There are a few things that instantly right my world when it goes all crazy and sideways-like and I’m feeling the sads deep down to my toes- half a Klonopin and a glass of pinot grigio (kids, don’t try this at home) or a trip to Whole Foods on a weekday afternoon. Contractictory, I know, but equally calming all the same. I specify weekday afternoon because on a Sunday morning Whole Foods is as relaxing as an IRS audit. But on a rainy Thursday like yesterday, when I was in my car running errands and found myself just steering towards the Cambridge location I knew I needed a little Whole Foods therapy. Something about coming up the escalator to the smell of organic coffee and sight of neatly stacked, perfectly grown fruits and veggies gives me hope and lowers my blood pressure. In this clean, overpriced mecca of well-being I can focus on something entirely different from my current worries and stresses- and instead plot the path to my new green, vegan, wholesome lifestyle free of all worldly pressures and chock full of omega-3′s and paraben-free lotions. Hooray!
As I stroll the aisles I start with picking up things like fresh veggies for dinner and/or juicing (I am admittedly into the whole green juice thing, so GOOP of me, I know) but then as I go deeper and deeper I get this vision in my head of a better me, a cleaner, cooler and healthier me free of stress and full of namaste and then all bets go out the window. I’m breathing easier and soothed by the beautiful packaging that most good for you and the earth items come in. I find myself buying 17 bottles of vitamins I am clearly deficient in and wondering how I ever lived without having ground flaxseed and agave nectar in my pantry. As I turn into the beauty products aisle I curse sulfates and just KNOW that this tee tree oil shampoo is going to restore my locks to magnificent glory. I even find myself rubbing Dr. Hauschka $40 rose cream on my face and searching for a reflective surface to admire my glowy skin in (the fish counter perhaps?) Who needs to worry about incompetent home furnishings vendors and fabric cuttings when I could be plotting a sustainable garden and aligning my chakras? I mean, really?!
I notice other people- hipster types, Patagonia wearing hikers, slender ladies in yoga gear and think “I could be like them. None of them look stressed out! The secret MUST be in here!” so into my cart go non-toxic cleaning supplies that I just know will make me a better person (and piss off my husband because they “don’t f*cking work, Erin!!!!”) and various teas for mood lifting, sleeping and liver cleansing (also in the cart, organic wines for the re-toxing process, but with much less guilt). By the time I get to the checkout I am practically skipping with the glee over what all these wonderful goods are going to do for me and my life. $139 of goodness, GULP, but can you really put a price on your health and well-being? I think not!
Toting my purchases back to my car I am shocked back into reality by 4 messages on my phone, an empty gas tank and gloomy January sky. By the time I reach the first stoplight I have my arm elbow deep into a box pf peanut butter Puffins and cursing at the idiot in front of me trying to turn left from the right hand lane. I am comforted by the words of my friend Caroline, another Whole Foods worshipper, who tells me that “Puffins don’t go straight to your thighs, they go straight to your SOUL”, until I feel like the roof of my mouth is raw and that perhaps I overdosed on gluten-free goodness. I have managed to ruin my Whole Foods buzz in a matter of minutes! I’m sure that makeup-free-yet-gorgeous mom I saw in the aisles isn’t licking Puffin crumbs off her fingers in her car. And therein lies the answer to my quest to be calmer, happier and healthier.
To stop trying to be someone else. Stop comparing.
I am many people- a prep, artist, nerd, cheerleader, hippie and athlete. While trying to define myself as one of those seems neater and cleaner, it’s not really possible, and frankly, would probably be boring. I don’t have room for a garden. I like refined sugar. I wear leopard high heels and swear. Sometimes I forget to recycle. Forcing myself to fit into the mold of what I deem to be the “stress-free hippie lifestyle” would be unnatural for me. But sometimes it’s frustrating, it feels like I’m not sure who “I” am or that who I am is not good enough. I venture into a place like Whole Foods and feel like I could pick one of those qualities and run with it. But it never sticks. What does stick are my quirks, my hypocritical tendencies, my wackiness and my honesty. And perhaps that’s better than any 20-day super cleanse could ever make me.