A blogger I really like recently wrote a really fantastic post about mindful, organic and green living. Her journey began with cleaning out her closet, paring down to only what she needs. This is a goal I've had for a long time, but can't seem to accomplish. It's an emotional hurdle I need to overcome.
If Helen Buttigieg (my idol) were here, she'd have some wise words on the matter of why I retain clothing I no longer need (most of which doesn't fit my body or my current lifestyle). After puzzling out that my clothes are the only area of material possessions in my life that are ridiculously cluttered and to which I illogically cling, she'd figure out why.
She'd figure out that I cling to my old clothes because I cling to the past, and am not easily able to let go or transition. Although generally I deposit my memories into stories carefully stowed in my own mind---which is, of course, cluttered---to be pulled out in fanciful moments or as fodder for social amusement (or blogging), I do imbue my clothes with them too, the only objects to which I attach these emotions. She'd know that I feel my clothes are a part of me and that they represent me in certain times of my life that I am not emotionally finished with yet.
Like the business suits. I am not finished with being an ambitious professional career woman yet. Even though I'll never wear these suits again (out of size, out of style), and even though should I need new business clothing I'd have to spend the money anyway, I cling to these clothes, murmuring in my mind, "I might need them sometime..." I think, though, that these would be the easiest to get rid of.
Like the business casual slacks and shirts. I am not finished with my DINK days when I could afford Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer and J Jill. These are hard to get rid of. I keep thinking I am so close in my weight and fitness improvement to these sizes. I keep thinking I can wear these again, and I'd never be able to afford to replace this quality. But will my body, even down to my happiest possible goal weight ever fit these long slender pants, worn by a not-yet-mom? Perhaps these are hardest because they represent saying goodbye to my youth.
Like the sweaters. I am not finished with living in a climate that requires long sleeves and sweaters. I packed my sweaters in boxers with cedar sachets, but I have sucked up valuable closet real estate with these bulky storage containers.
I could go on and on: the dressy dresses, the fancy blouses, the cute outfits. All are clothing that meant something big to me at an important point in time in my personal past.
Helen Buttigieg would be understanding. She'd pat my shoulder and say, "You haven't quite accepted where and who you are in life now, have you? You're having a hard time letting go of who you were, what you did and where you were. But these clothes won't fix that. They won't bring it back. And they are frustrating you, reminding you of all that, and making a mess in your life. It's not just physical clutter, it's emotional clutter. You need to let it go."
And like all the women on her show she says this to, I'd cry. I'd release a torrent of tears because for me, it's hard to change, hard to get older. As much as I adore so much in my life right now, appreciate my blessings and benefits, love my children and husband, acknowledge the good in the now, it's hard to reconcile...I'm not sure all of what, exactly. Of being here, of being this person, of being in this mode of living.
As the present has its pros and cons, so does the past. But as I admitted in my Bad Day post, I cling to the good just as much.
Letter 9 (the blogger who so motivated me today) went on to say how the clothes were merely her first step into exploring better living. Once she breached that hurdle, her mind opened and cleared and she saw many other ways to live more green, more mindfully.
The point of all this, of course, is health. Emotional, physical and environmental health.
I found myself thinking of all the times I'd launched a campaign for the obvious healthy choices, such as the ones she mentioned: fair trade, local business, organic, etc. I thought of how each time a bit of it stuck, but on the whole I found myself back to economy and convenience.
For example, last year, as this blogger has, we made a decision to look at how we lived, and to make changes. In theory we are committed 100%. In actuality, it hasn't panned out.
If we lived elsewhere, like back in MA where our downtown was one block long and full of independent sellers and great products (pretty much everything you needed actually), I think we'd be more successful.
What I found here, though, was one farmer's market of organic produce, available only on Saturday, from 10-1. Soccer time. Also, extremely limited in produce and very extremely expensive. One apple there equaled a pound of apples at the grocery store.
So now, one 30 minute driving trip plus 30 minute shopping time later, I had produce.
Go to local grocery. This is a local business but carries limited products and no organic. 15 minutes driving, 1 hour shopping.
Now I need organic perishables and cleaning products (Method). 40 minutes driving to big chain grocery or Target, one or so hours shopping.
I can get fresh local seafood driving back from Target, but it's about 15 minutes extra driving out of the way.
And so on. I found myself going through half a tank of gas (at least) and a full day (at least) of running from distant spot to distant spot.
In the end, it seemed to do more harm than good.
When life is good, I can open up my time (and wallet, since all of this costs so much more) and make the choices for healthier---the ones I want to make.
But when time is tight (and it usually is) and the dollar is short (and it usually is) it's hard to look at the nearly $4 healthy environment dryer sheets versus the $.99 ones. It's hard to decide to schlep around and juggle conflicting schedules and so forth to hit all the different stores with their independent hours of operation. It does require more thought, more planning, more time and often more money.
I keep saying, "When things get better..." such as when the kids are back in school, or we get more income or less bills, and so forth. The problem is, I am likely asking for an ideal, which never comes. On the flip side, I am reaching for an ideal one can never reach: perfection.
As with everything I approach, I want to do my very best, no, scratch that, be perfect at being Green.
It is as impossible as it feels.
So what I have had to do is accept that I am a product of my culture to a degree---like my comforts and convenience---and weigh what I want and can do with what the earth needs.
I'm by no means the best Green person around, but I do a little here and a little there. I wash clothes as efficiently as possible, do not water my lawn, conserve resources as I can, keep lights off, use the right bulbs, do not drive large fuel-consuming cars, minimize driving, buy local when I can, and so forth. I know I leech out resources and so forth in other ways. But I'm trying and that is worth a lot so I have begun giving myself credit.
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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