Wellness in the Wardrobe

IMG_1506-2I’ve always loved the idea of minimalism…capsule wardrobes, clutter free counter space in the kitchen, and only having what you really need. And since I’ve moved every couple of years, I have been able to carry out periodic purges, which helped me feel like I was always moving towards the ideal. But, not really…because when I looked around a few months later, all I could see was…stuff. It had all come back!

I recently read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The premise, very briefly, is that as you systematically go through your household items, you ask the question, “does this spark joy?” If it doesn’t bring you joy, you get rid of it. Ultimately, once you are done with the process, you will be surrounded only by things that bring you joy. Which sounded divine and daunting all at the same time.

I looked skeptically at my closet. Using this checklist, I started the process of going through just my shirts…gathering them from the closet, the dresser and the laundry, I heaped them in a pile.

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Kitten enjoys a sunbeam while I work on the shirt pile

I handled each item, trying to sense the spark of joy. Out of 31 shirts, I kept 7.

Motivated, I moved to bottoms…out of 15 pairs of pants, I kept 2.

Out of 13 dresses, kept 1.

Out of 7 skirts, kept 1.

Out of 4 shorts, kept 0.

Out of 19 outerwear, kept 4.

Out of 27 scarves, kept 5.

Out of 26 pairs of shoes, kept 9.

I stopped counting after a while, because the pile of clothes just continued to grow.

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Kitten still enjoying a sunbeam

It wasn’t necessarily the volume of clothes that shocked me, but rather, what the volume represented. A massive pile of expectations, obligations, and memories.

I had expectations for clothes that didn’t fit…I had held on to them, anticipating that I would lose the weight, and then they would be back in the rotation again! But that never happened, and I just felt shame when I looked at them.

I had obligations to clothes that were still serviceable, but that I didn’t like wearing. I felt guilty parting with them because they still “worked.”

I had entire section of clothes that were from a care-free summer I wasn’t willing to let go of. It has been sweet season of life that, in brutal honesty, I had been wishing would come back. But it was time to release those memories

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I had no idea how incredibly emotional the process would be. But as the hours wore on, the process got easier and faster. In the end, I had 5 Ikea bags of expectations, obligations and memories…and it was so liberating to drop it off at Goodwilll!

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Kitten surveys.

There isn’t much left in my closet…and actually, I was worried that there wouldn’t be anything left at all. But I have exactly what I need.

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There is nothing on the right side of the closet door.

AND now that all the excess is gone, I can see clearly what I need to invest in…a new fleece that fits, new pajamas, yoga pants that aren’t 5 years old etc. But that will happen in time…and when I go to buy new things, I will ask myself, “does this spark joy?”

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The Word for 2016

image1Instead of having a long list of goals for the new year, I had a simple word that was the perfect fit for 2016.

Wellness.

“The state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberative effort,” says Dictionary.com.

Typically, at the start of every year, I have a list of tasks that I would like to accomplish. Last year was a dismal failure. I wanted to read the entire Bible, I wanted to stay more connected with my friends, I wanted to exercise more, I wanted to bake more, write more, be more social…the list for self improvement was just exhausting…which is probably why all those good intentions went south around February.

This year, I am taking the pressure off and filtering my choices with the question, “is this moving me towards wellness?”

It is not a concrete approach which terrifies my Type A personality. If it’s not a on a list, how will it happen!?

But, truthfully, this is probably the gentler and kinder practice that my soul needs for me to undertake. The deliberate effort will come as I make the small and subtle choices every day to move towards wellness.

I’m already seeing good things happen…but I’ll save that story for next time…

Release. Be filled.

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I have been so tightly wound. Circumstances and chaos have spun me around and around. The horizon is lost and so I hold fast to whatever I can. But, unaware, I’m holding on to the things that hold me back. Tonight, I thought I would write out some things that have been pressing on my soul…but the list kept growing. And I realized how much I have been trying to control, how much I have been trying to regulate, how much I’ve been trying to find my horizon.  It is time to release.

Release all the self-expectation. Release all the perfection. Release all the striving.

Release the inadequacies. Release the deficiencies. Release the insufficiencies.

Release the emotional chaos. Release the career chaos. Release timelines.

Release the half finished home projects. Release budget imperfections. Release retirement plans.

Release dress size. Release missed workouts. Release failed meal planning.

Release missed opportunities. Release limitations. Release perceptions. Release judgements.

Release the disappointment. Release hope deferred. Release anger. Release confusion.

Now may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him, that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Release. Be filled.

Dreaming, a lost art

photo-7I don’t dream like I used to.

Somewhere in my 30’s I started living my life in a box confined to daily routines…where the biggest dream I have is about my next two week vacation.

But there is something really life giving, inspiring, and fulfilling about dreaming. What if God calls me to do more than just my daily routine? What if there is more to dreaming than a two week vacation? What does “what if” really look like?

And I kind of get lost at that point. It’s been so long since I dreamed. I’ve had goals…I’ve finished college, got a job, got a masters, got married. Truthfully, I’ve lived my life on a very linear scale and hit a lot of milestones along the way. But what if there is more?

What does “what if” even look like?

It is time for me to dream again. It is time for me to step outside of this linear life and understand that living simply doesn’t mean living small. It is time for me to start imaging what “what if” looks like.

Ready. Set. Go!

Oh, and if I’m asking myself  “is this realistic” then I’m not dreaming!

The one thing I won’t stop saying…

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After thoughtful consideration, I thought I would reply to an article that has been circulating about Christians who use the term “I’m blessed” to describe their material prosperity…and why I will continue to say it.

The prosperity movement did Christians a huge disservice when it equated God’s blessing with material possessions. It excluded all the other intangible ways we experience the blessing of God. The pendulum had swung to the extreme and Christians were left to figure out if it was even possible to experience the blessing of God in the hard times.

The reality is that we are called to give thanks to God in every situation. When our bank account swells, we are blessed and we give thanks. When we are navigating incredible sorrow, we are blessed and we give thanks. We experience the tangible and intangible of God’s blessing in all seasons of our lives.

Mostly, it seems like when we have financial success we shout it out from the rooftops. But when we are experiencing great loss, we whisper it so quietly that no one hears us.  But we still give thanks to the One who blesses us.

While the author, Scott Dannemiller feels like he is “splitting hairs” over the semantics, but I think that words are very important. I take great care in saying “I’m blessed” and not “I’m lucky.” In saying it, I deliberately shift my heart towards the Giver of all things and keep my hands open to what He gives in every season.

This doesn’t necessarily answer the large questions of inequality or suffering in this big world. I will leave that to the apologists and the theologians. But it does answer the large questions in my small world.

Heart towards God and hands wide open. This is doxology. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.