Five Ways In Which To Live More Freely By Letting Go

Hold loosely to material possessions and things that ultimately do not matter. Do not miss out by placing importance on things instead of people. Enjoy what you have but certainly do not let your wealth (or lack of) define who you are.

About fifteen years ago, I stood in the entryway of a beautiful home with the owner, a man that I very much admire. I had asked him, the son of immigrant parents who had grown up without much money, if he ever imagined he would live in such wealth. He smiled while opening the palm of his hand and saying, "I hold it all like this Sarah. I enjoy what I have, but if I had to live with less, I would be okay. I hold loosely to the things of this world." These words have stayed with me and they have proven to hold true. I have learned that nothing is truly ours. Not things and not even people. This life is not forever.

I grew up in the States living a fairly uneventful and stable life. I went to university and married my college sweetheart. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after and so began a series of unhappy events. My mother received treatment and thankfully survived. My husband and I began to try for a family though without any success. I remember visiting the doctor to talk about infertility and returning home to my husband with tears falling down my face. With a calm confidence, he soothed my fears. Only a few months later, he died in a plane crash.

The days, months, and years following were difficult and along the way as I spent much time in prayer, I learned how to live again. Here are five of the best ways that I believe you can live fully:

1. Keep a gratitude journal.

I had been given great advice to keep a daily journal expressing gratitude for anything, no matter how small. Though I wasn't grateful for much in those days following my husband's death, I could at least find gratitude for the basics. It was a discipline to do daily and in time it became easier as I saw how much I had to be thankful for. Keeping a journal helps you to look back and see how things have worked out or how people have been there for you even when you were in too dark of a place to see it for yourself.

2. Take chances and make moves.

Instead of living in fear and indecision, take chances. I remember my university Pastor telling us that it is easier to steer a car that is moving than one in park. He talked about how instead of living in fear and indecision we should take chances. I had no idea what to do with myself after my first husband died and so I tried everything and I prayed often. I was unafraid to make mistakes as the world meant nothing to me. I began by traveling. I traveled the world with friends, family, non-profit groups, and even some women I barely knew. I quit my job as a teacher and began to pursue photography to help charities by taking photographs for them. I traveled to India, Africa, and China to name a few. While on a trip to India I met a woman who had an idea to combine luxury travel with volunteer work. We went for it and ended up creating a business in which we led small groups all over the world. I began to run and ran 6 marathons in three years. I took comedy classes, moved to LA, worked in a coffee shop, tutored inner city children, tried (and failed) at being a work out instructor, helped with fundraisers, tried (and failed) to learn Spanish, was featured in a photography exhibition in LA, published my memoir, took a group of young widows from the US to visit widows in Kenya, started a private travel business that donates to non-profits, joined an advisory board for a non-profit focusing on women's needs, spoke to a group of 40 at a women's event, had conversations with celebrities, dated and got married (which I fully expected NEVER to do), had two children and have met many fascinating people along the way as I became curious about everyone's story. This life is a journey in which you will never fully "arrive". You are meant to continuously grow and learn.

3. Hold loosely to material possessions and things that ultimately do not matter. Do not miss out by placing importance on things instead of people. Enjoy what you have but certainly do not let your wealth (or lack of) define who you are.

4. Give back. Spending time giving to others helps to shift the focus off of you by providing a great perspective and purpose.

5. Develop a strong community. We cannot do life well on our own. We need each other and it is important to invest in faith, friendships and family.

There is incredible freedom in letting go. Not in letting go and doing nothing, but in committing to what you believe is best and knowing that if you fail, at least you tried. Do not miss out on what might be great just because it is hard. Do not live in regret because of your fears. Not everything will go according to your plans and you have a choice in how you respond to life. Be courageous and make bold steps. You never know what is ahead and you are stronger than you think.