It’s a new world now and with all the upheaval, the drastic changes and the pall of uncertainty, nothing will ever be the same.
And yet, there is still truth and JOY to be found, even if in some ways we are being held captive in our homes in order to stay safe and healthy.
Well, we also need to stay SANE and that’s not always easy, especially considering the global crisis around us.
In some ways, I have quite a bit of expertise when it comes to mental health, and I come by it honestly through the best possible school in the Universe: experience.
As a highly sensitive person who learned early on how to hide and disassociate from intense emotion, I needed to unravel ineffective coping mechanisms that throughout adulthood started causing more issues than they were solving (because really, drinking red wine and smoking pot will only get you so far in life…).
Luckily, I have acquired an incredible toolbox and as I develop my Life Coaching practice, I am eager to share what I have learned, and what works well for me.
And so I present to you a snippet of my favorite tools right now – some are obvious but great reminders. Others are more novel and might make you go “WTF?”
Regardless of your response, I hope that what I share here is helpful and maybe even beneficial in these moments of social distancing and beyond. Especially #7 which is rife with methods that will serve for all your emotional triggers – now and in the future, whatever that looks like.
In my opinion, we create our own realities and with this global pause button, we have a perfect opportunity to reassess and recalibrate how we are showing up for ourselves (most importantly!), our families, our communities, and our businesses.
So here they are, in list form:
7 Tips for Staying SANE
Stick a pen in your mouth
Listen to nature sounds
Drink more water and BREATHE
Emotional Freedom Technique
The other day my daughter was helping me tidy up the house. The sun was shining, igniting the fragrance of the bright green grass outside. The windows and doors open, we watched and listened as birds flitted and chirped around the feeders.
While my husband and I tried to stay on task with the organizing, she threw her arms out and twirled around stating, in a sing-songy voice:
It feels like we are cleaning up Winter and welcoming Spring!
Adorable and insightful, that one.
And it’s true. Though we are all hunkered down right now, exploring what it feels like to bake bread with our own hands and have a government-induced reason to binge-watch Netflix, there is something in the air that hits this time of year.
And it ignites a desire to sweep away the old and welcome the new.
And with it comes the benefits of not only controlling what you can (the environment of your home) but it also feeds the relationship between our internal and external landscapes.
As without, so within.
And if you know me, and my work, you know that I’m all about cleaning up the closet!
Going through your clothes can be an exercise in reviewing who you have been, and with my methods, can help put you in touch with who you are becoming.
Because we are all going to be showing up differently so now is a great time to shift.
And since you might be looking at your closet facing another form of OVERWHELM, take a look at my self-study Capsule Creation Course. Creating a capsule wardrobe within your current wardrobe is an amazing way to get in touch with what you love to wear and what you want to wear more of – it becomes the backbone of a more in-depth editing process and it’s gentle and accessible. Both welcome feelings right now, as always.
Stick a pen in your mouth
This relates to what I mention above about the internal and external landscapes.
And I don’t mean eat the pen.
Rather, in a horizontal orientation, place it between your teeth. Doing so literally forces you to “smile” rather than have that RBF (resting bitch face) all the time that contributes to droopy jowls down the line.
We want to come out the other side of this pandemic better than when we went in, mmmmkay?
Leave the pen in until you start to drool.
That should be just enough time to lighten your mood.
Listen to nature sounds
One of the delightful results of what we are going through right now is fewer cars on the road, quieter streets and thus more opportunity for nature to infiltrate our lives.
In the past century there has been a global and systemic disconnection from nature – as if we have been in denial of what is truly within and around us for the sake of “progress”.
But now, all the factors we thought indicated our superiority over nature are shuttered and unavailable for the health and safety of our human race.
We have to stop racing, at least for the near future, and how wonderful we can relish in evidence of something much larger, older, and wiser than we are.
The cycles of nature continue despite our own shutdown.
Blossoms bely the unemployment rate and the warm sun can still fill isolated hearts with optimism.
Where I live in Connecticut the road in front of our house typically sees over 200,000 cars a day. But now that number has dwindled and at night, for the first time since moving here five years ago, I can hear the peeper frogs sing a nightly symphony from the banks of the river across the street.
If you don’t have access to any sort of nature, here is LINK to some relaxing river sounds.
Listen and see what happens for you. Yes, for you.
All of this is for us. It’s not happening to us it’s happening for us though being in full acceptance of that might take some time. (Scroll to tip #7 for more on expediting that process).
Drink more water + BREATHE
Back in my days as a wilderness leader for children, I was known as “The Water Dictator.” At the start of every trip, before we left basecamp, I would insist everyone drink a certain amount of water and then refill their bottles before setting out. And then I would monitor how much everyone was getting throughout the day, or days.
Many rolled their eyes but I knew well the effects of dehydration: lethargy, crankiness, hunger, inability to think straight.
Not ideal when you are on the trail. Or anywhere, really.
And I find that now, without the typical zeitgeist of yoga classes and errand-running, I’m forgetting about how much water I really need.
The trickiest aspect of mild dehydration is the hunger – a lot of times we think we are hungry but really we are thirsty.
So take a few nice big gulps of water the next time you reach for another #coronatinesnack and then wait a beat – you might find you don’t actually need the whole bag of chips to feel satisfied.
Oh yeah, and BREATHE.
Personally I forget this one. I get tense and I hold my breath. But that’s even worse than being dehydrated.
Doubly worse when you are not breathing and not drinking enough water.
Basic self-care, people. We can’t get our nails done right now but we can hydrate and breathe and keep our bodies functioning at an optimal level.
I admit it. When I first learned about this approach to “moving energy through the system”, I thought it was huey.
And there are plenty of people who refer to EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) as pseudo-science.
Which is understandable because of all the scientists who have studied it, no one can prove why it works.
Which doesn’t matter. Because sometimes we don’t have to know why something works, just that it does.
Once I got over how cooky and New Age (though it is based on ancient Chinese practices of chi and the presence of subtle anatomy energy meridians) it seemed to tap on various points on my head and torso while repeating affirmation-like phrases, I found exactly what the name implies: freedom.
For most of my life, I normalized anxiety to the point that I didn’t know what anxiety was, just that it was the way things were for me.
Once I eliminated my coping mechanisms (see reference above to wine and marijuana) I had to face a whole lotta EMOTION.
I felt anything but free.
And this practice has been a cornerstone coping mechanism for me anytime I feel that familiar sensation of tightness in my chest that has been known to cause the intermittent panic attack.
I promise, you won’t think it’s weird once you experience how well it works. It’s simple, accessible, and free.
Free freedom? Yes, please.
Here is a quick VIDEO I made walking through an anxiety release with a short introduction to what EFT is.
I am currently enrolled in a 200-hour yoga teacher training that, of course, is now online.
This past weekend one of my peers asked the question: why do we do yoga?
My initial what-a-stupid-question response surprised me but then I quickly checked myself (I am becoming a yoga teacher, after all) and realized that not only was it a valid question, it was a great one!
Yoga is an ancient practice that was created in order to better attain a deep state of meditation. By synchronizing breath and movement, all kinds of beneficial things happen for the body, mind and spirit which yoga (derived from the word yolk meaning union) works to bring all together.
Stretching relaxes us and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which supports the sympathetic nervous system which, working together, is what keeps us healthy and vibrant.
Which is exactly what we are looking for here, as always.
Strong, healthy and vibrant beings. YES!
So if you haven’t tried yoga, it is now even more accessible than ever with many studios offering online classes. I particularly like “live” classes where the teacher interacts with you directly so search your local studio )or beyond) for their mixed level classes.
Okay, so I saved the best, and my favorite, for last. Thank you for sticking with me (or scrolling down here from the top because you wanted the goods first).
Either way, I would like to introduce you to a concept that has turned me from one of those people who has a beautiful life but is deeply miserable into someone who can take leaden emotions and turn them into gold.
This is what I mean by Emotional Alchemy.
I truly wish I had discovered this process decades ago but alas, when we are really ready to learn, the teacher appears.
The premise of the process is rooted in the approach that as humans, we are responsible for our “ride” and our experience on earth. As such, we exist in a non-dual paradox that offers us the opportunity to experience a full spectrum of emotion.
So while there might be some boredom in your life right now, maybe you are feeling trapped and isolated?
Well, there’s literal GOLD in that situation and in some ways, a part of you, and all of us, wanted to know what that felt like both individually and collectively.
Kinda trippy, huh?
And it really, really works.
As an empath I have always experienced emotion viscerally.
Say something terse to me and it shoots through my veins like a bullet.
Give me a compliment and I have to grip onto the nearest piece of furniture.
Tell me something sad and I crumple to the ground.
But, when I learned how to alchemize my feelings rather than repress or deny them (what we are taught and often forced to do), the world around me changed because I began to interact with my experience in a new and rather exciting way.
Now life is more of a game.
Sure there are some D-I-F-F-I-C-U-L-T moments (because they are actually part of the fun) but they don’t have the same devastating effect on me they once did.
I have more energy. I get sick less. I’m able to show up for myself, my family and my business in a new, purpose-driven way.
And let me tell you, that is the ultimate goal of gold.
So, as you play the game of life, I offer to be your cheerleader as you navigate these remarkable times, while we set new precedents on a global level.
In any of the moments of questioning who you are or what it looks like for you on the other side of this, who you will be and how you will show up in the world – start to ask: who am I being right now?
It might be a question you ask more than once and when you do start exploring what that is, a whole lotta emotion can come to the surface.
That, too, is a game and I can be the one on the sidelines cheering you to the ultimate victory: self-knowing and living an embodied and fully expressed human existence.
It became an existential debate – an internal conversation not just about what I spend my money on but even more profoundly, questions that centered around:
Who am I?
What me am I presenting to the world?
Of course they were fabulous. Well-made and ostensibly, quite comfortable considering I was teetering on my tiptoes, supported by a thin nail in a plushly-carpeted store.
And I think, in essence, these beautiful shoes spoke to me on a deep level because if I was a pair of shoes, I would totally be a pair of sparkly leopard open-toed booties.
One hundred and ten percent.
And yet, no matter how hard I tried, nor how long I sat admiring how adorable and sexy my feet looked as the light of the store danced off the glitter…
…I could not see how these beautiful specimens would “fit” into my life both literally and figuratively.
Sure I could have worn them that very night to the Gwen Stefani concert I was attending in Las Vegas. Paired with my denim jumpsuit they would have garnered just the sort of attention and compliments I revel in; the kind I dress for, the ones that are an acknowledgement of my embodiment and my ability to create unique ensembles.
But where else, and with what, would I wear them?
I spent many (MANY) painstaking (VERY PAINFUL) moments ensconced in envisioning additional circumstances that would justify the significant investment.
And I couldn’t.
Despite how creative I am, regardless of my visionary capabilities and in spite of how much of me just wanted to swipe my card and prance out with one of those adorable shopping bags, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I saw them becoming a WATERFALL ITEM and, even worse, something that might claim a position on top of my closet, out of reach and only taken down occasionally; something that might garner resentment.
Resentment not just because I might not have many opportunities to wear them but resentment because they just don’t relate to my life the way they might have, or the way I might have been able to convince myself they would, even two years ago.
They were absurd; and yet absurdly amazing.
And as such, they would not have eased into any realistic position in my current wardrobe.
They wanted more than that from me.
They wanted attention on every level.
And I fell deeply in love with them for that.
I felt perfectly at home in them at that moment, ensconced in the glitz of Las Vegas, but I knew they would not be at home once I returned home.
Everyone in the store was on board with me purchasing them. There was a sheen of peer pressure to take the plunge and just splurge.
They are amazing!
They are so YOU!
Those shoes are high fashion!
It felt like a lot of noise. All of the words and thoughts reminded me of why I personally prefer to shop for myself ALONE.
And in the end, after a time-warp of 90 minutes spent in debate, I came to the decision that I would feel more powerful walking out of the store without that beautiful bag of shoes in hand.
And please keep in mind, that whatever you bring into your life, what will serve as an extension of you and your energy, and either bring you levity and inspiration (or the opposite) – all of it needs to be aligned with who you are, who you are being and even who you are becoming.
But I find that in some situations, it’s best to create the space for something new. By not buying them, there’s room for something else that will truly serve me in my own transformation from someone who previously never thought twice about buying something that spoke to her on any level.
And so some of my purchases were not always level-headed.
Now I am realizing that in the work I do with others, and particularly in the work I am doing on myself, my own shifting, the conversation goes much deeper than those booties would have allowed me to go.
At that particular moment.
I am well aware that as proud fashionista and recovering shopaholic, those sparkly leopard open-toed booties might well haunt me.
But better that they do so from a distance rather than in physical form on a high shelf of my closet.
And maybe someday, after I daydream about them enough, I might proceed with bringing them into my life.
Because, you see, it’s about so much more than just the thing when it comes to style and our personal expression.
We get to decide. We get to choose what we buy, what we wear, who we are, the stories we are telling the world and ourselves.
And in those excruciating moments, I could not write a future for those sparkly leopard open-toed booties.
But I’m grateful for the experience of having tried them on and reveling in the beautiful brand Sarah Jessica Parker has created.
And I’m particularly thankful for the space that still exists in my closet and for feeling no remorse leaving the store empty-handed.
I could feel as I walked away that my bank account rejoiced and my soul breathed a sigh of relief that I’m no longer convincing myself that I am someone I am not.
I no longer need to hide, to create a façade behind anything.
The beautiful and the ugly, the joyful and the painful can all exist side-by-side.
And I will dance anywhere and everywhere no matter what is on my feet.
Helena Grant is a Life Coach and Transformative Style Healer specializing in bringing the spiritual to the physical by helping women express themselves through clothing. She works virtually one-to-one with clients who are ready to re-shape the way they see themselves and design the lives they truly desire and deserve. Find out more by clicking HERE.
The Hummingbird, whose medicine is JOY, represents your inner royalty; JOY is at the heart of ruling your kingdom, of rising above any situation, of overcoming challenges with ease. JOY fuels the ability to be emotionally agile; to hover, move forward, backward, up, down or sideways. When we have JOY in our lives, we can live with EASE.
In this exercise, you will spend 3.5 minutes a day for 6 days writing to the Hummingbird within – that tiny space with the capacity to hold something magnanimous; your inner JOY as it relates to the ways Hummingbird moves in the world and where you are in life (hovering), where you have been (backwards, sideways, up and down) and where you are going (forwards).
To assist you in accessing the joy-filled Hummingbird space, consider getting in touch with your younger, well-prepared self – the self that enthusiastically throws herself into experiences and is not afraid to express the full spectrum of her emotions.
JOY can be found anywhere, experienced at any time. Often our JOY can appear to be unmoving as if in a state of torpor to survive the winter of our chilled hearts.
Hummingbirds can rest and perch and even withstand the cold temperatures but they cannot be confined; trapped JOY perishes as quickly as a hummingbird trapped in a cage.
1)Set a timer for 3 ½ minutes
2)Write freely in your magical diary
3)Consider structuring the entries in the form of a short letter addressed directly to Hummingbird
4)Use the below prompts (one per day) to assist if you feel stuck
Our emotions, and how we respond to them, can be as nimble as Hummingbird when JOY is fully honored, ignited and expressed:
Hover – take a pause and feel nourished by where you are right here, right now. Where is your JOY? What brings it to you?
Backwards – employing hindsight we can honor a time in the past when we felt joyful. Write to hummingbird about how you hold those images and moments dear to your heart. Express gratitude.
Up – a chance to look down from a perspective of above; what JOY does Hummingbird see from this vantage point? What opportunities are there?
Down – write to Hummingbird about a time you doused your JOY for what you thought was the benefit of someone else.
Sideways – was there a time your JOY was expressed in a way that made you or others uncomfortable? Was it misplaced because it wasn’t fully expressed?
Forward – commit to Hummingbird your intention to spread JOY within yourself and share it with others
On the 7th day, after you have spent time addressing and uncovering the JOY inside, take what has been stirred up and turn the energy towards your closet, where clothes offer an immediate channel for expression.
Spend just 3 ½ minutes looking at or even just thinking about your current closet.
Ask yourself: what clothing inspires JOY in you? Is there something you don’t typically get to wear that you wish you could? A Sequin romper? A silk robe? A pair of panties you think are only for “special occasions”?
Build your outfit for the day around this item and commit to embodying JOY in your fullest expression, even without speaking, and experience how your heart sings a new tune.
Or perhaps you recognize it as a melody your heart sang before you grew accustomed to denying yourself access to the JOY, the Hummingbird, within.
Once these exercises are complete, notice how Hummingbird begins to again make the joyful sounds in your life – a buzzing feeling in your heart like wings beating 50 times per second.
A personal note:
This practice is adapted from a dream I had the night before I would be officially saying good-bye to my father’s house. For months I had put every ounce of me into spending his final moments with him, to planning his service, delivering the eulogy and then moving out of our home of 20 years. My entire being was exhausted, my business was on hold and I hadn’t seen my daughter in weeks. This dream reminded me that whether we are in the rut of our mundane lives or even in the depths of grief, JOY remains and begs to be set free.
Helena Grant is a Life Stylist on a mission to help women live the lives they desire and deserve by exploring channels of creativity, wellness, spirituality and material abundance. She works 1:1 with clients to find profound, lasting and fully-embodied happiness. CLICK HERE to discover ways to work directly with Helena.
Breathing laboriously I tried to bring enough saliva into my mouth to form words.
I thought I might be having a panic attack induced by a profound realization that came through me like the hand of a very strong higher power.
It was moments before I was going live in my Facebook group to teach the final module of my online style transformation program BE YOUR OWN STYLIST.
It was time for me to show up and I realized this time around, it wasn’t enough for me to just to teach the concepts of a “capsule wardrobe” – it was time to LIVE it.
And I was totally, completely freaking out. On every level.
You see, I LOVE my clothes and I relished spending hours on end playing in my closet creating outfits and putting together unexpected pairings. I rationalized that it was all a part of my job as a personal stylist and while this is true (and I still delight in “playing dress-up, and encourage my clients to do so as well) I realized I needed more of a lot of things.
Not more clothes and definitely not more time sifting through the heaps of my collection, getting lost in daydreams (as wonderful and important as they are!)
I needed to focus, to buckle down and start showing rather than just telling.
It was time to get totally real and completely authentic.
It was time to actually create my own capsule wardrobe.
The term “capsule wardrobe” is SUPER BUZZY right now. Not surprising considering the shift towards more conscientious consumerism and movement away from the “fast fashion” that has marked the scene in recent years.
The fact is, not all that long ago, a woman’s closet used to be perfectly coordinated with high quality items that all worked together; and she had an outfit for every occasion.
But, we find we are no longer there.
Instead we have closets bursting with clothes that make us feel judged and overwhelmed.
Often, because of this overwhelm, we end up wearing the same thing every day – and not in a good way.
Can’t it all just be more cohesive, streamlined and approachable?
A History of the Capsule Wardrobe
The term “capsule wardrobe” was first coined by a London boutique owner in the 1970’s and was subsequently popularized by Donna Karan with her 1985 release of “7 Easy Pieces” which consisted of interchangeable workwear items. This launch coincided with women entering the workforce in droves and they needed clothes that would support them in their roles not just as mothers and wives but as businesswomen.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
Currently when someone refers to “capsule wardrobe” it means a selection of about 40 pieces that are interchangeable and versatile and can carry you through all activities.
There are a lot of stylists out there putting together some very pretty looking visuals flaunting their expertise and encouraging you to go out and buy all 40 pieces.
But, from my perspective, there is some serious magic missing in their formulations. Not to mention PRACTICALITY.
Here’s what is typically outlined when you look for insight on how to build a capsule wardrobe:
Select 40 pieces
Get rid of everything else
Ummmm let’s just take a minute here and talk about #1 on that list – how the HELL are we supposed to choose 40 items? Where’s the direction? The structure? The support?! How do you establish COHESION with the items? And really, get rid of everything? Yeah, no.
Ever since that day last Spring when I announced my own commitment to the Capsule Concept, I have worked to employ (my own variations) of the methodologies to my wardrobe — to incredible result.
The exercise gave me new perspective on my clothes and helped me appreciate how little we actually need to feel supported and fulfilled – I saw, true to my hypothesis, that when we have limits, we are the most free.
And interestingly, my desire to create capsules within my wardrobe tends to align with a shift in the seasons; cold weather to warm and back again.
So here we are, with hot days of summer fast approaching.
I’m finding once again that I want more time, more energy for the things I love (not just for all my clothes – as much as I do, and always will, love them.)
And I address it all in the Capsule Creation Crash Course.
I created this offer so that in just 5 days for 10 minutes a day (or less!) you can transform your wardrobe so you can live life with ease during these easy months.
And that is always where we start when it comes to style.
With what you already have.
Your personal brand already exists in your current closet and the capsule is just a concentrated, focused way to free up more time and energy in your life because you have made all your decisions in advance.
In this course we will work throughwhat is serving youin what you currently have and we will build from there, creating outfits within the parameters of your available selection.
And you don’t have to get rid of anything — of course you absolutely can and you likely will but instead we will be creating a section of your closet from which you can FOCUS and delight in new perspective.
So what do I really think results from the Capsule Effect? What have I seen and experienced both for myself and my clients?
Essentially more of what we want, less of what we don’t.
This is about changing your life, starting with your clothes.
And having everything you need no matter what you do or where you go.
That’s The Capsule Effect.
Helena Grant is a Personal Stylist on a mission to liberate women and help them find their most powerful expression. She works 1:1and in groups virtually and in-person. The Capsule Creation Crash Course launches Monday, June 17thand offers closet transformation in 5 easy modules along with a private Facebook group for additional support and style guidance.
Why, oh, WHY would a personal stylist be writing about a faux fur vest at the onset of the Spring/Summer season?
Shouldn’t she be trying to sell me something that’s in the boutiques and department stores right now?
Isn’t it a stylist supposed to tell me what to wear for all the cocktail parties, bar-b-ques and weddings that I have coming up?
You’d be more than right to pose any of the above questions… and you might have others of your own.
I hesitated even writing this because in many ways, it doesn’t FIT.
On the surface, this topic does not highlight the trends of the season or my outfit of the day as most stylists propagate and market.
This is about something deeper.
Even if superficially I’m writing about outerwear that I purchased over 4 and a half years ago from a brand that I had never heard of before or since from an off-sell site that no longer exists, this is about more than clothing.
I am writing this at a time when a faux fur vest with toggle buttons is quite possibly the last thing on anyone’s mind, when the weather is fighting to warm up and the blossoms are just beginning to give way to a full-blown New England spring – this is a time when ummmm hello, we are all trying our best to forget winter!
But this is important. What I’m writing here.
Mostly it’s important for me but I know it’s applicable to so many, especially women.
On April 27th, I hosted my first Style Archetype Workshop at my Boston studio space. The women who attended experienced remarkable transformation in how they viewed themselves and expressed their self-worth.
Most importantly, this time I not only lead the workshop, I also put myself through my own paces.
I didn’t expect how deeply it would touch me to respond to my own prompts meant to get to the heart of the stories we’ve been told, the self-limiting beliefs we cultivate in our psyches.
But it did.
It hit me hard.
In the best way possible, so many things came up.
And I channeled it all into completing the homework I gave the workshop attendees.
I told them:
Take the energy of today and all you learned about yourself, from your own Style Archetype Trifecta to your Style Directives, and apply it all to your current closet. Spend just 2 hours editing and styling what you already own.
Even though I knew this was sound advice and it was exactly what I needed (personally, myself), I wasn’t going to do it.
I was tired from planning the workshop and feeling overwhelmed with everything else I needed to be doing.
But, I also knew on the other side of the effort of editing my own closet was a both a palette and a canvas for me to create.
And I decided to focus on that.
One of the exercises towards the end of the Style Archetype Workshop was to think of ONE THING in your closet that, after having learned so much throughout the day, you KNOW you can let go of immediately.
For me, it was this vest.
It came to mind instantly the minute I verbalized the assignment and, frequently this past winter, I had considered wearing it. But, I always hesitated because it, like so many things, holds a specific energy I was ready to release, even if I wasn’t quite willing to let go.
I bought it in 2014 from the website MyHabit (now defunct) when I was 9 months pregnant with my daughter thinking it would keep me feeling glamorous as I made my way through the post-partum months. It was still steamy in September at the time I clicked the buy button.
Just a few days later I went into labor at 35 weeks and Belle, though technically healthy, was not ready to come home when I left the hospital.
It was an excruciating time for me.
For three weeks I commuted between our apartment and the NICU at Beth Israel Medical Center. Every night I woke up hourly to call the nurses’ desk and ask for an update on Belle’s vitals and to see how nighttime feedings had gone. During the day I spent 8 hours holding her with tubes and monitors beeping and hissing, narrating all the things we would do together once she was ready to leave and see the world with me, the one that existed beyond the picture window.
And every day, I wore this vest.
It arrived a day or two after I was discharged and I had forgotten about ordering it (as we are wont to do when it comes to online shopping…) but when I opened the box, I was filled with childlike emotion.
I tore away the plastic and gathered the bulky fibers into my arms, hugging it like a teddy bear.
When I put it on, I felt held, caressed and supported.
Walking into the hospital each day, the staff soon began dropping comments about me being a “moviestar mom”. Not only was it perfect for the early fall weather but it also magically fit it in a way that an anxious new mother needed so badly.
It served me well.
Not just during those daily trips to the confines of the hospital but beyond. I even wore it to what would have been Belle’s baby shower but instead was a welcome party where snapshots of her proved she was an exact physical replica of my husband.
I lightened the mood by joking that I wanted a maternity test all while I stroked the soft fibers, burying my hands in the deep pockets – holding it together on the outside, a wreck on the inside.
The vest became a go-to every winter since and though I am certainly one to revel in compliments, this past winter I knew something had shifted in my relationship to this piece.
Every time I looked at my closet this past season, surveying it to see what outfit I wanted to create, my eyes passed over this vest and something stirred inside me – I felt sad, leaden, weighted.
Ready to let go, a voice inside me said.
But I wasn’t ready. Not yet, at least.
And how surprising considering I talk so much about the importance of editing your closet and only having things in your immediate vicinity that you are excited about wearing, that fit right now and are seasonal.
But we often get where we need to be eventually, and now I can accept that this vest is ready to move on.
It’s ready to help someone else through something whether it be a celebration or a time when they need comfort.
I could keep holding onto it, to wait and see how I feel about it next time the winds usher in colder temperatures but, to be honest, it takes up a lot of space; in more ways than one.
It’s physical and psychic space.
And I am ready to let go just as much as this vest is ready to let go of me.
I find sometimes, not just for myself but also for my clients, that some things are easier to release than others. We know something is interfering, maybe even weighing us down and yet we hold onto it.
Maybe we feel an obligation to the item, to how it served us, or maybe it didn’t get a chance at all, and instead wallowed with the tags still attached.
Or we worry we will want it someday and look back with regret.
This might very well happen to me in a few months, a year – maybe more.
I might look back and say: what was I thinking letting go of that vest? That glamorous shawl collar and a cut that covered the hips. So what if it was ratty at the armpits, burned at the back from standing too close to a fire one day? How could I have let it go?
I might not remember all the reasons but when (or if) I do come across any feelings that resemble regret, I will recall this moment of commemoration – these words, these photos that take up less space than the garment itself.
And, instead of focusing on lack I will think about the woman, on the other side of this process, who is benefitting from the warmth of being swathed in style.
I think of this woman often when I am clearing away remnants of my past self during my own closet edits, and I encourage clients to do the same.
Think of the woman who will pick up this piece wherever it ends up. She lights up with delight wondering how anyone could let it go but grateful they did because it might be just what she needs right at that time. It might just change her life that you were willing to part with it.
I’ve cleaned out the pockets in preparation to donate the vest – two wads of tissue, an incense cone and a few stray almonds leftover from an abandoned snack.
And there was something else.
I couldn’t quite place it at first.
A few oddly shaped pieces, brittle and a deep, rusty red.
The remnants of a leaf plucked at the height of a resplendent New England fall. Given to me by my daughter who thinks every leaf is worthy of commemoration and honor.
A symbol, broken yet no less profound, of the incessant transitions we face and the beauty of letting go.
Helena Grant is a personal stylist offering 1:1 services as well as virtual courses that help women uncover the power of their personal expression through clothing. Her self-study Capsule Creation Crash Course is currently available for pre-sale. CLICK HERE to purchase the beta version and teach yourself to create a newfound harmony in your life and wardrobe.
She didn’t feel worthy of looking and feeling beautiful and powerful in the clothes she wore to restore herself on the weekends.
As an entrepreneur she thought that only her work wardrobe deserved attention.
Listening to her, I identified viscerally with her struggle and was transported to a time that was easy to re-live emotionally, when I didn’t want to get out of bed on a Saturday morning because I felt like I didn’t have anything to wear.
Lack was holding me back.
I wanted it to be Monday when things were more clear-cut and I knew exactly what to wear.
These experiences, the ones I have lived myself or helped my clients overcome, drives me in my work as a personal stylist and also lead to my design of the Style Archetypes™ as a way to understand the most effective way for women to express themselves through their clothing.
Francesca was exhibiting a strong CEO Style Archetype™ but so many of the other six archetypes were out of balance which was interfering with her living life to the fullest – ummm hello? Not wanting to go out with her boyfriend and her friends because she didn’t like the clothes she had to wear for this activities?
Her DANCER needed attention, the energy that would enable her to embrace her curves, and her GYPSY was calling for liberation.
After our session, Francesca now cultivates her style with pieces from stores that support the newfound vision of herself.
She now has a closet that supports her life and lifestyle.
*I highly value the confidentiality of my clients and thus all names have been changed.
On April 27, 2019 I am hosting a Style Archetype™ Workshop at my Downtown Boston studio.
I will be unveiling a whole new way to understand what is YOU and how to harness the power of your current closet and make the best decisions possible in future purchases.