Saturday, October 9, 2010
De-Cluttering my life!
By most standards, I'm not a clutter-bug. In my apartment, "knick-knack" is a dirty word, and stressful weeks often result in whirlwind cleaning sessions taking over my Saturdays. I wasn't always like this. Growing up, my room resembled the aftermath of an epic battle; books, magazines, and dirty laundry littered the floor like wounded soldiers crying out to be escorted to the nearest aid-station. Dust collected on my nightstand and CD-player like debris accumulated from numerous explosions.
All of that changed when I went to Basic Training. Anyone who hasn't been doesn't understand the sheer volume of time that went into organizing, cleaning, straightening, and perfecting our (few) possessions. I vividly remember spending hours organizing my "security drawer"; a tiny locker in which we were allowed to keep roughly 7 essential toiletries; a mini bottle of shampoo, body soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a razor, and a comb. All of these needed to be painstakingly placed in their "correct" positions atop a crisply folded white towel. I diligently worked alongside 50 other girls in silence, like employees in a sweatshop, while our Training Instructor strode authoritatively around the room, periodically scattering the contents of a drawer across the floor if he spied a stray piece of fuzz on a towel or a remnant drop of moisture on our toothbrush. Even though the hours of labor were maddening, those long days taught me a lot about the power of organization. In an environment where timing and efficiency were everything, I soon realized the simplicity and elegance of having a few possessions exactly where I needed them to be when I needed them.
6 years later, I don't live anywhere close to the rigorous requirements of a training environment. But, I do appreciate the beauty of minimalist living, and work to maintain a clutter-free environment. My apartment layout, beauty routine, exercise regimen, and daily routine are pretty simplistic. Recently I've started running without music, and let the sounds of the day power my workouts. I've always had a fairly routine diet, and since I've become vegan the majority of my food (in large part because I have zero cooking ability!) has consisted of oatmeal in the mornings, large salads, and frothy green smoothies. In our largely consumerist society, I feel like a bit of an oddball when I realize how pared-down my life is. But lately, I've fallen into that "more is better" mindset, and I didn't even realize I was doing it.
Since I became vegan, I've been really careful to do it the "right" way, which to me, means getting all the vital nutrients, making sure I get enough calories, and feeling energized throughout the day. Obviously, for my quality of life this is important. But in my quest for nutritional advice, I found myself inundated with a plethora of vegan recipes, food blogs, holistic healing websites, and decadent raw desserts! If you haven't done a search, I can tell you; it's literally a vegan eaters paradise on the internet! Suddenly I found myself sucked into the magic of it all; the recipes, the beautiful food pictures, the fantastic health claims. Live longer! Increase vitality! Reverse aging! Improve athletic performance! I wanted it all and I needed to know how to do it. I found my days consumed with intense "research", online forum discussions, and a growing fascination. I bought a food processor to create fun raw recipes. I've bought more books than I care to admit about nutritional healing.
I justified my actions through the whole process. It wasn't me being consumerist, this was for HEALTH. This was for vitality! This was for wellness. My preoccupation with being vital was taking over my life. I found myself searching for the "best" foods for my health, the "best" lifestyle to make me burst with energy and happiness. All my time and energy was spent trying to find ways to get more time and energy. I felt drained from my search. I probably know more than I need to about nutrition, and for the most part it's been a good thing. But I think it's time to give myself a break from all my investigation, if only temporarily. Health is so much more than eating the right combination of foods, or getting the right nutrients. True wellness is a conglomerate of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual characteristics. I'm sure I could be more healthy...I'm sure everyone can strive for perfection. But I realized that just as some people use fast food or junk food to dull their emotions or medicate, I was using my quest for the most perfect food to do the same. When I feel sad, or stressed, or lonely, creating the perfect meal plan won't change those feelings.
My plan is to (at least temporarily) give myself a break from the nutritional research. I think many people are so afraid of their emotions that they mask them with food. I'd like to shift my focus from food to the world. I genuinely enjoy reading about holistic healing, and the infinite possibilities it provides. But I think I need to look into things I haven't had "time" for since I've delved wholeheartedly into my research. I'd like to embrace music more, explore the mountains in my neighborhood, and be a tourist in my own city! I feel like so many outings and social gatherings are based around food. Why can't people get together and just enjoy each others company any more without seeking the emotional comfort in cooked delicacies? I'd like to find the answers to these questions, and take the time to listen to my own emotions more as well. Over the next 30 days I plan on returning to a simplistic way of eating; and taking food of it's macro-biotic, alkalizing, whole foods pedestal. There's much more to the world than the fuel we nourish our bodies with. And I'm excited to rediscover that world.