Earlier this week, I spent some time in California with my sister. Time alone is not something we come by easily in our adult lives; we live on opposite sides of the country and we have different lifestyles. Both of those things – and probably a few more – combine to make it a challenge to connect in the way that so many other siblings do. It was such a privilege and a gift to have this time and I enjoyed every second of it. The weather was glorious (especially after the brutal New England winter I continue to endure), the temperatures were warm, and the sun felt positively delightful on my skin.
I often get inspiration for my Podcasts, my blog, and my Self Esteem Through Art classes from everyday moments that lend themselves to tremendous clarity and insight. During a morning walk in California last week, I had a few revelations that spawned my most recent Podcast and this subsequent blog post. I hope you find it useful.
My sister and I were heading to the beach one of the days I was there. She is not a morning person and was still getting ready, so I offered to walk to Starbucks and grab her a coffee. I passed a Trader Joe’s on the way, so I made a slight detour and picked out some food for our day at the beach. I picked up a bunch of fresh berries, some grapes, apples, chips and salsa, and a few other things. The cashier lovingly placed all of my items in the insulated tote I purchased for the walk home and I slung the bag on my shoulder and headed off in the direction of Starbucks. Starbucks was a couple blocks further than I remembered from the day before, so I took in the sights on the way and then popped in to pick up our drinks. Two ventis. One hot, one cold. In a tray so I could carry it home.
I started walking back home with the bag from Trader Joe’s, two 16-ounce drinks from Starbucks, and my small backpack that had my wallet in it. The walk was initially no sweat. But the longer I walked, the heavier those drinks felt and the more the insulated tote was weighing me down. My forearms started to ache and I had to pass the drinks back and forth from hand to hand. The unevenly distributed weight on my shoulder was causing my neck to ache. And then I got so lost in the scenery and the landscaping that I walked right past my sister’s street, not noticing for a couple of blocks.
Once at my sister’s house, I couldn’t wait to get the bags off my shoulder and put the tray of drinks down on the counter. My forearms were burning slightly and I felt mildly out of alignment. As I stretched out, unpacked the groceries, and put some ice in my drink, I had a major epiphany:
This is true for both packages, expensive drinks, as well as life!
Think about it! Think about all of the things we are carrying around and allowing to weigh us down.
I’d be willing to bet there is probably one thing in your life that happened years ago and you still think about it. Ruminating. Wishing for a do-over. Stewing about it. There is probably at least one slight that you let yourself continually get consumed by; the job you didn’t get, the relationship that was terminated, or maybe something else. There are probably some insecurities that you carry around which prevent you from living the life of your dreams.
All of those things were probably just lightweight little blips until you transformed them into the insurmountable behemoths that get lugged around on a daily basis. The dark little spots you carry around in your heart and in your soul and in your mind can become quite heavy and unwieldy. The effects are cumulative and dangerous. Think about that little seed of self-doubt which probably initially weighed no more than a 16-ounce Starbucks. But you carried it around for days, weeks, or decades and then it became your anchor. Or the careless words someone spoke to you; those were just weightless little puffs of air until you gave the words meaning, carried them around with you, and allowed them to become part of your identity.
I’ve carried things around needlessly in my life, too. There have been so many things that brought me down, caused me pain, or made me weak. I had a hard time letting them go. I carried around things that made my shoulders slump. Things that made me want to avert the gaze of others. Things that made my body tense up or caused my blood pressure to rise. Heavy things. Burdensome things.
Then I taught myself that I didn’t have to carry these things around. They didn’t have to be a part of me or my identity. I could release them. I could put them down. I could let them go and move on. You can, too!
In my Podcast (titled Our Weighty Burdens), I walk you through a very powerful exercise to help you gain perspective and understand that you only carry the things that you permit to come along for the ride. It’s a quick and enlightening and I encourage you to follow along. As you follow along with this exercise, you will become aware of my second divine truth of this episode:
Last summer, I shared the benefits of holding a water ceremony to release what we don’t want and attract more of what we do want. This would be a great time to go check out that blog post and video. You don’t need to be near a body of water for this to be effective. A bowl of water followed by a trip outside is pretty much all it has to take. You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you would like. You can perform it alone or as a group.
“I keep the telephone of my mind open to peace, harmony, health, love and abundance. Then, whenever doubt, anxiety or fear try to call me, they keep getting a busy signal – and soon they’ll forget my number.” ~Edith Armstrong
“People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.” ~George Bernard Shaw
“Freedom means choosing your burden.” ~Hephzibah Menuhin
“Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down. And this is all life really means.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson
Keep these things in mind as you go through your days. What things can you keep at arm’s length? What can you gently or forcefully put down? What can you step over and completely detach yourself from?
Remember, those Starbucks drinks were only 16 ounces when I first picked them up, but by the time I put them down, it felt as though they weighed 10 pounds each. Personal baggage gets incredibly heavy when you can’t let it go.
Until next time, Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Keep laughing, learning, and loving.