Rethinking whalebone in a post-pandemic world …

Rethinking whalebone in a post-pandemic world …

It reads like something you might have seen in any media outlet this time last year.

“From Syracuse, N.Y., to Idaho Falls, Idaho, some stores were shut, while others limited hours and crowd capacity, or encouraged phone orders. Merchants discouraged exchanges and returns to limit transmission,” notes this post from WWWD.

Sounds right … even though the author is describing the impact of the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak on the fashion world.

“Through the fall of 1918, sales of blankets, comforters and winter underwear (a precursor to today’s stay-at-home ath-leisure?) were up, while sales of ready-to-wear and children’s wear were hard hit. (Many mothers were afraid to take their children to stores.) Suit sales also dropped.”

It was the 100-years-ago version of Netflix and chill.

As our fashionista ancestors came out of the pandemic and the post-lockdown depression morphed into the Roaring Twenties, they made some choices. Flapper fashion began to rule the runways (this was the age of Coco Channel, Lanvin, Gucci, etc) and one thing in particular was relegated to the burn bin: the corset.

There was a lot of burning going on.

“This was also the time when women were given the right to vote in the United States. This new found freedom and desire to have fun, caused a shift in female fashion,” writes Jordan Anderson in NSS Magazine. “It was the birth of a new woman who abandoned the traditional corset silhouette for something much more freeing.  Dresses were shorter,  looser with a lower or non existent waistline and more revealing aspects like short sleeves and lower bust lines as trends moved further away from the Victorian era of dressing.”

The parallels can’t be ignore. Now, strong, clear voices are calling out oppression … in all its insidious, rib-cracking, air-sucking, life-stifling forms . Glass ceilings and walls are cracking under the strain, and there’s growing awareness that the old normal isn’t simply undergoing growing pains; it’s gone.

The political and social shockwaves took a personal joy ride for me yesterday, talking with my daughter when she called from California. We had one of our beautifully rambling talks, and got on the subject of buying clothes as she begins to plan going back to the office. (It was her comment about the Spanish Flu and the corset drop that inspired this post. She is always dropping these profound nuggets into our conversations, one of the reasons I love talking with her.)

Like so many of us, she feels that she’s gone through some profound change this past year. She likens it to packing for summer camp, when you get to decide who you want to be around so many people who don’t know you from “before.”

The challenge? Being intentional with her choices. Does she buy fast fashion that will last her a season or two, then get pitched? Or will she opt for fewer, higher quality pieces that will stay in her wardrobe for years?

The same discussion goes for relationships. Do we still want to amass a “following” on social media that we call friends, or will we spend our time cultivating deeper connections with lasting value? Neither is “wrong” (you do you, girlfriend), as long as you decide, with intention, how you want your life to look.

As we remember how to be public beings again, are we going to strap on the mental, social and emotional corsets of old, bound to the way things “should” be done, longing to ease back into the familiar? Or will we look around with wide, clear eyes and realize yes, things have changed, in ourselves and each other? Things are profoundly changed now, in ways we can’t measure yet.

Me, I’m spending a lot of time deciding on the next best version of myself, and how she moves in the world. What matters to her, what turns her off. What fills her soul, and what drains her. What makes her better … and what brings her down. I need this guidepost to navigate so much that is new to me right now, so much change and disruption and blossoming and retreating and growing and shifting, so much light and dark fighting for me attention.

This is the work of a lifetime, an epic moment in our country’s and our world’s history. And maybe it deserves more than the ratty pair of yoga capris I’ve lived in for the last several months. Or, maybe that just doesn’t matter right now.

(Update … my daughter just informed me she went to Target sans bra after our conversation. And I couldn’t be prouder.)

Live with intention first, action next. This is where I’ll be.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, on Etsy, and at select retail stores. Follow 10 Little Rules on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

 

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Fear … the worst motivator a gal ever had

Fear … the worst motivator a gal ever had

Being afraid … of missing out, of losing out, of disappointing people, of not being enough … of anything and everything. It’s a great motivator to force us to make decisions. When you’re afraid you feel the need to do something … ANYTHING … to make the feeling stop. It forces us to think of solutions to our current situation, and do something about it.

Here’s the problem though — the decisions I’ve made when I’ve been afraid have pretty much not moved the needle toward the life I imagine myself living.

Sure, if you’re facing actual physical danger the motivation of being afraid is life-saving. But really, folks, how often is the tiger lurking behind that tree a real tiger with real claws and real fangs? (Happy guy with the bobcat in his driveway not-withstanding. Google the video if you haven’t see it yet)

When we are in that state of uncertainty or anxiety, and feel the need to act, how do we avoid doing something we might regret a ways down the path?

Rule #6 – Name Your Fear

For me I reach for Rule #6 for a Blissy Life … Name your fear. Be still for a moment and listen to your heart to help you understand what you’re really afraid of. More often than not, my immediate fear is replaced by deeper wants or needs that won’t be satisfied by a quick decision … decisions that might even make the problem worse in the long run.

This is especially true for me when I’m afraid of “breaking the rules.” Going off book from the expectations of others (or myself) and taking my own weird, gorgeous path. I strongly believe that fear is the main reason we too often accept society’s “rules,” instead of living by our own.

The idea of following our own path, disregarding the safe and the predictable, is scary. What if I fail? What if I disappoint people? What if I change my mind?

So we take the easy, less frightening path …and miss out on on what could have been amazing.

What are you afraid of? What keeps you up at night? What prevents you from choosing what your heart wants, instead of what you “should” do? Maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at what’s really driving that anxiety. Behind the fear is the real “why” we can all embrace if we have the faith and the love to do so.

Much love

(A note on anxiety)

Anxiety can be a symptom of real and urgent mental health conditions. Reach out to a health professional if your anxiety is getting in the way of you living your life. And know that you have my love, support and understanding. I’ve been there.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, on Etsy, and at select retail stores.

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Oh. Em. PEE. – the Stench That Launched a New Hobby

Oh. Em. PEE. – the Stench That Launched a New Hobby

For the past few weeks, I have been taking the carpet cleaner to the second level of my home. Like, really giving the carpet up there a ‘what for’. There is a smell in my house and I don’t like it. Actually, I don’t like a lot of things in this situation. I don’t like going upstairs, it is the boy’s area and frankly, it just smells. I hate the smell of their bathroom. I hate the smell of the carpet. I strongly dislike boy funk. Before I lugged the machine up there, I thought that the smells of rotting pee (that, for some reason, I was the ONLY one who can smell it) were from the boy’s bathroom. I constantly used the Alexa to ask someone, anyone, I don’t care if it wasn’t you, but please flush that toilet!

But the smell never went away.

I went upstairs and I scrubbed their bathroom for them. Normally, this is Dave’s job and one that he doesn’t take very seriously. I took an afternoon and was very serious about it. I made that room sparkle. But, the very next day, OMFeta, the smell!

I’m not going to claim super smarts here. I mean, the fact that I have to medicate my sweet pupper, Libby, for incontinence and that my house was smelling like pee never seemed to connect in my frazzled brain. Until the gross day when it did. See, upstairs, in the hallway, there is a long nook area. It is meant to house a few desks, I believe. There is task lighting built-in, multiple outlets and switches. I always used it as a place to store kid’s toys. There is a cubby area and a soft *grass like* rug.

The day had been a bit humid when I smelled the smell that finally got so bad that even the hubs started to notice it. I worked with the kids to remove all the toys, get them into bins and move out the furniture and remove the cozy rug. The cozy, pee-stained, rug. The staining on the carpet underneath was disgusting. There are no washing instructions on the rug. I guess that IKEA assumed that it would not be used as an old lady pupper pee pad. But it was and out to the garage it went.

Over multiple days and two and a half bottles of carpet cleaner (according to the bottles, each were enough to do two large rooms apiece), I turned about 20’x8’ of disgusting into the cleanest carpet in the entire house.

The smell was starting to go away. I mean, no one else could smell it, but I think that it is engraved into my nose memory, because even when I go outside, I can smell it.

But I had a thought, why stop there? I have decided that pulling gross water from my carpets my be my new 2021 hobby. Forget the Banana Bread of 2020, this hot new, still in quarantine, hobby is Carpet Cleaning.

I made Dave clean his room. I mean, really clean his room. We reorganized with a new bookcase that would actually hold his books, and a new closet organizer to allow him to store his gaming stuff. Everything got vacuumed like it was the first time. Then, I roared with my Rug Doctor and together, the Dr and I washed his floor. We did it over a series of a few days, and gave it a total of four passes with soap and once with just the water. In the end, Dave was begging for his room back, the carpet looked amazing, but was still pulling out slightly dirty water.

After I put everything back into Dave’s room, Hank caught me in his room, looking around. The Dr stood in the doorway, blocking him from his own room. Hank’s room is next. I fully believe that whereas his room doesn’t really smell like anything more than little boy sweat, that his carpet is going to be a treasure trove of dirty. I am excited to tackle his room. Next, the stairs, then the library, then the main floor hall, and then, and then…

The day that I run out of carpet, I am going to have to either find a new hobby or start all over.

As for that cozy, grass like, snuggly, perfectly soft, pee rug? I may tackle it later. Maybe in the dead of summer, when the sun is at it highest and the hose water is at it’s coldest. I may lay it out on the driveway and stare at it, with my iced coffee in hand, and just will it to stop being gross by the power of a mom’s glare.  Or maybe, I’ll just learn the lesson and pitch it.

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Say you’re sorry.

Say you’re sorry.

It was a mantra of sorts growing up in my house. Knowing when and how to apologize sincerely … when mistakes are made, when you know you did something that was hurtful or wrong … is a good thing. Manners are a good thing in any family, and a sincere apology goes a long way toward rebuilding trust and harmony.

But let’s not take it too far.

Anything that becomes rote becomes mindless.

I was deep in a conversation with a friend the other day when things touched a nerve and emotions came to the surface. She immediately apologized, something I think so many of do when the tears well up.

We don’t want to make others uncomfortable, or think maybe they said or did something wrong. That’s admirable, but not apology-worthy.

Apologizing for an honest reaction, a raw emotion, diminishes the value of that emotion. It also diminishes the receiver of the apology, in an interesting way. When someone feels safe enough around me to have those raw moments, without fear of me judging them, I’m honored, not chagrined. I can handle your tears, your fears, your insecurities just as well as I can handle your joy and your laughter.

When “sorry not sorry” became an internet trope, it encapsulated our collective need to own our feelings, share our thoughts, without prejudging them on our own behalf.

You want to cry? Cool.

You’re mad as hell? Awesome.

You’re so confused you don’t even know what you feel? Been there.

We all have dreams and desires and wishes and needs that others can only guess at. Let’s stop assuming that these are something we ought to apologize for.

So don’t jump right to the apology. If you’re about to get all Level 10 emotional, a little heads up might be in order, but an apology in definitely not required.

Love the heart that beats inside you.

Carol Pearson is the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life and the founder of the 10 Little Rules Books Series.

 

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on Superbowls and heartbreak

on Superbowls and heartbreak

It’s been one year since I saw my dad alive.

It was Super Bowl Sunday 2020, the Chiefs against the 49ers, and my big sister and I put a little game party together for my parents in their shared room in the skilled nursing facility. Always the one with the big picture ideas for making things better, my sister bought a new TV with a better screen for them, and valiantly wrangled the wires and cable connections to set it up while my parents were in the dining room. Meanwhile I shopped for goodies and drinks to make a party of it.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Dad was a lifelong Giants fan so the teams themselves didn’t really matter. What Dad always loved was the party of the game, what I still call the “hoopla” — the lead-up, the food, the gathering every Sunday at game time to watch while he proudly passed around his tray of minced clams fresh from the oven.

This year would be quieter, different, as Dad continued to struggle with the cognitive and physical challenges that sapped his strength. Still, his face lit up when the game started. It made my heart happy when he kept asking for another slice of the chocolate chip bundt cake my sister had brought. He had little appetite most days; seeing him dive into that cake like it was the best thing he’d ever tasted (maybe it was?) made the moment priceless.

It was more precious than I could have imagined, unaware of the scope of the pandemic that was right around the corner. Dad died in late October; we buried him in his beloved Pompey hills with a fresh dusting of snow on the ground.

The week we spent with my family, sequestered in a nearly empty hotel in Syracuse, was a time of gathering, grieving and powerful healing. And still, my heart feels broken … for the lost time, the visits I was unable to make. The loss.

Yet my heart is far from broken; the very fact that it feels pain and sadness means it’s whole and powerful. This year taught me that. Every emotion is deeper, richer, more precious for the simple fact that I can feel it. We had so much joy this past year too, and our family has strengthened into a tangibly different kind of force for connectedness and support. Dad got us there.

So maybe his team didn’t win; they didn’t even get a chance to play. What mattered was we showed up, we were there, we ate cake, we celebrated and acted silly. We can grieve the loss … but my heart understands it would never hurt if it didn’t love so damn much.

Carol Pearson is the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, and the founder of 10 Little Rules book series.

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Cranberries and Valentines

Cranberries and Valentines

When I created a vision board in January 2020, I had no idea that my wish for “more time together at home” would break the world. None of us gathered in that January vision board workshop envisioned the year we just had. Yet I have to laugh when I look at all the things I wanted that I did indeed make manifest this past year:

  • more time as a couple … CHECK
  • a clean and organized home (okay, not 100% but I certainly had the time for it) … CHECK
  • guest room ready for guests … CHECK

What about my broader self-development goals? A key one for last year was to “embrace my power,” symbolized by the quote “It doesn’t get easier; you get stronger.” Well, last year certainly didn’t get easier; it got more like a horror movie when we just can resist going down to the basement. But I did get stronger.

Strong enough to know when I needed help, and ask for it.

Strong enough to reach out to others who needed help, and give without worry that it wouldn’t be enough.

Strong enough to know when to shut it all off and go for a walk. And strong enough to face the realities of what was happening without breaking.

It’s been tough, no doubt. And now … we are coming up on Valentines Day. What does Valentines Day, romance, couplehood, look like this year?

How do we celebrate being together after the year we’ve had … tripping over each other as we shared spaced without respite, creating a new dance that aimed to give space where we could, without drifting too far from each other … carving out those precious moments and spareness of aloneness, without hurting each other … navigating the mountains of news, the strong differences of opinion, the social upheaval, political chaos, the pandemic, the election, the ongoing aftermath of it all?

Dare we ask each other to Be My Valentine?

If we do, it must be done authentically and honestly, acknowledging the year we had while knowing this too shall pass.

I’ll most likely bake something; chocolate cranberry scones seem just right. And I’ll linger longer over coffee and tea in the morning, maybe it will even be nice enough to sit on the front porch. Not sure if I’ll get a gift; browsing through the shops is out for a while yet, and the thrill is gone with shopping online. But probably I’ll find something and wrap it up.

More importantly, I’ll mindfully look into my love’s eyes and forget the challenges, the moments of ugliness and stress of the last year, and recommit to him in our walk toward home.

And we’ll eat scones and drink our coffee and our tea and remember that it IS the regular days, the normal times, that make a marriage what it is. And I’ll be grateful for this man by my side and know that, yes, we’ll face more rocky days. We’ll still disagree on plenty of things. That’s life. That’s marriage. And that, my friends, is Valentines Day.

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The bliss of being interested…

The bliss of being interested…

Interesting.

Reading a post this morning from @SandyFosterMorrison (definitely worth following) and this — her mantra, formed in childhood, when things got crazy — “It will be interesting to see what happens.”

Indeed. If I can look at life as “interesting” no matter what, the anxiety ebbs, the chaos calms, and my better angels can prevail.

Interesting — how we are tightening our bubbles, strengthening our tribes, relying on those we know, without question, have our backs, blocking or unfriending those who cause us anxiety. We’ve been given permission to entangle ourselves from toxic relationships, to remove ourselves from their presence. The lockdowns have helped many in a physical sense to do this (except those who are in fact locked in with that toxicity; my heart hurts for you) Don’t we have the right to back away from this miasma on social media too?

Interesting too how our hearts we know we will have to all learn to pull together somehow, even as we disagree, as calls for unity are met with skepticism, resistance, disgust, anger. 

Interesting as we watch the thousands of National Guards troops gather to protect our centers of government, wondering if they’ll be needed, if they’ll be enough, if they’ll be safe.

Interesting as the rumors of more violence seeps through, wondering how much, where, when, how many, knowing how much anger and division is out there … and in here, inside us.

Interesting when we stop to let ourselves feel what can be too overwhelming to even consider. The mind takes us where the heart can’t bear to go. What’s next? What does this week bring? Can we ever feel like a whole country again?

“It will be interesting to see what happens.” 

This will be my mantra for my own self-care this week … and I’ll extend that outward in peace. 

Interesting. Such an interesting word. Such an interesting world. Such an interesting time. Such an interesting feeling of being able to detach from the anxiety, the chaos and even, to an extent, the outcome. If I settle myself, maybe I can settle the world a bit too.

Interesting indeed.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, and at select retail stores.

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Bliss … at a time like this

Bliss … at a time like this

Okay, I get it. I’ve not been myself lately.

I’ve been short-tempered, easily rattled, unfocused and anxious. I haven’t been sleeping well, and I’m tired. Not physically tired (although that too), but deep down emotionally tired … from all of it.

These are not normal times. These are not easy days. And the people closest to me bear the brunt of my less-than-blissy vibe.

I’d apologize, but I don’t think that’s really called for. I’m not doing this intentionally, or aimed at anyone in particular. In fact, when I feel this way my instinct is to curl up, stay offline, keep away from humans so I don’t inflict my whatever this is on them.

To be sure, there have been some really great times this past year. For several days around the holidays, my heart was full, light, happy and peaceful. We laughed; we played games with family online, and at home at the kitchen table. What I expected would be a difficult Christmas was actually quite wonderful in a totally unexpected way. That was nice.

There was a wedding (pandemic style, during the fall “lull” … a grand baby born on Christmas Day (we will see her soon, I pray!) and an engagement. Life went on … in spite of the pandemic, the social upheaval, the politics.

Even when I lost my Dad in October, we were able to gather safely as a family and have a private service. I know this is far more than many families have had recently, and I am so grateful for that gathering, the love and the healing that will forever be Dad’s legacy.

Then last week happened. Something changed. What seemed a remote possibility became horribly real. Enough people disagree with the rule of law in this country that the seat of our government was breached, vandalized. People died. It was gutting to watch it unfold in real time.

So you’ll forgive me if I forget my bliss, yes? Because at the heart of all of this, the rules still hold true. I’m better when I spend time each day getting to source, listening to my heart, feeling then deciding. It’s just that what I’m hearing and feeling isn’t bliss. And that has to be okay. For now.

What we are going through now will become our history … this country’s and our own personal stories. We will not emerge from this unchanged. How can we? But I will find my bliss; I will not give up that quest. I will not give up on us, on you, on our country, on humanity.

I was made for these times. To quote Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “Soul on deck shines like in dark times.” I will continue to shine … even if there are days when my light is dim.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, and at select retail stores. Follow 10 Little Rules on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

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