Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"That's all your house is. It's a place to keep your stuff while you go out there and get more stuff." - George Carlin

I gave away some of my stuff yesterday.

Specifically, I spent about an hour and a half spelunking in my closet (ie: digging through the monumental pile of clothing that cannot even get anywhere near, let alone into, my closet), looking for things to give to a friend who needs some clothes to make her life more comfortable for the next few months. This woman is bravely in the middle of an astounding journey of body recovery. Due to the rapidity of her weight loss since having a gastric bypass last spring, she is not any one size for more than a couple or a few weeks, so it makes no sense for her to be repeatedly buying and discarding new or even second hand clothes. Thus we went shopping in my closet, which as I have mentioned before, contains a full spectrum of garments in sizes from 14 to 24.

My friend is very intuitively astute and, when we had finished in the ladies apparel department, she looked me straight in the eyes and asked what she could now do for me. Once I paused from the scramble of activity, coughed up the dust and took a real breath, I realized that I was a bit of a mess emotionally. There was so much more than just an episode of closet-organization/clutter-management/home-reclamation happening here. This was bringing up a lot of baggage, and not the physical kind.

It's no surprise that I have a lot of sadness and pain tied up in my possessions and my clothes in particular. There's everything in here from body issues (when I will be that size again...) and self-esteem, to past vocational aspirations and missed opportunities attached to all the stuff I have hoarded over the years, which is precisely why it's taken me a long time to be able to let go of it.

So I did a walking meditation yesterday about all the stuff that is coming up about all my stuff. And I feel a lot of sadness and wistful longing which are welcome, as well as leftovers of old guilt and shame that need to be released. A lot of the feelings are still more in the nature of amorphous emotional residue that I am not yet ready to articulate. But the one most surprising thing that keeps coming back to me is that while I am upset, I am not really as upset as I thought I "should" be. This is not as hard as I expected it to be. In a nutshell, I am FINALLY really ready to let go of the false lingering hopes and stagnant unfulfilled dreams that all the extraneous stuff represents.

Those dreams and hopes are gone - though many of them have been reframed into new ones that are perhaps superficially identical but fundamentally healthier in motives. And I am not grieving the lost hopes - I see now that they were never real, but came from an unconscious place that wasn't my true self. However, I am mourning the lost years, the uncounted and unaccounted time which I spent less than truly conscious, and especially the vital passion wasted during those periods.

I do believe and honour the truth that those years weren't wasted. I am precisely where I am supposed to be in my life right now, in a perfect place from which to accept what was, be with what is, and move to what I want my life to be.

I'll have to continue the work in fits and starts, every few days a little more, another corner or section or a couple of bags full. It's rather too overwhelming to do everyday, and also I have the small matter of work coming up, so my days really need to be spent studying my music and preparing for upcoming rehearsals and auditions.

And as I proceed through the whirlwind I have chosen to embrace, I need to remember through all of this to give myself the time and the space and the TLC to reflect and heal, while gently and persistently continuing to purge the excesses, and feeling the associated emotions that rise up as all the accumulated things pass through my hands and my life one last time.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Acme Tornado Kit, from "Whoa, Be-Gone"
(Merrie Melodies, dir. Chuck Jones, 1958)

My 2008 kicked off with rather a lot of upheaval (*cough* - understatement) in numerous areas of my life. Though it seems excessive to set off on so many changes all at once (and it was a little overwhelming), I really felt I had to go with the impulse to initiate sweeping changes. I am highly motivated to reinvent or renovate my life in almost every way possible:

Housekeeping & domestic repairs: organization and cleaning and more d├ęcor plans, elimination of clutter and excess stuff, continuing the epic saga of our bathroom repairs (now the tub enamel is worn through in a few spots so I need to decide whether to have it re-enameled, get a liner put in, or replace it with a nice deep soaker tub - that's my dream choice, if I can afford it), building a wall of kitchen cubbyholes to use as a pantry and for small/medium appliance stations, and better yard maintenance.

Social and family life: reestablishing contacts with friends and family, even planning to entertain at home (and not just in the summer when the backyard is our living/dining room). And as for family - I am attempting to build a modicum of sanity and stability into my on-again/off-again relationship with my Mother (we are going for "couples-counselling" together!). I am also working at building a connection with my half-sisters who haven't really been a part of my life in the past (excepting a brief period when they were very young and I attempted to connect with my father and his family).

Health management: cooking more from scratch and eating healthy foods close to their natural state, detoxing some excess heavy metals, getting my blood sugar levels and blood pressure off the risky borderline, planned R&R and fun playful exercise, adding new activities and building them into my routine, as well as more scheduled training for next September's 60 km walk -- The 2008 Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer.

Yes - I am revving up to walk another 60 km to support the fight against Breast Cancer. And yes, I will be offering a new sock pattern (just as soon as I (a) finalize the design and (b) get my intrepid test-knitters/tech-editors to sign off on it). But you can go ahead and sponsor me now for 2008 if you want to beat the crowds. Or, better yet, go check out Knitters for Knockers, then click here to join us for for this profoundly empowering life-altering experience. Let's work together to make cancer history!

Creative pursuits outside of my career: more knitting, returning to assorted arts and crafts I used to practise (sketching and drawing, prints, acrylic and oil painting, ceramics), even gardening. (Yes, I said Gardening. Stop laughing. I might actually be good at it one day, and until then I could at least try to not kill ALL the plants this year.)

On the professional front: I will shortly start rehearsals for a production of Hansel and Gretel - it’s so much fun! I am playing both the Mother and the Witch (insert joke here: my favourite so far is "how can you tell...?), both of which work for me very well vocally and temperamentally (not to mention the obvious inherent therapeutic and cathartic potential. Can you say "Table for 2, Herr Doctor Freud?"). And I am receiving weekly addenda to the existing score for my opera Emily, the way you are (hoping it is all finished in time for me to really polish the performance for the premiere in April).

And there has been KNITTING (gasp!).

My biggest project at the moment is probably a knock-off of a terrific Old-Navy cardi-vest (no pictures yet - I'll try to get some for you soon). I am rather fond of "Re-inventing the Wool;" i.e., visually deconstructing interesting knits and other garments and figuring out how to make them for myself, an extension of something I have often had to do by sizing things up since until very recently most cute patterns didn't come in my size.

Last fall I was visiting with JenniferC and Miko (aka Purplicious) at The Purple Purl. I admired the construction of this terrific short-sleeved open/wrap-front vest-cardi Miko was wearing and naturally assumed it was a personal hand-knit creation, but when I inquired about the pattern I was disappointed to learn that it was a store-bought number from Old-Navy. So, of course, I proceeded to rip it off her body right there and then, and began madly measuring and drawing and scribbling with a plan to reconstruct one (or a few) for my very own. A few weeks later, after much contemplation of structure, form, and strategy (even some origami paper experiments), I FINALLY began to knit and I am happily reinventing a design and pattern. More on this soon.