Monthly Archives: February, 2016

Get your (skinny jean) skeletons OUT of the closet

“It is true that there are skeletons hiding in our closet, but

there is treasure hiding there, too.” -Teal Swan

Since this month’s theme is CLARITY, I have gone through my closet again. Ugh. De-cluttering. But Wait! Don’t stop reading! As Marie Kondo says in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,

Putting your house in order is fun! The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.

Though I let go of my “skinny ED (Eating Disorder)” clothes twenty years ago, there are other clothes holding emotional meanings from my past: a soft velvety pair of pants that I wore prior to becoming a mom, a t-shirt that has been balled up in the drawer for the past 16 years because a dear friend gave it to me. The memory of this friend is far better than the t-shirt. The shirt is ratty, bulky, stained, and doesn’t give me joy.

According to Marie Kondo, this is the hallmark test:

“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in hand and ask Does this spark joy? If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.

Although easy-sounding, this can be tricky.

When I ask my clients to bring in their clothes from their eating disorder or pre-pregnancy days and ask,”Does this [shirt/dress/pair of jeans] give you joy?” they almost always say unequivocally,

“YES.”

And then I ask “Is it REALLY the [shirt/dress/pair of jeans]?”

To which they say “YES.”

Then we sit there and look at each other in a staring contest. However, since therapy is expensive, this usually only lasts a few minutes at most. Then they might say something like:

“Well, maybe it’s the memory if wearing this pair of jeans and feeling confidant.”

Or

“I wore this dress on my first date with my ex-boyfriend.”

Or

“When I was [this size], I didn’t ever feel anxious.”

Or

“I was happy when I wore this.”

Then I ask them where the happiness came from.

“The shirt/dress/pair of  jeans” they say.

“No,” I say. “From you. The happiness came from inside of you.”

Them: “No, it was the jeans.”

Me (Their Best-Self): “Go buy another pair.”

Them: “They’re not the right size.”

Me (Their Best-Self):

“YOU are the right size. You are the right size. Right now. Your stomach is the right size. Your thighs are the right size. Your JEANS may be the wrong size, your DRESS may be the wrong size, but not you.”

“But what about the happiness I felt when I wore these jeans?”

(Eventually, the resistance is softened, and we get to the tears and the grief…)

Marie Kondo:

“When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future….The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life…The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.”

Do you really want your eating disorder in your life? What else was going on while you were able to fit into your skinny jeans? Were you not obsessing about food, tired all the time, worried about somebody finding out or seeing “the real you” because underneath it all you were exhausted, anxious, and barely functioning? What about your pre-mommy days? So your tummy was smaller. Did you wake up in the morning filled with joy about everything in your life, your relationships, your career, and your connection with a Power Greater Than you because your stomach was free of stretch marks? I doubt it.

Happiness, in my opinion, is more about being in acceptance with what-is rather than what-you-would-like-to-be-different. If you have a little black dress that you used to wear in your pre-mommy days that doesn’t fit (and never will because spanxs-are-for-women-who-are-willingly-subjecting-themselves-to-torture-and-do-you-really-want-to-belong-to-that-club), is it really making you happy hanging there in your closet? Or is it looking at you every day saying:

“You used to wear me. Now you are a hippo-that-wears-sweat-pants.”

That doesn’t sound like a happy item with which to be to be hanging on. That sounds like a shaming, mean voice that should not be allowed in your house and definitely not in your closet. It is interesting to see what emerges when I have clients write goodbye letters to the clothes they are letting go of. Saying goodbye to the illusion of happiness being tied to an unattainable body shape/size can often bring up grief…which then can lead to freedom, which feels like, yes, you guessed it, happiness. Not like euphoria, more like self-accepting contentment. My closet has clothes that fit me now. If my body changes size again, I can get new clothes! But for now, I have space. Space to be me. As I am. There is no better gift than that.

(And plus: now I have space for an altar in my closet!)

Other creative ideas:

FullSizeRender-3 copyCut up your old clothes and turn them into journal covers.

Paint or write with fabric markers on your skinny jeans how “I am no longer a skeleton and you are no longer in my closet” on them. Frame and hang them up.

 
Bring your old clothes to a store that will trade in old clothes for store credit for new ones. (If you are feeling too emotional to try on different sized clothes without judging yourself, bring a friend or just drop off the old clothes to release them).

 

The Butterfly Effect

Life is short. If you doubt me, ask a butterfly. Their average life span is a mere five to fourteen days.   -Ellen DeGeneres
My vision collage this year emerged in the shape of a butterfly and included images of many fellow people in my “tribe.” So I decided to name it “Butterfly tribe.” I then got to thinking about how I could, like Gretchen Rubin in her Happiness Projects, have themes to focus on each month. This is your cordial invitation to join me in the year of

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

 thisrsz_1heartbutterflymandala

The butterfly effect is a term from chaos theory that refers to a small change resulting in large differences in a later state or place. Each month I will be making small changes in different areas.

Here are the areas:

  1. Vision (January)
  2. Clarity (February)
  3. Make A Plan (March)
  4. Cultivate Creativity (April)
  5. Connect (May)
  6. Honor Sensitivity (June)
  7. Receive Support (July)
  8. Embrace Change (August)
  9. Play (September)
  10. Romance (October)
  11. Health (November)
  12. Release Shame (December)
Each month I will be writing about the small incremental changes I am practicing in these areas and recommending books or action you could try if you would like. Where do you come in? You are invited to join. If each of us make small changes, they MAY result in large differences. Also, in a tribe, people can learn from each other. For example there may be some spring chickens in this tribe that could teach me about how the heck to “tweet” during May.
Change (recovery, parenthood, living your vision) can be hard. It can be even harder when we attempt to do it alone. I have created a few ground rules for myself and you, should you choose to accept, in this butterfly project:
 butterfly

1. It is ok to choose the level of your participation, to make mistakes, and to change your mind.


2. You do not have to do it alone.

3. Stay engaged with the process (and notice when you would rather not).

Butterflies are fragile. They collapse easily and don’t survive well alone. They need each other, they need heat, and they need light. 4th generation monarchs, the ones that travel to California
and Mexico and live for 180-240 days, travel together for astounding distances. They do this together and then, when they hang in the trees, they do it together. So when you feel alone or collapsing in shame or sick and tired of being sick and tired, Do not give up. In the words of Richard Bach,

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.

Happiness

Although she is not a Psychologist or recovered person (those I often look to for wisdom on recovery or motherhood) I absolutely love the work of Gretchen Rubin. In her Happiness Project book series, she researches and then implements the wisdom she discovers. Though the nature of the topic borders on self-help, I never feel “preached to” (ex: You should take the following steps to get to where you want to be) while reading her work. She is permission-giving. Her main truth is “Be Gretchen”- be YOURSELF.

There is no better recovery guideline than that.

Here are some of her other Happiness Truths:IMG_1486.jpg

  • To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.  
  • One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
  • One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
  • The only person I can change is myself.
  • Happy people make people happy, but
    I can’t make someone be happy, and
    No one else can make me happy.

I was so inspired by her yearly themes that I have implemented my own for this year. January was, of course, Visioning.

February is Clarity. Stay tuned for more on this month’s theme as I read about the life changing magic of tidying up.

What are your happiness themes? What makes you happy?

 

 

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