I stumbled on this quote early this morning. My friend and writer Susan posted it to her Facebook page and it prompted some inner reflection. My writing pulses with these themes and this chorus often plays in the background, but the practice is often so much harder. Loving well. Living gently. Letting go.

Loving well. It is easy to love the life that is made of fairy tales. What’s not to love? But often most of our lives are anything but the fairy tale. We struggle with loving ourselves and others. Disappointments litter our lives and that is when we are presented with this conflict: How do we love well when it isn’t easy to do so? When there is a fissure in our relationships, how do we try to love? It is not easy and we all must navigate this terrain with caution, but with bold honestly. I’ve learned that in order to love well, you must be genuine with your own feelings. That requires vulnerability and everyday I am learning in order to deepen my connection with those I love, I must do my best to be authentic with my feelings. That might mean saying things that aren’t exactly fun to hear, for me or for the person witnessing it, but, quite honestly, the fairy tale falling apart is sometimes the best thing that can happen to you and for your relationships.

Living gently. I am still struggling to figure out what that means to me. In my twenties, I lived anything but a gentle life. Stress determined how my days unfolded. There were moments when I was much to hard on myself and most of it centered on one key theme, “not being good enough.” Living gently, I am learning, has to do with accepting what is, rather than what isn’t. This is difficult for me. There are still days I complain about how I am not where I want to be or a situation is not where it should be. Living gently requires a practice of patience. Patience with yourself, others, and the circumstances that may arrive in a second, without notice. I still gravitate toward panic when faced with uncertainty and that conflicts against trying to live a gentle life.  It is a tiny, but powerful revolution when you learn that chaos can and will happen, but maybe after navigating this circle many times, I will learn that calm must replace panic as my default.

Letting go. This is the most difficult lesson. Much of my life seems to be about holding on. I am chained to what I know and often dread the uncertainty that comes from not knowing. Letting go of what I envisioned is perhaps the hardest part of living my life. I am a serial, compulsive planner. Writing down to-do lists and sticking to a routine offers a semblance of control in my life, but in the last 10 years, many of those items go unchecked because something unexpected happened. It is perhaps the biggest cliché, but one of the truest that “Life happens while you are busy making other plans.” And with tears in my eyes, I need these words to seep into me and run through my veins. Some things are not meant to be. The grief comes in the fall of expectations. Learning to let go, with grace, may never be a part of my fabric. But I keep working at it. Because it is this lesson I think I am meant to learn in order to love well and live gently.