Packing one carry-on suitcase was a good idea! It was such a great idea that I think you should take the same approach to your summer. Now before you get all defensive let me clarify a few things. I’m not suggesting that you create a capsule wardrobe. I’m not encouraging you to go without. And, I’m not trying to add another challenge or burden to your life. Quite the opposite really, because these are all the benefits I have observed since have been in Florida with only one carry-on suitcase.
I was in a hurry to leave for work. With a purse on my shoulder and fancy shoes shouting my hurried pace i jerked the fridge open. Flinging a bag of lettuce and a can of tuna on the counter I frantically searched for a can-opener. Finally I started jamming a lettuce tuna wrap in my mouth careful not to smear my perfectly painted red lips – my signature feature.
As I bent to grab my purse that had fallen during my sophisticated scavenge through the kitchen for a five-minute meal my eye were captured on the neat but empty kitchenette. As if in a daze I dragged my purse to the bench and we ended the table’s loneliness – my purse and I.
I’m not sure what I thought would happen. The table and chairs would thank me for being their friend or a bright light from the ceiling would burst around me showering me in pixie dust…but that’s not what happened.
Guess what? It’s okay to be scared.
Friends say I’m fearless, but my family will be the first to tell you I’m a sissy, the scaredy-cat kind. The truth is, I’m scared all the time, but two years ago I read Taking the Stairs by Rory Vaden and this story changed my life:
It’s easy to become overwhelmed and beaten up by your emotions. Before you know it you’ve been thrown from your boogie board. Your face is being ground into the sand while relentless waves tumble you like shoes in a dryer. Disoriented you don’t know how to escape and claim the precious brilliance of light and hopeful air. You’ve been beaten and the only hope of survival you have is owning the fact so that you can be pulled to the surface.
Snow White was right, “It’s important to know when you’ve been beaten.”
I can hardly believe this little letter I started writing last week has turned into three. In the first letter I clarified that emotions are merely our experiential realization of our thoughts – they’re not wrong, it’s what we do with them that can be wrong. And, in my most recent letter, I challenged you to describe your emotions more fully by identifying and defining them. Today, I’m going to teach you how to respond.
Your security system has been breached, you know that burglars are climbing through your window to steal the brownies baking in your oven – the brownies that you were looking forward to enjoying with your friends! There are three responses.
In my last letter I explained that emotions aren’t wrong, rather it’s what we do with our emotions that can be wrong. After all, emotions are merely the experience of our thoughts. They should not initiate our actions, but rather be treated as indicators to what is happening in our souls. Which leads us to soul-searching.
Back to our brownie analogy, when you feel the heat you need to register what that heat is and where it’s coming from. In other words, upon feeling heat you instinctively know that you forgot hot mitts. Unfortunately, our brain doesn’t instinctively understand the thoughts sparking our emotions. So, some soul-searching is required.
I know you hate emotions. You’ve tried to throw them overboard like sandbags on a hot air balloon. Living with them is sickening. But once you’ve dumped them, living without them is horrifying. I’ve got news for you, (WARNING: I’m about to sound like your mother) emotions aren’t bad. They’re not deadweights anchoring you to average. It’s what you do with your emotions that can be bad.
The real feat wasn’t running 13.1 miles. The feat was the last 8 years leading up to this race. The time you dared to go on a second run even though you couldn’t make it once around the track on your first run. All the times you ran when you didn’t want to, rested intentionally, and every single time you ignored the thoughts that told you that you couldn’t.
Loving yourself isn’t about you, it’s about others.
All your life you have been taught to serve, lay your life down for others, and go out of your way to make others’ lives better. That’s not wrong. But…
How do you expect to love others if you don’t know how to love yourself?
If you’re never giving to yourself, what do you expect to give when you’ve burned out?
If you’re never thinking about yourself, what are you thinking of others?