Unpacking Life

The process of moving and moving forward is very similar. At some point we need to look at what we’ve been lugging around and what is holding us back or anchoring us down. Except for

The process of moving and moving forward is very similar. At some point we need to look at what we’ve been lugging around and what is holding us back or anchoring us down. Except for moving, when do we take the time to clear our lives of the actual material things we surround ourselves with? (And the closet doesn’t count!) Meditation or journaling gets rid of the mind trash, but how many of us have junk drawers, rooms or counters of stuff that clutters our lives that we’ve become blind to? I was about to find out.

Or not.

I’m standing amidst a tower of emptied boxes and a few stacks of full boxes yet to unpack. I giggle to myself because it mirrored exactly how my life feels right now, and how the New Year seems to greet some of us every year. We look at what we’ve unpacked, what we never got to, and what we didn’t and don’t want to get to! The plan was never to move a couple of weeks before the holidays, but last year was the year of living in the moment, and learning to really livein those moments.

But moving? And moving out of a house you’ve lived, stored, and stacked your life in for over well over a decade, on the tenth year memorial of surviving a terrorist attack? My “now” was inundated with drawers, closets and rooms of then’s (lots and lots of then’s) and was’s and what’s this’s. I had to dive straight into it. Now.

Or not.

In a joyful moment of procrastination, I was flipping through TV channels, and lingered on a station that had a woman sorting through piles of her things and saying, “No, I can’t get rid of this, I’m going to use it in an art project.” She couldn’t move around barricaded with towers of things “she was going to do.” As an artist myself, I heard the universe whispering. Yikes! I heard myself saying those very same things! I quickly got up with the added incentive of creating a clearly different future. As I picked up a rather strange item, another thought came to mind. A friend once shared that she looked around her house and not one piece of furniture in her house was hers. Accepted graciously from family members, she found herself surrounded by everything that was part of someone else’s life. Not hers. The universe was whispering to me again. I was truly ready to dive in.

I moved slowly through my life and house. I handled every item and was gifted with a memory that lingered or a hope reignited. And a purpose. What does this hold for me now?

I sorted.

I tossed.

I gave away.

I laughed.

I cried.

I marveled. What a life!

Packing and repacking my life, I found my house being emptied, while my heart was being filled.

I kept the thousand hand-folded cranes sent to me by former students in Japan upon hearing of my cancer diagnosis. I gave away the I-don’t-even-know-what they’re-called things that someone in my maternal lineage cleaned cotton with to make their quilts.  Seriously, was I ever going to clean wool or cotton? No. My maternal lineage was filled with the ability to take fabric and yarn and create quilts and clothing and a multitude of homemade crafts. I’m literally kept warm with these gifts. That’s what was worth keeping and passing on. They’re genetic creativity flows through me in different ways, like paper crafting, drawing and writing.  Out went the whatchamacallits. I kept my journals because their yesterdays give me great insight to my todays.

And I kept my childhood cookie jar. (Come on, it’s a cookie jar – treats!)

But oh, did I take photographs. Photographs of my kid’s art projects, my art projects from when I was a kid, and all the whatchamacallits. (I finally threw away my old report cards.) These photographs are the virtual gift to hand off to each of my children, along with the stories they can store in their hearts, not their homes. I wanted them to have all the space they needed for their lives. And even after what I thought was meticulous sorting and packing, when I began to unpack, I let go of more things, because my heart was full, full of everything it needed. Our new house is spacious and yet filled with love.

I encourage you to dive into your closets and drawers, and all your stuff.  You’ll be amazed as you start how you’ll be emptied and filled. A house has walls with a finite space, but the heart, the heart grows as big as you’ll allow it. It holds all you need, and lets you release the things you don’t.

Here’s to traveling lightly through 2019 and beyond, empty yet full.

 

 

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Linda Ragsdale
Author, illustrator, TedX and international speaker Linda Ragsdale teaches how the powerful skills of View, Voice and Choice can guide people through the challenging parts of life to achieve a peaceful and productive outcome. Surviving a physically devastating wound in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, Linda offered a message of empathy and compassion over retaliation or resentment as her response. The world heard. Her peace work moves her around the globe, reaching over 33,000 students and adults in presentations and workshops, in Canada, India, Brazil, The Philippines, China and Japan.

Linda teaches people to stay in their heart base, the tenets she applied to guide her through stage-three breast cancer, keeping her focused on celebrating life s treasures within the moments of darkness. Whether the terrorist comes from outside or within, Ragsdale believes peace offers a balanced journey through every life event, whether its traffic, trauma or cancer.

Her non-profit, The Peace Dragon, keeps Linda active in local and international schools, colleges, rotary clubs, women s groups, and FBI meetings. As a local volunteer, she is on the community boards of NPT and SouthernWord. She organizes community events for peace and social issues. In the publishing world, her picture book series, Peace Dragon Tales (Flowerpot Press) introduces peace skills to our earliest learners. Her upcoming adult book, Happily, Even After reflects her Panglossian joy to facing life. In the virtual world, she is co-host of New Focus Network's My 2nd Act, and stars in her own upcoming series, A Happy Place, where she hopes to help people find their happy places, and stay there!

Ragsdale shares her peace of heart everywhere she goes, with handfuls of paper dragons and peaceful wishes. Otherwise, you ll find her at home curled up with her husband and pets, or with visiting her three children.