“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” -Havelock Ellis

Today was a closet purge. I finally packed up all of the size 10 pants and jeans that no longer close around my waist. I have been waiting to fit into these clothes for at least two years now, if not three. Some still had their tags on, so I know I must have been close to that size not long ago. It is a little discouraging, given my regular exercise routine and that I actually am conscious about what I eat. It is alas the inexorable march into midlife; my body, like the skin on my neck, is changing, too.

My sweet son, ever the optimist, says, “You shouldn’t get rid of those clothes, maybe they will fit you again in a few weeks.” I agreed I would hold onto them for a few weeks, but in some ways it feels better accepting this strong, if not quite as lean body and replacing those old, too tight clothes from the past with new things that fit now and look good.

Going through and letting go of clothes, that as my 22-year-old daughter reminded me, “You have been wearing that since I was 14….” was oddly freeing. I am no longer the woman I was 8 years ago, and letting go of what I have been wearing all those years is a conscious way to allow the new me to be seen, even if it is slightly more of me.

This letting go of old clothes that don’t fit is a metaphor for the rest of my life as well. My husband is quick to remind me that high level of cortisol, which is the stress biochemical stress response, is associated with higher levels of fat, especially around the middle. I can no longer argue for my stress levels, and in fact, this is another thing that I feel determined to let go of before it isn’t just my mid-section that is a problem.

I wish I could pack up my stressors in a paper bag the way I dispensed with my old clothes. Letting go of old habits that keep me from enjoying my days and finding ways to work a little bit less each day is harder than I imagined. I can’t only be the sum of what I accomplish, my relationship to myself, my relationships and my work has to start somewhere new, with who I am without accomplishing anything at all.

This weekend was a good start, days of not producing much of anything except a few good grilled meals, a purged closet and couple of good novels to dive into. That is bound to take some inches off my midline. Who knows, maybe I will just end up in some of those old jeans again. More often than not, letting go isn’t really an end, but the beginning of a new life…