I’m not a runner. I have spent some time wanting to be a runner. I envy runners. But it’s not for me. Safe to say I never gave it a really good shot, but if I have to try this hard to like something, there’s a good chance it’s not for me.
I’ve had many of these realizations in the past couple of months. When you’re not really sure of yourself, your direction, your goals, you have to ask a lot of questions.
What do I need more of?
What do I need less of?
How do I want to feel?
What can I do to add value?
There’s a good deal of deciding who you are not when you are trying to decide who you are.
A phrase caught me, I’m not quite sure where I saw it now, but I jotted it down. “Protect your energy.” I’ve used that phrase more times than I can recount over the course of the past few months, across a range of topics: relationships, arguments, chores, commitments, activities. We are constantly exerting energy. There is not a lack of things in which we can invest our energies; a quick consultation with Pinterest would confirm that. I started to fill a page with things that boosted my energy, everything that I could think of from sharing experiences with the girls, citrus scents, painting, an evening with friends to being on the water, mountain-biking dates with my husband, flowers, and yoga. I started paring out the things that didn’t protect my energy, that didn’t hold value to me even if I wanted them to. Some things were easy to let go of, others a bit more challenging. It’s a work in progress, but it’s something I try to remind myself of every day.
Another question that I carried with me was “Does it spark joy?” I didn’t read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, as I have zero interest in learning how to roll my socks or fold my shirts in any particular fashion, nor did it feel was geared towards those of the child-rearing stages. I have a diaper genie that certainly sparks emotion but it is the furthest cry from joy you’ll meet, especially given that my youngest daughter has entered her third year of its residence in her bedroom. I did, however, use this thought process in conjunction with protecting my energy.
For example: I am not one who has an overwhelming amount of clothing; I own exactly 6 pairs of shoes. I do not store my clothing between seasons. I did, however, read a blog post about being especially critical about the items in one’s closet, was inspired to do the same, and still found a number of articles of clothing that didn’t spark joy. I found that the most common reasons that an article of clothing didn’t spark joy was fit, cost, and “I would wear this, if I had some place to wear it to.” This is what I settled on: if it didn’t fit, there was no damn point in keeping it as it did not serve me any purpose other than to feel terrible about myself when I tried it on for the tenth time in the span of a month (or a year, or several) and that didn’t protect any positive energy; if I wasn’t wearing the article of clothing, or I was wearing it because I needed to justify the expense but didn’t like the item, it was only serving the purpose of making me feel guilty for a purchase that occurred in the past, which was more misused energy; third, if I hadn’t had a place to wear whatever item I was holding for a certain period of time, the likelihood of having something that did spark joy as an alternative was high. If that failed, there was always Rent the Runway.
I hung on to my outcasts for a month. They sat in our upstairs hallway, taunting my decision. I worked on focusing on what I had, versus the spaces and the hangers left in the wake of my action. After a month, I asked my husband to take them to Goodwill. I wanted to go back through, revisit the outcasts. But I didn’t. My closet was finally breathing; getting dressed in the morning wasn’t such a chore with less options, and the clothes that I kept didn’t make me feel negative about myself. I have a goal to fill a few of those empty hangers with quality staple pieces. That might seem material, but it’s not.
I feel the same way about tea as I do about running. I want to like it. It’s better for me than coffee. There are three boxes of tea sitting on my kitchen counter because I purchased them wanting to like them. I’m not quite sure why it was important at the time; they’ve been there for months now. I’m going to go throw them away right now, and protect my energy. Even tea wants to steal it.