The Backpack

The BackpackAs we begin another New Year, it is a time to begin anew.  A time to access what went right. What went wrong?  What did not get off the ground at all?  As 2014 takes flight let’s attempt to glide through the year as if on the wings of an eagle. Hopefully this article will give you some flight instructions because our estimated time of arrival into 2017 is already less than a year away. How time flies. All aboard and welcome to 2016.

Just a few short months ago, a new school year began.  Many backpacks were being filled with the essentials needed for the first day of school.  Now as this New Year begins I’d like to ask you a question What essentials are necessary for us to pack into our lives in order to live a healthy, happy, highly productive year? I have come to the conclusion that if you desire your year to be successful, you must travel light. You must eliminate some of the things from your life that are weighing you down. It is the time to take an honest assessment of your life.  Do you walk through life with a backpack of bricks on your back or are you free as a bird? The lighter your heart is the easier it is to take flight.

So what is in your back pack?  Let’s take a look. Is there worry? Anxiety? Fear? Self-doubt?  Disappointment? Anger? Bitterness? Be honest with yourself because everyone seems to have a brick or two in their backpack. Some people are brick collectors. Other people have even strapped on another’s pack on their own back and are carrying two. Life has taught them that sometimes burdens become so heavy that you can cannot carry them alone. Sometimes our backpacks are so heavy we cannot carry them alone either. Your desire is flying through the air with the greatest of ease but those heavy bricks have weighed you down. You are unable to leave the runway. What a New Year’s gift it would be to you to be able to fly through life as free as a bird. What has grounded you? Is it problems within or problems without? Have you single-handedly taken on the cares of the world? When lending a helping hand to one in need you must guard yourself from stepping over the line from burden-sharer to burden-keeper. Everyone needs a little help from their friends, now and then, but avoid taking on a false burden. It never helps anyone. Being an enabler will fill up your backpack faster than you can say, “My plate is already too full!” 

Do you know that the bricks in your backpack are seen on your face? I bet you thought that they were covered up behind your smile. What you think you have carefully hidden comes into clear view the minute that you open your mouth. The words you speak out reveal what is inside.  In fact when you least expect it an imaginary brick full of words that you can’t take back pops out of your backpack and hits someone right in heart. They almost never see it coming. They don’t even know what hit them.  I can tell you first hand that the bricks you least expect hurt the worst. Most do not have the Southern Charm to politely say, “Duck! Brick coming your way!” Once that brick is let out of the bag, there is no stopping it. Unfortunately, a brick or two lands in their back pack. You may never know how heavy a load they packed on until the day they are pushed to the limit; they may throw an invisible brickful of hurtful words back at you with full force. This time you feel the pain and feel the weight of the words heading toward your heart. So how do you avoid packing bricks or heaving them others?

  1. If a person seems to always rain on your parade, always have an umbrella handy or make encounters short but sweet.
  2. A hurting person hurts people. Lead them to a counselor or they will lead you to having to find one for yourself.
  3. Guard your mind and you will guard your heart.
  4. If you can’t seem to forgive, talk it out with one who can listen and give you wisdom.
  5. Write down past hurts. Recognizing the problem is one step closer to the solution.
  6. Call, write or visit people you need to ask forgiveness of.
  7. Keep a Memory Box for yourself filled with cards and letters that will uplift your soul. Look through it on a challenging day rather than throwing a pity party.
  8. Surround yourself with positive friends that encourage you.
  9. Avoid controlling people who won’t let you be yourself.  In a relationship two people’s opinions count.
  10. Cultivate a thankful heart.  Voice gratitude out loud and through the written word by sending letters, cards, and e-mails.
  11. Read Gary Chapman’s Book, “The Five Languages of Apology.“
  12. Guard what is coming out of your mouth.  Ask a good friend to give you feedback.
  13. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  14. Focus on others and not yourself. Become a generous giver of your time, talent, and treasure.
  15. Think the best. When in doubt ask questions. Bringing things in the light puts out the darkness.
  16. Avoid judging by trying to see things through others’ perspectives.
  17. Practice patience.
  18. Remember the relationship is always more important than who was right or wrong.
  19. When tempers flair and bricks begin to fly, learn to close your mouth and open your arms in understanding. Sometimes the best you can do is hug at the line.
  20. If at first you do not succeed remember tomorrow is another day.

After you have emptied you backpacks of the bricks that weighed you down you have room to pack a much lighter load. Try filling it with joy, kindness, patience and peace. Then add a little laughter and friendships to keep, and soon you will be flying as if on the wings of eagles. Pack your backpack carefully and you will have a healthier, happier, more highly productive year. Fasten your seatbelts now because 2016 has already taken off. Please enjoy your  flight!

By Ellen Mongan, Mother of eight, Motivational Speaker and Freelance Writer

photo credit: IMG_4305 via photopin (license)


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