A Red Sweater. A Music Box. And Mother’s China.

IMG_2216The Weight of Things

Last week I was contemplating Holding On and Letting Go. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

The more I think about it, the more I realize what a huge topic this is and how much of an impact it has on our lives.

Sometimes what we hold on to takes physical form. Other times it takes the form of ideas, assumptions, and beliefs – nothing we can see or touch, but just as real.

And sometimes it’s both, physical and psychological. Can physical objects evoke emotions? What power can a red sweater hold? You’d be surprised.

The Story of A Red Sweater

I was cleaning out my closet. Not just organizing or changing seasons. Though I was doing those things, too. The task before me was this: Take everything out, and only put back in the things that 1. Fit me well and 2. Made me feel fabulous.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. It requires a lot of honesty and reflection, even a little courage.

Those Calvin Klein jeans that Lidia said made my ass look great? They’ll fit me again when I lose 10 pounds, I thought. I can zip them up now if I hold my breath. Gone!

That beautifully embroidered jacket that I bought on the shopping trip with my best friend Kathy, and have never worn? Gone!

Those expensive leather and oh-so-comfortable European mules? The very definition of frumpish! These days I only wore them to take the garbage to the curb. Gone!

Gone! Gone! Gone! The more I put in the donation box, the better I felt. Continue reading “A Red Sweater. A Music Box. And Mother’s China.”

Holding On And Letting Go. Three Stories.

let go or be draggedHave you ever picked something up that seemed light at first, but the longer you held it the heavier it felt? A newborn baby? A slim line laptop? A gallon of milk?

No matter how light these things seemed, after a while your arms began to ache. Your body showed you discomfort, so that you would make a change. You had to either shift the weight or put it down.

This is simple Physics. The weight of the object didn’t change. But over time, the weight of the object, plus gravity, put a strain on your muscles.

Physical discomfort frequently requires us to make a change in order to get relief. But what about mental discomfort? Though usually more subtle, the things we carry in our minds can weigh us down.

Often our heaviest loads come from things that have no physical shape: assumptions, mistaken beliefs, and the stories we have been told about who we are supposed to be. The stories we learned well and continue to tell ourselves.

Lately I’ve been thinking about holding on and letting go. And I offer these three stories so that you, too, might reconsider what to keep and what to let go.

Story One: A Parable Continue reading “Holding On And Letting Go. Three Stories.”

Don’t Get Too Comfortable. Four Reasons To Take Risks.

Children are natural risk takers. As we get older we become more cautious, less inclined to take risks. But risk and danger are not the same thing. We can take risks and still be safe.

Our comfort zone is the space where our behaviors and activities fit into familiar routines that minimize risk and feelings of stress. In our comfort zone there is the sense of certainty and security.

There’s nothing wrong with being in our comfort zone, unless we get too comfortable. When we live our entire lives within our comfort zone, we run a different kind of risk: of missing out; fewer opportunities; less excitement and less joy; regrets of what might have been.

“Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

There are good reasons to step outside your comfort zone, to do something that makes you uncomfortable, to put a “toe in the water” or a parachute on your back. Continue reading “Don’t Get Too Comfortable. Four Reasons To Take Risks.”

Embracing Interdependence

“The myth of independence,” he said. The myth of independence.

I’ve been turning that phrase over and over in my mind, inside-out and upside-down for a couple of weeks now, thinking about what it means for modern America and the world.

I was sitting in the second row listening to Dr. B. J. Miller talk about the nature of living well and dying well, what it means to be human, art and beauty, choices and challenges.people

But that one phrase – the myth of independence – stood out for me and became the catalyst for this week’s post.

Traditionally, American culture has promoted and applauded independence. We celebrate it with parties, parades, and colorful explosions. We begin to teach our children how to become independent from a very early age. We push them out of the nest at age 18 and become concerned if they come back.

We speak of dependency as if it were a bad thing, a failure of sorts. If we allow others to become dependent on us, or we are dependent on them, it is typically viewed as negative.

Maybe it’s time to rethink independence. Maybe our notions of independence no longer serve us. Is independence a myth? I think it is.

Maybe our goal should be a healthy, functional interdependence. Continue reading “Embracing Interdependence”