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The Bag Lady-An exercise in self-love.

Updated on October 27, 2011

"Letting go has never been easy, but holding on can be as difficult. Yet strength is measured not by holding on, but by letting go."
~Len Santos~

I looked in the mirror this morning and realized I have turned into a bag lady. And by now you are asking how in the world could you look at yourself in the mirror and presto you have now turned into a bag lady? I looked at myself and looked at myself closely. I saw a middle-aged lady who barely has gotten out of her nightgown for days. No, not the same one! I do take showers and do change them. But nonetheless a nightgown, and my hair in a ponytail, half-gray, half-blondish-red, no make-up and I didn’t like what I saw in that mirror. I saw a woman who appeared to look like she has faced the ravages of the streets for years. Broken and sad, pathetic and alone and then I realized it is time to do something about that.

 

Yes life in the past year has been hard. Life in the past years has been hard at times, and I became bitter, filled with angst and jaded beyond the color green. It seems like every time something good in my life happens, something twice as bad does. And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about feeling sorry for myself and crying in my beer, because I don’t drink beer. And feeling sorry for yourself gets you nowhere fast. This is about getting my butt up and doing something about it. This is about I am either going to sit here in my nightgown forever, muttering to myself about how to do this, or try something to help this situation. What to do, what to do, what to do, what to do?

 

Because if I don’t figure this out, I will be out there roaming the streets, muttering to myself, grumbling about the way life has turned out, in my nightgown.

 

So what to do? What to do?

When I look in the mirror, it doesn’t fit the description of the happy, healthy, successful person that I have idealized in my head. When I look in the mirror I feel self-loathing and unworthy of that person. I become anxious over the prospect of failing and the new circumstances they will create, it scares the heck out of me. So I had to ask myself, would I rather stay in a miserable situation than face the uncertainty of a new set of circumstances? Is it too simplistic to say that I fear change? It is merely a cycle that I myself am repeating over and over?

 

 

I have to let go of all that fear and learn to love that girl in the mirror!

 

So for this we have what we will call “The Bag Lady Exercise.”  (You men can do it too, I just happened to like the title!)

 

  1. First, get yourself two small paper bags, a notepad of paper, a pen and a lighter.
  2. On individual sheets of paper, write everything down you dislike about yourself, and the events of your life that have led you to dislike those things.
  3. Crumble up each sheet of paper, and place it in the first bag. Set it aside.
  4. Next, on separate pieces of paper, write down everything you would like your life to be. These include personal traits and goals you would like to achieve. Fold neatly, and place in the 2nd bag.
  5. Now comes the fun part! Take the first bag outside and kick the living daylights out of it! Stomp it, kick it around the yard, and do whatever you can to hurt that bag!  And when you are done, set fire to it and watch it burn, and while it is burning, visualize all the bad things in your life going up in smoke. When the bag is consumed, they no longer exist! Grind the ashes in the dirt until they vanish. You could even use your grill for this exercise. (Please don’t set fire to anything!)
  6. Go back inside, you should notice there is a bit more lightness and spring to your step, but it does get better!
  7. Take the 2nd bag and head to a room where there is a mirror and some privacy, like the bathroom. You won’t want your kids, husband or loved ones thinking you’ve completely “lost it”, especially if they watched your bag-burning antics!
  8. Look at yourself in the mirror. Notice the gleam in your eyes! Smile! Laugh out loud! Do whatever comes to mind, make funny faces at yourself, this is a celebration! The worries are gone, they vanished into the dirt, give yourself a hug!
  9. Open the 2nd bag. One by one, open and read each folded piece of paper, look yourself in the eyes and say, “I deserve this!”
  10. When you’ve finished, put the papers neatly folded once again in the bag and put the bag in a safe place. Every morning for the next three weeks, take the bag to your private place and read it’s contents. With each slip of paper look yourself in the eyes and say aloud, “I deserve this!”

21 days can change your life, so they say. So within three weeks, we will begin to let go of the anger and replace it with a new self-image and guess what, “We got a brand-new bag! Just like the song says! Replace your name with "Papa's" and you got a brand new bag! Burning the “old” bag is a wonderfully cathartic experience.

It is letting go of that negative past and rejoicing in the person we used to be. Letting go of that anger that does nothing but eat at us and zap us of all the energy we could be using on something else. It takes too much energy to be a bag lady!

"To let go isn't to forgot, not to think about, or ignore. It doesn't leave feelings of anger, jealousy, or regret. Letting go isn't about winning or losing. It's not about pride and it's not about how you appear, and it's not obsessing or dwelling on the past. Letting go isn't blocking memories or thinking sad thoughts, and doesn't leave emptiness, hurt, or sadness. It's not about giving in or giving up. Letting go isn't about loss and it's not about defeat. To let go is to cherish the memories, but to overcome and move on. It is having an open mind confidence in the future. Letting go is learning and experiencing and growing. To let go is to be thankful for the experiences that made you laugh, made you cry, and made you grow. It's about all that you have, all that you had, and all that you will soon gain. Letting go is having the courage to accept change, and the strength to keep moving. Letting go is growing up. It is realizing that the heart can sometimes be the most potent remedy. To let go is to open a door, and to clear a path and set yourself free."

~Unknown~

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    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      *laughs* Well I figured that dirty blonde was my original color, so why not!

      And I am on my way! I am glad you did another chapter!

      Hugs!

      Laurie

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 

      7 years ago

      A blonde huh? Let the fun begin, woohoo, Lol. :P

      P.S. Part 5 of the Changing Lines is published, do let me know what you think of it.

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      AHorseback-*laughs* Oy, I do those things all the time, the funny faces, the running around in my nightgown, muttering to myself. And as far as my neighbors, too late there I think, I have been outside in my yard with my nightie and my ratty bathrobe on, muttering to myself. Maybe that is why they wave from a distance! *laughs*

      And I thank you Dear Man for stopping by and giving your encouragement, and your kind words. They are so appreciated and to know that others have went through the same things, it does give hope. I know I can do this! I have great support, with family and friends, and words such as yours.

      And maybe a new picture once I pick out a new hair color! But before that, no way! *laughs*

      Blessings and hugs!

      Laurie

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      @Acaetnna-Thank you Sweetie. Your smile always brings one to my face. You seem to ooze happiness, and beauty. Thank you for stopping by. It is always such a pleasure to see you.

      @HealingTouch-Thank you so much for support and your kind words. Those jammies/nighties sometimes are our comfort in this crazy world, and as long as we wash them, I vote for keep on wearing them! *laughs* Even tho some might protest. But yes, I do have to get out of them someday, and hopefully someday soon, they will be a thing of the past, well not all together, but you know what I mean!

      Blessings and hugs,

      Laurie

    • profile image

      ahorseback 

      7 years ago

      Laurie Dawn , I read this and I'm picturing you actually doing these things . I think its a wonderful and positive move in the right direction. As a man , I too have done the "list", , I had to, my life was coming apart at the seams. That was a few years ago. I have a big hope for you ! BUT, before you burn the bag outdoors, no, before you kick it around , beat up un it , and jump up and down! Before you do these things stop and look around and make sure no ones looking! This could be bad for the neighborhoods impression of you! I urge you to use a lot of caution here ! And when you make the faces and scream in the mirror , set up the camera so I can watch! Seriously , good for you! And a big hug!!!

    • Healing Touch profile image

      Laura Arne 

      7 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      LaurieDawn

      Your a beautiful soul. Who knew many of us women on hub pages were bag ladies, I know I am. I have worn the same jammies since my birthday. I wear them every night and in the day I work, so dont worry. I was struck by the fact that your hub makes us all think about our new year resolutions. I know I can. Thanks

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 

      7 years ago from Guildford

      Wow this is awesome. Absolutely this is the way to go love yourself first and then your love will flow to others. Great hub.

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      ImChemist,

      It is actually studied testing that was conducted in extensives studies, that brain circuits take "engrams" (memory traces), and produce neuropathways only if they are bombarded for 21 days in a row.

      This means that our brain does not accept "new" data for a change of habit unless it is repeated each day for 21 days (without missing a day). So to keep repeating this for 21 days has the affect that you are replacing a new habit for an old one.

      I hope this helps of why they use 21 day programs.

      Maybe I should write a hub about that too. It is a very interesting concept.

      Nice to "meet" you.

      Blessings,

      Laurie

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      Thank you Qudsia.....I am picking blonde! *laughs* And on my way over to read it now, excited!

    • ImChemist profile image

      ImChemist 

      7 years ago

      Why its 21 days that will change my life ?

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 

      7 years ago

      My dear Laurie, I am excited to know, which hair colour you chose. :P

      P.S: Part 4 of 'The Changing Lines' is published. Do let me know what you think of it. :)

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      Diane! Yay!! I always could use cheerleading! Keep up the great works, and love the pom-poms! :)

    • dianeaugust profile image

      dianeaugust 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      LaurieDawn--Yes, you can do it. You see, you have your hub buddies. We want to see you succeed at whatever is your desire. We're your cyber cheerleaders. I've got my pom-poms ready!! :-)

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      Thanks Silvie! Someone once told me that we earn each one of those gray hairs upon our heads and then I look at mine and think perhaps it is a punishment! *laughs*

      blessings and hugs,

      Laurie

    • profile image

      Justsilvie 

      7 years ago

      Great Hub Laurie! I am still debating the wash that gray right of my hair scenario, but kicking around that bag is on the Agenda.

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      Ohh Darlene my friend! we are so much alike, and we seem to be kindred spirits. I was taught a long time ago by a very dear friend who studied Indian folklore, about the smudge ceremony, and burning the "anger" away. I would say we get a lot of our traditions from them. good ideas!

      Blessings and hugs,

      Laurie

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      Qudsia-I think you are so right! I need that hair dye fast, and am deciding what color to go now! *laughs* Maybe the saying is true, blondes have more fun! we shall see!

      And I read your latest installment and I loved it! I look forward to reading more!

      Thank you for your sweet compliments.

      blessings and hugs,

      Laurie

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      @MT-Thank you so much, I think once we hit that 40 mark, something happens! *laughs* And then we turn the corner again at 50, again something happens! I think they call it middle age! So we just keep plugging away. Time to buy some new nightgowns and some hair dye for myself I think!

      blessings and hugs,

      Laurie

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      Lil Sis,

      The nightgown is in the washing machine as we speak! Just so I can put it on later in the evening! *laughs* I have the best baby sister in the world!

      Love ya,

      Laur

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      Pooh! Come on and join me on the bench Dear Lady! Us bag ladies have to stick together! I know what you mean, when I looked in that mirror, it almost flew out the window, and probably would have if it wasn't attached to my wall! Egads, the sight was pretty scary! But here is to the New Year and let's get up and get moving those butts!

      Well after we share some bon-bons first maybe!

      Blessings and hugs,

      Laurie

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      Ohhh Diane! Thank you for that site, I checked it out and it sounds splendid! Something worth diving into further! We all need some soul restoration just as we need new paint on our walls from time to time. I figured at least I change my nightgowns and shower and all that, but I needed something more in my life! To get off my butt and get it in gear! Besides I could lose a few pounds too, but that is another story!

      So yay! We can do this I know we can!

      Blessings and hugs,

      Laurie

    • LaurieDawn profile imageAUTHOR

      LaurieDawn 

      7 years ago

      Very well said Paper Notes! Just as everything in life, there must always be a balance. And may we all find those balances that make life a little bit better!

      Blessings,

      Laurie

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      oh my darlin friend, we are so much alike, I think we guessed that when we first met...what a great exersise, the native americans have a small fire and us the same exersies with fire. Or they smoke the pray pipe in the four directions to pray for what they need as well as thank the universe for what they already have. Love this excellent hub. love & peace darski rate up up

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 

      7 years ago

      This is beautiful Laurie.

      I liked the second part of the bag lady exercise. My dear pick up the pieces, dye that hair, get back your oomph and get back out there!

      P.S. I wrote part 3 of the changing lines on your request. I hope you like it. :P

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      This was so honest and hopeful and fun.

      Ya, I could use a dose of the bag exercise. I just had my 48th birthday and I do see a touch of bag lady in me.

      Thanks for a great new years goal:)

    • AngRose profile image

      AngRose 

      7 years ago

      It's about time you changed that nightgown...even if it is the awesome pink one your baby sister found for you that is softer than baby skin and you love more than anything. :)

    • Poohgranma profile image

      Poohgranma 

      7 years ago from On the edge

      There's my Laurie! I knew you were out there contemplating an escape, just didn't realize it would be so brilliant.

      I found your bag lady too. She was in my mirror - nearly scared me to death. Lady needs some serious attention! I think I'll treat her to the Bag Lady Spa you've created, if you don't mind.

      I applaud you my lady and your hub! Voted up and all of the other categories too. ;)

    • dianeaugust profile image

      dianeaugust 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      First of all, I love the way you write the truth. You don't try to hide what is--you may change its pajamas everyday, but you're not hiding it. That is a courageous thing to say whatever is. And I like you're exercise. I think if we would do that for 21 days, we would love ourselves more. I'm in the middle of doing something like that in a workshop I'm taking called Soul Restoration from the women at Brave Girls Club. They are cool and amazing and I bet you'd like their website if you want to check it out. They are all about helping us love ourselves and get to a better place. Here's to you, and I'm with you as you give the world the gift of YOU in the only way Laurie Dawn can!! DA

    • PaperNotes profile image

      PaperNotes 

      7 years ago

      They say that loving yourself too much is not right yet there are times when you first need to love yourself in order to love others.

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