Feeling unwell often results in a sense of desperation. For myself, I know that my typically regimented and disciplined set of routines falls apart when my body and mind aren’t speaking the same language; in an attempt to feel better, I’m prone to making hasty decisions that often include exorbitant, coupon-less purchases at CVS.
There’s nothing wrong with letting go of restriction—in fact, there’s a good deal of right in it—but when you’re trying to live a whole year with no new things it gets complicated. Since the start of my challenge in March, I’ve been both inspired by my desire to preserve and protect our planet’s resources and pitted against hard truths about the way my lifestyle enables quick depletion of my personal store of resources. Succumbing to stress, deadlines, and the need to help other people amplify their voices lead me to crashing hard and fast, and silencing my own voice. For the last seven weeks or so, nothing about how I felt, ate, slept, or related with others was positive or truly present.
I watched all this happening and yet felt helpless in the face of it, even blaming myself for not doing better. I’d been successful in not bringing in any of the off-limits items on my list (I was particularly proud to resist an epic sale at my yoga studio; an adorable pink bra-top was really calling to me, but I let it give pleasure to someone else). However, that doesn’t mean I necessarily saved those resources to better nourish those around me and myself.
Thankfully, my meditation and yoga practices got me out of the funk. In those moments of contemplative stillness (not thought-less by any means, but just time away from my computer was enough to bring clarity and awareness), and through repetitive, familiar movement on my mat, I discovered pockets of space where I could just be. I didn’t need to fill myself with anything—material things or social markers of success—which supported the intention behind my initial challenge. And in those spaces, I could see opportunities for growth and redirection of energy.
As the universe can when it’s feeling benevolent, the end of my bout of dis-ease aligned with joining a new community of vegan friends, who in their collective awesomeness showed me a way of shaping my life around values, not work output or product—and why living a life with intentionality will naturally lead to less consumption. The cycle of give and take will replenish itself when you know what you have to give and what you need to take. During our monthly meeting, we completed an exercise of writing out our personal mission statements. An intimidating task if there ever was one! It’s rare in our Western world to be given the opportunity to identify and acknowledge our true values, our strengths, our weaknesses, and our deep desires, and to string them together in an elegant grammatical sentence that isn’t full of fluff. Also to recognize that today’s vision statement may not be the same as your statement next year, or ten years from now. The career path that an online quiz you took in middle school based on an algorithm is not necessarily your true calling, or it may be until you hear some deeper, quieter voice within you guiding you elsewhere.
Our identities and values change; nurturing and encouraging our own evolution is what’s often missing from contemporary business plans and job descriptions. In my life, that work defines my yoga life-practice—unpeeling the layers of perception and labels to abide in one’s true nature (sutra 1.3). An inquisitive mentality isn’t exclusive to yoga, but it might be necessary if we want to make the kind of changes our world most urgently needs to preserve resources of all kinds, and allow for the healing that all beings on the planet need if we want to continue to coexist in peace.
The mission statement I came up with goes something like this (my editor-brain will forever futz over the details, but since this whole thing is an exercise in fluidity I’ll let it go):
As a seeker of truth, deep listener, creator, and empath, I offer my life as a contribution to collective healing by being an example of discerning self-nourishment; I respect and support the home of my mind-body in a way that inspires and gives permission to others to do the same, so that together we can foster deeper respect for our collective home, planet earth.
Now, onto the fun stuff—some highlights from months two and three of my #yearofnonewthings: DIY wins
Homemade dry shampoo—Honestly the best version of this product I’ve ever used! The recipe is from Adina Grigore, my new beauty guru, and while it’s mostly cornstarch I don’t find it makes my brown hair look too much like a powdered wig. I’ve gone three days without washing, whereas most other brands I used just extended a wash by one day.
Homemade toothpaste with coconut oil and baking soda—It took two batches to get the flavor just right with mint extract, but my teeth feel just as clean as with regular toothpaste. Plus I get to use an adorable decorative spoon to scoop it out of an equally adorable jar.
Upping the ante
I added to my challenge trying to eliminate/resist plastic packaging and consumption. I was able to go no-plastic for a few four-day stretches, but when I started feeling awful I gave into some plastic-bound foods that I knew would make me feel better (miso and strawberries, though not together).
While body care isn’t strictly off-limits, I indulged in a moisture bar from LUSH . . . just because. Did I need more moisture? The bottles of oil in my closet tell me no, but I rationalized that this was somehow different.
Warmer weather got me digging into the back of my closet for the dresses I wore on a weekly basis last summer. Maybe they have simply passed their prime, or maybe I’m realizing that the hide-my-body slub look I gravitate toward isn’t working for me anymore (how’s that for growth?). So I’m on the hunt for some new clothes, which will mean a shopping trip in the future.
Photo: Adobe Stock