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Life Lessons from Airports!

I like traveling! It allows me to experience different cultures and diverse people groups. However, there’s a part of me that looks forward to watching people navigate airports. The vibrancy and organized chaos is normally enough to drown my mind into a sea of thoughts. As I reflect on what I have observed, I would like to invite you to sit with me and glean 2 lessons that will hopefully speak into your life as we go into a new year. My focus on these two is based on our ability to intentionally make choices that are within our control. Life and air travel have one thing in common. One can never be fully prepared for undesirable events because not much is within our power. Cancelled or delayed flights, missing luggage, stomach upsets, bad weather, and sadly, accidents. We do our best to handle these situations calmly but they do affect the quality of our journey. Life does not always afford us that luxury. There are certain things that happen to us that change us forever, e.g. death, broken relationships, illness, and many more.

What to wear
One word that I use to describe airport fashion is, simple. I am yet to see people in 6-inch heels strutting their way to their designated terminals. Majority of travelers tend to dress for comfort particularly for long flights. Their clothes fit loosely and the fabric that they’re made from is often soft and light. What we wear is within our control because have the power of choice. As I think on this, it prompts the question, what am I wearing on my journey through life? Am I draped in self-compassion, love, authenticity, creativity, and courage? Or is my self wrapped in endless criticism, unrealistic expectations and worries that I cannot control? Clothes are important because they cover our vulnerabilities, keep us warm, protect us from the environment, and to some degree communicate our abilities. What you dress your self will affect the quality of your life. It is that simple. As a therapist, I work with people with various challenges. One of the areas that I draw attention to is how my clients speak to themselves. If you constantly criticize your self then the likelihood of feeling empowered and motivated to live will be low. If anything, all parts of your life will be negatively affected by what you tell your self. What if we to focused on who we are becoming instead of what we’re not doing? Who you are becoming exudes compassion and patience with self while what you are not doing promotes criticism and self-rejection. Dress simply!

What to carry
Now this is a debatable one. I tend to over pack – just in case I need 6 pairs of pants, an endless supply of make up, and hair products for a weekend away! The length of our stay in the final destination should inform what and how much to pack. Yet, how many times do we carry with us unnecessary items ‘just in case’ we need them but never get to use them? I have done that countless times and the end result is time wasted packing and unpacking items I didn’t need to begin with and weariness from dragging around a suitcase with half of stuff I won’t use. What are you dragging around hoping to make use of one day? As I dig deeper, I imagine; resentments, past wounds, mistakes we’ve made, unhealthy relationships that we overstayed, people who hurt us, unresolved losses, disappointments etc. There is nothing wrong with having luggage; the main issue is what’s in it and how it serves us. I invite us to examine what we’ve accumulated over the years and see if we are willing to let go of ‘unnecessary items’. I know, it sounds oversimplified. How does one start addressing childhood traumas that affect how they relate with their family members? How does one move forward from loss and grief? The idea is not doing it alone. Some of my best trips are those that were shared with close friends. So, find someone to help you unpack your ‘self luggage’ namely, a therapist, a trusted friend, a higher power- whatever works for you. On a recent trip, a friend of mine shared with me her packing motto. She said, ‘I take half the clothing I think I need’. Remember, I mentioned that I tend to over pack? Well, I bought a smaller suite case and packed only what I thought was necessary. I am afraid that I might have left something important but I intend to learn how to travel light!
Kui Millar, ALMFT
Associate Marriage & Family Therapist
CORE – Center of Relational Empowerment
[email protected]

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