This past fall, I went out to a group painting event by myself. It was a lot of fun, but at the end of the time, in my last touch up stroke, I added too much water and a single drop, ran down the entire canvas. It took off the paint and I wasn’t able to fix it. I realized how significant that was for me at the time. I had just gone through a breakup and was in the process of simply accepting myself and my life exactly as it is. So I did the same for this painting. I smiled for the picture while proudly holding my painting. I even hung it up in my room for display to say “I did this. It may not be perfect, but it came from me and I’m proud of painting it.” This was exactly the point.
This year, so far has been about letting go. Letting go of being perfect, letting go of control, letting go of my past hurts or guilt and those relationships lost, and as I mentioned in my last post, letting go of who I think I’m supposed to be. This past Sunday, in church, a guest speaker was again touching this on this subject of letting go, but in a new light. She described a U shape. How one end is the letting go end and then you have the middle that is flat, and the other side of the U is for allowing good things to come to you or flow through you (however you want to look at it). I really liked this analogy. She said that after the letting go and before the coming in you have the middle, which is like a clean slate or a blank canvas. This thought almost brought me to tears. So I decided to look inward to explain why it evoked so much emotion. I knew it must have been the words I needed to hear. In life, it is often the case where you cannot go back, you can only move forward. That has always been a tough concept for me. For example, the times when you say things you didn’t really mean or didn’t say things you wanted to say or things you wish you had or had not done. This is why letting go is a huge process for me that I am currently tackling in more than one way.
In fact, two weekends ago, I started a really big project. I have moved four times in the last four years. During this time, I have moved many boxes with me, without really going through anything. So I decided that part of letting go, also needed to be done in the physical world, as well as mentally. I want to let go of my garbage: all those assignments and papers I did in school, the receipts I thought I needed to hang on to, the love letters from my past relationships, the work forms I saved for taxes that are over 7 years old, etc. I knew it was going to be time consuming and even emotional. It had become really bad. I had boxes and boxes of papers and folders and well…junk. It was time to get rid of my junk. Besides recycling or shredding the papers, I donated four giant garbage bags full of items that were just miscellaneous or I did not have a purpose for. I was downstairs for three hours Friday night, three hours on Saturday evening, and about an hour on Sunday. I’m still not done. I have a few more totes to go through until my clutter is gone. One of the hardest ones, I am saving until last. It is photo albums and pictures of my “serious relationship” six years ago. I never look at it, I just didn’t have the heart to get rid of it and the love letters that accompanied them. My ex wrote me letters, gave me cards, and even left little notes in my lunch. I’ve never had anyone show their love for me in that way before. I felt really spoiled. I think I have been holding on to that standard though, expecting the same treatment from others, and being disappointed when it doesn’t happen. I guess I’m afraid that no one will love me like that again or that much. But I have to let go of those expectations and begin again with an open mind, a blank canvas. Once, I let go of this, of what I think I want, I believe the right person will come and be exactly what I need. Isn’t that the case for most things? We have this image in our minds of our perfect job, our perfect partner, our perfect house, and our perfect kids…but how realistic is that? Life doesn’t always go according to our plan and I believe it is important to be open-minded. It is okay to have desires and even standards, but one must be flexible as well and be open to what could be. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that what we want isn’t the same as what is best for us in the moment. So I begin again with a blank canvas, ready to be painted.
I think we can relate this analogy to many things in our life. How amazing is it to think that you can start a new painting, start a new life, start a new thought, and let go of the past and old thinking. This is such a scary, yet exhilarating thing for me. I am already feeling lighter in my life, my mind, and my basement, of course. What in your life, do you not need? What is it that no longer serves you? Is there some aspect that you would like in your life to begin again with a clean canvas, so you can paint whatever picture you want and allow the things that you choose into your life, without all the clutter? De-clutter, renew, and be thankful. I think that is the art of starting over. During the clean canvas time period, it is so important to just be grateful and really appreciate the moment of how amazing it is, to be able to let go of all the “garbage”, so you can let more of the good come into your life.