a client came to session holding a brown paper bag. He opened
the bag and removed a frame. In the frame was an exquisite pencil
drawing of an empty suitcase. His brother had drawn the picture
and it was called 'Empty Baggage'. The client told me that the
picture was a symbol of what we were trying to attain and focus
on in therapy. So, like the picture, his frame of mind would parallel
the suitcase. He said that he identified with the suitcase which
once held many things, and was now empty. He too felt his mind
held many unnecessary items crammed full with old memories that
needed to be cleared. The client said it felt like he had been
carrying around a "fully stuffed" suitcase for a long
time. He observed that he had been lugging around unresolved issues
in his life, keeping them inside, internalizing them. These neglected
issues had obstructed his clarity of thought and greatly misguided
his behaviors. He commented that the empty suitcase represented
what he hoped to accomplish in our work together. The process
we were engaged in for him to get rid of his "baggage"
and be content.
As the client assessed his thoughts and actions, he realized that
he "over intellectualized" and spent too much time involved
in obsessive thoughts. He was "in his head" so much
that it blocked his ability to feel, clouded his decision making,
and led to self deceptions. He found himself increasingly anxious.
Bogged down by much from his past, he could not be present in
the here and now. He needed to "empty his suitcase"-
When a person does commit to emptying his or her
baggage, whether it is with therapy or another self-help discipline,
it's not easy. But like the empty suitcase, they begin to act
and feel lighter. This happens when we give attention to burdensome
and unresolved events that weigh us down. It is when we can be
honest, self reflective, and mindful that we begin the therapeutic
process. It is then that we truly begin to create a space to go
client felt the problem was not that he was thinking, but that
he needed to understand his thoughts. This would allow him to
clarify and reduce the cumbersome memories, for him to feel safe
in dealing with his feelings. Simply put, he had not been able
to "feel" in the past, and now he was ready to bridge
mind and feeling states and begin to experience feelings in a
deeper way. As he gave attention to the things that weighed him
down, and processed them they began to wane. This led to more
insight. Increased insight and the ability to feel emotions led
him to heightened clarity in his actions and behaviors.
Like the suitcase, the client needed to
become "empty baggage" so he could continue on his journey
less encumbered. With this transition the client discovered his
life was less complex and confusing and he could begin to experience
an open and loving heart with a sense of wonder and joy. When
this happens every experience becomes a special journey and we
are a happier fellow traveler.
Joel Polinsky MA, LMFT
License # MFC 38417
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are
some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is
one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination
is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more,
but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages.
Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the
White Continent of Antarctica
Treasures of Ireland: Food, Fun and Falconry at
Ashford Castle (Dispatch #18)
The Palladian Traveler soars above the crowd with
a gal named Lima, cruises across a lake dotted with hundreds of islands,
and feasts like a king in a regal dining room.
As she came around the corner we could not believe
how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful almost elegant
in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic
example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us
was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power
she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as
quiet as a church mouse or "as quiet as dreaming trees."
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!)
In the 1840s, the population of California was only
14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived
from all over the world and they came for one reason: gold. James
Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutters Mill in El
Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles,
the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their
childrens eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very
much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from
last years Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little
ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already
fed and are rubbing their stomachs.
Lake Charles Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras
Having recently received a misguided shout-out from
the president during Black History Month Frederick Douglass has done
an amazing job... it seems a good time to revisit the cultural icon's
legitimate place in history. And a visit to his home in Washington, DC
surely a place the current president might want to consider visiting himself
would be a good place to start.
Cedar Hill: Frederick Douglass' Home is as Imposing
as the Man who Lived There
Hanging Out in Huntington Beach, California
Huntington Beach is legendary around the world as one
of the best surfing spots. Its waves and beaches are so great, it is also
officially known as "Surf City." But as I learned on a recent
getaway, the town is more than just tasty swells and beautiful white sand;
it also boasts gourmet restaurants, luxury, ocean-front hotels, great
shopping, and tons of California coastal charm.
Richard Gere and Joseph Cedar Discuss "The Moderate
Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer"
Richard Gere is one of America's acting treasures. He
has an uncanny knack for selecting scripts with the most interesting characters.
Included in some of his vast body of films are "American Gigolo,
"An Officer and a Gentleman," "The Cotton Club," "Internal
Affairs," "Pretty Woman," "Primal Fear," "Unfaithful,"
and "Chicago." Joseph Cedar, writer and director of the critically
acclaimed "The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,"
was born in New York City but when he was five, his family moved to Israel
where he was raised.
Tahiti and Her Islands
Just their names (pronounce each vowel!) conjure up romantic
images: Tahiti Nui, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Ra'iatea, Taha'a. Her
people are gentle; the air, tiare-perfumed. Warm lagoons, majestic peaks,
tropical fruits from the land and bounty from the sea all tantalize the
senses. Paradise! As near as can be found on planet earth. And, in my
experience, the finest way to explore her is on a ship designed for that
It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana
was legalized in the last election. Leviticus 20:13 states
Sent by Tom of Pasadena,
"If a man lays with another man, he should be stoned..." We've
been interpreting it wrong all these years!
John Nemeth Doubles Down
John Nemeth is a busy guy. He and his band, the Blue Dreamers,
tour constantly and rarely leave the road. But when they do it's just
long enough to feed the heads of their rabid and enthusiastic fan base.
Personally, I've witnessed multiple Nemeth shows in both intimate and
festival settings and not once have I ever seen a patron stagger away
without a face full of grin. So when word came down that a new recording
was in the works, my grin got wider.
Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, the Garden District,
the streetcar (now a bus) to Desire, the jazz clubs, the beignets at the
Café du Monde and breakfast at Brennans come to mind when you
think of New Orleans. But thats not all there is to this unique American
city, filled with treasures both culinary and cultural.
NOLA: New Orleans, Louisiana
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