4.08.2011

failure perfect

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Yesterday I found myself simultaneously unpacking and packing and I had to ask myself how did I get to this bizarre place?

Out from one box, hidden away in the basement for the past seven months, into another, this one not to be opened until an end of May garage sale.  I spend a ridiculous amount of time accumulating, cleaning, picking up, moving, sorting, storing, cursing, and getting rid of things.  I'm so frustrated!

I think I've written this post before.

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Despite having nearly completely eliminated all my personal and household things twice in the last two years, I still have a house full of stuff.  I know I need a certain amount, to cook with, to help educate my children, to wear.  But there is much, much more that we obviously do not need, considering it can sit in a box for half a year and nobody even noticed it was gone.  Why do I have so much excess and why does it irritate me so much?

Hmmm, perhaps there is something else going on. 

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I grew up with the idea that skinny people have great lives and fat people do not.  Skinny people have control and fat people do not.  Skinny people are good and fat people are not.  And everyone gets what they deserve.

I can't blame my family for this idea, though I'm sure that keeping the Shape and Bodyfit magazines out of the house would of given us all a much needed respite.  My people are of Nordic stock, built for long, cold winters and food shortages.  Definitely not skinny.

The schemeing and effort that went into being next month's success story after finally losing that extra 20 (or more) pounds was all consuming.  Life would be so much better if I were thin.  Every problem, every fault, every challenge was viewed through the lens of fat.

Every body wants to be less.

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Despite all this, I am not a diet person. Not anymore.  I sometimes make an effort to eat healthier and periodically try to eliminate a food or drink from my menu to give my body a break from caffeine or processed sugar, but generally I do not restrict caloric consumption and think that my life will change along with my body.

Careful examination of body size, culture, and a good dose of common sense has informed me that being thin won't change an iota of my life, other than not having as many cookies.  And I like cookies.  So I'm just not going to buy into that rancid load, poison my mind, limit my self worth to my height to weight ratio.
Hahaha, I've escaped!

My life, if I want it to be better, needs to be worked upon with good habits, healthy living and focus on the things I want more of.  And I will do just that as soon as I can find it underneath all this stuff in my house.  Everything will be simpler, more wholesome, less confusing and overwhelming if I reduce, rightsize, feng shui, minimize, declutter and lose that last 20 pounds of stuff...

Uh-oh.  Perhaps I haven't escaped after all.

Every body wants less stuff.

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This pursuit of perfection, no matter in my body or my house or my relationships or, heaven forbid, my blog, is a zero sum game.  Every day I have to fight the quick fix, all or nothing thinking.  Sometimes I succeed, most times I fail.  It's the epic of my life.  My personal never ending battle.  I'm an addict to the success story, the one where Cinderella saves herself, gets the prince and never has to pick up anyone else's shit ever again.  And like an addict, I never will be completely free.   

When faulty logic overruns and I find myself snapping at my family, wishing they'd go away so I can just get stuff done and achieve this magical world of perfection, I remember all the strategies that I have developed over time to strengthen that side of me that knows better.  I list all the things I am grateful for.  I spend more time seeking out the funny, silly games with the kids and watching comedies.  I use my academic knowledge to argue with my blinded thinking, quoting Max Weber and Jean Baudrillard and that guy who did all the work on self-help culture.  I play a sport.   

I use selective perception to focus on the beauty in my life, reminding myself that wonders are not without complications and the amazing coexists with imperfect.

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So, today I will continue the unpacking/packing routine and, perhaps, listen to some music or get the kids to help me out so we can chat about something else while we go.  And I will try to find the peace amongst the clutter.  Absolute less-ness only happens when all consumption and activity stops.  And I'm definitely not ready to go there yet.

11 comments:

  1. Wow, what a post. I can relate to so many things you said.

    Good for you. I live in the cycle of "tomorrows happiness" and all or nothing.

    I have to constantly remind myself of how blessed I am.

    Thanks for the reminder today.

    all the best for your packing. and beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing them.

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  2. I'm with you! I'm so sick of all the stuff.

    I'm also in a Spring fever kick of get it all out! We don't need stuff! Less the better!

    Becca

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  3. I don't know if you read Ashley Ann's blog or not, but if not then I think you would like this post:

    http://www.bloglovin.com/m/743044/193933980/o/0/aHR0cCUzQSUyRiUyRmFzaGxleWFubnBob3RvZ3JhcGh5LmNvbSUyRmJsb2clMkYyMDExJTJGMDMlMkYyMSUyRmZpbGxpbmctbXktaG9tZS13aXRoLXRoZS11bnNlZW4lMkY=

    I promise that's a real web address and that I'm not a spammer, lol. It's a post about focusing on the good amid the imperfect, and your posts and her posts often remind me of each other.

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  4. I really enjoyed this. It is Soooo where I am right now!

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  5. Oh I love this post. I think people have replaced the idea of "If only I had more of..." with the idea of "If only I had less of..." and my life would be so much better, I would be happier (than myself, than my neighbors etc). The same as "if only I were thinner.." vs. "if only I had less clutter..." I dont think there is anything wrong with purging extra/unwanted stuff, but when focusing on it to the extent that you cant appreciate your real life right now it becomes problematic. Your posts always come at such perfect times for me. I find myself thinking things along these lines a lot of the time.

    Are you going to continue the vegan posts someday? I am really looking forward to reading them. :)

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  6. Very well articulated! I'm right there with ya on so many levels.

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  7. Wonderful post. My game is like criquet. It's long and each side has a ridiculous amount of turns. I'll go for a long time going with the flow, and then it's the other team's turn and I freak out, organizing, donating, throwing out, recycling/repurposing/revamping, cleaning, scrubbing, to the point of organizing everything in my closet by category AND color. I make my family miserable during this process. Than it dies down.... for a while. *sigh*

    Everyone is Sisyphus and perfection is our rock.

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  8. I want to live a simple life...but when "simple" translates into "diy" suddenly the stuff starts to multiply!

    Just from my list of personal interests, I have stuff for gardening, writing, reading, knitting, sewing, found-art (don't get me started on the accumulation of seemingly-useless-objects-that-I-might-resurrect-and-restore-some-day), artsy movies, photography, collage, crochet, painting, herbal medicine, whole-foods cooking, permaculture, and at least five or ten or more books about each of these topics (plus a sampling of the kiddos' artwork that I'll never throw away).

    Yeah, I get the whole packing/unpacking dilemma, and I'm not even planning on moving for at least the next 18 years!

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  9. What an excellent post! I absolutely felt like we were the same person while I was reading. We also have moved (again!) in the last couple of months and the packing/unpacking never seems to end. I think the whole, "If I have less..." "If I get rid of these..." mindsets every time thinking it will make me happier or make things easier. It doesn't. I feel the issue of weight sometimes and I do have to remind myself that I wasn't happier when I was that 15lbs. less then, so why would I be happier now? Then, I felt that I would be happier 5 or 10 lbs. less than what I was! So, honestly, what is the difference? I choose to eat healthy, get excercise when I can. But I also won't restrict my diet to a "no goodies" one either. If I did that, i think I would become a binge eater, and that's just not good. I don't want to teach my girls that.

    I love your posts. They are so inspiring to me when I read about you and your kids, the struggles and trials, and I feel like "this is real life and it's normal". :) Thanks a bunch for your insights. :)

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  10. Thank you for making me feel normal! I am always fighting the clutter and stuff accumulation. I conquer it and then it just comes back. The same with weight. I can deny myself and get that last 8-10 lbs off, but the minute I stop thinking about who I "want" to be I gain it back. But why think about myself so much! When people see me they will see my shape first but what will stick with their image of whether they enjoy being around me is the beauty within. How beautiful am I on the inside, that's all that matters. And as for my home, people won't come back because it is perfect (though that is nice), people will come back because they feel welcomed and loved here.

    I come back to your blog often because I enjoy reading the realness of you. I love that you share your imperfections. We can all relate to you and that keeps us coming back for more.

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