I spent most of my February in a dark place. It was depressing, scary, and cold. Yes, I spent most of February in a basement storage area tackling my big decluttering project. And it only took me thirty-six years to start on it!
While I was digging through one of many boxes, I found a paper I wrote my first year of college called “The Art of Packing.” How odd — to be finding it as I was unpacking my life, thirty-six years before I started packing it all up.
I was only a senior in high school when my mother passed away. Since my parents were divorced, I was left responsible for packing up a three-story colonial home. As I worked my way through each and every drawer, dresser, and cabinet, I divided the items evenly between me and my two siblings.
Yet, my brother and sister did not want much to do with the memorabilia I saved for them. So, I took on the role of caretaker. For thirty-six years, I held on to everything. Each time I moved to a new home, so did the boxes. I carried them around like a heavy weight from place to place.
I KEPT THE BOXES FOR
I’ve patiently waited for my siblings to show up at my house so I can pour them each a glass of wine, turn on some music, and go through the memorabilia together. I had this vision of a happy-go-lucky gathering. But, it never happened and it might never have happened. So I had my own party. Except it didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned.
There was no wine, no music, and no laughter. Just me alone, venturing into the dark storage area to retrieve box after box. Each item, whether it be a piece of paper or a picture, was painfully examined. Throughout the process, it felt like I was re-attending the funerals of both my parents. And even my own.
"We all lived with my mother in a three story colonial house. The house now stands silent filled with the lives of four people. These possessions that fill up our house now needs to be packed and put away." — An excerpt from my college essay, The Art of Packing, 1983
In the end, I filled up twenty contractor bags of trash, made two trips to Habitat for Humanity, dropped off two loads at my local second hand store, sold some items, and gave others away. This decluttering project was messy, heavy and depressing as hell. And I was left thinking about why I had held on to all of these things?
Keeping all of these mementos meant that I valued my life and the things I’ve helped create. These items represented my years of motherhood, building a business, banding birds in the field, and being part of my small, Upper Peninsula community. And keeping all of my family’s memorabilia meant that I cared about my parents and valued their lives. Otherwise who would? I thought, ‘why do we live these lives if nobody remembers or cares about us after we’re gone?’ But, this thinking kept me stuck. And it kept me feeling heavy.
"My mother had forty-five teacups and saucers. To be fair about the division, we cleared the family room floor, smoked a joint and preceded to put all forty-five cups and all the saucers on the floor." — Wendy Wagoner, The Art of Packing, 1983
I had to let go of my parents, again. I had to let go of the belief that I am a ‘bad’ person if I let go of my mother and father’s childhood pictures or their yearbooks. And I had to drop the role of caretaker that I had shouldered for thirty-six years.
In the end, I could feel in the deepest part of my being, that no picture or box filled with memorabilia represented a life well lived. It was just stuff. And that stuff doesn't define me as a child, sister, or mother. And that is what truly sparks joy in my heart!
"There is no graceful way for me to way good-bye, even to a house. The house is packed and gone, school has ended and I must move onward." — Wendy Wagoner, The Art of Packing, 1983
Start 2019 off with a deep peace that can be found in the stillness of the beautiful 80-acre Northwoods. Snowshoe across a small wildlife lake, sit amongst the trees, and listen to the winter birds, all in silence. Using a grounded balancing breath practice, we will explore the stillness within ourselves and around ourselves. Afterwards, we’ll take the opportunity to share our experiences with each other over refreshments and nutritious soup.
Why would we want to participate in a snowshoe into silence? Many of us spend our days thinking, moving, doing, judging, and evaluating. Our minds are scattered with a constant barrage of information, which can cause depression, anxiety, and stress. Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, walking in nature and being nurtured by connection with others can alleviate anxiety and stress, improve concentration and focus, and reduce inflammation.
Foster deep well-being and experience the stillness and silence of the woods. Do you need to find some balance and clarity in your life? Join us on our magical 80-acres of sacred beauty. We offer participants a chance to tap into your own inner peace and well-being.
February is the time for hibernation in bear country, or the Northwoods, but for us humans, we hunker down in winter and call it ‘going within’!
Why would we want to focus on going within and what does that really mean anyways?
Going within is a process that helps us direct our awareness and attention down into our bodies, bringing ourselves into the present moment. This exercise allows us to accept whatever is happening in the moment and allow any emotions to surface and be released. Going within encourages us to point the finger toward ourselves and BE the change we wish to see in the world. Any time you are triggered or have a strong reaction to something going on in your life, that is a clue to go within to track where, when, and who your reaction is in transference too.
“The truth will set you free, but first it might piss you off!” - Gloria Steinem
Most of us spend a good chunk of our day focusing and pointing a finger outward -- we are always judging and evaluating everything that is going on around as as good, bad, right, or wrong. We act as if we are victims of the lives we live. What if we shifted our focus inward? How would a focused change of going inward instead of outward, affect our everyday life?
Take a minute to FEEL how that shift might feel in your body -- no judgements and no critical evaluations. Instead you might have a quiet mind and a feeling of peace, love or joy.
Have I convinced you to hunker down and start your journey of going within? If so, here are some tools and events that will help you get started. Having a silent breathing practice is they key to start you in the right direction.
1. My free PDF Breathwork Tool will help you practice your breathing, focus inward, and calm your mind down. If you practice enough, it will create a lasting change in your life. It sounds simple, but until you actually take on this mindful practice each day, you will not notice a change!
2. Check out my recurring event, Snowshoeing into the Silence, located on our beautiful 80-acres retreat, the Northwoods, just 15 minutes outside Traverse City. These snowshoe meditations are from 10:30 am - 12:00 pm on February 10th and 17th. After a silent snowshoe trek around the lake, hot drinks and nutritious soups will be served. And to finish the connection, we will have the opportunity to share our own experiences. If you can’t do a snowshoe with us, just go outside and connect, be silent and do some sort of movement.
Do you have any other pointers for going within in your life? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
WHAT IS AN AIM?
An AIM is an intention that stems from a curious investigation about your life. It requires turning your attention inward not outward, when you are trying to achieve something.
It is not like setting a goal, which tends to be based on the ego or the future. A true AIM is directed toward truth, no matter what that truth is. The target your AIMING at is NOW, in the present moment.
To set your intention, you must be committed to being present and curious during the investigation.
What is the difference between an aim and a goal?
The practice of setting goals often comes from a stiff rigidity of judgement and in turn, we tend to beat ourselves up if we don’t get to where we ‘think’ we should be. Further, a goal tends to be ego-driven and is a way for us to seek out more happiness, love, and so forth.
With goal-setting, we tend to go to our heads or mental place - attempting to will ourselves to achieve the goal. Whereas with aim-setting, we set an intent to become curious and investigate with our whole bodies (not just our head, cognitive level) in the process.
SETTING YOUR AIMS FOR THE YEAR
What are your AIMS for 2019? In other words, what do you want to feel differently about in your life this upcoming year?
To help you set your AIMS, as well as action steps to help you get there, here is a step by step process:
STEP 1: DO YOU HAVE A BALANCED LIFE?
Allocate a percentage to each of the following 5 categories based on time spent, either on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.
STEP 2: DETERMINING AIMS & ACTION STEPS
Come up with an AIM and at least one follow-up action step for each of the following categories:
CATEGORY: Family / Relationships
AIM: Be more curious about why I struggle to make true heart contact (i.e. being present in the body and having a fully open heart without withdrawing) with others.
ACTION STEP: My action step is to practice making active contact with my family members on a daily basis (without numbing out on my iPhone or TV during the process). I will practice active listening 1x a day for 15 minute increments, 5x a week.
THE KEY FOR ACTION STEPS
A C C O U N T A B I L I T Y
It is often easier to hold ourselves accountable to other people rather than ourselves.
When it comes to keeping a promise to ourselves, we struggle.
If you have a hard time keeping a promise to yourself, start an inquiry into this.
Before you can hold yourself accountable, you might need someone else to hold you accountable first.
SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS:
Wendy Wagoner has explored numerous avenues of disciplines over the last 30 years. She is a professional Awakening Coach, healer, and experienced workshop leader.
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