Two Suitcases

Photo credit: Les Palenik, Dreamstime.com

If my life had to fit into two suitcases — what would I take?

People who have to leave a place in a hurry due to some tragic event (war, fire, earthquake) don’t get to choose how to fill two suitcases. They take themselves and loved ones. All possessions in that moment have no value whatsoever. In that split second they realize who they are is all they’ve got, and anything else is either replaceable, or can in fact be survived without.

Imagine having plenty of time to decide, but just two suitcases to fill. What would you choose?

My biggest dilemmas include:

  • my mother’s brown and gold striped glassware set
  • 300 CDs I hardly ever play
  • heavy boxes full of photos I have not looked at since I got my first digital camera
  • books I love and think I might read again
  • Christmas ornaments that make a brief appearance in December
  • childhood toys I have stored for decades.

Perhaps all I really need are practical clothes for this season.

Do I have to get rid of any of it?

Maybe not today; but eventually — yes. Possessions drag us down. Any memory associated with an object, lingers. If the item triggers bad memories of people or times we want to move on from, it’s highly advisable to let it go.

Denise Linn (space clearing and feng shui author) says that when considering whether to keep or let go of an item, ask yourself:

“Does this pick my energy up? Does it take it down? Or is it neutral?”

“Does this fit who I am? Does this fit who I desire to be in the future?”

“Will the freedom I gain by getting rid of this object outweigh any possible regrets I may have about parting with it?”

Things we think we are keeping for a very good reason, are actually blocking us from the life we most want.

Happiest With Next to Nothing

In 1991, I packed two suitcases and got on a bus from Toronto, Ontario with the intention of staying the summer in Regina, Saskatchewan. The freedom I found in big sky country made me stay. I used to think it was because of the friendly easy-going people, and the slower pace.

But maybe it was because I went there with only 2 suitcases of stuff. I had the freedom to move easily. My slate was clean and fresh. Nothing I owned defined me. I could be and become whom and whatever I wanted.

Like Denise Linn points out, we have to ask ourselves:

“Do you own these things, or do they own you?”

If, somewhere along the line, the role is reversed and possessions prevent us from being who we are and doing what we want, when we want, then we are enslaved by them. In order to be free, we must release all possessions that imprison us with mental attention, with burden on the body, or with heaviness of spirit.

If objects are not useful or uplifting, release them. Enable them to fulfill that purpose elsewhere.

Two Suitcases © September 6, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

Keep or Throw?

Photo credit: Evgenia82, Dreamstime.comThe best room in the house has this habit of being the catch-all for clutter. Things that are in transition — perhaps used occasionally, but not particularly valued enough to have its own dedicated place – go here. Why the best room? It’s the most convenient one, just as you come in the front door. It gets the best sunlight. It has the nicest carpet and soothing coloured walls. Originally, it was meant to be my peaceful, retreat-from-the-world room. It all went wrong. And ever since it did, it’s been extremely challenging to re-harness control.

When it’s time, it’s time. I forced myself to tackle it. I managed to relinquish four huge bagfuls to charity. I set aside a few items my friends might want, and a pile for the boot sale.

The most important process was choosing things I definitely want to keep for the longterm. Those things I will take far and wide, and pay good money to ship, wherever I roam.

The challenge here was differentiating these from the items that I don’t really want or have a use for, but somehow feel I should keep. Reasons range from: “it was a gift and reminds me of that person”, to: “it cost a lot of money and no one will value it for the price I paid”.

Addressing these issues is quite a mental-versus-emotional battle. On the one hand, my relationships are with people, not the items they give me. Does the object really represent the relationship? If I don’t use it, if it actually becomes something of a burden to house, move, carry, does it truly honour the relationship? Mock it? Resent it?

And if it was an object I paid a lot of money for, but no longer value or appreciate, does it matter really if anyone else does? Am I not just continuing to pay dearly, over and over, for that same no-longer-cherished item?

Reframe the mind to see that holding on to things that are no longer absolutely loved (just in case they may prove useful at some later stage) energetically bogs us down. By releasing the object into the big wide world, we are allowing it to live out its own potential and destiny to be loved and utilized by someone else. True enough, it could wind up in a rubbish tip. But once out of our hands, we must fully let go on all levels. Imagine and trust that wherever it winds up, it will ultimatly be the best possible place for it and whomever comes into contact with it!

Keep or Throw? © September 2, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

When It’s Time to Move

Photo credit: Simon Krzic, Dreamstime.com

We move for many reasons. Sometimes, we’re running away from something we don’t want. Other times, we’re running towards something we do want. Either way, the impulse to move is a call for change. It’s the closing of one chapter and the starting fresh of a new sentence. We may not have a clue where it will lead, but we know when we know, that it’s time to move on.

And move on, we must, because:

“Why, why are people all balls of bitter dust? Because they won’t fall off the tree when they’re ripe. They hang on to their old positions when the position is over-past, till they become infested with little worms and dry-rot.”
— D.H. Lawrence (Women in Love)

Muscles that are not used in taking action will atrophy. If we have reached a degree of fulfillment of our potential in a certain environment, and there’s not much space left or room to grow (in the way that our desires imagine it), then it’s imperative we seek out a place where we can thrive, expand, and stretch.

When the impulse to move hits, try as we might to suppress it, we’ll feel unsettled until finally, finally, we admit that this is what we wanted all along. The fear of an unknown outcome, the comfortable clinging to the safety zone, eventually becomes like the suffocating cocoon. Break out, or die. We realize that if we don’t go forward, we’re going backward.

“If not now, when?”
— Hillel the Elder

Sometimes, getting ‘ready’ for The Move can take decades. Like a fledgling, it may take a push from the nest before the courage to fly is summoned.

“… the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Once we decide — really decide — and fully commit ourselves to a move (whatever that move may be), then the universe orchestrates itself to support that decision. Circumstances show up. If we waffle, so will the universe. If we focus steadfastly, then we will achieve our desired outcome. It may not be in the same timescale or packaging that we expect; but it will be undoubtedly the best ‘big picture’ outcome.

When It’s Time to Move © August 13, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

Human Defrag

Photo credit: Thorsten, Dreamstime.comLife immersed in modern society reaches a tipping point of overwhelm. Holidays, retreats and “time outs” serve briefly; but on return to the rat race, the mind scatters, the body feels battered and the soul just about shatters.

Suppose (like computers) we ran “defrag” programs on ourselves. This would delete all superfluous preoccupation. It would prioritize vital information. It would clear blocks of space. We’d operate efficiently.

This is my third day of feeling like I’m going through a human “defrag”. Here’s what it’s been like so far:

Day One

Mentally, I’m exhausted. There’s this dull headache I can’t get rid of. I’m not thinking of anything much. My head is in a blur. I feel annoyed about pretty much everything, and unable to focus. I want to escape. I lie in bed most of the day. Not sleeping; just avoiding any encounter of any person, thing, or thought.

Day Two

Feeling more alert, but still not interested in interacting with anyone or going anywhere. Seeking meaningful inspiration. Wanting to watch any and every old fairytale-type film and dig for the lessons and meanings behind these repeating stories. Come to the realization that every story is the same: triumph over struggle. Noticing repeating patterns and messages about choices, forks in the road, regrets, going back and putting it right. Wondering how it all relates to my life, but not really connecting the dots.

Day Three

Muzzy head is back, along with a dicky tummy. Pushing myself to do stuff, but not altogether “with it”. Feels like major stuff is continuing to process on all levels, but still no absolute clue what it’s all about. I don’t think I could be trusted to do anything important today, or complete it well. Lacking in patience. Just want to sit and do nothing, and if you know me, you’ll know how inconceivable that is.

Overall

Tomorrow (and the rest of the week) are busy, planned days. I’m certain I’ll cope okay. I just don’t feel fully integrated, transformed, or evolved, yet. I feel like I’m still in a chrysalis stage. I wonder: during the chrysalis stage, does the butterfly know it’s going to become a butterfly? It feels like that next thing is that Big. I don’t yet know what it’s all about. The Universe tends to operate on a “need to know basis”. I guess “time will tell”!

Human Defrag © August 1, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

Pay Attention to Intuition

Photo credit: Freeze, Dreamstime.comWe get so caught up in the influences of our friends, family and community, we often ignore our gut instincts. Humans have intuition for a reason. It’s our “early warning system” there to guide us to safety and that which is for our highest good. When the facts stack up one way, and intuition blares the opposite, always go with intuition.

Many people will agree in theory; but how often do we practice following intution? Modern society has taught us to invest in logic over instinct; much to our detriment, in many cases. The more we act predictably and logically, the more we find ourselves in a hamster wheel. It’s safe. It may even be fun. But it goes nowhere, fast.

We have to stop. Sit silently. Tune in to the heart. Hear it speak. Sure enough, it has words for us; or at the very least, a feeling. A hunch. If we stay loyal to it, all is as it should be.

If we don’t, we will perpetuate a pattern, again and again; a habit that is challenging to break. We’ll repeat responses, create the same outcomes over and over, and learn nothing.

If we pay full attention to our intuition, chances are we will be, act or do differently. This will instigate a new outcome. Perhaps it’s what our higher self was calling us to become all along.

Pay Attention to Intuition © July 14, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

Equality and Inequality

Photo credit: Rossco, Dreamstime.comA lottery winner, despite sharing some of his winnings with friends and family, rapidly becomes excluded and even abused by his community. The winnings feel like a curse. He has to leave the life he’s always known, due to his ‘good fortune’.

It’s not as uncommon as story as you might think. In fact, I’ve often wondered why acquiring success, sudden fame or fortune, leaves a person outcast, begrudged, or even excluded from the community that previously loved and supported him.

I have been in environments where people were genuinely very happy for those who did well. I’ve also experienced environments where I felt people had to ‘play small’ in order to be accepted and survive among peers.

I thought this was a cultural attitude. Then it dawned on me that there is one vital distinction between the two reactions. It’s the economic inequality of individuals. To put it simply, the experience of a wide difference between the “haves and have nots” breeds mistrust, resentment, and alienation.

Until my early thirties, I lived where everyone I encountered pretty much had their basic needs met. Food, shelter, clothing, were affordable and readily available in large quantities. If someone had a bit more, that was no concern, as we all had enough.

Then, I moved to a place where it was dog-eat-dog to locate a glorified ‘shed’ the average person could not afford to live in, and fight tooth and nail to be good enough to win the privilege to live in it. Never mind living paycheque to paycheque; if you didn’t have to use credit cards to pay essential bills, you were considered well off. And that was in the ‘good area’. Now, I live in an area considered by the government as ‘deprived’. Here, people have far less. Oddly enough, they seem to happily get by on less. However, there is still the raised eyebrow if someone has something new, or something that looks like it came from somewhere other than a cheap shop or a boot sale. When this happens, people retreat. They question behind your back. It’s uncomfortable for all.

There are countries where everyone has very little materially. Yet people are happy, live a peaceful existence, and there is low crime. In countries where there are luxuriously rich and dreadfully poor, where economic inequality is rife, so is there a high crime rate.

There is no doubt about it. Distribute the world’s wealth equally, and we’d all be at peace. The question is: how do we make this happen? It seems to me that politics and government is not the answer. Ideals such as communism and socialism didn’t really work. There appears to be corruption in democracy, too. But each individual has a choice. And each individual can act with social conscience. What if, instead of buying a holiday home and a second car, we all made sure that those in need of shelter and transport had those needs supplied before we indulge in excess?

I wonder what an Equal world would be like.

Equality and Inequality © June 27, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

Divine Timing

Photo credit: Monika Wisniewska, Dreamstime.comI rarely plan. When I schedule in advance, things have a way of re-organizing according to the needs and wants of others, circumstances, and even the weather. I’m all for spontaneity and living in the now; doing what feels right, as and when it feels right.

Not everyone works this way. Hence, appointments, schedules and agendas; goals, action plans and itineraries. Despite these timed, set-in-stone events, life has a way of rejigging according to its own rules.

The universe is a highly orchestrated entity. No matter how we try to mould it our own way, it wins. Attempt to force it, and it will find a way to re-route us to its own direction.

Intuition is listening deeply to the instructions of the Universe. The impulse to ‘act now’ because the flow is carrying us in this moment: this is divine timing. Be prepared to be unprepared. When plans go awry, if someone doesn’t show up, if there are traffic delays, trust that the Universe knows what it’s doing. It’s following its own pace: divine timing.

Divine Timing © June 23, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

Running in Circles

Photo credit: Fuzzybearphoto, Dreamstime.com

I frequently find myself running in circles. No matter how fast I run, or how hard I try, when I get to the finish line, I find myself straight back at the starting line, poised to re-enter the race.

It’s like a perpetual Groundhog Day (see the film trailer). I go through the motions with apathy, and expect things to change. They don’t. So I get up the next morning and do the same, with maybe just a tiny tweak. I still find myself arriving where I started. I get frustrated. It becomes a puzzle, not unlike a Rubik’s cube.

What haven’t I noticed? What isn’t lining up yet?

No matter how much energy I expend, no matter how much I analyze, very little changes. I just keep running in these darn circles, praying for a miracle, a way out, a hand up, a spring forward. It mocks me, knowing it has me trapped in its maze.

Then I remember. Live in the moment. Relax, enjoy the scenery, even if it is for the umpteenth time — I’ll pretend it is the first time. I stay open to seeing anything new, anything I may have missed before. I look at it from different angles; scan the sights high, low, backwards, up, down and around. Again and again, in playful awareness, like a baby observing its new world from outside the womb.

The Universe has a way of moving us along to the next stage of the game of life, exactly when we’re ready and meant to be there. Let’s enjoy the now. Smell the roses. Let’s keep in motion, but make it a relaxed, gentle, observant pace. Let’s stop analyzing and chasing, because we’ll only be running in circles.

Running in Circles © June 19, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

Lazy Days

The last week or so has been full of activity. My mind has been whirring away, full of ideas about the next thing on the path of my life. I’ve been making contacts, revising websites, developing pages, sending out CVs; basically staying up all night doing anything and everything I can think of to generate some action for my future.

Many of us feel guilty taking time out. Like the world will stop spinning if we don’t keep going at some (albeit fruitless) activity. So we drive ourselves onward, even if it’s wasted energy.

Now, I do believe everyone should have at least one Lazy Day per week. A lazy day is when you don’t do anything much in particular. You can catch up on chatting with friends, or read a good book. You can watch TV or nap all day. It’s doing whatever you want and feel like doing, but it’s centred around rest, or moving at a slow, un-hurried pace.

Photo credit: Janpietruszka, Dreamstime.com

It’s just… well… making the time for it!

Today, my world has conspired to enforce upon me, a Lazy Day. It is dreary and raining. Steady and heavy. The clouds are ominous. You know if you step out even for a minute, you’ll be soaked to the skin. The jammies are ever so comfortable and feel ‘right’ to remain on till afternoon, at which time you’ll contemplate whether it’s worth bothering, or more appropriate to remain puttering in your dressing gown till bedtime.

Lazy days are the epitome of luxury. So, abandon the chaos. Enter the stillness. Allow laziness to recharge your batteries. It heals the body. It soothes the mind. It brings peace to your Self, and that brings out your Beauty.

You don’t need an excuse, but Sunday rain is a good one. Indulge!

Lazy Days © June 12, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

Popcorn Trails

As we live each day, situations arise and people cross our paths. Each one has an impact (if only subtle). Some, we’ll ignore to a large degree; others will positively influence us toward a new direction.

It’s like a popcorn trail: as we pick up a kernel, it leads to the next, and then the next. At some point, we discover we’re in a completely new place, with an entirely different view on where we’ve been, and where we’re headed.

Life has a way of guiding us like this. Call it intuition.

Do you follow popcorn trails?

Popcorn Trails © June 4, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak