Observations from a re-nesting RightSIZER
So many of you have embraced christopherlowell.com. You’ve deeply connected to the message that it’s truly possible to experience far better quality of life on much less without having to sacrifice a thing. Yet, while many of you know it makes total sense (especially in these times), your amazing letters tell a different story. That of grappling with even starting the deliberate process of re-choosing, not only what it is you really need, want, use or…but what you believe NOW!
Yep, without out a clearer vision of what your heart really needs to feel contented and safe, materializing that new lifestyle is practically impossible right? It’s like redesigning a home you haven’t seen yet. Like packing for a trip when you’ve no idea of the final destination. Just declaring “I wanna CHANGE, I’m ready to change, I’m gonna change.” isn’t enough is it? The
bigger question is, “Change into WHAT?”
For me, it was a several year process. Mine took a little longer than yours will. Even with the luxury of time, getting to the truth of what I really wanted was a process of literally getting rid of any and all preconceived notions of what people expected—not just of me but of “Christopher Lowell”, the TV dude. So, as the post-fame formula dictates (for those ex-celebrities looking to step back into the shadows), I was advised by other once famous, that the time it takes to fade comfortably back into the woodwork is about the same amount of time as being in the limelight —for me that was just a little more than a decade. While I still enjoy the occasional “are you Christopher Lowell?” The invasive media had and has (for the most part) moved on. Pfew —Another bullet dodged.
Oh, during that decade, I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs, mind you. Curious as a stray cat, I shifted into full-blown investigation mode the moment the reflection of LA-LA Land disappeared from my rear view window. And yet for the next years I was caught between two worlds. The one in which TV Christopher, “America’s most trusted designer,” continued as the arbiter of affordable style and personal fulfillment, and just me, a simple quiet artist guy who sought peace and who now needed to be spiritually fed himself.
With everything I thought I knew I still found myself back at the same intersection of “how will I justify my choices to others?” And “How do I continue to control my own narrative?” ---dead end. I still (if only figuratively in my own head) was asking the collective “others” (society?) for permission to follow my own heart.
I instinctively knew the answers I searched for were somehow encoded in everything I owned. I knew it wasn’t about the stuff anymore because the lie that “these things make me feel good even if no one ever sees them but me” had grown tissue paper thin. There was no way to reinvent with an 18 wheel moving truck following behind me.
Still I began forcing myself to walk through my home on a daily basis, asking myself, “is that item not only worth suspending reinvention for but also, why did I buy it in the first place?”
Slowly the truth emerged as I was emotionally I was ready for it. These things did, in fact, hold the memory of various lives I’d thought I wanted. The stuff became like taro cards charting the lives of my past. Answering the questions they evoked and provoked one-by-one, piece-by-piece, allowed me, in the kindest way, to re-see those choices and begin to understand the difference between the life I thought I wanted, and the life that would ultimately chart a new course for my future.
I was finally using the very same process I’d used on millions of viewers and hundred of clients and students---but never on myself. It’s amazing, when it’s not yours, how easy it is to purge someone else’s stash.
More importantly, it triggered the essential on-going dialogue between my heart, which lives outside of social approval and judgment, and my brain, filled only with what I put there; nothing BUT conditional thoughts.
I did this for a while without ever lifting a finger. I got three boxes of different colored dot stickers (I know so anal). Green: Don’t really need it. Blue: Separation Anxiety difficulties. Red: Not ready…danger Will Rogers!
Hardest were the guilt ridden red items that had been given to me or entrusted to my care. I couldn’t let go until I understood that the treasures of others were simply that…their treasures, not mine. Based on their choices and lives, not mine.
In truth, no one leaves this planet with a single thing and therefore should not burden others with the emotional decision that they, themselves cannot make. Not fare.
Some items, I asked other family members to take. Low and behold, I was surprised how may of them wanted to know the item was still in the family but had no intention of storing it either! So then the only thing left was to sell, donate or (if so damn important) bequeath to a museum, saving a photo of it on my smart-phone.
The next group was the stupid utilitarian things—the basics that you feel dumb getting rid of only to have to repurchase again later. Vacuums, can openers, paper towel holders, kitchen basics, oh, and that thingy that goes over the shower head to hold the shampoos.
Well guess what? As I began to finally re-nest once more, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who had to make all those decisions. Once I totally got into the thrift shop, consignment store thing, well there all those things were, and for a fourth of what I’d originally paid at Bed Bath & Beyond. A cool, white enamel soap dispenser:
BB&D: $16. 00 Thrift: $1.99 You do the math x the gazillion things one needs to start over! I’ll just say this. With my last kitchen I spent well over 3 grand—easy. For literally the same quality and amount of supplies this time, I paid under $200 bucks and had a total ball finding one William’s Sonoma plate at a time from the bins and shelves full of junk. SCORE!
So while I did not have a totally clear vision of my next life reinvention, it was THROUGH the vetting process, that one emerged—richly layered, deep with subtle meaning and more specific than I could ever have imagined.
Yesterday, I was roaming the aisles of a Goodwill store when suddenly approached by a woman who said, “I know this is stupid, but did you know you look like Christopher Lowell?” I replied, “Well I AM.”
“Well, what are you doing HERE?” she gasped as though I’d perhaps fallen on “hard times” or some such judgment.
I said, “Honey, the same thing you’re doing. Looking for bargains, reducing my carbon footprint and putting my money towards charity and human rehabilitation. You?”
As I joyfully loaded three ironstone French onion soup bowels (to complete my set) and an oversized Calphalon skillet in perfect shape with lid (Gourmet store: $165. Goodwill $8.75) I thought to myself, “It’s my life, my choices and I’ve never been happier thankyouverymuch!”
Who says you can’t have it all!