02/22/17

Baggage, Suitcases, and the Art of Letting Go

I Stand With You

"Hey you! That Sportsman Expandable suitcase looks like it may burst! I love your beautiful Tumi but that Samsonite seems like it’s been through a tornado. Hang on - is that a vintage Louis Vuitton? Can I ask why you’re carrying so many bags? How long have you been dragging those around with you? Why do you need so many?”

We all lug around a bunch of shit – and we’re all pulling different sized suitcases. Big ones, little ones, duffel bags, wheelie ones, even backpacks. Some of us need luggage carts while others masochistically subject themselves to the pain and strain of pulling them by hand. Sometimes someone will walk up to us and hand us the suitcase they took long ago. And what do we do with it? Just toss it on the pile.

Recently a friend of mine mentioned she had been doing ‘talk therapy’. She’d gone through childhood trauma and hadn’t been able to deal with it. That trauma had started creeping into her life and was making her feel like she had dementia. She had been losing her memory and was struggling to keep her life and business together. She wasn’t looking for sympathy from me - she shared her story to let me know she stood next to me in my own struggles.

"I stand with you.”

Later in the day, I had a similar conversation with a different friend. She asked if I was willing to stay in my own lane and let go of anything that wasn’t adding value. Shortly after, I asked how she was doing - knowing she had been struggling to keep her marriage and her life together. Her response: “Staying in my lane and compartmentalizing.” I knew I couldn’t do anything for her so I told her I loved her and that I stood with her.

Last week was rough for many – the dreaded Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day). I was working through my own shit, and I posted on the social medias about how I felt about the day. I had no idea what I was going to say but I could feel something inside clawing to get out. I just started typing. I poured my whole heart out on the internet, knowing it would leave me vulnerable. I shared things many of my friends don’t even know. And that vulnerability taught me that I have the most loving community any human can imagine: They stand with me.

Here’s what I wrote:

A tiny heartfelt share today. I'm sitting at my desk in my office on the verge of tears - all dressed up for my day - and realizing my love tank is running on fumes. Today is the reminder of my first marriage (2004) as I cried REALLY hard down the entire aisle at our eloping ceremony in Lake Tahoe. The first marriage that lasted 9 whole months and ended because he cheated. I don't hate today but it is a hardcore reminder of failures, disappointments, regrets, and bad decisions. But at the same time, I learned SO much about myself, what I want, what I require, and who I am.

I KNOW a lot of other people have a hard time with Valentine's Day and I have to tell you - I'm standing firmly here with you trying not to cry my beautiful makeup off in a dress that makes me feel sexy while also trying not to sabotage another tough day that's supposed to be all smiles. I'm standing firmly here with you with all the love in my heart and tears running down my face knowing that we all deserve to leave our pasts where they are - in the past as learning experiences. I'm standing firmly here with you knowing how hard this is but how joyful it could be. To love yourself deeply, to know how beautiful you are, and to know that you are enough - not too much, not too little - perfectly enough.

I'm standing firmly with you on this beautiful, terrifying, hard, lovely, incredible day. Reminding you that you are right where you're supposed to be - feeling everything you're supposed to feel - because those feelings make you who you are. And it's time to let go and make room.

I love you. ❤️

Our past sticks to us in ways we can’t always see but definitely feel. We drag those bags along behind us and sometimes it feels like we’re pulling an 18-wheeler rig. Sometimes I wonder why the heck I’m still carrying this shit. I wonder why I allow myself to cry through the pain and keep on rolling those suitcases along the path of my life.

My muscles are tired. My eyes are puffy. I’m not perfect and I don’t have all my shit together, but I definitely don’t need to shoulder such a heavy load. So how do I shed some of the emotional pounds? It starts with letting go of the failures, disappointments, regrets, and bad decisions and sharing what I’ve learned from all of it.

"Keep what is adding value in your life and let go of the rest.” - @DailyOM

As a born-and-bred people pleaser, I find letting go of what doesn’t benefit me REALLY tough. Especially when the ‘what’ is a who.

Recently, I was accused of some really heinous things by the people closest to me. Suddenly I was transported 20 years in the past to my 15-year-old self. I was again being accused of terrible things and experiencing the same pain I did so many years ago. That’s when the anger crept in.

I was being unfairly accused. I had done something thoughtful and sweet for someone years ago and somehow it got twisted into a despicable act of spite. My accusers took the tact of “you were at the scene of the crime so obviously you did it”. And my being angry only fueled the fire. A really heavy, beat-up suitcase that didn’t belong to me was plopped on my luggage cart. But for the first time I decided to shove it back off my cart. I dropped it like a bad habit. It could not be a part of my life and would not stay in my collection.

I am NOT perfect. My personal brand is one that is beautiful in the broken places. I’m an Approachable Badass – a walking contradiction. I’ve made a lot of mistakes but I’ve never done anything out of spite. I’ve never done anything viciously, and I’d never wish harm on anyone. To be accused of something so outside my character brought back a flood of suitcases and a whole host of bad memories. But this time I wasn’t going to take them back. I had left them behind for a reason.

“When they go low, we go high.” - FLOTUS Michelle Obama

It’s like at an airport where they say “Don’t accept a package or luggage from someone you don’t know.” The suitcases we drag behind us are the ones we choose to pull. No one can make us hold onto them, and no one but us can drop them. Our muscles, no matter how strong, will get fatigued and we’ll crumble from the weight. We have to do the work to let go. We have to CHOOSE to drop the weight and walk away. No matter how comfortable we are dragging that shit behind us, it’s a lot more comfortable to let go and find peace.

I used to be terrified of sharing my story - my baggage. Of being vulnerable or allowing someone to peek into all my suitcases. Until I started Adventures in Branding - the podcast for kickass humans. I started by sharing my failures. My running away. About finding myself. Finding my purpose. And wow - the response was overwhelming. One woman said: “I may be nobody to most, but this podcast made me somebody to me.” I was finally letting go of my luggage and standing with people. And they were standing with me.

The more we drop the luggage, the more upright we can stand. When we stand together, we are stronger than ever. When we learn to let go of the things holding us back, we start stepping into our purpose. And when we fully embrace the reason we’re here on earth, the rest of the world benefits.

Gary Vaynerchuk posted a video that said, “If that’s your purpose, why don’t you do it for free? Purpose... is your purpose. If it’s free, you’ll have more people. Now show me in your actions that it’s actually your purpose.”

My purpose? To be a lighthouse. To shine light for others who haven’t been able to find their own light. To give them a place to shine it. And I wrote a talk called Rock Your Life that does exactly that. It creates light for others to see what they need to do to pull themselves out of beige existence and into a space where they can see all the colors and reflect those for others. And thanks to the wise Gary Vee, I’ve decided that this is the talk I want to give freely (and free!) to anyone who will listen. Because...

I stand with you.

I stand on a stage - with you. I stand hand-in-hand with you. Call me. Ask me questions. Listen to the podcast. Or bring me to your team, your audience - wherever there’s a need. I am still learning to let go of all of my own suitcases - one at a time. But in the meantime, I’m standing taller and shining my light brighter. With you.

Your suitcases tell a story. It’s the story of your life and where you’ve been so far. Once you start telling those stories, the weight starts disappearing. Like magic. I promise.


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