This is me when I was…. 4?
Wearing the heck out of my joy.
I’m 35 now…. and I finally feel like I know myself…my style…. my niche…. my whatever you want to call it.
Like I have been picking up pieces of the puzzle my whole life and I am finally sitting down, looking at them, dusting old ones off, getting to know the new ones, and putting them all together.
The finished puzzle is shaping up to look a lot like the photo of me when I was 4.
Care free, bright, floral, mis-matched, happy, and dressing myself in things that make me feel like how you feel when you are on a swing…..free.
I am discovering little things about myself every day that may seem silly to others but have been monumental to me.
I know that a grey v neck tee shirt has no place in my closet…….despite what every magazine article that I have been reading since the 7th grade tells me.
I know that there are girls out there that get up and curl their hair every day….. and that I will never be one of them.
I know that there is no $80 mascara that looks better on my eyelashes than good old $5 Maybelline from Rite aid.
I know that I am more likely to be envious of what the 8 year old at the park is wearing then what her mom is…. I might linger at the monkey bars….pssst…. where did you get those lavender polka dot tights?
I think I wasted a lot of time in my life trying to figure out what kind of girl I was.
Or maybe I always knew… But for a long time I only let parts of her come out to play.
It probably started right around the age of 11. The year I was starting to become aware of what other girls were wearing…. and that some girls played hop scotch and wore striped leggings. Some girls stood in a circle and giggled in skirts. Some hung from bars on the playground in jeans.
Although I was friends with all of these girls, I have always gotten along with pretty much everyone…. I knew I was a tom boy. I never wore skirts or dresses or tights or anything pretty. Girls that go out and play football with the boys at recess don’t wear any of those sorts of things, even though I wanted to. At least that’s what my 11 year old brain thought.
A couple weeks ago I hiked to the top of a mountain with my 3 little boys in a dress with ruffles and polka dot tights and I have never felt more like my true self. It was exhilarating.
Dear 11 year old self,
You wear whatever the fuck you want to wear to recess.
My mom is going to read this and see that I just wrote the F word and be shocked, so I guess I should also tell you that I also say the F word now and then…. even though I wear a bunch of lace and pin flowers in my hair….
My high school senior pictures were snapped with me posing on a weird ledge with a half smile in navy pants and a plain button down sweater….a half smile because pretty girls in magazines have big eyes, even when they smile. They have pearly white teeth and apparently they wore button down cardigans. At least that is what my 16 year old brain thought.
Dear 16 year old self,
Have that photographer meet you in your back yard…. sit on your horse bare back in your favorite Roxy tee shirt and cut-offs….yes even with your horrid softball tan lines. You should be eating a slice of Central Market pizza and be smiling so big that your eyes disappear inside of your giddy face, because that was what 16 looked like for you….and that’s what your smile actually looks like…. and in 20 years it will be your favorite thing about yourself.
In my 20’s I was still kind of fumbling about…horse girl, coffeehouse girl, bartender girl, dance in the club girl, social butterfly girl, artsy crafty girl, cozy stay inside and read girl, camping/hiking pnw girl. The 20’s are for trying on all the things…. taking a little from here…. a little from there. Yes, I like flowy skirts, Nope, never going to wear slacks…. not ever..
You start getting more comfortable in your skin. You start to understand what works for you. You like picking out what you’re going to wear that night, packing for romantic getaways……. you have your favorite stores, things are feeling pretty joyful….. and then——————
Dear 20 year old self,
You are about to have yourself a litter of children…. enjoy that mini skirt.
Having babies is like the intermission of the wearing your joy movie.
There is no…. loss of joy… its just…. distributed differently .
Take this picture for example…..
I am, in all seriousness, ridiculously happy here, I am not winning any fashion awards…. but… I have everything I ever wanted in this picture.
I got my 2 year old twins. I got my newborn baby. I got my breast pump. I got my laptop set up to watch a horse show. I got my little burp cloth. I got my 3XL Wonder woman tee shirt from Target. Good to go.
I want to make sure that everyone knows just how much joy that horribly large but undeniably comfortable shirt brought me through those months… You seriously don’t give a shiznit at that point. You just want to be comfortable.
You are feeding a baby from your body. You are staring at their eyelashes and little fingernails. You are wondering how you made such a perfect little…and oh…yikes….there’s the Fed Ex man at the door…. welp, guess he saw my boob out again… oh well.
It’s a level of not giving a shiznit that is off the charts.
And let’s not forget about the joy Dan was feeling…….
Now here’s a guy who is jam packed full of potty training, newborn night feeds, hormonal wife joy…….
Here’s the deal, folks. These years are weird. They just are.
You’re so tired and busy and happy and confused and amazed and overwhelmed and grateful and hormonal and weird.
I don’t think that I ever really forgot myself…. she was always there….I was just so freaking busy that I had to have a quick a conversation with her that went a little something like this….
“Hey girl. I’m not putting anything cute on you right now or washing you enough or really hanging out with you a lot these days…. I know… I miss it too… But I haven’t forgotten about you…… and as soon as I can… I’ll be back for you. I promise.”
So yeh, not a bunch of joy wearing….
But still joy.
So much joy.
Fast forward a year or so……
…..and here comes 2018…. looking all new and shiny and potty trained and I was ready.
Maybe it’s coming out of that season of having toddlers (let us just overlook the fact that I still have one) or getting older… or the just the simple fact that you are guaranteed not to be spit up on…….
But I have felt this shift in me that is like…. I just want to be a baller.
I want to wake up, wear beautiful clothes, twirl around in them….and just…. DO THINGS.
Who even knows what, but I just want to do them.
So right around this time I start feeling the good vibes, I stumble on Kelly Roberts.
She is a true inspirational soul, an artist, and no, of course I don’t actually know her, but I am sure she is a real peach….AND she was offering an e-course called… ‘Wear your joy’.
A 30 day prompted course to inspire and guide you through rediscovering the FUN of getting yourself dressed every day.
You look at your closet .
You rid yourself of every piece that you don’t absolutely adore.
You try on clothes you already have in different ways, make a little joy altar, gain inspiration from others, I FREAKING loved it.
I started looking at getting myself dressed not as a hurried task, but as a way to set the tone for the day.
And none of this saving special clothes for special occasions…..
I now give myself permission to treat every day like it was and is the most special day of the year.
Nothing is off limits.
I wear my best dress for a walk to visit the sheep.
My favorite sweater to drop my kids off at school.
A spritz of fancy perfume to check the mail.
It feels GOOD.
I went into a vintage shop with my friend Nicole and after
taking a tequila shot with the chatting up the owner she went to the back and brought out a stack of 1950’s handmade ‘feed sack’ dresses. “These will be perfect for you.”
I bought 6.
She sent me the last 3 in the mail a month later with a note that said ‘I know you will give them a good home and they will bring you joy.’ (Thank you Gretchen🙂
I wore them nearly every day this summer.
I gather eggs in the pockets, dig in the garden… I took them to the fair, on hikes, to the beach…. I sit in them and wonder about the woman who sewed them…. what kind of life did she lead, where have they been?
These are the things that bring me joy.
At 35 that is all I am really interested in anymore.
The things that give me that squishy, disappearing eye smile I was talking about before. The one I get when I am completly in the moment happy… when I am laughing with my friends, dancing with my husband, looking down at my newborn sons.
It’s the worst kind of smile you can have according to Dermatologists everywhere.
“Oh my, you do smile with your whole face don’t you?” one told me a couple years ago. ” Well stay out of the sun, use this cream and in a few years we will fix you right up with some injectables and you will be happy as a clam….”
As I am writing this I am running my fingers over the small lines that are starting to form. The years of happiness are catching up to me, as if that is a bad thing.
Dear 35 year old self,
Don’t ever listen to someone else’s version of your joy. Surround yourself with things that make you smile with your whole face, play in the sun with your kids all day, every day…. wear rainbow hats and flower sweaters and ridiculous socks…….. and those wrinkles…. that proof on your face that you live a wonderful and fulfilling life? Well that is your best accessory.
Find out what brings YOU joy….
Find out what YOU want more of….
Find out what makes YOU feel good….
And then for goodness sake ADORN yourself with it…..
COVER your entire body with things that make you giddy.
Throw out the rules and enJOY every minute of it…
I sure have!
Oh, Rachel! This is wonderful. I think you have a little bit of me in you; the part that wears glitter on my face everyday and, after a traumatic “fat” junior high school and high school experience, just stopped caring what anybody thought. So, at almost 73, I still wear the glitter and mismatched socks and clothes that are too “young” for me. And, (so sorry to your mom!) I don’t really give a fuck what anyone else thinks! I love you 🧚♂️
This is soooo wonderful and soooo inspiring!! Just love every single thing about this. So thank you!! I feel a little lest crazy about my hot pink shoes and bows in my hair! ❤️
My George and I just met your husband today in Jackson! What a wonderful life you are having and also one for your boys! Keep up the good work! Your writing is awesome! Kay and George Siesta Beach, FL
Hi! Dan told me all about you and I was so sad I didn’t get to chat too! I was the one who stopped on the road to ask if you needed help, so I guess I technically got to meet you 😉 hehe. Thank you for your kind words, it sounds like you guys are living the best life as well, cheers and happy trails!!!!!