Saturday, December 08, 2007

Let it go, let it go, let it go

"Let go and let God" is a saying from 12-step programs. To help one do that, people in 12-step programs sometimes make themselves a "God box" and write down their problems and put them in the God box for their higher power to take care of. It's a a way they can symbolically, ritually turn their problems over to God. Often, God boxes are hat boxes or shoe boxes with a slit in the top or a paper bag. (Here's a great essay by Anne Lamott on her own God box rituals.)

In Orange Mint and Honey, the mother, Nona, is a recovering alcoholic in AA. She uses her garden as her God box. She writes what she wants to release or let go of and buries the slips of paper in her garden. Over time, the papers break down and serve as a kind of mulch and soil amendment. Nona says, "the best way I know to turn over my problems to God is to turn over some dirt."

As someone who can be a tad obsessive-I'll pause while I wait for hubby and friends to collect themselves after falling on the floor laughing at my understatement-having such a way to let things go is very helpful. Once when I was worried about getting an agent, I tried Nona's method. I wrote down that I was freaking out about getting an agent and buried the piece of paper in my garden. And it worked. I was able to let that worry go. (And I got an agent soon after.)

Lately, I've been getting a little worried about how my little baby Orange Mint is going to do once it's out there in the world (in almost exactly 2 months!). So I wrote that down on a slip of paper and gave it over to something greater than myself to take care of. And I feel so much better! It won't last forever. I'll get wound up again and have to release again. In fact, I may end up papering my whole yard in the next few months. It takes what it takes.

If you have something you want to release to your higher power, give it a try. Another good exercise in letting go is repeating this mantra from Life is Goodbye, Life is Hello: Grieving Well Through All Kinds of Loss, by Alla Bozarth-Campbell:

"Love Mantra for Letting Go"

I bless you
I release you

I set you free
I set me free

I let you be
I let me be

I find it works for all kinds of things.



Sherry said...

I love the God box idea and I hope you don't dig too many holes in your garden before the book hits the stands! I can't wait to read it!

Sustenance Scout said...

I love that mantra, too, Carleen. I'm going to try it on my teen-age son next time we get into a battle of wills. I have a feeling he'd appreciate it greatly if I'd just "let him be!" K.

Jamie Ford said...

The God box is a great idea. I learned long ago that there's very little I can control outside of my own attitude...and even that's a challenge.


Sassy Sistah said...

I love this, Carleen. And I read it at JUST the right time. I woke up this morning, after yet ANOTHER dream about something in the past that I need to let go of. I was sitting here, asking God how I could let it go. And then - I read your blog. Isn't that amazing?!!

Thank you. And thank you, God.

Carleen Brice said...

If any of you try the God box idea, let me know how it goes.

Sherry, thanks! I hope I don't have to either, but as I said, it takes what it takes.

Scout, It is a good mantra. The best part about it is that I think once we release something, even if we don't tell the other person they can sense it. So I hope your son appreciates it too.

Jamie, peace to you!

Sassy, I'm glad this helped. I think I know what you were dreaming about, and I hope you will be at ease with yourself and give yourself as much space and time as you need.

The Writers' Group said...

Carleen, I love the idea of the bos, but whatI love more is how you incorporated it into your novel. Brilliant. Now I'm more intrigued than ever. Knowing this nugget, I can safely say you don't need to worry about sales.


Lafreya said...

Just the other day my sister and I were laughing about how she is always giving things to God and then trying to go and snatch them back. I love the God box idea. Maybe, I’ll make one for my sister for Christmas.Of course, I need to make one for me too.

Carleen Brice said...

Thank you, Amy! Let's hope.

Lafreya, what a great idea for a present! Hope she likes it. Maybe if you glue the lid shut she won't be able to snatch her problems back so easily (though Lord knows there's practically nothing that keeps me from trying the same!).

iyan and egusi soup: said...

a very thoughtful post. i'm all for this sort of letting go--especially of the people, thoughts, and ideas that are no longer serving us.

Lisa said...

My Dad was a longtime A.A. member and so without ever realizing it, everybody in our family absorbed a lot of A.A. maxims -- Let go and let God, one day at a time, turn it over, etc. It's kind of funny because all of those things are associated with 12 step programs, but they are wise bits to live by for all of us. Whenever I'm frustrated at work and my stress level starts to rise and I have the urge to choke the life out of someone, I always end up hearing the Serenity Prayer in my head and I feel better. Everyone (I think) has heard it: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Your depiction of "The Program" in Orange, Mint and Honey is very real. The book is going to touch people in ways I doubt you even know yet :)

Therese said...

I'm with you, girl, all the way!

That ritual's represented nicely in Sue Monk Kidd's THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES.

The mantra is beautiful.

Carleen Brice said...

I&ES, Letting go of things "that are no longer serving us" is exactly the idea.

Lisa, Thank you for saying that. I've heard from a few other adult children of alcoholics the book rings true. The amazing thing is HOW MANY people fall into that category!

Theresa, That's right! In TSLOB, the "calendar sisters" have the wailing wall, right?

Julie Layne said...

I like this:

I set you free
I set me free

We don't usually think of it that way when we're desperately holding onto something, do we? But it's nearly always true.

Oh, I've had the Secret Life of Bees on my to-be-read list forever! So many books, so little time...

Anonymous said...

I really need to start checking blogs over the weekend. What a great post.

Yes, can't we all get a little OCD. When I find myself getting, "clogged" I start walking. I imagine, very vividly, the issue is as I would like it to be. That what I'm wanting to transpire has already done so. This is such a stress reliever for me because it removes the doubt and worry over future events.

Interestingly, what I imagined usually transpires fairly quickly after I begin to believe it has.

Crazy, I know.

Sustenance Scout said...

Carleen, everything Lisa says about your book makes me look forward to reading it even more! It really sounds fantastic.

Rebecca, I love your walking visualization idea!

Looking forward to seeing you Literary Ladies Friday, K.

Carleen Brice said...

Rebecca, not crazy at all. Or at least I hope not because I do the same thing!

SS, Yep I'll see you Friday!