I have all sorts of resolutions this year, many of them recycled over the past twenty years. You know those resolutions that you feel obligated to write down but you never actually do. Mine include:
When it comes to weight loss, my body is like Rocky. It fights to gain back the first pound that is lost. When that scale goes down a pound, I run for the pantry and find the potato chips.
And my refusal to wear heels and dresses actually drove me to start my own business, where I could sit here writing my blog as Nikes hug my feet.
Lessening my television viewing is an on-going battle. Last night I declared that I would go home, watching one hour of “Love It or List It,” and then go to our back office to write this blog. Instead, I entered some kind of time warp and before I knew it “The Bachelor” was handing out the final rose.
But I am all about #4 . . .
I am, however, simplifying my life. When I was a starving student, and a struggling young mother, I dreamed of having nice things. I wanted the Datsun sedan with the cloth seats, instead of my Datsun 310 hatchback with vinyl seats that made me sweat down the back of my thighs. I wanted to go into a store and buy a suit without getting so nauseous at the thought of the JC Penney bill that I returned it within an hour. I wanted a house with an unused room that would never have a bra draped over an end-table or popcorn crushed between the cushions on the couch.
And, eventually, I started my own consulting company and achieved many of my desires. My house got bigger, my cars more luxurious, and my clothes came from places like Nordstrom. While for many truly wealthy people our home would still seem modest, for me it was like living on “Dynasty.”
Then, something happened when I hit 50 . . .
I realized, literally overnight, that all of the stuff was suffocating me. Perhaps it was actually my hot flashes, but I attributed the heat to consumption.
I didn’t see a pretty room with no stuff in it — I saw a room that wasn’t lived in, wasn’t breathing, and wasn’t a part of my life. I stopped seeing a luxury car and saw a piece of metal that caused panic with every ding. And my beautiful Nordstrom suit became cloth that attracted condiments like a magnet and cost me a fortune to clean.
So, I’m losing the weight and simplifying my life. . .
No, I’m not losing physical weight. I already have three bags of potato chips in my pantry to ensure that won’t happen.
However, my husband and I are moving from our current suite of four rooms to a one-room, open concept arrangement. Most of our offices have had unused capacity, and our rent will be less than half of what we’re paying now. We are selling furniture and computers and anything that hasn’t been actively used for the past two years.
At home, I’ve gone through my clothes and eliminated anything that I don’t wear on a regular basis. This leaves five pairs of jeans and about twenty sweaters and t-shirts that I wear on a regular basis, plus a couple of suits for presentation purposes. In the spring, we might sell the house.
I traded in our luxury cars for a Subaru and a Honda Civic hybrid. Unfortunately, pulling out in traffic in a hybrid is slightly different than pulling out in a BMW 3-series. That decision almost killed me.
How do I feel?
I vacillate between peace and pure panic. I didn’t realize how much we define success based upon what we own. Every time someone comes back to look at an item I’m selling, I sense a look of pity. I have to repeatedly stop the scrolling message in my mind that downsizing is failure wrapped up with a pretty bow.
But when I get really, really quiet, my soul feels better.I appreciate the fact that more of my time will go to writing and less will go to consuming. There are fewer things on my mind, and more ideas coming from the heart.
And I remember those days when I used to pile in my Datsun 310 hatchback with my friends, grab some Cokes, roll down the windows and drive to the beach. I didn’t care if Coke was spilled, because I could wipe up the plastic seats. I didn’t care if sand got in the car, because I could just shake out the rubber mats. And if a tire went flat, I patched it and hit the road again. I didn’t have to spend $400 for a new run-flat.
My best memories came from the friends with whom I shared a laugh and a Coke, and the dolphins I spotted in the ocean, and the feeling of warm sunlight on my body as it was triple magnified by my Hawaiian Tropic Oil (not a good choice, my skin now screams).
I want the energy to make more of those memories again. I want to free up my wallet and my energy to bask in the things that create wonderful stories.