On this day

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Hello, people!
How are you? I’m rather fine, thanks, even if I’ve been silent here for a while and I’m not sure if this post means that I’m coming back for good. But on this moment of the year falls the anniversary of my move to the UK and it incites some reflections.

On this day:

– 2 years ago, I was packing my wardrobe for moving to the UK with my husband and I packed lots of clothes and items that had already exhausted their tasks of being useful and bringing me joy.

– 1 year and 10 months ago, I decluttered my wardrobe. I filled around 8 bin bags, the big ones for the weekly litter collection, and I donated them to the charity shop right underneath my husband’s flat. The bags were filled with clothes, accessories, shoes and costume jewellery. That action made me fell lighter and helped us reduce the number of boxes for our next move, two months later.

– 1 month ago, I felt the need to declutter again and I filled other three bags with clothes, shoes, bags, and custom jewellery. I felt even better this time but I know that I still have some items that I don’t really use and have finished bringing me joy. Later this month or the next, I’m going to declutter again.

What did I learn from all this tossing away?

First of all, I understood that I need to possess a lot fewer things that I thought. At the time, I had already passed through an awkwardly high number of relocations: from my parent’s home to the university hostel, from there to three different shared apartments, from one of those to my first living together with a boyfriend, from that to living by myself, than a boyfriend again, then alone again, then finally, it was the love of my life, me and our cat. And every time I moved, I carried with me all my possessions, which, after 20 years, had become quite a few.

Then, between May and June 2015, I decluttered for the first time.

I remember looking at my possessions with a question going on and on in the back of my mind: what if I need this later?” Since at the time I had no money to buy new stuff, I answered to that question: “let’s keep this!” more than once, and I saved from the charity pile things that I didn’t really like or use anymore. No need to say: I didn’t need those things, later.

Then, one month ago, thanks to the new income I secured with my job, I gave myself permission to declutter some more. In that moment, I learned my second lesson, why I felt the need to drag with me all those things for years: I had encrypted part of my identity, a huge piece of it, in the things that I possessed.

Those things that weren’t useful to me in an immediate, practical way. They worked as statements of who I was, as symbolic roots, as pieces of hardware memory. Nina is the woman who wore this, the nerd who read this and the vintage lover who collected this. This is not true anymore. Well, I still love vintage, I am still a nerd and surely I didn’t stop being a woman, but I want to try new things, wear new clothes, engage in new activities. If my desire is to flow like a river and being a self in constant evolution, I should follow the example of the hermit crab and change my temporary shell as I need it, instead of sewing myself to a carriage to fill endlessly.

So, I am going to let go of some things, again. I know I’ll do it again and again. It’s perfectly fine for me. I can’t wait to lift my baggage some more, to see empty spaces, to feel lighter.

And you? What works for you? Do you use your possessions as hardware memory of who you are as well? How do you feel about the idea of letting go possessions to free the mind? Let me know in the comments. In the meanwhile, thank you for your precious time and have a lovely weekend.

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Waves of time: walking in my new shoes

They say that to know a man you should walk a mile in his shoes. A month ago I bought myself a new pair of shoes and beginning to walk in those new shoes has been traumatic. See, there is a simple, silly, little thing nobody tells you about changing: your old self is not gonna like it.

I think I have already told something along these lines in previous posts about resistance to change. This is something slightly different. As much as talking about someone’s new and old self is silly – since each of us is constantly and unnoticeably changing – our mind builds a sense of continuity through repetition and relies on it to maintain a coherent self. This sense of continuity gets stressed when we change our habits, our clothes, our friends in a radical way, and apparently, as stupid as it sounds, my sense of self was relying heavily on my old shoes.

I’ve been walking in my old shoes for more than seven years. My old, black, ankle boots were not my only pair of shoes, obviously, but they were my mindless choice anytime I needed something that looked feminine, that was black and had medium heels. They were the Linus’ blanket of my feet and I was happy to jump everywhere with them, so happy in fact, that their sole was consumed, their heels showed the bones and the leather… let’s not talk about its poor conditions. So, after spending days looking at every possible shoe store downtown, I entered one and, after another good half hour of trying every possible black ankle boot I chose a pair.

I was wearing the new pair when the sale adviser proposed me: “let me remove the tag if you’d like to walk in those immediately.”

I said “yes” knowing that that was it. It was the end of my long lasting relationship with my old boots. I let the woman put my old shoes in the cardboard box and cover them with a sheet of thin, white paper. I gulped, paid and walked out the store.

As soon as I was out the store, I started walking oddly. My feet hurt. My ankles hurt. My knees bent unnaturally. I wanted to walk back inside, cry at the sale adviser and ask her to refund me. But I didn’t. Instead, I moved away from the store and then away from the shop gallery, telling myself that with every clumsy step I was taking I was scratching the soles of my new boots, making them non-refundable.

A big, black trash bin appeared ahead on the pavement. I moved towards it. I took the cardboard box out of the store bag and placed it against the trash bin opening. I thanked my old shoes silently, caressed the smooth surface of the box and pushed. The box fell inside the empty trash bin with a dull thud and I walked away almost in tears.

Luckily, after that I had to go back immediately to my store, change into my super comfortable ballerina shoes, and work for about four hours so I could distance myself quickly from that moment. Luckily, my new shoes are pretty great and I got easily used to them. Still… I am surprised at my own reaction. I just wanted a new pair of shoes I did not expect any drama. Regardless, in an unconscious way, I had chosen those shoes as an anchor for the image I had of myself and leaving them made me felt lost.

After that episode, I remembered a thing I was trying to forget and saw a thing I was trying not to see.

I had prepared tow bags of old clothes to donate to a charity more than three months before and they were still there on top of a drawer. I had a list of clothes which I rarely wear and which I’d like to sell inside my diary and photos of those clothes ready to be posted on the Facebook page Guildford buy and sell and I did not move a finger.

After another month, the bags, the list and the photos are still there. Sometimes I say to myself: “let’s get rid of everything! Let’s just look at the rubbish calendar and put everything out with the bins on the right day!”

But then I think that some of those things could be of use to a charity. Then I remember that other things are in really good conditions and could be sold. Then, I even think that I could wear some of those clothes and – you already know it – I do nothing.

I never was like this. When the decision was made, I threw away things. But in the last four months, I got clingy. Why is that? Am I reaching the core of my so-called old self? Am I becoming sentimental? Are those other subconscious anchors? Only recycling day will tell. In the meanwhile, sorry for the delay and thank you for your precious time!

Waves of time: To be a little woman

Hi, guys and girls!

I don’t know your measurements but I know quite too well mines: I am 156 cm tall and 89 cm wide at my widest point, around my hips. I’ve always been the shortest girl in the classroom, since my first day at Kindergarten. But along the words of the most famous Jebediah Springfield (look out The Simpsons for reference about the man), I’ve always believed that:

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man!

Hence, the smallest woman. I think this is one of the reasons why I started my fitness program. I know I can’t enlarge myself too much, but I wanted my small mass to count more. I liked the idea of adding to my basis weight, to toughen up and change my fat into muscle. Muscles weight more, consume more and, on the other hand, take less space.

I couldn’t find online the right image about my favourite moment from 1995 film Ghost in The Shell, by Mamoru Oshi, but picture this: the small framed, gracious, athletic major Motoko Kusanagi, a human-cyborg policewoman, after an incredible jump lands with her knee on the ground and… her little knee breaks the ground. That is because the small framed, gracious, athletic Motoko is made of steel and weighs tonnes. You can even hear the sound effect of her mass hitting the ground like a lead hammer on a rock. It’s just a short moment, then she stands up and continues pursuing her suspect running, but you still can see the hole she left in the ground behind her. That moment exalted me the first time (and any other time) I’ve seen that movie. The idea of a hidden power, of a strength you can’t spot at first sight. I want to have that kind of power. I want to feel that kind of strength running through my body. 

To be a little woman means that most of the people you’ll meet in your life are going to belittle you, at first sight. The most stupid will continue in doing so, the others sooner or later will grasp what lies beyond. The important thing is that you understand what lies beyond, that you are able to grasp your inner strength. The important thing is that you understand your potential, that you are an apple seed able to see the potential apple within yourself. I think this works for small and not so small women (and men) as well.

To be a little woman, to me, meant that I could disappear into the crowd, make myself invisible. Along the years, being little meant that I could use my appearance to pass as harmless and have people, especially men, feel unthreatened by my presence. Sometimes, especially with bigger built women, it meant the right opposite. Some of them felt menaced by me being the physically fragile woman that society wanted and that they could never be. To be different was not in my power, just like they could not change themselves. Every time it happened I felt a deep sorrow. Simply, I could not bring them to trust me and I could not speak openly about what I believed was their problem with me.

What I am trying to do currently with my small body is learning how to embrace my shape and experience my body at its best, just like the human mind of Motoko Kusanagi does with her cyborg body. 

First, I accepted that fact that I am little and thin and that to reach what I think is my perfect shape means to have even fewer curves that I had before. Physically, I’m not the woman that I thought I was.

Second, I am working to toughen my body (and with it, my mind as well) to have it carrying myself safely and efficiently around as long as it can.

Third, I want to learn to take pleasure from my shape. I want to do this in two ways. First, I’d like to have fun with fashion, decorating this small body of mine in the ways that are is own. I’d like to use more colours, different styles, play with my smallness. Then, I want to find a discipline that helps me living this body, playing with it, seeing which new levels of grace it can reach. Could it be aerial silk art? Pole dancing? Simply some kind of dancing? I still don’t know, but I will.

Summarising: where’s the fun of having the body of a 12 years old girl, if you don’t embrace life as she would? 

My message for you this week, guys and girls, is PLAY. And, as always, thank you for your precious time. 

Waves of time: what about the look?

The last time I spoke about shaping a personal style (here), I declared my love for all the things both tough and cute. I stated that I am a cartoon lover, a rock and metal listener, a merchandising purchaser and that I feel liberated when I can dance foolishly in my house while I listen to pop music. Sometimes, I even sing under my breath while strolling about the town. I admitted to myself that I’d really like to wear bright colours, cute dresses, anime inspired shoes while writing or talking about grim tales all the day long, but… recently I started to work in a store that has its own style and while on the job I have to conform to it. Even worst, since I work there from a very short time, I still don’t have an official uniform made with clothes purchased in the store and to conform, I have to wear plain black garments.

Let me be honest, I rather like the store style, even if it’s not exactly the style I was pointing to. What is annoying me is wearing black. And so, I didn’t resist and even if I still have not received my clothing allowance, I purchased a dress from the store discount racks. It’s a nice sleeveless dress, with a pattern of blue and grey checks and that’s enough to make me breathe again. I bought it one day and wore it the next, feeling relieved by finishing my outfit with blue stockings and blue shoes. In all my life, I’ve never had such a strong reaction about the colours of what I was wearing. It was like a burden had been lifted from all my body.

The next day, though, I had to wear black again. I know, I should build my job uniform piece by piece and be more patient. It’s simply the most important lesson I should learn: be patient.

As for the makeup – at least the makeup I use at work – I reached a sort of uniform with that too. Every morning, I put on some light foundation. I thicken my eyebrows passing a small brush with a taupe eyeshadow among them. I put a light strand of blush on my upper cheeks. I underline my eye’s shape with some eyeshadow at the low exterior corner. Sometimes I put on the lips a light gloss, some other days I use a matt darker red lipstick. And that’s all. The result appears light and polished. 

Speaking about my shape, instead, I have to say that working out is changing my body in ways I didn’t completely expect. I thought I was already rather skinny, but most definitely, I am shrinking further. I can’t even predict if at the end of the process my body shape will still be the hourglass. My hips have narrowed, while my shoulders – which were already pretty bony – obviously did not, so maybe I shape wasn’t the hourglass after all. Also, the training made me lose another cup size, so that maybe in the future I won’t need a bra anymore. It is already something that I wear more as a habit and as a way to feel protected than as a real support.

Furthermore, right this morning I noticed another thing: my body is not simply shrinking, it is also hardening. I casually touched my thighs in the bathroom and I felt they were harder and firmer than I remembered. Even tough I started Emily Skye’s program to tone up, the thing surprised me. I didn’t really believe I could change my texture.

Summing up all I said before, I start thinking that this forced delay in my making over is not an all bad thing. I will have more time to evaluate what is happening to my body, what are the style needs of my day-to-day life and what I truly like. The result would be a compromise between my personal tastes, my current job’s duty and the new body shape I am moulding through my working out. As you might have noticed, I didn’t mention the age factor. I’m boldly trying to pretend society doesn’t impose age conformity.

And you? What are you compromising to conform to society/work request? Would you compromise at all or are you a fierce conformity fighter? In the meanwhile, thank you for your precious time and have a most excellent stylish week.