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Lessons from the Clothesline
Who would have thought that laundry could be a stress buster? Following the blackout in August this year, we decided to put up a clothes line in our backyard. I have rediscovered the pleasure of hanging clothes out to dry. For me, there is a sense of calm and grounding in the process of hanging the clothes out and then taking them back in once Mother Nature has worked her magic. And the smell of clothes, sheets, and towels hung out to dry is a sensory delight. I actually look forward to, and thoroughly enjoy this simple task now. Little did I know that this could be an opportunity to learn and be inspired.
Today was a great Fall day for hanging out the laundry – sunny, warm, and windy. As I was taking the laundry off the line, it felt heavy as I pulled it in. I kept at it for several tugs, struggling to pull the next item closer. Then it occurred to me that maybe there was a problem. Sure enough, when I looked down the line, I noticed that a sheet and a few other items had blown over the top line and that was causing the resistance as I was pulling. Once I flipped the things back over, the line moved easily forward. Not rocket science.
Then it hit me. What a great metaphor for how I sometimes approach life. For a while, I had accepted the struggle that the clothes line was heavy. I had looked only at what was immediately in front of me and not seen anything wrong or out of place. It was only when I allowed myself to think that this was much tougher than usual, and that I didn't need to struggle, that I became open to other possibilities and took a look at the bigger picture. Once I identified the problem, the solution was obvious and I was able to get back to doing the job, only this time with grace and ease, instead of struggling.
It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I know I am not the only one that does this. We have been programmed to believe that we must struggle for anything worthwhile. Just keep at it, and you will succeed. While persistence is usually a prerequisite for success, I don't believe that we always need to struggle. Sometimes what is required is to take our blinders off, step back, look at the bigger picture, be open to possibilities, and even to ask for someone else's perspective.
I had an opportunity to learn this first hand when I went rock climbing a few years ago. As I climbed, I was very close to the wall face (in great part because I was way out of my comfort zone) and I couldn't see a finger hold or foot hold that would be available to me. However, other climbers near me or people on the ground could see and guide me to reach up and grab hold. They had the big picture. With their perspective I got the bigger picture and more possibilities were open to me. I did not have to struggle – well, in the case of rock climbing, not as much anyway.
Sometimes life's lessons and inspiration come in unexpected places and at unexpected times, and most often through the simple things, events and actions in life. In truth, I firmly believe that lessons and inspiration are around all of the time; it is when I am open and ready that they appear to me. I have also discovered that persistence is the key. If I don't “get it” the first, second, or even third time, the opportunity presents itself again and again until I am ready. Then, when I need a gentle reminder, or a smack upside the head, again the opportunity for the light above my head to go on will appear. Life will persist in helping me to learn and be inspired; sometimes I just need to get out of my own way and give up the struggle. How about you?
Janet Christensen’s passion is to empower people to live their full potential. Through her company, Unlimiting Potential, she provides personal coaching, experiential workshops, inspirational speaking, and is a Reiki practitioner. To contact Janet, phone: (519) 434-5397 fax: (519) 434-8344 or email firstname.lastname@example.org www.janetchristensen.com
Published in Networking Today, November 2003.
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