• Alicia Assad

What's Holding You Back?

“You’ve got to make a conscious choice every day to shed the old – whatever ‘the old’ means for you.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Our transition from New York to Hong Kong is well underway, and this #AssadAsiaAdventure has forced me to take inventory of what's in my home and heart.

No, I cannot just pack up my sprawling suburban home and bring it with me to an apartment 8,000 miles away. A move like this requires swift decisions about what to take, leave, toss, and donate.

I am slimming down for the sake of adventure, which challenges my nesting soul. I have saved countless memories, but the trajectory of my life has rapidly shifted. I cannot carry the physical or emotional remnants of my past with me where I am headed as a storyteller on resilience and motherhood.

The process of decluttering is overwhelming and exhausting, but I'm not tackling this alone. Special women have rallied around me to laugh, cry, and decide. I also found a talented professional organizer to support me, and in bequeathing the reigns of this project to a fellow mom in my community, I reminded myself:

Don't be ashamed of your mess or needing support. It takes a village. Vulnerability is the birthplace of growth.

There are a million items we've pilfered through, but I am inspired to tell you about a journal I found buried in my attic. The velvet cover and flower-lined pages with a quote by Maya Angelou brought me comfort in my purging chaos. Words of a wise woman remind me,

“Life is pure adventure.”

I brought this journal down to my desk and I am telling you about it now, because this small remnant of my past mirrors everything that has been holding me back.

I once thought a beautiful journal would inspire an eternal flow of words, but I distinctly remember holding it during a time in my life when the pristine pages were too bright for the ugly thoughts in my head. Intimidated by the beauty I saw before me but didn't feel in my heart, I tossed it aside and reached instead for an ordinary notebook to capture my raw words.

From a legal pad to scrap paper, I needed a non-judgmental space to allow my most authentic thoughts to flow. In the hardest experience of my life I discovered my calling to be a storyteller, and I've since been honoring my authentic self long enough to know that my emotions and life won't always be positive, and that’s ok. I've learned I can't claim the joy and confidence I crave without purging everything that is on my mind onto paper. Then I sort through it all, toss what doesn't serve me, and piece it all back together with a narrative that supports my intention of striving to be WHOLE:






This, I have discovered, is a much healthier goal than perfection. WHOLE is also the foundation of my resilience and the reason I am courageous enough to adventure abroad.

Physically decluttering my life, like journaling, is a spiritual process. It is beautiful and it is messy. It creates shifts. While it is hard, it fosters countless moments of magic.

As I retraced the steps I took towards WHOLE, I remembered. I savored. I cried. I forgave. I learned. I photographed some items I was resistant to releasing and then I let it all go. I am still not done, but I am far enough along to notice I've purged my way to clarity.

I woke up this morning and breathed a huge sigh of relief, because I don't need to hold on so tightly anymore. Surrender and vulnerability are counter-intuitive, but imperative for surviving life and motherhood. Striving to be WHOLE (not perfect or happy all of the time) has become my anchor in a world that begs me to be and do more than I am at any moment.

I'll delve further into my holistic approach to resilience in the weeks to come, but introduce it to you today by saying,

"I found my way to WHOLE by surviving all those things I tried so hard to avoid."

Now, it's time to let go of everything that's been holding me back so I can thrive. In sum, I am letting go of fear:

I've been afraid of not being good enough.

I've been afraid of failure.

I've been afraid of pain and struggle.

When the guts of my life were scattered about my attic, I came to understand why I hoarded so many memories. I was fearful the joys I savored (but never believed I was worthy of) would never come again.

You know what, though? Joy isn't something that just happens - it is a choice you can always make. I say this having noted what is good and bad in every single every memory I've rehashed. I choose to remember what was good, and I am letting go of what was bad with love and gratitude for the lesson it taught me. I am moving on with faith believing the choice for love, hope, and belonging will always be mine to make.

Hence, I've begun to fill the beautiful adventure journal with words that flow from my heart. These are thoughts I promise to share here, because writing to you never fails to bring me joy.

That being said, it's time to return to working on my spiritual quest of letting go. I am making space for all the good I know is yet to come for already, my life feels like an adventure. I can see the magic.

As we part I'll ask, "What’s holding you back? Are you willing to let go of what's no longer serving you to thrive?"


PS - The “Purple Color Fall” leggings I am sporting in this photo are the creation of my talented friend and her artist husband, Peter Coley. Linda and I met dancing in a line of Legacy Rockettes last June, and her spirit is as radiant as these beautiful (and comfortable) pants they have created. Visit https://coleyartshop.com

Also, the woman standing with me against the weight of the boxes is Neat Nancy, a supermom in my community who is following her calling to be an organizer. You can read more about her talents at www.neatnancy.net