Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Over the past few weeks, I have been pruning the blueberry bushes here on the homestead... Do you know just how many freaking little branches there are. Seems as though maybe a year or so of over growth.I can't imagine trying to pick the berries if the bush would have been left untouched for another year.
Well, merp.. I can. It would resemble a wild bush; the berries would be tiny due to the amount of branches left on the bush. But, if you thin them out, the energy the bush produces will go towards growing some of the biggest most flavorful blueberries. ...It was at that moment that I realized I was once a blueberry bush.
A shelf full of books I hadn't read, knick knacks and items that didn't have any meaning. Looking to what immediately surrounded me, I asked myself, did they add value to my life? One shelf, then another, boxes turned into bags full of stuff that gave me no value. Phew. That felt pretty good.. *Glances at closet.* I sought control. I grew tired of dying my hair and buying new items in order to have some sort of semblance in being who I was, as if having some sort of identity crisis. Bags full of hardly worn clothing because they didn't quite fit right or felt confident in. Things I’d bought in hopes of making myself feel better, were on sale, or because I “needed” something to match. I didn't have many material items to begin with, but once I began viewing items in terms of added value, the bags going to goodwill began to pile up. It was weird to look at a room half empty. Feeling anxious to see it filled with something again. But for what? These things weren't causing happiness, so why not just leave it empty for now. Over time, I of course adjusted, I'd even admit to loving it. I surrounded myself exclusively with things that added value to my life, and nothing that didn't (if it could be helped). Who knew the panic of "ohh crap. I have 3 minutes before I need to leave for work, what the hell am I going to wear." Could be skipped ...which... honestly, the main goal at that point went to making sure that, if worse came to worse, at least the "good bits" were covered. *shrug*.
What started with a shelf, ended up applying to each facet of my life. No longer having to sort through countless items that caused negative feelings, my days started to become more and more simple.
-Making fewer decisions each day ✔
In the beginning, my therapist didn't want this to just stop at material items, so I was told to make a list of events, places or people that added stress, caused negativity, or things I'd generally put under a "cons" column. Then, a list of things that added value to my life, and eventually, things that made me feel positive emotion. (Thanks, Luvox prescription 👍)
Eliminating the stress and patterns once deemed 'normal', can be overwhelming. Because, honestly there are just too damn many. But once you start getting rid of them one by one. Holy moly. Like taking a breath after it rains. Or quitting the worst job you've had a million times over, or winning the lotter… erm. Wait no. It's not THAT great. Now, I’ve had my fair share of shitty jobs, cars, relationships.. Hah, that reminds me of an ex (also a purveyor of shitty cars) who taught me that in emergency cases, if you trick a car into overworking one aspect of the car that it would deter some of the energy going to the real problem. Surprisingly, it worked in his case. By over working the cars heater it distracted enough of the energy away from a broken vacuum, and allowed him to limp it to the end... certainly not a tactic I recommend. But, It had me thinking.
Humans like to complicate things, though. Don't we? Whether it's with our words or our lives, we complicate things so badly with the thought that more=better that we delude from what the real problem is. Surrounding yourself with more just calls for more decisions, more time, and more energy. and more than likely, more money Which can all be fine and dandy until we go too far. When you have a more assets, relationships, jobs, responsibilities, the less time to care for yourself. And to bring up a point from a past post, we can't give to others in a way that they deserve, unless we are doing the same for ourselves.
Like the tip of a melting iceberg, as the stress in my life fell away, I began to notice the root causes underneath. Without the distractions of all the extra little things, I was left with Me. Myself and I. Being on our own is uncomfortable to many. Allowing our thoughts wander too long can risk going to a dark place that we may not be ready to face. So, often times without realizing it, we cover it up with... you name it; people, events and things.
What we essentially love though, is, distraction. From the beginning humans have tried to escape life with distractions, and they come in more forms than you think. When we delude one problem with a bunch of other little problems, we start to overwhelm our system without even realizing it. But at least we avoided the problem. Right?
Essentially… is essentially my favorite word. Its uncomplicated. It is to the point, it is the “Explain like I'm 5” option in life…Quite the opposite of my rambling, really. Minimalism is *essentially* what changed my life. Learning to live with what I need, rather than living with the desire to have more. When we aren't surrounded by distractions we are able to tackle root problems, get to know ourselves and what makes us truly happy, beyond the material existentialism.
Once I began to purge the bad, and reintroduced it later, I was able to see just how bad that one problem was. For example, eliminating foods such as sugar, bread and all things deemed “fun”. Allowed me to see how terrible my body felt when I did have those things. Something that had been happening all along, but was masked underneath all the other distractions that I surrounded myself with. Sugar added tremendously to my anxiety, and gastrointestinal problems. While gluten made me feel bloated, itchy and just in general, uck. Certain individuals cause me to recluse and shut down, certain situations such as being in a crowd, overwhelm me. Traffic? Screw Traffic.
All of these things are simply part of life, but knowing how to recognize these patterns, and change them is what's important.
How did I get there? How did I manage to ignore just how devastating these things were to my body?
Sadness is easier, because it's surrender... Sadness has the least resistance.
In order to grow, we need to shed the bad. Like pruning a fruit tree, by cutting away the excess it allows for bigger and better berries to grow in the upcoming season. Let's do that for ourselves. Winter is the perfect time to get back on track, we're all hunkered down because of the snow. Remove the excess that isn't adding value to your life.
Each individual's definition of bad will be different, and that’s why it's incredibly important to know ourselves. What we are capable of, what we aren't, what allows us to thrive, and what my psychiatrist calls “maximizes human potential”. Though, coming to terms with yourself and your inner demons is much easier said than done, amirite? It's something I still work on today. But it all starts with one. One shelf. One negative thing being crossed off that list. One thought that changes the rest to come thereafter.
Sometimes we aren't able to get there until we hit the bottom and get tired of digging in the rocks. And that's okay. Each one of us develops at different rates. Something I will talk about more, soon.
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I think lists are wonderful. Just that little strike-through is oh so satisfying. I mean... More than that, I think everyone could benefit from making a list of things that add value, and negatively affect them. Make one for you. Put it in your pocket. Put a memo in your phone. Just jot down these feelings as you go. Clean off a shelf, clear out a drawer, or get rid of some of the items that have gone ‘untouched' since 2013. Be the berry best. (sorry- I couldn't help it) You got this.