Zip Lining, Shedding, and the Art of Letting Go

What new things do you want to come into your life? More importantly, what old things do you need to let go of? What experiences in life can you remember where you did let go? It was a bit scary, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable, but somehow it was also easy. You knew in that moment it simply came down to a decision. The decision to hold on to what was or to let go and see what would be. In the process, there were lessons learned and growth happened. You found a different part of yourself in the process yet you are at a crossroads again. Hold on, or let go.

Personal development is all about making these discoveries and making what can be difficult decisions. The adventure of life awaits and each time it will be a bit scary, unfamiliar and uncomfortable but worth it. Here’s to you and what awaits you next in your life.

Zip Lining and Letting Go

I traveled to Nicaragua for a mission trip, and after a week of building homes for the residents of Tipitapa, we had a free day before traveling back to Phoenix. Part of our free day led us to a zip lining canopy tour. Earlier in the year, I traveled to Asheville, NC to Navitat for a zip lining activity that was a great personal development event, but this trip was a bit different. Unlike the US equivalent, there were no safety forms to fill out or training on how to use the equipment. Instead, we simply unloaded from the bus, were instantly fitted with our helmets and rigging, and then driven to the first zip line.

On the fourth line (just enough time to get used to the rigging), we were given the option to do the “Superman.” The Superman is exactly what it sounds like – going down the zip line face first while a guide does the braking.

Now, normally as you zip line, you reach above you on the line with a padded glove to slow down. In this case, since the “Superman” required you to go face first with no access to the line, you needed to have someone brake for you. While that was exciting and scary, the next option made it seem easy. I arrived at the next platform and the guide asked me a question that surprised and intrigued me: “Would you like to go upside down?”

Now, I’m always looking for a story and didn’t know when I would get this chance again … but how could upside down on a zip line work? It was a total leap of faith that the person on the other end would stop me in time. Even though I was sure they knew what they were doing — no one had ever died performing this maneuver — right? I hopped up on the line and then asked, “What do I do now?” The guide said, “Let go.”

In the next moment, I decided to let go and instantly got it. Our lives are defined in the commitment to let go of controlling everything to truly live.

I was flying through the air upside down armed with the hope that someone on the other side would catch me. I wanted to avoid cracking my head against the ground. I remember saying to myself on the way down, “I don’t believe I’m doing this. This is crazy!”

I arrived at the end of the line, a guide gently stopping my descent. I remember standing up for the first time — completely confused at what had just happened. I was elated that I was alive and excited to share the experience with the rest of the group. “That was crazy, that was intense, that was really cool!” were the only words I could form. I had experienced something really special and it was all because I let go and had faith that things would work out.

Life can be that easy – but it takes effort. It takes time to understand why you are really letting go. What fears, anxieties, or worries do you need to let go of? What would that even look like for you? Is it even possible? Working on personal development takes all forms, so keeping yourself open to what can affect you in myriad ways is key to growth.

A Life Edit

In order to make room for the new, you must eliminate some of the old, sometimes referred to as “shedding” or “editing.” Certain animals will shed their skins when either the fur or the wool is no longer necessary. Think of this process as something similar to that – you think about your life and review existing items to see what is needed and what isn’t. That’s how you experience meaningful progress.

  • Files from five years ago from clients that you don’t even work with anymore.
  • Jeans that fit in college but your body has changed so much that they are now too big or too small.
  • Scrapbooking paper and stickers from a hobby you never really enjoyed.


There comes a time when you are at “capacity.” You can’t find anything and you spend hours searching for a document or a recipe or the other sneaker. Eventually you have to clean house – both mentally and physically.
Are you sick and tired of looking for things that you knew you saved, because you saved everything?

Start Making Room

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain

I will share another personal development story where I was asked to speak at a TEDx event. I live in a condo and have little space to store things. Still, I somehow got into the habit of saving everything: boxes to appliances, things that had sentimental meaning, those things that I didn’t quite use but couldn’t get rid of either. Well, I reached the point of not being able to fit much more into storage.

Then my parents visited from out of town. I asked my dad if he would like to help me tackle the storage unit and get rid of those unnecessary things. We began working at 9am and, after taking things to Goodwill, shipping things out, and throwing things away, we didn’t finish until 7pm. I could actually stand my golf clubs up in my storage unit and store my hardtop for my car, which was why I purchased it in the first place!

A couple days later, I was speaking with a friend and sharing how I “create space” in my life and in my head. I said how I like to journal, which stops thoughts from lingering and allows me to “empty my cup,” a great lesson I learned from the book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. I shared the story of shedding and how I felt lighter and could see room for other things to come into my life.

Just then, she asked me if I would like to share how I “create space” for an upcoming event conveniently called “creating space.” As a result of getting rid of all of the old stuff that was collecting dust, I was given an opportunity to speak on stage at TEDx, which gets me one step closer to speaking on a TED main stage (a Big Hairy Audacious Goal of mine.)

I had been holding on to all of these others things that were acting like an anchor. By getting rid of them, I found a propeller. As we shed and let go of other things we have been holding onto, we make way for new opportunities to come into our lives.

What things are you holding you back from where you would like to be?

Simple Shedding Tips

The key to shedding is to start. Start with paperwork, start with one drawer in your office or bedroom. Start with 15 minutes on the timer on your phone and begin consolidating all of the things that you have been holding onto for years. If you can’t remember why you kept that t-shirt, who you went to that concert with five years ago, or what that magazine article was about, you need to get rid of it.

Shedding can be done at any time, but should be done at least once a year. Around the holidays and before the New Year begins is a great time to put this into practice; you’ll start off the New Year with a clean slate. The first shed should take a long time, but the subsequent sheds should go faster. By minimizing what you bring in throughout the year and only keeping a few piles to review, you will be on your way to leading a simpler life with less stress and agony and can fully appreciate life daily.

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