When I was newly pregnant for the first time, I had the New Year’s Eve of my dreams. Close friends eloped to Palm Beach, got married on the beach and then treated us to their “reception” at a swanky hotel’s New Year’s Party. The entire crowd was decked out, ball gowns, big band music, glitter fell from the ceiling, champagne flowed nonstop, 8 course meal with seamless service. It was the kind of party I always thought about attending once I saw “When Harry Met Sally” and Billy Crystal runs to find Meg Ryan right at midnight.
As soon as I had my “dream” New Year’s Eve experience it was like this huge weigh was lifted off my shoulders. I no longer felt like I had to do something extraordinarily special to usher in the new year. My parents have a tradition to “pray in” the new year. They go to church at night and pray. Simple. Thoughtful. I like it.
This is what I think my new New Year’s Eve will look like in the coming years.
Happy New Year to ALL!
I know, I know, last week I was talking about the retail dream BUT this thought popped up while at a party last night. The person sitting next to me was proclaiming the joys of “retail therapy” and I immediately thought, “therapy????? more like torture”. When was the last time you walked into a regular retail establishment and left feeling better than when you walked in?? For me it’s been a very, very long time.
I’ve harped on this before but during a time of year when people might be starving themselves to fit into a dress for a holiday party or racking up debt buying things they don’t need, it bears repeating. Stores do not exist to make you feel better about yourself. Their goal is to make you buy things, more often than not they accomplish their goal by making you feel less than. Not cool enough, not young enough, not current enough, not thin enough, not fit enough, not smart enough, if there is an insecurity out there it will be attended to by the retail darlings of our world. Whether you are walking into Foot Locker or Victoria’s Secret it’s about selling you a dream, jumping higher with the right shoe, 40 year old boobs transforming into 20 year old boobs with the right bra……..it’s agonizing. Rationally we know we can’t all look like the guy/girl in the picture, nor should we – HOW BORING to all be carbon copies of what the media deems as “perfection” at the moment. However, when that’s all** you are presented with day in and day out, in the stores, on the internet, TV, and movie screens it can screw with your head. Suddenly that’s what “normal” looks like. (Small aside: has anyone figured out what “normal” is by the way, or “fitting in”…..fitting into what, exactly? Any clarification you’d like to offer is welcome) While flipping through an InStyle magazine at a friends I noticed 2 pages for “full figured women”, 2 pages out of…..possibly 200? Yet when I walk around my city I see 75% full figured humans and 25% smaller sized humans – for most people media is not selling a dream, it’s more like a nightmare.
So, what can be done? Positive affirmations every morning? Boycotting the offensive parties? Sure! Why not?
This is not a new idea, we are voting every time we spend a penny. Give your money to places who are in line with your priorities.
I’m not talking some obscure hard to find store, for example Gap has made an impression on me with some of their holiday model choices – older women and men, diverse ethnicities. Okay maybe there are no visible lines on Cyndi Lauper’s face but it’s a step, a step I will support when I buy new Gap socks for my son’s ever growing feet.
But let’s also talk about the lesser retailers, the “mom and pops”, in Texas we have Run On, a fitness shoe/apparel/etc. retailer. These people are not about fitness to fit into a dress, they are about health, strength, community, when I need running shoes, they’ll get my money.
As for affirmations, be your own cheerleader, tell yourself wonderful things. This is hard at first and feels really forced but it gets easier. When I started being kinder to myself I wrote things and stuck them to the mirror inside my closet. Here’s an example, instead of hating my thighs I remind myself that they allow me to run, jump, skip, I’m lucky to have them, as I read in this hilarious letter. Write down a few things that don’t feel ridiculous when you say them and try and work it into your daily routine. I like this quote from Lauren Hutton, reminding me that the choices are mine, I don’t need to feel bullied by trends.
Lastly, my concerns on this issue usually circle back to my 8 ear old daughter who already feels the pains of not “fitting into” retail offerings. If I struggle at 37 years old, imagine how the little ladies in our lives are fairing?! Came across this book from Katherine Schwarzenegger, “Rock What You’ve Got”, might be a nice present for young ladies in the 12-17 range this season.
** Thanks to the amazing internet, there is something out there for everyone. Forget what most of the world is presenting in their media campaigns and go in search of things that ring true to you.
I love this time of year, people don’t look at me like I’m nuts while I sing Christmas carols and window shop to my heart’s content! Whether you are into non-material gifts or can’t fill your Amazon gift cart fast enough there is a gift list out there for you.
This gift list has ideas ranging from $8.00 to hundreds of dollars, I appreciate that in a list, plus it introduced me to a few new online stores which is a gift in itself!
If you are interested in “green gifts” or gifts that give back or social change gifts there is something for you in this list.
A friend recently sent me this link which has fun and very specific lists, for example “the ten best natural beauty gifts”.
As for non-material gifts, there are lists for that too but I couldn’t find one I was happy to link to, so here is the 800arrows Guide to Non-Stuff Gifts.
1. Memberships: museums, aquarium, zoo, CSA (here’s a link for a farmer near you).
2. Classes: Tennis, Horseback riding, sewing, knife skills, how to make cheese
3. Time: Babysitting hours, reading aloud, doing dishes
4. Donate on their behalf: Something in tune with your loved ones values, this site has some ideas, scholarship funds
Whether you are giving movie tickets or a month of “hugs on demand”, embrace these lovely words from Winston Churchill today and everyday:
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Have a holly jolly Christmas, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Wondrous Winter Solstice,
And happy festivus for the rest of us!
I just spent over an hour at Anthropologie. I didn’t try anything on, I didn’t sniff or sample candles or lotions. I just wanted to BE in there. The books, as always, were a huge draw. I lost myself in the pages of “The Kinfolk Table” and “Remodelista A Manual for the Considered Home”. Despite my (sometimes) annoying protestations that one need not buy any more actual new books, I would be thrilled if one or both of those found its way under my tree this year. But beyond the books and in spite of the overwhelming scents I wanted to stay in the retail holiday wonderland that Anthropologie created for me, for all of us. Garlands made of green bottle caps, cardboard leaves transformed with spray paint and glitter, I found myself wanting to take 100 pictures for holiday inspiration in my own home! As my allotted hour was coming to a close I stood in the line with the star I’d picked out for our tree (and a copy of “The Kinfolk Table”), I hummed along with the Christmas music piping through the speakers – I was the embodiment of the modern holiday spirit (consuming for others, smiling and singing). I continued to bubble with the holiday spirit all the way back home, I visualized turning a few of those genius Anthropologie decorations into holiday craft sessions with my kids. My dream state continued as I walked in my door and placed my pretty Anthropologie bag on the table. Then my eye caught the dirty breakfast dishes in the kitchen, damn, we’re not in Anthro anymore Toto.
P.S. The post was not sponsored by Anthropologie.