain the sometimes painful energy behind many difficult events and eras in life. Perhaps it is time to release the energy behind these events so that you can consciously evolve beyond them.

dec4Fourth, spend some time before the end of the year cleaning out your home—remove items that no longer interest or serve you. Clean out clutter and excess material objects. All of this extra “stuff” energetically impedes our growth and slows down the flow of evolution. Go room by room and attempt to remove at least one or two items that you no longer need or want. Once removed from the home, you will inevitably feel lighter and less weighted down.

Fifth, consider setting a “theme” for 2017 that will guide dec5your evolution. New Year’s resolutions and most goals fade within the first couple weeks, but setting a theme can last the full 365 days. Once set, you can weave in endless ways to work on your theme so that this becomes part of your framework and foundation by the end of the year. For instance, a theme of self-love might entail daily affirmations, periodic pampering sessions, healthy behaviors, and more—all to be incorporated as an investment in that aspect of your soul health. (The options are endless!)

dec6Sixth, on December 31st, pause long enough to acknowledge that the year is coming to an end and that you are consciously committing to your growth in 2017.

Finally, on January 1st, take a few dec7minutes (or more!) to celebrate the  opportunity for a new year of evolution in whatever way(s) you choose. Your commitment to consciousness and your intentionality in following through are the most important ingredients in your prescription for Soul Health.

Get to work on your evolution! Do one thing every day that will contribute to your growth and evolution. Get creative, and you’ll see the results on a daily basis.

Remember, evolution takes time. By choosing to consciously evolve, we ensure our radiant health and overall life satisfaction. See what your prescription for health will bring to you by this time next year!

When Love Means Letting Go

This year’s theme for the newsletter has focused on topics related to love and laughter. But what happens when love isn’t enough? How do you know when love can no longer sustain you in a friendship, family connection, or other relationship? What do you do when your dislike for someone or their behaviors overshadows the love you have for them? And how is it that you can love someone, even dearly, but know the relationship does not support your soul health?

Many people face the love vs. like/dislike question every day. We can love someone and not like them, like them and not love them, or both love and like them. The first two possibilities create a conundrum, and the last scenario, unfortunately, seems less likely than one would hope for.

“All you need is love” may work in romantic lyrics, but when it comes down to whether or not a connection is truly a soul-to-soul relation, we need to consider whether or not it really aligns with our soul health. When we share a relationship with someone whom we love, but don’t necessarily like, it can affect every branch of our overall health—physical, psychological, social, interpersonal, and so on. We can struggle with the idea of letting go of these individuals, but when it comes down to both our health and our soul’s evolution, we must consider whether a relationship is life-affirming or life-diminishing. If we feel drained—dimming our soul’s natural light—then it is likely inhibiting our overall health and ability to grow.

Some people feel guilty for leaving relationships when the other person seems reasonably happy, but the truth is, both parties must be satisfied in order for a relationship to fully facilitate their evolution. In fact, breakups can provide important lessons and fodder for growth and self-awareness, but only if each party is willing to honestly explore what was and wasn’t working.

Letting go can be hard to do, but when committed to one’s own health and evolution, anyone can enhance both their social and overall soul health by releasing unhealthy connections—or at least the expectation that these connections will fit our ideal. Whether it be a family member, friend, co-worker, or love interest, sometimes our willingness to release an unhealthy bond is the only way to assure our soul health.

Conscious Surrender—Lessons in Death

letting-goLetting go is definitely hard to do.  And yet we get constant reminders that we have no control in the world, despite how desperately we might try.

My mother is dying.  There’s nothing I can do about it. There’s no way to change the outcome.  On August 22nd, she will turn 86 and she told me she has no interest in acknowledging that day.  Regardless, I plan to be with her, perhaps more for my own sake than for hers.  Her poor body is failing.  Her bones are brittle, her muscles weak, her memory spotty, her hearing and eyesight failing.  Without strong medication she would be in constant pain.  Her blood pressure is extremely low.  She can’t bathe herself, can’t get to the bathroom alone, and chances are that she will likely never leave her bedroom again.  My biggest prayer and wish is that she makes her transition peacefully in her sleep.  But, again, I am well aware that this prayer might not be answered.

The worst part of all of this?  I live 1500 miles away.  Although I’ve made frequent trips in the last several months, I don’t have the option of pushing the pause button and restarting my life once she is gone and I’ve had time to grieve.  From here, I cannot make her favorite meals.  I cannot help her get out of bed.  And I can’t sit and listen to her breath as steals a few much needed z’s.  I can’t help her with her medications.  I can’t help her get dressed.  I can’t get up in the middle of the night to make sure she’s still with us.  I have absolutely no control over the situation.  I have had to learn to let go.

determined birdAs a psychologist, I’m a professional caregiver.  I love what I do, and for the most part, I think I do it well.  But this process of watching my mother’s health fail from afar has taught me some of the most important lessons of my life.  They are lessons of surrender.

I’ve always been a hard-working and determined person who doesn’t easily accept that some things cannot be completed or controlled.  My motto is pretty much, “if there’s a will, there’s a way”.   People know that when I set my mind to something, it usually gets done with good results.

But this is different.  I literally have no control.  I am not the person making medical or financial decisions for her.  I am not the one talking to her medical staff.  I am not the one making her meals or delivering her medications.  From here, I can literally do nothing.

In reality, we are all on our way to death.  And, in reality, we have to let go of something every day.  When you lose a parent and/or other family member early in life, you become acutely conscious of loss.  In my case, because my parents were older when they married and had children, death was introduced to us early with grandparents passing in grade school years, aunts and uncles making their transitions in our teens, and a father passing when I was 21.  This makes me good at death.  And good at knowing that the process of grief takes all shapes and forms depending on the circumstances and the relationships you hold with those who go to greener pastures.

What has been most interesting in watching my mother’s health fail has been the fact that I have observed the process in somewhat of a 3-D way.  As a student of consciousness, my awareness is constantly looking for what I’m supposed to learn—the dynamics, the process itself, my own reactions and emotions, as well as those of others.  The gift of consciousness is that it not only brings depth to any situation, it also brings peace.

Bird landingI’m well aware that my mother is preparing for her next phase of existence.  Because I believe in reincarnation, I believe she is learning and experiencing whatever she is supposed to before she launches into her next life.  But I’m also well aware that each of us who is involved in her care—both near and far—are supposed to be learning something from this process as well.  The more “awake” we all are in this process, the more our lives will be enriched for our evolution.

My mother was in the hospital over Mother’s Day this year, dealing with a horrible intestinal infection.  I arrived late the day before and arrived in her room early to spend as much time with her as I could.   I pretty much served as her personal nursing assistant all day, getting her to and from the bathroom, and yes, wiping her tush for the first time, ironically on this celebrated day.  Tables had turned, and the irony of having cleaned my mother after a trip to the toilet also served as a blessing of sorts.  I got to give back to my mother what she had given me—a gentle nurturance to someone who was somewhat helpless and dependent on others for their care.  It was the perfect day to return the favor.

Joining hands and heartLetting go and allowing things to unfold as they may is a skill I’m still trying to master.  Like any grieving process, I’m sure I will have my dark days.  But I also know that I am learning everything I can along the way, which will undoubtedly ease my pain.  Consciousness brings a level of peace that nothing else has.  And I’m learning that consciousness, itself, is very much about surrender.  And it is very much about love.

The End of an Era: Lessons From Cheetah

parakeetMy parakeet died.  After 27 years of owning pet birds, my last one made her transition and went on to soar through bluer skies.

I know this may sound like the theme of a bad sitcom.  To those who have never hosted a feathered friend in their home, this occasion may not seem like a big deal.  But when you’ve experienced the morning songs of these amazing prehistoric-age creatures for nearly ten thousand days, it is, in fact, a great loss—one which will take a long time for me to fully accept, and one in which will undoubtedly take months to adjust.  No more morning songs, no more weekly cage-cleaning, no more seed and feathers scattered on the floor around her home.  Essentially, these are habits and memories, but the end of this era goes far beyond these simple tasks.  It reaches through the closure of many other facets of life as well.

I received my first parakeet as a gift for my high school graduation, which means in some ways, that the legacy of that time is over.  It marks yet another form of grieving for my father’s death, as I bought my first Cockatiel soon after his passing.  It marks much of my education, as my feathered friends accompanied me on my many moves to complete my training.  It marks my move to North Carolina to take my job at the medical school, as they adjusted to the new climate.  It marks a shift in the energy of my sunroom, where they had long sung to the birds outside.  It marks the end of a repeated conversation with friends as their sounds joined in the gatherings held in their space.  And it also marks the end of owning a pet which few do—as most opt for the furry types, rather than feathered.  I still haven’t filled the space which held Cheetah’s cage.  Like other forms of grieving, it just doesn’t feel right to try to replace something that held so much meaning.

Charles_Darwin_01

I talk a lot about evolution.  In high school I was nearly obsessed with the topic, dedicating much of my time in biology classes learning about Darwin’s theory, the journey of man, the futuristic images of what creatures might be yet to come, and any other aspect of development that might explain who we are, how we’ve come to be, and where our lives might take us in the future.  I also remember studying Egyptian mummification, having been equally preoccupied with the history of King Tutankhamun—more  commonly known as King Tut.  As I wrote in my high school Biology II term paper, mummies were prepared in such a way to allow the soul to travel to the afterlife in a protected and honored way.   Yes, I still have this paper tucked away in an old file, along with the one on Darwinian theory that I wrote a year prior.

king tutSome might say that I’m still obsessed, given that my work as a holistic psychologist has taken a turn toward evolving our soul as well.  Brought up in a family that practiced Catholicism, I was taught that the next chapter involved only the choice between heaven or hell.  But having taken many biology classes, this theory didn’t add up.  However, unlike many individuals who study the hard sciences, I didn’t go down the path of nonbeliever; instead, I spent my time wondering why such an amazing brain and body would only get one chance at life.  Although my family and friends occasionally joked about past lives, it wasn’t until I really delved into studying world religions that I came to understand that other options and ideas made more sense.

With further exploration, I then became even more convinced that a single shot at life made no sense.  Why in the world would we travel through life only to find that the game was over?  What was the point in traversing the trials and tribulations of the human condition if the final outcome was only fire and brimstone or airy clouds and harps?  Cognitive dissonance led me to examine the possibilities—both through insatiable reading and through deep meditations and hypnosis sessions which led to my own excavation of past truths.

It now all adds up.  My obsession with the fish to ape….   The soul’s journey to another dimension or lifetime….  And the importance of getting life “right”.  In essence, my study of evolution helped me evolve as well.  Now, I firmly believe that each lifetime is simply one stop in our “soul cycle” or one hop on a lily pad to get us to our next destination on the journey.

Morty

All of this to say that death no longer gets me down—it only makes me pause to consider what’s next.  Having lost my dad at an early age, and all of my aunts, uncles, grandparents and a dog by the time I was in my early 30’s, I’m pretty well versed in the process of letting go.  Two months ago I had to say goodbye to another furry friend, as I laid my 16 year old beagle/shepherd mix to rest.  And now my last parakeet has essentially flown this earthbound coop.  Instead of spending my time lamenting about the past, I now look toward the possibility of running into my human, furry, and feathered friends and family again—each time offering the possibility of expanding my awareness and evolving to yet another level of wherever this life spiral will lead.  The end of each era is part of this evolution—part of the letting go in order to step into whatever comes next.  Yes, there’s a pause.  Yes, there’s a void.  But not for long.

The end of Cheetah the bird is no more than the end of an era—and the beginning of another.  Here’s to our souls soaring together again, sweet bird.

The Art of Letting Go (from my September newsletter)

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”  ~~ Havelock Ellis

Those who really know me are aware that I am an eternal optimist—I always believe that things will end right side up in one way or another.  They also know that I believe whole heartedly that everything happens for a reason.  However, I’ve also learned the hard way—more than once—that letting go is an essential part of our soul health and ultimately our evolution as well.

Letting go is hard to do.  We may know that certain situations, relationships, behaviors, thoughts, or ideas may not be healthy for us, and yet, we hold on to the hope that these will somehow spontaneously turn around so we can avoid taking the steps to change or eliminate these people or things from our lives.  The truth is, though, that sometimes we must consciously release whatever is causing our dis-ease in order to experience our deepest soul health.

For a moment, think about what keeps you feeling at ease, complete, or enriched in life.  Whether this be a situation (job, home life, living environment, etc.), a person (friend, family member, coworker, or other), an event (holiday, change in seasons or time of year, a change of some other sort), a behavior (habit or vice), a thought or idea (faulty or unhealthy ways of looking at the world or your life), or whatever else might be misaligning you from your true and complete health.  Consider why you hold on to these situations, people, or ideas.  Is it out of fear of letting go for one reason or another?  Probably so.

Throughout our lives we are conditioned to believe that we must endure certain things regardless of the negative impact they may have on who we are and what we need in life in order to thrive.  However, many of these conditioned ideas may work in direct opposition with our evolution.  We may know we would feel better without these situations, people, or behaviors in our lives, but still remain anchored to them out of fear of what we might lose in the process.

Following is a guide to determining what or who you might need to let go of in order to enter a deeper level of soul health.  As discussed in my book Soul Health, we must constantly “clean out” or remove debris from our lives in order to make room for further growth.

The 10 top signs that you might need to let go of something or someone:

¨ If you often feel disrespected, dishonored, or dismissed by someone or something.

¨ If someone or something takes more than they/it gives.

¨ If someone or something is frequently inconsistent in giving back.

¨ If there is a sense of dread when you think of someone or something.

¨ If you regret spending time with someone or doing something.

¨ If you feel worse rather than uplifted after engaging with someone or something.

¨ If you feel that you are obligated to someone or something.

¨ If you feel you are working harder than someone or something.

¨ If someone withholds their love, affection, or attention or if you feel you have to hold back your love, affection, or attention to protect yourself in some way.

¨ If you can’t be “you” when engaging with someone or in doing something.

Our soul health depends entirely on how well we take care of our self in all aspects of the human condition—physically, psychologically, socially, interpersonally, intellectually/occupationally, environmentally, financially, sexually, spiritually, and recreationally.  When we fail to honor ourselves through holding onto things that prevent us from reaching optimal health, we jeopardize our soul health and our ability to evolve suffers.

To take positive steps of shedding or letting go of something or someone, first, consider why you have held on to this in the first place.  Is it out of fear?  Obligation?  An expectation?

Secondly, determine what the cost is in letting go vs. keeping this in your life.  Do you feel held back by maintaining this?

Thirdly, ask yourself, “If I had the courage to let go of this, would I?”  Then ask, “How would I feel if this is no longer part of my life?”

If you know your life would somehow be better without whatever hinders you, take some time to explore what is keeping you tied to this, and how you might enhance your soul health by letting go.

As autumn approaches, consider what you need to let go of in order to set the stage for your next level of evolution.  Remember, by letting go of what inhibits our growth, we can more clearly identify what we need to hold on to in order to ensure our soul health.

To read my entire September newsletter, go to www.drkatherinetkelly.com.