Lighten Up, Francis!

“Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe.”
-C. JoyBell C.


When we were younger, my sister and I would use the above expression if the other was getting a tad too bitchy. Now later in life, we typically use it if we’re getting overly heavy or analytical about an issue in our lives. (I couldn’t remember where we got the phrase from, so I did a little research. It’s from the movie Stripes*)

Beach toesIn my twenties, life was a beach. Or rather a beach party. Even though I worked damn hard, I didn’t sweat it too much and my main concern was how much fun and play could I squeeze into a day. As I moved onward, inch-by-inch, life became more serious and a lot less light.

I’ve created a New Year’s tradition that I’ve shared amongst my girlfriends at our annual party over the past 10+ years. I listen to Christmas music and spend an evening writing out New Year’s wishes for the upcoming year. I think about the women I will distribute the wishes to and set the intention that each will get the exact right message they need at that moment, including me. I sometimes add images from magazines or stickers and I seal each wish in an envelope so that they are a random pick.

This year my envelope held the following:

“For 2014 I wish for you  …

LaughThat you completely lighten up! That whatever is heavy or stressful in your life is lifted from your mind and heart and that you feel so light, so joy-filled and so happy that you dance and sing spontaneously almost every day!”

I squinted as I read my pick. There were certainly many in the bag that I could have used; the wishes are varied—they are about health, a soul mate, home, travel, windfalls, career success, hot sex, beauty and fitness, and magic and miracles. But within seconds I laughed and realized that this was the perfect wish for me.

When we set a goal or have a profound desire for pretty much anything, what is the real bottom line? If you dig deeper past the obvious (i.e. I want to be a wildly successful author) it’s not the thing, it’s something like freedom, happiness, security, contentment, bliss, or a sense of making a difference.

Whale SunsetFor any of my goals or dreams, the bottom line is to feel like I want to sing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah from the rooftops. Preparing for Mexico in December—the place that makes my heart happy—I found myself in occasional bouts of dancing and singing.

Lightening up takes constant vigilance. We can lose sight of that because life has a way of making us forget the joy to be had if we were to make joy our first priority.

What obliterates our lightheartedness?

Usually, THE PAST. Or more precisely, thinking about it. Past hurts, rejections, perceived failures, criticisms, regrets, fears, slights, losses, or hardships. And remember, the past can be only yesterday.

The cure? Let it go. Ha ha ha ha ha! You laugh. We love hanging onto our stories and our pain. But what if we were to just let it go, man? What if we just made a decision to release it all to the wind?

My sister and I discussed a personal dilemma this weekend that mirrored her own dilemma a couple of months ago and afterward she brilliantly said, “You’ve done everything you can, now let it go. No need for more analysis or dissection. Don’t destroy it by flogging it. Just let it be what it will be. I ruined my own fun by over-analyzing. Don’t make the same mistake.”

birdHmmph. What a novel concept. Don’t let it swirl and twirl and catch in the pathways of your brain, don’t let it fester and swell into something painful, just let it go.

Sometimes we buy the bull that life is meant to be hard, somber and that we should take ourselves oh so seriously. There is grim pleasure in making a mountain out of a molehill: we can all find the payoff in our juicy tales of woe.

LaughterOur lightheartedness—our singing, or belly cackling, or outright goofiness—far more than our woes—can pose a threat to others. Some may even try to squash us by admonishing that we are being silly or irresponsible. Illegitimi non carborundum. Kind of sounds like a Harry Potter spell and it means don’t let the bastards grind you down!

Here are a few ideas for lightening up, Francis:

  • Actively and doggedly seek humor and laughter.
  • Smile more at people. Much more.
  • Talk to strangers.
  • Be crazy generous.
  • Truly absorb nature.
  • Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate.

But deeper still, read this beautiful tale of letting go, which I received last week from my school coach, Selena, in response to a business problem.

Letting Go

Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of fear. She let go of judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She just let go. She let go of all the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go. There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that. In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

~ Rev. Safire Rose

How beautiful, how free, how light would you feel letting go like this?

P.S. If you can’t quite get the concept of just letting it go (like me), get Bob Newhart’s Life Coaching advice on how to do it! (Hint: it’s worth the 6 minutes for the giggle or two in it for you)

‘Lighten up, Francis!’ (click to watch)
*Stripes, 1981, Bill Murray

Psycho: The name’s Francis Soyer, but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of you guys call me Francis, and I’ll kill you.
Leon: Ooooooh.
Psycho: You just made the list, buddy. And I don’t like nobody touching my stuff. So just keep your meat-hooks off. If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, I’ll kill you. Also, I don’t like nobody touching me. Now, any of you homos touch me, and I’ll kill you.
Sergeant Hulka: Lighten up, Francis.

Wanda – Authorpreneur

The winners were:

"Every journey has a destination of which the traveler is unaware." -Martin Buber A treasure for every intrepid traveler! (the disk says Discover)

“Every journey has a destination of which the traveler is unaware.”
-Martin Buber
A treasure for every intrepid traveler!
(the disk says Discover)

1st Mary Lou Planer

2nd Verna Bowen

3rd Erin Staley

Post © Wanda St.Hilaire

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