going around that mountain

The other day as I was crossing the street on Clark and Diversey, I realized that my mind was occupied with thoughts about our new workshops, balancing Jess LC, and MML.

And I did a little cheer inside.

You see, for years I spend my time dwelling on what I had to overcome as a kid, what I needed to do to “fix” my body, or how to have the “right” relationship.

I had carried those things, though substantial struggles in my life, far longer than I ever needed to. It was like I had a heavy load of struggles, injustices, or imperfections that I packed in a heavy sack on my back.

And then I spent months, even years, walking around the same mountains ruminating on the same things.

Rather than actually getting me anywhere worthwhile, I stayed stuck moving forward in a circle around the same “woe is me” or “what’s wrong with me” attitudes. Over time, that sack of burdens became part of my identity and story. If I met people and wanted to share my life, I’d unpack my sack and lay it out for them to see.

And though I think there was a good aspect of healing in that part of my life, I think I kept that sack fuller than necessary for much longer than needed.

I remember so clearly a few wake up calls that struck me upside the head and helped me recognize that I could put down the drama and move on.

The first one was a few months after moving to Chicago. After having a long heart to heart with my older cousin, he mentioned that his dad once told him that he had to “stop holding his parents accountable for all the messed up stuff in his life and just move the hell on.” And though that specific scenario wasn’t an exact depiction of some of my “stuff,” it did point out that as much as I might have overcome stuff in my life, I couldn’t keep harping on it and blaming my past for my future.

The second wake up call came from Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food, and God. A few years ago she was on the Oprah Show and mentioned that she one day realized that she didn’t want to gain and lose the same twenty pounds until she was 80 years old. She didn’t want to constantly be trying to manipulate her weight. She wanted to just one day be “okay.”

And man did that cause an explosion in my brain. Of course, I didn’t want to think about my body for the rest of my life! 

Anyways, I will say that these little light-bulb moments didn’t automatically make me walk away for the well worn mountain paths of self-pity and restriction that I had created. But they did point out the fact that I could blaze a new trail, away from the Problem Mountains.

Little by little I started to unpack that sack of issues, setting each one down on the ground with a prayer and the hope for something better.

And over time I’ve moved past the crap and started to live my life without the negative weight. Which has helped me climb new, bigger mountains full of positive purpose and meaning. But had I not unpacked that sack as much as possible, I wouldn’t have the mental health or physical strength to try new things.

So if anyone else is out there struggling with a sad pack, I hope you consider putting it down or seeking help so that you can lay those things to rest and move on towards the possibility that lies ahead.


PSBusiness in the City is tonight at Next Door in Chicago! 6:30-8:00. See you there!


This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Anya

    This is such a great post! I totally agree with you about wasting time on your baggage. Isn’t is so much better to think and dream about things that you want to do instead of worrying about what you look like and how much you weigh? I think it’s really sad that our society trains women to think that these are the most important things in their life. It really does a disservice to our real talents and goals.

  2. Ana

    Wow, this is such a great post – it really resonates with me these days! I’m at the point where I’ve realized that I have to let go of whatever was in the past, stop referring to it and blaming whatever I’m not happy with on it, and just focus on the present (and near future), because that’s the only thing that I can still change. It’s not the easiest challenge (and I could not have put it better into words than you did in this post), but I’m definitely excited to see what’s around the corner. It’s refreshing not to think of all the past, negative aspects and just have a blank slate on which to build positive ones instead.

    Wishing you a great day, and rest of the week!

  3. I am with you on this post. I realized a few months ago that I was carrying the weight of all I did not have and wanted while comparing myself with my friends who had things I wanted.

    I decided to focus on the things I had and thank God for them. Dropping that weight and choosing thanksgiving has made a load of difference.

  4. what a great reflection and i salute you for making the decision to be grateful for where you are now. it helped me to reflect and remember that i used to not be able to get through the day without worrying about Rooney or, more likely, myself. that i would be able to do it. there were so many fears. and tears.

    now i hardly blink when she poops through her pajamas, swaddle and crib sheets at 4 a.m. 🙂 in fact, i laughed. my husband can’t even imagine taking her to the grocery store by himself, which reminds me how far i’ve come because i’ve put in the time and experience.

    i’m able to roll with a lot more now. i should mention that LOTS of things improved once we all got more sleep. sleep deprivation is terrible!

  5. A very nice reflection. We all definitely carry around baggage that ways us down. It’s not good to dwell on things that we can’t change.

    However, as much as I’d like to just set it down and not think about that dead weight anymore, it’s much easier said than done. I wonder exactly what other people have done to stop letting that stuff bother them. I can say I’m going to stop worrying about X,Y, & Z until I’m blue in the face, but that doesn’t mean I will. What worked for you?

  6. Jess

    Thank you all for your support and sharing!

    Jacqueline, for me, as I’m sure you’ll guess from MML, I ended up putting stuff down through a lot of self-reflection (thinking about putting it down, writing, and prayer), sharing it with others, and reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (the first habit about Pro-activity is something I’ve dwelled on for years on end).

    More than anything, it’s slowly stopping the behavior or thoughts as they come and replacing them with something new. Sometimes, I even interrupt the bad thoughts with good thoughts that I say out loud!

  7. Jess, when you put it like that it sounds easy. And believe me, I’m incredibly self-reflective. But I’ve never been able to replace thoughts with something new. I’m not sure if it’s just how my brain is wired, but it seems like the more I know I’m not supposed to be thinking something and trying to change my internal monologue, the more I think those things.

  8. Amanda

    I’m a new reader as of a couple weeks ago and I’ve loved everything you’ve posted since then. I’m so glad I found this blog!

    I’m especially glad I found this blog because I feel like I was meant to read this post. I identified with so much of it. Overcoming things as a kid, my body, a relationship — all things I think about too many times a day, every day. And your analogy is spot on. I often tell my friends, “I just feel so heavy” and I don’t mean my body weight (at least not all the time) but that I am weighed down by my thoughts. I definitely need to get rid of my “sad pack,” or unpack it, at least.

    Thank you.

  9. lola

    i only discovered your blog about 5 days ago…i just knew of the iPad cases after seeing a post on Refinery 29 a while ago…i have one which i love (by the way.)
    Anyway, your blog is SO very inspirational, and I couldn’t have come across it at a better time- since i have recently decided to take a very conscious decision to be a better person and have more fulfilling and meaningful and open relationships with the people in my life. I spent the last few nights going through your entire blog.

    Thank you. Your posts are all so well written, inspiring and relatable. I wish you nothing but joy and success in all that you do.

  10. audrey

    wow. It is so refreshing to read your posts. I have always enjoyed reading your blog. Everything you have been sharing lately really reflects what I am going through and trying to achieve in life right now myself. Thank you for sharing.

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