While recording a podcast last week, I made mention of the fact that I owned enough clothing to open my own thrift store three times over, yet I was on day two of wearing the same pair of underwear because every item of clothing I owned was dirty.
You’re welcome for that visual, by the way.
Just admitting so out loud made me cringe - not because I was exposing my less-than-hygienic secret to unknown masses on the other end of the microphone, but because the piles upon piles of dirty clothing waiting for me at home weighed heavy on my mind. With nearly every moment scheduled for the foreseeable future, I couldn’t even begin to fathom a break in my schedule large enough to begin tackling the mess in my walk-in closet (known more commonly to the rest of the world as… my basement). I had a free day coming up, but it was earmarked for some long overdue self-care.
I made a mental note to cancel self-care day in favor of “clean up all your shit” day.
I felt defeated.
And then it hit me.
Driving home that evening the absurdity of it all hit me hard. For years I have turned to retail therapy as a radically misguided attempt attempt at self-care. I used it to self-soothe, to distract myself, or to simply to pass the time when I was bored. The results, however, were doing nothing to bring me peace or relief or excitement - I simply felt enslaved. My stuff wasn’t taking care of me, I just had a lot of stuff to take care of now.
Clean up all your shit day.
I woke up three days later, on “clean up all your shit” day and headed straight to the walk-in closet / basement, cup of coffee in one hand and phone in the other, Pinterest app open, displaying a board I had curated years ago detailing a dream wardrobe. It was a simple capsule collection of pieces that represented how I wanted to show up in the world - easy, light, airy, a bit decadent, pulled together, with a bit of an eclectic edge.
I piled every item of clothing I had on a couch (okay, two couches - I had a LOT of stuff) and started sifting through it, discarding anything that didn’t match up with my Pinterest board.
Like a lot, a lot.
Now, lovelies, when I say I had a lot of clothing, t’s not hyperbole. It took me 16 solid hours of work to sort through everything, wash it and bag up what I wanted to donate. When all was said and done, I filled 30+ large trash bags - donating nearly 50 sweaters, 40 pairs of jeans and eleventy-billion other things I “just had to have” at some point and time over the past few years. In the end, my walk-in closet (remember: the basement) had been pared down to two, four-foot, clothing racks.
The next night a local organization came by to pick my donations up. I couldn’t get it out of the house and hand it off to them fast enough. Each bag that went through the door was a weight off my shoulders. In the end, my donations filled up the entire bed and backseat of their pickup. I feel proud when I look at what is left on the clothing racks in the basement now… less stuff, fewer choices, more ease.
Quality over quantity.
My view on wardrobe has long been quantity over quality. I guess that's pretty much been my view on life too. But my views are changing. I don’t need more of anything except ease. Peace and ease. I've started with the wardrobe. Who knows what's next?
What’s taking up too much space in your life these day? What do you want less of? I’d love to hear what you have to say! Drop a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
Ursula Adams, MSPOD
Here's a little secret, Galentine... I pretty much spend 24/7 thinking about you. Who are you? What motivates you? How can the SheHive be of service to you? How can *I* be of service to you? When will we finally meet (if we haven't already) and, when we do, will we end up best friends, swearing a sister oath to pluck the chin hairs off each other when we're older than old and can't see them for ourselves anymore? (For the record, you're needed NOW, sister friend.)
All kidding aside, I do wonder about you a lot. Like a lot, a lot. As does all of the KeyHolder team. In fact, we've been having quite a few conversations lately about who the "collective you" is... Why do you actually come to the SheHive? Where do you live? Do you work? Do you have kids?
So we're asking. And we're hoping you'll answer because knowing more about you will help us build better programming for you. It will also help us reach more woman like you and grow this beautiful community.
Pretty, pretty please take 10 - 15 minutes to complete our 2019 customer survey at https://goo.gl/forms/I0Lg2Akr4rZg0B1C2.
As a thank you, five lucky respondents will receive a $20 gift card to a future SheHive event.
With much love and gratitude,
Ursula Adams, MSPOD
This may be a little shocking considering my tendency to over-commit, but I’m not big on commitments. Or accountability. Tell me I should to do something and my inner teenager immediately throws on her combat boots and fishnets, shaves her hair into a mohawk and throws up two middle fingers in the air in the face of your expectations while defiantly yelling, “Don’t should on me!”
For whatever reason, I am not driven by accountability to others. Timelines, deadlines, promises… all fluid to me. Which is incredibly frustrating to many around me - just ask my accountant. Or every college professor I had in undergrad. Or every project manager who has ever had to work with me. Or my mother who likes the share the story of how I came home after the first day of third grade and proclaimed that she was no longer “the boss of me.”
I am proud of my operating system - I like that I’m internally driven, but it can get maddening when I really need to get shit done. Many people can turn to a friend or trusted advisor and ask them to serve as cheerleader or task master when extra motivation is needed. Me? I have to rely on myself and, historically, I haven’t found myself to always be the most reliable.
Hope and Trust
Every week the women of the SheHive Sunday Morning Writers’ Group make writing commitments for the coming week (including, sometimes, committing to not commit to anything). I capture the commitments and post them on the group’s Facebook group, usually accompanied by a funny picture or meme about keeping commitments to make the post stand out.
Last week, when I Googled “commitment memes,” the following quote popped up…
When you make a commitment, you build hope.
I was struck. Commitments, even commitments to myself, have long been classified as “shoulds” in my mind… I should pay my bills before their due dates. I should do the dishes. I should get out of bed before the third snooze alarm. I should go to yoga. I should write tomorrow’s blog post before midnight.
It was all big ball of guilt… should, should, should.
But here was a different perspective - hope. Hope and trust. I love those words. I love those feelings! I can build hope by making commitments. The commitments I have been openly defying all these years aren’t shoulds - they’re needs, hope for a different future - and the trust I’ve been breaking all this time is my trust in myself.
Why have I been openly defying myself all these years? (Please don’t answer that, by the way. My therapist and I need something new to talk about after all these years together…)
A Year of Ease
After a decade (plus) of working around-the-clock, I decided that 2019 is going to be the year that I take a step back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. My word for the year is Ease, which I thought meant this was going to be a year of lots of yummy self-care and much, much less work. Turns out, more and more, I’m discovering that ease is also developing a discipline around things I need to do so that I’m not un-easy.
Ease is setting aside one hour every Sunday to reconcile the SheHive finances so I know exactly how much capital we have to work with at any given time. Ease is setting up standard operating procedures for how invoices get submitted by the team so I don’t have to worry they aren’t getting paid as promised. Ease is updating my three-year old business plan so I am better informed on where to direct my resources and focus. Ease is washing the dishes as I cook so I can relax after dinner instead of dreading having to go back into the kitchen. Ease is spending a whole afternoon blocking off time on my calendar every week for the year so that no one else can claim it.
Ease, it turns out, is setting deadlines, and boundaries and schedules for the things I don’t want to take up too much space in my life so that there is room for more of what I do want.
Words Create Worlds
Viewing “keeping commitments” as “creating hope” seems like a small thing that might not matter, but mindset shifts are magical. Words create worlds - especially the words we use to talk to ourselves. And when there’s hope at the end of what we tell ourselves we need to do, instead of shame or guilt, well… that’s a different ballgame!
What are the commitments you need to keep in order to create hope for a different future for yourself? I’d love to hear about them - particularly the rewards on the other side. Drop a line in the comments below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With much love and gratitude,
Ursula Adams, MSPOD
P.S. Want to learn more about hope as a powerful driver of change? Here’s a good piece of research to start.