The Bag Lady-An exercise in self-love.
"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."
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!)
- First, get yourself two small paper bags, a notepad of paper, a pen and a lighter.
- 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.
- Crumble up each sheet of paper, and place it in the first bag. Set it aside.
- 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.
- 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!)
- Go back inside, you should notice there is a bit more lightness and spring to your step, but it does get better!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!”
- 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."