A Year of Gifts
Those of you that know me might assume this blog post is going to be all about my kids. You'd be partially right. You see, our son got married last August, our middle daughter graduated from college in December, and our youngest graduated from high school last week. It's been a year full of milestones. Both girls will be heading out of town for more schooling this fall, leaving us with the proverbial "empty nest." I'm an incredibly proud mother of three young adults, and I'm learning to give them space so they can continue to develop their own lives. I'm letting go, or at least loosening my grip! And now I need to learn to live life a little differently.
But honestly, the ability to "let go" extends far beyond our relationship with any growing children we may have been blessed to raise. When we strive to truly live our best lives, we need to get really good at the process of letting go. A colorful, fun life can mean seeking new adventures, fresh careers, loving with all your heart, and growing every day.
And as wonderful as those things are, they all come with the need to leave things behind.
When we are given the gift of a long life, eventually we must let go of some of those things we "used to do" when we were younger. I remember being mildly offended a few years back when my husband and kids were shocked to hear I wanted to jump on the tube with my daughter and go for a ride behind the boat. Why were they surprised? It never occurred to me that tubing might be a bad idea. I bet you can guess where this is going. While my hubby may have been tempted to throttle down and see how far he could fling me off the tube I was clinging precariously to, he's smarter than that. My daughter and I laughed and hollered as we circled the lake, fighting for handholds on the tube, neither of us wanting to "let go". No big spills, no problem, right?
Imagine my surprise when my back soon reminded me, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn't twenty years old anymore. Suffice it to say it took a couple of weeks and more than one trip to the chiropractor to set me straight again. And yes, sadly, I've wizened up and given up tubing.
I remember when I used to win limbo contests for crying out loud, but now the extent of my participation could be holding one end of the pole. Sledding is questionable as well, and I'd still consider a trip down while sitting on the sled, but I'll never again ride down on my belly.
So yes, we need to let go of some of the fun, physical things we used to do. The important thing is to find something new and fun to replace the old activity. Paddleboard anyone?!
Our bodies age. Menus get harder to read in dimly lit restaurants. Don't let it bother you. Slap on some glasses, use the light from your cell phone to see the menu better and order whatever you want. You've earned it. Let go of vanity and enjoy yourself.
Similar to our bodies, our relationships evolve. Sometimes people who were once dear friends rotate out of our lives. I think about how inseparable a group of us was in high school. I still count these ladies among my dearest friends, but we've let go of our day to day interactions. Life has taken us to different cities, and other commitments consume our time. Now when we do get those precious snippets of time together, we can't stop talking or laughing, and maybe we even appreciate each other more. But we are no longer part of each other's day to day lives.
As we travel through life and the years start to accumulate behind us, other important people in our lives are aging as well. Letting go of my mother was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced, and I know this journey I'm on, where I'm trying to get acclimated to life without her will always feel foreign, sometimes incredibly lonely. It is also unavoidable.
Maybe it wouldn't hurt so much if we hadn't been such an integral part of each other's lives. I made certain choices in life because I wanted that close relationship. And now, despite the pain, I wouldn't change a thing.
We live life to the fullest when we love with all our hearts. It comes with risks, but the pain of letting go pales to the joy we experience during the good times.
There are even times when we need to let go of relationships because they’ve become detrimental to our lives. Deciding to do this, when it is by choice, can be scary and difficult. But sometimes it is necessary in order for us to live life on our terms. Unfortunately, some people won’t understand our desire to chase big dreams. Don’t allow them to hold you back.
I couldn't help but smile when I watched all the high school graduates celebrate last Sunday afternoon. The sight of those white mortarboards flying through the air felt symbolic. Hopeful. On the floor before us were a few hundred eager young adults, ready to take some massive "next steps." Who among them would step forward to change the world? In some way, they all will. They'll be leaving old friends behind, but they will find new, perhaps life-long friends as they move forward.
But those boards, tossed in jubilation, gave me hope and inspiration as well. In a way, it felt freeing to watch them soar. Can I now let go of some of those things that have been part of my life up to this point, and find new, rewarding peaks to climb? If the kids can do it, why can't I?
None of us should ever stop learning, stop striving for new experiences, stop growing. Letting go of the old to make room for the new is necessary at any age. I love this idea.
If you would have asked me a month ago how I would feel at my "baby's" graduation, I might have said I’d be a blubbering mess. And the scale could have easily tipped in that direction on Sunday, but I choose to see the joy in the celebration and the beauty in this milestone. Instead of looking at it as the end of something wonderful, I decided to revel in the sense of accomplishment and the beauty of new beginnings.
When letting go feels hard, have faith in what will be.
Always cheering you on, Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!