Life-Changing Magic: Part Four

IMG_2784 Don't. Stop. Stop. Don't. Don't go in there again. No more. Stop eating. You're done. Enough. Stop. Don't. Please, stop. Please, don't. Please...please...don't...stop. Don't stop. Keep going. Keep eating. You're not done. Don't stop...

The kitchen. It's not my favorite place. It's like the unsettling, nerve-wracking office of a court-ordered shrink; I don't want to be there, but I'll get in trouble if I'm not. It's the room I fear the most and the room I arguably have spent the most time in. Alone. Throughout the day. Late at night, for as long as I can remember.

Last week, we chatted about the process of tidying up my closet and what it's like getting rid of clothes that suggest I've failed; failed at losing weight, failed at keeping the weight off. Truthfully, the kitchen is no different. Simply put: the kitchen has always been a reflection of who I am and where I've come with my eating disorder, which most days, doesn't feel very far at all...

I started with the cabinet above the oven.

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And dumped the contents of it onto the floor.


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Among the pile of plastic bins, Malaria prevention meds from when I went to India, napkins and a random alarm clock, there they were: diet pills, various weight loss powders and laxative teas-- evidence of a life consumed by weight loss strategies and late-night, and/or daytime, binges, for nearly fourteen years. I gazed at the pile for a few moments and walked the fridge. I decided I was hungry. I opened the package of something or other, and ate it, fast, avoiding the mess I'd made, not just in the kitchen, but in my life as a former chronic dieting, binge eating woman girl.

I sat on my kitchen floor, ate the whatever (what I ate isn't relevant to the story) and cried. I cried for the nights I'd wait for my dad to go to sleep so I could sneak downstairs I cried for the always-empty fridge at my Mother's house. I cried for all the pantries in the homes of the families I babysat for, that were a lot emptier after I left. I cried for the times I ran to the fridge after having sex with my now ex-boyfriend; frantically searching for all the things I didn't get in the bedroom. I cried for the men, women and teens who've felt even an ounce of the way I felt. And I cried for the one and only week my fridge looked like this:


I don't even want to do this, I thought to myself. I didn't know if I was referring to cleaning out the kitchen, eating, or crying but I decided to peel myself off the floor, open some trash bags and do the thing that I'd already done for my bookshelf and my closet.

As I've mentioned, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up specifically says to only keep what "sparks joy". The kitchen is no exception. It wasn't hard to throw away the pills, powders and laxative teas, mostly because they have long since expired. I did keep a couple of my favorite teas, however...

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For so long the kitchen, and my closet, have been a symbol for my shortcomings. And in many ways, they still are. But...I know what's in it, now. I know what's in my cupboards and my pantry. I know what's in my fridge and I now know *exactly* how many cans of soup I have. It does feel better knowing and my kitchen does feel lighter.

This is not a cure-all. This is the beginning of a Life-Changing process and like anything, it takes time. My Magic Sponsor said to me yesterday, that the entire purpose of this book is not just to get rid of a bunch of crap, but to bring harmony into the process of living; to harmonize budget with spending, harmonize food cravings with healthy, delicious choices, harmonize daily routine with how the body feels and harmonize closet with my desired lifestyle.

How are you feeling on the harmony scale?


And in case you're wondering about that cupboard above the oven...I kept only the joy-sparking essentials.
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*Be sure to catch part one, two and three of this series.

Life-Changing Magic: Part Three

photo 1-12 Clothes. I got rid of my clothes. Not all of them, but most of them. The truth is, most of the clothes in my closet didn't fit. They were just scraps of fabric, hanging out, waiting for me to be thin again, mocking me for having outgrown them in the waist, shoulders, hips, thighs, nipples, eyeballs, everywhere.

I started in an ordinary manner; I emptied my closet, my drawers and under-the-bed "storage", dumped everything in my living room, became overwhelmed and anxious, rubbed a Grounding Blend on the bottoms of my feet and stared at the piles for about ten minutes, waiting for them to organize and purge themselves. Of course, I could have done one drawer, one section at a time, but I've never been interested in doing things the easy way.

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I had to keep reminding myself; Joy, Erica. It has to spark Joy in order for you to keep it, k? One great suggestion I got from my Magic Sponsor was to look at my clothes and ask myself if I would buy this item again. Were I to see this shirt/jacket/tube top/sequined beret in the store TODAY, would I buy it? And most importantly, DOES IT EVEN FIT? I promise you, I am the queen of keeping clothes for the benefit of my "future body" and especially my "past body". I don't talk a lot about my experience with chronic dieting, or binge eating, or weight gain, or weight loss, or body image, though, I probably should and also I want to, but just take my word for it; getting rid of the clothes once compatible with my body, that now even my arms wouldn't slide into, was mildly devastating.

I studied most of the items as though it were someone I used to know; holding the garment out in front of me, squeezing the material down its length, cocking my head to the side and squinting my eyes, vaguely remembering what it felt like to wear it and mostly remembering constantly being terrified for the day it would no longer fit. And that day came a long time ago. I've gained enough weight and my body had changed shape drastically enough to warrant more than half my closet to not fit me. But the only reason those clothes ever fit me was because I ate nothing but straw, hay, kale and cow diarrhea green drinks. Plus, I exercised like German Nazis were constantly chasing me. (Too soon?) But seriously.

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So, out they went! TEN bags full of clothes that didn't spark joy, I wouldn't buy today and that reminded me of the years I was terrified of gaining weight. Mmmmmbyeeeee!

I'm *technically* still not done with this category, though. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up gives specific instructions for how to reorganize after de-cluttering. The author has a folding/organizing method that I refuse to use, simply because, in addition to every other article of clothing, she wants you to fold your underwear and I am NOT that kinda gal; I don't have the patience, I don't have the upkeep and I don't have the underwear. (Remember?) But for those of you who LOVE folding your underwear and dividing your t-shirts into thirds and arranging your clothes in the closet from lightweight to heavy...the link is above. Knock yourself out! Make this YOUR magical experience.

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So, what now...?

It's hard for me to get dressed, and has been since I was twelve. When I do actually get dressed, I seldom stay dressed. Being self-employed, I have the option of changing my clothes if my mood, body image or the climate changes. But I'm not so sure that helps me feel like a mature, confident woman. For years, I've worked in an industry that regards stretchy, forgiving spandex as put-together outfits and I think it's time I thank my Yoga pants for their service of safety and forgiveness, and try my hand at getting dressed, in "real" clothes.

So how do I start getting dressed, staying dressed and liking it?

Step One: I did the "Yoga Thing"; I set an intention, based on what I value most when it comes to my personal style and clothing. Here are some things that came to, confidence, satiety, comfort, stylish, appreciation, worthiness, deliberate, choosy/picky, quality. From there, I pieced together my over all intention for getting dressed; To cultivate joy, confidence, comfort and spiritual satiety in a carefully edited, deliberate and stylish wardrobe. 

Step Two: I made a Pinterest Board filled with clothing and looks that inspire me and that I can see myself wearing on the daily...the ENTIRE day...unless I'm legitimately going to Yoga, in which case, the spandex is okay.

Step Three: I enrolled in Stitch Fix: Clothing and accessories hand-selected by a personal stylist, delivered to your door. Right?! Apparently, there are people in the world who literally want to make my getting dressed their problem. Fine! I won't stop ya! I even dropped a note to my stylist...

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Thanks for sticking with me for this series. Next up: "What's hiding under my couch?" AND "Let's not keep old alarm clocks and other non-kitchen items in the kitchen cupboards, k?"

Ok! Namaste! Byyyyeee!


Oh, and PS: I totally got dressed yesterday ;-)