Everyday Orinda – February 2020

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Solving the Resolving

    If the hideous girdle of yesteryear can evolve into Spanx, then can’t New Year’s resolutions also evolve into something less restrictive and painful? Something that could actually be pleasant? Old-fashioned, self-deprecating resolutions should be recycled, much like our female forebearers’ unflattering and horrifying undergarments.
     The fitness industry relies on our penchant for making ambitious New Year’s resolutions regarding the state of our bodies. Anyone who routinely visits knows that traditional gym-rattery is drastically disrupted during Joyless January, as facilities fill with the passionately determined. Fortunately, by the first week in February, the regulars happily reclaim their breathing room. The rest of us buy more Spanx.
    I observe this, not in judgement, as I have certainly proclaimed more than my fair share of resolutions that faded into obscurity before the Christmas tree needles have choked the vacuum cleaner. Last year, my Dry January could technically be referred to as Dry Ja—. Still reeling from the power shutoffs and wildfire epidemics this past fall, I’m no longer interested in dry anything, except for maybe my bath towel.
    Correctly and realistically defining our resolutions is critical to success.
    Some years, I’ve tried to implement only easy and painless resolutions, in an effort to avoid that unpleasant failure at the 5 p.m. crossroads, when I abandon my self-imposed, eternal Lent, ultimately surrendering to muscle memory that clearly prefers roomy sweat pants, a crunchy snack and a light grip on a long-stemmed glass. No-brainers, such as “drink more water,” “eat more greens,” “spend less time on my phone,” or “listen to more NPR” are not so much willfully abandoned, as they are simply forgotten, only because of their blandness.
    Much like Goldilocks, my past resolutions have either been too hard or too soft. Or, like the years I resolved to curtail my time-squandering prowls through Home Goods, or curb my envy of neighbors with vacation homes, they were downright ridiculous. Fed up, this year I contemplated no resolution at all.
    I uttered an enthusiastic “Yaaas!” as I read a New Year’s Facebook post from my inspirational friend, Orinda resident and mindfulness teacher Janell Flores Bolte:
    “With unwavering determination and a tight fist, many of us high-kick it into January with the iron clad resolve to make ourselves better. This is bulls*^&%.
    Resolutions suck. They are subtle aggression towards ourselves. They are the voice that tells us we’re not good enough. They would confine and hammer us into the autopilot mode of the New Year’s habit. Where’s the fun and creativity in that? After a few weeks of doing anything joylessly, we usually fail and the voice of the crushing inner critic starts again.”
    Wise words I planned to tattoo on my imaginary forehead. However, I still had to address the nagging, age-acquired self-knowledge that reminded me I have a wayward personality that functions a little less like a pinball machine when I have set a few goals. And, love it or hate it, the new year is a good time to set goals. We have rounded the Monopoly board one more time, collected our $200. One more chance to build the empire.
    With Janell’s wisdom in mind, I intended to craft a hybrid: no more dreary resolutions that focused on improving personal appearance, personality traits or IQ, but instead focused on the health of our beautiful planet. Cultivate habits that show love to ourselves, but mostly love toward Mother Earth.
    My friend Esther Becker, Lamorinda mother and San Francisco actuary, inspired me on my quest for earth-friendly self-improvement. In other words, I am completely copycatting her good idea because I think so highly of it. Esther, a super-smart, fashionable corporate exec, has resolved to shop only at consignment stores whenever possible.
    This is truly a painless step in the right direction, especially considering our city now sports four upscale consignment boutiques: Rechic 101 (Orinda Way), Designs 2 Consign (Rheem), Cheryl’s Closet (Orinda Village) and the newest addition, Mid-Mod (Theater Square).
    All of our local owners have an impressive eye for style, and the clothing, jeans, shoes and accessories are all frequently rotated and fashionably on-point. This is not like rummaging through piles of used clothing at some garage sale. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but only meaning that these clothes are freshly pressed and in mint condition, curated to embody current fashion or just old enough to be a classic vintage.
    Many sport high-end designer labels, and often, the original tags. I have visited all four shops and the only things that remind you that you are not in an upscale boutique are the price tags. Although none of our local consignment shops carry a full line of men’s clothing yet, Designs 2 Consign in Rheem carries a nice selection of young men’s sport coats and dress shirts, perfect for cotillion and other more formal occasions.
    People must approach their visit to a consignment boutique in much the same manner as a trip to TJ Maxx. It is common knowledge that one never steps foot in TJ Maxx looking for a specific item. Rest assured you will not find it. However, if you wander in with a laid-back attitude of “surprise me” and, kind of, mosey around the store checking out what is there, you will almost always rewarded. Which is why we call it Retail Therapy.
    So, this year, my new thing is to swap my TJ Maxxing with visits to our four consignment stores. First, I’ll be supporting local businesses. Second, I’ll be paying lower prices. Third, I’ll be buying higher-quality merchandise and fourth, I’ll be helping the planet.
    “Fast fashion” with its voracious appetite for raw materials, its notoriously inhumane factory working conditions, its contamination of the water supply with the toxic fabric dyes and processing chemicals is adding to the strain our planet already endures. Why not purchase something that has already been through the manufacturing and shipping process? Orindans are smart, you know all of this already. All I’m saying is, make yourself a new habit.
    I know, ideas like this seems small and insignificant. But if we all started doing something small, couldn’t that then turn in to something grand?
    Much like remembering to carry our personal shopping bags, it takes a while for a new habit to sink in. Let’s remember to support our local consignment shops this year and make Orinda the new go-to place for Earth-friendly style.
    Check out Janell Bolte’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes in 2020: janellfloresbolte.com. Janell is a certified MBSR teacher. She leads workshops and coaches groups or individuals, focusing on practices that can lead to a life filled with gratitude, compassion and abundance.

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