I have great clothes. Really. I have a closet full of beautiful clothes for every occasion in only two sizes, perfect for the life I think I’m living. I have coordinated outfits and signature pieces, perfect for the office I pay for but rarely go in to, perfect for the camping trips scheduled but abandoned, mountain weather I’m rarely in, the soirees I attend but can’t find anything to wear to and every imaginable combo for the vacations I take and over-pack for. Theory and reality.
Most mornings I wake up at dawn, pull on a t-shirt and a pair of snappy yoga pants I bought for the classes I’ve paid for yet never gone to, take my son to school, return home to make a delicious hand-crafted cappuccino and head to the desk in my home office. I fire up the computer and the laptop, open my contact management program on one, my writing program on the other, log on to the MLS… and Facebook. (You know where this is going, don’t you?)
All of this is fine really, and I do get things done. I mean, something must be going right to be able to pay for the multiple devises, the software, the yoga classes, the office desk fee and the closet full of clothes. And I devote enough time to writing to keep calling myself a writer. But where is the gap between the life I think I’m living and the one that takes place day-to-day?
The question of theory is a check-in on the goals and resolutions for 2016. In theory I’m the girl who gets up at dawn, pulls on those yoga clothes, does the school drop-off, heads to the gym/yoga class, showers and dresses into the sassy ensemble I’ve carefully packed and loaded into the car, and shows up at the office for a full day of work as a busy Realtor. At the end of the day (in my mind) I return to my home office and work for an hour or two on the Great American Novel before throwing a few shallots in the pan to sauté.
As a self-employed single mother, my time is flexible but never my own. Like most in my profession, I wake up every day unemployed and have to get my hustle on, as we all do, but rather than punch a time-clock, I have to time-block to get all that prospecting, house showing, contract writing, negotiating, parenting, exercising and creativity in. Don’t we all? Frankly, I’m not sure how anyone does it, who has time to bake cupcakes, or which day “laundry day” actually is.
But this is not specifically a productivity rant, rather an inquiry into the glitch that keeps us from writing that book or taking that tango lesson. Modern American life asks us to buy into images of perfection, because without feelings of personal deficit, how could we sell things? Madison Avenue must create the perpetual void to be filled with luxury cars, hamburgers, fashion trend and heartburn. We’ve grown so uncomfortable with the empty space within, the interesting space, we hurl ourselves moment-by-moment, away from it with busyness. I call it perpetual prepping; getting ready to be ready. It is the yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes, seeking a way in or a way out.
2015 was a “structural” year for me. I opened the windows, dumped out my toy box, and got rid of what I’d outgrown, was no longer entertaining and/or working. The result was the grand realization that what I want I already have, I just want it more clearly. No sweeping changes or mid-life crisis, only the desire for simplicity, authenticity, and presence. I could dump my theory into the mixing bowl, add a dash of focus, blend until it becomes reality and, boom. Cupcakes!
I try this, making the commitment write more, I add time. I rearrange my head to include my body, specifically exercising before the caffeine has fully hit, a yogi move for sure. The night before, I pack my gym bag, my work clothes, briefcase, and put them in the Subaru. So excited to become that new and improved Tracy, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep, but pop of bed at the first alarm. Being met with a “Hello” from Adele at sunrise should only happen if you’re just getting home holding your high heels, but I rally. Dropping Gabe at East, I pull into 24hr Fitness by 7:45 feeling pretty damned good about myself. Maybe I can be ‘that girl’ after all, I mean this is going great, right? Workout complete, I’d even remembered the towel, my self-esteem rising with the hot shower. Pulling on the nude fishnets I’d never worn, I’m troubled by the fact that the crotch seems to want to stay halfway between my knees and hips, the hem has fallen out of my skirt, there’s a spot on my blouse which hadn’t come out in the wash and I’ve not packed mascara. I soldier on into the office looking like a hot mess, reminding myself it’s day one. The next day goes better, though I forgot to pack a bra which wasn’t my best look at 25 either.
Day-by-day, as I morph my theoretical life with the reality I dream of, I learn how much courage it takes to truly be yourself. How much clarity it takes to slough off cultural concepts of needing to fill a void. I am that void, that mystery, and with all the new space in the toy box it’so much easier to find what I’m looking for. And though a few million things need practice, today I will be more present, plan, and try not to forget my foundations…my mother’s word for the brassiere department.