Susan Ortolano, M.A., CMRC, PCC
Intuitive Life & Relationship Coach

Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

Creative Shopping

 bigstockphoto_Shopping_bags_849877                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a store called For Your Thighs Only that had you pick a style of pants and then a friendly alterations specialist would come to measure and design the pants just for your shape? The pants would be designed so perfectly in whichever material you wanted them to be.

Living with chronic illness often means it’s even more difficult to find clothing, shoes, and even make-up that fits, is comfortable, and really suits our needs. With my condition I have had a lot of joint pain, specifically in my knees. I have had to wear pants that were loose and comfortable. I also initially gained about 27 pounds of swelling and just about ran out of things I could wear. Back then, I could barely walk and couldn’t get around to the mall often or for long enough to seek out new clothing. Besides, the idea of buying bigger pants felt humiliating, frustrating, and just incredibly sad for me. I also had to wear medical compression socks and couldn’t wear most of my shoes. It was hard to find what I needed and what I could wear since the fashion trends dictate what’s in most of the stores and they generally cater to very thin women, between the ages of 12 and 29, who are very healthy.

It was a difficult time and I found it infuriating not being able to get what I needed and not being able to get out and shop. And let’s face it, the stuff out there that is comfortable is often on the frumpy side.

I finally decided I had to take a stand for myself and reinvent my sense of style. I had to find specialty shops and do special orders at times to find clothing I liked that also worked for me. Once I had my new look put together, I was able to search the internet and find what I was looking for. I would go to specialty shops for larger women and then get alterations done to have the clothing fit. It worked! I was able to get clothing… finally. I also discovered the fabulous Zappos. Through Zappos I have been able to order shoes, get them delivered, try them on in my own home and send back the shoes that don’t work for me. I’m so grateful for this online shopping service and for clothing companies that think beyond the trends.

Even though I’ve lost a good portion of my weight, my knees are still sensitive and I still need to shop at specialty stores. I’m grateful to have so many other options and creative ideas about what to wear and I love the style I’ve created.

For most people, it’s relatively easy to find something to wear.  For those of us with chronic illness who need things outside of what’s trendy, we just need to get a little creative and reinvent our own sense of style!

Finding Beauty…

bigstockphoto_Colors_Of_Love_2457177Size-wise, I was never really a “twig” but always maintained a thin frame, worked out and ate consciously. I was not what our culture considered ‘gorgeous’, but was considered attractive to many people. I have always loved using make up and even though I have unusual (actually more like possessed) hair, I always tried to do my best with it.

 One of the things that happened to me with the illness was I put on close to 30 lbs. of swelling and inflammation and had a red rash over part of my face. It was hard to find clothing that was loose, attractive and comfortable, and even more challenging to find shoes. The worst of it for me was the fact that I had little control. Here I had all of this extra weight on me and I hadn’t even earned it!! If I had eaten my way to the weight gain, I could deal with that, but having it have nothing to do with my food intake and no way to control it, I just had to work with the feelings that came up and learn to deal with what I saw in my own reflection. Although I’m blessed to have a wonderful husband who finds me beautiful at any size, I was having trouble seeing it myself.

 Being ill is just not quite an obvious pathway to feeling beautiful and sexy. There were so many moments of frustration, tears and sadness when I felt I had lost my “time” to look youthful, shiny and attractive. Aging was also setting in and I felt I had missed out on some of my physical “prime” way too soon as I was in my 30s when the illness began.

 With no control of the situation, I had a couple of options. I could be miserable about it (and there were days when I actually chose that route) or I could work on letting go of what I learned through our cultural programming and learn to see the beauty in the reflection staring back at me.

 Here are some questions I would ask myself:

What do I see when I look in the mirror?

What thoughts and feelings come up around that?

Could I let go of those thoughts and feelings? (that sometimes take a while)

What about my reflection do I like and appreciate today? (even if it’s just a little bit)

What beauty can I see when I look in my eyes?

 After a while, I began to see beauty beyond the physical body. We all have it and when we look deep enough, we can see it, feel it and own it. It’s an inner beauty, a spiritual beauty and one that emanates through the soul. I was stunned by that discovery and have learned to look deeper, especially on days where my physical look isn’t what I hope for. I now can enjoy carrying it with me knowing it is always there.

 I’m grateful I can look beyond the “sagging, bagging and dragging” and learn to see the beauty that is ever present and never changes. When we can really see our own beauty, we can see it in other places as well.