Friday, July 2, 2010

Let It Burn

This entry is a bit of a departure from my normal gardening-related posts. If you were expecting a post on prescribed burns, read this entry! Otherwise, please indulge me in a little personal reflection.

I don't know about you, but there are certain mental obstacles or stumbling blocks that I have trouble hurdling. Negative baggage that holds me back, no matter how many times I thought I'd abandoned it at the airport, forwarded it to another address, or stomped up and down on it with a herd of elephants.

I see now that I've lightened the load over the years, but I still have a lot of sneaky old crap hiding in my purse and carry-on. These containers are smaller, but they're still heavy. They weigh me down. They hold me back. They don't contain anything I actually want or need, but in moments of vulnerability it's all too easy to reach right in and grab a stinkin' handful of old habits, unhealthy reactions, and broken ways of thinking and feeling. I let it smolder and sometimes I even fan the flames and before I know it, I'm engulfed. I let old crap be new crap, and it shouldn't be. It should be in the past.

Recently, something has changed in me, making me want to actively face life more honestly, more positively, and in the words of a certain president's commencement address at a nearby university, with the audacity of hope.

It has meant a lot of struggling, admitting things to myself I desperately don't want to be true, facing them anyway, seeing patterns, crying like a baby kitten, feeling stronger, crying again, getting angry, and finally realizing: Wait a minute. I am strong. I have faced a lot and achieved a lot and taken some chances in my life. I can do this, too. I am. I can. I will. I wish. I deserve.

Old crap should become sweet new compost. And the only thing being fanned should be the flames engulfing my old baggage.

On July 4th, I'm declaring my independence. I'm going to write down the things that drag me down, that I need to let go of, and throw them into a bonfire. (And some buckthorn stumps are going in there too!) Think of me at 11:00 pm EST on 7/4 or start your own fire!

I posted a shorter version of this on fb and decided to go public (thanks Xan for the encouragement) because maybe it will hit a chord with you, too. If you plan to do this with a real fire or in spirit, let me know! If you want to tweet about it, please use #letitburn.

Thank you to everyone who has talked to me about life and shared their experiences with me, especially in the last few months, and to my blogging friends who have always supported me. I've been trying to let go of fear and tell people I love them. If I haven't gotten to you yet, (warning!) don't be alarmed when I do!

Update: Photos from Let It Burn are here.


  1. Hooray for dramatic symbolism and for getting rid of baggage! I'll be with you in spirit that night :)

  2. Good for you! I burned my wedding gown in a weber grill like yours.. Beginning of the new me. Felt very liberating.

  3. Things get heavier as we move on with life, sorting things, discarding some could just be the way. Repositioning, Reassessing.... ~bangchik

  4. Let it burn baby, let it burn!!!!!!!

    Monica I am so proud of you; you've come such a long way and now you are taking another big step forward. Good for you, grrl!!!!!!!!!!


    BTW you love me? scary! ;-)

    My WV is endshode (show the end?)

  5. We are right there with you, Monica. You are indeed very strong and will meet and beat all challenges. I love the burn idea, and have used it myself long ago when starting a new life. It is an excellent way to handle that baggage. Love the metaphors, BTW. {{{{U}}}}

  6. You bet I will be with you as you let go, step up to a new life. It will feel so good to let go of those last bits of beat up baggage you no longer need or want. I wish the best for you Monica. What ever demons are holding you down will be released on July 4. I can see the chains softening and they will melt away and set you free. ((hugs))

  7. I've tended to cut my hair at moments of life change. During one particularly traumatic period, I cut it so many times that, in the end, I shaved it off completely - that was the only thing left to do.

    What you describe is very important and very painful. There is one thing, however, in your list of affirmations that I disagree with. I know it's popular to say 'I deserve' but this approach can lead to resentment if we don't receive what we reckon we 'deserve'. I don't think we 'deserve' anything much and by shedding the 'I deserve' approach, one recognises so many more things as straight gifts - which is a much happier experience.


  8. Monica......if ever you need support, you have it.

    I got rid of baggage a long time age, and boy does it change your life.

    I do hope you can be works Monica, it really does. So many times we keep things inside, afraid to expose our true inner feelings......

    I feel you are moving forward, taking another path, well done, it is not always easy.....

    Happy 4th July, enjoy the weekend.....

  9. Monica, I saw your comment on FB, and I'm so glad you decided to expand on the idea and publish it here. I still have one old suitcase that I can't bring myself to burn, but I will be there with you in spirit! Life is too short to waste worrying about what might have been or what should have been... I'm great at giving this advice, but not always following it myself:) The garden has become my outlet for burying garbage the last few years.

    You are such a talented, warm, and wonderful person, Monica; I wish you nothing but success in getting rid of all the old garbage.

    Burn, baby, burn!

  10. This is awesome, I'm proud of you damn it (hope that doesn't sound sappy) and I'll be with you in spirit. I have managed to get rid of a lot of really heavy baggage, but there's still some hanging around.

    I did something like this after my first daughter was born. I had A LOT of crap to work through that came roaring to the surface when I became a mom. It was immensely helpful and allowed me to go forward without worrying that I would become my mother in spite of myself (we've kind of talked about this before). The issues I have left are getting old and holding me back. Time to let it burn :-)

  11. Hi Monica,
    My tears have dried enough for me to type now. I love how you described the baggage and such. Expressing yourself through writing is a gift you have. It sounds like you are ready to let go of what's dragging you down. Now, if some of it wants to creep back, don't beat up on yourself. I've tended to beat up on myself for beating up on myself. Have you ever done that?

    I have been a Christian since 1984, and a lot has been lifted from me, but I still go looking for that baggage and pick it up at times, knowing full well I don't need to.

    What I'm struggling with right now is real clutter in a room of the house that is supposed to be my exercise/dried flower craft room. Part of what has happened, is that we've cleaned other rooms of the house, and stuffed things in there we don't know what to do with. It's very hard for me to decide what I need or will use, and what I can get rid of. I had a bit of a break down the other day, because it is so overwhelming, but once I got over it, I was able to get some things sorted. It's just a small beginning, and other things keep coming up that require my attention.

    Well, I hope you don't mind my carrying on about myself. I will say a prayer for you tomorrow. Happy burning!

  12. Oh, and Larry likes the idea of "Robin" for the name of the bird. LOL

  13. DH thinks I'm nuts, (but then he thought that already). We're doing it!

  14. Monica, I can so relate and empathize with what you expressed in this post, and I applaud your openness.

    After leaving a fanatical religious group I was a member of for a short time in the early '80's, I decided to burn all the literature I had from them (a lot!) It was a cleansing and cathartic experience.

    We saw Meg's boyfriend at the greenhouse's annual 3rd of July party. He told us of recently attending a local Burning Man event, where he made a beehive papier mache' art piece out of the clothing the paramedics cut from her body, decorated with copies of some of his favorite photos of her, and filled with some of her personal items.

    He and Meg had been planning to attend the annual Burning Man event in Nevada this year. He will now go alone. He showed us photos of the local event and the papier mache' art piece he made for that burn. It was really touching, and I sensed a new peace and lightness in him attained from the event and his ritual burning of the bee hive.

    I hope you feel a similar lightness, peace, and unburdening after your burn. xoxo, Linda