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March 27, 2011 / Danielle

Week Ten: A Summary

First off – ten weeks? To those of you without shopping problems, or even shopping perfectly-healthy-and-functioning habits, this must seem relatively uneventful. But I, personally, can truthfully say that I don’t know the last time I went ten weeks without buying something new to wear. (I suspect it was 2008.)

Now that I have the new laptop, and have spent some time reading over my original entries – dating back to before this year began – I’m finding it fascinating just how incredibly important it was to be able to have new clothes. Don’t think I’ve forgotten the feeling, either; the heart-racing exciting-thrilling thought of owning this, the “it’ll be so easy to get dressed tomorrow” charlantanry, the idea that finally I would be one step closer to owning The Perfect Closet. (I’m beginning to redefine this idea, that’s for sure.) I’ve discussed this before; the achieve-ability of shopping, the idea that I’m reinventing myself, the quick little “I look and feel pretty and new” high for the fistful of cash (and often, a little fistful, making it even more tempting.)

I’ve also realized that I had previously fantasized about the ideal capsule wardrobe: mostly consisting of pencil skirts and variations on this Diane von Furstenburg dress*:

DVF Della dress, 2009

There’s always been part of me that daydreamed about throwing out everything I owned and starting over with seven basic and beautifully tailored dresses, wearing the same enormous sunglasses every day, and being a creature of exceedingly simple class and grace and mystery.

This reality, though, is no more my actual self than the “on-the-go-in-jeans-and-a-killer-jacket” personage I imagined myself to be previously (as I discussed here.) I like color and opulence. I like detailing and beading, sequins and tulle, stripes and the interplay of different textures and shapes. While I’d love to be the kind of person who owns three skirts and that’s plenty, I never will be; and I have to work with that aspect of myself too. Yes, I have far too many clothes, many more than I will ever justifiably need. Yet for me, it may well be practical to keep something I only wear three or four times a year – especially cardigan-type layers or accessories. The capsule wardrobe concept is great – but it’s still not me, and it’s still not working around my needs – I feel naked and unhappy without the option to add texture, color, or dimension to an outfit.

This, of course, lands me smack dab in the middle of “moderation” – and we all know I’m not good at that.

It’s okay, though. I’ve got 42 more weeks to work it out.  I remain confident that I’ll find a good standard of “what’s useful to me”.

Since settling in to the not-shopping groove (though I still have occasion hiccup moments of “oh, remember, Danielle, you can’t buy warmer socks today” and “well, guess you’ll just have to be chilly til you get home and get your coat” – apparently in my head, I speak to myself like I’m four), I’ve become interested in challenging myself in newer ways too. I know I’ve spoken before about my holiday/midwinter chub – and yes, that’s a bit of an issue these days, as I’m topping out at probably my curviest ever. I do get to blame that on the not shopping a little bit, I think (“Well what am I supposed to do for stress relief now!”), but I know I’ll need to address that, if only because half of my closet begs for it. I’m hesitant to write in-depth about my weight/body shape/size ‘issues’, if only because it’s not really on-topic – but half of my clothes were definitely purchased when I was younger/had a more active job/hated my body and thusly didn’t think I was pretty if I tipped the scale at plus-130 pounds. (Yeah, okay, hard to just gloss over that – but then again, Western-world-females, that’s a pretty consistently active mindset, is it not?)

I want to stress that I am actually relatively happy with my body when it’s not a size two; I like that I feel lived in. I like that I look like someone with a feminine shape, and as if I enjoy eating and drinking and all those wonderfully sensual delights. (Cause oh man, I do.)

But when you have a wardrobe half in a size two and half in a size six? Your options are certainly limited to your shape. And when those sixes are startin’ to pull? Ooh, boy, it’s gonna make your no-shopping-year a bit of a challenge.

In any case – I’m not interested in now turning this into my diet blog. (Because – you guys – I suck at moderation. For reals. The only way I’m going to end up changing shape at all is going to be by upping the activity and switching out the food choices, cause there just ain’t no way I’m cutting back on yummy foods and bevvies.) But I’d like to think that the same impulse that spurred me on to stop shopping – the girl who knew that she couldn’t control this properly, and she needed to find a way to learn to appreciate what she had, for the good of her financial future and her mental health – will help me ease into a healthier lifestyle.

I’ve always been a mental thrower of tantrums – “Who says I can’t have this dress?” “I don’t care that I’m broke/tired/up early in the morning, I’m having a margarita now!” (Okay, yes, this is embarrassing to admit.) This time, I’m trying to frame my thoughts by appealing to the part of myself that longs to be taken care of, and saying “What’s up, here? What’re we really talking about?”, and being my own comfort. I don’t actually want to shop myself into financial ruin; I don’t actually want to fuel my body on cream cheese, powdered sugar and tequila. ( . . . . . . much.) I want my body and mind healthy, and that means (annoyingly – sure, whatever, I guess) that it feels good to eat leafy greens and be in bed before midnight. And say no to my impulses, from time to time.

Ugh. Growing up. Jeez. Lame.

Anyway – this is the last time, for a bit, that I intend to mention the food thing – but is part of my current journey to a good, healthy life-balance when it comes to my every-day and my appearance. And that it’s only taken ten weeks for me to realize that this is easier than I thought, I can totally do it, and it’s gonna be okay. So maybe soon I’ll feel up to tackling some of the other large life-hiccups.

My give-away pile is growing-growing-growing . . .

ooh, but the cowboy boots are staying - they just live nearby

. . . as I leaf through what I own and continue to make choices about who I am now, and what fits/pleases/defines me well today. It continues to amazing me a. how much clothing I own, b. how little I own fits properly, and c. how hard to it is to mentally separate myself from the things I have, even when I don’t like them or they fail to fit properly. (This pile may be growing, but it’s still in my room.) Even when hard-pressed to think of an actual occasion in the life I currently (or even conceivably could) lead wherein I would choose this item of clothing and no other – even then – it’s still hard to pull the trigger.

(Though it is getting easier.)

I want to encourage this life-change. I want to shift my weight of attachment onto the things that really matter (family, friends, experiences, art, joie de vivre) and off of those that just. don’t. (as much.) Of course we must have material things – and yes I want them be lovely, and varied, and keep me engaged and interested and make me feel happy (so don’t worry dresses, and chocolate-covered blueberries – you’re not going anywhere just yet.) (What kind of life would I have without them, after all? I love them so.)

But the sum of myself is not the number of bottles of champagne I’ve drunk – but the reasons I popped them open in the first place. It’s not all of my fabulous skirts, but the places I’ve been in them. I want to look and feel great as I move through this life – but I wanna keep moving, most of all.

*which I never did end up getting – probably for the best.

PS – and hey! Guys! I passed both Day 65 AND 100 total posts without even realizing it. Less than 300 days to go, and I feel, you know – prolific.


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