Releasing the Baggage

Releasing baggage is a quintessential adage. It’s easier to profess than to put into practice. Here is the statistic on baggage- we all carry it at some point. The velocity of its weight has several variables, and sometimes we can drop it off, but at some point, while we travel through life that baggage reappears.  It can be from a trigger, a low point in your life, self-sabotaging good situations and the list goes on. There are very few people that have mastered the art of disposing their baggage into the sea, that never makes it back to land. It’s an art of discipline and for those who have accomplished this, they should teach a masters class. Yet, I don’t know if I trust that the person has fully released baggage until they are nearing the end of their life. This isn’t to say that we as individuals are constantly weighed down or allow the baggage to fully control ourselves, or that we are damaged individuals. It’s a fact of life. What we do when the baggage begins to interfere with our lives is the point I’m trying to drive. We need to examine our lives and figure out what to unpack to make it less heavy.  This is all metaphorically based on evaluating our lives and learn what is working and what isn’t. What do we do if we carry too much burden on ourselves that it seems like it’s not going to be achieved? It’s paramount that we do self-inventory like we do with packing away certain clothes when the seasons begin to change. Self-inventory needs to be quarterly, seasonally, or however you want to slice it. The start of this plan is asking yourself what is nourishing and what is draining you. The next question centers around your place in life. Are you where you need to be, or do you feel yourself being pulled back or not progressing? They go hand and hand yet different. I want to make the distinction that baggage has many meanings. There are some that are emotional and some that are confusion or feeling stuck. 

Through my life, I have carried a lot of unwanted weight on my shoulders to the point that it was physically taking a toll on my well-being. It wasn’t until my 20’s that I realized that I can’t control my destiny or emotion through black and white lens. I had to tap into that color spectrum and figure ways around this weight. Slowly I dumped my baggage and felt relief and spunk, which allowed me to progress. I didn’t want to acknowledge these issues ever again and to this day I have not looked back. As time goes on you inherit new luggage with a new destination. You will start all over again and think is this something that’s giving me life, or is it dragging me down? I had relationships I had to ditch to get myself out of some rabbit holes, and thankfully, I didn’t carry that into the next relationships, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am more cautious, and my intuition has skyrocketed. I had to shift my focus on friendships because I needed to question if I was giving or getting the same relationship that was once a solid bond. It’s sad, you mourn a bit, but eventually you will heal. Then I had to look at my job and examine if I maxed my full potential and If I wasn’t going anywhere. That carried significant weight and thus the baggage just piled on. I looked at my situation and thought what can I do about this? How can I nourish myself to feel that I’m going to grow? I went back to school to get my degree and moved to a different sector in the healthcare field. When I got my offer letter, I felt all the weight melt off my shoulders. Did I carry my old work baggage with me into my new job? The answer is yes. I was used to a certain environment that had my guard up, and I felt a bit defensive in the beginning. Outwardly, because I’m professional, you never be able to tell, but it was an internal battle with myself. I had to give myself a self-talk and say this is a new job, new people, new opportunities so it’s time to release everything weighing me down.  

So, my stroke enters the picture it’s a load of unwanted baggage that piled on me all at once. I felt the weight of the world pushing my legs further and further until my legs could no longer bend and fell on my face. Not only did I that old feeling come back but a new feeling was added to the mix. I’ve gone in detail overexposing my stroke journey, so I won’t repeat the steps. Now that I’m getting my feet planted on solid ground and feeling more like myself every single day, I felt this burden and sadness overtake myself for two months. I felt that I wasn’t moving in the direction I wanted financially, career, education, doing something important, and feeling a bit isolated. This sadness made me realize that I had to unpack this baggage. Now I will get into more of the emotional side of it first. 

It wasn’t until after we got back from our trip to Arizona, that I acknowledged that I was fighting serious depression. Perhaps having fun and breaking away from my normal routine gave me the vision that I was fighting something internally. Some people asked me if it was due to working from home and not socializing with my group of people. I thought on that for a bit and said no. Half my people I socialize with left my team- which made me sad. One of my best friends that I worked with for over 10 years, left. It was fate that we left our previous jobs and ended up working on the same team at my new company. She wasn’t the only one. There were other friendships, that are gone. So, I feel a void. I turned this around that one day when we go back to work, this is my opportunity to connect with other people. Shouldn’t be hard because I am a social butterfly. Aside from that, I really love working from home. I like that I don’t have to fight traffic, I get more time back in my day. When I don’t feel right, but well enough to work, it’s easy to prop up on the sofa and work. I have my two furry support dogs that keep me centered and overall, I feel very productive. I think my company has done an outstanding job with working from home. We hold townhall meetings with 200 people on teams and it doesn’t feel like it’s a hot mess. It works. I know that one day we will go back, so I’m trying to relish everything that I can while I work from home.

Next, I was asked if it’s because I haven’t been able to go out and do the stuff I generally do, especially in the summer month. The answer to that is yes. I felt that my summer was robbed from me because there wasn’t much to do, and if you did anything it wasn’t fun because of the mask restrictions. My mobility was still a little off, and my threshold to stand large groups and sounds was too much for me. If I did anything it was small and intimate. Yet, this summer wasn’t like others. It wasn’t filled with pool parties or doing much. Fall is here already, and I’m feeling sad that all the leaves on the tree will fly away and the grass is going to turn brown and then we will go through a series of hot/cold temperatures. One day it’s 80 degrees and the next day it’s snowing. I can’t handle it. I’m trying my best to try to be a good friend and do something, but since my father had an accident, I can’t risk exposure to COVID. I was placed on a two week ban from seeing my dad because I went on a trip. With the holidays around the corner, I more than ever can’t place myself in large situations that will prevent me from helping my family. I missed a friend’s wedding that she’s be waiting for over 12 years with her now husband. It crushes me. 

Next, I was asked if I was feeling fulfilled my position in life. Yes, I do get these questions. This one was heavy and it’s carrying the most baggage that I could possibly carry. There are so many facets to this question. I must be careful of how I construct this because I don’t want it coming back at me in bad way. So, I made a list of what is making me feel nourished, and what is leaving me dry. What is making me happy and what is causing me angst or frustration. So, I started with the easiest part- what's bothering me. First, I thought at this age I would be living in a house and not an apartment. I live in a very nice part of town, the apartment is nice and spacious, but for the rent we pay, we could be paying less with a house payment. I don’t even know when we will get a house, because we need two incomes factored in and my husband just recently started a job and loans require a 2-year period with an established job. So, it gets to me and I think of ways of how to get out of it. My husband and I both make decent money, yet we are struggling because of outside factors. I know we will get there, but this weighs heavily on me. The other part is my career. Now don’t get me wrong. I work for a great company and I love my team. I don’t know how far I’m going to progress, and if I’m not, where do I go from there? I thought about going back to school add to my degree, but my stroke has made it impossible to expend energy to work plus school. I have no clue how long that’s going to take. I also feel frustrated that I have a lot potential and insight to offer, but it’s not being tapped into. I took that first piece that I wrote, and first, I wrote in bold that I have a job. I have job that I enjoy doing. If I want them to see that I have more to offer, I need to be more vocal about it. Maybe with school, I can test the water and sign up for one class and see how that goes. Something must change, because I’m now at a position of needing a second job. I can’t physically go somewhere and work and stand. It would need to be something that I do working from home during the night or weekend. How much energy will I have for that?  I have a lot to think on this one and until I can figure it out that baggage is going to be very heavy on my shoulders. 

Next on my item list was friendships. I had to sadly weed some people out because their own issues, can’t be absorbed into my own. I’ve spoken in previous blogs and deep discussion that I felt a slap in the face by two couples that we considered great friends. It seems like once I had my stroke, I didn’t add value to them anymore, so I was disposable. This was one of the easiest things for me to do because they weren’t nourishing me any longer. There are some other friends that are sporadic, but I know they have my back and I have one friend that we haven’t missed a day talking to one another since my stroke. She is my rock. Sometimes we go deep with discussion, other times, it’s simple as asking how the day went. So. while there was some an exclusion list that I had to make, I had to realize there were a lot on my inclusion list. 

Next, how long will my stroke issues weigh me down. I never thought I would say thank God for COVID, but it’s made staying at home more guilt-free. I’m afraid that when things start getting back to normal, which I don’t see happening for a long time, that I will be accustomed being at home that I won’t have that thirst to go back out.  It’s just a thought, but again it’s baggage. 

The next piece of baggage is one we can all relate to- fearing another stroke. You see, I didn’t have any of the high-risk contributing factors they state that causes my type of stroke. I battled severe migraines since my 20’s and I still feel like it’s an indicator. Today, all headaches and migraines have come back leaving me in constant fear and it’s not healthy. I tell myself that I knew the difference between migraine and a stroke. If I knew then, I would know now. Again, I had to unpack a single piece from that baggage weighing me down. I say single piece, because there are so many other things packed away related to stroke. 

Primarily, baggage isn’t necessarily what you conceive it to be. A lot of people associate it with being in a bad relationship and carrying what happened in that relationship to the next, for example. This is true, but baggage is much more than that. It’s emotional, it’s something at the forefront of you mind. So, for my journey I had examine everything that was weighing me down which was emotional, being scared, complacent, and not feeling like I’m going to elevate. The baggage is self-doubt. I have done a lot of work to unpack as much as I can to lighten the load, but it feels like once I make space another piece is thrown in. I have mastered not allowing it to control my life or overtaking my feelings. I do have bouts of depression, but it’s not every single day. 

Fundamentally what I want to express is that for you to release baggage, the best practice is to write out what is nourishing you and how you want to succeed. If you can’t succeed, because there are barriers that are out of your control, just remember you aren’t alone. To mitigate these issues, admission is a must. Those bags will continue adding but fostering a healthy approach with alleviate that b

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