Proposed 10-item minimalist wardrobe for fall. Cardigan – Land’s End cashmere, sweaters – J. Crew cashmere, jeans – J. Crew matchstick dark wash and black, shoes – Ferragamo Vara, bag – Lotuff women’s satchel #9, black wool trench – Laundry, t-shirts – J. Crew
I don’t know about you, but I’m particularly susceptible to those messages from people in the media that go something like, “All you need to do is X, Y, or Z, and your life will be perfect. After all, it worked for me–case in point.” The laundry list is long, but ranges from diet to philosophy to exercise to gaining a political consciousness to life/clothing/house makeovers, and everything in between.
The promise of a coherent life which makes sense is too strong to resist, and I try some of these life changes, only to stick with it for a week or a month, and to inevitably discover that, at least for me, it’s not the magic bullet that changed all aspects of my life. I suspect that it’s merely magical thinking to assume that anything will permanently do so.
Raw vegan – initial weight loss and clear skin, followed by annoyed family/friends, fairly regular digestive upset, inevitable frustration with limited dining options. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t eat your fruits and veg; more on that below.
Various exercise regimens – initial health improvement of various degrees, followed by the realization that due to two jobs (or two jobs and school, or full-time+ grad school), any routine that I set gets bulldozed by reality within a week or two. And, I’m sorry, I can’t spend 4 hours a day in a gym like I did one summer a few years ago. Yes, I got in great shape. No, it was only to stay as a full-time student by taking some P.E. credits. Yes, I lost some weight. No, I gained it all back and then some.
Minimalism – okay, this one isn’t so bad. My closet is more stream-lined and 100% of the clothes I own I wear regularly. Every item I’ve gotten rid of I have not missed, which leads me to suspect that other things I will get rid of also won’t be missed. Yet I still desire more items. The urge to shop has not ceased. While I love everything that I own, more or less, I still *want* other things. I’m still a relentless consumer, in other words.
Yoga – makes me feel awesome. No, I will never be a hard-body yogi, based on my inability to consistently do anything. So, namaste to that fantasy.
Maybe I suffer from black-and-white, all-or-nothing-at-all, magical thinking – “I’ll just make this one commitment, and my whole life will fall into place.” I suspect, however, that the reality is that all these things are just small pieces of an overall puzzle that one must put together for him or herself, possibly never completing the picture. Maybe that’s just life, and life involves never quite living up to this image you have of what you should be doing.
On the other hand, here ARE a few things, pieces of the puzzle if you will, that have made a small but noticeable improvement in my life:
Eating more fruits and veg – last fall I swapped mix-and-eat oatmeal out for steel cut oats, sweetened with a grated apple and 1-2 other servings of fruit, along with a splash of whole milk. At one other meal in the day, I attempt to eat some sort of green salad-type vegetables. My skin finally completely cleared up, which after 15 years of cystic acne was no small thing. Full disclosure: I’ve taken a B.C. pill for several years that cleared up 75% of the acne, but certainly not all of it. The rest was gone within a week or two of making this diet change. The nice thing about this change was that it took very little will-power (although a little part of me cries each morning now that I no longer drench my cereal with maple syrup or honey). I just replace something that I did with something else that I do now.
Yoga – again, this. Even doing it semi- to not-really-regularly makes me feel pretty good on the days when I roll the mat out and do it. Any kind of exercise, really. It helps to make me sleep better at night. I feel a little tiny bit like a bad-ass as I go about the rest of my day.
Practicing – when I am consistently (daily) putting time in on my profession, it really improves my mood/outlook on my abilities. I also just sound better (duh). There’s something about getting consistent with doing something, even if it’s only a few minutes a day, which makes it easier to work a few minutes more on it the next day, and so on. Jerry Seinfeld has a great quote in this article about this.
No sugar – cutting out sugar (except for fresh fruit) from my diet, and really cutting back on the processed (read: no fiber) foods. For once in my life, eating full-fat dairy and meat and eggs without extreme anxiety. So far, I’m down 4 lbs for the month, as well as about 1/2 an inch in certain places. We’ll see if I can keep this up, or if anything else changes as time goes on. This is one dietary change that while hard at first (see: giving up maple syrup on my oatmeal, etc.), is also kind of fun, because I give myself free license to eat tasty, full-fat food, as long as it freshly prepared and unprocessed. I plan on getting my cholesterol checked in a few months, just the same. But I’m not all mood-swingy or lethargic in the afternoons, which is a big improvement, and now I actually have a little energy to burn off and feel more like possibly exercising. Which was not always the case.
Work – while I have two jobs, I’ve come to enjoy both careers. They’re still stressful at times, they still conflict with each other on occasion, and from time to time I still have to rob Peter to pay Paul, or whatever the saying is. But I think that making some kind of peace with the work you do, and enjoying working hard at whatever it is, can bring you some satisfaction.
So, I don’t “stand” (ha, it’s the internet, we’re all sitting down) in front of you as one of those people who has found some magic formula that made my life amazing, and now I’m a size 2, and running marathons, and helping needy children, etc. There probably truly are amazing individuals out there who have stories like that, but that’s not me. All I’ve found is that the things I’ve mentioned above have made slight but noticeable improvements in my life. However, if somebody DOES know the secret to having a six-pack without working out, or being amazingly productive, please share below.
I am obsessed with the Lotuff Zipper Satchel #9. You can buy it on the Lotuff website, or at Steven Alan. The dark green leather is particularly nice. Probably by the time I’m ready to pull the trigger on one, they will discontinue them or something. That’s what happened to the J.W. Hulme small sea bag.
One can dream, however.
Love the simplicity of this outfit. Such easy pieces for summer.
Have not yet convinced myself that I needed a leather cabas-style tote like this, although there are many now in much friendlier price points than Celine’s original. Every time I see one, though, I question that decision; they are so chic.
For work, I prefer a more structured east-west shaped tote; I have a Coach Legacy American Icon editor tote. It’s expandable and durable and gets used nearly every day–I can fit a laptop, textbooks, wallet, a lunch, etc. And it fits over my shoulder. I also like my Clare Vivier messenger bag, as it’s a shoulder bag and fits my laptop (although not its padded sleeve).
One afternoon and two very happy dogs later, we returned back from Warrior Point on Sauvie Island, a large island north of the city. A beautiful break from the city, with lush farmland, white farm houses, and sandy beaches. On every trip out to the island I fantasize about finding a houseboat or some affordable property, but the only options are to live in a trailer park or on a million dollar farm. There seems to be no middle ground – I suppose the land is very valuable. However, fortunately for the rest of us, there are plenty of public access beaches and hikes, including the one to this lighthouse on the northern tip of the island.
It’s still pretty rainy and cool here, but with spring around the corner, it’s impending bloom. I’ve pulled out all of my navy, white, and black t-shirts, I’m ironing my khaki shorts, and lovingly tying my scarves in anticipation of summer. I’ve got a pair of K. Jacques, and hopefully another on the way soon in the mail. What are your plans for your summer wardrobe?
I haven’t been blogging much, but here’s a list of several projects which are in the works, so you can see why I’ve had little time:
- Still working on lining up a rehearsal space/a small studio apartment for when our lease expires at the end of July. We’ve visited/priced several likely candidates and are now just waiting for vacancies.
- Downsizing. De-cluttering. Streamlining belongings.
- My money for the next couple months is going toward buying a new amp/cabinet combo for my bass, so that I’ll have the big rig set up permanently at the practice space, and a lightweight rig for loading in and out of the car. So, sadly, no clothing purchases for a few months.
- Job hunting for next fall’s teaching position (ugh). Still waiting to hear if they’ll have funding to continue at my current school, but not counting on it just in case.
- Practicing more (4 hours a day on work days, more on weekends). Time to really build some skills if I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life.
- Putting together a book of charts and arrangements.
- Going no sugar (except for eating fruit). As a life-long candy addict, this is hugely difficult. I read “Fat Chance” by Robert Lustig, after hearing his interview on NPR, and it opened my eyes to the impact tons of sugar in your diet can have. Tentatively hoping for a bit of weight loss to accompany the removal of sugar.
What are you looking forward to about summer?