Getting Unstuck & Letting Go


“Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.” – Shauna Niequist

I stole that quote from a book called “Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way.”

I haven’t read the book – only a handful of passages. She has some excellent thoughts, but there’s too much god-talk for a good heathen to tolerate, and she often comes across as judgy and sanctimonious. I like those two lines though.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my past. I found myself recently (and somewhat defensively) telling a friend, “I’m not who I was at 23.”

I’m not. But I don’t think I should be so defensive. I’m not proud of a lot of my past behaviors, but I’m also not ungrateful for what I learned from them. They’re a part of my past, a major factor in the person I am at 37, a woman I’m genuinely proud to be. I still have a lot to learn, but – barring a freak accident – I probably still have a lot of time left in which to do so. I hope so.

Regardless, I know what I value in a way that I’ve never known before. I love who I am in a way I never have before. I possess a self-respect that I never before had. I’m not afraid of everything and everyone anymore. For the first time in my life, I am unapologetically me.

Two years ago, I sat in my bedroom, alone and in tears shortly after telling my husband I didn’t love him and wanted to divorce, and posted on my Twitter account, “I am not a good person.” I think I really believed that for a very long time. And I don’t anymore. I’m not stuck in a past I can’t change. I’m no longer making decisions out of a sense of shame and guilt.

So maybe now I can concentrate on the second part and stop trying to fast-forward myself into the future. My present is nice. I need to treat it with care. Another new favorite quote is this: “Stay in the present moment, and the past and the future will fall naturally and easily into place.”

I don’t know to whom to attribute it. A friend wrote it in her notebook and posted a photo on Instagram, but I suspect she got it from somewhere else.

I keep trying. I’m not a fatalist. I don’t believe things are predetermined. I believe in human ability, not divine intervention. But I also know I can’t control everything. Only myself. And when I let go of what I can’t control, things do seem to fall into place. (And I’m a much better person to be around.)

There’s still a person I want to be, and I’m not her yet. I’m not as graceful as I’d like (physically and emotionally). I’m not as mellow, not as understanding. Not as well-read and educated despite all my formal education. Not as productive. I still have a lot of work to do. And I have all the control over that.

About a year ago, I wrote a list of immediate goals. I didn’t look at it again until recently and was surprised how many of them I’d accomplished, without really thinking about it. Imagine what I could accomplish if I dedicated real effort to it.

But it’s nice to know – since I’m always talking about starting things – that I have actually started. I haven’t just talked about it and sat back, letting life go by.

And Spring is a good time to start more things. It’s easy to feel alive and energetic when everything else around you is coming alive.

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