It’s been a while since I have posted here. Winter 2015 has been brutal with many days of single digit temperatures and more than 100″ of snow needing to be shoveled. I don’t usually mind winter but this one has taken its toll on me physically and mentally. Although it is almost April 1, I can still see huge piles of snow outside my windows. However, I can also see dry pavement and patches of grass, and that can only mean that winter is nearly over. To which I say, good riddance and Welcome Spring!
Last week I had an experience that was so wonderful, it inspired me to get back to writing my blog.
This story actually begins in 1998. My husband and I had been living in Singapore and were preparing to return to the US. One of the traditions for returning expats is to have a garment custom made by one of the local tailors. Men would buy suits and dress shirts, sometimes with a monogram on the sleeve or personalized labels. And women typically would order a custom fitted “cheongsam”, which is the traditional dress worn by Chinese women. I know you’ve seen them – most likely in movies rather than around town. They are made of high quality, brightly colored silk (usually red) with a mandarin collar, cap sleeved, and tight fitted with open side seams to facilitate walking. Naturally I wanted one of these to bring back to the US, although I had no clue as to where or when I would ever wear it.
I walked into my neighborhood tailor shop and announced to the woman behind the counter that I was interested in buying a cheongsam. And in typical Singaporean style, she said emphatically that, no, this is not what I wanted and she wasn’t interested in making me one. Having lived there for some time, I was accustomed to this type of exchange with the locals. By the time we finished our negotiations, she had sketched a variation of the cheongsam that was actually more appropriate for my body type and more versatile for my life back in the States.
After a few weeks and 2 fittings, I left the shop with a beautiful dress. It was a perfect fit, one of a kind, and designed especially for me. It had some features of the cheongsam, but it was black and made of washed crepe. Fitted at the top, it then flared at the waist to a full, ballet length skirt that was perfect for twirling. I loved it and wore it to a farewell dinner with friends on our last night in Singapore. During the first few years after we returned home, I wore it to weddings, banquets and holiday parties. Then life got busy with work and kids; I had fewer special events to attend, and the dress was relegated to the back of my closet, protected by the dry cleaner’s plastic for a very long time.
Several years ago I was looking for something to wear to a wedding, and I thought of that dress. I pulled it out of the closet, tried it on and was horrified to discover that my body had expanded to such a degree that the zipper would not budge an inch. Disappointed in myself, I re-hung the dress and probably went straight to the kitchen to polish off a whole bag of cookies. Eventually I simply stopped thinking about that dress.
My husband and I will be traveling to Italy soon, and we will be attending our first opera in Milan. I knew I needed a special dress to wear for this occasion. Since I mostly wear gym clothes every day now, I really didn’t want to invest in something new to wear just once. I began digging in my closet and there, stuffed behind my long underwear and two old bathrobes, was my beautiful Singapore dress. I tore off the plastic, slipped the dress over my head…and zipped it all the way up with ease!
Let me tell you, I have enjoyed numerous successes and rewards in my life. But nothing has made me feel as good about myself and my physical accomplishments as the unobstructed zipping up of that 17 year old dress. All my hard work in the gym and self-discipline in the kitchen have been worthwhile.
I always tell my clients to set a goal, and it must be something very specific and tangible. For many people, getting back into a favorite pair of jeans or other article of clothing is a great incentive to bring healthy habits back into their lives. Why? We associate wearing that item with a time when we felt strong, fit, energetic and vibrant. And it makes us feel young again.
Don’t be afraid to go searching for your goals in the back of your closet or the bottom of your drawer. You never know…you might find the fountain of youth hiding in there.