Clench. Grip. Tighten. Hold On.
Relax. Open. Loosen. Release.
And so between two extremes the pendulum swings…back and forth, back and forth. Or does it?
I just spent a week in Colorado. The first five days were planned, with almost every hour accounted for, allowing a small amount of time for flexibility and the unexpected. Jerry and I celebrated 11 years married on Sunday May 29th, and My Morning Jacket was playing at Red Rocks for the weekend. It was a trip where all the stars aligned: our flights were free using Southwest miles; we had a free place to stay thanks to the generosity of some friends who were out of town for the holiday weekend; we were hooked up with amazing seats courtesy of our friends who work in music promotion in Denver.
On Friday night we ventured to Boulder. The ladies we were visiting had booked a Monday through Wednesday trip to Steamboat Springs to unwind and relax after the weekend of music. They invited me to join them. A master of spontaneity I am not. But I DO recognize a gift from the Universe when I see one, and this was clearly that.
For me, the last few months have been all about holding on (at times by a thread). I held onto my 6 year old son as I watched him endure severe pain and undergo surgery for a broken arm. I held onto my 9 year old’s first pet (Fluffy the guinea pig) as we attempted to rehabilitate her from a fall that threatened to permanently damage her ability to walk. I had been holding onto fear and worry along with some shame and embarrassment (what kind of parent has two “children” with major limb damage within a 3 week period!?). While we weathered these most recent storms of life, I clenched my teeth, slept lightly, hugged my cat for therapy, and held onto the knowledge that this too would pass.
We live in a culture that encourages holding on. “Hang in there!” we say to our friends going through tough times. We admire perseverance and determination in people. We celebrate that aspect of our human race that battles on, overcomes, and never says die. With so much “hanging on,” how do we have space for new energy and experiences to come our way?
When I received the invitation to stay on for a couple of extra days and take a road trip through the mountains to the hot springs with the ladies…how could I say no? Jerry encouraged me to make it work, and my mom was happy to continue feeding the kids so I could feed my soul. Jen and Sonya (my Steamboat Springs road-tripping friends) were willing to shift their plans a bit to help make it workable for me. They planned to leave later on Monday (so I could spend a little more time with Jerry as we closed out our anniversary weekend) and return earlier on Wednesday (so I could make a flight that wouldn’t cost any additional miles).
We set out with an intention to release and renew, to enjoy mountaintop meditations and hot springs massages, to eat great food and drink great wine, to hike and laugh and connect. We NAILED it.
For me, the RELEASING started in Denver, as I enjoyed a more relaxed schedule, explored the beauty of new scenery, adjusted to the change in altitude, and danced my face off to Tom Petty/Mudcrutch and My Morning Jacket. The releasing continued in Steamboat Springs as we went with the flow, massaged and soaked out our tensions, and stayed open to magic.
At the core, we are all energy. By letting go of the energy, emotions, habits and beliefs that no longer serve us, we make way for a new future to open up. I spent the two days leading up to our Colorado trip cleaning out my closet and drawers, an action that seemed somewhat impractical at the time (how about using those 2 days to pack and get the house and kids set up?!) but now seems perfectly in alignment with what was about to go down. It was a deep purge, and I cleared out some items from 12+ years ago: before marriage, before children, back when I was a San Diego resident. If our drawers are filled with clothes that no longer fit or suit us, how will we make space for those that do match our bodies and style right now? If our heads and hearts are filled with pain and stress and worry from the experiences of months and years gone by, how will we be free and open to enjoy the wonder of all that life has to offer today?
My first night sleeping in Steamboat Springs, I noticed a few things. I had some CRAZY lucid dreams, which is apparently quite common when visiting higher altitudes. I had some difficulty breathing while sleeping that first night, and my normal sleep position (on my side, hugging a pillow or a cat, shoulders hunched) wasn’t going to allow me the space I needed in my lungs to breathe comfortably. I was forced into a new position, lying on my back with my arms wide open (with an occasional hug for Dan, Sonya’s canine companion, to help ground me in reality after some intensely vivid dreams). I embraced this openness as my second theme for the week. As I experienced one of the best massages of my life at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, I alternately focused on those mantras: Release and Open. Release and Open. Release and Open.
On Wednesday morning I got a call from Southwest that my flight was canceled. I re-booked it for Thursday midday, to coincide with Jen’s flight out from Denver. We ladies were able to spend a leisurely day in Steamboat Springs and one more night in Boulder together. Sonya only had to make one trip to the Denver airport. I even got a refund for my Early Bird Check-In, making the flight less expensive than the one I traded in. I connected in Fort Lauderdale and spent a few extra hours in the airport there due to bad weather in Texas. The delay allowed me to finish taking notes on some final lectures for school (yes, I graduated 2 1/2 months ago) and allowed Jerry to squeeze in a Dark Star Orchestra show in Providence before picking me up at the airport.
I came across this picture on Instagram upon my return home:
If holding on isn’t going so well…maybe try on letting go? Where are you holding onto energy that doesn’t honor who you are today or the future that you’re creating?
This post is dedicated to all those who helped make magic happen in Colorado, especially Jerry for encouraging the reverse Ummm, Babe and my mom and boys for releasing me for the week.