Monday, August 30, 2010

How much does a number weigh?

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” Leroy (Satchel) Page

What’s in a number? In my "former" life I was an accountant surrounded by numbers day and night. Combine a conservative Christian, basically fundamental background with a profession where everything balances neatly and you don't have much room to consider the unknown. Interesting, huh? Now the "new me" finds myself living in a more mysterious, less objective, certainly not as concrete existence with LOTs of space allowed.... and still I find numbers can carry their own weight.

As I mentioned here, I’ve been working with a life coach whose specialty is weight issues. Professionally speaking, however, I must remind myself that the presenting issue is rarely the real issue. Participating via supportive group sessions and online discussions, I quickly found myself feeling fabulous, fit and lighter in every sense of the word. So, one day while at the gym, I decided it was time to step on the scales - fully expecting the number to reflect this supremely satisfied me. As I pushed the little weight counter over to the balance point, I was horrified (and deeply disappointed) to find there was NO movement since the last time I weighed several weeks before. (Gasp!!) What’s a girl to do? Let a piece of metal take away my mellow? I almost let the scales win, but quickly realized I much prefer feeling light & easy rather than heavy-laden with the makings of my own mind. Thanks to the great support of other fabulous women, I rallied and didn’t let myself go into a tail spin. But, oh my, the power of that silly number!!

Now while I could expound for hours on the subject of weight and body image, I wanted to relay another experience with numbers I had today. Per my last post, I spent the majority of two full days in my closets – sorting, pitching, and recycling those things that no longer serve me well. If I don’t love it or have an immediate functional use for it, out the door it went. I saved my personal closet for last as I had cleaned it only a couple of months ago, but this time I was ruthless. I dug into corners that haven’t been seen in MANY years. I found jewelry, I’d forgotten I lost. I tried on pants and skirts that have become too large for my slimmer self. I vacuumed and dusted nooks and crannies – organized necklaces and scarves and earrings – pitching anything without a mate and forgetting my previous motto, ‘Well it might turn up... (or) I might need this...’

In this heroic effort, I saved the cream of the crop to take to the resale shop down in the village. Included in the two bursting bags were jewelry pieces, strappy sandals, a practically new leather coat and a variety of well-made clothes I hate to think how much their original cost. Dressed in a sassy skirt having just come from work, I loaded up the bags and went to make my fortune in resale. I patiently waited as the young twenty-something clerk plucked through my things, making what I thought were two piles and feeling assured the larger pile was definitely the ‘keeper’. She finally finished and with a perky smile and polished tone announced, “We’ve decided to keep three pieces today, so the cash available to you is $9.45.” $9.45?!?!?!? Are you kidding me? I spent two days cleaning and sorting, saved my best stuff for you and all that’s worth $9.45? These last words, of course, spoken only in my mind.

Numbers. What’s a girl to do? Throw a fit? Cry? Devalue the super light feeling I felt after clearing away all that clutter? Tempting, but No Way!! A little convertible time, some good music and a trip to the charity center to drop off my very valuable donations is helping lift the power of this particular number ☺. Oh my, I do continue to learn so much about myself. I noticed that I wanted to drive immediately to the bakery or the smoothie store and sooth my wounded little pride. My inner whiner was sulking big time! “Waaahhh. They didn’t want our stuff.”
“Thanks, kid.” I gently consoled. “But I'm not buying into the whining this time. Numbers are just numbers… and
we get to decide the weight we want to give them.”

So, that’s my current numbers game. Things don't always add up so neatly and the mystery continues. I wonder how much a heavy attitude weighs? Next up in the potentially impacting numbers category? My birthday. Hmmm…. How old would I be if I didn’t know how old I am?

13 comments:

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Lucy - This is is a KEEPER! I was so with you in the closet and in the jewelry drawer and had been thinking about resale possibilities for some of the "stuff" - thank you for assuring me that my contributions to the local charity stores means a lot more to them than the $9.45 would mean to me....if I was lucky enough to get that number!!!

Feeling the accomplishment of cleaning, weeding, "getting things in order" is worth a million bucks....so isn't it strange we don't keep everything that way. Life does "come along" doesn't it? Lapsing into new patterns of self-worth and order - again? - worth a million bucks!

xoxoxo

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Oh, and I love the sassy little photo:) xo

lucy said...

SS - i fear we may start sounding like a commercial:

Two bags of discarded clothes - $9.45

Sense of accomplishment @ having clean closets - Priceless!!!

xoxoxo

Kel said...

interesting talk of excess baggage here Lucy, and numbers . . . OMG, I so can't see you as an accountant

lucy said...

kel - oh yea, excess baggage for sure. and again, yep on the OMG for the accountant. weird, huh? thanks for stopping by!!

claire said...

I like the question which leads your post. Today I feel like 5 years old.

This would be a neat question to ask myself every morning.

Sometimes I feel ready to be 85 walking barefoot in the grass with a purple hat on :-)

You're being offered $9.45 reminds me of the day I took several bags of clothes to the equivalent of Wise Penny here. They only accepted a few things because everything had to be good to enough to sell.

...

MS said...

I discovered the delightful results of ruthless cleaning out almost 10 years ago (3 moves in 5 years can do that to you!) and am still honing the skill. Better yet is the mental freedom that comes from realizing that most of the things that surround us in our homes are stuff--some of it's very pretty or a lot of fun, but it's just stuff. Speaking of numbers, maybe the increasing number of years we've lived plays into the decreasing need to keep lots of stuff around us. Reflection of a seed of wisdom there? I also wonder how someone would contribute to this discussion if they had ever lost the entire contents of their home to fire, tornado, or some other disaster. That is, would they quickly discover how little stuff means, or would they find "things" to be all the more precious to them? Hmmm...

Joni said...

The cleaning does feel good, doesn't it!

Barbara said...

I lived in Japan with the contents of a footlocker and a large suitcase. It was enough, really. A few years ago, I got rid of huge amounts of old but in good condition clothes -- including a russet sheepskin coat with a gorgeous ruff of fur around the collar -- but there is still more to go. I won't even get into the books I have!

As for watching the numbers on a scale -- arrgh! I found that when my stress level went down, so did my weight. I am two sizes smaller than I was when I retired. I eat when I want and I find I don't care to as much. I only read the scale occasionally because it is just one added stress.

You raise some very interesting issues here, lucy.

Karen said...

Numbers so very often equal validation--it's not enough to feel the good feeling, there must be PROOF as well. And in the search for PROOF, the good feeling often dissipates. But progress is being made, every day we are rallying more--taking back the good feeling, trying to devalue the number...you are doing so very well, lucy...

lucy said...

claire - i agree that question could make a great practice moment by moment. sometimes i ask people i'm working with, how old do you feel right now? it can be quite an enlightening place to check in!


MS - you pose some interesting perspectives here. i would imagine coming through devastation of any sort may change our perspective on "things"... whether that has anything to do with advancing years - perhaps... although i know many young people who don't hold the attachment to "stuff" that some with more years under their belts do.

this feels like a discussion easily continued!! thanks for stopping by and offering your wise words.

lucy said...

joni - oh yeah! that cleaning feels good. i'm still after it - leaner is looking better in more ways than one :-)

lucy said...

barbara - you're definitely onto something with pounds melting away along with the stress. sounds better than any diet i know of :-)

also, your "footlocker" reminds me of a scene from "eat,pray,love" where she sees her "whole life" inside an 8x8 storage unit.


karen - i always appreciate you cheering me on! i think i'll start looking for proof life is infinitely and abundantly worthwhile rather than needing to be measured, meted out and weighed at every turn.