Thursday, December 31, 2015

Resolving to Hope and Trust and Let Go

I’ve often said I don’t have a bucket list. Then I read, “The Moral Bucket List,” an article in the New York Times by David Brooks.

“The Moral Bucket List,” divides bucket stuff into two groups; things we want to do or achieve and the person we want to become.
“To do” bucket lists include adventures we hope to experience, places we want to visit, and accomplishments that look good on our resume.
The “becoming” bucket list is about values and virtues—discovering our purpose and building our character.
When I started my blog, Know Hope Know Growth earlier this year, I wrote the tag line, Hope is trusting things ultimately work out the way they are supposed to--and seeing opportunities to learn in even life's toughest stuff.
Mr.Brook’s article helped me realize I do have a bucket list. It’s to live up to that tag line and become the best I can be at trust, and hope, and letting go.
Living up to that tag line is my resolution for 2016.

Are you making any resolutions this year?

My new year's wish for each of you is that you know the hope, trust, and magic of letting go of something you fear.

I hope you’ll keep coming back to Know Hope Know Growth and share your comments. Your insights mean a lot to me and always help me learn and grow.

Happy New Year.

Carol (P.S. Is anyone who knows me surprised I have a beach bucket list? )


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree - A Lesson in Letting Go

A ceiling-high evergreen with its sweet forest scent is among my favorite holiday traditions. So it’s a pretty big deal that for the first time in almost fifty years, my home doesn’t boast a “real” Christmas tree. 
My attachment to Christmas trees is a cherished hand-me-down from my dad who died much too young when I was twelve. Dad had a knack for scanning the tree lot to pick a tree so full and tall. Even after cutting off a foot or so the trees of my childhood overtook half of our enclosed front porch.
Trimming on Christmas Eve was a hallowed occasion, retelling the history of and thoughtfully placing each ornament—always, always, painstakingly lacing tinsel one strand at a time.
I loved how closing the French doors that led from the enclosed porch into the living room trapped all of that wonderful tree smell inside.
So imagine my distress the year my mother somehow coaxed my dad to “update” to a tacky, silver aluminum tree. In spite of Dad’s efforts to cajole her back to reality and my sibs and me pleading for our real tree, Mom prevailed. Dad reluctantly bought and set up that make-pretend tree. Mom decked each gaudy stickly-excuse for a branch with lore-less, uniform royal blue balls. No delicate teapots or ice cycles or the rare fluorescent lights from Dad’s childhood. The rotating color wheel beaming up from the floor to bath the silver imposter in streams of green, orange, blue, and red, just made it worse.
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is a rookie compared to that tree.

For months after that sucker came down, my sibs and I staged a Dad-backed revolt. By the next year, Mom relented and we had our real tree back, reassigning the silver imposter to the shuffle board room in the basement.
After my dad died, the silver tree resurrected for a couple of Christmas’s. By the time I was a teen, I seized responsibility for buying and putting up the tree. With the help of my friends, we’d cart a seven-footer the six or eight blocks from the tree lot to our house and have a tree-trimming part on Christmas Eve.
Even when I was single and lived in a third floor walk-up apartment, I found a way to have a real ceiling-high tree.
So why is there a four foot artificial tree, dubbed a “Charlie Brown tree” by our five year old nephew, gracing our living room this year?
For years, my husband Jim has caught a bad “cold” over the holidays. We blamed it on holiday get-together hugging and kissing. I’ve suspected for years it was really an evergreen allergy. Afraid admission would put my holiday tree in an endangered species; I kept my suspicions to myself.
Then last year, his cold progressed to bronchitis. He hacked his way through a steroid dose-pack and two antibiotics without improving. Miraculously, he stopped coughing and sneezing within hours of un-trimming and tossing the tree.
Now, I love real trees, but I love Jim a lot more.
It turns out, our four foot artificial tree is plenty big enough to display the delicate teapot from my Dad’s childhood and the sentimental ornaments Jim and I acquired over the years. We get ample whiffs of evergreen scent from the wreath on our front door. I can have the things I love about a tree, and still take care of what I love the most.
And, isn’t being reminded what we love most what the holidays are really for?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Earlier this month, I read seven novels in two weeks—four for book clubs and three because I committed to write reviews.
I love to read, but a book every other day—what was I thinking? Reading at that pace felt too much like work.
And, speaking of work.
Like retired people do, since “sort of” retiring almost two years ago, I joined a few new social groups. Pretty quickly, I was “invited” to chair committees—an honor than in social-group-speak means you get to do more work.
I used to fantasize about all the free time I’d have in retirement. Turns out, having the gift of time depends on how well I say NO.
Saying no has never been my strong suit. I’m more the over-commit-to-the-point-of-burn-out type.
I want retirement to be different—to stop multi-tasking, be present in the moment, and savor one thing at a time.
Sure I want to read good books, meet new people, and make a contribution. The trick is finding balance that leaves downtime to have fun, revel in life’s everyday simple joys, and savor quiet time with Jim.
Finding balance means following my instinct and NOT saying yes when my gut is screaming, say no, say no, SAY NO. Here are a few things I’m learning help me follow my gut.
·        Know your purpose – Do you know the 80/20 Rule? Basically it says that 80% of value comes from 20% of “stuff.”
Once you figure out what gives you the most value and joy in you life, hone in on the handful (20%) of things that bring you the most joy (80%). Say yes to the stuff that lines up with the 20% and graciously say (gulp) no to all the rest.   

·        When Saying No is Saying Yes – It can be hard to say no, especially to someone you care for and don’t want to disappoint. It helps to remember that saying no to stuff that brings you less value means you give yourself the gift of time to say yes to the people and things that matter most.    

·        Say No with grace – To avoid feeling cornered into impulsively or guiltily saying yes, a template or script helps. Something like, I appreciate your confidence in me. It’s just not the right time for me to do this. Keep it simple, kind, and sincere.
Time is infinite and precious. As hard as it is to say no, it’s worth the effort when it leaves me the time to say Yes, Yes, Yes to the people and things that matter most.
How about you?
  • Are you overwhelmed with holiday drama and demands yet?
  • Do you ever say Yes when No is better for you?
  • What advice can you share about kind and graceful ways to say NO?