“We need to give up what no longer works and find new ways of being that keep us close to what matters.” – Mark Nepo
Last week we took a walk in the Florida woods. Woods around here mean tall Longleaf Pines, lots of ferns and grasses, and various palms such as bright green saw palmettos.
When my husband and I told my daughter we were going for a hike, she was beside herself and not in a good way (Don’t you like how we refer to a walk with absolutely no elevation change as hiking?) We went anyway because it was crisp and clear, and along with laughter, I believe nature is the best medicine available.
And nature is exactly what I needed as I had been feeling overwhelmed by all of the errands I had been neglecting and the internal transitions I was experiencing. Recently, I have been waking up early in the morning and second-guessing every decision I have ever made as a mother. These worries seem to be all encompassing during the middle of the night. Then I get out of bed and realize most of them are utter nonsense. But some are certainly valid.
I have learned that, along with practicing gratitude, one of the most beneficial antidotes to this sense of being overwhelmed is to ask myself this very important question, “What can you stop doing so that you can make room for what’s most important?”
For me, the answer is always about simplifying, making lists, and bringing more joy back to my life.
I thought about this last weekend as we got closer toward the entrance of the nature preserve and my husband said, “Leave your worries and concerns behind as you step deeper into the woods.” I smiled knowing exactly what he meant and laughed wondering what my reaction would have been if my own dad had ever said anything like that. He was a very loving father, but he would tell me from time-to-time to “go play in the traffic.” This usually occurred when I was being particularly energetic (aka annoying) or playing the same sample song over and over again on my Casio keyboard. Man, that thing was awesome especially because I could record my voice and then hit a key to play it over and over again. “Jammin number one, ja-ja-jammin number one” was one of my favorite refrains thanks to Theodore from the Cosby Show.
As I contemplated what I needed to leave behind for some quieter time in the woods, I was reminded of another stroll we took recently. We were talking about bucket lists, and I told my husband that I had been working on my chuck it list.
Now a chuck it list is akin to what my husband was suggesting…leaving your troubles behind so you can be open and receptive to the beauty around you. It is hard when we are steeped so deeply in our own worries to be aware of the boundless gifts and abundant opportunities that abound.
I love when I am in a yoga class (sadly, this is pretty infrequent these days) and the teacher starts class by welcoming everyone to leave what happened prior to class, or what might happen afterwards, outside the door. It gives me the permission to slow way down and really acknowledge what is going on in my heart, body, and soul. Knowing that I can come back after class and attend to what needs to be tended to or throw out what begs to be discarded allows me to focus my energy on creating more peace, healing, and creativity. It is also about breaking the pattern of constant rumination and incessant over-thinking.
So these bitty bricks we might feel as weight on our shoulders or pain in our chests may actually be perfect candidates for our chuck it list. And some of our concerns like a chronic health condition may not be something we can altogether leave behind, but perhaps we can set it aside for awhile in order to touch base with our true nature which is beyond our physical, emotional, and mental limitations.
Creating such a list is a way to process and expel the weighty, sticky, musty, and messy gunk that inhibits us, annoys us, and holds us back. This is the crap that just separates us from other people, keeps us spinning the same story over and over again, causes us to make excuses, and prevents us from enjoying our lives and realizing our dreams. This is the stuff that keeps us small and hidden. It’s the trappings that make us say “no” to what causes our heart to pound out of our chest, and it is really fear disguised.
Creating a chuck it list is kind of like getting rid of the clothes in your closet that no longer fit. Maybe we have been holding on to them because we feel guilty and don’t want to be wasteful, or we think we will change our mind, or maybe our waistline.
But there might be someone out there who really wants those old leg warmers of yours (on second thought, never get rid of leg warmers,) and if we can release the guilt and old attachments that no longer serve us, then maybe it’s time to chuck it, and in turn create more harmonious space.
Current items on my chuck it list: 1). Low-rise jeans. 2). My attachment to being liked, understood, and appreciated by everyone 3). Saying yes when I really want to say no. 4). Beating myself up for being too sensitive, insecure, embarrassed, anxious or saying something really stupid 5). Worrying about worrying. 6). Living by others’ definition of success 7). Not taking responsibility for my own overall happiness. 8) Not listening to my intuition 9). Watching 24-hour news channels that repeat the same news over and over again most of which is violent, sad, and completely out of my control. 10). Using the excuse that there is someone better, more equipped or smarter than me to perform whatever task is at hand.
No matter how small or inconsequential these items on my list or yours might seem, taking this little step truly helps us to move forward in the right direction. We are then one step closer to enjoying the life we are living and realizing our goals and dreams as well as reclaiming our unique gifts. We can then operate from a place of power rather than victim-hood.
So if you are feeling inspired, make your own chuck it list, and reconnect to that which brings you joy. And if you happen to be cleaning out your closet anytime soon and find an old Casio keyboard that you don’t want, I am happy to take it off your hands!