Escaping the Maze

Know what it feels like to be stuck in a rut? It’s like there’s a literal ditch in the ground carving out a walking path. I’ve been there: Get out of bed, go to bathroom, dress and walk to car, into office, out of office, home, repeat. It’s a long, winding maze … leading to unhappiness.

My friends, my friends, I'm in a rut.
My friends, my friends, I’m in a rut.

When you’re in a rut, friends ask what’s new and you just shrug your shoulders. Nothing. Nothing is new. You’re low on energy, motivation, creativity and general joie de vivre. It’s no way to live.

Getting out of the maze is actually pretty simple: Change.

As you know if you read this blog, I have divested all my worldly possessions except for a hope chest filled with mementos, some files and basically whatever fit into my boyfriend’s 32-ft sailboat. It has been a major project, to say the least.

I’m calling it Operation Tighten Up 2015, and what it’s done is pushed me very far out of my comfort zone and from whatever rut I had found myself in. It’s kind of stressful. I’ve had a few people recently tell this to me, and I’m letting it sink in. There’s something very reassuring about a rut. There’s something very disconcerting about change.

Think about ruts: Like in the Grand Canyon, water makes its way in the path of least resistance. If you are mindless about your life, you will be like water and create a tiresome rut for yourself. But, also like water, you can cut your own path. There are a few things you can do if you realize that life is boring you:

1. Look for signs. When talking to your friends, don’t bitch about things. Instead, look at the good in your life. Find gratitude for

If only it were that easy to recognize signs, opened doors and paths ... but it can be. JUST LISTEN TO YOURSELF!
If only it were that easy to recognize signs, opened doors and paths … but it can be. JUST LISTEN TO YOURSELF!

that old hallway while waiting for the next door to open. It’s going to open. But you have to look for where it is.

2. Take a risk. No need to be so dramatic as I’ve been this year, but do something that you don’t know will work. Here’s an example: My boyfriend’s car needed a part changed, and he’s out of town. So I went to AutoZone and bought the part, watched a YouTube video and shuffled up under the steering wheel and did the job myself. I’ve never done car repair before. I just decided it was something I could do because I’m not a complete dummy and tried it. It worked!

3. Take action on your dreams. What do you want in your life? Seriously, what is it? Most people have no idea, but this is why we are here. What do you dream to do? Write it down and don’t judge yourself. Be authentically you – and WORK to make it happen! There’s intention, and then there’s action. You need both to live an amazing life.

It’s also good to realize that there are endless ruts everywhere, waiting to trap us into a mindless routine. For example, like most American women, I used to have a big closet so filled with clothes that it overflowed into another smaller closet. I loved thrift shops, so most of what was bulging out was purchased for a couple dollars and worn quite well. But when I moved onto the boat, all I had was a little locker and some space bags. It was embarrassing, all the clothes that I was holding on to and not really wearing. I had to continue to let go, push myself out of my fashion rut.

So I did some research: Along with watching my fair share of TED talks that spoke to divesting and minimalizing the clutter in your life, I found a great video blog called The Daily Connoisseur. Jennifer L. Scott preaches the feasibility of the “Ten Item Wardrobe.” I purchased some key pieces that were missing, and whittled my wardrobe down.

This reality for so many speaks to the fact that we cannot buy happiness. When we seek happiness in possessions, it'll never be enough!
This reality for so many speaks to the fact that we cannot buy happiness. When we seek happiness in possessions, it’ll never be enough!

Why is this so difficult for women? I believe it is because we are conditioned to wrap our identity around our possessions and our clothing. It’s easier to understand who we are if we judge ourselves and others on what they own and what they wear. But of course when you think about it, we’re fooling ourselves to be so superficial.

And what’s wonderful about Scott’s blog is that she offers the reality of a choice: You can still look cute and own only a few pieces of clothing. She encourages viewers to purchase pieces that are lovely, wearable and diverse. Now I have a few dresses that I could wear on the dock or out to dinner. Since I left my job, I did away with my work clothes. When you simplify your life, it’s easier to simplify your wardrobe.

When you have fewer items in your closet, it’s easier to pick what to wear. It’s easier to pack for a trip. You just do it effortlessly, and suddenly you have time for the next thing. You have more space in your life to decide which way to go next. You become so light that you don’t wear a path into your life. You start to escape the maze by floating up and away.

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