I had a big fat spiritual epiphany a little while back.
About a pair of jeans.
I know, I know. But hear me out.
First, some very important sartorial background.
I’m one of those people who likes to wear a uniform, like Steve Jobs with his turtlenecks.
You know how you have that one amazing top or dress that you always find yourself reaching for when you want to look and feel your absolute best?? Imagine that you got to wear that every single day. It’s always hanging there waiting for you, dependable and fabulous. That’s the beauty of a uniform.
In Tokyo, my uniform was a blazer with sharp shoulders, a pair of tailored jeans, and a kickass pair of heels. It was sharp enough for business meetings, but casual enough to wander around the city in.
Then the earthquake hit, and I moved suddenly to Portland, where I was knee deep in mud all the time. Bright red rubber Hunter boots became a mainstay.
And THEN I moved again, to Alberta, where I’m swimming in snow 17 months of the year. I also added four more beautiful children to my life, including two in the diaper-wearing dirt-eating food-smearing phase of adorableness.
I finally nailed down a new uniform for my new life: soft drapey gray sweatshirts for winter, swing-y trapeze tops for summer, all strong enough to stand up to any amount of toddler damage.
But then a great tragedy struck. My dryer shrunk my winter tops. All of them. Guys. Seriously. ALL OF THEM.
No more drapey swing-y forgiving jersey to help hide the other change in my life: the extra inches around my waist reflecting the fact that I now drive everywhere in my minivan instead of tromping all over a city. Squeezed into my now-tight tops, I looked and felt like a sausage.
Was this ever-so-slightly silly, given everything that’s going on in the world? Maybe. Was it frivolous to mourn my clothes? Perhaps. Could I feel guilty about this in a hot second? Absolutely.
But clothes are so powerful. They can make us stronger, or they can sabotage us. They can whisper to us that we’re strong and capable, or that we’re stupid and ugly and embarrassing. Our clothes can be a loyal ally or a vicious saboteur.
I didn’t even realize my ill-fitting clothes were having such a negative effect on me untiL I went to LA and did some shopping for myself. Sure, I knew my tops were a mess, but at least I still had a few shreds of my dignity intact— at least I had a good pair of AG jeans!
But as I stood there in the changing room and I looked at my sausage self in my shrunken top, riding up to show my belly bulging uncomfortably over my waistband, I realized that on top of it all— on top of missing Portland so intensely, and how spring wouldn’t come for another seven months, and the political nightmare that was howling through my own country, and the pile of immigration paperwork that was stealing my soul—
on top of all that—
Reader, I was wearing MOM JEANS.
I might as well have been wearing pleats and stonewash…and not the retro hip ones that are trendy again, the bad ones straight out of the 80s. They bagged at the knee and the butt, and the waist was so tight it gave me extra bulges where I didn’t want them.
I looked at myself and I wanted to cry.
I thought, Who is this woman? I don’t look like this. That’s not me.
I didn’t feel strong and powerful.
I didn’t feel capable and brave.
I didn’t feel smart and persistent and ready to go kick some ass.
Nope; I felt dowdy and silly and kind of embarrassing.
I said SUCH mean things to myself in front of that mirror. About my body, and about my ability to handle my new life, and about how naive I was to think that I could still be fierce and powerful and make a difference in the world. I told myself that it was all minivans and mom jeans from here on out.
Now obviously, dear reader, at this point I was in the grip of a torrent of negative thoughts so vicious and vile that nothing but a giant mental grappling hook would have un-gripped me. Luckily, 90% of the coaching work I do with my clients is identifying and then dissolving their unhelpful thought patterns. I know the drill. So I could have pulled out a notebook and done some thought work. Called my coach. Done The Work. Questioned my thoughts.
This is powerful and useful work.
But you know what else is powerful work????
I bought myself some goddamned new jeans!!
We are intellectual and emotional and spiritual beings, but we are physical ones too. And sometimes making a change in the physical world is the fastest way to signal to all the rest of wonderful marvelous magical complex aspects of you that a change is gonna come.
Of course, it’s not really about the jeans.
(Though I do love my new jeans. I think that All Saints should basically sponsor my whole life. Though at the moment it’s the other way around.)
When I plunked down the money for those new jeans, I felt like a million bucks. I was saying “Oh hell no” to all those mean thoughts in my head. And every time I put them on, which is every single day, I feel ready to rumble. I feel nimble and fierce and I know that I can get some shit done.
So here is my question for you: where in your life are you metaphorically wearing saggy baggy mom jeans?
Where do you need a little upgrade to honor your strongest, fiercest self?
Doesn’t have to be expensive. This isn’t about buying our self-worth. One of my very stylish friends swears by Old Navy Rock Star skinny jeans.
But it is about treating ourselves with dignity, as people of worth.
Maybe it’s that broken appliance sitting in your kitchen, your ratty old wallet from that ex-boyfriend, or your terrible earphones that have wires sticking out of them. Maybe it’s getting your car cleaned out, or getting a new case for your phone because it’s cracked and scuffed. Maybe it’s clearing out the top drawer of your desk.
It isn’t about spending frivolously, though it might be about spending DELIBERATELY. Investing your own abundance in yourself, which is a beautiful thing.
Because here’s why.
I honestly believe that I am a better mom, lover, coach, writer, and activist…in my new jeans.
I’d consider that a pretty fantastic investment.
And you know what, dearhreart? I bet you’re a great investment too. Do whatever it takes to remind you of that truth.