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Some Lessons Must Be Learned The Hard Way


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They say that there are no coincidences in life and on a daily basis I am reminded that this is so true. We often miss the signs, messages and flashing red lights from the runway; nevertheless, they are there each day gently (or not so gently) reminding us that we need to change. As I sit in La Guardia airport sadly watching and waving good-bye to the second plane leaving for Canada without my husband and I, there is nothing left to do but reflect on our predicament. It is my fault that we did not make the plane. We did not make the plane because I over-packed. This is no big deal you are thinking; don't we all over-pack when we go on vacation from time to time? Sure, many of us do, but I was trying so hard to correct my old bad habit of over-packing that as late as five minutes before we left the house I was still trying to eliminate items. I couldn't do it despite my husband’s pleading that he would take me shopping if necessary. We left the house too late.

When we got to Kennedy airport, yes you read that right, we thought we would make the plane with sixty minutes to spare. Running to the counter as fast as we could to check in, fifty-nine minutes before the flight, we were told we were shut out. At least my husband got his exercise for the day. (I am an optimist after all.)

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(My husband is not!) One cab later and one more missed flight, we are finally re-booked and ready to go. To kill time I decided to take out my IPad and write a blog. You can imagine my surprise when I found this half-written blog from one year ago. So telling. Apparently I continue to have work to do in this area. Here is what I wrote last summer:

Just say no to ruffles and rushing!

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Do you hold on to self-sabotaging and defeating habits and messages like you hold on to outdated clothing in your closet?

I recently came to realize that I do. Last month I was visited by a close friend who took one look at my garage filled with clothes racks, counter covered in jewelry and overstuffed closets and she was aghast! "You can't possibly wear all this,” she exclaimed, "Seriously?" Upon further investigation of many of these items we could not stop laughing. We came across scary content like multiple shirts with ruffles and rushing. No surprise they still had tags in-tact. Her parting words to me were "Just say NO to ruffles and rushing!"

I took her advice to heart and it has now become my anthem "to empty not fill". This experience ignited my quest to analyze other outdated items, thoughts, and concepts that no longer fit me. Can you relate? As I trudged downstairs, boxes and garbage bags in tow, I was overcome with my fear of letting go. Why? For all that know me, if ruffles were the last articles of clothing in the world I would do without. So how did they get there in the first place? Why are they still there? Just as we hold on to outdated habits and messages that no longer serve us, we keep trying them on in hope that they will fit us better at a later date. What of the rows and rows of worn-out jeans and sweaters we no longer wear? We keep them because they bring us comfort. They remind us that no matter how far we go, what risks we take, and how far we stretch past our comfort zone safety is waiting for us in case we fail. What of the quantity? Who can truly wear twenty white blouses and multiple black jackets? Why the excess? Why the fear of running out? We may become proficient at incorporating new habits and creating paradigm shifts, but if we keep enough of the old stuff up on the shelf we can always take it down if we need it. Wow, what a wake-up call to read my own words!

Wasn't I holding on to outdated habits by over-packing? Wasn't I listening to old messages by trying to pack perfectly while running out the door? Wasn't taking half of my wardrobe a way of holding on to the comforts of home? Over-packing was definitely a sign of a fear of running out.

In retrospect, was coming across the blog a good coincidence or bad happenstance?

I lean on the side of good. It was so interesting to read this again and realize that although it appears that I have backslid to outdated behaviors, my quick connection and new insights are a great sign of things to come. It is important to realize that we are all a work in progress. We need to be kind to ourselves during minor relapses, forgive ourselves, learn and move on. I will not go as far as to say that I am happy for this experience, but I can assure you I will never over pack again!

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