Just out looking for treasures in other people's trash.
Thrifting is trendy again. I guess thanks to Marie Kondo? I know she's popular to dislike but she's the first declutterer that allowed emotional attachment to things and never made me feel ashamed for loving my "stuff". She's a tiny, magical fairy and I love her.
With so many purging KonMari-style, I hear the Value Villages of the world are bursting at the seams with neat things and I took a trip to my local outlet to see what all the buzz was about. My expectations were low. I thrifted my prom dress for $12 from a nameless store in Kensington Market exactly 100 years ago, and (spoiler alert) it remains my only thrifting score to this point. But I like a rush, so...
While rifling through the well-worn young adult paperbacks, I stumbled on a copy of Mostly in Clover, by Harry J Boyle. The back of the book promised stories of an easier time where folks enjoyed the simple pleasures of the good old days: barefoot walks through the grass, chewing on straw, and remarking how quickly the weather changes in rural Ontario.
The book is exactly as boring as you'd expect. But the title is SO GOOD! "In Clover" is an old-timey expression for a feeling of general ease. Lying back, in the warm sun, on a soft field of sweet clover. Isn't that what we're all chasing?
I've learned so much about myself in the last 5 years. I'm sure it's age. Dare I call it wisdom? But it feels like a movement. Imagine rather than chasing status or success, we sat back and accepted that we are never going to be "done" and that the joy of life comes from being okay with it?
There’s a push and pull in a woman’s life that’s both easy to understand but hard to explain. You are never enough but, at times, too much. It's not bad! It’s this paradox that exists in us all that keeps us going.
In my early twenties - like, exactly 20 - I had my first real bout of anxiety. I had had panic attacks before, usually in large unruly crowds or in times of intense uncertainty, but nothing like the prolonged feeling of impending doom that hit me right around my 20th birthday. I wasn’t a teen anymore. I could no longer hide behind the safety of that age classification. I was an adult. Officially. So why did I feel like nothing was figured out?
It’s taken 20+ years to not only accept but actually enjoy the fact that I am a “work-in-progress”. I’m revelling in the notion that even in my mid-forties I’m not fully formed. In my 30s, it was an excuse for bad behaviour and irresponsibility. I was too tired from parenting small kids and keeping up with it all that I just resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t quite there yet.
But now, in my 40s, I understand that not only will the work will never be done. And that's exactly the point.
It's not just Marie Kondo stepping in to reassure me that my messy house is normal, there's an entire generation of women who are okay to admit their flaws and find joy not just despite them - but in sharing them and moving forward toward greatness anyway.
10 years ago, Brené Brown wrote an entire book in the Gifts of Imperfection. But her impact only amplifies the more she shares her personal story, the more she encourages us to dig deeply, the more we learn that without vulnerability and opening ourselves to our biggest flaws will we gain the courage to step into our best selves.
Even Michelle Obama admits she doesn't have it all figured out - in Becoming she writes:
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
Imagine a life where we could release ourselves from the feeling that we aren't enough? Or too much? Imagine a life where we could lie back and feel the sun on our face and smell the sweet breeze more? Maybe true success lies in a general feeling of ease? Knowing not that the obstacles are passed us but that we are content to be in the moment when it arrives.
For not one minute am I suggesting that we shouldn't work hard, or strive, or deal with the shit in our lives. If I learned one lesson from that ancient and terrible paperback, it's that the little things are sweet because there is hardship. It's that the pattern of constantly seeking perfection means not taking the time to enjoy the perfectly fine. Life is for everyone. No matter what you think might be in your way, or obstacles you face, you are worthy of living it. And I hope you do, mostly in clover.
Is there a book you're reading now that makes you feel like you could conquer the world? I mentioned some of my faves above. I'm also loving Abby Wambach's Wolfpack, Ibtihaj Muhammad's Proud, and Ina Garten's Cook Like a Pro (because if anyone lives In Clover, it's the Barefoot Contessa herself).
Share your current can't-put-downs in the comments below! We LOVE new book recommendations.