Wisdom & Wardrobe

Life is like shopping for the perfect outfit.

We demand knowledge every second from the moment we make our debut into the world—begging to learn about life and what it all means. Think about it, we are constantly learning—sometimes forcefully—sometimes by accident. It never stops.

But what if life only stops once we have made it to our personal learning limit?

Maybe once we feel we did our best, we can return home so another cycle can begin. Maybe we get second, third, and fourth chances to gain all the knowledge in the world. Maybe we are all just looking for what we missed in the past lives we’ve held like running through the clearance rack for that one shirt that would complete our outfit. And like our best outfit, that one missing piece is hard to find!

Life is a lot like shopping. If life is the shopping experience, the lessons learned are the accessories.

We are constantly trying to show off what we have, what we know, and all we want is for someone to notice us.

We are born naked, completely void of knowledge or life lessons. We squirm around in a panic begging for something, anything. And what do we get? Swaddled with a nursing blanket and placed on our momma’s chest. We lay listening to her soothing heartbeat, the one we grew beside for nine months, and it puts us back at ease.

First life lesson: Mommy will always keep you safe.

Accessory: Blanket

Our childhood is about exploring the world around our crib. We hear things like “No!” or “Don’t touch!” We run and jump and do things we never thought possible, like ride a bike, climb a tree, or even jump from the top step of the staircase. We don’t understand why we are told “no,” so we continue, until it is way too late and we get a booboo.

Life lesson: Take baby steps.

Accessory: Shoes.

Something happens around puberty where we lose our shit! Our hormonal imbalance transforms us into anxious pre-teens with deep insecurities. Suddenly, joking around with the boys isn’t funny anymore and feelings get brutalized after a joke goes too far. Being a “friend” is hurtful when you want the person to “like you” like you. Underwear is upgraded from pampers to actual panties or briefs and bras. The expression is formed during these years: “Put your big girl/boy draws on and grow up!”

Life lesson: Don’t be so sensitive.

Accessory: Underwear.

We did it, we made it to our twenties. By now, we should’ve had at least ONE heartbreak. Our idiot selves are so clueless. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and wonder why we get them stolen and returned with bruises. We throw our money around like nothing and basically don’t give a shit about anything other than having fun. The concept of a bad investment and losing it all comes to mind. We lose our income to unnecessary wants and it feels like we are losing our shirts too.

Life lesson: Money can’t buy happiness.

Accessory: Shirt.

And just like that, our thirties have arrived. We still think we can chug that beer and bounce back the next day. We have real deal responsibilities now. Bills, perhaps a family, a steady job and did I mention BILLS? Everything is different, more serious and quite frankly, scary! We are more responsible now. Our silly spending habits have turned to strict savings plans. We’re adults now. Those bills that haunted our twenties will be paid. Our reckless ways have come to an end–it’s time to put on some pants and grow up.

Life lesson: Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

Accessory: Pants.

Your forties are meant to celebrate successes. By this time, that uncomfortable feeling of being unsure should’ve evaporated and left a pretty self-aware individual. Relax, the worst is over. Now it’s time to enjoy all we have worked for. Take a vacation and soak up the sun. We’ve earned it!

Life lesson: Hard work and dedication pays off in the long run.

Accessory: Sunglasses.

By our fifties, we might start to feel like a change is needed. Maybe home life is stagnant, or work is redundant, either way we are about to go crazy! Forget the hormonal changes with women and the midlife crisis men go through, it’s more than that—it’s the simple fact that we have lived through enough decades to know that there must be more to life than the mundane work, home, eat, sleep routine. We’re starting to think about our childhood and our twenties. Understand that there is no “rule book” for life and we don’t have to feel stuck. The first change that usually takes place is with our hair: dye it, cut it, whichever, it will be a HUGE difference from the simple look we’ve had for years. SNIP-SNIP!

Life lesson: Change is often a good thing.

Accessory: Hairstyle.

Retirement is approaching my sixty-year-olds! Our children are grown, the house might be paid off, and our debt should be close to zero. It’s the first time we can actually exhale and not worry about anything. Sounds scary enough, but never you mind. This is a start to a beautiful chapter of self-awareness. Can we handle what life has to offer in its purest form? When we aren’t working, what will we do? Take up a fun hobby or explore the world! Ditch the doubt and buy a backpack.

Life lesson: Don’t be afraid to explore and discover new things.

Accessory: Backpack.

When we get to our seventies, things take a wicked turn. We’ve spent our lives helping others, taking care of our families, even helping some friends, and now it’s time for us to accept the help of others. The things we used to do with ease have been quite burdensome and we have to be willing to ask for assistance. And just like the outfit we have put together thus far, it may also need some help. The quickest way to doll up an outfit is to add some sparkle.

Life lesson: Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Accessory: Jewelry.

The big eight-zero is a time for reflection. Yes, we spend a lot of time looking at ourselves in the mirror. Don’t you always check to see if your outfit is on point? Finishing touches are what the outfit needs right now. We’ve learned many lessons but perhaps a few sweeps of some blush may brighten up the ensemble. Or perhaps get those nails manicured–it’s not just for women!

Life lesson: It’s never too late to learn a thing or two.

Accessory: Makeup.

Once again, our nineties are spent looking back at our past. What we did, what we didn’t get to do, and what we still want to do. By now, we shouldn’t have any regrets. If it didn’t happen, do it! If we made mistakes along the way, fix them! It is our responsibility to protect ourselves from disappointment. We must be ready for any consequences.

Life lesson: Hold yourself accountable for the choices you make.

Accessory: Jacket.

One hundred years of growth and wisdom. Our outfit is just about ready to show off. I left a very important life lesson to complete the ensemble. Time goes by whether or not we’re doing something. An hour feels like a minute and a decade feels like a day. Make sure to live in the moment. Don’t think about the time, that’s what clocks are for.

Life lesson: Live in the moment.

Accessory: Watch.

It’s okay if your outfit isn’t what you thought it would be. It’s okay if your pants don’t match your shirt.

Own the lessons you’ve learned thus far.

Flaunt the outfit you put together!

The First High-Five

Back in the day, way before the invention of the vehicle or the idea of a telephone, inhabitants of the earth spent their time walking in search of food. With the many people living in the village, the food sources were scarce. The cavemen walked, and walked, and walked in search of something to bring home for their families.

In 10,000 BC, tents and animal-skins lined the grounds; fires burned between the huddled cave-families; cave-babies cried out for food; and the cavewomen sat on boulders, rocking their screaming “bundles” for hours all while waiting on the cavemen to return from their endless search.

Disappointment covered their faces as the tribe grew hungrier and hungrier. The men were smart enough to split up during their journeys, hoping to cover more ground. Days would pass before the men would see a buffalo or any living thing for that matter. Imagine the depression rates back then. There were no pills to take or yoga classes to regain your chi, just ground to cover and a time limit before you died of starvation.

Six days into his trek across the plains, between the mountains, and alongside the waters, he caught a glimpse of rustling bushes just past the river. He rubbed his eyes thoroughly and although completely exhausted, his speed picked up. He got closer and studied the bushes, noticing the leaves quieting along with him. A tear fell to his weakened face and he wiped it furiously. Six whole days without food, he remained determined. He thought back to his family, the noise around the fires, the babies crying out, the drumming during ceremonies, and he fainted. In a panic, he continued searching around for the rustling leaves. Trees stood before him that stretched up to the sky, tangled between shrubs and deep thrushes of bushes. To his right, miles of open space. To his left, the river which let out soothing vibrations against the otherwise silent space. Behind him, complete emptiness, vast and wide.

The vibrations within the trees snapped him back to his main goal: food.

He tiptoed past the river, enjoying as the water spilt over onto his burley feet. He hunched himself closer to the dirt and continued slowly. His steps were stopped by a massive grunt. He recognized the deep throaty growl and mimicked the sound. The groan replayed louder. He jumped and raised his hand at the vision of his friend who stood a couple of feet from him. The other caveman grew excited and kept grunting hello, slamming his fist into his chest before raising his hand. The two ran toward one another grunting their hello’s harder and harder, nearly drowning out the soft sounds of the river.

With their hands high over their heads, they moved closer and closer until their hands collided in the air creating a loud SMACK!

The two stood still and pulled their hands back. Staring down at their shaky fingers, one grunted. The other grunted back. Carefully, they held their hands back over their heads and pushed them together. They laughed and jumped at their new discovery. They continued to hit their palms together over and over.

The Countdown

Ten people stood in front of the store waiting for the door to open again. The guard let in groups every few minutes. Women in leggings waited in clusters by the red rope. I tapped my foot, checked my watch, and whipped out my phone. I needed a distraction from the anticipation. Everyone had been talking about this moment for the past week and I just wanted it to be my turn already.

Nine minutes to go, and my skin could have vibrated completely off of my bones. Standing there, swaying back and forth on the line, I practiced what I would say over and over in my head. I had never thought I would do anything like that before and I definitely didn’t want to ruin my moment.

Eight text messages came through on my phone and the beeping radiated throughout the crowd. I swiped my screen and smiled. Yes, I am here I wrote back. Text you when I’m done, I love you. My hands shook with each tap of the keys.

Seven minutes!” The guard announced. He folded his arms and remained quiet again. The women sipped their coffees and continued on with conversations. I stood alone. My husband’s job had mandated him to work, but he sent me smiley emoji’s all day. He knew how much it meant to me and made sure I didn’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

Six times I had tried to meet this woman. Each time I couldn’t save the money to fly out to the “meet & greets,” so when we saw that she would be right in my hometown, I made sure to find my way to the coffee shop. I adjusted the hem of my dress, applied another layer of lipstick and exhaled.

Five girls exited the shop. They giggled and held their books in the air. I was jealous. What will she be like?

Four more women walked out with books tucked in their armpits. I closed my eyes and memories flooded my mind. As a 34 year old, I could barely remember what I wore on my wedding day, but somehow I envisioned moments when I was a little girl. I thought back to a fuzzy memory when I was about four. I saw someone standing outside my window with bags in her hand and a blotchy face dripping wet from the rain. My erratic life had started in foster care. I didn’t understand how to connect with others. When I turned sixteen, I got myself emancipated. I found my soul mate unexpectedly and married him at twenty years old.

Three years ago I read a book after my coworkers were raving about the twisted plot. We were part of a book club in my office. It was the first time I had felt at ease, reading stories with others and really diving between the lines. It was one of those hot new romance novels but with a style never before portrayed. There was talk of MGM wanting to turn it into a movie. I loved the story and I remembered how excited I was to see it on the big screen.

Two years later while getting ready for work, I saw the author of that book-turned-to-movie for the first time on a talk show. I did a double-take. She had looked just like me! I got goose bumps and showed my husband. He thought the same thing. I figured if he said so, it might be true. I honestly thought I was going crazy. I had to know for sure so I studied this woman. I googled her, followed her Instagram, Facebook, and even wrote to her a few times. It still doesn’t make much sense how life happens but I thought she looked too familiar and I had to know more about her. She never wrote back, but most of those sites are monitored by a group of people, so odds are she didn’t even see my messages. It was a long shot but when she posted her arrival to my hometown, I made it my ultimate goal to get my butt on that line. I had vivid dreams for weeks. Flashes of moments that may or may not have been real memories, but I know in my visions I saw someone being brought into a car in the rain.

One by one we were led inside. The tables were emptied but the barista at the counter handed out books. As I looked closely, it was the sequel to the book I had read years ago. I hugged it tightly. Once around the corner, I saw her smile, the same smile I studied for years. I made my way over to her, kept my head down, and placed the book before her. I glanced up slowly to meet her smile and whispered, “Mom?”

Story Prompt: “Are You Ready?”

“Are you ready?” he whispered closely in her ear.

She barely budged. Her hands stood firmly placed on her lap, only occasionally dragging the tips of her fingers along her dark nylon stockings. She made tiny circles for a few seconds at a time and then her fingers slid back and forth along her thighs. She mostly kept them on her lap until she went back to drawing the tiny circles. She still hadn’t said a word since they had parked.

The streetlights sent a foggy shimmer through the windshield. The roads seemed as though they had all been tucked-in for the night—no cars drove past them. The misty rain clouded the already thick air and everything appeared blurry through the windows. They sat in the four-seater for a few more quiet minutes, staring out into the sidewalk ahead.

A girl young enough to have been out way past her bedtime sat on a bench patiently while clutching her backpack, seemingly oblivious to the obnoxious gusts of wind and rain.

His voice remained calm. He knew how important this was for him and after months of running every possible outcome, he knew it was time.

“You can do this, just like we practiced,” he slid his hand along her neck just under her earlobe, rubbing rhythmically by her hairline with his thumb. “It’s the only way. We went through this. If there were some other way, we would’ve figured it out by now.” He continued to caress the soft skin above her ear. He knew it was the only way she would keep calm.

“But what if I can’t do it?” She finally broke her silence. She wiped her eyes and tilted her head up toward his. Her eyebrows slowly crept up to the tip of her forehead just below her perfect hairline.

50 Shades of Tangled Hair

I haven’t been feeling like my bubbly self lately. I changed a lot over the past year–many ends, and even more beginnings. Life has a funny way of working out though, even when I thought I was being completely taken over, much like the dark roots that ruin my dye job every month. I still find this past year to be an over-tangled string of wires, connecting every major moment and challenge in a swift electric current. It’s not regretful at all, but interesting in how everything in life is connected. And why does hair color matter so much? Every shade is connected with an emotion and a state of being which is basically how personalities are created. Trust me, I know all about 50 shades of hair.

I took a completely new direction and started selling furniture and mattresses back in February. Imagine that, an English graduate with a minor in business, a passion for writing and an intense background in banking spending over eight months explaining the difference between microfiber and chenille fabric. I was good at it, just like anything else I grew an interest in, but it wasn’t enough. It just wasn’t for me.

In my exciting new job where I met my cosmic sister, I also added some weird facts to my vocabulary: Do you know we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed? Oh, and for all of you back sleepers, try keeping your shoulders on your pillow at night. You can thank me later!

I started to give up on that commissioned atmosphere and applied back to my old bank, hoping they would believe in me the way they had from 2008 to 2014. They did. I made the switch and landed where I felt most comfortable. But, before I jumped from commish to salary, I met someone. I didn’t know what to expect, but he turned out to be the biggest purpose for my smile these past four months. I hope he knows it.

I picked up where I left off at the bank with one issue: my hair. After being a blonde for roughly three years, I made a mistake and stained my hair blue and green.

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Side note: it doesn’t wash out…or bleach out for that matter.

I was so happy to be back where I belonged that I had forgotten about the sea foam shades protruding out from my ponytail. After many trips to Sally’s, visits to the hairdresser, and stress over having green hair on my interview, I had finally reached a slightly muddy-grayish-brown that was good enough for meeting with my old boss.

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The only thing was, I felt like total poop, pun intended!

I got the job but had to fix the disgusting dye job. I dabbled with every shade of color imaginable and it pissed me off that I wasn’t blonde anymore. There I was, in my new/old position with my “soccer mom shag.” And the more I complained or hinted at going back to blonde, the more horrifying “bleaching bald” stories surrounded me. I hate starting a new job without a new look or even a slightly refreshing adjustment, and this murky nest was killing my vibe.

Plus, I felt like I wasn’t who I was anymore. Does that make any sense? All I knew of myself for the past three years was the confident, blonde writer with a bomb-ass personality. I needed that back. I was drowning in the oil spill that leaked over my head.

Somehow, I figured going red would help while I kept my hair from falling out. (I had to wait for the courage to pour bleach on my head again.)

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The red did cancel out most of those blue-green tones which wasn’t exactly working with my muddy canvas. And the red lasted, but my patience grew extra-thin. I still wasn’t myself. I was a replica, like the Holographic Pokemon card that I needed so bad until I held it to the light and saw the pokeball on the other side.

Between the many chapters of my hair chronicles, I had my happiness feuled by a man who gave me a feeling of importance like no other. I still can’t imagine what today would look like if I didn’t work that day at the furniture store. It was like I was supposed to be there in that spot at that moment for everything to take place. If I had stepped out for a cigarette or had taken my Wendy’s lunch-run, I wouldn’t be here, having learned so much about myself through someone I truly admire.

*I thank you*

Still adamant about getting back to my ash blonde life, I hijacked my mom’s weeknights and asked her to bleach my head a couple of times. Together we crossed our fingers, mixed the powder bleach and hoped for the best.

Round one went smoothly, but it took about five or six more attempts to conquer the brassy-orange that sat up near my roots. All I kept thinking was how blonde I had wanted to be, and I sat there reminiscing over the good old days of being platinum and how I took those moments for granted. Kind of like when I’m super broke and start contemplating the hundreds of dollars spent on nuggets. I processed my hair back-to-back, looked at old Instagram pics and suffered through the weird pink hues in my bangs.

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I did it again. And again.

I’m blonde.

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It’s been a little over a week now and I can finally exhale. I know it sounds silly and pointless to some, but it isn’t fun to feel mismatched between your insides and outsides.

I hope this is the finishing touch I needed in order to prep me for 2018.

I hope I can finally get back to feeling like myself.

But mostly I hope he is reading this and understands that he was supposed to meet me when he did. While we both were in a position of endings and beginnings, it all had to happen to bring us to this point right now. Like I said before, I have no regrets in life, because every instance makes room for something else. Life is funny that way.