All the things we carry: how to lighten our load

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The Things They Carried, a collection of short stories written by Tim O’Brien (1990), describes the physical and emotional things American soldiers carried while serving on the ground in Vietnam. Years ago, I studied the compilation while enrolled in an undergraduate creative writing course. Today, I think about all the things we carry throughout our lives. The intangibles that are out of sight, yet weigh us down in mind: the heavy burdens of emotional baggage, the ugly scars from our pasts. Yet I wonder if there’s a way to purge—to abandon and/or forget—the things that impede in order to make room for the things we choose to carry instead: an attitude of gratitude, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And always forgiveness. All the things that help lighten our load along the way. Or perhaps the most important thing is to help carry each other’s afflictions in order to share the load.

What things do you carry that should be left behind?

Image source: http://rickhudgens.blogspot.com.

 

A rebirth of sorts: happiness at last

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Re-birth
As the year draws to a close, and as I grasp tightly (kicking and screaming) the vestiges of my forties for a few days longer, I reflect on that for which I’m grateful: Those friends who have come and gone from my life—the ones who bless me daily, and those who served the sole purpose of teaching me (sometimes painful) lessons; the second chances I’ve been gifted, a new path to traverse—a clean slate, if you will. I’m energized by the possibilities, my heart lighter than ever. And as I step into this new season, I can honestly say I’ve discovered what I’ve been searching for all this time. The funny thing is it’s been right under my nose all along. Because when I finally stopped focusing on me—my needs, my expectations, my self—I understood for the first time what it means to be happy. So happy rebirthday to me… a fresh beginning to sparkle where I’m planted.

Where could you use a rebirth?

Image courtesy of Nongkran_ch at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Purging and prioritizing: housekeeping for the soul

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regrets mistakes memories

Hard, this life thing. Over the past few weeks I’ve engaged in significant housekeeping tasks that, below the surface, denote a clean slate—a ‘starting over’ in practice and in theory. On the home front, I’ve tackled clutter and tossed what is no longer necessary, bagged up things to be sorted through eventually and donated items I hope might bless others. My personal life also experienced a collective loss, which has become the catalyst toward a sense of peace and healing—an opportunity to put my priorities in right order, to live with intention instead of allowing life to happen to me. Every regret or mistake I’ve made is a lesson learned, a temporary memory purged much like photos that fade over time or are deleted off a hard drive. And then replaced by the truth of knowing I’m finally on the right path as I leave behind my self-centered ways and prepare to step into my fabulous new life.

How do you ‘get over’ regrets or mistakes?

Fear is *not* a favorite F word

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Fear

Fear can be debilitating. Fear of… failure, the unknown, change, making a mistake, saying the wrong thing, getting hurt, causing pain, running out of time, missing out. Regret. The other day, I made a decision, set my plan in motion and, for several hours, I felt at peace about it. Only, when it came time to execute ‘said’ plan, fear seized and held me captive, resulting in an aborted mission. The solution? I must confront my fears, head on, instead of running away from whatever situation I’m facing. Otherwise, I will never be able to make peace with the past and move forward into the present that’s waiting for me to delight in. But this requires courage that I have yet to access, and confidence to trust in the process. It also requires daily positive affirmations that, indeed, I am good enough. And keep in mind: There are no mistakes. Just life lessons. So that’s one fear we can all say goodbye to.

What is your biggest fear?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Refueling depleted reserves

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refuel

 

Since I began the practice of Bikram yoga nearly three years ago, many of my posts paint a picture of the takeaways, the lessons learned… mindfulness and a focus on the breath—the present—two recurring themes to carry outside of the hot room. A few days ago, my morning began as a test, or an opportunity, to practice my yoga off the mat. To remain peaceful amidst chaos. My car did not want to start and, when it did, it argued about it until AAA came to the rescue. Eight hours of work, an empty suitcase and last-minute trip plans loomed ahead of me, my flight took off in 24 hours and my adult child still needed her mom. By the time I burst into the yoga studio, I had practiced so much mindfulness throughout the day, my reserve underwent depletion. Thankfully, it only took me an hour to pack after a rock star practice. And I slept like a baby.

How do you refuel depleted reserves?

Image courtesy of Carlos Porto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When you disconnect to reconnect

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Disconnect to reconnect
Sometimes you just need to pack a bag, hop in your car and drive. This past weekend, I disconnected from email, phone, texting and social media, and drove five hours into Ponderosa pine country in Northern Arizona. Chatting over a steaming dark roast with a photographer and the lodge’s reservationist aka bartender aka waitress aka housekeeper, warming my city toes by the crackling fire [read: genuine log], reading and napping (a lot), fueled my urgent need to escape my commitments, reconnect and breathe in each (higher-altitude) moment as it transpired—unplanned, unhurried. And afterward, as I repacked to return to reality, in between my rolled up sweaters and scarves and unsuitable footwear to hike in the remnant patches of winter mud and snow, I tucked a travel-sized wedge of the peace I discovered and the lessons I learned in a little log cabin in the woods. Now I need to unpack and put these gems into practice.

What is a favorite way for you to disconnect to reconnect?

[Image credit Jeroen van Oostrom and freedigitalphotos.net]

Practice what you preach

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[Image credit: Savatore Vuono]

I was recently asked if I practice everything I blog about.  Immediately I was reminded of the mantra my parents (and then I) used to repeat without fail: “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Although my answer to my friend was a quick no, after considering it, I realized many of the concepts I ramble about are either improvements I’m in the process of making — or desire to implement.  Each day is a journey in which I seek to understand myself and the world around me a little better, while striving toward Someday and the fruition of my dreams.  For me, this takes the form of thinking out loud (or on paper) and contemplating different scenarios and outcomes.  So to revise my answer to the original question, while I try the concepts I write about on for size, I also discard those that aren’t a good fit.  In the case of aspirations, lessons learned, etc., one size doesn’t fit all.

Is lip service your typical MO, or do you practice what you preach?