News & Blog
Goodnight, Dear Ones! And thank you!
STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONES!
This made me laugh. Especially the bit about making a phone pile in the center of the table…
The Britishes must resist the urge to spend breakfast starting at their (im)mobile devices. See more of "The Britishes" on DirecTV's AUDIENCE Network! See mo…
DON'T BECOME A MUSEUM TO GRIEF
Dear Ones –
A friend of this page asked if I would re-post this essay I wrote last year about cleaning out your house from sad, stale, negative mementos. So here it is…and this quote below seemed like a good attachment, too!
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Is your home a museum to grief?
About nine years ago, a dear friend called me one morning in a state of joy, to inform me that she had spent all night throwing out old letters, photographs and diaries. She sounded so free and light, it was amazing.
My jaw dropped.
Letters and photographs and diaries???!!! Who throws out letters and photographs? That's the stuff you're supposed to run back into the flaming house to rescue during a fire, right?
But she had thrown away several giant black garbage bags of it, she said. Because many of those letters and photos and journals, it emerged in the conversation, were relics of her sad old failed relationships, or documents of bad times. She had been holding onto them the way we often do — as some sort of dutiful recording of her complete emotional history — but then she said, "I don't want my house to be a museum to grief."
The historian in me balked at the idea of this — you can't throw away letters, photos and diaries!!!
But I took her words to heart. There was something so eloquent and haunting about the phrase "a museum to grief." I couldn't shake the sense that my friend was onto something. I couldn't forget how joyful her voice had sounded. I couldn't stop thinking about what miseries I had stored in my attic, literally hanging over my head.
Later that week, I took a deep breath. Then I took two big black garbage bags and did a MAJOR cleansing. Divorce papers. Angry letters. Tragic diaries of awful times. (YEARS of them: the chronicle of my depression — page after page after page of sorrow and tears.) Vacation photos of friendships now severed. Love letters and gifts from men who had broken my heart. All the accumulated evidences of shame and sadness. All of it: IN THE TRASH.
What was left were only items that made me feel light and lucky and free when I saw them.
That was nine years ago. I have never missed one single piece of it since.
So I ask you — are you holding onto anything that spurs memories of shame, of abandonment, of loss, of sorrow? (I don't mean healthy sorrow, like photos of a beloved friend or relative now deceased. I mean items like the letter where your ex-husband explains to you in careful detail what a loser you are. That kind of stuff.)
Throw it away. Trust me.
IN. THE. TRASH.
Don't be stumbling over your unhappy past every day as you walk through your home.
See what happens when you stop hoarding sorrow. See what space it opens up for new light to come in, and new, happier memories to be born.
Don't be a museum to grief.
They may get under our skin, but best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert says there are some things that only family can teach us.
“I had a great teacher in India who said to me, ‘If you think you’re spiritual and evolved and enlightened, go home for Christmas and see how it goes,'” Gilbert says in the above video.
Addressing a live audience during Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend Tour, Gilbert goes on to explain why the people you love the most are also the ones who challenge you the most.
“In AA they always say to you, ‘How come your family knows how to push your buttons? Because they installed them,'” she says. “They know where they are because they put them in you.”
Though they can be the biggest cause of stress and anxiety, Gilbert says we can learn a great deal from family. “These are the greatest spiritual teachers of your life,” she says. “And when you go into these situations where you feel your back going up and you’re bristling — watch it. Because this is an opportunity to have a real spiritual lesson where it counts, where the rubber meets the road.”
The moment you start to feel that stress and anxiety building up, Gilbert says to stop and think. “This is a teachable moment. What am I being asked to learn here? Patience? Dignity? Boundaries? Generosity? Compassion?”
Or maybe, it’s getting up and leaving the situation. “That same monk said to me, ‘We have an obligation to love everybody in the world,'” Gilbert says. “‘But some people we must love from a safe distance.'”
TIME TO WRITE!
Dear Ones –
What an autumn it has been. Over the last three months, I've been traveling around North America like a hobo, bouncing from town to town, on the biggest (and sometimes most intimidating) speaking tour of my life.
Last night was my final stop, in Toledo. (THANK YOU, TOLEDO!)
I figured out last night in my hotel room that — over the past three months — I have spoken to over well over 100,000 of you Dear Ones. Thank you for coming out to see me in city after city after city (after city after city….) Thank you for your kindness, and your questions, and your laughter, and your presents, and — most of all — your presence.
Now I'm going home. Not to rest, but to do something much, much better: TO WRITE.
Cuz I got them stars yanking my hair around again.
Love you so.