Sunday, March 1, 2020

Downsizing my life

"I'm a minimalist."
That's something I never would've said about myself. There was a brief period of rebellion when I wanted minimalists to hush up and quit evangelizing me.
I watched several long preachy videos just now—minimalist content creators have not applied minimalism to their videos. But everything they've cut out/stopped buying I long ago gave up or never got into. I think the dividing line was when I was fired in 2009 and learned quickly how inessential most things and pampering services are apart from food and a roof over your head. Vanity, all is vanity.
Yet I still live in a house full of stuff. It's stuff I bought decades ago, when I wasn't a minimalist. It's time to align my surroundings with my mindset. Two rules I made for myself:
1) I'm gonna have to stop beating myself up for having acquired all this stuff to begin with.
2) I'm gonna have to let it all go without worrying about getting cash for it or finding good homes for it.
Breathe. Let that sh*t go.
At the start of the year a few people wrote what their "word" is for 2020. How silly, I thought. Life delights in messing up your plans.
And then I realized I have a word. It's OPEN. Those two zeroes are wide open. This is my year of emptying out. Except now I can do so without resentment.
Being open also leaves space for better things to enter my life. The trick is to trust that there are indeed better things on the way. Somehow, as trusting as I am, I struggle with this. My default imagining of my life is still painted as a non-minimalist landscape.
But the two biggest changes are already in progress.
1) I don't want to upcycle anymore. It feels almost blasphemous to the upcycling cause to say this out loud. For the last two years I haven't been amassing trunkloads of thrift store clothes and chotchkies in hopes of creating eco-friendly lovely things to sell on etsy. I've stopped caring. Nobody is buying from my shop anyway. My shop turned 10 years old but the last thing I sold was at the Art to Wear show two years ago. It is no longer my responsibility to rescue stuff.
2) I won't define myself as a dance or yoga teacher anymore. Which, in terms of stuff, means I won't be buying more leggings or class props. I mean, egad, the third bedroom that I had emptied out of upcycling stuff eventually filled up with yoga props! And now this stuff must also be decluttered. It never ends!
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There is a third area of life downsizing I'm looking at, and I'm not sure which direction to go. I could flat out decide I'm not ever returning to dancesport training, which would free me to earmark my savings for all the things I had to sacrifice when I could afford only private lessons and nothing else.
First let me observe a moment of Yay me: I have substantial savings now instead of debt. Yup. Yay me! I said I'd get out of debt in 2019 and I did. I've been collecting a small pension from my state worker years for four years, which corresponds to the number of years I took private dance lessons. Ergo, my pension and then some went straight to my former dance teacher every month. NOT ANYMORE! It's all mine now. I cannot think of a more deserving person (and in hindsight, the least deserving of it). I still have all the technique I managed to learn in four years, plus what I continue to hone in group class every Saturday.
For now I'll consider dancesport training a low priority, but I won't bump it out of my life completely. I do like the idea of heading into my 60s and 70s still fit and fierce. I see pictures of my former fellow dance teachers from the studio I quit in 2014...let's just say I've taken better care of myself, and it shows, and cutting out their kapha-imbalanced snide energies was one of the best decluttering decisions ever.
I'm a minimalist, and proud of it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

When you're angry and you know it then it's better that you show it

We interrupt regular programming to bring you this important reminder: If you've been dissed, get mad. Don't only get sad. Don't just quietly absorb as gospel truth the stupid things that repeatedly come out of seemingly rational people's mouths; you are not a sink sponge.
Depression is anger turned inward. You have a right to be angry. You have a right to express that anger. You do have a responsibility to find a healthy outlet for it, though.
"Use your words" isn't just for frustrated toddlers. We could take that advice, too. Heck, get creative with it.
How about picturing those turds who diminished you and calling them out in the privacy of your room? "You latrine-tending rotted gut pus-oozing boil on the nose of humanity, you. You're just wrong." You can say any version of this, or write it down. "You ignorant irrelevant idiot. You arrogant arseholian blight on the landscape of earthlings."
How do you know they're wrong about you? Well, do they know you better than you know yourself?
Wait, what? You're not sure you know what it means to know yourself? Oh honey that right there is where to start.
If you haven't spent your limited time on earth thus far asking the question, "Who am I?" you are practically offering up your heart as a dart board with a splendiferous marquee that says "Free target practice."
Straight up: this whole knowing thyself thing, it's work. No shortcuts. You won't find the answer on social media, so watch how much time you give that. You won't get the full picture from your mother, either, nor your (supposed) soul mate, your BFF, nor your dog, much as she worships you.
And if you think that sounds like knowing yourself is a gift so rare, why yes, yes it is.
You are not your feelings. You are not your body. You are not your thoughts. You are not your history. You are not your aspirations. You are not just your parent's child, or your spouse's spouse, or, for that matter, the punching bag for adult bullies, whether or not they mean to be mean.
The stuff you are partly made of is indestructible. But it's coated in fragile packaging. The packaging might get dinged as you travel your path. Protest loudly! Don't just sit in the dust and wait for more kicks in the gut. You cradle the Divine in your soul—would you allow Him to be disrespected along with you?
Have you ever heard of an elevator speech? It's a roughly one-minute spiel you have ready. Business people like me are told to have one in case we rub elbows (in a literal elevator, or not) with influencers. Yours you will say over and over to yourself until it fits snugly on your tongue and smoothly over your heart and when someone with blinders on opens their mouth and spews absurdity your way, you say your elevating elevator speech. And drop the mic.
You gotta write that speech. You gotta know yourself. You gotta believe what you say about yourself to yourself.
Because only then will you see that these tormentors, these gaseous malodorous detriments to God-fearing churchgoing do-gooding elders/any agers everywhere, they're unawoke. The mouth opens, the tongue flaps, but the membranes in the brain didn't get on the train. And maybe eventually you'll manage to tsk tsk and shrug them off.
You are loved beyond what you know about Love.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Not just another dance or yoga class, please

Here's the thing. I don't really want to teach yet another dance or yoga class, not the way we've always structured those classes. Because I don't want to teach people just how to dance or how to pose. Or breathe, for that matter. Or lie still and think of the moment and nothing beyond.
All valuable things, but I've taught that, and there are many, many people teaching that now, and many more on their heels training to teach that.
I want a gathering. Fairly small, with some regularity. I'm calling out (in my head, from my heart, trying not to sound like "Is there anyone out there???") to women and those who identify as feminine. Come show up, for yourselves and for this new group as yet unformed.
We would move, yes, and there would be resistance at first, frustration even, if the joints protest or the coordination isn't there. But laughter would carry us along. The surprise and delight at what it feels like to be in our bodies, to be part of this collective body, would be the point of the evening. We're setting aside the need to achieve—that's for our daytime selves.
The music would be curated as much for the message as for the rhythmic sound. The stretching and lying still at the end would be a time to reflect. I can't wait to share nuggets of philosophy from my favorite contemporary female writers. Maybe they'll want to bring an excerpt to read next time.
And then! at the very end, when everyone is loosey-goosey gooey from the feels, we'll have a thing, which I'm not talking about here, which will give them something personal and memorable to treasure and share if they wish.
So it's a book club that dances, a support group that dissects societal expectations, a dance group that dares its members to get saucier by the minute. Can we really be all that, let alone in an hour and 15? Are there people in my vicinity who want more than a dance or yoga class?
Here's the other thing: there's no clear way to promote this thing. That became painfully clear to me after my first promo, from someone who wanted to know just one thing: what kind of dance do I teach?
And in the meantime, I feel a little guilty that I'm abandoning my one loyal yoga student who came faithfully week after week. I've put my yoga teaching on hold indefinitely. I am neither called nor trained to heal with restorative yoga. If you hurt now, you'll likely hurt even more after your first few classes with me, because that's what it means to demand more of your body if you haven't been moving much, if you haven't been questioning your sedentary life. You will need to commit to pushing past the initial protest from muscles you didn't know you had. You will need to trust that on the other side you'll find a powerful understanding of the new you.
Why am I doing it this way? For me. It's what I need at this point. I need people willing to come alongside, suspend entitlement, discard inhibition, and when I say, "Jump!" or "Shimmy," not collapse in a wussy heap. If I can't find people for the kind of class I want to teach now, I won't teach.
That's the truth.