“Each of us has the potential to construct a better life by uncovering and reflecting on our inner experience,” writes Judy, who spent more than 25 years teaching speech-language pathology and counseling at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Here is her post — enjoy!
Shopping brings up a lot for me. I have a long history of shopping failure, or perhaps I should saying fashion failure. Style maven I am not. To go shopping is to evoke a whole library of memories—of shopping and clothes, of appearance and acceptability—memories colored by dread, body despair, low expectations, and complete lack of instinct about what might look good.
The clothing stories of my past—suddenly they are bombarding me: the date I went on wearing a house robe because I couldn’t figure out what to wear, the events I went to in drab work clothes because I couldn’t imagine myself in any other kind of outfit, the endless cycle of hesitant purchases followed by reluctant returns.
No wonder the shopping expedition is so fraught, so laden, with each small hope hounded by fear. I am never really shopping for my life today. I am shopping for the stories of the past, telling these stories in one version or another, deepening their mythology with each repetition.
But if I wrote the script I can rewrite it, and that is what I must do with these stories. I must write them, retell them, give them life on the page instead of life in real life. Writing gives me a space after memory but before reenactment. Writing is my opportunity to rewrite a bit of history so that what was past becomes part of a new future.
I emerge from the mall triumphant, the white pants in hand. I am balanced, not frazzled; self-accepting, not critical. This is one story I don’t have to escape, and one pair of pants I don’t want to return. I even have time to pick up that bone clutch I forgot I needed.
Questions for Reflection: How does this blog take you back into memory? What stories do you find yourself retelling and reliving? What stories from your life would you like to rewrite?
Writing Prompts: “When I read this post, I began remembering ______” (then keep writing); “One story I relive often is ______” (then keep writing); “When I write about a recurring event, I find ______” (then keep writing); “I would like to rewrite my story of ______” (then keep writing).
thats why i own 2 pairs of pants and 3 shirts and blog about what im doing right now. great blog it got me thinking about my next blog
I love this guest post, Judy! Congratulations for being asked to guest blog — always an honor.
I am not a shopper.. never have been and never will be. I shop out of necessity and only when I’m “on a mission”. And my stance on shopping my very well have to do with …. my mother (what a shock!!). She’s a top-tiered consumer who adores shopping, whether she needs something or not. I think she assumed that her daughter would share her love, but no… not at all.
Maybe it’s the traumatizing event of my mother yelling “I’ve found a 32 double-A that might fit” across Macy’s as a young teenager…. or maybe I’d rather have experiences than things…
I must say, Judy, that you looked quite stylish and adorable when I saw you last week. You shopped well!!
Heidi (& Atticus)
“commentary to give you paws…”
I, too, congratulate you Judy on being asked to be a guest blogger; I am not surprised though, as I have always been a fan of your ability to write so engagingly. While reading your post I was thinking about all the times in the past I would go shopping and be depressed because I either could not find what I was looking for, or what I liked didn’t fit right or was too expensive. Shopping was humbling, too, as I looked in those very unflattering dressing room mirrors! I have often wished I could either sew for myself or afford someone else to sew for me! How luxurious that would be!
Heidi – Too funny about the bra shopping! I think that’s a common traumatizing experiencing. Thanks so much for the compliment–believe me, I thought hard about what clothes to bring for all phases of the trip! Ironically, I’m realizing I have more fashion-themed blogs to write. Thanks so much for commenting. Judy
This was fun to read and so lovely to see you here Judy. I can relate to what Heidi said about the bra shopping…yuk! Now that I’m on a bit further in years, shopping isn’t the delight it used to be when I was a youngster. I like to get focussed on what I want and then go for it. I don’t have the stamina any more to endlessly trail through the malls. And to be honest, I feel a bit old for so many of the shops I used to frequent. I think I probably need some personal shoppers who could wait hand and foot on me….:-)
So nice to read your guest post, Judy!!
I am not a shopper either… The less stuff in my closet the better, the less having to shop for stuff the better 🙂
And I love to walk into my closet and not having to think what to pick. Everything matches, so it’s not too hard.
Loved reading this, thanks for having Judy, Anne,
Franziska San Pedro
The Abstract Impressionist Artress
Judy, Congratulations on your guest blog spot! Loved yet another of your memory-inducing posts. I am obviously in the minority because I absolutely love to shop. There can’t be too many shoes in my closet. 🙂 I loved shopping with my mom and one of our last outings before she died was a fun-filled shopping trip with me trying to push her around in a wheelchair and my daughter dodging my inept attempts. Shopping with my daughter is one of our favorite activities (and she keeps me on track with some good fashion advice!).
Thanks, Judy. Fun memories.
caregiving. family. advocacy.
Thank you all for visiting and commenting! For the most part we don’t seem to be a shopping crowd (Trish, you are the exception). But as always, the apparently ordinary story from life evokes in me many memories that lead to more stories. I am surprised to find how much I am thinking about clothes and shopping (and all that lies underneath) as a life theme.
I would not like to be a pioneer woman except for one aspect of that lifestyle: you would only own 3 sets of clothes: 2 for everyday/working and 1 for special occasions and Sundays. Your work clothes might even be identical, but you needed at least 2 sets so you could wear something while doing the laundry!
Or to bring it forward, I wish we could all wear uniforms like on Star Trek. I’d love to take the thinking out of clothes shopping. And it’s spandex so one size fits all!
Thank you for crafting such an interesting post. I love all the comments, and count myself these days as a shopper-by-necessity. When I was single, without kids, I used to love to shop, especially with my sister. Now it’s about getting in and getting out as quickly as possible. Bras are my big splurge because of the difficulty in finding ones that fit.
Thanks again, Anne, for the opportunity to be a guest blogger. I will certainly be back to visit. And I know I will think about your site when I wear my white pants again in the future!
Judy, I’m still cracking up about your shopping stories from the past. I was always the one who showed up in the same outfit whenever I went out because I had no idea what to wear! If I had my way, we’d all wear black pants and whatever color top we choose!
<> – that’s a perfect phrase. I am never comfortable shopping for clothing either. I have always had a terrible body image, whether during a slender period or a period when I perceived that I weighed too much. I am never ever satisfied with my appearance. Funny, other people don’t seem to mind what I look like. I think you are beautiful. 🙂
That should have read *the clothing stories of my past* but it interpreted the brackets I used as html!
Joan – We are certainly our own worst critics. You are so right, others do not judge us as we do ourselves.
Vierra, I’ve had fantasies about a uniform that I wouldn’t have to think about. If you want to wear all black all the time, try moving to New York!
love your comments!