Stepping Stones

Photo credit: Mindy Chung Wai Meng,

We try to control our lives. With every choice we make, we agonize over what will be the best. We’ll imagine entire scenarios well into the future, filled with hazards and mistakes. Likewise, we may picture unreasonably fantastic success. Either way, the likelihood is, it won’t pan out anything like you fear or hope for.

So, we straddle the stepping stones. We keep one foot here, as we step there, and don’t commit to either. Just in case. We can’t let go of the past, for fear of the unknown future. Yet we bounce between the two, back and forth, and forget to live in the Now.

There are so many influencing factors that we simply don’t have to hand right now, and therefore we can’t calculate into the equation. Try as we might, there is no right or wrong about any of it. We have to take the next step. Trust that the next bit of information we need to take the following step will be presented to us. And then we can take the next step after that.

Planning, setting goals, and making the ‘right’ choices in advance is like trying to predict the lottery. Imagine trying to select the winning numbers as if your life depended on it. How stressful would that be? It’s an impossible task. Similarly, trying to predict our future, or what is the best decision, is pretty much futile. We actually don’t know how it will turn out.

We just have to decide. Take action. And build life step-by-step, trusting that each stepping stone will ultimately take us to a good place. And enjoy every stepping stone along the way!

Stepping Stones © September 14, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak


Two Suitcases

Photo credit: Les Palenik,

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

When It’s Time to Move

Photo credit: Simon Krzic,

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

Running in Circles

Photo credit: Fuzzybearphoto,

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

Becoming a Modern Nomad

I am a restless soul. Every moment of every day of my life must count for something, mean something, or I get very restless. I need to be where I am needed most; where I am nourished most. It’s a great big world out there. Why settle in one spot, decay and rot, in the name of putting down roots? We’re not trees. Humans have legs that are made for walking.

It took me many, many years to accept my nomadic self. The excuse to move has always been for work experience, a career move, more affordable cost of living. The truth is, my feet itch, my spirit yearns for renewal of Self, of fresh eyes, new perspectives, greater awareness, expanded possibilities. The traditional: own a home, have a family, get the latest devices everyone else has, while ‘nice’, has never been a motivation for me. In fact, once I acquire a certain amount of material possessions, there is a point at which it feels so burdensome, I need to get rid of it entirely. This is true to some degree of places I live, and even people (if they are stagnant in their own lives).

I used to be hard on myself about this. Like, it’s wrong. Like, I should be settled and own a home at my age. I should stick with my job because who’s going to give me another when fresh blood is so bountiful? But, this is my life, and I’m going to do it my way, and the consequences may not actually be so bad from my point of view. To some, the worst thing in the world may be to have nothing. But imagine the freedom!

The tribal way was nomadic. If a place no longer served, the community got up and shifted elsewhere. At a time when there were no borders, where instincts and intuition were followed, when shamans led and the people trusted, this is the innate natural behaviour of the human being on earth. Modern society is so fixated on ownership, on insurance, on legal boundaries – all oppressive fear-inducing tactics – resulting in depression, stuckness, and suicide (of spirit, if not body). For me, this kind of life is something I no longer accept.

It wasn’t until I fully accepted the possibility that I could become homeless, penniless, jobless and wind up with nothing – that I could begin to let go of all my possessions to free myself entirely of their responsibility, so I could be true to the wandering spirit that I am and live as a modern nomad. It is getting to a place of Fearlessness of the Unknown.

As I shed the excess baggage I’ve accumulated, I remain open to any and all possibilities that come my way. Open to learning, being, becoming, evolving.

Is there any other way to live? For me, this is the best way to live!

Becoming a Modern Nomad © March 16, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak

Attachment to Things

For years I’ve wondered why I struggle and keep changing my mind about whether to continue living in the UK or return to my homeland of Canada. The thought dawns that I have a great attachment to my things, and because my things are here in the UK, it feels more like ‘home’.

This attachment is completely unconscious. I didn’t think I was so attached to possessions, having relinquished so much through so many moves. And yet, earlier today, in a meditation, this came up as the hurdle, the wall, the thing blocking me from moving forward in my future. Somehow, I’ve invested my Self, my personality, my emotions, my Identity, into these mere ‘things’.

So now that I am aware of this, what is the best way to Detach from ‘things’?

Attachment to Things © February 16, 2011 | Annie Zalezsak