Challenge Accepted!

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

Most of you know that the way blog posts work is the most recent one is at the top, right? And if you want to know what things were said ‘in the beginning’, you have to start at the bottom, and scroll upward. It’s the internet’s version of Farsi. So, all that means is that this is the second blog posting, and as these postings are going to hopefully tell a story, it follows on from the one before it, which you’ll find below. Blog navigation lesson completed, here’s what I actually wanted to share with you today.

The Diva and Moi

It’s Sunday – a blazing hot day, the air still and sultry. A great day for drying laundry on the line, or to steam open your pores. Skin already sticky at 8am, I was doing some virtuously sweat-inducing housework when the phone rang. “Hallo darling”, said the Diva.

My friend Judy Glen (pictured with me, left), an opera singer and comedian, had just finished a 10-gig week at the Lord Mayor’s invitation in Brisbane, and had just read my new blog about a 12 month month challenge of no clothes shopping. Ding! A bell had rung for her, too. Judy and I are similar in many ways (height not being one of them). We share a passion for all things “girly” – clothes, accessories, shoes, handbags, makeup – human equivalents of peacocks, anything that can adorn the body is considered a good thing.

Sharing the journey. I was thrilled when Judy said she’d like to do the 12 month challenge along with me. Great! A fellow traveller, someone to share the experience with: the laughter, the tears, the missed shoe sales! The emotional/psychological aspects of the challenge is something we’re both fascinated to explore more. Perhaps we could develop a psychosis around this together??

Feeling the fear… I mentioned to Jude that one of the things I am feeling, on the eve of embarking on this challenge is fear. I feel a touch ridiculous for feeling a twinge of fear (helpful, huh?), but I want to be honest as I write these entries about what the experience is like for me (otherwise, why bother?). I don’t fully understand why I’m feeling some fear, but it’s there. On the surface, I have an image of me standing in a store, looking longingly at some fabulous item of clothing (animal print no doubt, or possibly turquoise, maybe orange), and it’s my size and it’s on sale – and I can’t buy it because I’m doing this dumb challenge!

Beneath the surface, maybe it has to do with feeling like I might miss out on something? Of experiencing a feeling of *want*, which has to do with feeling emptiness, feeling incomplete somehow. I don’t know, maybe the fear is about that. (I might as well say this, as I’m sure someone reading this will be thinking it: If a pair of animal print capri pants can create a feeling of completeness, of fullness, even if it is only for a short while, does that mean I’m a great contender for Saddest Person on the Planet (a reality show I’m sure will be coming to our screens soon)???). Whatever it’s about, in an attempt to “name and claim” it, I’m owning up to feeling some fear.

Appreciating… Judy talked about how the challenge of focusing her attention on appreciating the clothing she already has will hopefully spill over into other areas, like her house. Rather than thinking up yet another home improvement project (challenging in Judy and Terry’s case, as their home is so beautiful already), enjoy it for what it is without the need to improve it. Nice.

Contentment, you say? Jude and I talked a bit about contentment, and how we’d like to feel more of it, more regularly. But it seems to allude us – we feel a stirring of what we can only call restlessness that seems to wash away any feelings of contentment. We wondered if the problem lay in how we thought about and defined contentment… contentment stirs up an image of someone sitting very quietly, in great stillness, in a semi-darkened room, meditating (not that we’re stereotyping or anything). Being extraverted as we are, neither Judy nor I find ourselves in such a state as that very often. Sure, we need quiet time for balance and we seek that out. But more often than not, what gets us going are people and activities that get us “out there”, things that have us in a state of motion and activity, things that enthuse us into action. So, maybe we need to redefine contentment?

The Challenge…. is the challenge to simply stay away from temptation? To stay out of the shops, away from the markets, off the internet? For me, if I never see an item in a store, I can’t wish it was mine. If I hadn’t seen those fabulous leopard-print Converse shoes in Tootsies in College St, Oakland, would I have wanted them so badly? Of course not – I wouldn’t have known they existed! Simply staying away from temptation may be the best way to start, but we may not learn much about what this challenge is really about if that’s all we do. Is the challenge to stop wanting?
The Carrie-Dian continuum. I’ve always been more Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City, she of the shoe fetish, who oohed over Berkin bags on Fifth Avenue and who longed for a walk-in closet of room-proportions) than Dian Fossey (Gorillas in the Mist, as portrayed by Sigourney Weaver in the movie, where the wardrobe mistress had barely enough to keep her occupied as only one outfit was worn by Ms Weaver the entire film, was it not? Surely I don’t exagerate….). This year-long challenge is not an exercise in becoming “less Carrie” and “more Dian” – why fight nature?

What the challenge is about is not all that clear yet, at least the stuff that lies beneath the surface. We all know what the surface challenge is about (no clothes shopping for a year), so it’ll be easy to see if we meet that challenge, or if we fall off the wagon. The less tangible parts of the challenge — the emotional and psychological stuff — is what strikes me as being the really fascinating part of the journey. Right?

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