Enoughness Project Series #9: My own personal sleep patrol, “vacation,” fish tacos and more enoughness

Brian had a serious talk with me two Saturdays ago. “I’m worried about you,” he said. He has never once uttered those words to me in 10+ years of togetherness. My husband is neither a worrier nor a man who makes casual commentary, so when he told me he feels I need more sleep, I could think of no other option than to get up from my desk and come to bed.

So that answers the question of where I’ve been, and why I haven’t been posting as much as a committed blogger should. As so many of us are every day, I’d hopped on a train I thought I had to ride and Brian gave me permission to get off. Sure, it’s meant less night writing (because no writing–no nothing–gets done by day with my two wildmen throwing stuff at me or wrestling each other into horrific squeals if I so much as open my laptop), less time on the gazillion projects I have working at any given time and less journal-y exploration of my Enoughness Project. But it’s also meant more rest, which leads to a more grounded me, a me who makes all-around healthier choices for myself because my nerves are firing smoothly enough to do that.

Somewhere in this earlier-to-bed journey—and I frankly should be in bed right now—I’ve discovered something. And it’s novel.

My enoughness doesn’t have anything to do with what I buy, or don’t. Cue the awe and wonderment. I know. Whaaaat?!

It actually turns out my value as a human being is unrelated to what I wear or own, or how I decorate my home, my face or my garden, or even what anyone else thinks of me, what I do, how I am, what my kids or husband are like, etc.

I was on vacation last week. We’ll call it “vacation” but, as a mom packing up daily life and relocating it to a little lived-in cottage on a slimy green lake, you’re more vacation facilitator than actual vacationer.

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This is me, making the most of the slimy lake. While I took off in our ultra-portable new inflatable kayak, my spawn had no issue with the slime–or the cuts they got on their bare tootsies from the rocky bottom.

Anyway, I was there. And I was stepping around the kitchen in the old swimsuit coverup I wore every weekend in my mid-twenties frying fish tacos from the bluegill amassed by my husband and both of my wee sons that morning, and I thought, “Wow, I have so much to be thankful for. How could I have missed it?”

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Quinn men are very intent about their fish-getting. In this process, I discovered something else unrelated to enoughness and the like: a disturbing disconnect between my ability to eat animals, and my aversion to actually killing them myself. Topic for future discussion, perhaps. Or not.

Something about the act of once again cooking fresh-caught fish—after a very long hiatus due to the fact we no longer live by the sea and Brian hesitates to spear fish in Lake Michigan—and preparing it in the style of the region of Mexico I inhabited before becoming a mom to sons who’d just brought me a bounty of fish as their dad had always done in our early days, all while wearing a scant garment that was my veritable weekend uniform during a time of youthfulness and major inner blossoming in a tropical desert…it transported me in some way I can’t explain. It shifted me to a new frequency. There I was in a stranger’s knick-knacky weekend home beside a body of murky though fish-rich water listening to jet skis zipping back and forth using a crappy rented skillet wearing an old white embroidered kaftan and looking at my ugly Charlie-smudged DIY pedicured toes feeling like a resplendent queen.

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This is what happens in my world when you try to paint your toenails during Charlie and Kip’s normal waking hours. Not pretty.

The trappings of this life are not really where it’s at when you’re searching for your worth in the world. I suppose nostalgia and fish tacos aren’t the answer, either. Gratitude, however, may be the key to experiencing my own personal enoughness. Noticing how good it feels when you don’t care what you’re supposed to look like, or live like, love like or act like and just allowing yourself to look, live, love and be as you are, how you are, who you are, it feels like, well, more than enough.

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Homemade bluegill fish tacos.

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#8 Enoughness Project Series: Because maybe you expected me to post more, too.

Just an informational post to address my not-very-prolific posting about my Enoughness Project experience… And, for those who are unaware, my boilerplate:

This post is part of a series about my experiences in uncovering my own innate enough-ness. For three months, I am abstaining from frivolous material purchases, accepting all blessings that come my way and focusing on gratitude for all that I have. The idea came to me in a meditation-induced haze and it has nothing to do with politics or morality. I’m just a girl who’s hoping to: separate the association between looking good and being good; get comfy with receiving; become a glowingly grateful human being; get acquainted with my own motives for material consumption; grow my understanding of when/why I buy things; and establish new habits that are more aligned with my values. We’ll see how this goes…

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Yes, I often take pictures of myself to see if whatever I’ve just put on looks ok for leaving the house. And more so now that I’m not buying new stuff to wear. My poor sister has received many a self portrait paired with the plea, “Be honest. Does this work?”

So you say you haven’t been posting much during this three-month project?

No, I’m not posting as often or as much as I intended. I meant to write a lot more about this. Wait, no. I have been writing. A ton. And I’ve been processing a ton. But I’m just not posting a ton.

Why not?

I’m not ready to post most what I’ve written. A lot of it feels like TMI, as it were.

Ok. What are you reading right now?

A lot of stuff, but I’m checking out Brené Brown’s, Daring Greatly, per the recommendation of two sublime women.

What are you getting from it?

I’m not that far into it, but I’m more aware of vulnerability as a key to living a wholehearted life.

So what’s the deal with you not being vulnerable about your Enoughness Project on your blog?

I didn’t expect this to happen, but not buying stuff is indirectly making me more aware of my shadow side, which is, well, dark. I guess I was previously able to cover it up with shiny new stuff? Uncovering and honoring the shadowy part of me is great and incredibly useful for me in my own life, but maybe not of keen use to all of you.

No, seriously, let’s talk about your dark side.

Thanks, but I don’t much feel like sharing. Uncovering the true source of your own value in the world can be a bitch. So can learning how to be grateful, really grateful, for everything you already have. And don’t even get me started on the bizarrely difficult work of prying my palms open to receive. These three things have sparked some serious inner wildfires, and I’m feeling a little too ravaged to discuss.

Can you offer just a hint of the dark stuff you’ve discovered?

Extreme body consciousness. Suppression. Self-criticism. Envy. Self-doubt. Greed. A touch of trauma. Grief. Anxiety. Lack of compassion. Things I thought I was and have just realized I’m not, and vice versa.

Whoa, girl. You ok?

Never better, actually. I’m delighting in my discoveries, though raw, because it means I’m evolving at the soul level. This isn’t my first rodeo, if a deep dive into my own consciousness counts as a rodeo—and if it does, I’m owed a belt buckle—so I know better than to be alarmed when I get all stirred up inside and some dark gunk gets routed to the surface.

In other words, I’ve come to recognize this kind of intensity and hunker-down-to-process-ness signifies a resplendent spiritual evolution in process. Always. And, on the for real tip, what’s better than knowing there’s a glorious light at the end of the tunnel, and that you’ll get to linger there in some lush garden for a while? (before the next major shift.)

Wow. You must be really fun at parties. 

Yeah. With each cocktail I have, the odds of me cornering you and making you talk about God, Spirit, Enoughness, your dead grandmother, my shadow side and yours goes way up. Fortunately, so do the odds of my buying you a glass of champagne and requesting Snoop from Mr. DJ. So, I like to think it all comes out in the wash.

Will you be writing any more about your Enoughness Project?

No. I’m not sure. Maybe not for a while. But probably. Yeah. We’ll see.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks to anyone who cared enough to read all the way through. My gratitude, and many blessings upon you.

Does this dress work on me, Baby Kip?

Does this dress work on me, Baby Kip?
It’s embarrassing to admit, but when I look in the mirror, my perception is almost always distorted–I don’t ever know what the hell my body actually looks like–and somehow I feel like eying a photo of myself in the mirror removes the film and allows me to see a truer vision of my physical self. That’s what this Enoughness Project is doing for me on the soul level. It’s removing the distorting film from my inner vision and causing me to see myself as I really am, mucky sludge and golden light and all. I just haven’t felt like sharing much about this.

 

#6 Enoughness Project Series: I get new perspective on The Magnificent Mile

The boys took me downtown a few weekends ago. As we drove up Michigan Avenue on our way home, I stared out the car window, scouring the storefronts as usual for fabulous-looking clothing and alluring miscellany I’d probably never own.

However, instead of feeling pangs of wishing that, rather than riding in the passenger seat of my car, I could be freely walking into La Perla myself or that I could afford the great dress in the Max Mara window, I felt contentment. Relief. I don’t have to spend a moment of energy on wanting these things because I’m not in the market for anything right now. I am not in the market.

I’ve taken myself out of the market. And, in this moment, it’s liberating.

I shifted my gaze to people’s faces, rather than to conjecturing on the content of their bags. Of those carrying bags and popping in and out of shops, I did not see one person smiling on Michigan Avenue, from the river to Lake Shore Drive—aka The Magnificent Mile—not a one.

I, on the other hand, in the passenger seat of my humble grocery getter, was really smiling. Wind in my hair, healthy bubbly kids in the backseat, rad husband at the wheel. It was so simple. Cruising Michigan Ave had suddenly become an entirely different experience.

When have I ever not been thinking about something I wanted to buy? When have I ever looked at a gorgeous, well-appointed woman and not wanted what was on her body? When have I driven down Michigan Avenue and not quietly wondered what it’s really like to be a regular in the Louis Vuitton store? I cannot remember a single time.

As Americans, when have any of us not been in the market for anything? As Americans, we ARE the market. Taking myself out of the shopping game has been super hard in so many ways, but it’s also the best thing I could’ve done for myself in this season. At least for today, I am free.

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We had a lovely family lunch downtown and, on the way home, I finally felt a break from the shopping urge that usually strikes when I cruise Michigan Avenue.

#5 Enoughness Project Series: My inner mean girl rears her head just as I’m enjoying myself

Apparently now that I’ve managed to dress myself without buying anything new for a few weeks I’ve found something old and familiar to obsess on. My body, and all my physical imperfections. Namely, my stomach. And, newly, my arms.

I went to the beach with the boys this morning—it was the first such outing of the season. They took their shirts off and rolled around in the sand while I lied down myself, and lifted my shirt to catch some vitamin D on my midriff. It felt so good to feel the sun on my skin, on the part of my body I most, let’s call it what it unfortunately is: detest. To expose my stomach to the rays of the all-healing morning sun and the breeze off the lake was an amazing feeling. I felt like a 16-year-old, carefree and sunning face-up on a chaise lounge in a bikini at my boyfriend’s country club, just after he’d asked me not to turn over because he wanted his friends to see me. (He was and still is wonderfully empowering of me and all women, but he was, after all, a 17-year-old boy…)

I then got the idea to snap a photo of my kids playing in the sand and, in the glare of that wonderful sun, I didn’t realize I caught part of my midriff in the photo. As soon as I saw the dimpled, stretch-marked skin of my abdomen, which felt so young and lean in the moment, my heart fell. Darkness descended and the familiar old meanness began. “See? That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you? Do you really think you should’ve had a couple bites of the boys’ muffin this morning? You can forget your dreams of running in a sports bra or wearing a bikini this summer–or ever. For. Get. It. That part of your body is hopeless. It’s never been much to look at but, after two kids, it’s stretched out and there’s no saving it. You’d have to tummy tuck your way to halfway presentable abs. Ha. It’s a one-piece for you, missy. For.ever.”

Oh, how I dislike it when this voice pipes up. She is so abominably mean. I thought I’d cured myself of her appearances, but she’s still in there. Why is this coming up now? Does it have to do with the fact I’ve sworn off retail therapy for three months? Is it that, without having a little bandaid to slap on my physical insecurities, I’m having to look at them? It’s hard and not very fun. And, to get me through, here’s what I know: for me, meditating makes it all better. As hard as it is to get quiet, the act of sitting in stillness will put me back in touch with what’s real. And none too soon. Because my inner mean girl* needs an eviction. Or, even better, a transformation.

*To be fair, I got the phrase, “inner mean girl,” from two amazing women who are transforming and empowering thousands of people with their work. Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo started the Inner Mean Girl Reform School and it’s worth checking out here.

Note: This post is part of a series about my experiences in uncovering my own innate enough-ness. For three months, I am abstaining from frivolous material purchases, accepting all blessings that come my way and focusing on gratitude for all that I have. The idea came to me in a meditation-induced haze and it has nothing to do with politics or morality. I’m just a girl who’s hoping to: separate the association between looking good and being good; get comfy with receiving; become a glowingly grateful human being; get acquainted with my own motives for material consumption; grow my understanding of when/why I buy things; and establish new habits that are more aligned with my values. We’ll see how this goes…

Enoughness Project series #4: Tie me to the bed. I am jonesing for a new duvet cover. (Also, beats! Not beets.)

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These sneakers may be worn and, no, they’re not the coolest newest thing available, but does that mean I should go buy new ones? Old me says, “girl, you are walking around this city all the time, so you deserve some cool kicks.” Enoughness Project me says, “Deserve? What does that even mean? Like, are you deciding you’re, like, good enough in some way, so you must buy new stuff to reward yourself for the particular way in which you’re good? How on earth do the truth of you being a worthwhile human being and the idea of receiving new shoes for that even go together? I don’t get the connection…”

A couple weeks ago, I started moving furniture around. It’s one of the things I do when I’m restless for new energy (see also: shopping, baking, napping, cocktailing and, when I’m at my tip-top, meditating, sun saluting or plank posing.) I repurpose entire rooms, enlist the brute strength of my annoyed husband and compulsively move things around until the energy feels right. I recognize this may be one of my gut-check behaviors to stuff down something deeper that would be better served by my own stillness, but a girl can only change one major habit at a time, mmkay?

Interestingly, it turns out the act of rearranging a room thrusts me into acquisition mode, if not immediately, then days down the road. (Snap! I really thought I was getting away with something.) And so today, a week after a weekend rearranging spree I was literally holding my hand strong on the steering wheel to keep from turning right into Target, turning left into Marshall’s, right into Anna’s Linens because I have decided, unequivocally, that I need a new duvet cover or quilt for the guest bed. And apparently I am still drawn to the discount stores because, if I find something of great quality at a great price, then it must be ordained in heaven that I acquire it. Same goes for the sale section on Nordstrom-and-Pottery-Barn-esque websites.

Sidebar: As I write, I’m a little bit sickened at my very struggle with this issue. There’s no way this dilemma enters into the minds of those in poverty, and maybe not even of those who live in other countries. This inner link I’m feeling between my own enoughness and my material possessions/how I look on the outside strikes me as a uniquely American, middle-to-upper-class problem. In the spirit of being gentle with myself, I must remind myself it’s helpful to be examining this rather than ignoring it. If you’re right there along with me in this project, please be gentle with yourselves as well. It does no good to get harsh.

Though the jonesing was fierce, I kept it at bay and continued on my route, feeling much relief when I was in the clear. As the skinnies of the world say, it’s advisable to wait 15 minutes before indulging in the treat of your dreams just to make sure you really want it, and all the calories that come with it. I had better luck thinking about the duvet cover for 15 minutes than I often do when it comes to, say, a homemade M&M cookie from my freezer, but the principle worked. Also, I told myself, “If you still want this in July, you can have it.”

A friend asked me yesterday if I had a list of things I was going to rush out and buy as soon as my Enoughness Project is over. My smug answer was no. Sometimes I jot notes in my mind, but I have no real, lasting list. (well, ok, I just remembered I do have some organization-related things I think we need at Ikea, but any time my mind turns to the organizey place, I redirect it because organizey Emily–see a post about her here, if you dare–always leads to stuff-buying Emily and there’s no room for those exacting gals in the Enoughness Project.)

Related to one reader’s astute comment on a previous post, my intention is that this is a journey in change, not an exercise in self-control. For those of us who’ve caved on an M&M cookie in our day, we know self-control alone has its limits. Me? I’m banking on the belief that self-control charged with intention will develop new habits that are more in line with the person I want to be.

What I’m noticing in this moratorium on shopping is that the burning need for X, Y or Z item one day is off my radar the next day. Or, better yet, in some cases, I have a brainstorm about how to repurpose something I already have to sate my present whim. It’s causing some white knuckles, but it seems to be upping my resourcefulness. Which must be worth something. Baby steps.

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Just when I think I’m all resourceful, I see someone in my community garden has figured out how to grow beats. As soon as those tasty jams sprout, I bet I won’t even think about buying a new duvet cover ever again.

Note: This post is part of a series about my experiences in uncovering my own innate enough-ness. For three months, I am abstaining from frivolous material purchases, accepting all blessings that come my way and focusing on gratitude for all that I have. The idea came to me in a meditation-induced haze and it has nothing to do with politics or morality. I’m just a girl who’s hoping to: separate the association between looking good and being good; get comfy with receiving; become a glowingly grateful human being; get acquainted with my own motives for material consumption; grow my understanding of when/why I buy things; and establish new habits that are more aligned with my values. We’ll see how this goes…

Enoughness Project series: Ask and ye shall receive (3rd installment)

Tonight feels celebratory. The air is warm. The windows are open. I baked tonight. We’ve had two days of sun. And this Enoughness experiment is knocking my socks off.

The other night I went to dinner with two friends I don’t see often and, now that one of them is moving away, it felt urgent to schedule time with them even while Brian was out of town. So I hired a sitter and took a cab to Lincoln Park for the chance to spend the evening with them. I managed not to buy a floor-length skirt, or anything at all, for the occasion, and I also managed to throw on an outfit in which I felt good regardless. While getting dressed, I affirmed, “I am enough. I am grateful for everything I have. I am open to receiving the abundance already on its way to me now.”

Somewhere in the universe, a door must’ve opened. Despite my mild protest, my friend ended up picking up my cab ride there, everyone’s dinner and my cab ride home, leaving me only with the cost of the sitter. Normally, I would’ve never let her be such a generous benefactress, but I am officially working really hard at being comfortable with receiving, and so I received. It seemed important to practice this new art. I don’t know how to say it more eloquently, but I was blown away by the unexpected extension of material generosity.

Yet my dinner and transportation weren’t the only gifts of the night. While with my dear friends, I also experienced the gift of new hope. “Let’s all say out loud what it is that we want, right now,” suggested Ashley, who openly claims to feel no special connection with the Universe. (I do not concur.) “You have to say it out loud because if you can’t say it out loud, then you must not really want it, and if you really do want it, then you have to say it out loud. Right now.”

What followed, for me, was raw and amazing. We went around and each of us said aloud what it is that we want, what we really, really want. Maybe it was the wine, the return of warm night breezes or the formation of clouds that looked like a speckled feather directly above Ashley’s deck, but I have to say it felt like we had a hearing with God himself.

Ashley went first, then T, then me, and we bared witness to each other’s purest, deepest, sincerest life desires. Our wishes for ourselves, for our families. At Ashley’s behest, we just put them out there.

I want financial freedom. I want my husband and I both to be overflowing with vitality. I want to be a channel for love in the world. I want to help people. I want some other things too personal to share beyond Ashley’s deck. I want to play outside more. Mountains, canyons, oceans, lakes, whatever, I just want it accessible to us on a daily basis.

As I stared at their moonlit faces gazing at the sky, I feel like “It is written,” came through on the breeze. My always pragmatic pals might lovingly scoff at the thought, but I felt it. Sure enough, days later, I texted Ashley with nothing short of wonderment. My private wish had come true. Days after that, we received a major financial boost. Days after that, a new wave of vitality swept over our family of four, and seemed to stick.

I’m not sure how I ever forgot this, but there’s something to flat-out asking for what you want. Say it out loud and wait for it to come to you. If it’s not in line with spiritual law, it won’t happen, but if it is, get ready. It took Ashley reminding me of the power in this practice to adopt it as my own. Were I not in a conscious space of trying to release attachment to material conquests, appreciate what I currently have and open myself to receiving more blessings, I may have missed it.

Thank God for great friends who get you back on track, and for everything else, too.

Note: This post is part of a series about my experiences in uncovering my own innate enough-ness. For three months, I am abstaining from frivolous material purchases, accepting all blessings that come my way and focusing on gratitude for all that I have. The idea came to me in a meditation-induced haze and it has nothing to do with politics or morality. I’m just a girl who’s hoping to: separate the association between looking good and being good; get comfy with receiving; become a glowingly grateful human being; get acquainted with my own motives for material consumption; grow my understanding of when/why I buy things; and establish new habits that are more aligned with my values. We’ll see how this goes…

Gut reaction to The Enoughness Project, my study in gratitude, receivership and transcendence

I’m going out with some girlfriends tomorrow night. It’s not any place super fancy, but it is in Lincoln Park, which is a place the mommies tend to dress up a little more than they do in my neighborhood. As I sat in the bath last night thinking about what I wanted to wear tomorrow, it occurred to me I might need a floor-length skirt. Yes, that would complete my wardrobe and my girls-night look if I just had a very-now floor-length skirt to wear with the sheer polka-dotted, button-down, tie-front top I plan to wear.

A ha! But, Emily, you made a deal with yourself. No shopping for material things for three months. You are enough. You don’t have to go buy stuff to prove it. Make do with what you have. Get creative. And may I remind you, you are enough.

Without realizing what I was doing, I began pondering the idea of going to Marshall’s tomorrow to look for something appropriate for this one night out with these dear friends who, though decidedly glamorous and aesthetically inspiring, would love me just the same if I met them wearing faded yoga pants and a sweatshirt. After all, that’s what we were all wearing when we met five years ago, just after we’d birthed our newborns and were settling into a state of shock over suspending our careers and plunging into stay-at-home motherhood.

But if only I had the right kind of skirt to wear… Better yet, if only I was a little thinner. Then those really cool jeans hanging in my closet would fit without my having to conceal the side-bulge with a jacket. And, if I were a smaller size, if my stomach washboard, then not only would those jeans fit better, but they would look awesome with that top, no under tank necessary…

Stop! Red light!

I am enough. I am enough. I am ENOUGH, I remind myself. I have everything I need, and most of what I want. Life is good and, know what? Tomorrow night, despite not having the floor-length skirt or the daily-Crossfit-style body I desire, I will look lovely enough. Not because of what I’m wearing or because I’ve lost or gained weight or because my hair and makeup are in place, but because I just am.

Note: This post is part of a series about my experiences in uncovering my own innate enough-ness. For three months, I am abstaining from frivolous material purchases, accepting all blessings that come my way and focusing on gratitude for all that I have. The idea came to me in a meditation-induced haze and it has nothing to do with politics or morality. I’m just a girl who’s hoping to: separate the association between looking good and being good; get comfy with receiving; become a glowingly grateful human being; get acquainted with my own motives for material consumption; grow my understanding of when/why I buy things; and establish new habits that are more aligned with my values. We’ll see how this goes…