Reminiscence

bracelet purse

This quote sums up to me the 1980s and that era in music and fashion:

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T. S. Eliot

The other day I ducked into an Urban Outfitters store.

This was a cheaper bracelet purse I found. What’s not to love about cheaper?

Are they solely a New York City thing? Or throughout America?

Browsing Urban Outfitters reminded me of shopping in Unique Clothing Warehouse in the 1980s.

Remember Zoot? Antique Boutique? Trash and Vaudeville?

All were clothing stores in New York City in the 1980s.

They vanished like Manhattan over the years.

Now there’s a Starbucks on every corner.

What’s sad is that Tom Petty died. There was a tribute to his music on a WAYO show.

For a burst of music reminiscent of the 1980s you can go on WAYO FM.

The Sunday afternoon show streamed live via their Internet website features songs like the B-52s “Give Me Back My Man.”

Kate and Michael host the show. They’re two great disc jockeys.

The radio station broadcasts from Rochester, NY.

As of today, I’m writing a second memoir. I’m keeping its contents under wraps like a pashmina. I hope to publish this second memoir later in my fifties.

Just to say here it will be a version of Left of the Dial in overdrive.

With music, clothes, and boys.

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Using Your Clothing to Speak Your Mind

It’s curtains for any stigma. The show of hate has closed down.

An image consultant wrote a 5-star review of my memoir Left of the Dial.

Now more than ever I stand by my assertion that the role of stigma is overrated.

Followers, everyone knows. And the kind people, the compassionate people, don’t care.

[You think it’s a secret but it’s not.]

The haters are jackasses. Do you really want to waste one minute of your life trying to get a jackass to like you and approve of you?

In the wise words of John Maxwell: “They can’t hurt you unless you let them.”

If you allow the haters to dictate how you feel about yourself, that’s a form of internalized shame.

You are kinder, you are stronger, and you are braver than that. You are wise and you are worthy.

Fight for your rights if you’ve been discriminated against in obtaining housing or other legal opportunities because of your mental health diagnosis. Put on your boots, because like Nancy Sinatra sang, those boots can walk all over another person.

Make no mistake: other than legal violations, wasting time worrying about potential stigma will rob you of having a full and robust life.

Repeat after me: the people who are kind and compassionate don’t care if you have SZ or BP or DP or whatever you have. Seek out friends and lovers who aren’t afraid.

The ones who are going to get spooked by your diagnosis have issues. You don’t need them in your life.

The only baggage I covet is Louis Vuitton. Better yet, make mine a Sac du Jour.

I’ll end here with this story:

I watched on TV as Letitia James–the first African American woman to hold the position–was sworn in as Public Advocate of New York City.

She now holds the second highest ranking elected office in the City.

She wore knee-high boots to take the stage at her inauguration.

Take a tip from Letitia James:

Use your clothing to speak your mind.

Any questions still about designing your life through personal style?

25 Years in Remission

This week I celebrate having been in remission from SZ for 25 years–out of the hospital and having had ZERO symptoms for 25 years.

In 1987 when I got out of the hospital the first time I went shopping at the local Macy’s in the Mall. There’s a grain of truth to the expression: “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.”

What I bought: a black suede zebra-print embossed pocketbook; a light gray sweatshirt with black tipping on the bottom, neckline, and sleeves; and an interesting sterling silver necklace that I’ve kept all these years.

Most of what I bought is gone yet won’t ever be forgotten, just like I remember nearly every significant item of clothing I bought and wore in the late 1980s and 1990s.

I think striving to be in remission is a noble goal to achieve. It certainly makes things easier when you’re not burdened with permanent symptoms the rest of your life.

Yet I will always stress this above all else: you can hold a job and be successful in life even though you might still have symptoms.

I know people who have jobs and still hear voices occasionally.

In my life I’m grateful to be in remission, a status I don’t take lightly.

I got here because I take a dose of medication, yet as a professional told me: “You recovered more so because of the actions you took.”

Which proves the premise of the Rachel Roy book I reviewed in the last blog entry.

Ten years ago when I first started blogging I wrote too:

“It’s not the enormity or severity of your challenge that determines your fate, but how you respond to it.”

So back then I had stated in my own words what Rachel Roy also told readers: the choice is yours how you want to live your life.

I chose in 2002 to become a mental health advocate.

Years later I consider myself simply to be an Activist because I’ve branched out into a focus on fitness, which encompasses fitness of mind, body, spirit, careers, finances, and relationships.

As well as  helping keep our planet fit and free from environmental destruction.

My goal is to be the change I want to see in the world.

To that end I’ve been focused on getting a second non-fiction book edited that I hope to publish within three years.

I hold this above all else to be true and will go to my grave championing this:

That getting the right treatment right away can enable you to have a better life.

It might include taking medication or it might not.

Yet when you’re in emotional pain, when you’re suffering from mental distress, you really shouldn’t wait it out and allow your hardship to progress so that it becomes a permanent disability.

If any of my readers fit this scenario, I urge you to get professional help right now.

Yes–I’ve been in remission for 25 years.

I hope to live at least 25 years more to continue to uplift and inspire everyone I meet.

My message is clear and simple:

Now more than ever it’s possible to have a full and robust life living in recovery–with or without symptoms.

Design Your Life

desing your life

I’ve been vindicated yet again in my focus on fashion.

I’m going to tell you about a truly inspirational book that Rachel Roy–a premier fashion designer–wrote titled Design Your Life.

How much do I love this book? Let me quote the ways by quoting Rachel Roy. My intent is to get you to buy this book and use it as a reference guide.

You think focusing on how you dress is foolish, frivolous, or unnecessary?

Here goes Roy at the start of the book:

“There is so much we wish to accomplish, so much we place on ourselves to achieve, and what I know to be true is that every circumstance, every situation that has been put in front of us, is there to teach us something about the person we are meant to become. What I also know to be true is that we are in control of how we respond to each situation, therefore we create our life based on our choices.”

Roy ends the book with this ammunition:

“Despite the dated principles and more we may have been taught to internalize, we do not have to be everything to everyone, and we do not have to sacrifice who we are in order to make others happy. We just have to be exceptional at pursuing our passions and be 100 percent authentic to ourselves in every aspect of our lives–take the risk of actually being you.”

I rest my case now and forever. Design Your Life: Creating Success Through Personal Style is a delight to read–at least it was for me.

In the next blog entry I hope to post here on Tuesday morning I will write about having been in remission for 25 years now.

Absolutely true story:

The first thing I did when I got out of the hospital in 1987 was go shopping at the local Macy’s.

Stay tuned on Tuesday when I open the long-ago closet doors to reveal what I bought. One item I still own 30 years later.

Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore

authors clothes

Now you see my focus on fashion and music wasn’t so far-fetched in my memoir Left of the Dial.

A book has indeed been written about authors and clothes. I’m now not the only one linking our sartorial bent to our creative success.

That is Joan Didion on the cover. She is the author of The Year of Magical Thinking, a best-selling memoir.

The ultimate truth about fashion and aptly individual style has been corroborated on the Visual Therapy website.

Co-founder Joe Lupo wrote there:

“We stand by the idea that style isn’t just about the clothes–it’s about the people in them. Using style and clothing to express the most authentic superstar version of yourself will give you the confidence you need to reach for your dreams and goals.”

Co-founder Jesse Garza reinforced:

“We always say that when image (the outer) and identity (the inner) are aligned, the result is clarity that will bring you places and help you reach your goals in all spheres of life.”

From firsthand experience I’ve seen that when you’re at odds with your clothing, it could be because you’re at odds with yourself.

Hiding behind your clothes is a way to hide you from yourself.

Finding the items that fit and flatter is like coming home to yourself.

Research non-traditional careers if you’re loathe to wear a suit and pumps to work.

I’m revising and editing my second non-fiction book.

I will return here in the coming weekend if I’m able.

The Thoughtful Dresser

Catherine Hill was a holocaust survivor.

After she got out of the concentration camp she made fashion her passion–and recovered because of it.

Her life story proves that fashion isn’t frivolous. You can read in detail about her life in the Linda Grant book The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, The Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Fashion Matters.

An image consultant I employ recommended this book. It’s right up there in the pantheon of great fashion books.

Sent to the camp, Catherine was given a cotton sack dress to wear. She cut the hem into a strip and tied it around her head like a bandanna. The Nazis didn’t like that of course.

After she moved to Canada, she opened and ran for years a successful high-end fashion boutique.

At her husband’s request (he was soon to be her ex) she had the yellow star tattoo removed from her arm.

The yellow star is a reminder of how hate turned the Nazis against Jewish people, against those with disabilities, and against the infirm.

As soon as I was diagnosed with SZ I thought to myself: “Right–and if I lived in Germany during WWII–as a person with SZ I’d have been sent to the gas chamber.”

That was one of my first thoughts after getting the diagnosis I kid you not.

Catherine Hill survived–I hear she’s writing a memoir and I’d love to read it.

I met a senior citizen holocaust survivor 17 years ago for about five minutes. I was so distraught that she’d been in a camp. Yet the better thing was that she got out and lived to an old age.

I know another guy whose mother fled with him to escape the Nazis–and they were able to come to America.

I think of these things now. The point of writing this blog entry is that each of us needs to challenge the haters in society and in the world. We need to actively take a stand.

We are on the cusp of the destruction of human rights all over again–a far greater threat to our planet than any environmental hazard.

Acting self-serving, promoting a self-interested agenda–is not the way to live our lives. The level of hate in society–the divisive rhetoric– has reached a tipping point.

Hating a person you haven’t ever met, calling them a racist, or in the opposite killing them or imprisoning them–is the new Great American Shame.

When Mr. Toupee applauds cops, we’ve sunk to a new low. When AG Jeff Sessions institutes mandatory minimums for prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders, there’s no hope for repairing what’s broken in society.

It’s also a great shame that I or you or anyone can be the object of hate by someone who hasn’t even met us.

The yellow stars might be gone, yet they can’t be forgotten.

George Santayana was oft-quoted: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Happy Birthday

The singing waiters sang  “Happy Birthday” to me in the Red Lobster as the free vanilla ice cream with whipped cream was brought to my table.

They had pleasant voices and had been called into service numerous times because in the short time my family sat at the table we heard at least five or six neighboring “Happy Birthday” tunes at other tables.

The highlight of the day was finding two clothing items I could buy in Boscov’s. Is there a Boscov’s near you? My mother wanted to get me a birthday gift so took me to this store that anchors a shopping mall.

What is the attraction to cheaply made and poorly constructed chain store garments? If you can’t afford better clothes shopping here only makes sense if the clothes are on sale.

My mother balked because one of the items–a simple blue tee shirt–was originally marked $38 dollars. How could that be you wonder? A tee shirt that costs $38 dollars and it’s not in Target or H&M? Luckily it was on sale for $15 dollars.

Numerous trips to the dressing room proved almost futile. For starters, the smallest size jeans in Boscov’s are often a 4 or 6 so they’re too big for me. (The horror–you’re laughing at this. Go on, laugh.)

Anyway, a size 6P pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans fit so I snatched them up before anyone else could take them.

A woman came out of the dressing room and told me: “These pants don’t fit. I’ve gained weight. Yet I refuse to buy a larger size.”

Honey, I wanted to say, the size on a clothing tag is no measure of your worth or whether you should like yourself or how you look.

I thought the woman who came out of the dressing room looked beautiful. She didn’t look sloppy or slovenly to me, which is what counts more than what you weigh.

By the way, I have gone into H&M and couldn’t fit into their size 8 regular pants. Only a Barbie Doll could fit into those pants. They were a size 8 regular and I couldn’t get them over my knee.

Have I now convinced you female readers once and for all that sizing is arbitrary and makes no difference as long as you LOOK GOOD in your clothes?

Submitted for your amusement–because it amuses the heck out of me–is that now I’m the proud owner of four different sizes of jeans hanging in my closet. I own a 0P, a 2P, a 4P, and now a 6P–all Petite sizes no clowning around so this shouldn’t garner me any sympathy.

Yet this panoply of clothing sizes should make it clear that the number on a tag is arbitrary. With good reason you might ask what causes this variation in sizes? Well, it is laughable more than anything that one woman could fit into four different sizes.

Which proves that not only is age only a number–I’m 52 now–the size on a clothing tag is only a number.

I wish the woman who came out of the dressing room could’ve seen it in her heart to buy the next size up in the pants. The pants really did flatter her–I saw her in the smaller size and she already looked good in them.

Retail stores are closing down all over the place. Penney’s is closing something like 123 stores this year. You wonder why? The clothing looks cheap, and finding clothes that fit and flatter is near impossible.

If video killed the radio star according a song in the 1980s it’s also true that Alfred Dunner killed retail stores in the 2010s. Alfred Dunner–need I say more?

I do buy cheaper clothes. I only buy clothes with a coupon code of at least 30 percent off. The difference is these clothes don’t look cheap. And you won’t see a mirror image of yourself wearing the same clothes going up and down the street.

It’s possible to look good in clothes that don’t cost a lot of money. You just have to be a detective to track them down. You have to use your eye to see whether the clothes flatter you.

I’ve bought for only $35 after tax online a denim jacket. I’ve bought for $44 dollars after tax from GAP online a pair of jeans. Which makes paying $69 for these items in a no-name chain store really ridiculous.

Cost isn’t the issue. Looking good is the issue. Trust me what woman wants to spend hours in a dressing room trying on pants and jeans and blouses that she winds up looking awful in?

None of the blouses I tried on in Boscov’s fit and flattered by the way. I was glad as heck to get out of that store pronto with two items of clothing that looked good and fit good.

Yes, I’m 52 now.  I’m glad to be 52. And at this point, I doubt I’d care if I gained any weight. How much a woman weighs is besides the point.