A few months ago, I sensed the growing urge to clear the decks in my home. Although I am not a neat freak, needless clutter tends to annoy me. Plus, as I get older, I have a growing desire to lighten the load—a sentiment shared by many of my friends as well. If and when I opt to downsize, I don’t want to deal with an overabundance of “stuff.” So, a few weeks ago, I created a list of cleaning tasks to be accomplished during a two week lull in my presentation schedule. Just making the list alleviated some of my anxiety. With my plan in hand, I visualized the steps needed to achieve my rather lofty (yet possible) goal of cleaning, purging, and organizing my home. I am proud to say that after one week of concerted effort that I have successfully completed 90% of the tasks. The remaining 10% will be checked off my list within two days. Oh, what a feeling! As I reflected on my process of clearing the decks this past week, I realized what a wonderful metaphor this is for all aspects of life. Life can feel cluttered physically, emotionally, and relationally. The “stuff” we carry around in our bodies, hearts, and minds weighs us down and holds us back just like the excess baggage that fills our closets, basements, attics, and storage units. So, how can we lighten the load in order to experience physical, emotional, and interpersonal well-being? How can we make room for life-giving activities and attitudes? Consider the following ideas:
Physically Clear the Decks
- Transform physically harmful attitudes and behaviors (lethargy, poor diet, smoking, abusing alcohol and/or drugs, etc.) into life-giving ways of being (daily exercise, healthy/balanced diet, preventative care, etc.).
- Recognize that physical well-being is a lifelong process. As such, establish realistic, short-term goals so as not to be overwhelmed by the long-term goal. When a milestone is achieved, celebrate! Celebrations serve to motivate when tempted to backslide.
- Clear the decks to make room for physical well-being. Routinely review the status of your physical health. When “stuff” (poor eating habits, lack of daily exercise, etc.) begins accumulating—squeezing out healthy habits—deal with it. It’s amazing how quickly “stuff” piles up!
Emotionally Clear the Decks
- Acknowledge that emotional baggage weighs heavy on our hearts. When burdened with grief, guilt, regret, anger, sorrow, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, fear, etc., we are unable and/or unwilling to fully engage life. We are emotionally hamstrung.
- Name and confront unresolved emotional wounds. Reconcile with other people, the Divine, and/or Life to experience an emotional cleansing.
- Clear the decks of life-draining emotions in order to be emotionally available to other people. Discover the courage to open your heart to Life. Take the risk of being hurt in order to love and to be loved.
Relationally Clear the Decks
- Identify the people who take the majority of your time and attention. Are these the people who enrich and enhance your life? If not, perhaps you should consider spending time with other people that fill you up and bring you joy.
- Imagine how your current relationships could be improved. What is needed to strengthen the connections with family and friends?
- Clear the decks of life-draining relationships. Work to improve and to reinforce meaningful relationships. Be a person who is worthy of another’s time and attention.
No doubt, you will think of other decks to clear! The point is this. We only get one shot at this life as far as I know. So, instead of constantly dealing with the “stuff” of life, let’s clear the decks and embrace the essence of life! In order to do so, thoughtfully reflect on the following questions. Who and what is worthy of your time and attention? How do you choose to invest yourself in every moment of every day? How can you lighten your load in order to be present to life? Perhaps by clearing the decks, the answers will slowly emerge—one step at a time. Take good care and enjoy the moment. Blessings on your journey……jane
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