inspiration

The Closet Countdown: The Morning After

It’s over. My one hundred day adventure in minimalist-style clothing ended yesterday. I’m relieved and a bit overwhelmed. I doubt I will repeat The Closet Countdown any time soon. But I grew. I feel it. I see it in the pictures I posted.

I have my “lessons learned” post in the works but in the meantime, I thought I’d go ahead and post a few initial reactions while they are still very fresh in my mind.

Last night, I pulled down my two bins of “unchosen” clothing. First thing this morning, I opened them. Right after feeling joy at seeing some of my loved items, my heart sagged a bit. There were literally piles of clothes around me that needed to be sorted.

I felt buried.

So I put on the dress I’d missed the most: my Merrell Emery in Manganese Ikat. Honestly, I didn’t like it at first. I felt like the color was “wrong” or the fit felt “off”. The dress was fine. I was just in a strange funk.

I thought about how I felt the last weekend of The Closet Countdown. Brave. Bold. Creative. Beautiful even. Immediately my posture changed. My face brightened. So I decided to wear the dress for the day and take a few pics (see for yourself at the end of this post ;)).

Flattering clothes – fit, color, style, hem length, etc. – matters very much. But the real style is inside. The moment we choose to see ourselves as someone worth looking at, we become more attractive. Our confidence and freedom from fear of what others think makes our smile brighter, our posture straighter. When I feel beautiful, the world around me is more beautiful. Brighter. And I feel connected to that beauty because I have found a tiny grain of it in myself.

That’s how I decided to feel this morning when I put on my “other” Merrell Emery Dress. That’s how I hope to feel every morning. 🙂

If you are reading this, know that you are beautiful. Maybe your hair isn’t “perfect”. Maybe your shape won’t ever be in a magazine. Maybe you’ve had a few bad days in a row that kept you from smiling. But inside you is beauty. You carry it with you wherever you go. I know because today I walked out into the world and I felt it. It’s all around us. Inside us. We just have to have the courage to show it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my words. I’m honored to share your company here on My Simplicity Quest.

Shine On,

G

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Searching for My Stride

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Forget about having an identity crises and get some identity capital.
Do something that adds value to who you are.
Do something that’s an investment in who you might be next.
– Meg Jay

I’ve been absent. Not just from my blog but from my WordPress Reader, my computer, and the world wide web in general. I had that “too much” feeling. So I did what I do instinctively: I backed off. I took a break. I needed to look at my life from a different perspective. I don’t like admitting that I feel overwhelmed. To me, it means I didn’t plan well enough or research enough before I started. It means I admit to being in over my head. And to admit that offends my pride. Deeply.

Maybe I got tired of taking pictures of my outfits. Maybe I felt like I was letting people down if I didn’t respond to each comment. I’ve broken all the main “rules” of successful blogging. Consistency? Fail. Specific niche? Nope. Quick, thoughtful reply to every comment? Uh uh. Then there are all the lovely awards I’ve been given and have yet to “accept” with a post and my own nominations…

I feel all tangled up in blogginess. In my writing and my life and my house full of extra stuff, I long for simplicity. But simplicity isn’t simple. Perhaps that is an obtuse view. Perhaps I have an overly-romantic view of living a simpler life. And underneath it all is a deeper hunger: to write. To just let the music of my soul pour out into words. That the few people who read this would have a little more sunshine. That the tiny space I’ve cleared in this cold, chaotic universe would hold enough light to warm a heart and start a fire somewhere else.

But something holds me back. I hesitate. I wait.

I do write but I wonder if my Eliza Doolittle literary ways shine through. Though in “real life” I do not have a low class accent, I wonder if my writing does. I’m so often careless and overly wordy. I lack formal education. I lack that sense of confidence that I believe “real” writers have. And yet I keep writing.

I’m so close to something new. Something really exciting. I can feel the heat of it near me. And I have no idea what it is.

I’m not fishing for compliments or “hang in there” sentiments. Sincerely, I’m not. I’m seeking wisdom. Advice. Random words of experience. Blogging is such a different beast. Sometimes, I spend all of my writing time catching up on comments. It overwhelms me. Do you feel this way? Why do you blog? What do you blog about? Do you love writing? How do you get in your writing and keep up with your comments and keep up with your everyday life?

This week, I start training for my first half marathon. From what I understand, it’s a different kind of training. I have to know things about myself and running that I did not really need to know for a 5 or 10K. It is where I am in my life – ready to raise the bar, intimidated by the possibility of failure, and utterly surrendered to the process of growth. I’m searching for my stride…

Thank you. Thank you for stopping by. Thank you so much for reading my words. Thank you for whatever kind thoughts you send my way. Thank you for being a writer. I wish you joy and clarity and love. So much that you have to share it all the time, wherever you go.

Cheers,
G

Minimalism. Hard Work. Big Rewards.

Work is love made visible. – Kahlil Gibran

Though my outside circumstances are pretty rough, I’m in a great place internally. A big part of that is because I’m working very hard at being a better person. I honestly flinch to write that. Work hard? At being kind and caring and honest and sincere? Aren’t we supposed to just “be” those things naturally? If we are, I’m screwed.

Enter minimalism. As I began the action of reducing my things, I learned early that it is not an easy process. It’s taking a long time because I don’t want to just throw it all away. I’m a curious person. I want to explore why I hold on to things and why I feel the need to let go. Minimalism has become much more about the internal work than the external process of eliminating stuff.

I feel like I’m finding important pieces of myself buried beneath my collection of clothes and old beliefs. Pieces I told myself that were worthless because I had to “work” to make them shine.

The process fascinates me. I examine an old toy. Then I examine the belief that rich people are all assholes. Odds and ends I’ve collected on my journey so far. A lot of it is a bunch of crap. There are days when it’s not fun to decide what to do with a box of baby clothes or my scraps of religion.

But it is worth it. For the first time in my life, I’m learning to like myself. What a treasure to find on my quest for simplicity.

A few days ago, I remembered an interview with Kris Carr I’d seen years ago. She is a fabulous woman. Please check out her documentary titled Crazy Sexy Cancer. She is a survivor and an inspiration to many. She said something that stayed with me and as I grow into my new identity as a person with less baggage, I’m ready to embrace those words. Please watch the video below to hear her response when asked how she stays so positive (the answer is within the first twenty seconds of this clip).

I’m ready to work hard at being a better person. I’m ready to let go of my belief that the good stuff in life comes easy and without effort. So far, all the good stuff in my life has come because I’ve worked for it. All the miles under my feet. All the love in my life. All the joy in my heart. All the light in my soul. Yes, they are gifts but if I don’t nurture them and work to make them grow, then they are as worthless as I once believed I was…

Thank you dear reader. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. As you read these words, know that I wish great things for you, my fellow traveler along my simplicity quest. I’m honored that you would walk with me.

Shine on,

G

Inspiration: The Happiness Advantage

I saw this video for the first time less than a year ago. I was sitting at my desk at my old job, knowing that the small company we had worked so hard to build for two years was self-destructing right before my eyes. Sadness owned my soul.

I loved it instantly. Shawn Achor made me laugh and then he made me cry. (I still smile when I think of his opening story.) I cried because he was talking about happiness and I felt so far from it. At the same time, it gave me hope and made me feel special when I was facing a pretty big “failure”.

In my simplicity quest, I have learned so much already. My happiness does not depend on my current state of minimalism. Minimalism is simply a way of traveling. My happiness doesn’t even depend on my income or my relationships (though I do find that having these two things in check makes my life MUCH easier…). It all depends on the filter I choose to put on my life view.

Shawn Achor’s TEDTalk reminded me of that.

He mentions 5 things that make a huge difference in one’s happiness:

  1. Write down 3 things  for which you are grateful
  2. Journal
  3. Exercise
  4. Meditation
  5. Random Acts of Kindness

He says that if you do these five simple things for just 21 days, you can begin to change the way your brain sees the world. That fascinates me. We can change our brains. One connection at a time. Why not start with happiness?

Thank you, dear reader for spending your precious time reading my humble blog. I’m honored that you stopped by. Sincerely. I wish you much happiness on your journey. May your heart remain wide open and grateful. 🙂

Cheers,
G