January 7, 2013

Advice from a Bag Lady. ~ Lisa Eastman


Recently, a woman I know came to me with a ‘situation.’ It was the same situation it had always been, just with new coloring. She was hurting because the man she loved wasn’t loving her in the way she needed.

Whenever someone comes to me with a recurrent ‘problem,’ or ‘issue,’ my instinct is for them to write a book about it. “Go write it down,” I tell them. Am I wrong to think that everyone should be a writer? Educated or not, prolific or not, we all have something to say. We should all  journal and discover who we are.

We’re all like sellers with our wares—each carrying around a sack of burden—trying to be heard, understood and loved. What can be done? Maybe the telling is the first step in opening this bag.

But we don’t have to make the purchase, as listeners—they do.

Make the investment in our bag of burden, I think. Pull out one piece at a time and study it as if it were the fossil of our soul. 

 I ask her if she’s told the person how she felt. “Yes, many times. Countless times.”

“Hmmmmm, and you like feeling like a broken record?” I ask.

In a relationship, it seems to start with a disappointment and then the rest of the time is spent with an ongoing verbal dissatisfaction when the person isn’t listening to our needs.

I tell her, “Don’t say another word. You’ve told him everything.” She looked at me like I was an alien, but I could see a spark in her eye.

What started as ‘you don’t desire me anymore’ became a war on ‘the dogs shouldn’t  sleep in the bed,’ ‘you watch too much TV,’ ‘you don’t text,’  ‘you’ve stopped responding,’ or ‘don’t want to make love anymore.’

Yes, of course we feel horrible when someone treats us badly, but why do we allow it? Why are we sleeping in a bed with someone who isn’t jumping our bones? Why are we eating dinner with someone who doesn’t want to talk to us? Why are we existing in our misery?

Watch what happens before we go to battle. Tensions rise, people look for blame. Ultimatums are given. “If you don’t do X, Y, or Z, you’ll be sorry”—as if we are living amongst a dictator who determines our feelings, or in another country’s mindset.

We are the determiner of our own feelings. No one can enter our bodies unless we allow it. Not even a surgeon can unlock our hearts.

I have learned this the hard way. Fighting the harshest resistances and closed off people—when maybe it was just I who needed to clean out my own cobwebs, so I could see clearer.

I think, when we start to look at our own ‘stuff,’ in our own bag, maybe they will want to peek in too.

Maybe that is the only solution. If there is a solution.

Once we tell someone how we feel, the next thing to do is stop. Pause. Break. In movie terms, ‘cut.’ “Make a mental movie,” I tell them. Journal. Write to the moon. Write 20 novels. Observe your own reactions. Be quiet and become an observer in your own life.

Start a new scene where you are the hero—where you give yourself what you need.

I was once upset because an old boyfriend didn’t buy me a dress I wanted despite my various ‘hints.’ I finally came out and badgered him about it for a while until I felt so ugly I didn’t even want the dress anymore.

It was just something in my bag I was reliving from childhood. The ‘no one loves me and won’t buy me a dress nugget.’

The tools and solutions to our survival can be carried in a bag. They already exist—we just don’t know what we have because we haven’t looked yet. We are too busy looking at them—adding excess to our already full rucksacks.

Watch what the other person does. If they continue to neglect us, write it down. If they ignore us, write it down. What does being ignored feel like? What does it feel like to be unloved?

Stop. And address everything in our bag.

Pray that the person will recognize us, will understand. If they take baby steps, allow them. Don’t hold a grudge. Let us open the flower that is us step by step, and in doing so, they may become open, too.

Have no expectations. Give time to nurture an unborn seed.

We are all operating at different velocities—but we all want instant gratification.

It doesn’t exist, and if it does, it is only a temporary fix.

Real love takes time. It takes pushing through the grueling feelings, the despair, the self-hatred, the feeling invisible. It means sitting in a room and opening up our bag, so we don’t get bags…under our eyes.

It is a time of discovery.

We don’t have to be bag ladies anymore. We can carry around nice purses with bare necessities, and own them! Pretty pink lipsticks!

We don’t have to be emotionally homeless, but instead can be carriers of our amazing destinies.

We have all felt sad in the presence of someone else—and picked at them like hens only making things worse. We have kicked them like donkeys trying to stir them up, distracted them with the feeling of fight. We have reminded them we are here by tearing at their coverings, entertained them with our suffering. We have done a circus act jumping through hoops waiting for their applause…ingested fire and nearly died for their love.


Stop doing, and be. Dance when our real self is dancing. Dance with the items in our bags,  like a crazy person, …and then,

If our storage shed is overflowing, clean out the shed and move on to a new life. 

I envision a child emptying a bag of marbles on the floor. Looking deeply into each one to see what is inside. How did those colors get there? Each one is unique and formed a different way, even though they all look the same on the outside. Hours and hours spent holding these beautiful specimens. There is a story to every one.

Maybe the world is like one giant marble, pieced together by our own discovery. And as we look in to see these swirls keep getting deeper, more beautiful, as we are swept up in their voyage. If only we could get lost in our own, we might be found. 

I have bought all my own dresses since then, and gravitate to vintage stores to reuse other people’s dresses as well. I appreciate dresses as each one tells a story in my closet, and reminds me of how I felt when I bought it. Maybe my closet is just an extension of my  bag, my newest bag?  It happens to be overflowing with dresses. So please don’t buy me any.


Lisa Eastman is a singer/songwriter/pianist and has an album coming out in December called Jubilee. I write both out of passion and necessity. I sometimes use the pseudonym Raime Sun to write under…she’s been a good listener. I trust that I will write what’s true. For the words that I impart to you. I will go deep inside and tell you things that shouldn’t hide. As a seeker in these times, I am just another eye.




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Ed: Brianna Bemel
Assistant Ed: Tara Lemieux

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