Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ya Gotta Believe

Going on right now in politics is a tug of war over who we should believe. A powder keg of accusations, anger, and vitriol that, I guarantee, will accomplish almost nothing. I’m not touching that issue. It’s so far above my abilities and pay grade that I will leave it to others whose job it is to sort out. The evidence suggests it’s beyond them too, but they signed up for it, so they can duke it out. 

He said, she said and who do you believe seem to be the questions swirling around. Well, we can all answer that for ourselves, as we should. With thoughtful consideration, respect and hey, being a little nicer to each other while we’re at it. What is more important, is, do we believe in ourselves? Do we have the courage of our convictions, whatever they may be, or do we shrink back, like Eyore in Winnie the Pooh? Do we sit back and say, “Oh, no, I could never do that, not me, oh no, I am nowhere near good enough.” Says who? Who convinces us that we shouldn’t reach out and make a big leap at something? How does it happen that we become our own worst critics? This week, it became clear to me that I needed to change course in a few areas. When something doesn’t work, you fix it, or if it’s beyond repair, you ditch it.

Let’s think about careers. Eating, wearing clothes and having a home are all habits I’d like to continue, so I work. I’m certainly not alone in that. I’m also not alone in wanting to do well in whatever job I have, because why bother if you’re not going to do your best? It’s not a brag to say that I know how to write, I know how to gather facts, cite sources, and make complex concepts a little more engaging. As anyone would, I take pride in that. On the flip side, I can’t add numbers higher than 21, I can’t sing or dance, and I’m a miserable failure at cribbage, so it all balances out. Recently though, someone told me that I screwed up on something and I was to blame for something pretty important going wrong. When someone says to you that you stink at the very thing you take the most pride in, it’s a wicked kick in the head. We’ve all been there, right? Isn’t it awful?

The reason why it’s so agonizing is that losing a solid belief in yourself is like losing an eye. Not quite as painful and bloody, and you won’t scare the dog, but it will affect how you see every situation. Nothing will be clear because that core belief, in your abilities, your efforts and your choices, is the lens through which we perceive everyone and everything else around us. If it’s cracked? Fuggettaboutit, you’re going to bump into things and fall down a lot.

For a few days, I believed I was a screw-up. Hook, line, and nasty email, I 100% bought it. Then a whole lot of events fell into place. People acted in ways I never saw coming. Some background came to the forefront and made it all so much more apparent. Yes, we need that core belief in ourselves, but sometimes it gets forgotten because it’s intangible while someone screeching at you in real time, is easily heard and seen. At the end of one very hectic day, everything had finally righted itself and guess what? I won. Won, in the sense that I got my feet back under me, pivoted on my kicking red heels and walked on, confident again in what I have done, what I know I can do, and what I will continue to do.

There is no dress size, no amount of money, no shiny new car or toy that will ever feel as good as genuinely knowing your worth and being right about who you are. It’s petty, but if I could have gotten away with it, someone last week would have gotten a big, fat “Neener, neener” from me. I resisted the urge, but barely. It remains to be seen how it will all shake out, but that’s the fun part, right? Once you know your own strength, you’re unstoppable.

The political arena will continue to be a hotbed of controversy and conflict. Hasn’t it always been? We all have opinions on who should be believed, but it’s probably a better idea to have a firm grasp on what we believe about ourselves before we look at anyone else.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Coming out of the Closet

"Women usually love what they buy, yet hate two-thirds of what is in their closets."  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Well, this is true for me, no doubt.  My struggles shopping for clothes are well documented in this space, but I'm coming along with that talent. I'm getting better at knowing what will fit and what won't, and some of my extreme pickiness has fallen by the wayside. On a recent trip, once I eliminated everything that didn't fit, and everything I didn't like, there were two white T-shirts and a package of tube socks left in my shopping cart, and that will not do.  I must report, however, that just the other day, I found the mythical chupacabra of women's clothing. A pair of dress pants, with no annoying buttons or zippers, crisp, comfortable fabric (with just precisely enough stretch) and…wait for it…pockets! Really, they exist, even for someone who isn't a double-zero.

Having recently managed to acquire a few key pieces of clothing that don't resemble convict clothing, my task now is the closet. Or, as it's referred to in my house, the abyss. While I drool over home improvement magazines that feature amazing walk-in closets that are bigger than my living room, my actual closet is long, dark, and narrow. There are some Home Depot shelves screwed to one wall and a spring-loaded rod that routinely falls down, but that's OK because nothing hangs on it. The shelves and the floor are covered with the flotsam and jetsam of 5 years worth of pants, jeans, shirts, and shoes that I tried to wear, forgot to wear, or am never, ever going to wear.
I read once that to clean out a closet, everything has to be sorted into two piles, "Keep" or "Donate." My closet needs a third pile called, "What was I thinking?"  Trying to get organized is a lifelong battle for me, but how hard could it be to manage one small 3 foot by 6-foot closet?
It's sort of like a treasure hunt, at least thinking that made it easier to dig in. Maybe there would be a $20 in the pocket of an ugly jacket? Perhaps I would find that Coach wristlet I scored at a yard sale and then lost track of? It could be right under the 19 pairs of yoga pants shoved onto the shelves. For someone who hasn't Namaste'd in like, forever, if I do decide to go all downward dog, I'm covered.

The jeans are the next to be dealt with. Pick a size, any size; chances are I have it. I have size 12s that fit and size 16s that are too small and so does every woman I know. Someone is screwing with us on this sizing issue, and when the sisterhood catches that guy, he will be eating pavement. I kept two pairs and they better last because they are exactly what I want and what feels right to wear. Also, they don't make that style anymore, of course.

When at last the floorboards of the closet can be seen, and there are a few Hefty bags of donations ready to go, it's not an abyss anymore but rather a lonely outpost of questionable fashion choices and way too many white, beige or light blue tailored shirts. My wardrobe is down to the bare bones of necessary pieces, with a couple basic black cocktail dresses hoping for a date night. For now, it's enough, but pretty soon I will have to shop again, to fill in the gaps. Working at home is convenient at times, but branching out and wearing a skirt or a bright green silk shirt now and then wouldn't kill me. A friend told me that if you're not taking a fashion risk at least once a week, you're not living your best life. She can wear anything and make it look good, but it's not because she's a perfect size 4, it's because she doesn't let a number on a tag define her.

I hung my new dress pants on a real hanger and placed them gently on the closet rod, which has been re-attached. Perhaps the shopping gods will continue to smile on me and eventually, there will be a tunic top or a funky sweater to go with them. I'm coming out of the closet, but I'll be back with a few more items soon enough. Does anyone want to go shopping with me?