Friday, November 27, 2009

Bon Jour


I'm quite impressed with the Isaac Mizrahi book How to Have Style. It was panned by reviewers on so I posted my own positive review there. The book should arrive in my mailbox soon.

I toy with writing a fashion guide. One thing I have learned that I can pass on: choose carefully the items you buy and bring home. Ask yourself, "Does this fit into my life? Will wearing that shirt or pair of pants complement my style or detract from it?"

Also ask yourself: "How do I want to look?" I bought the book 10 Steps to Fashion Freedom by Malcolm Levene and Kate Mayfield years ago. It lists questions to answer to help you focus on the image you want to present. I typed up my answers and placed them in my goals binder to refer to.

This is what I wrote: "I seek to project an image that is calm, down-to-earth and approachable." Style truly is a conscious choice. You cannot have style if you buy things without putting effort into how you look. Ignorance is no defense against dressing fashionable. Today there are tons of books and magazines and there are some TV shows which can guide women.

I have 20 books devoted to fashion alone in my library collection at home.

As Isaac Mizrahi rightly suggested: you need to try on multiple items of clothing, and try on even more others, before settling on the one piece that is perfect for you.

Years ago I had wanted a friend to take pictures of me in various outfits. I will see if I can have someone do this early next year to create what's called a "look book." I have always wanted to create a look book.

The other day round midnight I was bit by a fashion bug and that is when I decided: "Choose carefully the items I bring into my life and home." So I placed in the donations bag an unusual mask pendant I had bought six or seven years ago at a craft fair. It simply isn't the look I want to project.

Thus I've decided to assess whether anything I'm considering buying is too trendy for me. As of today: I've reconciled how I dress now with how I used to dress in my twenties. I couldn't understand this dichotomy until recently. Now I understand that I have always loved fashion, it was just that how I dressed reflected the fashions of the era I lived in. So really there is no mystery what compelled me to dress the way I did.

Our lives and our style are an evolution. I accept that I'm on a life-long quest for continual self-improvement. This is reflected in my clothing choices as well. So it is clear to me that I will never be a fan of the status quo and I will always seek to refine or perfect my vision of how I want to dress, act and live and decorate my home. Right now my apartment is complete.

Last night I realized my mantra is about personal growth. I seek to keep learning about myself and others throughout my life. Life-long learning is a priority of mine because I've listed education as one of my six core values in my goals binder. The other values are confidence, health, self-expression, honesty and career.

Go ahead, chuckle: you think I'm a strange girl. I haven't said I wasn't. Who else would type up her core values and itemize the life choices consistent with her values? Who else would type up a decade-by-decade list of the things she wants to do or achieve in her life? Who else would set yearly goals and include them in her binder too?

Folks: I don't know why I do this. Actually, I do know why I do this and I'm the only one who could tell you why because if someone else used this word to describe me it would not be acceptable. Here it is: I've been there. Once you have gone over the edge you answer to no one and can do pretty much what you please. Frankly I don't care if I don't live up to what others expect me to do or be in society.

Early on I understood that having lost my mind there was nothing else I could ever fear losing. And so I took risks that most people wouldn't take because I had no fear of failure. The idea that I would not achieve what I set out to do didn't occur to me. Yet I did fail, and I failed miserably at some things. A year after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia I returned to school to take a newspaper reporting class because I wanted to get a Masters in Journalism. I bombed out after the first class.

When I wanted to get a full-time job, I took the first job I was offered so that I would get the money to move into my own apartment and live independently. I spent two years as an administrative assistant and after that five years in the insurance field. It seemed like I spent a longer amount of time in that career however it was only five years. I was unconscious; living with blinders on: I tried to make that life work long after I should have realized it wasn't the job for me.

Now I realize that to be truly happy in my work I need to work at a job where I can express myself and be creative in coming up with solutions to help people solve their problems. Thus when the library career is winding down I intend to go back to school for a Masters in Rehab Counseling so that I can become a vocational counselor for people with disabilities.

You see I'm a strange girl. I will never settle for the status quo. Does that make me unusual in a world where most people are content to watch TV for three hours every night? I spend two hours every night on my second job, keeping this blog, reading books and doing my writing. I also do public speaking and I love to perform, whereas most people have a fear of speaking in public.

I tell you that this is strange yet possibly it isn't. Whatever it is I know one thing: I chose the road less traveled and that made all the difference.

Having schizophrenia at the end of the day is liberating because I can opt out of the white picket fence, two kids and husband life in the suburbs. When I was a young girl of only fifteen or sixteen, I dreamed the kind of life I have now: living in the City and doing my own thing. Having kids wasn't something I wanted even before I was diagnosed. So the diagnosis merely reaffirmed my decision.

The Esprit motto sums up my life: "The World Is Our Culture" I can translate into "The World Is My Culture" because when I was 35 I decided I wanted to live my life in service to other people. A friend told me she felt I embrace people's differences. Possibly I'm able to do this because I always felt like an outsider looking in and like I was different from other people. This feeling was reinforced when I was growing up because I was the creative, quirky, sensitive kid in a family of Traditionals whose lives were cut from whole cloth. I experimented with my persona; took risks they wouldn't take.

Even today when the women in my family wear polyester shirts and matching slacks to Thanksgiving dinner, I'm wearing my black wool turtleneck, dark jeans and the multi-color scarf with my oversized pink stone earrings and matching ring. I live to express myself and that is the life path of a person with a 30/3 in her numerology chart.

Heavens: I have gone on and on. Please forgive me. This sounds like I've given you a back story, right? I was compelled to fill in new readers to this blog with a glimpse of what makes me tick.

Really it's no secret and it comes back to this: I live my life left of the dial. It would be OK with me if you thought I was a strange girl. I have no pretensions of needing to be accepted by others in the mainstream. I don't covet other people's approval and that in the end is why I succeeded: I had the confidence to push the envelope in subtle ways throughout my life.

That is why I take a controversial stance: that people diagnosed with schizophrenia must takes risks in order to recover. Sitting on a couch watching re-runs of Gilligan's Island just doesn't cut it.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to pour a bowl of Kashi GoLean cereal, have breakfast and then get ready to meet D. in the City.

Bon Jour!

Buon Giorno.

Good day.

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