makeunder: how and why


Welcome back! I’ve taken a few much needed days to rest and recuperate. I hope you had a great few days of relaxation and are now ready to get back in the swing of things as well. This week I am detailing how to create your very own makeunder, step by step. The process is free, and can be applied to almost every area of our lives, but I specialize in space and stuff – because it is the quickest place to make an impact and because I love design.

Before I get into the nitty gritty steps and examples, let me first frame how this whole idea came about. The idea was hatched in a 12’x12′ dorm room in January of 2006. At that point in my life I was incredibly unsure of my future career and identity and I desperately wanted to be perfect and happy- in that order. So how does one become perfect? At the time, “new luxury” marketing and an infamous hit tv show, Extreme Makeover, made me believe that if I added a bunch of awesome clothes, bags, makeup, and semi-invasive surgical procedures to my life, I might just be closer to my personal nirvana.

Needless to say, this paradigm left me a disgruntled co-ed, considering I had no means to obtain any of those illusive products or procedures.

That is until I heard a quote from Michelangelo regarding the statue of David. When asked how he created such a beautiful figure from a massive stone he responded that he could see the statue beneath the layers of rock and he simply needed to remove the excess stone.

And then it clicked.

Like David, my best self, the one that I was searching so desperately for in the bottom of a shopping bag or a Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough carton, was underneath that “stuff.” The person I wanted to be was ever-present, but hidden behind a cloud of physical and emotional crap. At that moment I realized the path to contentment and my best self was found by removing the unnecessary stuff in my life. By making under.

First I headed straight to my closet and practiced the makeunder steps I will elaborate more on the rest of the week. I tackled the closet right away because there was a whole wardrobe of expectation and dissapointment which could be changed in just a few hours. The more psychological shifts that needed to happen took a bit longer to develop.

I also feel that our space and well-being are tied to one another. If our space is peaceful and clean we in turn feel calm and focused. If our space is cluttered or ill-suited for our lifestyle, then a feeling of dissatisfaction buzzes in our ear like a hovering mosquito. Changing our environment to reflect our intentions provides a space for our best self to develop. And it doesn’t cost a dime.

Tonight’s homework:

Reflect on what kind of change is (or isn’t) needed in your own life. Generally speaking, the bigger the disconnect between our vision of our best selves and our reality relates to the amount of making under we need to do in our lives. What do you really, really want for yourself?

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  1. Look what you have started…thanks to you, I am eating salad everyday, running 4 x a week, exfoliating my closets weekly, and meeting with score tomorrow. See what you started….all good things, thanks so much!

  2. Amanda

    Great post – a lot of what you say here really resonates with me. It reminds me of a quote I read in an Eckhart Tolle book (before I had to stop reading it because it was freaking me out a bit, but still). The quote was something like “always remember that you are already complete”. Such a comforting thought when your brain is whirling around frantically building lists of things you just “have to have” in order to be content/perfect. 🙂

  3. Lora

    Part of my life desperately needs a make under and part needs a make over! Last year I had an foot injury that necessitated surgery and three months recovery on my knees. I live alone, so getting out was near impossible. I crawled a lot. Interesting perspective.

    During that time I started to buy small, inexpensive art and trinkets on Etsy. Most of it I still love, but then most of it I could have done without. My apartment looks like the Victorian drawing room of the modern era. So I need to de-clutter, re arrange, paint (23 years without new paint) and generally spruce things up.

    On the other hand – I never go clothes shopping and everything I have is close to tatters. I’m doing a jewelry show in 2 weeks and desperately need a “look”.

    Looking forward to your suggestions!!! Very timely.

  4. SDG

    Fantastic post! I love this site so much. Long range plans involve my health (eating/physical fitness) and financial independence. Short range plans involve a room make over. Ultimately, I am aiming to take a year off to travel write and re-engage with the world.

  5. Jess

    @ PVE: Oh Patricia, that is so nice to hear. Seriously. It means a lot.

    @ Amanda: I’ve read A New Earth by Tolle as well. The part I resonated with is that it is always “Now.” Kind of an obvious but hard to remember concept. I like the you are complete idea, thanks for bringing it up!

    @ Lora: Nice! One way you could go about your evolution is to make under all the things that don’t fit in your life and then add the things that you do need when you have the chance. Check out the steps to follow in the upcoming days and let me know what you think!

    @ SDG: Nice! You have quite the intentions, I think creating a vision for you is either already complete or will be a very easy exercise for you 🙂

  6. Andrea

    Hi Jess,
    Reading this post (thoroughly) a little late. I’ve had it starred since you posted it but I’ve been in a whirling mess. 🙂
    May demolished me and now I’m slowly putting back the pieces of me…Luckily that means I can leave some out if they no longer fit. Your post has raised some very important points that I will be considering as I get everything back together. And I will be reading the ‘Makeunder Steps’ posts too, also starred.
    Thanks for the reminder, and a starting point, to think about, and create, who I want to be.

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