A couple of years ago, I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. While there are issues I had with the book (one of the main ones being how much she spends to meet her goals throughout the year), I liked the overall concept: Take something you want to work on and break it down into 12 fragments, one for each month.
That appealed to me on so many levels but mostly in that it was a long-term plan with short-term plans in it. There was instant gratification to be had and then a big payoff at the end. But I never really did my own thing. Until this year.
I’m not even going for a Happiness Project because you know what? I am happy. I have everything I could possibly need and many things I want and happiness is there for me when I’m able to acknowledge it. Kind of like in a fleeting moment as I’m walking to the Metro station, “Wow. I’m happy.” To me, happiness is as simple as that.
You know what isn’t? Fighting off the frumpies.
I blame my 30′s. I don’t really have any hard evidence or whatever but I just find it odd that it was around the time I turned 30 that I started gaining weight at a rate I’ve never seen before in my entire life and in my places I honestly did not believe could hold fat deposits. And it’s also about the time where I just started… letting go?
There’s another a more concrete reason to this and that would be my change in jobs back in 2010 (I actually started my new job the very same Monday of my 30th birthday week).
I take the MetroRail to my new office. And that means I walk from the station to my office. And from my office to the station. And my new job is not at a simple office building, it is in an office building located on a medical campus with all sorts of buildings spread out all over the place including a hospital I have to report to occasionally during my low season and at least twice a week during my high season.
So basically, there is more walking to be done during work hours at my new job. This contrasts significantly with my previous job which involved me driving to, parking at, walking up one tiny flight of stairs, and planting my Cuban butt behind a desk for several hours. Some times I’d get up and terrorize this or that person and some times I’d even go to either the floor above or below me to do that.
So when I made the switch to a new job it was in no time at all I realized something– the stilettos had to go. And not just that but wearing my traditional office job uniform of a pencil skirt and blouse was attracting unwanted attention on the train or the sidewalks. And before I knew it I couldn’t fit into it, or 80% of my clothes, anyways.
Ever since then it’s been a practical luge ride into Frumpidom. And I hate it.
I am not and have never been a high maintenance type of gal. I get my hair cut once, maybe twice a year. I don’t get manis or pedis. I don’t buy up lots of skincare products. I don’t wear makeup and when I do, I keep it light. I don’t do diets. I don’t go to gyms. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the way I look. If you saw me on the street, you wouldn’t know that.
The funny part about my new job is that many people on campus dress fantastically. And I wish I could just excuse myself and say it’s only the doctors and the people who drive here but I’ve seen many a polished person on the train as well. So what gives?
I’m not sure but I want to change it because I do believe the way you look affects the way you feel. And for a too-long while now I’ve been feeling dumpy. I’m not on a quest to dress sexy. I’m not on a mission to be a walking fashionista. What I want is polish. And I think I want this because it’s time for me to be kind to Me.
Every morning, I put time into doing Daughter’s hair. Most of the time it’s as simple as pulling it back into a ponytail and adding a cute clip or bow. But you know what? She looks at herself in the mirror and smiles a huge grin. And when one of her classmates or a parent or a teacher compliment her clip or her braid or her whatever, she beams.
Don’t we all?
And being exhausted, worried, stressed, hard-working women, don’t we maybe even need that sort of positive reinforcement in our lives?
There is a part of me that feels conflicted I’m having this preoccupation with my physical appearance, much less doing a year-long project dedicated towards that and not something more “noble” like getting healthier or freeing myself from debt or being more charitable or being a better mother or whatever more noble cause you can think of. I just feel that as much as there is such a thing as unhealthy preoccupation with one’s appearance, there’s also an unhealthy dismissal of one’s appearance. Maybe not for you, but apparently, it’s the case for me.
So I’m doing something about it because what’s the point in whining and complaining except that it could speed up the decline into frumpidom. And I’m going fast enough, thanks.
This month, it’s as simple as lipstick. I love lipstick. I love the texture. I love the smell. I love the taste. I love the way you have to concentrate while you apply it. I love that you have to sort of kiss yourself to get it nice and even. I love that when you kiss someone else, you leave behind a mark– a memory.
So far, it’s been going well. There’s a small group of fellow lipstick wearers on Google+ and I’ve been trying to regularly update with pictures and little things like that to keep it going and to keep it fun. I remind myself every time I’m going to step outside to stop and reapply.
And so far, it’s been making a difference. There’s this brief little happy flutter when I smack my lips and blow a kiss to the mirror. I can’t help but manage a small smile.
That’s not pathetic. Right?