I challenge you to imagine the things in your life of which you are most proud. Who are the people hovering in the shadows of those accomplishments?
Very few, if any, of my personal achievements have been accomplished completely, entirely, utterly by myself. Even in the intensely intimate accomplishments that have been obtained with only elbow grease from me, there was always someone quietly pushing me forward, and (this part is critical) celebrating my little successes with me.
An ode to the people I love:
There was Aline in 2009 who got me singing again. I could never do what I do today, I could not experience the heights of extra-planetary joy I find in music had she not pushed me.
There was Sonia who walked me through a period of personal upheaval in 2012.
There is Uriel, the biggest (for now, only!) fan of my series of novels, and Claire, who, by taking my youngest scalawag one morning a week when he was little, made it possible for me to write when making progress on a novel should have been impossible.
There is a quiet, extremely private person who loved me through my midlife crisis and helped me understand how very much I need guardrails and boundaries in order to thrive. My brand of effervescent creativity requires firm discipline. None of my accomplishments in the last two years would have been possible without this patient, unfailingly available person.
There is Izabela, Queen of the Internet, who has been a champion and resource person for my blogging. (PS Iza I love you, you Queen!)
There is Marion, imperturbable and authentic, who helped me understand and start to deal with my binge eating.
Last but not least, there is my fabulous, amazing, beautiful, funny and most intense cheerleader, my sister, Poppy Fields, who has accompanied me on my journey. (PS: Shortly we will be hearing from her on a topic near and dear to her heart…in a word, pretty undergarments…and I promise it will not disappoint.)
Why not my significant other?
Notice that I did not mention my husband. I love him dearly. He is a wonderful, indulgent man. But he is too close to me, too aware of my weaknesses and effected by my moods to be someone who could support me through a specific challenge like this. I am his daily challenge and I am exhausting on a good day. I am a ticking time bomb on a bad day.
Adding another significant load to our relationship would only stress it in other areas and neither of us needs that; not while trying to keep our band of scalawag adventurers from swashbuckling through town and challenging everyone they meet to a duel.
Significant others are lovely people, but they know you too well to be helpful. They don’t like it when you suffer (cause I don’t know about you, but in my house, when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.) So rather than give you the tough love and support you need to meet your goal, they will tend to seek out immediate resolution.
Right now, you don’t need someone to solve your problem for you. You need support while you make (sometimes painful) progress
The right person at the right time
No, if you want to make a change like this in your life, you need support from the right person at the right time. Sometimes, that person is an internet stranger on the other side of the world. Sometimes that person is a work colleague. Sometimes that person is someone with whom you worked at a summer camp (wink wink nudge nudge!).
The person is someone who understands you, with whom you can be completely honest and who wants you to succeed. This person will have an intuitive sense of how you need encouragement.
Here is what I know: when you have the conviction that it is time to make a change in your life, the right person will come along to accompany you. Keep your eyes and ears open.
I know that word, conviction sounds hoity-toity. But let me be clear about something: Lasting change and significant progress will not happen if your goal is simply something you “want.” Your goal has to be something which feels like a moral imperative. It has to be something that you believe in so strongly that you are willing to: be ostracized by people you know, physically uncomfortable, question everything you ever thought you knew about everything you ever thought you knew things about.
Without conviction there is no progress, there is only incremental change. I don’t desire incremental change for you. I want real life-altering progress.
So. On a scale of 1-10, how great is your conviction that you want to stop shopping? Six or 7 is starting to get into sharp focus. Eight or 9, and we’re starting to talk about a moral imperative.
So it’s not yet a conviction…
Then sit with it for a little bit! The techniques and strategies to stop shopping will still be helpful, even if you don’t implement them immediately. If incremental change is all right with you, then go for it!
I also believe that sometimes there are confluences of events that arrive at just the right moment: you did not end up here, reading this for no reason. Maybe it’s because you love fashion. Or France. Or you are fascinated by the foibles of a comically self-absorbed middle-aged woman. But you are here. This is just one stop on your journey.
Let it sit. I want to you to make an informed decision to stop shopping, with the conviction of a moral imperative.
Make it long enough, but not forever!!!!!
My personal Buy No Clothes Challenge is for one year. I’m not gonna lie, I am looking forward to the day I can replace my white Adidas sneakers that are starting to smell like a teenage boy’s gym bag.
On the other hand, I have had fleeting thoughts like “What if the clothes in your closet are all you ever have for the rest of your life?” I don’t know what to do with those thoughts yet, and I will keep you posted if ever those start to feel like a moral imperative.
But for now, my challenge is for one year. There is a whole community of women who are doing a “One Dress for One Hundred Days” challenge. (I admire them greatly! What inspiration and creativity they have!!!)
Let me tell you this: The first two months, that is, the first sixty days are going to be awful. Any challenge you undertake to stop shopping should be long enough that you get to enjoy the fruit of that pain, and also, long enough that you won’t be saying, “I get to shop again in three months anyway…”
Getting to shop again should feel soooo far off that you don’t get to use it as a reward for getting through the pain.
We are going to examine strategies and techniques to get through the worst of the withdrawal. (Spoiler alert: It’s gonna hurt. Lean into it.) We are going to talk about how to establish non-shopping rewards for yourself as you meet your goals, and how your accountability partner can help you do that.
As for homework today:
Start contemplating how long you want to challenge yourself for and when would be a good time to start. Also, start eyeballing your friends and colleagues and siblings and cousins to see who might be a good fit for accountability.
Again, you are going to reach into your closet and pull out three items. Just to change it up, these are three items you absolutely hate. Like, you look at them and wonder why you even still have them. Before you finally put them in the “donate” box, answer your inventory questions about them, only this time, your replace like/love with dislike/hate.