6.08.2018

Shady B!tch








Romper: Vestique, Shoes: CRIV, Bracelets: Alex + Ani - gifts from my MIL, Earrings: Versona, Clutch: gift


"Jealously FKs with your light." - Cara Alwill Leyba

I'm assuming you just read that first line, right? Now... go back and read it again. I'll wait.

Jealousy FKs with your light.

WOW.

Have truer words ever been spoken? I doubt it. Jealousy is a bitch. A liar. It tricks you into seeing the desirable in other people, and normally means that you are looking at yourself, your image, your life through a lens of "lack".

It's hard out there. I get it.

It's always been a difficult task. To focus on your own shit. To appreciate your life, your gifts, your talents, and your strengths, your looks... but MAN.... I don't think it's ever been harder to do than RIGHT NOW.

We live in a world where we are BOMBARDED with images. Perfectly cropped, filtered, and selected (from a camera roll of 26 others that didn't make the cut). Shit... even the pictures I share with you on this blog. There are 15 others that got deleted because I didn't like them. It's not a big deal to select images that make you feel good versus bad, but it can, if not properly digested and considered for what it is, have you believing that other people have it somehow "all together".

I used to be a really jealous person.

I don't think I was aware of it at the time, but I was ALWAYS looking at other people (especially other women) wishing I had something they did. Wishing I could trade mine for theirs. When I was young, I wished my mom and dad were still together, I wished we lived on Heather Heights (a hill in my hometown where people with really nice houses lived). Growing up I wished I was skinnier, prettier, more talented; that I had money to buy my school clothes at The Gap.

I used to stare at a girl named Bridgette Fagnan in my 8th grade English class in her Gap jeans, and petite figure (that looked SO good and effortless in a bodysuit) and WISH I looked like that. I WISHED I could wear a bodysuit. I mean.... HOW WAS SHE SITTING DOWN IN A BODYSUIT WITHOUT BELLY ROLLS??? How does one obtain a ticket into that genetic lottery???

When I went to college, I envied the pretty girls. The ones who knew how to dress, how to do their hair and make-up. The ones who had nice figures and nice cars (in college???!!!). They looked so pretty in 8am classes with their hair effortlessly thrown on top of their head in an oversized, men's sweatshirts. (Meanwhile I'm wearing a baseball cap and wind breaker pants just trying to melt into the floor in the back so no one sees me until noon when I've at least taken the time to shower and put on my nicer wind breaker pants.) I was always looking at other people and making myself feel like shit comparing myself to them.

These are somewhat silly examples, and relatively normal, but if you don't become aware of them they can eat you alive. Manifest. Morph into soul-crushing thoughts and behaviors. It's normal to vie for the body of an 8th grade classmate, but I see it in adults more than I care to admit (and I still fight it). I see and hear people being MEAN. Straight up mean. Discussing other people's marriages, income, vacation photos, CHILDREN!! Grown-ass people are cruel when it comes to other people's children. It's nuts.

 Jealousy prompts us to make assumptions about others in an effort to make ourselves feel better.

If a woman is confident we tell ourselves that she must be stuck up. If she's successful and works outside of the home, she doesn't have her priorities in check. If she stays home with children, she will be judged for that too. If she's fit, she is conceded. If she has nice clothing/car/jewelry, we tell ourselves, that "I could have nice clothing too, but I don't CARE about that stuff because I am a martyr and give every ounce of myself to my family, children and I'm the last to get anything". If someone shares their love and relationship on social media, they are showing off. Taking selfies? Self absorbed. Making money? Greedy.

We judge because of envy.

I can proudly say that... at 38... I am no longer one of those jealous, trolling, women who get sick pleasure from hating on other women. I don't know when it happened exactly, but at some point I made a conscious decision to turn that shit around. One tool I use is really simple. I use it all of the time and I swear by it. It may seem ridiculous to you, but it works for me. What do I do?

I never waste a compliment.

That's it. If I think something in my head about someone that is complimentary, instead of being a jealous piece of shit and twisting it up in my head, I tell them. I give them a compliment.

For example. If I like someone's outfit, instead of wishing I had it, or that I could "pull it off" or afford it, or whatever. I simply compliment the person wearing it. "I love your outfit." Instead of scrolling past one of my friend's vacation photos because I am pissed that I'm not in Greece, I am liking the photos and commenting on them. Seeing women on IG who work hard on rock hard bodies. Click that little heart button, give them a "Yassss Bitch" in the comments and keep it moving. Before I was engaged and ANOTHER one of my friends got a gorgeous diamond, I was genuinely happy for them, congratulated them, and shared in their joy. Jealously blocks your blessings. I believe that with every ounce of my soul. So stop being a shady bitch.

Now... I compliment my friends, family, and acquaintances all of the time. I even compliment strangers. And when they look at me strange, or uncomfortably, I simply say... "I decided a long time ago not to waste a compliment. When I think something nice about someone, I tell them." 9 times out of 10, the person lights up. You never know what their insecurities are. You don't know when the last time someone, who wanted nothing in return, gave them a genuine compliment.

Trust me, friends, it feels SO much better to build someone up versus tearing them down. I promise you that. Allow someone else's success to simply show you what is possible inside of you.

"Jealously is very simply a lack of self-worth. Shift your energy. Search within yourself to understand the root of your fears. Enter that dark and lonely place. Find a way to love yourself. Then, emerge on the other side, ready to pull another woman out of her own despair. Show her how to love herself too." - C.A.L

5.09.2018

Say You're Sorry












Jumpsuit: Forever 21 (yes, I am 38 - so what), Shoes: CRIV, Bracelets: gifts, Earrings: Versona


HOLA!!!

It's been a minute since I created a blog entry. Honestly? I hate cold weather clothing. So, until it warms up and I start wearing color again, there's nothing really that "fun" to share. If I blogged throughout the fall and winter it would look like the same pair of black leggings and 1 of 4 oversized sweaters every.single.time.

Warm weather though??? Maaaannnnnnn... I live for it. Give me all the prints. All the flowy material. All the straps... sandals... open backs... and obnoxiously loud color. Skirts? Maxis? YES. Sleeves? FK sleeves. I want no part of them. Get your sleeves DAFUQ outta my face.

Truth?

It used to be the other way around. I grew up and went WELL into my twenties.. and maybe even thirties...  feeling the complete opposite. I lived for covering up my body and could think of nothing MORE uncomfortable than summer clothing (or - gasp - a lack there of).

I grew up chubby, I have never been what you would call petite or small, and I used to <<foolishly>> believe that warm weather months were when other, more worthy (aka- thin) girls got to have fun with fashion while I suffered through it waiting for sweater weather. 

I'm not sure what changed, or exactly when it did, but now... shiiiiiiit?!?!? You can't tell me nothing. There's an enormous freedom that comes with beginning to love yourself. With not listening to societies "rules". With spending LESS time reading an article about "how to get a bikini body" and actually being IN a bikini enjoying life. Knowing that a "bikini body" is whatever body you have -- in a damn bathing suit. THAT'S the definition. That's it. It's not a lack of cellulite. Zero stretch marks. Or the absence of "muffin top" that give you the "right" to wear one.

It's amazing the bullshit we tell ourselves. The boxes we put ourselves in. The amount of time we WASTE worrying about not being, looking, or feeling "good enough".

Remember this...

Your stretch marks means you have grown (and in many times created LIFE inside of you).
Your belly being round means that you are a sensual, voluptuous goddess.
Hips... narrow or curvy... they allow you to stand tall.
Tiny boobs... consider yourself lucky. Big ones are a pain in the ass. 

No one gets to have an opinion on your body. And guess what... if you act like you love it... if you "fake it 'til you make it"... some day... you won't have to fake it anymore. You will actually love it.

SO... in my humble opinion (for what it is worth)... I think we should all stop wasting so much damn time. Stop giving a shit whether you look like the women in magazines and on Instagram. THOSE women do not even look like that. Angles, filters, and Photoshop are a muthafker.

Take care of yourself. Workout to be strong. Eat to nourish your body (and soul) and don't surround yourself with assholes who make you feel bad about yourself. Protect your energy, find your people, and for the love of all things holy.... stop saying shit to yourself that you would never DREAM of saying to anyone else. Stop being mean to your body. It's the only one you've got. 

Now... put your right hand on your left shoulder, and your left hand on your right shoulder and SQUEEEEEZE. Give yourself a damn hug and apologize. Say you're sorry.

1.10.2018

Basic B!%ch: Bralettes and Booties









Jeggings: Old Navy, Sweater: Forever 21, Booties: Dolce Vita, Necklace: made from the silks of my bridal bouquet at Beads Inc in Charlotte, Bag: Tory Burch (a gift that I earned through my skincare business)


HAPPPPPY 2018 everyone!

#1. You'd think, maybe, I'd start the year off with an outfit post that was a touch more interesting, but alas...  this is what I am wearing. It's what I've been wearing for months actually (when I am not in yoga pants - which is RARE. Capital "R" ).
 If there were a list of Basic B!%ch Outfits for Fall/Winter I'm preeeeeetty sure this one would be front and center in the line up. I think you can get through two seasons of the year wearing a slight variation of it. "Jeggings"/Leggings: elastic waistband and all over stretch. Booties: a wee bit of heel (hello, booty lift) and to add some height, but you're not committing to like, real "high heels". Sweater: oversized and comfortable, do I have 6-pack abs under here? Perhaps I do. Or.... (and more accurate) perhaps I drank 3 times my body weight in Coquito over Christmas (a Puerto Rican drink with coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk and a shit ton of RUM in it - thanks, Rico) and laid around asking ALEXA to "play Christmas music" so I didn't actually have to get up?

#2. If you look at the fourth picture from the top you can kind of see the bra(lette) I am wearing with this sweater. It's lace, racer-back and cost about $15.00. Can I please take a second to point out that although this time last year I was recovering from an INSANELY painful and debilitating breast reduction, now I can wear shit like this. This flimsy-ass bralette has a CUTE back and provides my (MUCH smaller) chest all of the support it needs. If you have always had small boobs you will not understand the thrill that comes with wearing a bra for looks versus utility. To all of my well endowed friends out there who have at some point longed for smaller boobs, can I be frank?  Dude...... it is everything you dreamed. No straps the size of your forearm, or clasps with 3-4 hooks on them. No $75.00 price tag. Found a cute backless sweater? No worries. Buy that shit. You can wear a bralette. I feel funny even typing that word out. Bralette.  I used to look at these things and wonder.... "what bitch can actually wear that??????!!!!!!" This one. This bitch. I know a lot of people love big boobs, fake boobs, voluptuous, Jessica Rabbit sex tape type boobs (and to each their own) but I.AM.NOT one of those people. Give me all of the bralettes! Give me all of the 15 dollar, cute lace, "light support", bra-lettes!

#3. This has nothing to do with clothing (or breasts), which seems to be the theme of this entry, but I had something happen to me about a month ago and it has nagged at me like crazy. I ran into a woman I have not seen in a while. We started chatting and catching up and she said (genuinely, very, nicely... w/o and ounce of detectable shade)... "I love seeing you on social media and keeping up with your perfect life. I am so happy for you." After I jerked my head back 6 inches, rolled my eyes, snarfed a laugh out of my nostrils, and contorted then fixed my facial expression I said, "perfect life???" Ummm. Not even close, why do you say that? She went on to just say that she loved seeing our wedding photos from this year, vacations that I "won" through R+F, and all of my Pilates posts. She said that my life looks perfect and she was happy for me. Although it was very sweet of her to say and I think she meant it in a very complimentary way (it's not her nature to be a dick) it really got me thinking. I mean, it's no shocker that social media is most people's highlight reel, but "perfect". Nah. I went on to say that I appreciated her kindness, but those wedding photos came after a 7 year courtship (6 of those years being bombarded with questions, judgement and pressure as to why we weren't married, what was "wrong" with us, and copious amounts of other bullshit). The R+F trips were not actually "won". There was no drawing or raffle. They were earned. Earned by working after my corporate job every night and on the weekends to build a business. One that many people don't take the time to understand, but that most have an opinion of. And Pilates... a year ago I couldn't hold plank or do a single push up (after 2 surgeries in 6 months). I was depressed about having to basically start over and feared that I had lost all of my students because me teaching had become so sporadic. I struggle with balance every single day and sometimes I fail miserably at taking care of myself and the most important people in my life. I also told her this (I had recently seen this quote and loved it so much that I committed it to memory):
"Social media won't see 95% of my frustrations. Why? Because I have friends, family, a partner ... (and a bomb ass group chat with my girls) that I talk to. It's not portraying one thing and living another. It's wisdom. Every experience is not for every audience."
Can I get an AMEN?

Again... HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! Let's make this our very, best one yet!!!

10.25.2017

For Leslie & Gayle...











Vest: Ivy & Leo, Bodysuit: Forever 21, Pants: Page 6, Shoes: Can't remember (7 years old), Watch: Apple Store, Purse: Criv, Necklace: Chloe + Isabel


I saw this quote the other day... 
 "Empowered women, empower women." 
... and it made me think of how incredibly important it is to lift one another up. I know it sounds cheesy, and perhaps we have all heard that in some way shape or form over the years, but I've been thinking about a lot lately. Remembering certain instances in my life where I was empowered by women who did not have to go out of their way to encourage, thank, or express their belief in me.

I have some GREAT women in my family. Strong women. Fighters. Survivors. They have supported me. However, because they are my family, I kind of expect that from them. I mean, they love me. I love them. That's what you do when you love someone. I'm talking about strangers, or acquaintances, or just anyone who has no personal gain from your success. They don't love you like your family or "framily" (friends who are family) they are just bomb-ass people who lift one another up. (The quote mentions "women", but of course it applies to everyone.)
When I look at my life right now there are 2 women who stand out in my memory, women who started as strangers. They are just two of the people in my adult life who gave me the tools that I needed to become the woman I am right at this very moment. 
If I were in one of those awkward situations where a person asked me to stand up and tell the room a little bit about myself I might say something like... 
Hello. My name is Melissa. 
I am married to a wonderful man who I love (and am incredibly grateful for). 
I am an entrepreneur. I own my own business and coach other people who are creating businesses for themselves. 
I am also a Pilates teacher.  Pilates changed my life and teaching it gives me more joy than anything else.
Maybe that description is super high level, way too corny and positive for your liking, but it is accurate. When I write that out and look at it, it hits me that 0 out of those 3 descriptors (wife/business owner/Pilates instructor) were true a few years ago. 
I know a lot of little things have happened in my life to get me here and I believe that God opened up doors and introduced me to people (who introduced me to opportunities) that allowed me to be at this place, BUT (and it's a big BUT), you have to be ready for those people and you have to actually have courage enough to walk through the doors that are opened for you. You have to have faith and a belief in yourself that you can do hard things. That you are deserving of the kind of life that brings you joy. That you can heal, start over, go through rebirth. That you can survive. Forgive and be forgiven. That you can create your life. It is is not something that happens TO you, but that you are the master craftsman. You DESIGN it. You steer the proverbial ship.     

When I was volunteering at a woman's leadership event a few years ago around the time of the Democratic National Convention I met a woman named Leslie Black Morton. She introduced herself to me and something VERY weird happened. It was truly like love at first sight. I was so curiously drawn to this woman. She is beautiful, energetic, soothing, loving, hilarious, authentic, and warm. We exchanged contact info and went to dinner. At dinner I found out that she has had a life that resembles a movie. More joy and tragedy than most of us would experience in 10 lifetimes. She is a master healer, life coach, and all around bad ass mama-jamma. As we were talking she was asking me what I want for my life. Where I've been and where I want to go. I didn't know how to answer her. I was not clear on what I wanted. I knew where I had been, but all that did was scare me into fearing that the bottom would drop out of my life if I verbalized my hopes for the future. She was not this blunt, but essentially she said... "how can you get to where you want to be, and become who you want to become, if you have never given any thought, time or energy to figuring out what that looks, feels, tastes and smells like"? << head explodes >> "Uh... yeah. I don't know. You're right." was my lame-ass answer. She tasked me with an exercise. She asked that I write down where I want to be in 5 years. Be specific. What do I want to smell, see, taste, experience? What do I want to do when I wake up in the morning? Who do I want to be with? What kind of house do I want to live in? Car to drive? What kind of work do I want to do? How am I of service to others? 
I put the task off for a while, but about a week later I laid on top of my bed with a journal and I did it. I wrote a letter, to myself, describing what my day to day life looked like 5 years in the future. I had never dared to do that before. I did not know anything about The Law of Attraction. I was spending more time thinking about what I didn't want to happen to me versus what I did. That one simple exercise was SO powerful. It is not an overstatement to say that it truly changed my life. I felt like I had a plan. A picture. That I had put something out in the Universe and that since I had, there was this hope that the Universe was going to open up to me. Maybe you think this is a crock of horse shit, but if you don't think it's a crock of shit, try it. What can it hurt? It just may be the most powerful thing you've ever done for yourself. Leslie taught me to open up, to ask for what what I want. Not to be scared of the future, not to be defined by the past. That anyone, at any point, can decide how their story is written. For that, I will forever be grateful.

The second woman who has changed my life, is, without a doubt, Gayle Stefanelli. I walked into a Pilates class about 5 years ago and this pint-sized woman with abs of steel greeted me with a big smile. I felt completely out of place. I had NEVER done Pilates before. The class was small and the students made a circle around her with our mats. There was no hiding. I had no idea what I was doing for that hour. I listened to Gayle, fought with my body, trying to coax it into doing things it had never done before, and left (not completely convinced I would ever go back). Not because of the class. The class was awesome, and so was Gayle. But, because of me. I was a solid 40lbs heavier than everyone in that room. I felt completely out of tune with my body next to these woman who moved so gracefully and with such fluidity. I was embarrassed. Scared to be a beginner. Scared that I didn't "look the part". I did go back though. Quite regularly in fact. And one day, after months of practice, Gayle said to me... "Melissa, you should really think about teaching Pilates. I think you would be great at it. You naturally help people, you seem to love the practice, and you've gotten really strong". "Ummm... huh? Me? A Pilates teacher???" I smiled, looked at the floor, shook my head like "no way" and dismissed it. I didn't dismiss it though. I went home and I thought about it. A lot. For days, non-stop. I knew Gayle by then and I knew she did not bullshit. She did not shove sunshine up people's butts unless she meant it. I started looking into it and I've been teaching Pilates for years now. If it had not been for Gayle encouraging me, believing in me, and bringing the opportunity up to me I would never, ever have become a Pilates teacher. I would have listened to all of the voices in my head telling me that I would never succeed at something like that. I would have let my own bullshit story guide my life instead of trying something new. Gayle Stefanelli, a powerhouse Pilates and Yoga teacher from Boston, was one of the greatest, most unexpected blessings to my life.

I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes people see things in us before we see them in ourselves. Sometimes the Universe, God, Divine Energy opens up doors for you that you never (consciously) asked to be opened. Sometimes these people, ideas, and opportunities scare the shit out of you and come in packages, from people, and at times that you would never have anticipated. Listen to those nudges. Believe those people. Allow empowered women to empower you. Maybe... just maybe... they are on to something.

9.21.2017

Scantily Clad Traveller










Earrings: CRIV, Dress: Vestique, Shoes: Jessica Simpson, Vest: Target, Purse: Tory Burch


This outfit started as just the dress. I ran out for what I thought was going to be a quick errand to the passport office in it.

Much of the time I wear dresses as an easy option and not necessarily to "look dressed up".

They are one piece, have no legs, no waistband (to remind you that you may or may not have eaten too much), and no matching (or intentional mismatching) to think about. All around minimal effort required. The day I wore this it was 90 degrees outside. If you know me, you know that I sweat. A lot. Like a hairy, obese, dude. As in, if it's over 75 degrees, beads of upper lip sweat are a standard accessory on my face. Homegirl needs all of the ventilation she can get. Know what I am sayin'? I love dresses, and it never crossed my mind that this one was going to cause me any problems. I was wrong.

I set out on my way to update my passport with my married name which required a new photo, an updated application, and marriage license documentation. I went to the drugstore, got a new picture, drove 35 minutes (deep into the country) to the passport office, submitted my documentation, filled out the new application, and was thinking to myself... "Man, it is not often that you go to a government office and get in and out without any sort of snafu. Today was a good day." < cue Ice Cube >

The woman who was helping me gathered all of my paperwork, got it ready to mail it off for me, and took one last look at everything. It was then that she furrowed her brow, cocked her head to the side in deep thought, made a weird sound between her pursed lips, then called her co-worker over to the counter.

Passport Office Lady #1:
"Nance, can you come here, please? What do you think about this photo, do you think it is acceptable or do you think they are going to decline her application?"

Me:
"Huhhhhh? Why???"

Passport Lady #2:
"Ahhhh, yeah. < stops for effect and looks me up and down >  I'm afraid this photo is unacceptable. See here, you are wearing these spaghetti straps, and "they" require that a woman wear a bit more clothing than that. You need thicker straps, or sleeves, something.  < Insert judgmental glare at my shoulders. >

WHAT . THE . ACTUAL . FK?
I need thicker straps???
For a passport photo??
For a photo of my face that will be used to identify me when I travel?
There are requirements around the FKing diameter, girth, span, and breadth of a STRAP on my shoulder???
Is this even a real thing?
Am I being punked?
I felt like I was being shamed. Nance and her co-worker were slut shaming me with their eyes and tones. Over the flimsiness of my scant dress straps.

Apparently, this.... "straps not being substantial enough" is indeed a real thing in the passport world.

So, I go to my car, assuming that there is SOMETHING, surely, in my car that I can drape around my shoulders. Assuming also that there is a drug store close by. At least closer than the 35 minutes it took me to get there from my house.

I go to my car. Nothing. I had recently cleaned it out (see previous post about purging). I find a CVS 10 miles away. I figured I'd borrow, or worst case, have to buy a tourist t-shirt from CVS to cover my scandalous shoulders up with. I get to the drug store, have a t-shirt in hand, am at the register, tell the cashier that I also need a quick passport photo taken and she tells me "I'm sorry, baby, our camera is broken". I nod with a tense jaw. (Anger oozing from my pores.) I put the shirt back. I go to my car. I drive 35 minutes home. I grab this vest. I go to another drug store near my house, get another photo taken. I drive 35 minutes BACK to the passport office, where Nance and her co-worker "thoroughly review", approve,  and finally send everything off for me.

I check the mail about a week later and see an envelope from the US Passport Office.
Score! At least  got my new passport back in record time! Uh no. The application (that "Nance" thoroughly reviewed for accuracy) was missing a signature. Sweet and gentle, geezus. ARE.YOU.FKN.SEROIOUS??? ? I just had to laugh.

Anyway, that experience, while not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, was so annoying and baffling, that I'll never look at this dress without thinking of that first-world fiasco. Sometimes articles of clothing get tied to a memory. This will forever be the "dress I was slut-shamed at the passport office in" dress.

I know that Nance is sitting there in that passport office right now, beige cardigan draped over her chaste shoulders, laughing at me. Fkin Nance.

8.31.2017

The Joy of Trashing Shit








Romper: Vestique, Shoes: Versona, Purse: Gift from Rodan + Fields, Bracelets: Kate Spade, Necklace: Chloe + Isabel (obsessed - haven't taken it off)


In the last week I have held every piece of what I am wearing in my hands and asked myself if it "bring me joy".

I've stopped to consider whether I feel good in it; whether I truly like it or not, and if I feel comfortable wearing it.

This is not an exercise I have ever done before.

I have never taken the time to really consider the things I own. The objects that I have in my home, that I put on my body, that sit on my dresser, surround my sinks, counters, shelves, and asked if they bring me joy or not.

Disclaimer: I have not gone off the deep end.

I have not started having actual, out loud conversations with inanimate objects, but I have been working on an exercise to be more conscious about what I surround myself with. I am doing  a MAJOR purge. Total haul of every nook and cranny of my house, including my closets, "junk drawers", pantry, bathroom sink, dresser drawers, everything. I am going through my accessories, books, furniture, the linens in my closets... EVVVUURRRYTHING. I am not doing this all at once, but I am ALL in. I am hooked. I am obsessed. Nothing is safe.

I keep a pretty clean house. And, by pretty clean... I mean, REALLY, clean (to the naked eye). Any of my friends will tell you that they can walk in at any time of day, day of the week, month of the year, and my house will be clean. There may be a few dishes in the sink as the dishwasher finishes a cycle, and yes, my laundry room is a fking nightmare, but what they see when they come in is really tidy. Like... if I ever have a cleaning lady or team come in, it really doesn't look much different when they are done, kind of clean house.

I like a tidy house. It makes me happy. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Brings me peace. Gives me a sense of calm. I can only relax in a clean house. Mess makes me uneasy.  (I blame my mother, who, when I was growing up, was a "clean freak".) The problem was/is that I have dirty little secrets everywhere.

The hallway closet filled with suitcases, a vacuum, random picture frames, and sneakers that my husband wore 5 years ago. So full that I jump back when I open it up so the avalanche hurling towards me doesn't cause bodily harm. Under my bathroom sink? Shampoo and half used bottles of conditioner from 3 years ago. My wedding after-party dress? Dirty and still hanging in my laundry room (from APRIL). My kitchen sink? I have no earthly idea what's under there. Could be dish detergent, could be a community of Fraggles. An interconnected system of caves could be under there... like, Fraggle Rock. Fraggle Rock could quite possibly exist under my kitchen sink. Hell if I know.

See... when I was young we moved all of the time. I LOVE moving. I love throwing shit out, packing up only what you really care about, exploring a new place, decorating, redecorating, creating a new vibe, giving old things a new place to live. I LOVE to move. It's like a fresh start every time you move. Some hate it. I LOVE it. As a kid, before I went to college, my mom and I counted and between her houses and and my dad's houses,  I had lived in 20+ places in 18 years. That may sound awful to some, but not me. It's one of the things I miss most about being young. Moving into a new place every year or so.

Now that I don't move all of the time, things collect. They build up. I hang on to objects in case I, you know.... "ever need to wear/use them again". I have boxes and bins. Piles. Drawers of clothes I don't ever select. Until recently, the closet in our guest room was FULL (and I mean, full) of home decor that I accumulated over the last 10 years. Throw pillows, books, lamp shades, comforters, twelve elephant statues. Twelve. (I have a thing for elephants.)

I wasn't really conscious of it until recently, but my house never truly felt settled, calm, or like the peaceful sanctuary I crave because of all of the junk. So... when I was browsing Audible (an app that will read you audio-books) I found myself selecting, purchasing, and immediately listening to this book by Marie Kondo called

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

It is the decluttering bible.  If you're not into reading or listening, here are some highlights: 

- Tackle categories, not rooms (ie: Go to every room you have your clothes in and go through all of your clothes before moving on to anything else.)
- Respect your belongings 
- Nostalgia is not your friend 
- Purging feels so good 
- Only keep what you truly love, want, and appreciate

So far I have donated... wait for it... over 550 items. YUP. FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY plus items. I have been keeping a tally. 

Pillows, lamp shades, shirts, shorts, workout clothes, dresses, pants, shoes, accessories, bras (I have had 2 breast reduction surgeries and I had yet to get rid of my old bras. I donated 20 bras.), handbags, bathing suits, coats, a couch, and more to come. Over the next couple of weeks I plan to leave "no stone unturned". 

Now... I know what you're thinking. "Good for you, Melissa. You don't have kids. Of course your house is clean, and your things are tidy." Fk off. 

Granted, it is WAY easier to do this when you don't have kids, and their toys, and clothes you're holding on to because their brother is a year away from fitting into everything they just outgrew. However, everyone can do this to one degree or another. 

Look at something, ask if it brings you joy, decide if it really adds value to your life, comfort, confidence, and make the call as to whether it stays or goes. It's incredibly liberating. I feel like I have lost weight almost. I guess I have in a sense. I may just take up skipping. 

I'm just going to skip from one room to the next filling garbage bags and frolicking in the joy that I get from purging shit.