Does Surrendering Really Work?

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” 

― Abraham Lincoln

Surrender. It’s a word thrown around so often and so casually that I feel, in some ways, we’ve lost sight of just how profound the very act of surrendering can be.

I’ve been in one too many yoga classes where the instructor touts some paraphrased version of this idea picked up in a book or from another teacher that I can’t help but wonder how many of them truly practice the suggestion they are regurgitating back to us? How many of them actually understand the true meaning of surrender? How many of them are mindfully letting go each and every day?

But then again, I found myself wondering if I even understand the meaning of the word myself?

As a self-proclaimed control freak, 'letting go' and 'surrendering' have often evoked a lot of eye rolls from me but mostly a lot of deep frustration and anxiety because honestly, I really suck at it. I’m always wondering how the hell do I surrender? Am I doing it right?

As a chronically nervous person, I often find myself full of worry, full of this need to manipulate and control as if that will bring me the peace I’m yearning for.

And then I wonder what will happen if I surrender all wrong? What if I surrender and something I don’t want shows up in my life? What if life gets all mucked up because I sat back, gave up what I think is right and gulp, surrendered?

What if surrendering actually fucks my life up?

But the last couple of years have stirred a curiosity deep within me and I realize it’s time to explore the truth behind this idea deeper.

Because one thing holds true, it seems like the harder I grasp on to the things I can not control, the more suffering I seem to experience in my inner, and outer world.

And I’m so bored with my suffering.

I’m so bored with the narrative swirling around in my head. The stories, the trauma, the anxiety buried deep in my chest.

I want it to rise up and out of me so I can just be, well, me.

I want to feel in total alignment with who I believe myself to be and have the confidence to bring her to the party no matter who is around or what is happening in my life.

I’m constantly hearing, "Let go, Amanda. Let go, Amanda. For God's sake, Amanda! Bloody hell…just let go already!” It’s no longer a whisper. In fact, it’s a feverish shout as if life has both hands clasped around my ear while simultaneously tapping on my head asking if anyone is home.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah” I mumble. “I’m coming. Hold your horses.”

I’m stubborn and a control freak and what is that saying? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

And then I wonder, maybe I’m just not ready to give up my suffering? Maybe I’m not committed enough to being truly happy? What if, part of me, really loves my pain?

I had to find my own way to this moment.

To surrendering.

I had to wade and navigate through all the questions and the little voice that tells me all the lies of unworthiness and the self-inflected turmoil of long expired stories that keep playing over and over from deep within.

I had to find my way to letting go naturally. I had to want it that bad.

This experiment is a mix of curiosity and the profound wake up call I feel I’m having to go inward in a way I never have before.

So with much anticipation, a little nerves and a deep inhale here I go.

I’m SURRENDERING.

For the next 30 days I’m committed to this sacred act of letting go.

I’m not entirely sure what this will look like but here are a few things I do know.

When worry about money shows up, I’m going to remember that it’s always worked out. Not too mention I’m innovative and creative.

When fear of abandonment comes knocking, I’m going to tenderly love myself, hands clasped over my beating heart as I whisper to my inner child, ‘it’s ok, you are ok. I am here and I’m never leaving you.”

When anxiety taps on my shoulder I’m going to gently invite it to sit with me in silence as we close our eyes and breathe in and breathe out.

When I question my inner voice and feel like making a choice out of fear, I’m going to lovingly remind myself that I’m on the right path. That I am supported.

And when my ego kickstarts the engine I’m going to remind her that I’m driving. She’s welcome to ride along, but she does not have full control and I have no tolerance for back seat drivers.

I’m not sure where this will take me but I can assure you, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

So does surrendering really work? We shall see.


It's Okay To Do This

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"And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been" - Rainer Maria Rilke

A brand new year. An opportunity to do things differently, to begin again. 

I hope you remember in this coming year that: 

It’s ok to not be perfect because when you can accept that you are imperfect you will finally realize you are perfect just the way you are.

It’s ok to be disappointed when something doesn’t work out the way you hoped because eventually, you’ll see that this disappointment brought an opportunity that never would have happened had what you wanted actually come into fruition. 

It’s ok to not always be strong or brave or courageous.  

It’s ok to not clean out his closet for days or weeks or years or ever even, if it never feels right. It was a love so deep and for so long, most of us only dream of experiencing that. 

It’s okay to say goodbye to people without actually saying the words. Send them love, or not. Wish them well, or not. And let them go. Close the door. Move on. 

It's also ok to say no. As much as you want, to whatever doesn't feel right in your soul. 

It’s ok to not practice yoga or meditate or journal. You can still be a deep, meaningful, inspired, creative, spiritual person. 

It’s ok to not be over him or her yet. Know that with enough time and distance, you will be one day. 

It’s ok to try a million different things over the course of your lifetime. You're a complex, ever-evolving person and hey, it gives you so many great stories to tell. 

It's ok if you don’t feed your kids homemade organic meals from scratch every night and you opt for a box of Mac and Cheese. 

It’s ok if the house is messy and you move the clothes from the bed to the floor for a week straight. 

It’s ok if you delete friends off social media. And it’s ok if that’s me. 

And it's definitely okay if you decide to delete social media altogether. The world will go on. 

It’s ok if you fall off the diet wagon day two of the new year. And it’s definitely ok to say a big FU to diets in general. 

It’s ok to want to grow and change and shed old skin. Even if you are worried what others may think. Even if it feels scary. 

It's okay to stop caring what other's think. In fact, I highly recommend it. 

It’s ok to go to the grocery store and buy nothing on your list but come home realizing you just bought $150 worth of food. 

It’s ok to start over...and over ... and over again until you find what fits. 

It’s ok if you like to say fuck. It’s really ok. 

It's ok if some days you just want to hide away and turn off your phone and watch twenty-five episodes of Sex and the City. 

It's ok to not have it all figured out. 

It's ok to be different and fully embrace it. 

It's ok to cry a lot. Again, you are a complex human with a ton of emotions. 

It's ok to want more for yourself and it's ok to be perfectly happy with where you are right now. 

It's ok to let go of the need to be a certain size. 

It's ok to stop coloring your hair and embrace the grey and it's ok to color your hair until the day you die.  

It’s ok to be 37 and still single after 4 years. 

It’s ok to eat quesadillas for lunch for a week straight. Quesadillas are really good. 

I can go on and on but the moral of the story is, I hope you go into 2018 knowing wherever you are, right this moment, is perfectly ok. 

Stop being so hard on yourself. 

Here is to a brand-spankin' new year. 

Anxiety, Depression, Loneliness and the Dog That Saved Me (part 1)

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"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Gandhi 

It's Christmas morning, about 6:30am and I'm curled up all cozy in my bed, Rocky sleeping next to me with his head resting close to my hip. His breathing is heavy as little snores escape his snout. You'd think he was in a deep sleep but every few moments, he pops his head up and looks at me as if to ask, "Now mom? Is it time now?"

When he realizes I'm not quiet ready to take him on his W.A.L.K, (we never, under any circumstance whats so ever, mutter that word out loud unless you are ready to fully commit) he lets out an annoyed sigh and places his head back down on the bed beside my hip. 

I let out a laugh. To him, this is what he lives for. His small world of happiness looks like food, poops, cuddles and walks. It's as simple as that. 

I look down at his shiny black coat and the green handkerchief I have tide loosely around his neck. Although unintentional, it's quite festive next to his red and black plaid collar.

The loneliness I'm feeling is temporarily filled with a deep sense of love as I think about how lucky I am to have serendipitously found him. How different both of our lives would be had that fateful day of scrolling Instagram  never happened. Rocky would be eight months dead and I, well, in some ways, I suppose I would be too. 

I think about how he came along when I wasn't even looking and filled a big hole in my heart I never realized was there. If it wasn't for him, I truly believe my days would look and feel a whole lot darker. 

I like to joke that I didn't save him. He saved me. As if I even had any say in the matter. 

I'm reminded again that wonderful and unexpected things always come when you are not looking. It's as if something so much bigger knows exactly what you need, when you need it and just how it should come to you.

Huh. Funny how that works.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about this as I've been consumed with this feeling of dis-ease and discomfort. Anxiety has riddled me once again and I find myself grasping for what I can not truly control. I want to force and manipulate those things I want so badly and it seems the happy days are few and far between and I can't seem to figure out why.

Is it hormonal shifts? Is it just this time of year and how it's colder and darker and my skin hasn't felt the warmth of the sun in what feels like forever? Is it that I'm still single and it seems harder and harder to meet a genuine, honesty, caring man? Or is it that I'm still putting way too much emphasis on the fact that I'm still single after four years?

Or is it that I feel unstoppable change coming my way and I'm not sure I'm ready for it?

But then I settle on what I truly feel it is; that I'm trying so hard to hold on to things that never were meant to be mine. 

I can't help but wonder as I watch how simple it is to make Rocky happy, that maybe I still, even after all these year and experiences and learnings and time, have it all wrong?

Upon further explorations, I realized that maybe this dis-ease and discomfort are from holding on to ideas and perspectives, certain people and old comfort zones? Maybe it's time to really, truly let go. To say goodbye to what I want to be mine but what will never be? 

I look up from my computer to find Rocky peeking back at me with one eye open as if to say, "Mom, I can't even be bothered to lift my head if it's still not bloody time to go on a walk." I laugh again and feel the center of my chest fill with warmth. It's a genuine laugh. A genuine warmth. That is what I long for. More of that feeling, deep within my chest. 

It's true and real and 100% authentic. It bubbles up from such depths that it momentarily warms my whole body. It's pure joy and bliss. 

It's 100%, without a doubt, happiness and love. 

I throw back the covers and Rocky jumps up with contagious enthusiasm. If he could talk he'd sing with such unwavering and flamboyant joy, "It's TIIIIMMMMMMMEEEE!" As he prances of the bed because now it was, in fact, time for his WALK. One of the most most simplest joys to this bright eyed pup day. 

I slip on my UGG boots and beanie and zip up my black North Face puffy vest and know, without a doubt, that yes, it is in fact...TIME. 

To be continued.

Liar Liar Pants On Fire, The Truth Shall Set You Free

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“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

When I started writing in this space almost five years ago, my life was going down a very different path. This blog was called The Savoury Soul and it was where I attempted to talk all things health and wellness.  

I say I was attempting to write about health and wellness but everything felt very sterile and forced. My writing was a mix of how to's and unwarranted 'do this and you'll be happier!' advice. 

What I really should have been writing about, what would have felt way more original and authentic, would have been, "do this and this so everyone you know thinks you have the perfect little life.” And under no circumstance whatsoever admit or even hint at the truth.

All I remember was feeling like the biggest fraud and that I had so much to say, so much to share, but what I was writing about was not even close to being it. 

Instead, I spent a lot of time fluffing up my life and pretending I had it all figured out. 

In reality, what I really wanted to share was the truth. I wanted to scream out, "Hey! I have no friggin' clue what I'm doing here and I want out of my marriage but I have everything I ever thought I wanted so why am I so unbelievably sad and miserable? And why is it that when I look in the mirror I have no idea who the person I'm looking at is? And does anyone else out there feel this way?"

That is the stuff I really wanted to write about. 

The truth.

Real life. Real stuff. Real feelings. 

Raw, gritty, honest to God truth.

I wanted to expose the complicated feelings I was experiencing from being married to someone who had no idea who I was nor really even cared to find out. I wanted to write about how I had no idea who I was either but was desperate to find out.

I wanted to talk about how I had everything I ever thought I wanted but all the stuff in the world couldn't fill the ever growing hole inside. I needed to confide in someone, anyone who’d listen, that sometimes I’d dream about telling my husband that I was going to the grocery store and get in my car and drive away. And just keep driving. 

I wanted to tell the story of how on my wedding day as I stood in front of my family and the two friends I was "allowed" to invite, I wasn't thinking that this was my dream day. I was looking around thinking about all the people I wished were there but weren't because my ex made a big stink about the fact that this was his second wedding and "nobody wanted to come to a second wedding."

"How do you think it makes me look Amanda?" He asked. I remember thinking, "But...it's not just about you. Shouldn't we compromise? Isn't that what love and marriage is about? Give and take? Shouldn't you want to see me beaming from the happiness and joy I feel from having all the people I love at our day? 

 Instead, I stood in front of the twenty people in attendance and said my vows while secretly wondering how long it would be before we got a divorced. Instead of being in ah of this person I was committing my life too, I stood there with a fake smile saying some of the most important words to a man who no more then two weeks later met another women on a business trip.

I wanted to share how the first time I learned of him cheating was before we were even engaged. I wanted to leave then but was terrified because I didn't know what I would do. And then he said all the perfect words knowing very well that I would cave from hearing those words. I'm sorry. You mean everything to me. I will be better. I don't deserve you. I love you. 

He promised he'd change. He'd get help and go to therapy. And I was a sucker for empty promises. I was addicted to the love you think you feel from being told that US was finally enough to create change. That you really mean something. That you are worthy enough for them to change. 

I wanted to share that not much about US worked and I wondered if others were living in marriages that felt like living in a glass house. Just one more lie and everything may shatter around you.

 Were others drawing the drapes closed tightly at night to cover the truth of their relationships too? Were others as desperate to keep their lies tightly sealed just like I was?

I wanted to write with such brutal honestly that when I reached the end of the page I would feel empty, cleaned out and purged of all the lies I was telling others and myself. I needed to shed the excess weight so I could stare naked in the mirror and see Amanda for the first time.

But I couldn't. Instead, I filled these pages with boring facts that made me feel inauthentic. All because I knew that once I shared, there was no going back. Once it was out there everyone would know I, Amanda Whitworth, was a big…fat…lier.

So I just kept quiet and kept writing about boring topics because I felt called to write but was too afraid to write about what it was I felt called to share. 

Those thoughts and feelings, those would stay buried deep within, folded into the layers of my heart.

But the truth will set you free they say and freedom was what I was longing for. So once I had a reason that was good enough, once I had been broken and beaten down just enough, I got up the courage to say "no more!"  And I ran 1200 miles away to a little beach town so I could give myself the space and time to finally open up my heart and share what it is I'm suppose to share.

The truth.  

And the most interesting thing has happened with being brutally honest. Every time I open up and share a little bit more of my truth I feel free.

I have given myself permission to peel back the layers and get down and dirty with the God honest truth and it’s become harder and harder to lie to myself. Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes it really sucks having to referee the battle between my head and my heart and make a decision that I know is best for me but I don’t want to make. Sometimes that decision brings about it’s own pain. 

I’ll tell you one thing though, the feeling I get when I’m honest with myself and take action upon that honesty is almost indescribable.

No amount of sex and drugs or food and exercise or shopping or anything else that temporarily fills those holes and stuffs down those lies can make me feel as high and full as the way the truth does.

And that, my dear, is why the truth shall set you free.

So that you can be.  

What's Love Got To Do With It?

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"If you are searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror." - Unknown

The other day I was Skyping with a friend who's current situation eerily resembles mine almost three and a half years ago. As she shared her fears and worries, I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of empathy and compassion for where she was. As she nervously confided in me about her decision to leave her marriage of two years, I wanted to wrap my arms around her and say, "It's gonna be okay. I promise. One day it will be even better then okay." 

I wanted to tell her everything I had learned over the last three and a half years about love and how sometimes loss leads you to discovering some of the most magical things about yourself and about life.

I wanted to share how a lot of the time, we think the love from someone else is enough but it isn't. What is enough however is having the courage to do what is in your heart which isn't always the easy thing.

 But I couldn't, it wasn't my place. I knew all these lessons were ones she had to come to on her own. All I could do was listen and hope that she felt my love and support from thousands of miles away. 

It got me wondering though, how many people are married or coupled up who have done so under the same false pretenses I did? The one that says the right person will come along and save you. They will love you enough so that you won't have to learn the very thing that WILL save you; loving yourself.

 I also wondered how many people were staying in relationships that resembled the very one I was in because it felt safe or because they felt it was something the should do. Those damn should's. 

I grew up believing in the fairy tale. The one that had my prince charming riding in on his Technicolor My Little Pony and rescuing me in some way, shape or form. Hey, these were my fantasies and regular horses bored the hell out of me. My Little Ponies were what my romantic dreams were made of. 

He’d trot in with his perfectly parted Ken Doll hair because what young girl doesn't adore Ken. With his sparkling blue eyes and his big, bronze muscles, which were just a little stiff if you asked me, and he'd scoop me up with his arms that barely hinged at the elbows and we’d ride off into the blazing sunset to live happily ever after in our Barbie Dream House. The one with the white picket fence, the perfect career making the perfect amount of money, the 2.5 kids, and a friggin' partridge in a pear tree.  And that wouldbe our "The End".

Fast-forward to real life and one painfully failed marriage and a handful of brutal dating scenarios with openly emotionally unavailable men and this single thirty-seven year old has finally realized that love looks a little different then what my youthful (and delusional) dreams were once so naively made of.

It's taken me a long time to admit to myself that real love isn't the stuff that Blockbusters and fairytales are made of.

It definitely isn’t a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie.

It isn’t black and white.

And absolutely, under no circumstance, can real love sweep in on a brightly colored pony and save you. 

Entering any partnership under these pretenses is bound to fail you at some point.  

But let me start from the beginning. Let me tell how I came to realize that I had it all wrong. That my idea of real love was nothing more then a deceptive idea passed down over time and adopted by a girl who just wanted a happily ever after. 

Let me tell you what love isn't

I remember waking in the early hours of a cold February morning in 2014 from another restless night sleep. A fresh layer of white snow covered the bare vines and steep rolling hills of the fifty acre farm and vineyard I had called home for the past four years. I pulled the covers up close to my chin and in the stillness of the early morning light left over from the moon, I looked to my left at the silhouette silently sleeping next to me and my chest tightened. The heaviness returned from its eight hour break and once again, I wondered how I had allowed myself to get here. 

That had become the norm. I was thirty-three and found myself in a manipulative marriage of less then two years that had become more about constantly trying to change each other then acceptance, support, encouragement and love. I found myself constantly wondering if this was really it. Was this really what love and marriage were? Deception, lies, dread and control? 

Was I really that desperate to be coupled up that I had sacrificed my own personal happiness to do so? 

What about the fairytale? What about my prince charming and my technicolor pony ride off into my rainbow color sunset? What about my happily ever after? 

I slipped out from beneath the covers, quiet as to not wake my then husband, desperate for a few more hours to myself before I had to face my very own Jackal and Hyde. I tip toed down the stairs into the bathroom on the main floor and flipped on the light. Instead of avoiding the mirror as I normally did, I stood, staring down the reflection.

I looked tired and defeated from the daily disappointment and heartache of what I had allowed my life to become. I had no idea who the women in the mirror was. I had broken a promise I made to myself a long time ago after growing up with parents who's marriage resemble the one I now found myself frantically treading water in.

"How did you let this happen? This can't be it." I whispered to the girl in the mirror. For the first time I allowed the words to bubble up and before I knew it, slip out my lips and into the hands of the very thing that could save me, my own.  

It was as if I had broken some kind of spell and I snapped out of the delusional fog I was in. I made a promise to  myself that I would do whatever I had to do to live this one precious life the way I knew, in my heart, I needed to live it. Not chasing down the love of someone else but rather figuring out what that meant on my own.

The events that transpired over the next two months were heavy and heartbreaking but perfectly laid out for me so that I had no other choice but to leave.

In mid-May, just days before what was to be my second wedding anniversary, I found my car packed with all my belongings as I drove north back home to Seattle wondering how I was ever going to put my life back together. However, in my heart I knew a life stumbling solo was far better then being coupled up in something that was abusive and neglectful and lacking any sense of what I believe to be true love

So what does love have to do with it anyway?

Not to sound incredibly cliche, but one of the greatest lessons I learned from walking away from my marriage was that love between two people just isn't enough. You have got to love yourself first. Unfortunately, I had no idea what that looked like and had a long road of hard and repetitive lessons ahead.

How we learn to love ourselves looks different for all of us but I wholeheartedly believe that until we learn to do just that, our lives are going to be full of a lot of pain and suffering because we are going to be constantly looking for that love from others.

The greatest step I ever took was finally listening to my heart and walking away from something that was safe, comfortable and familiar for the complete and utter unknown. It was in that moment I cracked a little piece of the puzzle and realized that this was the way to the truth. This was the way I was going to learn how to love myself and step into a life that felt like me. 

The moment I drove away from comfort I knew I had started a wild and crazy journey into the depths of my own heart. Something I had only ever dipped my toes in. 

I said yes to something big and scary and I have kept saying yes to things that terrify me because I know they will keep leading me to deeper parts of myself. 

So what does love have to do with it? 

Absolutely everything. 

Love with someone else may not be enough but you better believe the love you feel for yourself is. That is the answer. Until you know what that looks like it is going to be really hard to invite in the kind of love you deserve and want with someone else. 

The path isn't always paved perfectly and those bumps and challenges are usually leading you to discovering another part of yourself that needs some love. That's what all those hard, often repetitive lessons are meant to do. They are supposed to shine light on the areas that need more of your own love. 

That is where I'm at now, facing many of the same lessons over and over, slowly realizing I have the choice to love myself enough to say not again.

I'm learning to love myself by leaning into those parts of me that are unfamiliar and choosing to do things differently. I'm creating the life I want that feels like the truth even if it doesn't make sense at the time. And I'm just going to keep doing this. Day in and day out. I'm going to wake up every day and continue to make choices, easy or hard, that are based around doing what is best for my heart, my path, my journey, my life.

I'm going to continue to say goodbye to people, places and things that do not serve my heart and allow time and truth to cultivate the space for those things that do. 

So that hopefully, one day, when the right man walks into my life, I can let him love me just that way too.