Tag Archives: clothes

Broken Windows

Since injuring my back at the gym on Sunday, I’ve had to take it easy. This means not doing my usual workout routine. And it’s been hard. I joined the gym in January and, while I signed up because I enjoy exercising and sweating and being healthy, I’ve also delighted in toning up, wearing tighter outfits and having people tell me that I look amazing. Who wouldn’t, right?

Part of me knew that I shouldn’t put too much value on my physical appearance. It’s dangerous attaching how good you’re feeling to something so transient. And another part of me told myself to relish it while it lasted. Which may also be saying something about an unconscious belief that good things don’t last very long. But that’s another day’s work (or blog post).

So, I haven’t been able to hit the gym this week and I noticed my mood dipping a little. I started wearing looser clothing as though I’d gained weight in just a few days. Another reason for feeling out of sorts was that I’d been, quite literally, stopped in my tracks. I had to accept the situation and understand that these things happen for a reason. There was a learning here somewhere (lots of lessons, in fact) if I were to cease feeling sorry for myself long enough to go looking.

Gretchen Rubin writes about the “broken windows theory” of policing, which holds that when a society tolerates minor crimes such as broken windows, graffiti and drinking in public, people are more likely to commit more serious crimes. Rubin suggests that this can also be true on a personal level. These are the signs of disorder that make you feel out of control and overwhelmed. For me, they are not leaving the house all day, not getting my class preparation done and not exercising. Rubin says that enforcing small signs of order makes us feel more in control and happier.

The theory makes sense and it’s great to get things done and to look after yourself. However, this does not mean being rigid. Sometimes, we have to let go of control or we’ll end up miserable. Life happens. We cannot base our happiness on how we think we should look or on how much exercise we feel we should be getting. If we have too many “broken windows” and those shattered panes are destroying our inner peace, we need to look at building the inner peace and self-love and to hell with the windows for a while.

This week, I’ve been watching TV series GirlsThe main character is a 24-year-old writer who’s carrying a bit of extra weight. She gets lots of men and struts around naked. The more I’m watching, the more I’m used to seeing a fleshier actress. This goes to show that the more exposed we are to skinny celebrities, the more we believe that this is the way we all should look. It’s refreshing to watch a show where the characters’ appearances are a little more normal. Even the sexiest female character has a bit of belly and often doesn’t wear a scrap of makeup. And she’s still a beauty. A natural one.

In one of the episodes, leading lady Hannah admits that she’s just like everyone else, that she wants to be happy. That she feels alone. And that she’d been trying to control the way things happened and how she was feeling. Isn’t that why we do what we do in life? To feel happier, less alone and more in control? Why we diet and exercise? Why we purchase new clothes and cut our hair? Why we study for exams and work? Why we save money and buy houses? Why we search for partners and start families?

But beneath the need for happiness, connection and control is a longing for love. And where better to begin than with yourself? Just because. No only-whens and only-ifs. Unconditional love. If you had that, you wouldn’t need to do anything, have anything or control anything. It wouldn’t disappear as soon as your job or relationship ended. It wouldn’t crumble when you gained weight or grew older. It wouldn’t elude you until you had a house and a successful career. It would be a part of you always. It is you. You’ve just forgotten. It’s already there. And it strengthens with use. Today, instead of going to the gym, I choose to exercise my unconditional love. It’s tougher than any workout but the reward makes it so worthwhile.

im not beautiful like you

Advertisements

Because I’m Worth It

Today, I ran into a woman I know. She was looking particularly well this wet December morning. She wore a deep purple cardigan and an emerald green scarf. The colours were striking and really lifted her complexion. I told her all this. She thanked me for the compliment, then announced proudly:

“This morning, I had a look at all the ‘good’ clothes that I only allow myself wear on special occasions, which come around just a few times a year. I suddenly decided not to let these gorgeous garments die in that wardrobe.”

Her exuberance delighted me. I revelled in this woman’s candour. It got me thinking about how often we deny ourselves the “good” things in life. Do we not find ourselves deserving enough? Are we treating ourselves like clumsy children, always afraid that we’ll ruin the niceties? We should remember that life is short. Why relegate our most beautiful and valuable possessions to dark closets and dusty shelves?

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." Buddha

Why not give yourself permission to break out the pretty tea set and rip open the box of Leonidas chocolates that you were going to give your posh co-worker? You are entitled to spray yourself with your most expensive perfume and write letters with the sparkly pen you received three Christmases ago. It’s about time you drank from delicate china and ate off brightly coloured delph, dressed in your finest.

If you have it, why not use it? Who knows when things (economy, finances, health) will change? So why not treat yourself right now? Be nice to that inner child, who believed in delayed gratification to the point of self-denial. Send yourself a new message – one of self-worth and appreciation. You deserve it.

Images: http://kittenwhiskersandteacups.tumblr.com/post/4207590683; http://modymoly.tumblr.com/; http://favefavefave.com/zhaohan/view/1428

New Look on Life

Sometimes, the simplest and seemingly insignificant moments can change the way you view things. You’d hardly expect an epiphany to strike as you elbow your way to the cheapest sale item in New Look. But that was exactly where it happened.

I had tried on half the sales rack before leaving the exasperated changing room attendant with a mound of unwanted clothes. Having given up on finding anything that suited me, I wandered upstairs to peruse the shoes when a beautifully coloured dress caught my eye. I approached it tentatively because of the massive Maternity sign hovering above. I stole a glance at the floor staff and puffed my belly out a little. I felt like I shouldn’t be there. And that was when it hit me: I could go wherever the hell I wanted to go. I had been obediently walking within the perimeters of the square labels that society had branded me with, questioning nothing and missing everything. Dramatic stuff for someone who shops in New Look!

I began to realise that these strangers did not know who I was. My life was an unopened storybook. For all they knew, I was a happily married schoolteacher, excited about her upcoming arrival. Or an unemployed singer-songwriter torn between travelling to New York to pursue a dazzling career, and staying in Dublin to raise a child who would never know his father. Or a weird single girl pretending to be pregnant.

Twenty minutes later I strolled out of the store, swinging my bag of purchases: an expectant mother’s dress, a man’s hoodie and a teenager’s T-shirt. This small step opened up a whole new world of permission and possibility. Granted, I had only stuck a little toe outside of my comfort zone but, for someone who has always been excessively honest and terrified to bend, let alone break, the rules, it felt liberating.

Images: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Butterflies_UFmuseum.jpg; http://browneyedbellejulie.blogspot.com/; http://sussurrosegritos.tumblr.com/page/110