Feeling Sort of Beautiful Today

Well hello, fellow philosophers; so we meet again on this fine feathered day.

Since my last post I have had a bit of a journey. Perhaps I will tell you about it, or perhaps I will begin somewhere else. There is so much to say, how do I begin? I suppose first I will start with this:

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That’s me. Today. This blog is about fashion and healing (and other stuff too). When I started this blog, I thought I would be motivated to get myself all gussied up because I would be taking a picture of myself every day. Instead, I just quit blogging.

The problem is that some days I don’t want to get all gussied up. Some days makeup feels messy instead of beautiful. Some days comfort is more important than fashion. Some days wearing clothes feels like a chore. And that is just part of the package of life.

The question is: how do I embrace these days and still go into the world without feeling like a slob?

So let me dissect my outfit for you.

I am wearing a large, loose super-comfy shirt with navy leggings and gray ballet flats. I look like my outfit took some effort, while staying one step away from pajamas. I had on a navy cardigan earlier today, but now that I’m relaxing at home, I threw on my periwinkle hoodie. Both are really comfortable and go with the outfit, one just has a more casual vibe than the other.

As for the hair, the top knot is always a low-maintenance favorite. I like to keep mine a little wild while others might like a neater, smoother bun, either one is quick and easy.

With a pair of earrings and a bracelet or two, I would look a little dressier and still not have to wear makeup. And yeah, this is my makeup free face. Some days my face just wants a wet wash cloth swept over it to feel fresh and beautiful.

So this brings me to my point:

As women, it is important for us to feel beautiful. Sometimes we think we will acheive this with more makeup, or a smaller dress size, or better clothes, or having more money, or getting more men to fall in love with us, or whatever our thing may be, when in reality, feeling beautiful is simply a feeling. We can choose it or not choose it and it doesn’t matter if anyone agrees with us or not.Beauty is a feeling that has nothing to do with what we look like.

Which brings me to my second point:

But before I get to my second point, let me tell you about a little journey I took since we last met.

I knew I wanted to feel beautiful, but that proved to be more difficult than just deciding to feel beautiful.

As I tried embracing my beauty, I found my pathway blocked by a fearful little girl. She didn’t want to be seen or noticed. Feeling beautiful meant coming out of hiding, and she wanted to stay hidden. I had to face her and hold her and ask her what she was so afraid of. I could explain this process to you but it would be tedious and dull and that’s not what I’m doing on here anyway.

The Hollywood ending to this story would be that I emerged from all of this like a phoenix from the flames, glowing like the north star. But this isn’t Hollywood, nor is this the ending. This journey has uncovered layers. I have healed myself enough to come somewhat out of hiding (hence the ability to blog again) but I haven’t cleared all the layers yet. I still don’t hold that constant feeling of beauty in my heart the way I want. But I’m working toward it.

I’ll keep you updated.

The Secret Life of my Legs

The Secret Life of my Legs

I suppose the story of my Legs began when I was twelve, or something. (Who cares about facts anyway?) Until then I had never thought much about my legs, or my body. In fact, when people said the word “body” I blushed.

But when I was twelve, I was at a friend’s house and needed to borrow a pair of shorts for some reason. She pulled out a pair and I put them on, barely squeezed them on is more accurate. This shocked me. Was I fat?

All night long while wearing these shorts, I became conscious of my legs for the first time. They wouldn’t move freely like usual. And in the middle of my thighs, where the shorts ended, the hem cut into my skin if I moved too much. It felt like an alarm going off in my brain reminding me I was fat, like when you touch the metal edges in Operation.

That was the day I started feeling self-conscious about my legs, and it only got worse from there.

As the years passed on, I dieted, exercised, shaved/burned my legs into a socially acceptable form of beauty that I had swallowed, digested, and believed. The truth was all this work never really worked. I never got past the my-thighs-look-chubby phase.

Then I turned sixteen and started really really noticing boys, instead of passively noticing them. I went on my first date with a guy I liked. And…just a few months later I gained lots of weight. Yes, I did. Lots of it. Really fast.
While I do have lots to say about about this weight gain and how it ties in to sexuality, that is another post for another day. Today I am talking about my legs.

As you can imagine, gaining lots of weight as a sixteen year old meant I became even more self-conscious about my legs. I basically went into hiding. I wore giant pants. I stopped shaving. I only wore pajamas and sweatpants, because nothing else fit me. I treated my legs like they didn’t exist. This is when the varicose veins began to encroach upon my legs.

Fast forward lots of years later. I might have lost some weight, but the varicose veins were as active and visible as ever, so the fear of showing my legs in public still haunted me. I never wore shorts. Ever.

Then one day, about a month ago, a dress shows up at my work. This dress is the epitome of everything I love but forbid myself to wear. I secreted myself in the bathroom to try it in, but I wouldn’t really buy it.

Standing on my tiptoes to see more in the mirror, I knew I loved it. The pale pink color brightened my pale skin. The loose cut was comfortable and flattering, giving off a sexy, casual vibe. I felt so girly and so perfectly me.

And then there were my legs. My varicose veins were in full view, as were my knees, and even…gasp! My thighs!!! ACK!!!

I took it off and hung it up, knowing I would never have the courage to wear it in public without tights and leggings and all the other things that would hide me and the simple beauty of the dress.

That dress haunted me. I was all about authentic self expression, and that dress was me more than anything else I owned. How could I reject it?

Weeks passed as I thought about buying it. So what if my legs aren’t perfect? Who cares what people think?

And then I thought about my sexuality. No matter what they looked like, my legs felt sexy when revealed just enough. I wanted to embrace my sexuality, and I would do it by owning that dress and wearing it in public.

It wasn’t about attracting men, or getting a reaction from anyone. It was about feeling beautiful and authentic, which also means feeling sexy.

So I did. I bought the dress, and I wore it to work with nothing but a pair of large earrings and tiny shorts, so I could comfortably bend over or do cartwheels. And I felt sexy, and I felt like me!

While it could be argued that the dress is too short, or I shouldn’t be allowed to wear it with such unattractive legs, or some other third thing, the truth is, every time I wear it I am celebrating my imperfectly perfect legs and their sexiness, and I love it!

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Beauty Goes Much Deeper than Skin

Warning: this blog is about to get even more personal, and possibly offensive. Consider yourself warned.

I am passionate about beauty. I see beauty in everything. It always invigorates and thrills me. We live in a beautiful world.

I think most people are beautiful, some just prefer to hide it more than others.

Many years ago, I was absorbed in fashion magazines because there was so much beauty and art in those pages (and I could stare at people’s faces as long as I want without making them uncomfortable). But I ended up giving them up because the subliminal messages became too clear and I didn’t agree with them, ie. You must be tall, skinny, young, and rich, and buy buy buy buy, and you will still never be enough.

But even without the fashion magazines, I was still infected with the fashion bug. I wanted to represent myself in the most beautiful and authentic way possible, and that meant my style had to be authentically me.

I accomplish this on a day to day basis by checking in with my mood as I apply make up, and get dressed, so I can feel completely authentic as I move through my day. (This is why I never apply lipstick mid-afternoon, because that would freshen my face and I don’t want my make up looking fresh when I feel a nap coming on. It’s all about authenticity, people.)

So anyway, after a long time searching, I have discovered my own beauty recipe, and for that I am grateful.

Now it’s time to get meaty.

Discovering my own beauty recipe has taught me that beauty isn’t just skin deep, it is personal, and it encompasses multiple facets of our lives, for example…our sexuality.

And this is where things get scary and vulnerable (but that is also where magic happens).

I began studying weight loss and its emotional components, and as I dug deeper, trying to feel my skinny self beneath it all, I found fear blocking my path. I sat with this fear for awhile, asking what it was all about. I wanted it to go away so I could get to the skinny world beyond. Eventually, the fear told me it was protecting my sexuality.

“Sexuality is shameful,” the fear said. “It will get you in trouble. You will sit on the slippery slope and slide to the bottom. It is something to hide and fear until we are married and then only let it out in the bedroom. It is something only bad people celebrate openly.”

As I turned from my fear and looked at my sexuality, I saw a sad neglected thing. Something vulnerable and afraid of being judged. And surprisingly it was not a separate thing sitting alone, it was attached to all these other aspects of my being.

Like the rest of human kind, my sexuality is as visible as my personality. My attempts to hide and shame it throughout the years only made me feel detached from myself, inauthentic, and like I was trying to live without using my arms. My sexuality was a part of me, and I needed to embrace it.

So I have been on a campaign (a subtle, introverted campaign) to embrace my sexuality, and guide others to embracing their’s. It is time to take this subtle, introverted campaign to the streets, and by streets I mean blog.

So stay tuned for more information. Until next time…

(This campaign has only just begun.)

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My life’s work

Something I always and never knew was that I wanted to define my life’s work. Even as a little girl, when I said I wanted to be a writer, I knew the answer wasn’t complete. Writing was an element of my work but not the work itself. So I tried defining my writing, thinking that would help me find an answer. If I wrote other people’s stories that would definitely give me a lifetime of work to dig my fingernails into.

But even after clarifying that, I wasn’t excited about it, and it didn’t come naturally. So I gave that up before I started.

The funny thing about a life’s work is that I felt like I needed to seek it. I wanted to define it so I could head down that path and get somewhere with it. The irony is that there is no seeking it or heading down the path towards it, it is something you have probably been doing your whole life because you just couldn’t help yourself.
Over the past few weeks, I have been coming slowly upon my answer to this question of my life’s work. I noticed what I do automatically and I’m good at are articulating my thoughts whether they are written or spoken. In fact, that was why I enjoyed writing so much. Writing gives you a good ear to pour all your thoughts into.

So a week ago, during a meeting at work, when we were asked to identify a talent of ours, I was ready when my turn came. “I am good at communication in all its forms,” I said, proudly. 

But even as the words came out of my mouth, I knew they were wrong. Communication wasn’t my talent at all. Ask me what I did last weekend and I will stare at you blankly. Ask me to describe the steps of a task and I will confuse you. But if you ask me what I’m thinking, I will always have something to say.

What I do, and what my life’s work is, is not called communication, it is called self expression. Everything I do, whether I’m talking, listening, wearing make up, or dancing is my deep desire for authentic self expression coming out.

If I force myself to talk when I don’t feel like talking, I always feel upset afterwards because I have just run contrary to my life’s work.

This desire for authentic self expression explains why I spent years trying to define my fashion sense. I never felt satisfied with my wardrobe until I found Dressing Your Truth, because I never felt like my clothing expressed me honestly.

It is funny how it all seems so obvious now, but it took me so long to figure this out. Now that I have defined it, I can more consciously dive deeper into authentic self expression.

Now this is a life’s work I can really dig my fingernails into.

Here is a picture of me, ready for bed and feeling authentically tired.

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Man, that flash is bright.

Hooded and Feeling Good(ed)

Yesterday’s blog post was actually written last week. I just had a wacky week so I wasn’t able to post until yesterday.

Amidst the computer crashing, erasing and resetting, I had a violent headache for two days, two job interviews and an offer.

You know how I talk about Dressing Your Truth all the time? Well, that’s where I work now. I will be surrounded by people who talk just like me. I think I’ve found my tribe.

Several months ago I wrote a post  about how I applied for a position at the Dressing Your Truth store and I wanted it so badly, but I didn’t even get an interview. I had given up on the dream of working for the company and was taking my vision in new directions, when an email came last week saying they were hiring for product buyers assistant.

Even though I wasn’t really looking for a job, and I was over the whole working-there-is-where-I-belong thing, I applied for several reasons:

  1. My Bachelor’s degree is basically for becoming a buyer, even though that is not my aspiration, I might as well use my degree.
  2. Despite what I just said in 1), I did look into several buying jobs, but didn’t like the energy of being a buyer anywhere but at Dressing Your Truth.
  3. I missed having a job and feeling like part of the world.
  4. I wanted a job that felt worthwhile, like I was going towards my goals. (I wasn’t sure if this job was it, but it was worth applying and seeing where the road took me.)

So I applied, and then my computer shut itself down and erased all my work before I hit submit. When I finally got back on, I saw that they were hiring for a blogger/copywriter so I applied for that one, thinking that my destiny wasn’t to be a buyer anyway. And as a blogger, I could work from home. This time I hit submit.

The next day I spent all morning with Microsoft, as you know, and then I did a two hour meditation (which felt very productive, but gave me a screaming headache for two days). After the meditation, I tentatively opened my computer again and found an email from the president of DYT asking for a phone interview for the buyer’s position.

Considering the blinding pain in my brain, I emailed him back saying tomorrow would be a better time to talk (because I was being optimistic).

I woke up feeling like crippity crap, and wasn’t sure if I would be coherent for an interview, but with a little frankincense oil and rest, I felt good enough to talk and think (a little). When he called, I asked if he had my right resume because I was pretty sure I didn’t apply for that job. I applied for the writing job.

“You’re a writer?” he said.

“Yeah. That’s pretty much what I do.”

“Well, that’s perfect!” he said. “Could you write product descriptions?”

“Sure.”

“Right now they’re just informational, but we wanted to make them more creative.”

I’m your gal.

He emailed me an exercise with four different products to write creative descriptions for each type. I felt like an actress getting into character. It was challenging and fun (or enjoyable) and I emailed it back to him the next day.

He invited me to an in-person interview yesterday, where I met the team I would be working with. I was expecting interview questions like, “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” and “How will you face the stresses that come your way?” But instead, I got questions like, “Tell us about your Dressing your Truth journey.” And “Tell these guys what you told me about your vision for working here.” So I sat there for forty minutes telling stories (not fake stories, real stories, but seriously asking me questions like that is like asking my dog to run in circles, no asking necessary). This was seriously my kind of place.

That evening I got a phone call congratulating me on my new job. I will start Monday.

Since I will be writing for much of my day, maybe you will see my writing improve with every post. See, I wanted to become a better blogger, and here I have a job that will make me a better writer. The universe is cool like that.

(Because I was thinking so much last night, I slept about zero hours, and haven’t gotten dressed yet today.)

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Need I say more?

Fun, no Fun

Computer went caput yesterday, actually the day before. So I called Microsoft thinking they would tell me something quick and easy to do to erase all the memory stealers that were showing up on my computer. Ended up being on the phone with them for over two hours, backing up and erasing my entire laptop and then resetting it up again.

So that is the reason I didn’t blog yesterday. Also because I had an intense, crippling headache (which is weird because I don’t really get headaches). But this was my outfit (if you look closely you can see the pain behind my eyes):

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I am telling you about this because while I was on the phone with the Microsoft guy, we had long periods of waiting for my computer to do its thing, and I guess he felt uncomfortable with silence because he kept saying things like, “So how is your day going so far?” and “Have anything fun planned the rest of the day?”

My answers were inconsequential and I could feel his lack of interest as palpable as if he were snoring into the phone.

What I couldn’t get over was how dull my life seemed.

“What do you have planned for the rest of the day?” he asked for the third time, as though maybe I would say something interesting if he kept asking.

“Just my normal routine,” I answered. “Grocery shopping, fix dinner, clean the house.” Sheesh! What else do people do on Wednesday? I could almost see his imagination. I was old. I was frumpy. I was wrapped in a shapeless sweater with my thin hair fuzzing out around my head, and I was surrounded by cats. Lots of cats.

What else surprised me was how pleased I was about my boring life. The more boring my life is, the more I love it.

When my job was hanging around drug addicts all day long, they always asked me if I did anything fun over the weekend. I usually just said, no, but one time a client asked me and I said, “If I did something that sounds fun, I probably didn’t enjoy it. If my weekend sounds boring, I probably loved it. So, no, I didn’t have any fun, and I had a great weekend.”

It felt good to say that. Maybe I’m wearing a sign that says, “I need more fun,” because I feel like some people are trying to drag fun out of me. Yesterday, while the Microsoft guy kept asking about my super-fun life, I realized I have no desire for fun. My idea of fun is writing a blog, or shopping for thirty minutes, or talking to my mom. But I might be misinterpreting the definition of fun with those. I enjoy them, but they probably aren’t fun.

So there you are, world, I’m not that much fun and I love it. This news might be shocking to some people, like when my mom told me she didn’t care about comfort, I couldn’t comprehend how someone could live their lives without comfort. I think the Microsoft guy would have been shocked to hear that someone under eighty exists with no desire for fun.

Metamorphosis

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In the last three days I have started three posts and not finished any of them. Today I am starting a fourth.

Once upon a time I was skinny, then I gained weight, and then I lost weight, and then, recently, I gained weight again.

I knew I was on the heavier end of the spectrum, but I didn’t know how heavy until I weighed myself yesterday for the first time in two years. Lots heavier. I was shocked and upset by the number on the scale. For the rest of the day I thought about my weight. The truth will set you free, right? But I didn’t feel free. I felt upset. I never thought I would weigh that much again.

I had done so much emotional work on myself and expected the weight to melt off when I hit the right emotional issue causing it. Apparently I hadn’t hit it yet. Apparently I was fat again. Apparently my self-worth was wrapped up in a number on a scale. But I couldn’t help it. I wanted my body to look great, feel great, and fit nicely into my clothes.

I knew all the stuff people say: “Love your body as it is.” “Exercise and eating right make you feel better.” Blah blah blah. That is easy to say when you are losing weight and feeling good about yourself. But what if you are feeling fat? What if you are gaining weight and don’t fit your clothes comfortably anymore? What if you look in the mirror and say, “Yuck!”?

I thought about all these things yesterday after the scale incident. I thought about what I could do to lose weight, exercise more, eat less fat and sugar. And I felt the same futility I always do when I’m feeling fat, diet and exercise are a suffocating struggle that yield very little result, leaving me feeling helpless once again.

Eleven hours later, as I prepared to undress for the night, I saw my body in my full length mirror. “Not fitting,” I said. “My body doesn’t fit me. My body doesn’t fit my clothes. My body is not beautiful. I feel heavy and ugly.” I avoided looking at my body as I undressed, but then I remembered gratitude.

A while ago I discovered the power of gratitude, but recently I have been working on feeling grateful for everything, especially when something upsets me. I find something to be grateful for within that thing and then my whole perspective changes. But here I was, being ungrateful to my own body. How cruel of me.

I undressed all the way, then stood in front of the mirror. I looked at my body. The first word that popped into my head was, unacceptable. I have always told my body it was unacceptable. My mid-thirties body had lumps and bumps and discolorations and scars. I looked at it and said, “You are perfect. Thank you for being perfect.”

My body sighed and said, “Thank you.”

“Thank you,” I said again. “You are perfect.” I said it again and again. “You are perfect. Thank you for being perfect.” With every thank you, my body released tension. That was all it needed. It didn’t need diet and exercise to lose weight so it could be loveable. It needed to be loved right now. Loved and thanked for all its hard work.

As I thanked my body, it transformed before my eyes. What looked like a frumpy unacceptable body before, was suddenly beautiful and perfect.

Thank you for being perfect, body. I love you.