simplicity

Growing Pains

I cannot believe how difficult it is to actually write this. I’ve had a post screaming in my  head for days now. Like a loud, beautiful piece of music that won’t go away until I DO something about it. So here I am and you know what I hear in my head? Nothing. Silence.

Whatever. I’m doing this anyway.

When I started writing and posting on my blog last year, my intention was to build something from which I could eventually figure out a way to monetize. I was in love with the idea of minimalism. I read stories from other minimalists who made money from writing about getting rid of their junk and I thought “Hey, I can do that. I love writing and I love getting rid of stuff.” Instant, easy, awesomness, right?

The more I wrote, the more I wanted people to read (and like and comment on) what I wrote. I needed that daily dopamine fix. I sacrificed sleep and time with “real” people in my life to get that little rush of feel good. My WordPress app on my phone became my lifeline to how many people had actually read and decided to follow my blog. As the readership increased, so did the time I spent on my blog and reading other blogs.

Looking back I see it now: I had become a blog junkie.

Then something happened that I could never have predicted. Ever. In a million fear-filled years of my life.

First, I took this set of pictures for The Closet Countdown project:

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This is where my life ended and began with a rather innocent thought. Something deep inside me bubbled to the surface. Ancient. Powerful. Dangerous. Here goes…I thought that I actually looked pretty in these pictures. I felt pretty. For two whole seconds I tasted that freedom that only comes from self-love and fearless living. I even attempted to write about it here  in a post about the morning after The Closet Countdown ended. Then Nancy (please go check out her awesome blog My Year[s] of Sweat if you haven’t already) posted a comment pointing out how I had grown in confidence since I started my little experiment.

A perfect spiritual storm poured down. It broke me. And inside I began to walk a new road.

It was beautiful and horrible all at the same time. Beautiful because I needed to begin to learn to like myself. Horrible because I was so afraid…

Writing and posting and commenting and responding to comments began to seem distasteful in a way that I could not explain. So I gave myself permission to quit. I used my time to dig deep. To learn to say loving things to myself. To forgive. To dream. To love. I found so many beautiful things hiding under a lifetime of fear and self-loathing.

The result has been nothing short of amazing. I will tell you more about it. But not today. Maybe not even tomorrow. But I will. Not because I feel like I have to. But because I want to.

I make no promises about this blog . I can’t afford to right now. That means I may not even respond to your wonderful comments. I may not read or follow your blog – even if you read or follow mine. However, I do promise to send sunshine your way. I’m not doing this to make money. I’m doing this to increase the light in the world. Simple but true.

If you are still reading, I am most grateful. It is not quite the rush that it once was but it adds joy to my day to know that someone read and enjoyed what I wrote. I’m fascinated by the connection we make as writer to reader…

Here is my sunshine for you today:

I wish you warm, beautiful light. The kind that fills your heart and makes you want to make the world a better place. I wish this for you with my whole heart…

Love and Light,

Ginny

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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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The Closet Countdown: DAY 100!!!

This is it. The final day of The Closet Countdown. Wow. Lessons learned will be posted soon. So strange how such a “silly” experiment has taught me so much. There are beautiful lessons all around us. We only have to look for them to see how many.

My heart fills with gratitude when I think of all the encouragement I’ve received along the way. Even just the “likes” on days when I thought my outfit was lame or my writing was lame (or both) really lifted my spirits. Thank you to everyone who stopped by along my one hundred day journey. I appreciate it more than I can say.

For the last day, I almost went with my Merrell Lily. But I decided against it because I will probably wear it again soon – regardless of all my new options. It is a tried and true favorite. I went with my super versatile Cameleon Rosy Pink Convertible Skirt/Dress/Poncho instead. There is more to the story on this interesting piece but that is for a different day and a post. Gotta keep it brief (right Nancy? 😉 ).

Day 100 Tuesday, October 8

  • BCG Black Cami
  • Long Black Leggings (forgot the brand)
  • Cameleon Pink Convertible Thing (worn as a poncho in the cooler morning and then as a skirt in the warm afternoon)
  • Merrell Black Barefoot Mary Jane Shoes

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Today is a light three mile run day for my half marathon training. When I started this, I didn’t know I would “get back into running” so I didn’t choose my running skirt or my leggings with a pocket that fits my phone. Looking forward to little things that that for sure…

Afternoon Run

  • BCG Black Sleeveless Top
  • BCG Black Legging Capris
  • inov8 RocLite268 shoes (with socks)

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Thank you again for stopping by. I wish you joy and eyes to see the lessons all around you. I encourage you to challenge yourself in some small way. Start with your closet like I did or with something else. Give yourself some boundaries. Dance inside them. Learn. Grow. Shine…

Cheers,
G

 

The Closet Countdown: Day 99 of 100

One. More. Day. Then it’s over. Tomorrow is my last full day of wearing items from my chosen 55 articles of clothing in The Closet Countdown. I’m excited. I cannot wait to open my two small bins of “unchosen” clothing that I stashed up on a shelf in my closet.

The Closet Countdown (should have called it The Closet Countdown Challenge) has been a beautiful part of my quest for simplicity. A one hundred day reminder that I must wade through some complicated issues to get to the “simple life”. I have no regrets.

Monday’s activity for my half marathon training is “Stretch and Strengthen”. So I chose an outfit that included leggings so I could catch a session of yoga later today without a full-on change up. That is one of the things I had hoped to accomplish with this fun experiment in the first place. If you missed yesterday’s outfit, please go here.

Day 99 Monday, October 7

  • White Cotton Tunic
  • Black Leggings
  • Merrell Black Barefoot Mary Jane Shoes
  • Multi-Colored Scarf

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If you are reading this, I am grateful for you and your time and your willingness to read my words and see my attempts to find my simple style. I wish you great things for your small act of kindness. 🙂

Cheers,
G

The Closet Countdown: Day 98 of 100 (So close…)

Two more days. Just two more days and The Closet Countdown will be over. Yesterday’s post is evidence that I’ve decided to ignore my insecurities and play a little with combinations I haven’t tried before. This little experiment has definitely helped me get more comfortable in front of a camera. Though the poses feel so redundant… 😉

Another one outfit day. Just me and my Merrell Emery…and a big black leather Gap brand belt that I scored at a thrift store in Austin for pennies.

Day 98 Sunday, October 6

  • Merrell Black Emery Dress
  • Gap Black Wide Leather Belt
  • Merrell Black Luxe Strap Sandals

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Thank you for stopping by and bearing with me as I face the final days of this strange yet very rewarding experiment. I’m grateful for your time as always.

Cheers,
G

The Closet Countdown: Day 96 of 100 (Yea!)

The end is near. So near. Feels like Christmas is right around the corner. I’ve missed my other dresses and other “superfluous” clothing. The joys and challenges of The Closet Countdown are things I will treasure for a long time.

Yesterday I only wore two different outfits. And I’m still quite proud of my sassy little pose. 🙂

Today is just one outfit. It’s a casual farewell to my Summer wardrobe. I’m also celebrating the thirteenth birthday of one of my favorite young ladies on the planet (I included a picture of her below). Since my decision not to have kids, she has been like a daughter to me. I’m blessed beyond measure for someone who has so little…

Day 96 Friday, October 4

  • Ann Taylor Grey Boat Neck Top
  • OP Pinkish Coral Shorts
  • Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

20131004-134105.jpgHere is a previously posted pic of me and H:

20130721-173415.jpgThank you so much for stopping by and sharing my journey. My heart is warmed. I wish you many adventures!

Cheers,
G

The Closet Countdown: Day 95 of 100

As the final days of the The Closet Countdown slowly putter along, I find that I’m both excited and a teensy bit sad. I like challenge. But I also like it when the challenges are over and I get to reflect on lessons learned. Bittersweet. 🙂

Yesterday, I changed clothes three times and I posted pictures to prove it. Even included my running clothes for fun. 🙂 Besides a morning trip to the grocery store and perhaps a therapeutic run in the afternoon (it’s my Prozac), I plan on sticking to one, simple ensemble today.

Day 95 Thursday, October 3

  • Merrell Black Lily Wrap Dress (they don’t make it any more. sigh.)
  • Merrell Black Luxe Strap Sandals (love the almost retro look of these shoes!)
Took me almost one hundred days to finally get a little sassy in front of the camera. :)

Took me almost one hundred days to finally get a little sassy in front of the camera. 🙂

Here is another image featuring the Lily Wrap Dress:

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As always, I’m glad you stopped by. Thank you.

Cheers,
G

PS Here’s a picture of my afternoon run outfit (before the run of course…)

  • BCG Brown V-Neck Top
  • BCG Black Leggings
  • Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arcs

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This is Snickers the Wonder Dog. 🙂

The Closet Countdown: 7 Days Left

The Closet Countdown is almost over. Only seven days remain. Wow. In honor of the fact that there are so few days to dress from the same 55 items (and to make up for my failure to post a current, weekly update), I’m going to post my outfit on a daily basis until the bitter/beautiful end. 🙂

This will also be a way for me to test my iPhone posting skills…

Wednesday, October 2
Morning (having dinner guests over later so this will change)
Plaid Cotton Big Shirt, Black Leggings, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals, Brown Leather Belt (a recent score from a friend’s giveaway pile!)

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Afternoon Run (about 4 pm)
Massimo Grey V-Neck Shirt, Black Leggings (yep, the ones from this morning), and my inov8 RocLite268 shoes (no socks).

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Casual Dinner With Friends
Merrell Black Emery Dress, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals, Snazzy “New” Brown Leather Belt.

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Thanks so much for stopping by. My little heart and my kooky closet are full of gratitude.

Cheers,
G

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