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!

March review: The Neverending Story

The first fantasy novel I’ve ever read was The Neverending Story by Michael Ende and that set my idea of what a fantasy novel should be. I was nine years old and was ruined because that book set me expectations really high. The author had told me, since from the title, that the story would have no ending but then the pages had finished, the story had left me and I wanted more. I wanted more of the endless possibilities, of the limitless reign, of the countless characters. I wanted more riddles, more spells, more curses.

I wanted more. 

I want more of the adventure, more of the unexpected hero (even if I had not understood why Atreyu should be considered an unlikely hero),  more of the mysterious, wise and magical queen (or empress, like the Infant Empress), more of the flawed and really unexpected hero (like Bastian). I wanted more magic because my life had none, and the only magic I knew was all in my head. It was there for me when I read books, and when I imagined stories and realms in my mind. At first, I consumed all the fantasy novel I could find at the library – feeling less and less satisfied with every new one – then I started to move towards the second possibility: inventing stories myself.

You know, I had no other possibility, no real chances of salvation, for two reasons:

  • the first one is simply that no fantasy book has the same structure and message as The Neverending Story. I’m going to say more about this point in a moment.

 

  • the second is that the writer virus was already sleeping in my blood, waiting for the right protein to activate it.

I think that the passion for writing it’s something like a virus, like a curse withing you that activates at touching. You touch the right item and the charm has you. You can be a shy, lonely child searching refuge at the local library like Neal Gaiman says it was. You can be an unstoppable chap full of anger, who wants to make his headmaster see what he is really capable of despite his prediction about you like Terry Pratchett was. The seed of this curse is inside you, asleep, waiting for you to pierce your finger with the spindle in the last room of the last tower or ready to bite you when you brush your palm on a paperback copy of The Lurker in the Shadows that lies abandoned in a dusty attic, like it happened to a young Stephen King.

I well know I am no King, no Pratchett and no Gaiman. And I have also a mild version of the curse too. It is something that allows me long periods of not writing fiction. But, coming back to the real subject of this post, The Never Ending Story, I think this book is a magic item per se. Coming back to the reason I listed as the first cause of my insatiable thirst for more, let’s speak about the unique structure of the novel. You can read The Neverending Story on a superficial level, but if affects you in a deeper way. You can read it being aware of all its metaphors and still be affected on an even deeper level. It is a meta-book in the way that it simply declares its nature since its first pages – the book that you hold in your hands is an object in the novel as well – and in a more subtle way.

The book is split into two parts. In the first part – we all know the first part of the book, thanks to the unfaithful 1984 cinematic version directed by Wolfgang Petersen – Bastian, a shy, highly imaginative and lonely bookworm bullied by his classmates, steals a mysterious book from a grumpy bookseller and hides with his treasure in the school attic. We read with him (pay attention to this detail) the story of the Kingdom of Fantastica, doomed to be destroyed because of the illness of its ruler, the child Empress. We read together with Bastian that the only hope for Fantastica resides in the mission of a young hunter, Atreyu, who must find the Saviour, the only person able to save to save Fantastica by healing its Empress.

Together with Bastian, we follow Atreyu through perils and losses to the oracle of Uyulala where, apparently, the only thing that Atreyu can find is a mirror that does not show Atreyu’s reflection but an image of the attic where Bastian is hiding. Things start to get slippery. Bastian feels that the book, more than under his skin, is getting around him. Until the Empress in person makes a move, Bastian makes a choice and… the second part begins.

In the second part, we follow Bastian in his journey through Fantastica along a road made of wishes. Bastian now is the bearer of the same jewel that the Empress had given custody to Atreyu in the first part of the book. The jewel represents two snakes that form an oval, each one of them has the tail of the other one in its mouth. Do you start to see a pattern?

The Neverending Story is a meta-book in the way that it simply declares it since its first pages – the book that you hold in your hands is an object in the novel as well – and in a more subtle way. At the end of the book, you’ll feel as if you are another character in the story. You can deny it or accept it, nevertheless, you are.

So… no. I won’t tell you a thing about the plot of The Neverending Story. And no, this is not an objective review. I think no review can do justice of this book. The right thing to do is talking a little about the consequences of reading it, warning you of the danger and then leave you alone and unsupervised with the book while moving to another room to answer to a very long call.

Thank you for your precious time and excuse me, I really have to take this one…

II week, II time, Phase 2

Since I’ve started my journey with Emily Skye’s F.I.I.T. program I’ve never shared a single picture of mine here on my blog. I just talked about measurements, feelings and general improvements. Finally, it could be the right moment to share some before and after photos. Even if I think I’ve lost the most of the centimetres in the early stages of the program, the most evident changes to my figure have happened in these last days. It is as like all the tiny differences in volumes had all add up to a general swap in my proportions just now, just above a certain amount of singularly unimportant changes.

Adolescence transformed me from a child into an hourglass shaped girl, then diet changed me into a slightly curved hourglass and now I’m probably turning into a rectangular (also known as banana) shaped woman. I’m not sure about this last change because the workout routine I’m following should help me building up again some curves later on around my bum. But for now, I must admit I am predominantly losing fat and adding very little muscle. I know this could sound of minor importance, but the way clothes fit my body is completely changed.

This is how I looked like when I started, around the second week of November 2016. I had a deeply signed waistline, round hips and a little muffin top.

Here it’s me after four months, March 2017. 

As you can see, my abs are more defined, the muffin top is gone and I’ve lost a thin slice of fat on my hips, which now are a lot less round. All my figure is thinner and the waistline is not defined as it was in the past. This is why I’m not sure I can still call myself an hourglass.

Other parts of my body had changed less than my bust, plus, I don’t think I would ever have the guts to share pics of my bum or legs, so don’t expect any.

As I told in previous posts, my plan is to follow Phase 2 to the end one second time, then pass to Phase 3 and do it twice as well. What will be of my body, then? I don’t know. It will be fun to discover it as my work proceed. It will be even funnier to discover how my mind will change with it. Currently, I don’t crave sugar and carbohydrates as in the past. For my first two weeks on the F.I.I.T. I craved those foods so much that I dreamed about them almost every night. Then I stopped and now I crave meat, eggs and bananas. I also feel more energetic throughout the entire day and – ladies, pay attention – wearing heels has become easier since I’ve started exercising my legs and bottom with more intensity. I also feel more confident wearing different styles of clothes and less fatigued at the end of the day, even when I’m really tired.

Does it make sense? I’m not sure, but I’m amused. So, sorry for the nudity folks, thanks for your precious time and see you later!

Too much

Hi, guys! I dedicate this post to the things that I realised I had too much of. Can you relate to this?

I’ve worried too much about my hair. In the end, it’s just hair. So I think I’m going to let it be and live my life without thinking too much about it. Sometimes, it happens to me to focus on a thing (a part of my present life, of my past, of my body, of my mind) and decide that I have to solve it, to perfect it, to fix it in some way. I get stuck thinking about that thing and I take the worst decisions about it, while at the same time I forget about more important things, like taking pleasure from what currently works. Does it happen to you too?

I felt for too long the pressure to be creative and earning a living from my creativity. I felt like I had a sort of imperative, a sign placed above my head telling: “If you have a talent, you must put it to fruit!”. Sometimes it was something silly, like: “You can’t be happy with a menial job!” Sorry, but actually I can. I work in a store, I am a simple sales advisor and, so long, it has been a nice and fulfilling experience. Every day I go there, I look at what are my mansions for the day, I carry out them, I help the customers, I talk with my colleagues, I learn something new, and then I say bye to everyone and come back to my home leaving every job worry at my job place. It’s refreshing. You can be happy with a simple life and simple job, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

I’ve paid too much attention at how other people express their creativity and I’ve tried too much to feel good imitating them. I think you already know how it goes: if you consider yourself a writer, you must write a novel. If you want to be published, you must write into this genre. If you want to get readers, you have to grow an audience through social media networking, through your blog, your Facebook, your Tumblr, your Instagram, your NewHype. I don’t care. No more. I felt obliged for so long to adhere to this scheme that anytime I seated at my desk I felt at the same time frustrated and guilty. It turned my moments of creativity into a prison. I felt obliged to express myself with a voice that is not mine and I wrote a novel that I don’t like. I used to find all the possible excuses to not promote it, to not translate it into English, and, in the end, I stopped writing fiction entirely. As always, you can express the solution in a stupidly simple way: if you don’t feel like doing it, don’t. But one of the pieces of advice you find the most around the Internet is also “go out of your comfort zone”. So, how do you distinguish between something that is simply out of your comfort zone and something that doesn’t work for you? That’s not easily said. Maybe you should give it a try and see for yourself and then… trust your guts.

Is there something more? Yes! I’ve talked too much about myself, I think I’m going to do it a little less after this post 😉 And you? There is something that you think you had too much of? Would you like to share it? In the meanwhile, as always, 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.