reveries at 105degrees


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stuffed with stuff

I used to write a fashion blog.  I read through it the other day (before deleting it) and noticed myself repeating one word over and over again:  Why?

I’ve never denied that I have an addiction to stuff. Buying stuff, getting stuff, selling stuff, giving stuff away.  I could go into a psychological analysis about my family and my childhood, try to explain why stuff can be love and comfort.  I could talk about marketing, and discuss how new stuff=a new beginning, a “new  you.” But I won’t.  That’s all been done, it isn’t exactly new or interesting, and it’s not even particularly important to me right now.

I have a current goal to clear out at least two-thirds of my possessions.  This will still leave me with too many things, but it’s a start.  Deciding which things must go and refraining from buying new things are equally difficult.  Some decisions seem easy (Do I really need enough dishes to serve 8? Not a chance), but become impossible (but my dad gave me those). Some seem tedious (how do I choose 50 dresses to sell or give away?) but are surprisingly easy (I never wear this, this just doesn’t look right, this fabric is itchy, this is UGLY and I have no idea why I bought it).  Sometimes I toss things into a “donate” or “sell on eBay” box, and days later pull it back out, thinking, “In the future, I will regret getting rid of this.”

ImageThis is just shameful. It’s not even a quarter of it.

And why not?  I have an old joke about how if I were an artist, my self-portrait would consist of a painting of me, standing at one end of a fiery bridge, wearing a mixed expression and holding a gas can and a box of matches.  It seems that I can walk away from situations and jobs and people, using the same rationalization that I use when buying more new stuff that I really don’t need: It’s a new start. I am a new person. This all belongs to someone I no longer am.  But to quote an old friend….”LIES!”

The problem with this idea of “starting over” is that it ignores (or worse, denies) the fact that we are who we are as a result of a culmination of experiences.  Everything we see, experience, do, and live through shapes who we are.  The idea of getting rid of your past in an attempt to become someone else operates on a kind of fallacy: that you can become a blank slate.  You can’t.  And besides not working the way you want it to, this desire to completely start over has two common side effects: a sudden need to buy ALL THE NEW STUFF to start your “new life,” and/or a serious case of regret.

I’m not advocating becoming a hoarder.  Simplification is a good thing (I would even say a necessary thing).  I am still on a quest to reduce.  I even asked some friends for advice, noting that I have many regrets about things I gave away in the past. (Why did I give away that dress? It would have been perfect for this event.)  Someone mentioned that once something was out of her life, she didn’t think about it.  I thought, “I wish. I have a list of regrets.”

Last night, though, I visited my mom, and found a box of old things in her basement.  Things I thought I had donated to charity; things I regretted giving away.  I immediately grabbed three shirts from the  mid- and late 90s (possibly my favorite time, clothing- and music-wise, ever) and ran home to see how I could re-incorporate them into my wardrobe.

As I tried them on, I realized some things.  This isn’t how I remember…too big. Too itchy.  Too…something.  I thought back to the energy and time I wasted being upset that I didn’t still own that one particular thing and just laughed.  Really? I’m using minutes of my life to be sad about how I don’t still have a t-shirt with Felix the cat in space on it, the one I wore to a club called Fallout when I was 15?  I spent the next five minutes remembering why it was all such a big deal–remembering sitting on my friend’s roof at 5am, tossing pebbles into the dumpster, laughing until we couldn’t breathe because she said “beaver shot” (which is incredibly funny at 5am, trust me).  I didn’t miss my outfit at all.  I missed laughing like that.  I missed living in such a way that my biggest worry was how to get a ride to the next free concert.  I missed having a friend like that.

I’m trying to remember that logic every day as I work on this daunting project.  It still won’t be easy, but the fears of guilt and regret have faded to almost nothing.

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return

I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve decided to return to blogging. This means that I have many comebacks, and also many “quits.” The excuses for quitting are varied but typical: not enough time, not enough inspiration, no organization, loss of interest in the topic. Many times, the verb “quit” was too strong; I just let blogs fall to the wayside. Blog abandonment. I’m guilty. Still, my love for writing conquers all, and I always return.

Returning to something you love but abandoned for some reason is challenging and affirming and humbling. I can still remember my first Bikram class after a 4-month hiatus. I had been practicing for about 5 years, and something (I can’t even really remember exactly what) made me decide I needed a break. Maybe even a forever break. I continued to practice vinyasa yoga, attended a Pilates teacher training course, continued to go to the gym, but I didn’t set foot in the Bikram studio for months. Then, one day, I wanted—no, needed—to go back. I anticipated the worst—a combination repeat of my first class and my worst class, at the same time. I got to the studio and found that my most challenging instructor was teaching. (Her cadence! Too abrupt. Her speed! Too varied. Her voice! Too loud. I wanted to run screaming.) Instead, I scribbled my name and unfolded my mat. And it was one of the ten best classes I’ve ever had. I felt amazing—I melted into postures, found new edges–and somehow, that teacher became one of my favorites.

I’m familiar with the cliché that goes something like, “things in your past are in the past for a reason.” Recently, I realized that that “reason” doesn’t always have to be that it is something that permanently belongs in your past. Over the years, I’ve “quit” and returned to hair colors, clothing styles, furniture arrangements, dietary choices. And those are just the little things, the ones that are inconsequential to the big picture. Sometimes, it feels right to return to something. Whether the return is all positive or all negative doesn’t matter. It was once a worthwhile experience, and it will be one again. There will be things you remember loving, and things you remember making you grit your teeth. There will be new things that surprise you, and new things you can predict. You might decide to abandon or quit or slowly step away again, but you might not. You won’t be repeating history; you’ll be making a new one, and possibly making a new future. In the past for a reason? Maybe. But maybe that reason is to inspire you to courageously try again.


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what this is all about

Have you ever unlocked your front door at the end of a long day, hugged a friend, fed a pet, watched a sunrise—done anything, really—and suddenly realized, “I take all this for granted”?

I have. Many times. I don’t mean “take things for granted” in an unappreciative way. I mean that we don’t realize how much things become parts of us, how much we rely on other people and pets and activities to make up our lives and contribute to who we are. I have moments of awareness, days or weeks when I’m conscious of the makeup of my life and the sheer power I possess to change the parts that just don’t work for me. Then, other things and thoughts get in the way, and I start to forget that life isn’t just happening to me. I get by on autopilot until the next time something makes me stop and think, “Wait…I’m here, right where I am right now, because of choices I made. And most of them were good.” The words currently on your screen are the indirect result of a choice I made years ago; I had no idea that one decision would change my life.

January 2004. After a few years of semi-regularly practicing yoga at my gym, I decided to search for more. I wasn’t exactly sure what “more” meant; I only knew that I wanted it. I spent my afternoon searching the Internet, and came across something called “Bikram yoga.” Cardiovascular? 105 degree room? Sweating? It sounded like my kind of yoga. I kept reading. Silent room? Rules? “Etiquette?” The rebel inside me told me to click the “back” button, but I was intrigued. Terrified and unsure what to expect, I went. And I went back the next day. And the next. I came home a week later to find my apartment burglarized and my valuables all gone. I called the police and told them to come; when they did, I told them to “just shut the door” behind them as they left, because I couldn’t be late for yoga. I could go into detail about how yoga changed my life and continues to do so every single day, but I won’t—not immediately, and not gratuitously. Because this isn’t a yoga blog.

I mean, it is a yoga blog in a way, but most posts won’t focus on specific asanas (postures) or yoga equipment or yoga clothing or news about the yoga community. Before (many, many years before) I ever set foot on a yoga mat, I was a writer (something else I often take for granted.) The yoga room has become one of the most inspiring places for me; I often dash from the room after class to record ideas before I lose them. If an idea finds me in the hot room, I’ll write about it here.

I do practice yoga almost every day, and if I skip a day, I can feel the empty space left by the lack of practice. Writing is my other practice of becoming more aware, and I hope to get back to feeling like something is missing if I don’t write every day, as well. I’ve been letting fear stop me from combining these two activities; this is my attempt to toss that fear aside.

 

kind of unrelated, but I found this plant in my garage by the trash. I brought it inside, gave it water and sun, and told it to keep growing. It still doesn't look awesome, but it's so much better, and it's trying.

kind of unrelated, but I found this plant in my garage by the trash. I brought it inside, gave it water and sun, and told it to keep growing. It still doesn’t look awesome, but it’s so much better, and it’s trying.