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Running a Marathon While Holding Your Breath

I have exactly 22 minutes left in season 5 of stranger things. I have 13 pages left in The Hotel Nantucket . I’m not ready to finish them. Not yet. If I finish I am faced with a sense of loss. If I finish them I then have to focus on other things, things that I might not really want to think about.

A lovely friend, teacher, and fellow hockey mom told me that in her mind August feels like a month of Sundays (Thanks Amy T.). I totally get it. In August it’s so hot, things are slower, but yet there is this sense of impending chaos, a.k.a. September. School supplies have been on display in the stores for a couple of weeks now. I am already seeing the faux hand-painted “It’s Fall Y’all” signs on display at TJ Maxx and Target. While I am sick of the oppressive heat I also want to take one of those grinning obnoxious pumpkins and hurl it at Father Time. Please slow down. Please.

May and June were absolutely crazy. Our daughter graduated from high school and we had parties to go, lots and lots of parties. And a party to host. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful that our daughter and my super awkward self had so many friends and family to celebrate with. But, from the standpoint of a true introvert, it was exhausting. My social cues completely failed me. There were times when someone would say something very simple like “Hi, How are you?”, and I would respond with a string of words like “Covid stinks, college is expensive, I’m hot, I need more wine and do you think mermaids are real?” Okay, maybe not that last sentence, but maybe I did say that after a glass of wine and running out of how to articulate adult small talk. In my mind everyone else looks and acts polished, elegant and like functioning adults. I’m in the corner sitting on the floor petting their dog. I felt exhausted. For an introvert it truly felt like running a marathon while holding your breathe. I seriously couldn’t figure out how to exhale and relax into the moment.

I don’t know if there could be a “What To Expect When You Are Expecting” College age edition. My friend Jenny mentioned to me how there was nothing mentioned when you read all those baby books about how to handle your heart breaking off in a piece and living somewhere else without you. The ironic part is that means we did a good job. People always say our job is to teach them to leave the nest and fly, that going away for college is a rite of passage and we should be so proud and so excited for them. Yes, of course I am proud of our daughter. I am excited for her. But my selfish inner child is sad and resisting change. I’ve burst into tears more times than I care to admit at the strangest of places (yes, the grocery store). Change can knock you over like a heavy wave in the ocean. You are left a little off balance and questioning whether to head back to the beach or stand tall and keep going.

In the midst of all this change almost every woman I know, both clients and friends, is having a wardrobe identity crisis. Covid and quarantine changed us, permanently. We can’t go back to the way things were before, not totally. We feel different. Our jobs and lifestyles are different. Self-care during the crazy time of Covid meant comfort. Comfort food, comfort movies, comfort clothes. It reminds me of how after you have a baby you are so sick of your maternity clothes but sadly, what no one tells you in the What to Expect book, is that you don’t get to go home and put on your newlywed party pants. Nope, you still need your maternity clothes for a little while, because, even though you birthed a tiny human, your stomach still looks and feels like a leftover ballon 3 days after a birthday party. Oh and everything still hurts, there are still cramps and bloating and no amount of Spanx is going to feel good after you’ve already been uncomfortable for 9 months.

So, much like us having to wean off, (pun intended), maternity clothing, we have been trying to wean off Covid clothing, and it ain’t easy. I tried to wear heels to a girls night out and my feet literally cried out loud in protest. They have seen and felt the joys of comfort and cool sneakers and they won’t be seduced by just any stiletto. So we are stuck. Stuck staring at a closet with pencil skirts, high heels, jeans that are too tight, and formal wear that feels way too fussy. And yet, at the same time, they are mixed messages all over social media from influencers and fashionistas showing us how we should be wearing 4 inch heels in Tuscany with an oversize straw hat and a $500 sundress, while carrying a handmade yet designer straw bag filled with fresh picked lavender. Yeah, that’s a no go because it’s beautiful but it’s not reality.

Travel was back in a big way this year and I helped clients plan their outfits and get packed up to places like Miami, Iceland and Ireland and tons of other locations. Some trips were for business and some were for fun. Everyone I worked with was overwhelmed and a bit lost. Instagram and Facebook make everything look so picture perfect but the reality of real life is very different. Sneakers and comfortable sandals were the starting point for building most of my clients outfits because, much like postpartum wear, we are in no mood to be uncomfortable. Emotionally we are all still a bit fragile and yes, self-care still means that comfort rules out over looking like a runway model. We aren’t yet ready to sacrifice how something feels versus how it looks, and I don’t know if we every will nor should we be.

I have also been re-examining my wardrobe and my own style. It’s changing. It’s more casual. I’m getting used to the idea of being okay with that. For so long I thought I had to look a certain way to justify my job title. As I have grown older I know that what I am wearing is not indicative of how I can help my client. The biggest way I can help my client is to be authentic. Only when I am truly authentic can I convince them that whatever truly makes them happy will be the outfit that looks best on them. Confidence and comfort have always been that x-factor that some women have when they walk in a room. These are the women that we always say things about like “Oh she can wear anything and look good. She just has natural effortless style.” Take a closer look. More often than not it’s not really about her clothes. We could put on the exact same outfit that woman is wearing and it will not have the same effect. It comes down to feeling good about yourself, and that’s not always easy. Recently I was shopping with my daughter at Aerie for her to get some clothing to go back to school. I ended up buying flared leggings for myself because they looked so soft and comfy. I was also terrified someone would card me and kick me out of the store for being too old. Seriously, at what point or age do we become too worried that we are “too old” for a store? Gap Kids, yes. Aerie, no, trust me, it’s okay and you are allowed and they won’t kick you out.

As I uncomfortably move through these Sundays in August I am going to try really hard to remind myself that we have to embrace the right here and right now. I have to look at my wardrobe and ask what items work for me RIGHT NOW? What items fit me RIGHT NOW? What items feel good to put on RIGHT NOW? Although I will reluctantly read the last few pages of my book, and sadly watch the last half hour of Stranger Things, I will try really hard to open myself to what’s next. I can’t go back. I can’t reread the book for the first time. I can’t hug my daughter before she walks out the door for school every day. But I know there will be so many new books to read, new shows to watch, and new experiences to share with my kids. I recently edited out two trash bags of clothes. Pajamas that are itchy, jeans that are too small, heels that are too tall and multiple pairs of leggings that I pass over every time because they are three comfy ones that I will always grab instead. The best part is less clutter. The second best part is the unknown of new things I can buy and bring into my wardrobe that will “fit” me RIGHT NOW. And, by the way, I am wearing these leggings right now and I have to tell you they are everything I hoped they would be and more. These are leggings without that compression feeling that leaves you with indigestion after your morning Starbucks because they are bisecting your abdomen with too much tummy control. Check out the contoured waistband that moves with you instead of bisecting your lower belly. Bonus…they are 30% off right now.

Thanks for reading, and many hugs to any of you mommas getting ready to send your kiddos off to college, all of you mommas who have already sent kids off to college and beyond and given me priceless advice, and the young mommas who are just trying to keep the cheerios off the floor and get a good night’s sleep. It takes all of us chatting open and honestly with each other to grow through the changes. Cheers to new memories!

OFFLINE By Aerie Real Me High Waisted Crossover Flare Legging
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