The other day Shira Gill posted this to instagram. You may remember her from when I called her the American Marie Kondo - she is someone who's uncluttered home belies a psyche that is also admirably uncluttered, allowing her to have a home life that is as enviable as the curly haired sassiness of her adorable offspring (top 5 on my list of babies to kidnap, if you must know... but let's stay focused here.)
Anyways, I had one of those moments where I felt like she was somehow watching me on a vidcam and could see exactly what I needed in that moment. I have been feeling heavy recently. Weighted down by a sadness and anxiety that is amorphous and nameless. If I could figure out what is causing it, then maybe I could sweep it away but all I could identify was a hole where I usually keep my shiny happy gratitude. I was sick of being sick. Sick of losing weeks to the fog and dizziness and exhaustion of chemo. Sick of the dark cloud of illness that hangs over everything I do, everything we do as a family. I was sick of telling my husband, "No, I still don't feel up to going for a walk today. I'm sorry, I know it seems crazy because two days ago I was running 9 miles an hour on the treadmill but today the idea of being anything other than supine is terrifying because every time I lift my head off the pillow I feel like I might barf. "**
I was physically tired, but also emotionally exhausted from the weight of carrying around this ticking time bomb inside of me. I want a cure. I want a baby, and not one that cooks in someone else's tummy, one that I make myself, in this useless husk of a body that's only purpose currently is to look good in clothes.
You know Dena is sad when even buying clothes doesn't make her happy. Also when she starts talking in the third person.
Needless to say I do not do well with sadness. Happiness? Bring it on. Even anger. But sadness is not in my emotional wheelhouse and all the usual things (and by that I mean eating and shopping) were not doing anything to assuage the ache that lives somewhere behind my bellybutton and slightly to the right.
So what if, as Shira proposes, what I needed to create the life I want is not going to be found in the act of acquiring something, but instead in the act of divesting from myself the things I don't need? The things that aren't serving me?
Having just done a massive purge when we moved into a smaller apartment a few weeks I realized that shedding unnecessary things was one of the few times I felt energized. I loved downsizing, loved seeing the paired down collection of stuff fit effortlessly into a smaller place. It made me feel light, free, moveable, untethered.
And so, having found a kernel of light to guide me, I decided to create a list of things I could get rid of that aren't serving me right now. Here is that list:
1. Survivors Guilt
Why me? Why do I get to have all the things and be happy and do crazy bootcamp and look amazing without a bra on and have an awesome husband and dog and apartment and wardrobe? Maybe a better question is, why not me? I am trying the best that I can to be a good person in the universe and while that may occasionally take the form of smokey eye tutorials, I help people feel beautiful and that's not worth nothing.
2. Shame for "promoting my personal brand"
When did I start to feel bad for using hashtags? Or posting my blog to my Facebook? I'm proud of my writing, proud of how far my photography has progressed, proud of the time and effort I spend on building this whole Leo with Cancer thing. I have to be a little self promotional - who else is going to do it for me? This is not, as I sometimes treat it, my diary. I want people to read this, to watch my videos, share my posts, like my instagrams, do all that stuff. It's how I hope to someday make a difference in the world, and that shame I feel is only holding me back.
3. Fear of being sexy
When you are a curvy girl there are things other girls can do but when you do them it's sexy. I spend an inordinate time talking and thinking about my breasts these days, but at some point I became shy about letting the girls be sexy. I don't know why, but I do know that they caused me a whole bunch of trouble so I might as well enjoy them right? 33 is not too old to be sexy.
4. The idea that something terrible is going to happen to me at any minute
To be fair to myself, it's been some rocky years (mixed with more than my fair share of moments of awesomeness) but I cannot live my life just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's exhausting. It's one thing to be prepared and another thing to manifest darkness because you're always looking for it.
Sometimes getting rid of things that weigh you down can be harder than the burden of getting more things or piling on more acquisitions.