Ah, spring, you have finally decided to enjoy us! Welcome, welcome.
Now that the weather is starting to warm up, we may be putting away some of our heavier, winter clothes and pulling out the lighter garments for our wardrobe. Today, I want to talk about something that could also get a little lighter: our purses (or satchels ;)) and our minds.
You know, I was in the subway the other day and felt tension and pain on my shoulders. And with reason! There were just so many things in my purse that were, literally, weighing me down. Confession: I usually carry around three bags!
So when I got home that evening, I sat down and emptied out the contents that were in my bag. And, voilà, it occurred to me just how much anxiety was hiding in there. Think about it, “Ah! I can’t find my keys!” usually gets you aggravated. You have to dunk your hand in your bag and dig them up from the land of ‘beyond.’ Or, you might be checking out at a bar or retail store when suddenly you go “OMG my wallet! I know I had it in here! Where is it?!” and that instantly just fills you up with a great overwhelming feeling of nerves and anxiety because now your ‘entire life’ is potentially gone. Living like this is crazy (!) (and I’m no stranger to this kind of life). So I vowed to clean up my purse… and more.
It does, however, beg to ask the question of “How did my bag get like this in the first place?” Well, for me, I think it’s because I, and perhaps may others out there, are always in this ‘just-in-case’ mode, where we have to carry so many things around, just for that one time we may potentially need it. In the past, I’ve tried to leave all of the truly unnecessary things behind, but failed. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t have that one thing that would save me one day. So I kept them.
And this actually goes further than your purse; it extends out to your life. An example could include perhaps an acquaintance, or friend, that you honestly cannot stand, but may keep them in your ‘back pocket’ just in case you need them one day for a favor. Or maybe it’s that sweater that doesn’t currently fit, but may one day fit, so it sits in your closet taking up space. Or, maybe it’s that gym membership you pay for on a monthly basis and won’t cancel because, again, maybe one day you will go back to it. All of these things aren’t farfetched to me, because they are some of the things that I couldn’t let go of. And, surprisingly, they were all subconsciously something I was holding onto. They were things that were bringing me back to where I didn’t want to be. But you have to think: why spend your energy on someone who doesn’t appreciate you or help you ‘grow’? Why tell yourself that you’re not ‘skinny’ enough to fit into something and then hate yourself for the rest of the day? Or why spend money on something you don’t currently use instead of putting it towards something you do use?
All of this, believe it or not, is code for a fear of ‘letting go’. Yes, it’s hard, but you need to push yourself to make a change, because it will lead to a feeling of relief, a feeling of freedom, and a feeling of open happiness. You need to trust yourself that you can do without all of these things and build a life that is better for you. Here’s another expression that makes more sense to me these days: “Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.” Right? It’s real. And it’s literally on our shoulders. That bag just gets bigger and heavier, huh? And it drives us crazier and crazier. Yeah, wow.
I went out for a run the other day and all I needed was my house key. But, instead, I started to pack my cell phone, three credit cards, some cash, all of my keys, my pharmacy customer loyalty card, and a bottle of water. Was I going out for a run for my health and well-being or was I going out to run some errands? Running for my health. I was going out to run for my well-being. So I took my one key off my keychain, dropped everything else on the floor, and left the house without anything else. You don’t know how hard that was for me. Because, honestly, I wasn’t just leaving behind my belongings. I was leaving behind my comfort zone. But I sucked it up, walked outside, told myself that I was doing great, and off I went for a run. I let physical things go, but also the intangible feelings of worry and concern. It was me time, something that we probably don’t get too often, but something that I am learning to really, truly appreciate. I cannot explain how great it felt to not have things bring me down! I not only felt a sense of freedom, but also felt a sense of growth in my confidence. Because if I can do this little thing, I know I can do bigger things.
You know, my dad always teased and said that he didn’t understand why many people (women, especially) reminded him of the ‘mules’ (you know, the animal) back in his home country. I always laughed it off and gave him a little innocent eye-roll (what a terrible thing to compare a woman to, huh?!) But, he said it out of fun, and to put across the point that the mules ‘back home’ would be loaded up every morning with the fruit, bread, and merchandise that would then be brought to the local market to be sold. He didn’t understand why everyone (including me) had to carry so much weight around. He was sure that if the mule had it his/her own way, it wouldn’t be carrying anything at all! And I am always reminded of that (oh, dad, haha).
So I started with my purse, because it’s a symbol and a reflection of me and my life. It does hold some aggravation, worry, stress, and neglect. But, little by little, I will start to let go of other things that bring me down, too. I don’t need the extra pair of flats every day in my bag – just wear the flats. It won’t rain every day, so check the weather and leave that umbrella home. I carry around a small bag in my big bag, just in case I need it. Yeah, that had to go. And all of that loose change? That gets heavy. And it’s also money that is laying around. Into a piggy bank you go and off to the bank at the end of the month you shall stay! 😉
As for my earlier examples, I’ve been working on cleaning that up: I don’t have a gym membership anymore, but instead put that money towards my yoga instructions. I also (very hard, but had to) let go of acquaintances/friends that were just bringing me down and didn’t help me ‘grow’ and make me want to be a better person. And those sweaters that didn’t fit? I donated them to those who would get a better use of them than my closet and mind would.
Learning to live in the present, and growing a sense of confidence in yourself, is amazing. Because you truly are your own Superman. Think of all of the great things you’ve accomplished thus far and just think of all the other great things you will accomplish in the future by slowly working on yourself today, for a better tomorrow. In order for something to come in you need to make room for it by taking it out.
So spring clean your purse, spring clean your mind. You will feel more in control, trust me – it’s so relieving! And trust yourself; you are greater than you think you are. Spring clean your life and, oh, don’t be a ‘mule’ 😉