My new hobby

This morning, I was struck by my appearance in the mirror after my usual shower.  I noticed a different look in my eyes, a leanness to my chin and neck, a general hardness in my features that appeared to make me look strong yet beautiful.  This doesn’t often happen, especially if I’m not wearing any makeup, but I thought it interesting enough to write a post about.

What has changed recently that has caused me to look at myself differently today than any other day?  Nothing that I can readily tell, at least not externally.  However, something is going on in my head that is turning the tables.  Over the last few months, I have slowly been putting on weight.  I haven’t really changed my diet, and if anything have become more active than before, but for some reason my weight has been steadily climbing.  I am now about 25 pounds more than I was in January.

A little over a month ago, I said enough is enough and asked my therapist if she could recommend a dietician for me to see.  She did have some nutrition contacts, so I decided that was fine.  A week later I was scheduled to see a nice nutritionist about a 45 minute drive away.  Well, everything seemed to be going fine until I went on a month-long road trip and added an additional 10 pounds onto my clinically overweight frame.  NOW enough was really enough!  Like an addict has to hit rock bottom before wanting to change, I no longer fit into ANY of my “fat” clothes (except a skirt and a pair of leggings, but you can only wear the same thing for so long before people start to notice) and refused to purchase anything new that was bigger than what I already had.  No, it was either lose the weight, or go around naked.

I’d been hearing about this workout club that seemed to be talked about in whispers as if it were some sort of myth or taboo.  People said it was this awful cult that humiliated you and caused irreversible injuries.  I would watch these athletes on television and wonder how one even begins to do that kind of work.  I’m talking about CrossFit.  That’s right.  If you haven’t heard of it, just do a YouTube search and prepare to be amazed.

Anyway, so I am recently home from a grueling road trip – for personal reasons, not pleasure – tired and sick of being in my overly-large body.  I have quit seeing my nutritionist because I could have told myself to eat fewer carbs and more vegetables!  Duh…So I sit down and reexamine my options.  My boyfriend, who is subsequently my ever-present cheerleader, mentioned that an all-women’s CrossFit gym just opened in the next town.  I am intrigued – I had heard of this mythical gym/workout craze but was unsure of what it was all about.  So I posted a comment on Facebook about what peoples’ thoughts were about the phenomenon.  I got resounding, enthusiastically positive replies.

I think that all of this came together as a “right time and place” sort of thing, because when I visited the gym (that had only been open for 7 weeks) the girl at the front told me that they were running a month-long discount for new members – less than HALF of what the normal cost was for the same package.  I immediately asked “Where do I sign up?”

That weekend, I attended a free trial session that heartily kicked my ass and pumped me up beyond belief.  I realized that all of these years out of competitive athletics, I have been telling myself that I am done with all of that, that I want to scale it down into the recreational sports realm, that I don’t want to “push” myself the way I used to anymore.  I can’t believe how wrong I was.  All of these years I have been wasting hundreds of dollars on wimpy fitness trainers, lax swim clubs, and pitiful attempts at starting my own workout routine in discount gyms and my university’s free facilities.  All to no avail.  Don’t get me wrong – I always start something with enthusiasm, vow to go every day, well…maybe just three times a week…well, I think once a week is better than nothing…until…six months go by and I am still paying for that expensive gym membership and haven’t even bothered to walk on the treadmill.  Once.  Not getting my ass kicked was just not enough for me, no matter how much I wanted to be that “casual workout chick but still look super athletic.”  I needed something that was either all or nothing.  And this realization scared me a little because of the issues I’ve had revolving around my OCD and severe black and white thinking.  But, I thought, it couldn’t be that bad if I am in a controlled environment with other healthy women who are all or nothing.  That was the key, I realized.  Being with other healthy women who like to kick ass and have their asses kicked.  Right away I knew this gym was different.  Here, body mastery meant how many reps you could dead lift your own body weight, not what size you fit into, or how good you looked in those tiny workout shorts.  There weren’t even any mirrors here.  These women were proud of their size because it meant that they were tough mother you-know-whats who didn’t take any flak from anybody.  People walking by the front of the gym look up as if this strange new building had tentacles growing from it.  An all-women’s gym that teaches people how to have their asses handed to them on a silver platter?  Again, sign me up.

So, it has been a week and two days since I officially joined the CrossFit revolution.  I know the way I tout it makes me sound brainwashed and cultified, but trust me.  It is the funnest, most challenging, self-confidence boosting activity I have ever done.  The people here are all friendly, even if you just met them.  The gym owner takes the time to learn your name and hear your story, and remembers you the next time you come in.  There are tears.  There is laughter.  There is triumph.  And most of all, I leave there feeling like I am a better person than before I went in.

I decided this was the difference I had seen in the mirror.  It was the confidence that I am doing something good with my body – really good.  I’m not just casually running on a treadmill watching Family Guy reruns.  I am not recreationally throwing frisbees around with dudes who have beer bellies and college girls with flabby arms.  I am pushing myself past limits I thought I’d maxed out years ago.  I am learning new skills that are doing wonders for my sense of mastery.  I am meeting like-minded people who praise whatever size body I happen to have.  I have amazing role models who don’t look like models, but rather are chiseled like Greek statues.  Seriously, try punching them in the bicep and you’ll bruise your knuckle.  What’s more is that it’s accessible to anybody, and even the most green of beginners can envision herself doing the CrossFit Games one day.

I am doing this for a lot of  reasons.  The motivating push to get me here was my weight of course, but now that I have dived in, I see myself doing this for my health, for my mental well-being, for my kids that I coach and consequently am a role model for.  Honestly, I don’t see any down side to it, other than I am not able to do it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  Maybe I should look into getting a job there…

I can do that…

I started a new project the other day.  Now, this is a big deal since I have a super hard time starting anything I know will take a long time and will not go perfectly smoothly (i.e. everything).

I think I’ve said this in previous posts, but I want to reiterate.  I hate the thought of purchasing artwork – or anything for that matter – that I think I can make myself.  This is why all of the walls in my house are bare.

WELL, a couple of weeks ago, the boy and I were at a local diner and I saw art by a Boston-based artist that I had to have.  They were two smallish pieces of mixed-material work that would look wicked awesome on the wall of my stairwell.  It is times like these that I don’t mind paying for artwork – or, again, anything.  If it is something that is perfect for the use I need it for, and I didn’t even know that I needed a use for it, I don’t mind just going out and buying it.  Within reason.  When I went to take a closer look at the pieces, I saw that they were $100. Each.

So I promptly took a picture of them, wrote down the name of the artist (that was kindly displayed underneath the artwork), and vowed to recreate these pieces myself – for way less mulah.

It’s projects like these that present themselves to be so fortuitous that if I DON’T start them, I am really trying.  Months and months ago when I still lived at my old apartment, I found two really quaint, kitschy picture frames in a box on the curb that have window box matting done.  I thought they were really cute, but at the time did not have a vision for the artwork that I wanted to go inside.  Well, (and this proves my desire to hoard) I pulled them out the other day and have already painted and framed one of the pieces…and it looks SOO good!  I am really happy I started it.  It didn’t end up looking exactly like the other artist’s work by any means, but I think that’s good (in case she ever comes over to my house for cocktails one day).  It’s even better for my self-confidence.  Since I say all the time that “I could do this better,” or “I can’t believe this person calls himself an artist – I should be making millions if this person sells this crap and calls it art!” (I know you all say that! >_>)  But I have never really done much to prove that I AM any good.  So, I am making a start which you have to do at some point, right?

I really like working in my studio (ee!!! my own studio!) and hope that it inspires me to create the artwork I have always wanted to.  Oh yeah, as well as the artwork I’m too cheap to buy because I can make it myself.😛

Painting by me

Being me

Ok, so announcing that I am now a homeowner in the last post may have come as a shock to some.  It’s mostly an investment opportunity for my parents that just so happens to also help me in the process, no biggie.

Since affirming this exciting news, I have been nonstop thinking about how I am going to decorate this blank canvas.  Perusing dozens of interior design blogs, hitting up every furniture store I drive past on my way anywhere, and checking out more books than I can read in three weeks from the local library about designing in small spaces has filled my head with endless possibilities.  However, I have decided the common theme of my house will be simple, modern, and minimalist.  But even more than that, I just really, really want it to be me.  I can’t stand the thought of simply recreating one of those show rooms from Ikea just because it is sleek and affordable.  Already my mom is emailing me links to different items on the Ikea website that, while minimal and modern, and quite frankly pretty cool, are standard.  I can only imagine how many other people on my block have the same cabinet, bed frame, wall mirror.  It’s almost sickening how mass-produced this stuff is.  So, I am determined to create a space that is amazing to inhabit, but is also uniquely me yet still commercially appealing.  Totally doable, right?

I stumbled upon a series of books by a really talented architect, Sarah Susanka who focuses her knowledge and taste on giving small spaces soul and catering them to the people who live there.  Apparently, she’s been sharing her focus on simple yet impactful design in small spaces since the ’80s, yet the work I’ve seen from that time could be beautifully applied to today’s design standards as well.  It’s a whole new way of looking at homes – “tailoring your home for the way you really live.”  Not to mention she explains her thinking in simple, easy to understand terms for the average home owner.

I didn’t mean to highlight someone else in this article, merely trying to convey my new approach to interior design.  I’m sure there are already a lot of ideas and conversations based around Sarah and her methodology, but as I am new to the world of interior design, I have just discovered something that I feel slightly guilty about – the way a child feels guilty about discovering ice cream in the freezer and sneaking a spoonful before she goes to bed.  I don’t want anybody to find out and tell me that her way has since been debunked or has been outshone by someone else’s work.  It is new and exciting and I can’t wait to do more exploring! 🙂

Happy New Year

As the title of this post states, happy New Year, y’all.  It is with the coming of a new year and all of that resolution mumbo jumbo that I am slowly starting to realize a subtle change in my life.  As I’ve been talking about desperately wanting to move to a new space, it turns out that I will be closing on a beautiful condo with my parents this Friday.  This may seem rather sudden, and certainly being a homeowner is still shocking to me, but my parents and I have been house hunting for a while now.  I just didn’t think all of this would actually culminate, and so soon.  Besides, I’m a bit superstitious when it comes to talking about something you really want before you have it.  I didn’t want to publish it on the internet without it being a sure thing for fear that it would jinx it! I know it’s silly, but you didn’t care anyway.

So it is with this big change in my life that the subtle change is taking place.  That change is partly taking this blog from one devoted to not buying clothes (which is officially over, thank goodness) to making my life more simple overall.  And what better way to start simplifying your life anew than moving to a whole new house, starting fresh from scratch??  I’m excited and nervous because the only piece of furniture I will be taking with me is my beloved desk (found on the curb), and maybe my raggedy old book shelves just until I can figure out something more attractive to house my books and nicknacks.  That’s right.  I’m throwing my saggy old bed straight in the dump the first chance I get and buying a new one, looking at interior design blogs for furnishing ideas, heck, I don’t even have plates and serveware , pots, pans, or otherwise to lug to my new place.  I guess that’s one of the few good things about never being settled in my previous residencies – that I have little to no belongings to lug to my new space and possibly clash with the intended decor.  Not a couch, not a coaster, not even a cable bill.  It’s high time to be more dependent on myself, more responsible, and consequently more independent.  I cannot wait.

It is truly a clean break in every sense of the phrase.  I feel fortunate to have this opportunity, since I know this sort of thing doesn’t happen to everybody.  I just want to take advantage of every aspect.  I want to do this right, right from the start, frugally but tastefully so that hopefully the other areas of my life can directly reflect that mentality.  I think that was the original intent of this website.  It’s exciting to finally realize that, and I can’t wait to see what is to come and share that with the world.

How do they do it?

Hi again.

As I near the end of my promised six months without clothing shopping next month (what, really??) and have had my ups and downs and a few slip-ups, I must say, I am relieved.  Not that I plan on going out and spending my whole savings on jeans and comfy winter sweaters (which is totally what I feel like doing).

No, I have been in a reflective mood. Mostly, I have been stressed out because of all of the stuff I have.  Recently, I have wanted to move into a place all of my own, one I can totally do all the decorations in, do the whole furniture buying thing, hang some pictures on the walls. My three-plus years here in Boston so far have consisted of living situations that have not allowed me to feel like I am at home.  Least of all is my current situation, where I pay my roommate a fraction of what the rent of my room actually should be, that he pays all the utilities for (1,000 channels on TV, internet, heat, etc.), and that he has total control over. It’s not that he has explicitly said I can’t change anything about the apartment. It’s just that I don’t feel like I have a say in what comes in and goes out.  So, essentially, I have been living out of a 10×10 room with all of my stuff overflowing every nook and cranny since I first moved in over a year ago. Yes, I sit on the overstuffed sofa and watch the ginormous TV, borrow his awesome slow cooker, and even vacuum the floors with his vacuum cleaner, but it just doesn’t feel like my own space. That was fine a year and some odd months ago when I was desperate to get out of my last living situation so I could get a dog. But now that we (my mutt and I) are settled in and I am doing better than I ever thought I could be post-recovery, I want to move on.  I want to show myself and everyone that I am a big girl and can live in a pretty house and clean up after myself (did I mention my roommate has a maid come every other week, as well, that I don’t pay for?), and do grown up things in that house.  I am just aching to have my own art space and be able to sit down and make a royal mess without being worried anyone is going to judge me for not picking up after myself immediately.

In my desperation to move, I have been looking at a lot of houses on the market, apartments for rent, and watching a lot of HGTV. Seeing all of these interiors has made me realize one thing – I have a lot of stuff for the amount of space I inhabit. Granted, all of my clothes, shoes, purses, and books would only take up a fraction of some of these huge 2,000+ square foot houses, but it doesn’t hide the fact that I have a lot of stuff for 100 square feet.  It is so blaringly obvious that I have become quite self-conscious about it. It is making me stressed, even.  I have talked about this before with my mom who (interestingly an obsessive pack rat herself) easily suggested that I just get rid of the junk I don’t need. Psh…easy for you to say, Mom. You have come to accept your hoarding tendencies over the past 25 years you’ve been married to Dad who has since resigned himself to a life of too many magazines, and not being able to use his perfectly good garage due to all of the crap in it.  Well, I can’t accept that sort of life for myself. I want these immaculate, minimalist houses that look like the women living there CLEARLY have their shit together. I want to have my shit together. Desperately.

Minimalist house in Sweden

That was one of the central issues behind why I started doing this project.  I had way too much stuff and was accumulating faster than I was diminishing.  So far, it’s been great. I’ve learned to really think before buying something about whether I really need it at that moment or not.  I know very well that anyone can find any item she needs at any time if she doesn’t buy it right in that moment. I know that, even if that amazing pair of leggings is on a massive sale one day only, I will be able to find the right pair of leggings when I actually need them and am seeking them out.

What I haven’t quite figured out yet, though, is how to deal with the stuff I already have.   I know I’ve already talked about getting rid of stuff, but as I get rid of the things I definitely know I don’t want, it’s getting harder and harder to pick out other items for that list. “But I already chose to keep this blouse six months ago…I haven’t changed my mind yet even though I haven’t worn it in that time” is what goes through my mind when I pick out the last dredges from the back of my closet after having stuffed them back there the last time I did a purging because I was too sentimentally attached or thought I might someday wear them. I know what you’re thinking. I just need to DO it. No exceptions – if I have had something that I haven’t worn during the season it was applicable in the last year, get rid of it. Period.

That’s all well and good…but there’s yet another problem. It’s not that I have a lot of stuff. It’s that I have a lot of stuff that does a lot of different things. I have a whole box of jewelry-making equipment. I have a drawer full of cosmetics and hair supplies (which I know is a lot less than most girls like me). I have shoes for every season imaginable, but only what I think I “need.” I have crafting supplies – knitting, sewing, baking, painting, drawing, upcycling, collaging, you name it. But only a few items for each hobby, and most of them overlap in their usefulness.

In short, what I’m trying to say is that maybe I just have a lot of hobbies that I have accumulated stuff for over the years. But I DO use these things. I just don’t know whether I should get rid of some hobbies that are less developed than others (pottery making never did quite make it), or if I should accept I have stuff and wait until I can move into a bigger space to house it all.

My mom said I shouldn’t look for a place to house my stuff, and I agree. It’s of a hoarding mentality that I truly do need all of my current belongings and just need more closet space or a garage. It’s also that gross women shopper/consumer mentality that I hate about most Americans. I refuse to live up to that. It’s why I only have 5 purses, am cutting down on my shoe purchases, and am doing this whole thing to begin with. I will NOT be a consumer. I will buy only what I absolutely need and nothing more. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Now I just need to figure out what to do with what I already have…..

In with the old, out with the new!

Hi again everyone.  As you’ve probably noticed, I have not been updating as often as I have been in the past.  Trust me, it’s not the way I want it.  I’ve been experiencing a lot of changes in my life including trying to buy a house with my parents, trying to excel in school, and having an almost-full-time job with most weekends taken up.  As always, I am struggling to maintain my finances, and over spending in some areas.  It’s really hard to balance necessary expenses with frivolous ones.  While I am still not buying clothing, I am spending on things I don’t necessarily need because I am stressed.

But that is not what I want to write about today!  So, I did write a previous article about how I have an ancient pair of jeans that have ripped themselves to shreds.  Well, it seems like all of my other favorite jeans are following suit.  In the last three weeks, two more pairs have decided my butt is much too big for their liking.  This is quite a dilemma paired with my promise to not buy any more clothes.  While I do have a few more pairs of jeans, they are the more uncomfortable, tight-fitting, or more expensive ones I don’t wear as often.  I have been making it work (eating less and sweatpants…), but I have devised a plan that might actually work.  It simply involves dusting off my sewing machine.

I harbor a lot of fear around using my sewing machine.  I got it not too long ago, but have only used it a couple of times.  For lack of proper space to have it out, I put it away when I’m done using it and have a hard time convincing myself to take it back out.  It currently sits on my book shelf collecting dust.  The main reason I don’t use it more often is because I am afraid of messing something up.  This is an issue that has pervaded my existence all of my life.  Fear of failure.  I fully acknowledge that there are no grounds for the basis of my fears, but there you have it.  I have been perfectly good at doing all of the projects I have attempted in the past, but I still worry that I will fail.

That fear aside, I have decided I really want more pants.  Without buying any, how is this possible?  Well, I have about 4 or 5 pairs of jeans from the time I was severely overweight.  I also have several nice blouses that hang on me like garbage bags.  The brilliant idea came to me to hem and sew up these garments to fit me.  From what I have learned, it is a fairly easy process and should not be difficult for me to pick up.  So what’s stopping me from doing it?  Nothing, really.  More updates to come!

Ups and Downs

Ok, so I know the end of my no-buying pact is some time in December. I have to confess a couple of things, particularly a hat, gloves, and…I’m pretty sure at least one other thing but now I can’t remember.
Oh, and a nice jacket and heels during my trip to California. Even though it’s nice to say I have only bought necessary items in the almost-six-months I have said I won’t buy clothes, I still don’t like that’s caved in the first place. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t updated here in a while.
Now that my weight is back down and I feel like a wardrobe revamping is necessary, I still want to wait the month and some days to buy clothes. And actually, for the sake of my expected holiday expenditure, I might even wait until January to spend more money.
We will see. Morale is low, and hopelessness is setting in. If anything, at least I can stick to my promise.