As everyone who knows me can attest, for much of my life, I have enjoyed shopping for clothes, accessories, home items, decorating my house and using clothes and accessories to say something about myself. I admit I have too many clothes. I love dresses and now there are so many in my closet it’s a bit embarrassing. But I wear them. Three-fourths of the walk-in closet I “share” with my husband is me, and I also took over another closet in the house. Dressing myself each day, deciding what I will wear, is, to me, a creative process, as is decorating my house, which I also love. I know what I like and can mix and match without problem. For my house, I often visualize what I want, but then have to find it. It feels good to be in a place that looks good. When I look good, it also makes me feel better. I am not someone who would ever go out wearing sweats. If I have on yoga pants, it is because I just did or am about to do yoga, not because I am wearing them as part of my regular wardrobe. I like the European sensibility of taking pride in your appearance, of dressing up nicely in public and not looking like a slob. This does not mean wearing suits or looking like a stuffed shirt. That is nothing close to what I like. For me, it means, in the summer, wearing nice sundresses, sandals and jewelry, in the winter, wearing tights, dresses, and boots, or great jeans and sweaters. It means taking pride in my appearance, and not looking like I simply rolled out of bed, put on the first easy thing, and now am ready to roll.
I have passed on the shopping gene to my daughter, who also has a wonderful eye and creativity when it comes to the apartments in which she has lived during and since college. She always had the best decorated room in the places she shared with roommates. She knew how to find the gems at Home Goods or other outlets. Her apartment now does not look like a temporary space, but is put together, chic and cute. She is the same with her clothes and accessories. I feel complimented that she even borrows some clothes and jewelry from me, which sometimes drives me crazy when she does not tell me. She will shop in my closet and the only clue I have is that the light is left on.
The thought I put into getting dressed has not changed with cancer, going to chemo, going to doctor appointments and going to the clinic. During the couple of days of chemo hell, I am about comfort, lying or sitting quietly because of how bad I feel, and just trying not to be sick. When those two days are over, including the day I have my chemo pump disconnected, I put on a dress, sandals, my wig and jewelry and go. Looking good makes me feel good. Wearing a cap, not getting dressed up at all, and not caring makes me feel like a cancer patient. I do not want to feel that way. I want to feel like someone who cares and is ready for the whatever the world is bringing. I feel better when I look better. I feel better when I take care with my appearance. I feel better when I look like I care about myself.
I do believe that taking the time to look good is important and not a waste of time. It affects how you feel about yourself. It affects how others perceive you – as a sick person or someone who is fighting the fight and doing well. It affects your attitude. I am definitely more positive when I take the time to look good. Part of fighting this disease is having a positive attitude and seeing yourself as healthy. While it may take more time in the morning to think about about what I am going to wear, and what jewelry I will put on, I always enjoyed doing that and now it is more important than ever. Maybe it’s just an excuse to do more shopping, but I feel empowered when I look good. Looking good makes me feel positive about myself and gets me ready to face the world. Cancer will not make me give that up. Instead it makes me more determined to continue to care about myself and to show it. Now I have to decide what I am wearing when we go out to dinner tonight. A dress, for sure….