In a few hours, my man and I are driving up north for a romantic long weekend in the Eastern Sierras.

 

Just us. No kids. No dogs. No responsibilities.

 

Ahhhh, just the thought of that makes my belly smile. I can’t remember the last time we went away on our own.

 

As I pack, I go through my mental list:

 

Fishing poles… Check.

Waders… Check.

Hammock… Check.

Extra clothes… Not check!

 

Our trips usually include me overstuffing my bag with more clothes than I need, because no matter how much we remind the girls (our 14 year old and her BFFs) to pack everything they could possibly think of, we’ll inevitably wake up in the hotel the next morning and hear, “does anyone have an extra bra? I forgot to pack one.”

 

Bra. Underwear. Tampons. You name it, someone has forgotten it.

 

So my suitcase usually includes the entire contents of a Target store. Nothing is sacred in our household. Not even underwear. I have long stopped trying to convince the girls that sharing underwear is a big no-no. I’ve learned to pick my battles. Life is happier that way. (TMI, sorry, I know)

 

As I finish packing my suitcase, which feels unfamiliarly light, I notice a peaceful lightness in my heart.

 

And I realize:

 

Happiness isn’t only about what you INCLUDE in your life, it’s also about what you DON’T include.

 

Things like…

Extra baggage.

Drama.

Chaos.

 

Teenagers.

 

Just kidding!

 

(well, in all honesty… for this weekend, I’m not kidding.)

 

I think back to 25 year old me when I was immersed in suffering, lost in a suffocating layer of depression…

 

35 year old me when I was immersed in self-hatred, lost in trying to be someone else to please a man (and the string of men before him) who wasn’t worthy of my efforts…

 

And now, 45 year old me… in a few hours, I’m going to be immersed in waist deep water, lost in the rivers of the Eastern Sierras, doing my favorite thing with my favorite person.

(No, you dirty minded empath! I’m talking about FISHING!) 🙂

 

I’ve chosen to exclude suffering, self-hatred and shame from my life.

 

While “pretending-to-be-someone-else-so-they’ll-love-me” pretty much sums up my entire life until recently, I no longer include this in my life either.

 

Little by little, day by day, I made better choices, and those other things faded away, making room for happier, healthier and lighter things.

 

Like the half-empty suitcase sitting on my bed without all the extra baggage.

 

What do you choose to exclude from your life?

 

Whatever it is, make a choice, in each moment it presents itself to you, to NOT include it.

 

Instead, pivot your attention to including things that uplift, feed and nurture you.

 

Little by little, day by day.

 

And before long, what you don’t want will fade away, making room for all you could possibly dream of.