I will take inspiration anywhere I can get it, because in my book, anything that makes me feel good, or motivates me to take necessary life actions is worthwhile - especially when there is gear involved.
It might sound crazy, but I fully believe that "gear" has magical properties. Much the way putting on a theatrical costume immediately puts an actor into character (harkening back to my dramatic roots), the right bits of gear - which includes uniforms and/or props - can make us feel grounded, focused, at one with whatever is the task at hand.
When I put on an apron I feel SO much more authoritative, even if all I'm making is slice and bake cookies. Pale pink Capezios put me immediately in ballerina mode in my mind, even if I can no longer do a grand plie. When I set a microphone into the clip of a mic stand, I am Reba McEntire, even when singing to an empty room.
Even if I'm NOT Top Chef, Misty Copeland, or the fabulous Miss Reba, the feelings those bits of gear elicit are powerful. They push me to try, to do, to enjoy the process.
Which is why my new obsession is Lane Bryant's new line of active wear: Livi. Because I need to get MOVING. I need to be more active, and nothing makes me want to be active more than comfy and stylish gear that makes me feel like I'm an athlete before I've even walked through the Boston Sports Clubs doors.
The Universe Knows Me
I've been wanting to get back to the gym for a while now. A year of cancer treatments is a lot to put your body through, and the 30-ish pounds I'd lost while working as a server at Chili's prior to the whole cancer thing was quickly regained over the course of chemo and radiation and the basic slug lifestyle that cancer treatments can force you into (Chili's aside, it's not like I was Miss Active before getting sick).
And then I gained about another 20 over the course of the post-treatment year, which is a special limbo of its own where your body is trying to figure out how to get on board with your brain (which is SO READY to rumble and get back to your life), and failing miserably. I had the energy to work (barely) and that was about it. Perhaps if I'd started back at the gym immediately I'd have kickstarted a different cycle, where the energy spent came back to me ten-fold thanks to working out...
But I didn't do that (in truth, I really couldn't, I was that far gone), and so as time went on it just became a waiting game. Hit the first year mark and you kind of magically feel better. My doctors have told me this. Other survivors have told me this. I'm now at the point - a few weeks shy - where I can confirm this. Finally, FINALLY, I feel ready.
BEYOND READY. Back around my birthday (early November), when I was craving Bikram Yoga like there's no tomorrow, determined to find a way to squeeze it in, I walked into the women's department at Walmart bemoaning the lack of workout gear for plus-size women in my head, and then walked around the corner to see this:
I bought a few matching sets, and then became overwhelmed with work, and exhaustion, and lack of funds, and so they've been basically sitting in my armoire waiting to be worn. And now it's like REALLY winter, and they'll work well at Bikram, but not so much at the regular gym where it's not 100 degrees and 80% humidity.
Once Again, I Ask and Receive
So then on my birthday, and also for Christmas, I got some gift cards to Lane Bryant. Normally I'm not a huge fan of LB. I typically find their cutest stuff WAY overpriced, and kind of flimsy - like you know one wash cycle with the wrong zipper in the mix is gonna shred that $80 DKNY T-shirt to bits. I headed into the store praying, "Please let me find some stuff I like." Dead ahead, when I walked through the door, I saw the Livi pieces. Soft jersey knits, medium-weight, nice shapes, black, gray, peach... I was hooked.
I grabbed a few pieces, and even talked the checkout gal into giving me a discount once she mentioned there was a launch event coming up, because you KNOW I'd walk into the party and everything would be on sale and I'd be annoyed to have paid full price for it 10 days earlier. And didn't I get a coupon in the mail the next day announcing that up through the launch everything was buy-one-get-one-for-$10? I just looked at it as an excuse to get more stuff. ;)
I went back three more times -- including the launch party -- and shopped every time. This is SO not like me, by the way. I hardly have money to burn on clothes, but I think it's important to spend on stuff that you LOVE -- you know, the stuff that fits just right, and makes you feel like a million bucks when you're wearing it. And when there's a great sale to boot? Girl, that's when you go nuts.
In case you're wondering, here's what I love about Livi:
- It's perfect for the gym or yoga, etc., but it's also perfect for "life"; you can go work out and then throw on the little unstructured blazer and maxi skirt and go about your day (unlike my previous finds)
- It's soft, and stretchy, and the perfect weight -- neither flimsy nor bulky
- It all sort of coordinates, so you can mix and match and feel very put-together, and comfy
As I heard mentioned at the launch event, it's meant to feel like "spa-wear." It does. And so much more.
If I weren't already in love, being treated like a celebrity at the launch event would've cemented things. I walked in all dressed in my new "gear" and immediately had my picture taken by at least three different people from the store and the corporate office. Bumping into another customer wearing the same skirt and jacket would've been an excuse for a catfight had this been an ep of the Real Housewives of Anywhere, but we just said, "Twinsies!" and smiled for another photo-op.
The point of all this is not to endorse retail madness (I don't usually get to indulge in it myself), but to endorse letting into your life the things that speak to you. That make you feel most YOU. That bring out the confidence you let waver when you're wearing whatever's left on laundry day, or when you feel like you're "less than" for any number of reasons.
It's not a replacement for love or whatever - I'm not saying fill every void in your life with material goods (that would be a BAD message). I'm saying, these clothes for me are a catalyst -- an affirmation of what I was heading for already, making me even more excited to get started.
How can I not say yes to that?
What kind of gear gets you going, beauties? Share your stories in the comments!
HEADER IMAGE CREDIT: SPHINX-MAMA