Saturday, January 5, 2019

WEEKEND COLUMN -- Traveling Light: 9 things I need to ditch in the new year

"One who would travel happily must travel light." 
~Antoine St. Exupery

On Lake Michigan / Cindy La Ferle

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By the time we reach midlife, most of us have accumulated way too much stuff. Whether we tend to over-pack our suitcases when we travel or cram our closets at home with unworn clothing, most of us need to weed out or pare down.

It occurs to me lately that I’m also dragging around a heavy backpack of pet peeves and outdated ideas, all of which are as useless as the winter jacket I once packed for a late spring trip to Florida. And so, in lieu of making New Year’s resolutions this year, I’m taking inventory of the metaphorical baggage I need to dump at the curb before I start the next adventure. 


What I'm getting rid of


1. Anxiety. If there’s something to fret about – a news story, a health issue, or a stubborn blemish on my cheek – I’m inclined to obsess over it, then blow it out of proportion. Worrying robs my serenity and produces nothing but stomach acid. Out it goes. 


2. The patronizing term, “age-appropriate.”
It’s heading straight to the dumpster along with the question: Am I too old for this? For instance, I’m never too old to wear what strikes my fancy, whether it’s black nail polish or red cowboy boots. Even if I do look silly in public, I’ll be having too much fun to worry about the opinions of less-adventurous critics. 


3. The need to be right all the time. Experience proves that whenever I have the guts to say “I don’t know” or “I made a mistake,” I get an opportunity to learn something new and to improve myself. I've always admired folks who are classy enough to apologize when they've missed the mark -- and we all miss the mark sometimes. I plan to follow their example too. 


4. Guilt and regret. I'm guilty of hurting people unintentionally, and I regret some things I've said and done in the past. (See # 3.) But flogging myself won't repair or recover anything I've lost. I need to accept the lesson and move on. 

5. Lame excuses that begin with the words: I don't have time. I don't have time to research the new project I want to start? I don't have time to clean my desk or the interior of my car? I don't have time to call an old friend? Maybe it's time to rethink what's taking up so much of my time -- because there's always time to do anything I really want to do. The sooner I commit to my new goals, the sooner I can make positive changes.


6. People who talk too much about themselves. Since it's almost impossible to avoid them, this year I'm going to make an effort to be a better conversationalist myself. Enough said.


7. People-pleasing and over-giving.
I need to stop catering to those who continually expect more than they are willing to give. And I need to stop being a doormat for judgy people who make me feel flawed or inferior when I don't conform to their cultural, religious, or political views. I realize, as Cheryl Richardson warns in The Art of Extreme Self Care, that there will be consequences. When I heal my "disease to please" (and stop kowtowing), some people might be shocked or disappointed. So be it. True friends will respect my new boundaries. 


8. Political angst. I'm no longer allowing our nation's ongoing political turmoil to rent so much valuable real estate in my head. It's stressful, ugly, embarrassing, and messy -- and it's spoiling my view of the neighborhood. I'm evicting it. 


9. Age-old grudges. For those of us blessed with good recall, grudges can be the hardest to let go. In fact, grudges become roadblocks that thwart our peace of mind and get in our own way. Forgiving others for hurting or disappointing me doesn’t mean I’ll tolerate the same abuse in the future (See #7). It simply means I’ve cleared a path for traveling light -- and made room in my heart for healthier, happier relationships on the road ahead. ~Cindy La Ferle 



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