11.07.2011

One chance to impress

My life is becoming increasing simple. It started with a 'no juice' policy, we just drink water from the tap. We don't have a microwave, or a TV. Remy and I ride our bikes (rather I ride, Remy cruises) a lot. I've stopped making crazy to-do lists everyday. Carl and I drive to the coast to get Rosemary Artichoke bread from a little bakery on Saturdays. I don't think I'm totally awesome for doing these things, and I don't think that everyone else needs to do them too, but for me, in this time, simple is good. I've realize that throughout my short course in motherhood, I've done a lot of definition shifting. Productive no longer means what it used to, and I'm learning to be alright with that. In fact, this paradigm shift is showing me that there is more than one way to really love life. My life has shifted from a constant influx of people, conversation, parties, to a rather quiet existence. For the time being, this is also good. I do lots of painting, translated: work. I know that I am so lucky to be able to work from home doing something I genuinely get jazzed about while Remy naps and after he goes to bed. Our social lives have shifted to hanging out with retired cartographers we met at Costco and the occasional courtyard barbecue. One way though, hence the title of this post, that I am simplifying my life is a system I have implemented called, 'clothes, you have one chance to impress me'. It seems like kind of a silly thing to even have to make a system about, but let me explain. I realize that a lot of my insecurity comes from the way I feel about my body, even though it made a baby, made that baby milk, plays soccer, skis, etc... I know these things on the outside looking in. I have an incredible body that does incredible things. Thank you body. But, from the inside looking out, it's sometimes not so easy to convince myself. Clothes then, have always been an issue for me. Even when I was younger I made my mom cut the elastic, cuffs, tags and anything possibly annoying, out of all of my clothes, even my underwear, and even then I only wore two things: a pink dress with an ice-cream cone sewn on it, and my rainbow striped swimsuit.

I was reading this article on one of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits, that talked about clutter and why we keep things. The author said that we keep things for one of two reasons: one, we are living in the past and are worried that if we get rid of something, then a memory, relationship, etc... doesn't exist anymore. Two, we are living in fear of the future and we keep items just on the off chance that we 'might' need them someday. The reality is, even if we get rid of items (not totally special ones, but ones that are excessive and cluttering) those relationships still very much existed, and probably still do, and as far as the things we are saving for the future, we could probably save ourself some space and sanity and just purchase, borrow or do without an item in the future.

So, back to my closet and drawers. I took a good hard look at my clothes and realized that I had a cluttered wardrobe, full of things that caused me both to live in the past and be afraid of the future. The past represented in things like my tattered, worn, white sweater that I wore nearly every single day of my mission six years ago. I loved that sweater, but lets get serious, I had visions of my daughter someday wearing it on her mission, but no one else is ever going to want that sweater. It saw its day, rather days and days and days. There are also things that have been handed down at least three times. Yes, it was really hip when my sister-in-law wore it six years ago, but it's not hip on me now. Bad impulse purchases stare at me and I felt an obligation to wear them, even if they were on the 2.00 sale rack at Old Navy. But no more! Now, with the 'one chance to impress' system, the article of clothing goes on and must be worn for a sufficient amount of time in order for me to assess whether it is impressing me or not. Some clothes don't even make it past lunchtime before the go in the 'get out of my life' pile. The other clothes, the ones that leave me feeling fearful for the future are the ones that once fit me, but no longer do since I had a baby and am nursing (I have a large bosom). These clothes make me feel badly, but I hang on to them thinking 'one day I'll fit back into them and be the hottest babe around'. These clothes are hurtful to me and to my self-esteem, and they are also going in the 'get out of my life' pile. Truth is, I am exercising, and eating healthy, but it may be awhile until I fit back into those clothes, and when that time comes, I will go out and buy a few well-fitting things. This program has caused me to be brutally honest with myself. There are so many things that have just hung in my closet for literally years without me ever having to face them head on and wear them. Now, I have to wear them, for at least half a day, and if that is too much, I had best be getting rid of them. I know, silly perhaps, but this system has been totally therapeutic for me and I'm realizing that sometimes less is more. I am actually feeling a little bit stylish again because I'm just wearing the things that look good on me, and make me feel good about myself. Who knew? Rocket science here. I suggest trying this if you have any of the same feelings, or I'd love to hear your suggestions/experiences with similar things.

12 comments:

Shelly said...

Are you sure you're not my child?

Shelly said...

Okay, I wrote that as my first thought...please don't read a single thing more into that thought, okay? Hahaha!

LJ said...

I LOVE love that philosophy: one chance to impress. I can't tell you how many clothes I've purchased because with enough tugging and adjusting, they hung right on my body.

Quoth the LJ, "Nevermore." I know immediately if something is awesome when it slides on easily and falls correctly immediately. If I have to tug and tuck and what-not, it goes in my DI pile.

Also, I have a friend who says you have to be able to group your belongings in two camps: if you believe it to be beautiful or know it to be useful. This has been my litmus test for ringing out the old.

And I hear you about my life slowing down. I used to measure my life in stories worth telling (ie, bodacious things I had done) and now that I'm actually happy and contented, I have almost no more of these stories. Which, as my husband puts it, means I'm actually happy so I don't have to work so hard to prove it.

Once again, great post.

melimba said...

so great! one of my favorite books is called "clearing the clutter with feng shui"... i think i've done like 5 blog posts about it, b/c it is so enlightening. she talks a lot about clothing and other objects too and that whole concept of "why am i holding onto this?" is so darn fascinating. i love it and i approach organizing, purchasing, and de-cluttering so differently now. i totally recommend her book (karen kingston) if you want to read more.

loved this post and am excited for you! doesn't it make you feel so free getting rid of things that have been sub-consciously tying you down? so great!

love your posts, as always.

kathy w. said...

I love this.

Few things are more liberating than a good de-clutter. And if I remember right, you were pretty much indispensable in one of my own de-cluttering projects.

Also, thanks for recommending that I read zen habits. I'm a believer.

michael ann said...

oh i really like this post. i've been trying to simplify life in the stress/to do list category, and it's been so hard to let go of all those worries! as far as clothes, i've never had much of a clothing budget, but now instead of buying lots of cheap things that are going to fall apart in a month, i'm trying to buy fewer, more well made/well fitting things. so far my $60 grown up rain boots have been worn more in a couple weeks than my totally cheesy $20 target rainboots were ever worn in a couple years...

darcie said...

i'm getting happier as i let "worldly" things go and just live our simple mountain life. it's so peaceful to appreciate what matters and very little else.

Club Narwhal said...

i love that you had a heart to heart with your closet. 'clothes, you have one chance to impress me'. is now my new motto. i cleaned my closet out this weekend and had a similar revelation. it was actually kinda fun editing things down to essentials, the things that make me feel utterly me. plus i found a few treasures i had forgotten about and have been wearing non stop since saturday (don't judge :)

ginni said...

I like your new rule. I'll have to do this. I have 1/2 closet that needs to be decluttered. It's the side of the closet that hasn't seen the light of day in almost a year.

I have probably told you about my "per use" policy for buying new clothes (or maybe told Carl) ? I try to live by it when shopping for myself and Caleb.

I have only a few clothing items though. I don't like doing laundry or having to think about what I'm going to wear, so I am super minimalist (i.e., I have maybe <10 wearable shirts, 1 sweatshirt, 1 sweater, 1 skirt, 2 pairs of jeans, and 3 pairs of stretchy/pajama/lounging pants). And, sadly, because I perhaps have no dignity, I wear things until they have holes.

Good grief, Caleb's closet is another story though.

Heather said...

http://www.amazon.com/Organized-Simplicity-Clutter-Free-Approach-Intentional/dp/1440302634


Changed my life.

Deja said...

And thank you also for this. I shall implement it this very weekend.

carla thorup said...

Holy smokes this is what I needed to read today. I bought your print of the apostles at bijou today, and thought I'd poke around your blog. it's great btw. And Remy is a dream. And as a woman that has too many "once I lose the baby weight and get rid of these huge nursing boobs" cheap clothes, it's a nice reminder to jut get rid of them!

Thanks