By: Lauren Anderson
It’s bound to happen sooner or later when you become an adult. Whether you want it to or not. You reach that certain age, and you get the dreaded text message from your mom.
“Hey, what are you up to on Sunday? Want to come over for brunch?”
You respond, “Sure.” Cause frankly, it’s been awhile. And you love your mom right? Of course. Then once she has you on the hook, she throws in the sneak attack.
“Great! We’ll eat… and then you can get all your stuff out of the attic.”
Cue musical sting. Dun dun duuuun!!! Dammit! What fresh trickery is this?!
It’s all the stuff I packed up reluctantly and haphazardly before I went to college. All the stuff that made up my young life. All the stuff I was convinced I couldn’t live without, until I managed to live without it for 15 or so more years. Not giving it another thought, until my mother’s brunch plans proved to have ulterior motives.
Then suddenly, I’m looking through dusty boxes confused and emotional. Wishing that we could’ve just had another round of egg scramble and skipped this altogether.
But what struck me is this: for everything that I looked through that sent waves of sentiment and emotion coursing through me, there was another item where I was like, “What the–? What is this? Why the heck did I keep that?!”
It’s the difference between a stuffed elephant I slept with every night when I was little (and still might do now-what?-nothing.) versus the stuffed animal that was given to me by a guy I met at the mall and dated for a few weeks in 8th grade.
It’s the book my mom made of every playbill I had from high school theatre versus the literal stack of paperbacks novels about Vietnam, and dried leaves pressed in it’s pages, from my very short-lived “war and nature observation” phase sophomore year. (Don’t ask. It made sense at the time, I swear.)
You get where I’m going with this right? It’s the difference between my beloved collection of elephant miniatures versus an old Bubble Tape container that used to house my “friend’s” paraphernalia.
Some stuff is still so important to me, even though I haven’t seen it in a while. And some stuff, well, is just taking up space. And even though I was perfectly contented keeping all of it in my mom’s big house, now that I have to be responsible for it, I’m overwhelmed.
So you know what that means? It’s time to downsize. But that’s not easy for a person whose general motto about most everything is “More is More.” But it’s time to make room for what’s important. It’s time to go through the boxes and decide. What will continue to travel with me, and what can I part with? Because let’s face, I can’t do it all.
And as I’m going through these boxes, I start thinking… y’know, this is a lot like my life.
The longer I travel on this mortal coil, the more things I acquire. It’s just that simple. Not only do I have more stuff, I also have more responsibility, more stories, more interests, more people I want to see, and more things I want to do than ever before. But like some great cosmic joke: I HAVE LESS TIME.
So what do I keep? What makes the cut?
In the past, working out, my body, and my health in general, would’ve been tossed in the proverbial donation box faster than you can say “Does Goodwill take electronics?” But not anymore.
Slowly but surely, exercise has wiggled it’s way into my Keep Pile. I don’t know how the heck that happened, but I’m so glad it did. Something I never thought I would prioritize has become important. And it’s the weirdest thing.
And when I’m talking to people about exercise and health, (cause that’s how I roll now), the number one thing people mention is “Man, I wish I could do that, but I don’t have time.” And that makes total sense to me. Because that was me!
Between jobs, families, stress, and what-not, I was putting my body last for years and years. That’s not even taking into consideration the mountain of other mental things that kept me away from my health. Like “I don’t like my body, so I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist.” or “If I start something, I’m going to fail, so why try?” or “I’ll start working out after I finish x,y,z.” Or even my favorite, “I have to lose a bunch of weight before I can go workout there.”
Basically I was carrying around a bunch of junk from house to house. Junk that weighed me down in every sense of the word. Junk that I didn’t like, didn’t want to display, and was ashamed of. Meanwhile, I was leaving the good stuff in the attic. I was unaware of the treasure that I had in my body.
It’s like my body was hiding out in one of those boxes, and I didn’t know how valuable it was. Just like this book I found in the attic that looked like nothing, but when Mom looked it up online, we found out it was worth 400 bucks! Not bad. Not bad at all.
But I had to learn to make room for my body and my health. I had to clear a shelf, and dust it off, and put it out, front in center. So I wouldn’t forget about it. So I couldn’t neglect it. But also, so I could enjoy it. And in order to do that, I had to throw out some stuff that wasn’t serving me anymore. That was taking up valuable space. Like old habits, negative self-talk, and even some unsupportive people.
I had a good friend visit from out of town, and we were trying to schedule a meet up. I said, “I can after 12:30, but before that I have my exercise class. I gotta rock my body.” She laughed, but then was like, “Skip it!” And I was like, “No way. But you should come with me!”
I couldn’t get her to come with, but I’m happy to report she understood, and fully supported me. And later at dinner, she recalled a time in my life where that conversation would’ve NEVER happened. Because not only would I’ve blown off a workout for just about anything, but I wouldn’t even had one scheduled in the first place. Now that’s progress.
Funny thing about progress too. Sometimes it happens so slowly you don’t even realize it. Before I knew it, I’ve gone through all the boxes at mom’s house, kept what was important, and got rid of the rest. Before I knew it, I’m working out regularly enough, that my friend’s know my schedule. Before I knew it, I’ve been eating a certain way long enough, that my family only uses olive oil when I come over. Because I’ve made room for it, the people around me started to as well. And the people that wouldn’t or couldn’t… got downsized.
* * *
When I first started Solcana, my stomach rubbed up against the steering wheel of my car. It was safe to drive of course, but it wasn’t the most comfortable. Especially in the winter months when warm jackets are a necessity. And if I pushed my seat back further, I couldn’t reach the pedals. So squished and cramped is how I drove around town.
But as I hugged my mom goodbye, and loaded the last of the boxes from the attic into the car I noticed there was more room in the trunk than I thought there would be. Because I took a minute to get rid of the junk and only brought the important stuff with me. Good job Anderson.
And then I climbed into the driver’s seat. I put the keys in the ignition and looked down. I noticed a large space between my stomach and the steering wheel that didn’t used to be there. There’s a lot room now, like a couple fists worth of space. I could wear 3 winter jackets if I wanted to!
And despite being drained from day tripping down memory lane, I smiled.
Because I made a little room for my body, my body decided to make a little more room for me.