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The corner of 11th and Couch

I’m beyond the halfway mark.  What I have learned I cannot put into words, as there’s no translation for the felt sense of love, loss, and longing in the same moment.  It’s a real motherfucker to emerge.

(A woman just walked by wearing a shirt that read: This is the city that I love.)

I’m here.

I’m back.

I’m finally free.  I emerge hopeful and reminded of my deepest inner truth and knowing, which is that life is awesome beyond measure and that hope is not unwarranted.  Life is playful and celebratory and complex: the miracles!  The every day miracles are soulfire.

To be free has its terrifying side, but I am mostly ecstatic.  What will I do first?  Now that I’m here, where do I start?

Everything will change.  Again and again and again. I must not turn off ever again.  Or, should I find that necessary, I hope that I remember what I have already learned:

Hope is warranted.  

Your hope isn’t foolishness, childishness, naivete, or futile.

Hope, it turns out, is the whisper of the heart.

Hope is the language of your ancestors.

Hope is louder than pain, and louder than fear.

I relase any need to mourn the pain of a decade.
I am completely done.

Stuff I want to do soon

  • Tickets for a Weird Chicago bus tour
  • Tickets to A Gentleman’s Guide to Murder
  • Yoga retreat in October at Starved Rock
  • Trip to visit Ann in Sioux Falls, SD
  • Tickets to the Broncos/Bears game on November 22
  • 90 minute massage
  • Pedicure
  • Haircut
  • 3 float pass at a local float shop
  • Weekend getaway for a writing retreat

State of the wardrobe, part two

What I noticed first, and almost immediately, is that I had very little clothing in red, orange, or yellow. I have a cadre of sleeveless business-appropriate tunic-length shirts that I wear under blazers (of which I own 3). I have 5 flannel shirts. I have 6 pairs of business pants: 3 black, 1 blue, 1 gray, and 1 patterned wool. I have cool earth tones in almost everything, and a selection of graphic black and white prints. I have a selection of dresses that range from beachfront to opera to fall wedding, but not many that I want to wear to work.

What I also noticed was that it is time to upgrade:

  • Almost all of my whites are looking… not that white.
  • My I-get-compliments-every-time-I-wear-it pleather jacket needs replacing.

I also churned out a list of key items I wanted to procure. Reducing what I had allowed me to identify the holes in my wardrobe more succinctly. Instead of shopping for “something to wear,” shopping became far more specific: I’m looking for a structured jacket in olive drab, low-heeled booties in a neutral color, a full-sleeved black blazer.

Focusing in on these items in a store is a different kind of strategy. Zeroing in helps to tune out the marketing ploys like distracting end caps and muzak designed to make you feel happy. (Though admittedly, a good endcap often gives me pause!) It allowed for blinders to emerge which prevented settling for something that was totally nice enough but didn’t inspire j o y.

My hope is that my future purchases are more deliberate and longer lasting. I’m ready to spend more on fewer items that are really knock-out good.

W A R D R O B E 

  • cableknit something
  • mustard cardigan
  • boho dress
  • clutch
  • beanie
  • winter coat
  • low heel booties
  • sneakers
  • skinny jeans
  • skinny colored pants
  • leather jacket
  • henley
  • thermal
  • all the tunics
  • blazer with full-length sleeve
  • bathing suit
  • blue dress for fall and winter
  • work flats
  • jean jacket
  • mala beads
  • long (32-4″) druzy necklace
  • pearl studs
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State of the Wardrobe

I just cleaned out my closet. I took everything out – e v e r y t h I n g – from my closet, washed all of it, and arranged piles on the bed. This was a messy process.

My research started a year ago. The concept of the capsule wardrobe caught my eye because they represented how I tend to wear my clothing.

I assumed we all do this: assemble a small collection of high-rotation clothes.

  1. Wear them constantly and wash them every 3-4 wears. Air dry many things.
  2. Keep a few of the previous season’s popular hits and transition them along.
  3. As needed, toss or donate clothes that have no life in them.
  4. Shop emotionally – almost exclusively to preoccupy your mind, ease boredom, feel high, or take advantage of a sale and/or opportunity. Mostly, you will shop shortly after you decide that you have nothing to wear to work.
  5. Make tiny compromises along the way like: “But everyone should have a pair of linen pants” and “I’m not 100% about these, but they’re the best option at the moment and I just need this moment to be over” or “I like them in blue, of course I should get them in brown.”
  6. Also shop online using your measurements and past successes. Sometimes purchase with the intent of returning whatever doesn’t work. Eagerly await packages and then have a home fashion show. Wind up spending money on shipping for the convenience of avoiding the mall and salespeople and the limitation of in-store inventory.
  7. When shopping, try really hard to keep in mind the lessons already learned about body and preferences. When it comes to necklines, stick to v-necks, oxfords, motos, halters, and boatnecks. Tread carefully with a square, scoop, or a sweetheart. Do not try to make a cowl neck happen.
  8. Buy clothes, almost always with the caveat that I can return them if I change my mind. (And I do, sometimes, change my mind.)

So I identified this whole system as inefficient. I was spending money on clothes I didn’t love, for reasons that were fleeting. I had so many clothes, I was keeping “workout clothes” and hoodies in a cardboard box from my previous move. I had a stash of “extras” in a trunk in my closet. I seemed to be perpetually paying off a clothing purchase or unsubscribing from a promotional email. I had a tshirt from high school, jeans I hadn’t worn in 5 years, and a sweater with a tag still on it.

When, and if, I thought about women in other parts of the world, and in other parts of my county, who might desperately wish for a single change of clothes or single new, unworn article of clothing, my heart would flinch in my chest. What am I doing?

It was time to wake up, and start over, and do better.

So capsule wardrobes grabbed my interest. Then I heard about the KonMari method. (I didn’t read the book. I watched a few youtube videos and read some reviews. I watched her Google lecture (translated from Japanese) and took a stab.)

I picked up each article individually. I asked: does this bring me joy?

I created a huge donation pile, and a few trash bags. I set aside a few items for a dear friend. And then I looked at what was left.

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creative, resourceful, and whole

The central tenet of coaching is that every single person you will ever meet is creative, resourceful, and whole.

This belief lays a foundation that allows coaching to draw important boundaries.

  • By assuming that someone is creative, I believe that they have the faculties and imagination to solve their own problems.
  • By believing that someone is resourceful, I assert that they have options, choices, and pathways.
  • Acknowledging that someone is whole is to recognize that there is nothing broken, nothing missing, and nothing to fix.

Recently, I needed this reminder.  I’d been on a slow descent at work.  I was increasingly frustrated, anxious, and resentful.  I was feeling irritated, unlike myself, and pissed off.  I was extrapolating too far, and projecting onto others the reasons for my discontent.  I was in a state of perpetually bummed, and it was starting to spread.  I found myself recounting my irritation in too many conversations with too many different people.

First it was:  Maybe I don’t like this new role at work.

Then it was:  Maybe I just feel “off-track” in my life as a whole.

Then it was:  Maybe I’ve just had too much fucking transition in the last three years.

Transition fatigue is REAL.  My moves have been to new states, but with that has come new regional values, subcultures, and ways of working.  At ten months in, the routine is down.  But then add in a twist like: where do I donate used clothing? Where do I sell back books? And I’m reminded, again, that moving has happened.

But my irritation at work wasn’t related to transition fatigue.  I’m not actually tired.  I’m not actually feeling “off track” and it has very little to do with my new role (which does, btw, have its flaws).  My irritation is the byproduct of working in an unhappy environment.

Last Thursday, I nearly hit my limit of frustration and I was sulky.  I did a chakra clearing meditation, and then I pulled a card:  Emotional Sensitivity.

The card said:

 “Honor and respect your deep emotional sensitivity, as it is a gift to us all!

“Have you been teased, or felt bad, about the fact that you are extremely sensitive? If so, this card is the angels’ reassurance of the positive qualities within your gift of sensitivity. …The angels are working with you to trust this feeling more often and not berate yourself if you have disallowed your intuition in the past.

“You are peaceful by nature, so you naturally avoid conflict and other harsh energies. …Honor your sensitivity by surrounding yourself with gentleness in your relationships, media choices, home life, and work situation.

The message I took from this was: I have to stop feeling bad about being sensitive to my environment.  I have to stop feeling bad.  My working environment is completely adequate, from a facilities standpoint.  It’s … not what I would design for myself, but it’s temporary and I’m safe, and it meets my needs.  It’s completely fine.

But the people.  The culture of fear.  The sadness.  The helplessness.

I was absorbing all kinds of stress from the people around me.  There’s a lot of dysfunction around and it can be so subtle.

I have to be honest and say: for the last 10 months, I have felt bad, or like there was something wrong with me, that this environs seemed to be bothering me more than it bothers my peers who are along on this assignment with me.

Comparison is the thief of joy.  Haven’t I written that here before?

And yet.  How do I lead?  How do I maintain my integrity?  How do I do what’s right for me, and what’s required of the job, at the same time?  How do I keep showing up fully, as my authentic self?

Growth hurts, motherfuckers.  We should all be so lucky as to have times in our professional lives where we are asked to grow and figure out some real tricky shit.

So while I’m figuring this out, just a reminder:  I am creative, resourceful, and whole.

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A letter started in the twilight hour

Dear 18 year old me,

It’s amazing how much the human spirit can take. It’s amazing how much your human spirit can take.

When you’re 19: You’ll spend some time wondering if it will all pan out. Your thoughts as hollow prayers out car windows. You’ll drive mountains and valleys and desserts and oceans. All the while, you’ll be churning, deep in your heart, for what you really want. You will be heard, but you won’t be able to hear yet.

When you’re 20: You’ll place some bets on yourself early on, and you’ll question if you were enough to bet on. You’ll decide, squarely, that you are enough (and this is something that separates you from so, so many). You’ll choose love.

When you’re 23: Your survival skills will completely run the show. You’ll be in an in-between phase. You’ll have panic attacks. You can’t hear shit, except your body screaming at you to pay attention to what hurts, except even that you won’t really hear for a while. You are combustible.

When you’re 25: You’ll prove to yourself that you can do it, because you have to. You will spend a lot of time in bars. You will also start running. One does not counteract the other, but both will feel right.

When you’re 27: You’ll quit smoking after you get pneumonia. During your recovery, you’ll discover acupuncture. After 3 months, you’ll take a Tai Chi class at the Mt. Scott Community Center. After that, you’ll take your first yoga class in eight years. All of this is good. Pneumonia will teach you what it’s like to be able to do only one thing each day.  This slows you down tremendously (in a good way), and curbs your running almost completely.  Then, a court decision.

When you’re 28: You’ll have a lot of fun.  You’ll learn how to receive.

When you’re 30: You’ll start to write again.

Hang on, little tomato. The ride is just that: a ride. It’s really hard to want stuff that isn’t part of your phase.  Have faith that it’s all happening in perfect timing and that your heart will be heard. Decide you are worth it. Combust. Run, drink, quit. Remember to appreciate one thing at a time. Receive.  Receive.  R e c e i v e , and then: Start writing again.

All my love,

-kate.