Jackstraws: Untangling A Complicated Life

by Golnaz, BSc, London, UK

Have you ever played a game of jackstraws (also known as pick-up-sticks), where you start with a tangled pile of thin sticks and the players attempt in turn to remove a single stick without disturbing the whole pile? Moving just one stick tends to disturb the whole lot and, sometimes, odd sticks will fall away from the pile making them easy to get to.

I have created a complicated life for myself that resembles a jackstraw pile.

The multitude of sticks are perfectly colour coded to me, representing:

  • ideals of how things should be – expectations I put on myself, others and situations
  • beliefs about things – creating a blindness to any alternative possibilities
  • protections for past hurts – even long after the hurts are forgotten
  • loyalties towards institutions – some of these not even consciously chosen.

The list goes on and on, deeper into the stack.

Looking around me, everyone has their own pile going. People seem more comfortable with others of a similar pile, even comparing and admiring each other’s sticks. Often in relationships two or more piles seem partially linked and when one person moves one of their own sticks, the other’s sticks can wobble and at times cause upset.

Recently I have witnessed people who have a very simple way of living, with piles that have become small and tidy. And then there are also a few individuals that don’t even seem to have a pile to negotiate life through. Wow – now that is something my heart feels is worth exploring further: the possibility of a small or even no pile.

I was inspired to begin to detangle my pile stick by stick. A ‘stick’ I chose first was my living environment, which for some time now I have felt has not been in keeping with the current me. Yet every time I had started to make a change – started to pull that stick – I stalled: at times I even got so tired I fell asleep, then abandoned the task and instead numbed myself to the niggling knowing that all was not well… removing sticks can be tricky. I decided to call in reinforcements ­– a friend to assist with this intense process.

Major panic and apprehension came before the arrival of my stick removal assistant. At different stages, while I examined my unconscious relationship with items in my home and considered letting them go, I felt overwhelmed by what was going on in my body. This overwhelm had stopped me many times before and it was an immense support to have someone lovingly nudge me along, supporting me to keep drawing that stick out of the pile.

Oh my word, I could feel all my sticks during this process. It was surreal but I noticed whenever the pile was about to be disturbed, I felt rigid, as if I was pinned down with the force of my sticks.

As sticks started to wobble in the pile, I had the opportunity to see more of their colour and energy and start to remove them too. A few significant sticks so far have been:

  • My ‘other people’s reactions’ stick – I was holding on to many objects because I did not want to upset another person. These included items that once belonged to another family member, or had been a present. By holding on to these, I was in effect withholding my true feelings from everyone.
  • My ‘old identity’ stick – these objects were connected to past praise and admiration. For example, I used to make pretty, colourful cards – although I mainly use e-cards now, all the unused bits and pieces for making coloured cards had been carefully stored. I knew I was not going to go there again, but somehow had not been willing to close that chapter.
  • My ‘just-in-case!’ stick – I may need it later. This stick does not even belong in my pile. I have never been in a position where I lacked anything physical, so there is no logical reason for it. My parents however, lived through a world war and have every excuse to hold this belief. This is one of my parent’s sticks!!! But I have been running with it in my pile for all these years.

So far I have taken a few baby steps – considering the size of the project at hand – letting things go from my living environment. But words cannot express how huge each baby step has been, what I chose to face in each step, and the massive free space it has created within me – a space far greater than the one created in my home.

134 thoughts on “Jackstraws: Untangling A Complicated Life

  1. The game of ‘pick up sticks’ asks us to move with such gentleness, care and conscious presence. What a great teacher it is for our lives.

    1. What a great observation Richard I had not registered this gorgeous aspect of the game. And of course at the same time you end up realising that even the slightest most delicate moves can have a great impact on the whole.
      It would be awesome if such simple games and activities were used in early education to deepen the ability to observe, understand and expand in life.

  2. I love it when I come across a blog that totally relates to where I am right now. Over the last few years I have been removing complication from my life and replacing it with simplicity but in recent months this has slowly begun to change and instead “I have created a complicated life for myself that resembles a jackstraw pile”. I was pondering earlier today how to return to the simplicity that I love to live with and now I have the image of a pile of “jackstraws” and your words of wisdom to support me along the way. Very awesome indeed!

  3. I have observed that we do in fact choose to develop a messy pile of sticks consciously knowing it will dull and inhibit our ability to be the natural powerhouse of love and wisdom we all naturally are. We often observe and adopt ways that our parents have achieved the same thus highlighting the impact having piles of sticks like this has on our children if we too are not living in our power and authority.

  4. The sticks begin to get very heavy and tired the more we drag them around and use them to hold us back, excess baggage we no longer need to identify ourselves with.

  5. Admitting we have made a mess for ourselves is the first step, then rolling our sleeves up and getting on with letting go of this mess one part at a time is the next step. It is all possible, though it asks us to commit to what needs letting go of otherwise we just keep repeating the same old patterns again and again.

  6. This analogy so beautifully describes how our lives can be a complicated mess of problems and pressures where we bounce from one solution to another. In contrast is the simplicity of feeling into and responding to life.

  7. Such a gorgeous and apt analogy for how we complicate our lives and then lose ourselves in the overwhelm of it all when then faced with the task at hand to remove all we have put in place that prevents us from living the fullness of who we truly are. There is great virtue in living a simple life, for there is so much richness on offer when we remove all this clutter.

  8. Thank you Golnaz, it would be great to read some sequels on other sticks! A great line here on decluttering objects and being honest about nominating the energies behind the choices to have those items “the massive free space it has created within me – a space far greater than the one created in my home.” I am going through some decluttering myself so your points (or sticks!) on what energies can be behind why we hold onto things is much appreciated.

  9. That is an amazing shift in itself – from comparing, admiring another’s pile and finding comfort in the similarity to actually exploring a possibility of having no pile.

  10. Every stick that is part of our life we have said yes to. WE have invited to come over and feel at home. It is up to us to renounce to them and inform our happy tenants that it is time to go.

  11. By accumulating too many extra sticks we can all to easily go into the overwhelm of where to start when we want to clear them away. But by labeling each unnecessary stick for what it is ie ‘holding onto others reactions sticks’ it certainly would make it easier to let go of them. This is a very practical tip for us all to be aware of when we are clearing out our homes of what we no longer need and one that I will certainly employ – especially those ‘just-in-case sticks’.

  12. These sticks can certainly pin us down and I can recognise them all, especially the “‘just-in-case!’ stick – I may need it later.” but when we let them go there is an amazing feeling of freedom.

  13. I love how each stick can show us where we are stuck. I’m also appreciating the fact that connecting to one’s stillness really supports each of us to remove the sticks in such a way the pile doesn’t come tumbling down around our ears. That in fact the act of removing one stick points the way to the next stick to remove, and the next, and so on … stick by stick / layer by layer we are supported to simplify our lives and bodies.

  14. Golnaz I loved reading this, as every stick (the things we create that complicate life) is outside of us, and does not truly make us who we are, we give each stick more power than ourselves, until we deal with each one and see it for what it is.

  15. ‘Major panic and apprehension came before the arrival of my stick removal assistant.’ I can relate with this, and love the humour you bring to it. I have kept ‘sticks’, or ‘things’ because I may need them as you describe, this one has been a big one for me, ‘My ‘just-in-case!’ stick – I may need it later. This stick does not even belong in my pile. I have never been in a position where I lacked anything physical, so there is no logical reason for it. My parents however, lived through a world war and have every excuse to hold this belief. This is one of my parent’s sticks!!! But I have been running with it in my pile for all these years.’ Great to be aware of this and nominate it.

  16. I like the colourful analogy Golnaz, I too am choosing to make my life more simple, this is a fun reminder that I can work on one thing at a time.

  17. Simplicity is the opposite to complication. When I cannot connect to how to keep it simple I know it is a moment to be and take a baby step towards myself. A baby step is a choice of reconditioning that love for self again.

  18. I love the analogy of the sticks Golnaz. My pile of sticks has become smaller over the last few years, but reading your blog I can see I still have a fair amount. Its great that you are giving yourself time and going one step at a time. Interesting though that moving one stick tends to wobble the whole pile and can lead to a ripple effect where other issues come under the spotlight to be dealt with.

  19. I like the playfulness of your blog, Golnaz. Even though we are talking about things such as ideals and beliefs which seriously effect our lives we can also play with it and not make drama. Love it!

  20. Such an awesome blog Golnaz, it is interesting all the things we put in place and hold tightly onto in order to avoid the love and expansion felt if we just let go of all the ‘sticks’ we think we need.

  21. Thank you Golnaz! I am reminded of the many “sticks” I too have to pick up starting first with my home also. I have already started due to the recent flood event in my area and with the clean up under my home from flood water.

  22. Love this Golnaz, and I remember ‘pick-up sticks’ well. You know, it can be just one ‘stick’ – one key thing – can’t it, that if identified and then actually responded to, that dismantles a far greater picture of complexity we have essentially created for ourselves.
    What a true marker of listening to the wisdom within then, when we do this – without always knowing what the outcome and ramifications may actually be… yet ‘pulling the stick’ nonetheless, when we know without a doubt that it’s ready to be pulled…

  23. I really enjoyed the playfulness of seeing these held onto ideals and beliefs as pick u sticks. It brings a lightness to the subject, which as Golnaz has expressed, can be a very challenging one to navigate. With practice we become more skilled at removing the sticks so it makes sense to just keep on going back to the pile and pull free the next one that is ready to be removed.

  24. We really don’t realise just how much what is shared here has a physical affect on the body, but it does. We only need to clean and tidy a space to feel more lightness and order in the space and our bodies. If only we fully accepted how much holding onto items, or for that matter emotions, weighs down our bodies, maybe the process of letting go would be a much more appreciated process.

  25. I am familiar with many different piles of sticks, of which some have been reduced, some have remained the same, some I have let go of and one pile in particular feels it gets bigger when I allow it too! This pile is showing me that as I commit more deeply to areas of my life I do not forget about me. Sometimes the pile of sticks can show its face when I feel overwhelmed and anxious by what is to be done in my day but as I face the pile, accept it and see it for what it is miraculously the pile can disappear and I am left facing each task as it comes, learning to listen and honour my body in the process.

  26. I can relate to the nervousness and perhaps a bit of fear about disturbing other sticks and creating a bigger mess that I won’t be able to clear up, but the thing is – has that ever actually happened? No. For me, it is when I pretend that I didn’t see the stick but know it is definitely there and start playing with the idea of ‘should I?’ and coming up with a variety of possible scenarios and that makes both me and the pile of sticks go wobbly. Once I make a choice to choose a stick out of thousands and remove it, I notice they are all made by the same manufacturer and they have been delivering sticks in different length and thickness, and they are not even real no matter how stubborn and entangled it they seem to be, and I just have to terminate my contract with them for any further delivery.

    1. Wonderful clarity you have added here Fumiyo about the complications in life symbolised by tangled jackstraw sticks: “they are all made by the same manufacturer and they have been delivering sticks in different length and thickness” , “they are not even real no matter how stubborn and entangled it they seem to be” and “I just have to terminate my contract with them for any further delivery.” Super simple. I love it.

  27. Carola I love the way your comment expands and deepens our quest for freedom from the complications and restrictions we put on ourself. There is always a gorgeous graceful bundle of love deep inside every one of us that could light up the whole world, and with each choice to remove a stick we let ourself shine a little bit more.

  28. A brilliant analogy Golnaz. It is so interesting how we have become so absorbed in believing that the pile of sticks self-created from ideals and beliefs from the world outside of us, is who we are, and that this structure is what defines us. When one ‘stick’ is removed it does disturb the construct that we are fixated on, making us think that we then are not being ourselves. Yet in truth what removing a ‘stick’ reveals is that underneath is the graceful space to simply be who we are from within, without the restriction on what we think we should be or think we need to be, and as such allowing us to move in a way that freely expresses from the gorgeousness that we already are within.

  29. I love the picture of everyone with their pile of sticks – very apt indeed. It’s crazy that we all hold onto these when letting them go as you are is such a deeply healing opportunity to reveal the true you beneath the pile.

  30. Amazing how our living environment reflects those sticks in one way or another. If I look around my room now, I notice something disturbing about it, like there are some things that I haven’t cleared from some days ago, and I can trace back and see pretty much how they all somehow relate to ideals/beliefs/hurts etc. that has got in the way of me choosing to live myself in full.

  31. I used to love playing this game and thought I had outgrown it – boy was I wrong! Back I go with a whole new insight thanks to you Golnaz – you are brilliant!

  32. This is brilliant Golnaz, I loved playing pick up sticks as a child, but I can’t say the same thing about clearing out my stuff. Only for the same reasons as you have suggested – I get tired or overwhelmed at the thought of all there is and the other thing is that It’s not all mine. Definite work in progress….

  33. Golnaz I love it to let go of old things (in my home and in myself) as the space I get from doing so is the best reward ever – therefore I love it very much what you have shared in your awesome blog – it is such a lovely confirmation.

  34. So awesome Golnaz! This is the best analogy! I’m moving house this weekend…and this has been a perfect read. I have the opportunity to leave a whole bunch of sticks behind, allowing me the space I need to help me grow rather than stay buried under the many sticks I’ve collected along the way!!

  35. This is great to look at the life we have created in this way: it makes it fun and silly, all that we need to see that the things we are holding onto are not truly serving who we truly are.

  36. So good to re-read your blog Golnaz. ‘What a tangled web we weave’ – yet do we deceive ourselves? I think not. By pulling out one especially obvious jackstraw it can enable some others to fall apart more easily. Filling the gap with appreciation aids this process even more.

  37. Wow, I love it, thank you Golnaz for this great example of how complicated we can make life but how we can step by step undo this labyrinth and see more clearly with every stick we remove.

  38. A fun way to look at the tangled web we have trapped ourselves in. I can see that I still have a lot of ‘just in case’ sticks buried in my stack.

  39. This is a really interesting blog exploring as it does our attachments to physical objects. In my last three house moves I have each time discarded perhaps 80 – 90% of all possessions and what you say is true, it is a very freeing process and one in which I came to realise how little I really need to live and I totally endorse what you found about the space that this creates within oneself.

  40. I like this “pick up sticks” way of looking at our stuff Golnaz . It puts it into a small and doable perspective. That in truth it is the lint on the lens that is causing the distortion of our bright light. Not the monster in the dark.

  41. Loved this Golnaz, easy to apply to my own life and where I currently have sticks I am too afraid to remove as I dont know what the reconfigured pile will look like. The fact that it will be less complicated for a start ought to spur me on. You have inspired me.

  42. A great analogy, Golnaz, symbolising just how fragile the self-made structures of our lives really are when they’re founded on illusory ideals and not on truth.

  43. Golnaz, I went through a similar project last year when we were undergoing major house renovations and I realised that there was stuff I had held onto for similar reasons that you have described. I also realised that some things I had held onto were for emotional, sentimental reasons. Since the clean out I haven’t missed a single thing that is gone and I enjoy the extra space. I still keep finding odd bits and pieces which reminds me that the discarding is a never ending process. I would recommend it to anyone!

  44. An interesting read Golnaz of how we use the complications of life to avoid being all that we are. I’m moving home again shortly and I’ll keep the wisdom of this in mind and take the opportunity to (as best I can) clear out what no longer belongs.

  45. I love this humorous but very real analogy Golnaz and can really relate to what you have written. Even being able to feel what each stick represents is huge and your willingness to deal with these issues is wonderful. Go Golnaz.

  46. I absolutely love this Golnaz and can so relate to your sticks particularly the ‘just in case’ ones. We have recently sold my father’s house and although I have chosen to keep very little of his it has exposed how many other sticks my environment is cluttered with despite ongoing work to let go. Having a stick removal assistant has been a huge support at times when I have felt stuck and really lightened the heaviness that I can feel around exposing old patterns. The expansiveness this creates is beautiful and I am taking time to appreciate this and build on often small initial steps and to look at the other sticks that have become dislodged and are waiting to be addressed next.

  47. I enjoyed reading this Golnaz and I can totally relate to the ‘just in case’ stick as I have many of these in my wardrobe that certainly need letting go of. I like your suggestion to have a loving support on hand to assist in this process – thank you for the inspiration.

  48. Golnaz this is such a beautiful blog to read and enjoy with the analogy of the coloured sticks sitting in a dense pile warning anyone away who may want to meddle with them or worse still, even to move them! The pile seems even worse when it is our own. What great inroads you have made into diminishing the pile and thus making small steps to simplify your life and the inner space this has brought within you.
    “But words cannot express how huge each baby step has been, what I chose to face in each step, and the massive free space it has created within me – a space far greater than the one created in my home”.

  49. I love the playful analogy you have made to your life with the sticks Golnaz, when we let go and start creating space within ourselves we can simplify our way of living that supports us with our next steps.

  50. Golnaz this is super simple and so practical. Thank You for sharing Your Experience and Revelation with us. Truly inspiring 🙂

  51. Clearing out brings out a lot of what we have been holding onto for a long time. Which is not always an easy process but very worthwhile.

  52. Thank you for untangling the complication Golnaz. I admire your willingness to uncover the energetic meaning, and really understanding the attachment before letting it go, which feels very thorough and complete.

  53. Wow Golnaz, I really enjoyed reading this again today. Recently the topic of decluttering has come to my attention, but boy do I hold onto things! It feels like such an effort to do this job yet not doing it may be what’s making me heavy and tired in the first place – feeling weighed down by what does no longer fit in my house and my life. I tend to keep things because I feel a connection to that person through that object but I realise our connection truly needs nothing – I’m just hanging onto stuff.

    1. This is so true our connection does not need any physical objects. On reflection I have sometimes used an object, as a visual confirmation for something or reminder of something I am working on, and at times a reminder of my connection to . But l can see that it is useful, instead of letting it become a fixture in my life as I have had a habit of doing, to notice when that moment is complete and when I no longer have any requirement for that object. It is so easy to simply check out of the purpose with which we are living and sit in the comfort of the familiar, I find the clutter around me is a great indication.

    2. yeah I can relate Melinda recently my father past away and I didn’t take any things of his, nothing felt important, then as his anniversary is coming up I have started to feel like this was a poor choice as I don’t have anything to remind me of him, this feels very much more about the connection I felt with him being exposed rather than fact. When I feel my fathers essence I connect fully and do not need any thing to support this.

      1. Thank you Vanessa for the reminder that when we connect with someone’s essence we do not need anything physical to support this – really feeling the truth of this will help me in my next round of de-cluttering.

  54. This is a very timely read for me Golnaz as I have been avoiding my piles of sticks as they feel too big to deal with in one go but what you have shared is that it starts with baby steps to carefully pick off one stick at a time.

  55. Great visual analogy Golnaz- a complicated life looking like a tangled jackstraw pile. Addressing the tangle stick by stick, having a look at what it is, discarding some sticks and ordering others, calling on a friend for support – bit by bit the jackstraw pile can be deconstructed – thank you Golnaz for the encouragement this blog offers.

  56. This is such a great blog Golnaz. You’ve put it perfectly how most of us have a tangled pile of sticks and getting rid of the sticks can sometimes feel so hard. Yet to call in ‘reinforcements’ is a great helping hand as they wont have the same sticky situation and so can help with your stick. Thank you for sharing what it was like for you and some of the sticks you had- I can relate to a lot of them.

  57. I love the analogy Golnaz, and have found that while working to remove a particular stick others may be disturbed, but they become easier to work on in the long run.

  58. It feels very fragile to walk through life with a pile of sticks that could crumble and fall at any moment exposing the falsity of the sticks themselves and what we have built up with them in our lives.

  59. The pile of sticks you speak of really becomes our prison, holding us back in fear that the pile will topple. We become a slave to maintaining it, but in the end its just a pile of sticks, it was never who we truly are, its our identification with it that binds us to it.

  60. A lovely analogy Golnaz, that I can certainly relate to. Currently I’ve been delving in deep into my pile of sticks and it has caused a serious amount of loose sticks to now be floating around. As tricky as that sounds (and this is where the analogy is brilliant) – these disturbed sticks are now very obvious to see, and so I can get to work on them without fear.

    1. Yea that’s a good point Simonwillams8, when we start to work on a few sticks other sticks stick out more haha and become easier to spot or more obvious/ easier to get too.

  61. As you say Golnaz removing sticks can be tricky so there is nothing at all wrong with calling for help and reinforcements to assist you with this process…. but the bonus is as you remove one stick you may disrupt some others on the way out and thus loosen some up ready for removal at a later time…..

  62. Golnaz, I absolutely love your analogy of pick up sticks representing the complications and entanglements of all the different coloured issues, patterns, ideals and beliefs that we get attached to and hold on to in the game of life. Awesome blog.

  63. I am currently in the process of removing the same stick as you. I was so sure that I had got rid of it while ago, but it actually feels as if I had snapped it in half and put one of them back in the pile when I saw it the last time – perhaps I became aware of other sticks getting wobbly and I pulled back. The way you are approaching this project is very inspiring and I can really appreciate the power of baby steps lovingly walked one at a time.

  64. Such a great analogy, Golnaz – pick-up sticks and the complication and anxiousness they create. Letting go of them and the freedom this has given you is inspiring.

  65. Great blog Golnaz. It was so playful how you described the pick up sticks, it makes total sense and is easy to relate to. You know what comes after baby steps – running. You know what they say – A quick game is a good game.

  66. Golnaz thank you for this great analogy. I realise these sticks are all separate, hard, narrow and pointy; slippery too. Their points can hurt. By removing each stick ever so gently, one by one, through a process of careful focus, and delicacy the next is fully revealed, creating spaces, more clarity, and making the process so much easier. I love it.

  67. A gorgeous blog Golnaz thank you for sharing. I am inspired to look at the sticks I am holding onto in my life which no longer serve me and are taking up space – I feel it’s time to let go and simplify my life and enjoy the spacious feeling.

    1. This is so true Anna – for every stick that we untangle and remove there is more space for clarity that we have in our pile to sort the rest out – love it.

  68. Thank you Golnaz, I remember well playing fiddle sticks as a child, it felt very tense trying to not disturb other sticks when removing one of them. I loved that you expressed so playfully, and beautifully the sense of spaciousness you have created. More sticks for me to be removed, and more space to enjoy the me.

    1. Hi Jill, I can really relate to that’s tenseness in the fiddle sticks game when we are attempting to remove one stick without disturbing the others. It reminds me of how tense I feel when I’m around others and I choose to hold my full self back and / or my expression so as not to disturb others and their “sticks”. It’s like walking through life with that intense tension we experience in the fiddlesticks game being so careful around everyone. Serge Benhayon on the other hand has come into my life with incredible love and grace completely disturbing all my “sticks”, and thank goodness the tension of my game was too much!

  69. The symbolism is light and playful Golnaz and so clear in sharing your experience of exposing the deeper things that got in the way of getting to the essence of you, buried at the bottom of the pile. The struggle and resistance between all the old ways of living can be hard to let go of when the belief is held that they are needed, that they are who you are. We are all connected and so opening up and allowing support from another is a gift and a blessing for us all. Thank you for sharing.

    1. It can seem too complicated to even try and pick away at it all when first looking at the mess we make of our lives. But by clearing away the complications, life becomes simpler, and we find the gold, the true essence of who we are still untarnished at the centre.

      1. I agree Simon, the task can seem so momentous it’s overwhelming but step by step moving away from complication towards simplicity is unburdening and leaves you free to make clearer choices.

  70. Hello playful Golnaz – what a great idea to describe our choices as a game of jackstraws. I immediately had a picture of it. As I love to play jackstraws when I was young I know that it is great fun if I am not too serious to pick up the sticks – if I was to serious or hard in my body everything moved. So for me it is the way how I am with myself – hard or loving picking up those life- “sticks”.

    1. Great point, Ester: how we are with ourselves, tender, judgmental, trusting or hard it all effects how we can unpick the sticks of life. Playfulness and not having to be perfect is a great support as well. I used to lose overview when I started with one ‘job’, because it would bring up so much other things to do. Now I simply do one thing and enjoy that and the next things are for another time.

  71. Loving the analogy here Golnaz, I could almost feel the sticks movement and the game itself within your words (!) I did a whole huge clearing (years of) sticks, and sentimental types from childhood that were stored in my flat that only blocked up the space for there to be true expression, as opposed to dusty guilt, duty or sympathy. Clearing these out felt hugely spacious and lightness back then …although the process I find never really ceases, because I can find some sticks are there in the smallest of crevices ; ) but it’s ok as the whole process, no matter how many times, is always so cleansing.

  72. Very gorgeous Golnaz. I love the analogy of pick-up-sticks. This is a game I often played as a child, and as I now can see a game I had continued to play however with not much removing of the sticks and more so of the entangling of the sticks. And as I remember being a child playing this game when I was with my stillness I was able to know and gently move to the next stick that needed to be removed. Yes at times there was wobble but what remained was more space and clarity to see and feel what was next needed. And I can feel how I have begun this process for myself now. Thank you Golnaz for sharing this inspiring and supportive piece of writing as my stick removal continues.

  73. Golnaz this was just a pleasure to read. I love your stick analogy that captures so beautifully what we all carry and allow ourselves to be affected by. I desperately need a stick removal assistant for my ‘just in case’ stick, so let me know when you’re around 🙂

  74. I loved the analogy of the jackstraws Golnaz, so colourful, powerful and relevant.
    I can picture my pile, sometimes ordered and steady, sometimes messy and entangled, but always there with me waiting for momentarily choices to be made.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

  75. What an awesome blog Golnaz. It’s such a fun way to think about all of things we hold onto in life and when reading it I could get a great visual picture of what this could look like. It’s very cool and I’m really interested to look at the sticks that I may be carrying around to!

  76. I knew I was going to enjoy this blog just from the title. I can so relate Golnaz. I have been trying to clear out the garage and not getting very far, this puts into words why, thank you.

  77. Beautiful Golnaz, as you well said, a game of jackstraws is a great way to reflect upon our lives.What are the sticks? why are they there? Which one ‘talks’ to which other one? Which one has to go to keep evolving? The game also allows us to work on specific sticks and its relationship with their environment. I really like your process of discovery of the sticks and how you account for the removal of some of them. Really nice to read.

  78. Golnaz, I was wondering about the sticks – are they possibly our own previous choices coming back at us when we try to make changes? A bit like public speaking, where we may freeze or we don’t know what to say. In most cases the key point may simply be to continue, which can be difficult in the beginning but our previous choices are limited, so eventually they will run out of momentum.

    1. That is a great point Christoph. When a stick or an issue comes up, it is time to deal with it in whatever way is the most appropriate at the time. It may be looking at it and reflecting on it, it may be to feel all the other areas in life that similar issues hold us, and one way of dealing with it can be as you say just to notice they are there and not give them any weight at all. I agree that whatever comes up to be dealt with, is in one form or another “our own previous choices coming back at us when we try to make changes”.

      1. Thanks for this expansion – the momentum of past choices is a great way of looking at it because it feels like this starts to dissipate the energy around these choices and allows space to work on them as we feel to.

  79. What an awesome way of expressing Golnaz, I could clearly envisage my own pile and felt it may be time to begin to sort through it. I love how by sorting through your home it created a greater sense of space within – how wonderfully supportive!

  80. This is glorious Golnaz. What a gorgeous, visual and feeling analogy which I can relate to so well. You are a true inspiration in the changes that you have made over the years, which I have been privileged to be a witness, and know what a huge thing for you has been your ‘baby steps.’

  81. What a great analogy for how we hold onto things and often don’t want anyone or anything to disturb our ‘pile of sticks.’ I can visualize my pile of sticks very well. There are some that are close to the surface and are easier to tackle and others that are buried much deeper that I feel will cause too much havoc to move. What I have noticed like you Golnaz, is that when I do look at and remove a stick that I know no longer serves me, it has a very big, positive knock-on effect. All the other sticks get affected and end up reassembling themselves into a more harmonious pile. Thanks for sharing this light-hearted way of looking at and dealing with our issues.

  82. This is brilliant, I love the way you’ve related the complications in life to a game of ‘pick-up-sticks’. Often I have experienced that I can allow myself to get bogged down in the complications, but reading your account from such a playful perception shows that it does not have to be hard and laborious. When we do remove those sticks it feels amazing, as well as releasing and discovering new sticks in the pile that were once hidden. I for one am inspired to view my sticks in a more playful and less serious manner, Thank you.

  83. I love the analogy of the ” pick up sticks”- spot on! I too am working on many sticks, in some cases I have removed them, in other cases I have simply shortened them, but one thing is for sure, that pile is getting smaller! One day there may be very few sticks at all. 🙂

    1. I love it – shortening the stick, I had never considered that before. I recall when I used to play the game when I was young there were several sticks of the same colour. There were for example 5 red sticks, 5 yellow stick, 5 blue sticks…. I kind of see sometimes I move a stick, but there are more of that same ‘flavour’ stick in the pile that will at some stage need to be looked at as a ‘part two’, ‘part three’ visit of that same issue. But when a stick is moved, the pile as you say is smaller and that ‘colour’ does not have as big a hold.

  84. This is a beautiful expression of letting go in playfull-ness and coming into amazing fullness within. Thank you Golnaz for the great analogy with the sticks – I am working with the “just in case” sticks at this time too.

  85. Hi Golnaz, what an amazing insight to draw on the sticks of a game of jackstraws and apply it to your life! I think you should turn it into a sequel and keep your readers posted on which stick you decide to pick up next. And as to the ‘other people’s reactions’ stick, I have actually found that more often than not, these other people didn’t remember what they had given me in the past because so many presents are given out of a sense of duty and rarely are they given from the heart and from a true connection. The way I have been dealing with it is to honour the fact that they felt to give me something, but I have never had any feelings of duty towards them or loyalty to the actual object given.

    1. That is lovely Gabriel thank you. I too have been finding even when I take the time and care to find out the actual truth of another person’s reality, it is rarely what I had imagined. And even when their reality is similar to what I imagined, the actual conversation and my honouring of what I feel tends to free up something for both of us and our relationship is more true, respectful and loving after that.

  86. Hi Golnaz. It is really fun to imagine all of the sticks and how you’ve been removing them. Very inspiring – the analogy and the level of clarity you have expressed. When I imagine what would be left after removing all of the sticks, I can just…feel freedom and JOY!To get rid of all of those security based, ‘just in case’, strategies for survival…based on fears and beliefs. Great. I also tremble when imagining getting rid of some of my sticks, those I really like, smother, protect, keep secret….old identities….

    Maybe I can keep some of your unused bits for making cards, as I make cards all the time…haha.

  87. Beautiful Golnaz, such a great analogy and one we can all relate to. It makes me laugh to think that some sticks can be quite sticky and sometimes we don’t even realise they are stuck to us, until a loving assistant points it out! Much more fun to view our issues in this way, just sticks to clear. I love the fact that you can feel how much space has been freed up inside you as a consequence and can feel your heart is much lighter. Now that is something to truly celebrate.

    1. Interesting concept of the sticky stick… developing the analogy that there are some issues that as you tease them out, it in fact shakes loose and makes it easier to get at some of the other related issues. Makes the effort all the more worthwhile.

  88. Hey Golnaz, great way to look at the layers we put over ourselves and the nervousness at distrubing them…

  89. Golnaz, I love your playful analogy. I immediately can see some sticks to deal with, and seeing them as sticks somehow makes it easier to look at them playfully rather than as a burden. I can also relate to holding on to stuff. I have had to call in reinforcements to assist with clean outs from time to time. I now feel inspired to tackle the next layer of stuff that has accumulated in some areas and see that the first step is to feel into the inertia around dealing with it.

  90. Awesome Golnaz! It’s gorgeous that such a simple process as clearing out your home can have such a healing effect in your body and that your surroundings then simply reflect your grace you have re-connected to…

  91. Hi Golnaz, I Loved how you have been so playful with the way you have explained this and I can relate so much to all you have written. The simple act of looking at the sticks is a great support in showing that the sticks are not even you. I remember a time when I was a child when I did not have any sticks at all and yet I seem to have picked them up along the way.

  92. I love the way you have been able to write so playfully about the seismic changes you and your stick removal assistant were able to achieve, Golnaz. We are starting renovations at home next week – knocking a wall out to enlarge our kitchen and dining room area. The living area will also need to be cleared out as part of the changes that are planned. I can already feel my pile of sticks trembling at what serious time and attention they’ll need to be given.

  93. Hi Golnaz, it feels like all your sticks are from the past. What if we have held on to the sticks to stop us from being the amazing that we really are underneath all those sticks? But the sticks are the stories that we hold on to, to keep us from seeing the truth of who we are?
    Ariana, UK.

    1. That’s a sticky question Ariana! Yes, we build up all the sticks because we are not comfortable with how great we are, and even assessing and removing them can be a comfortable focus delaying us from simply living the grandness. It’s great for me to remember to confirm and live all I am whilst I remove what I have built up around me. The sticks do now not look so big after all, now with my blazing light back in place 🙂

  94. I really love this metaphor of the “pick-up sticks” Golnaz. I’m having fun already feeling into what my pile of sticks looks like. So, far, I too have some that I know are not even mine. I think I’ll toss them into the fire right now. 😉

  95. Golnaz, thank you for your lovely post. I can really identify with your ‘sticks’ as I have them too. Especially the one for ‘just in case’. My parents held onto everything ‘just in case’ and over the years would see my parents pull out that ‘thing’ when needed and used to admire that and so I copied that ‘stick’. From time to time, I choose to have a big (or small) clean out, usually when moving house, and there have been times when I have disposed of something, only to find I need it later. But now I am starting to feel more of “well if I don’t need it now I can get rid of it”, and if i do need it later I can buy another one – brand shiny and new, which is fun too. I realised that, this ‘stick’ stemmed from the fear of wasting money which was a big ‘stick’ for my parents especially, but now that my feelings towards money has shifted somewhat, that hold isn’t as strong. Having said all the above, I know there are still things to ‘let go of’. So thank you Golnaz for the lovely reminder.

    1. The clutter and complication created by those ‘just in case’ sticks is something I can definitely relate to too Suekira and Golnaz! Letting go is definitely the answer and I have a feeling this process is not always the big deal I fear and think it is.…

      1. Same here! It’s amazing how hard I find it to let go of things I’ve held on to for years. It really doesn’t serve any purpose…I thnk I’m starting to realise that now!!

    2. Oh yes, that holding on to ‘just in case’ stick I do know very well, not in material things but in emails and text and photos. I am aware now that this needs a loving declutter very soon.

  96. Thanks for this brilliant blog Golnaz. What a great analogy! I have often ‘seen’ my ideals and beliefs as a pile of sticks – stick-shaped and in a complicated bundle. I realised that this was because they were lineal and not spherical as truth is (i.e. not emanating from the wholeness of me). It is also so powerful to nominate the apprehension involved in removing those sticks from the pile, especially when a stick-removal consultant comes into it! The apprehension comes to the fore in these situations but it is always sitting there, across the board, underneath everything we do until it is cleared.

    1. That is brilliant Lyndy – of course – the ideals and beliefs feel like sticks because they are so lineal and so dense, and are entangling, while what emanates from the wholeness of us flows and promotes openness and expansion. Yes the apprehension is always sitting there, because life is always asking us to expand and evolve. In the past I used to not want to face the apprehension and I would distract myself and avoid removing any sticks. But I found it empowering to accept that the apprehension was there, and even tell my stick-removal consultant and we laughed about it, then it did not have such a hold on me….. Perhaps giving in to the apprehension is sticks in itself!

      1. There is so much power in saying something out loud to another who is not caught up in the ‘issue’ it completely diffuses the hold it has over you… yet you still have to then take an action to remove the stick, it is great to have a buddy to be a true friend and support you to let go of what is not true for you anymore.

      2. I agree Vanessa, having the support of a true friend who supports you to see all that is there and let go of what doesn’t serve you is a huge support to have that level of honesty in a relationship.

  97. Great post, thanks for sharing. I can relate, I started moving a “stick from my pile” (blog to come soon), and this stick has wobbled lots of areas in my life that can be looked at. The great thing is that when we look at these issues and address them one at a time, it opens up the space to look at other issues that we were not even aware of.

    1. Yes – and what is also amazing is that because the other sticks have wobbled, they are not so stuck – they are easier to approach. Also I found with each stick I removed, my resolve and commitment to love and truth within myself was strengthened, and I was better able to tackle other sticks.

    2. Yes indeed, as we remove stick by stick it becomes easier, once the main layers are gone a clarity is there and space to look at more unaware issues that are there waiting to be seen.

  98. Thank you Golnaz for such a colourful analogy. I could immediately envision my own pile of ‘pick up sticks’ and with that I was able to spot which stick I will remove next!

    1. Yes, go Gayle! And as soon as that one stick is removed, the next one shows itself as if playfully egging us on. It is a fun way of approaching it.

    2. I also liked this analogy because it wasn’t about dealing with all of the sticks at once but one at a time, this made it more practical and as I read it I could go yeah, I can do that without feeling overwhelmed.

      1. I like “one thing at a time” approach- that way we can focus and deal with it. I noticed that when I have a lot to do I might have anxiety even from thinking before doing. But if I keep my focus on one thing it is easy and doable.
        Lets face it-every “pile” is a collection of “things”-so we can leave it untouched or like Golnaz did start to play a game. Choice is ours.

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