Emotional Baggage Check


(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com)

A few of us were talking about how to best prepare for an upcoming event.

You know the type of event: the one with lots of people getting together, both family and friends.

As fun as these events can be, stress and other pressures seem to also arrive whenever lot of people gather in one place.

Half joking, we developed a plan.

“What if we created an emotional baggage check. You know, when people arrive, we could have them check their emotional baggage at the door.”

We all laughed, but then it hit us. What if we really did this? What if this emotional baggage check worked?

How could it work?

  1. When you arrive at the event, you are given a card, and numbered envelope, and a pen.
  2. You write down on the card any difficult or hard emotions that you are carrying into the event.
  3. You place the card in the envelope and exchange it for a corresponding numbered ticket.
  4. You attend the event emotional baggage free.
  5. When the event ends, you have the choice of claiming your emotional baggage, or leaving it behind. (Any envelopes left behind are burned and buried.)
  6. Repeat steps one through three as many times as needed.

We are emotional creatures. Those emotions sometimes disrupt events and relationships, even when we try to keep these emotions to ourselves.

Instead of keeping those emotions bottled up, perhaps the physical act of writing down and checking the emotional baggage is enough to give us a needed break from those challenging or difficult emotions.

And who knows? Once we experience events without those emotional responses, it may feel good enough that we won’t pick them back up.

Three Things I Learned from My Mom

While reflecting the other day, I wondered where we pick up things in life that help shape us as people.  We all experience different events, and those events, interactions, and examples (good or bad) shape the very nature of who we become.  Some of who we are is the product of who our parents were and we take some of it from them, reject some, but it shapes us nonetheless.

There were things I learned from my Mom.  You see, she was a single mom raising three boys.  She worked primarily as a waitress her entire life.  The hours allowed her to be there in the morning, and when we got home from school, but the work was hard.  Three major lesson come to mind that were passed from her to us.  Intentionally or not, those lessons were pretty clear.

Be Tough.  Work Hard.  Celebrate Events.

Be Tough.  This may have been less intentional, but more a product of circumstance. Money was tight, our roof leaked (a lot), and there were times when chopping wood was the deciding factor between being warm or cold.  I am sure there were days when she wondered if she could make it another day, but she kept pushing forward.  She demonstrated that even when life is hard (which it totally is at times), you need to be tough in order to survive.

Work Hard.  Long hours and weekends on her feet “slinging hash” as she liked to call it, was what she did.  It is not glamorous work, but it paid the bills (most of the time).  Weeks, months, and years passed and you could tell that the work took its toll.  Sore feet, sore shoulders, and shoes that looked like they had seen a war.  I recently remembered sitting down as a kid and helping her dab on that white shoe polish that would make those shoes look like new again.

Celebrate Events.  Whether it was a birthday, a holiday, or some life event, we celebrated.  When I look at old photos, I can see the amazing cakes she decorated, the cookouts we had, the birthday parties with all of our friends.  Despite the lack of funds, we had fun.  When report cards came, if you did well, you got a “skip day” that meant a whole day with Mom doing something fun.

These lessons helped shape who I am today.  I have had to be tough to ensure hardship. Working hard helped me in life, in college (I was the first in many generations to attend), and in my career.  Most of all, I love to celebrate events.  Birthdays, anniversaries, or life events are savored like fine wine.

The other major lesson that is buried deep is an appreciation for what I have.  And it sometimes hits me in weird ways.  A roof that doesn’t leak.  Heat when you turn up the thermostat.  The ability to fill the gas tank in the car without having to dive into my change stash.  All of these things we may take for granted, but it is nice to remember and be content.

By the way, I don’t think she reads this blog and she would be embarrassed to be the subject matter.  But just in case she reads this someday…

Thanks for the lessons, Mom.