Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘letting go’

Letting Go Goes Deeper

Run Free Sweet Girl

Run Free Sweet Girl

It is certainly not my first post on letting go, nor do I suspect it will be my last post on the subject.  The last few weeks, the universe has honed my ability to do so more quickly.

I am no stranger to traumatic experiences, nor am I trauma’s biggest fan despite the familiarity.  What I have learned about trauma is that no matter how quickly you pick up the leftover pieces and continue moving forward, the imprint physiologically remains far longer.

Loss and trauma are strange bedfellows, I have also learned.  Not all losses are traumatic, but most trauma involves a loss of something/someone.

With the vicarious trauma professionally, and from simply watching the news about the various tragedies happening world-wide, experiencing a personal trauma in addition, has created a variety of interesting visceral responses.

Nearly 2 ½ weeks ago, I unexpectedly lost my third dog in three years.  The first two were inevitable as they were seniors, but the third was only five years old, and we experienced a painful final 72 hours of her life together.  She was very vocal about her pain and suffering, and no amount of medication was easing that for her.  I chose not to prolong her suffering.

While I chose to let her go, the experience of her suffering remains both in my heart and in my mind.

I went back to work the following week, and while apparently numb, I found myself extra sensitive to suffering of all kinds.  In my semi-conscious waking state for the first week, I saw her eyes and felt her pressing her painful self into me attempting to ease her pain.  The second week was a bit more interesting in my sleeping state.

Nearly every soul connection I have had in the last decade came flooding back in my dreams.  The gist I could gather when I would awaken was the theme of letting go on a different level.  Interestingly enough, Duke was not among them because he was in my dreams the week before all this happened with Ruby.  It was his death anniversary, which is the last time I posted a blog.

Because it is my nature to look for the lesson and potential growth opportunity in everything, I cannot help but to think more about these losses and the residual effects they may be having on my ability to move forward in my life.  Perhaps that was Ruby’s ultimate lesson for me in our relatively short time together.

Grieving, letting go and healing trauma happens as a process.  It appears to be happening on a global scale, and not just in my personal and professional life, so I have to believe that continuing to move forward while being open to the process itself, will promote that healing process.



Ending an Era–Weeble-Wobble Style

There is a natural order and flow to the universe.  It becomes evident as one period ends and another begins.  No time is it more evident than the ending of one year into another.

This year, on New Year’s weekend, I did something a bit different than I have in the last few.  While I was my usual reflective self, purged things in my house no longer necessary, and such, I was also ever conscious of the need to be still enough and grounded enough to understand what I needed to let go of from 2015.  I wanted to be clear and certain about what would carry over into 2016.

My 2015 was overall quite positive with the exception of the loss of my soul mate dog.  Much of what happened in 2015 involved the ending of an era.  An era that started nearly 15 years ago, and I am not sure I realized the magnitude of that ending.

I didn’t just need the stillness and grounding to close out a typical year, but to close out an era and to put some serious thought into what I wanted to create for the next era that had already begun to emerge in 2015 (late 2014 technically).

Moving forward is probably one of my frequently used tags for this blog, so it might surprise you that I historically am not very good at letting things go.  I have so often in my life hung on so tightly to ideas, thought patterns, people, jobs, situations, friends, etc. long after I knew it was no longer serving me.  I am not sure I can say that in this new emerging era.  I have gotten quite a bit better, and perhaps even more efficient, in my ability to let go and move forward.

It was certainly something Duke and his brother tried so very hard to teach me in their lifetime, so I am proud to be able to honor them by finally “getting” it.  I surprised myself when it was time to let Amore and Duke go because I didn’t feel the need to hang on for dear life for myself.  I felt more the need to let them go for them.  Duke was truly the testament for that.  Amore paved the way for it.

Letting Duke go meant the end of a very challenging era.  My entire life was thwarted, derailed, and I was on a detour for quite a while.  But somewhere along the way, I realized I might just be a Weeble-Wobble.  How else can I explain where I am now, based on where I started?


The detour taught me more than I ever expected to learn, and gave me a perspective that I never thought I would have.  The lessons, the perspective, gratitude, humility, and the strength from that era helped me to move forward at the time of his loss, but more than that, have allowed me to get back on the path with more certainty, in spite of my illness.

It is this foundation I chose to take with me into my life’s new era, and into 2016. What are you choosing to take with you into 2016?  What are you letting go?




Gratitude aka Veteran’s Day

10-25-12 Duke with color guard

Our ability to move forward into something more positive is directly proportionate to our ability to let go of the fear.

For many moments so far this week, I have forgotten how I learned to have a cooperative relationship with my fear because I believe it is serving to protect and to help me to grow forward.  Fortunately, I wrote an entire Fear Series here several years ago to remind me.

And because of that I am grateful.  In the course of a nine-hour period, I have almost taken back my personal power as a result.  For that, it has allowed me to feel a great deal of gratitude for so much.

Because it is also Veteran’s Day, I am also grateful for all of those Veterans I have had the honor to meet and my favorite of those I have had the honor to love and to be loved by throughout my life—my father.

May all of you feel the love and feel the power that love holds for you in your courage, bravery, sacrifice and ultimately in your healing for those sacrifices.

Happy Veteran’s Day!  Remember you are loved and supported by so many of us!

Day Eleven of


Dear Duke…

Dear Duke,

I felt the need to write you a farewell letter.  Many times, both in my head and through tears, I have composed the start of this letter since you said your goodbyes to us Friday.  I awoke lost, without my alpha dog on the first morning without you beside me in bed, waking me up by flopping over to spoon and cuddle as I waited on coffee and the snooze alarm, but then remembered all that you have taught me over the years about dealing with loss, challenges and hard times.

Through my terribly sad fog of a brain, I knew that it was my turn (on my own and with all those whose lives you have touched) to take care of all that you have helped with so much over the years.  You have not only been my favorite and most talented co-therapist in this life, but also my grounding source, my sounding board, and my motivation for being a better human.

You literally helped me up when I fell down, and you knew my soul better than any human ever could.  You reached me when I had no longer allowed anyone else to try.  You picked some of my new friends as you helped me to create a new and better life after wheelchairs, homelessness and nursing home, and you kept me moving forward no matter what.

One could argue that you were “just a dog” but it would be a huge and tragic missing of the mark, for who you were to me, and to so many whose lives you were honored to touch was so much more.  You were magic.  You were magnificence.  You were the epitome of any definition of love, selflessness and giving.

The veterinarian told me that your neurological status at the end should have made you miserable, nauseated and dizzy.  No one who made it to say his or her goodbyes Friday morning saw that.  You wagged, you smiled, you let us all cry and tell stories about our life with you, and you did not complain.  Until the end, my son, you were the epitome of all that is good, right and holy in this life.

Because of that, I know it is important that I have not only “gotten” the life lessons you have spent so many of your last 14 years trying to teach me, but also that I pay those forward whenever I can with a loving, giving, self-less spirit in which you taught them to me.

You would want me to stay grounded, stay focused, and continue creating my own life and to create opportunities for others to create better for their lives.  You would want me to make sure your “boys” are doing the same in your honor at work, and that the staff and friends who loved you do the same.

It has truly been an honor to hold your leash as you trail blazed your way into the hearts of those at work, and as you made every single person who crossed your path to feel loved, special and whole.  You could see that they were worthy of that, whether they could or not—I see that too, but only because you taught me how to see it.

While I am terribly sad and feel a bit lost trying to imagine a world without you physically in it, my heart is so much bigger because you picked me for you and your brother.  My life is so much richer and my world so much fuller than I could ever imagine because you opened me up to it.

I would not trade any of the tears I shed, and will continue to shed as I grieve your absence, for never having the opportunity and the privilege to share so much of my lifetime with you by my side.

My soul mate dog, it was your time.  I will always love you and appreciate all that you were to me and to so many others. You have given so much, and now you can rest.  We will take it from here.

me kissing dukie at hep

Let Go…

Let go

In the course of reorganizing and rearranging my place, I ran across a note I had written myself sometime in 2008.  I did it with a dry erase marker, on what was supposed to be a dry erase board, but it wouldn’t ever wash off the board.

Over the years, it has been on my refrigerator and in various places, but it never made it to the throw away pile because it seems to be so meaningful.  It was around the time I wrote this note that I was really starting to grasp just how much I had a say in what happened next in my life.  It was a time of empowerment and that was only possible because I let go of my old ideas of how things “should” be.

It seems a bit fitting that I should run across this at a time when I not only feel empowered, but confident about where I am and how I am in this life.

Perhaps it will speak to you, as it does me…

Books and Tupperware

Score Card

After loaning out books for years and feeling sad and disappointed that I never saw them again, I stopped expecting to get books back if I chose to lend them out.  The same is true for Tupperware-like containers.

If you lend either with the expectation of them coming back to you, you are likely going to be disappointed.

After replacing the same books repeatedly, I started lending my books only if I was comfortable letting them go forever.  I love my books more than I love any of the containers in my kitchen, so I do not mind if the containers don’t come back.  I am likely to keep your container anyway, but I will always give back your books unless you tell me not to.

I have no expectation of Tupperware’s return, but it is always a nice surprise.  On my doorstep this morning was a container I really didn’t care if I saw again.  It was a nice surprise just the same to have it back.  It started me thinking about expectations in general.

I try to live my life with minimal expectations.  If I choose to do something nice for you, I have no expectation of you doing something equally as nice for me.  If I choose to help you, there is no expectation of you helping me.  It is nice if you do, but I do not sit up at night wondering why you haven’t yet.

Many of my relationships are naturally reciprocal that way, and I doubt there are score cards hanging up in a secret place in our homes.  I am sure I know people with score cards.  Those folks are probably pretty resentful of me in recent years, although no one has shared as much.

Expectations always leave someone disappointed or upset because often the other party doesn’t even know there is an expectation.  The disappointed party then becomes resentful,  that resentment festers, and eventually it comes out in some way or another.

If I have an expectation of you and am actually aware of it, I will communicate it to you.  If you have one, I hope you will do the same for me.  It is frustrating when you tell me you do not want your book back when in truth, you do.  I will keep your Tupperware (actually, I will forget I had it to start with) unless you make a point to tell me to return it to you.

I’ll bet you didn’t know Tupperware could mean all that, did you?


Kitt O'Malley

Bipolar Writer and Mental Health Advocate


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