Do I Really Have to Get Rid of My ‘Stuff’ to Be Happy?

I’ve been traveling more than usual lately and I’ve realized that I drool with envy at those put-together women at the airport that glide through customs in their beach hats. You know, the ones in neutral capris pants and not a whisper more than a small purse and a matching chic carry on suitcase?

But alas, it’s not for me.

I clunk into the airport with a larger than average bag in relation to the size of my trip. I pay the extra fees, I wait the extra time to check my bags in and then wait at baggage claim again to pick them up on the other side.

When I’m packing, I feel like I simply won’t enjoy my trip if I leave anything behind. I can’t imagine how lonesome and ill at ease I’ll feel. I don’t mean forget things, as we all do. I mean, I want to feel like home wherever I am. I want to be me, even though I’m far away. I’m the woman who takes more books than clothes and always always slippers.

But what do I really need? Can I make it on this trip without all this “stuff”?

I’m not interested in that book about getting rid of all your stuff and becoming a breatharian. But as I get older, I feel like I’m evaluating more closely what I bring into my life, my space, my bag, man.

My bag holds lots of stuff to do like reading, writing, drawing and nice pjs for getting a good night’s sleep. My bag is heavy – rich and deep. Not cluttered, just full.

If I look at adulthood as a journey, I wonder if I’m bringing the right stuff too. How do I make it full, rich and deep? I pray to know the difference between a full life and one that’s cluttered with things I don’t love or need. Or worse, “stuff” that holds me back.

There seems to be  another category of stuff we keep around us that is loaded with fear.

I wonder, what am I always “carrying” ….

Just in case something bad happens

Just in case I get bored

Just in case I’m not enough.

Alone, am I enough? …Oooh. Now we’re getting somewhere.

What are the lies I keep telling to keep me safe? What are the buffers and “ah wells” I hold onto that stop me from getting to close to sadness? What are the thoughts I just won’t think?

As a first step I’m starting to de-clutter my travel bag list, not so much in the Marie Kondo way but in the, “I can just be enough on this trip” way. And if I forget something or get bored, it’s on me. It’s on me to just be okay with it and find a way to feel at home wherever I am, without anything but me. I’m sure I’ll find a way to live without it. Which means, of course, I didn’t really need it at all.

Down to one small bag. One small suitcase and the thoughts I choose.

That’s all I need, really.

Just me against the world – or with the world? On this journey, this adventure.

I am enough ( and so are you ).

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What would you take with you if you were packing a bag to leave forever? Whose picture? Which books? Which thoughts, friends and memories?

Which of those things are you taking because you think you’re supposed to? (Decide and then take them out. How do you feel?)

It’s not just about the possession  – think of it as paring down, becoming choosier – defining you and what you’re about just a little bit more.

The concentrated, bald and naked essence is all we want here, people. (Scary almost chicken-like image aside). It’s all you really need anyway.

Don’t forget to come grab more at ashewoodward.com

Tom Hanks’s Special Message to Thirtysomethings

One of the greatest lines from Tom Hanks, in my opinion, is in A League of Their Own when he’s coaching a woman on his team who complains that baseball is “hard”.

“It’s the hard that makes it great,” he booms.

I shiver. I shudder. I feel the urge to grab my glove and hit the field.

It’s a great line made even greater by the fact that it’s not really about baseball at all, but everything in life, including life itself.

“Nothing worth anything comes easy,” they say. I’m revved up again.

But I’m not quite ready to grab my glove, so to speak.

See, in the case of baseball, I know what the challenge it and what glory looks like when I get there – cheering fans, a golden glove, a pennant, a world series ring, a bubblegum card.

But when it’s my life, I’m blindly aiming at a target most days.

New job? Different hairstyle? Swipe right? Go back to school? Ignore colleague’s wandering eyes? Vacation or staycation? Retirement savings?

Why can’t it be as simple as hit and throw well. Run as fast as you can. ? .

I don’t have the answer. Life is just hard sometimes. Hard to predict, hard to get through certain days (even certain hours). It’s hard to imagine it getting better and easy to imagine worse.

But “the hard is what makes it great”. Hmmm.

And let me be completely honest – I’ve been watching that movie for years; it’s one of my top favourites of all time. But it’s only recently that I’ve embraced this Hankonian perspective.

Since I turned 30, life has pretty much been a not-so-great box of chocolates. Surprise after disappointment after struggle after a brief bout of delight and repeat.

And now, in my mid-thirties, I finally get the joke – without the hard, there is no delight. And, most importantly I see that without the unknown, there is no hope.

I don’t know if I’m ever making the right choices and I worry about the outcome.

I don’t know if I’m giving the best advice to my friends.

I don’t know if I just paid too much for house insurance.

I don’t know if this time, this yoga will save me.

I don’t know any of it.

But I just hope. Close my eyes and click.

And just when you may be thinking that this is a depressing way to live – directionless and all that. Consider this:

We’re all floundering along, doing our best and still f-—king up and making a mess. Sometimes hating ourselves, sometimes forgiving.

Dropping kids off at the wrong school (hi, Jill) and standing in awkward silence at your first stand-up gig. Keeping it secret that your marriage is a sham, secretly liking one kid more than the other, and spending over twenty-one hours streaming Netflix instead of going to your cousin’s wedding.

Point is, screwing up and acting immature and being embarrassed about our foibles is all part of the game.

My friend Jillian drops off the kids she babysits every day. I don’t know how many days are in a school year, but it’s a lot. But she’s never told me a specific story about it until the day she left the wrong kid at the wrong playground.

And we laughed. OH, we laughed!

We laughed until we cried.

There may be no crying in baseball but there are plenty of tears in life – happy and sad. And I love them both. I’m a cryer so I have no choice but to embrace it if I stand a chance of loving myself fully.

So cheers to hope. Cheers to the struggle. It’s real, so they say.

Life is hard, so play hard. Screw up, and then laugh. Together.

Laughter and hope make it great.

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I’m opening my doors again for personal coaching now for a limited time. If you’d like to see what coaching is like and if you’d like to work together, send me an email at ashewoodz@gmail.com so we can set up a time to talk.

For more on me and what working together is like, visit ashewoodward.com.

😉

When Only Your Weird Will Do: How Keeping It Real Has Been My Secret to Success and Happiness

Y’know, in my late twenties I was sure I was on my way to being a success. I was teaching full time and I had my own successful hypnosis business. I was serious, no nonsense, go go go! On top of of that, I really dressed the part: super corporate chic, lots of black and brown (you know the type). BO-RING!

Fast forward to me discovering my gifts as a writer and life coach and realizing that my mindset (and my wardrobe) were so out of sync with who I really am. It was all just a part I thought I had to play to be successful.

But when I figured out that I am still the same funky and free girl I was waaaaaay back in high school, I truly found success. Weird, eh?

Turns out I wasn’t just innocently attempting to grow up, be mature and responsible; I was crushing my true soul – the one that so effortlessly and generously showed up when I was younger.

This is when I also realized that I wasn’t alone. I started to ask the people around me if they felt like this, or if I was the only weirdo. They actually all had some pretty unreassuring things to add, like:
You have to grow up some time
You can’t make money being in a garage band
It’s not like we can all be artists 
You have to be responsible and have a real job that pays the bills

UGH! Depressing!!

What makes us think that what we would love to do or BE isn’t WORTH doing?

I for one couldn’t live one more minute without reconnecting with my true self. I threw out those stuffy clothes, got rid of the boring hair cut, and threw myself at the questions I had about what and why people were okay living with a ‘just because’ and ‘good enough’ attitude. I was ready to be me and find out how I could help others shake of their imposter costumes too.

And now, the work that I’ve done since has always lit me up and never let me feel like I have to be anyone besides just me.

And don’t get me wrong – I still have more layers to peel off and BS to sift through but I have committed myself to doing that – that is actually what feels the BEST! 

 

 

Lately, I think I’ve sifted out yet another several layers of BS that was blanketing the real me, and it feels amazing. I’ve been saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ like a pro, and I’m so much choosier when it comes to my choices – not picky, just … choosier – listening more closely to what I really want and not what I think I should say or do.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes behind my sunglasses to hear that I actually don’t want to get a drink just cuz it’s Friday, after I said I’d go. Sometimes I catch myself saying, “It’s fine if there’s no vegetarian option, I’ll have a salad,” and then I regret it.

And slowly, I know, those responses will build up another blanket fort so heavy that it will crush that true soul once again until I can’t breathe and I have to start all over again, listening more carefully to the voice.

It’s not easy. Actually, it’s really f***ing annoying that it’s such a quiet voice. It’s so hard to hard to hear under the pressure of the moment, or the buzz of and whirl of the Internet, the ALL CAPS on social media, your screaming child, your angry partner, your angry self, traffic, juicers, weird yoga music, etc. But it is under there.

Close your eyes if you have to (I do).

What would it feel like to say no (politely) more often and do what you want? Freedom?

What would it feel like if we all did this more, all the time? Would honesty and trust become words we could depend on?

I’d love to hear what happens for you this week by taking on this habit of listening carefully first before you say yes or no.

Leave a comment here or with the Facebook community to share your experience with other thirtysomeones (and me).

And check out what’s new at my site ashewoodward.com, where you can also find my contact info and how to get in touch for personal, one-to-one coaching calls.

 

What 35 REALLY Feels Like (and how to deal)…

Today is my birthday!

I’m 35, I keep repeating in my head, waiting for a shift, a boom, a bolt of lightening as maturity and endless wisdom kick in. But so far? Nothin.

I don’t quite know how I feel yet. I don’t know if I’m totally freaking out or if I’m really as cool as I say I am about being officially in my mid-thirties.

One thing that always haunts me is the phrase, Age is just a number. I’ve never really understood the whole reassuring aspect of it. Age is a number, yes, but how long can I go saying I’m in my thirties but feeling like I’m still eighteen? Eventually, shouldn’t I feel like a grown-up?

It reminds me of when the news tells me it’s going to be 10 degrees but feels like 15. The next day it could be 10 degrees again but feel like 8. There could be a whole week of 10-degree weather where not one day actually feels like 10 degrees, so we lose our baseline and start to forget what 10 degrees is actually like!

Okay, I’ll fess up, these digressions and rantings are all just a facade – a cover up because I don’t know how old I feel and I don’t know how I feel about it. Man, birthdays have a ways of making us oddly contemplative, don’t they? I guess I’ll just leave it alone until I’m sure.

Any time I start to go on these tangents I know I’m just procrastinating or distracting myself from a mess of feelings that I need to untangle. To do this (you can steal this technique too for when you catch yourself avoiding the BIG questions) is to start with what small things you know for sure.

For me, what I do know today is that I am truly grateful for all of my family and friends that came out and celebrated with me last night (and the impromptu animal balloon-making contest that topped it all off). The best part of the night for me though was when I looked around the room and totally blissed out at seeing all of my favourite people in one place.

I also know that I’m humbled, grateful and extremely privileged to have lived thirty-five years. In that time I’ve been surrounded by love, enjoyed endless opportunity and I’ve been blessed with good health and well-being; I’m a pretty lucky duck and I know it.

Some may say that this technique helps you go back to basics but I’m seeing now that I don’t see any of these things as basic at all. Love, health, family and friends are perhaps good fundamentals of a great life, but they’re not basic. Their fully enlightening, supercharged presence in our lives is a supreme and ethereal gift.

Talk about birthday reflection…Woah.

And on that note..time for cake!… (and more avoidance until the real impact kicks in…)

 

If you’ve got  some reflecting you  need to do, we should chat in a FREE consultation session. I’ve done my  fair share of reflection and gotten off-track, so I’ve developed proven ways to help  anyone get down with their bad (and good) self.  My one to  one coaching is about how in our thirties especially we are learning  to identify our true feelings and emotions and only  taking  action that speaks to our personal value system (AKA, the stuff people are talking  about when they say, “Just be yourself!… as if it’s so easy!)

Get in touch at support@ashewoodward.com

Or find more info at ashewoodward.com/coaching