My Existential Whole Foods Trip

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.

81 comments

  1. Erin,
    I absolutely adore your blog and your take on the world. Life, I believe, is an evolution. Don’t compare yourself to anyone, as no one can be you! And you rock! : )
    Side note, I just watched this documentary called I AM – it was insightful and inspiring, as it boils it all down to what really matters. Check it out sometime if you’re feeling gloomy.

  2. This is so true for me and, I assume, for most of us: “it’s frustrating, it feels like I’m not sure who “I” am or that who I am is not good enough.” Maybe it’s a Type A thing – trying to define ourselves and then feeling like we failed, when we can’t. Maybe we should instead try to be grateful that we are so undefinable. What a great, relatable post. Thank you! ~L

  3. I needed this post this week Erin!!!!!!! I can sooo relate to this! Thank you so much for always being so honest and providing your readers with a very intimate look into your thoughts and your insecurities. It makes us all feel human and reminds me to also stop comparing myself to my yoga teacher who eats perfectly and would never have french fries (I love to eat healthy but I also like refined sugar and french fries); or to my co-worker who is so green and outdoorsy and walks to work every day (I just can’t seem to get myself organized enough to spend that extra hour and a 1/2 every day commuting to work).

    Mostly I just thank you for giving me a good chuckle this morning. You are hilarious!!!

  4. You took the words right out of my mouth! I completely relate. And, take it from me, the new mom that is make up free (but not by choice!), is scarfing down puffins and maybe even one of those delicious mini cheesecakes from the bakery. I love your blog and have been following it for a while! I follow many others as well but have never felt the urge to leave a comment. This post did it : ) Thank you!

  5. You should try the Long Island (or should I say Lawn Guyland) Whole Foods locations ;) Nary a hippie in sight. I think the whole island has an anti-hippie law, in fact. Having lived- and shopped the hipster/hippie-ridden WF stores in both Chicago and Durham, NC, I was shocked and amazed to find that Long Island WFs are filled with… New Yawkers. You know what I’m talkin’ about. It’s a trip and kind of nice b/c I no longer feel like a clean-cut outcast when I make the occasional “treat” trip out there. Granted, I don’t really blend in with the locals either, but at least I don’t suffer any inferiority crises when I shop anymore. Great post. Totally relatable.

  6. As usual, your post brightens my day! Your blunt honesty and witty sense of humour never ceases to excite me. Stay Quirky… we all love it! :o)

  7. Whole Foods assaults you with products that tell you what your whole self is lacking…if you believe the words of the copywriters on the labels. Such a great post. As a lifelong Long Islander, lol on the LI comment! The thing about Long Islanders is that you don’t care if you blend in…you OWN your own identity, take it or leave it!

  8. Erin, I have been reading you for over 2 hears. Every day, my cup o coffee and I sit down and check how Erin is doing… You see, this coming from a total stranger should be a proof that YOU are your wonderful yourself. X

  9. Erin, I loved this post! Honest, raw, funny, and oh so true. Who cannot relate (even I am sure the beautiful Mom with no makeup at the whole foods store ;)

  10. Erin, I love reading your blog every day because, in addition to having great taste in fashion and decor, you talk about the hiccups, struggles, doubts, and fears that all of us try to keep inside. Thanks for reminding me that most people have days like this. xo

  11. Love it! Great insight Erin – thank you for sharing as I think we can all relate to this. And always remember “… things are not as they seem!” (Longfellow) AND “…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).
    :) Keep up the great work

  12. Erin, I love this post. I admire you, putting yourself out there honestly to so many people every day. It’s good for ALL of us to remember that no one is perfect, and while that makeup-free mom may not have been wiping puffin crumbs off her hands in her car, there are untold moments where she may look at someone like you and think, look at her, she has it all together in her leopard print heels.

    Perspective is a powerful thing!

  13. You are getting it girl!! Print this post and reread when you need a little boost or reminder. Mid way through I thought you are starting to sound like Andrew.
    Have a terrific week
    Maureen

  14. Love your blog! Totally related to this post, especially since I had a quarter of a Klonopin and a glass of pinot grigio last night (lol I’m a light weight). Thanks!

  15. erin, i feel the same way. i work a 60-hour work week and fortunate for me a whole foods is across the street. for 20 minutes during the day, my surroundings are healthy, beautiful, and colorful (all things i crave in a drab cubicle). thank you for always sharing your life with the cyber world. please know that i look forward to your blog and appreciate your thoughts. keep writing and know that you’re make others feel not so alone (or crazyyy).

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