I have this beloved old wooden box with its original gray, weathered paint still on it, that I find myself "displaying" it instead of tucking it away out of sight. While I know it is the "in thing" with artsy gals to love the old, the chipped, and the worn, but I didn't grow up that way at all. Something like this, my mother wouldn't have allowed in the house. It may not even have made it into the shed, but instead, straight into the garbage can.
But I digress.
As I am still on my new, little adventure, which I will be able to share with you in the near future, this box does play a part of it. As I sort through my various treasures, of all kinds, I needed to find a place for those few lost souls, that I couldn't part with, but I am sure, I "will need them for a project." But I am trying very hard to organize and sort my treasures and really eliminate those that have been waiting for such a project for years now, and let's be honest, some of those projects I am either not interested in any longer, or they aren't "me" any longer, or, I just can't remember what the heck that fab project was going to be in the first place!
But for those few trinkets, that I am still convinced that belong within arm's reach for that sudden spark of frenzy when I am sure my next idea is exactly what I need to do...I needed a place for those trinkets that I never tire of because if at the very least, I love to look at them, touch them, and remember where, when, and how I came across them.
Sometimes, I think the older I get, the more simpler I get. Not to be confused with simple-minded, mind you. Although, there are those that may argue that. And it seems that the more complicated the world gets, the more I rebel against it. The elderly are becoming a lot more understandable to me in their way of thinking as I get older, it seems. I remember hearing dad, sometimes grumbling about the world, and its lack of morals, or how people just don't talk to each other anymore (ha! way before the invention of cell phones and texting!). But then again, he rode his mule to school and graduated with only 12 kids from a one-room school house in rural Nebraska. But for the most part, he adapted pretty darn well from riding a mule to owning a Harley Davidson for about a week when I was about 13, for what I am assuming was his very short-lived mid-life crises that mom quickly ended.
But I digress again...
I remember one time, many, many years ago, while living in Texas, when I was seeing a wonderful counselor who was helping through a very difficult and painful time in my life, he had me do a break through exercise. It was the coolest exercise...
Here you do it and then I will explain:
Have someone read the following to you, you need a partner:
(In order for this to really work, you HAVE to stop reading right now, and go find someone to read this following. If you read ahead to my experience, then your experience will be tainted, and I promise you, you will be mad at yourself, because this is such a cool exercise, and you will have ruined it for yourself...so stop right now...come back when you have someone and the time to do it...it really is cool!)
Have your partner and you get relaxed and have her/him read:
Close your eyes and relax. Now imagine a box, any kind of box at all.(Pause) Take your time and really, really study your box and really see it. Don't rush, take your time and really see it. Do you see it? (Pause) Study it really well. You got it in your head? (Pause) What size is it? What is it made of? Where is your box? After several minutes of really seeing your box, keep your eyes shut, and just watch it for a minute or so and see what the box is doing.
Now, look inside your box...what do you see? Look around inside and really study what you see. Describe in detail what you see. Does it have a lid? Look at the inside of the lid if it has one. What do you see?
Now before you leave your box, take note of the environment around your box. Is it outside, inside, the weather, anything you notice all around the box...scent, noise, everything that has been going on the entire time around the box...
Okay...open your eyes and tell your friend exactly what you experienced that you didn't already share...starting with the beginning of this exercise. Go over the list of things I asked you about your box and go over in lots of detail...take notes...
I may have forgotten some of the exercise, as it was years ago, but I will tell you what I saw, as I will never forget. Remember, I had no idea what this exercise was for or for what reason we were doing it...this is how I described my box at that time:
My box at that time was covered in precious jewels, emeralds, rubies, diamonds and covered in gold. When I opened it, it was lined with purple satin, but there was no bottom, and it was floating, actually, sort of being whipped around a little in the wind. Inside there were tons and tons of papers that were falling out of the bottom, one by one and flying away. I wasn't grabbing at them at all. When asked to look at the lid, there was a mirror and when asked what did I see, I saw myself! I was just normal, not crying, not laughing, just looking. The sky was blue and sunny. The box never landed or crashed to the ground.
Okay, what does this all mean? The exercise is to help you sort out that whatever you saw inside, is the answer to whatever personal issue you may be having. You (or the counselor) will have to decode it. How you described your box, is how you are currently feeling about yourself at this moment. What your box is "doing" is how you feel about your issue and how you feel it is taking place in your life. And other details can tell you (or predict) how you are going to (or may) handle your issue. So now that you saw how much detail I had, go back and fill in any other details you may have left out before you read on.
Well, I can only tell you how my therapist decoded my descriptions, and it helped me more than I ever thought a silly exercise ever could for self-awareness:
He said that he was extremely happy that I described my box with so many "precious jewels" and gold...that meant that I still valued myself and I had felt I had self worth (I had been going to therapy almost year, and that was not the case when I first started). He said he liked that I used the word "precious jewels" and not just "jewels"- which words we actually use to describe this exercise really tells us things about ourselves. The purple satin inside meant that I hadn't turned hard like I thought I had (something I worried about at the time) and "purple" which was not my color at the time (nor now), but a color of royalty, meaning that my heart was still true, pure, even though I felt I had been tainted by this hard and painful season. He was trying to show me that my real self had not died. I remember tearing up when he had told me that, and he said, he hadn't told me that, I was telling myself that with my very own words...
He said that he was not surprised to hear that my box did not have a bottom, as my problem still seemed overwhelming to me and not having a bottom means I was feeling that my issue would never end. But when he asked what was I doing, I was only looking at the papers...not interfering with them...which is good, letting life take its course. So you see, what you were doing is important in the exercise too.
However, he felt very encouraged that my box was in a bright, sunny, blue-sky environment, which meant that I was more hopeful about the future than ever before. However, it was whipping about somewhat, but not blown apart. That shows that I am still anxious but not out of control. The box was in tact, and showed no signs of falling apart (he asked me during the decoding session if the box showed any signs of weakness, and it didn't).
He said he felt very happy that I wasn't grabbing after the papers that were falling out one-by-one. He said he had wished they were falling out at a much faster pace, which would have meant I was shedding my hard season of life quicker, but they were leaving the box all the same, and I wasn't grabbing on to it, thinking I could still save/do/change/ the situation. I was letting go.
And finally, he said the good news is, I was realizing that my hard season of life was almost over, and it was up to me to move on - hence my reflection in the mirror. I am the answer to moving on. No one else but me can do this. He was glad that my reflection just showed me...no one behind me, no shadow, me not crying, just me. That meant that I was willing and able to handle this on my own.
These are all subconscious thoughts I was having, which showed me I had more strength than I realized and helped me to grow in that moment.
I was so impressed and excited with this exercise so many years ago, I remember doing this exercise on my brother. Of course, he had no idea what this exercise was about, and I just said, "hey, do something for me..." and I had him relax and did the whole thing and did it very slowly and so on. My brother had just been through an emotional divorce, was trying to get back on his feet, and tends to keep things to himself. He tried to pretend that all is well by joking all the time, but this is what he told me about his box:
Here is how some of it went:
Imagine a box, any kind of box. Got it? See it?
Okay, tell me about your box.
It is a cardboard box. Sort of medium size.
What else? Is it a strong/sturdy box?
No, it is beat up. Dented. Like it was kicked around
Where is your box?
In a garage
What kind of garage?
I don't know, it's pretty dark
Well, you can see where this is going! He went on to say it was empty. Nothing inside, and so on. He was floored when I told him what the exercise was about. And very eye-opening to him, as he was convinced he was doing okay, but actually, I could see he wasn't. And he then could see he needed to take better care of himself and do some things to make himself happy again.
Where am I going with all this? Well, I am not sure, except all I know is, that when I got out my beat up old gray box with my trinkets, I had very strong sense of contentment. And for some strange reason, admiring its rough exterior, its very sturdy bottom, and feeling its heavy weight as I placed it in a very happy, new area, I had a flashback of that box exercise so many, many years ago during a season of pain.
And how ironic that during that season of pain, I described a jeweled box of gold, lined with satin. And now, during a season of contentment, joy, and happiness, I should find such pleasure out of a rough, worn, old, wooden box filled with old things. But this season of happiness is following a short season of much, much physical pain and some unexpected changes in life.
And maybe, this time, at this moment in life, this box just simply means that a little worn and a little rough on the outside, only means there is a really precious project in the works on the inside.
And maybe that is my true project...
May your precious project always be in the works from The Greatest Protector of all...Christ who saw me through all of my life projects.
from my house to your house