In case you were wondering…

I kept the Moto Jacket.

I know you were all up late last night wondering how this cliffhanger played out, so I won’t keep you in suspense.

Five items arrived on my doorstep just before lunch.

Four were back at the post office in the prepaid drop-off bag by 2:00pm.

Never has the transition from soccer mom to bad-a** motorcycle chick been so quick & effortless. (At least that’s what I’ll tell myself as I pull up to my class reunion in a slightly dented SUV.)

Here are the items I received, in case you want to request them. They were all great, which isn’t always the case (see: triangle dress & purple jeans debacle) They just weren’t great for me.

IMG_5816 I loved the Kelin Henley Knit Top before we even met. It’s a perfect blue-red, a great casual style, and it reminds me of a picture of Lorelei Gilmore I kept close to my heart as I imagined what my first author picture might look like.

But this shirt has SO MUCH fabric flowing down from those pretty crochet-detailed shoulders. It’s thin, and a bit clingy.  In the back, there was so much extra, it actually piled up on the top of my butt, creating a shelf effect I’ve never before seen in 40+ years of looking behind me and wondering, “Does this make me fat?” The answer here was, OH YES IT CERTAINLY DOES! Back it went.

 

IMG_5817My first thought as I pulled this from the box was, Hello Oktoberfest! 

It’s the Yezzi Embroidery Detail Top. To which I say, Yezzi, it’s going right back to the warehouse!

 

 

 

 

iu-2The exact jeans I asked for…in the wrong size. My size wasn’t available for exchange, so just like that I saved $88!

 

 

 

 

IMG_5818The FERNIE Embroidered Detailed V-neck Knit Top. Which is a lot of words for a basic cotton tank. Too big, a bit too orange, far too much fabric sitting on my backside (I’m beginning to think the fabric isn’t the issue…) and too much like something I could get at Target for $10.  It looked cute under a jacket. But summer will come to New England at some point, and I won’t be able to cover everything up. Plus, the price was WAY too much for something that would essentially function like a camisole for me.  So back it went.

 

But THIS made it all worth it.

Ladies and Gentleman (particularly guys who can’t believe I’m doing another post on clothes), I give you…the Liverpool Blaine Denim Moto Jacket:

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I love it. I am practically a Beatle in this jacket (they were from Liverpool, right?) It makes no sense whatsoever for me, but it’s exactly what makes Stitch Fix so great in this season of my life, when it feels like fashion is defined so much more by things I shouldn’t wear than by new things to try.  In an alarming world of cold-shoulder tops and ROMPERS (??!!!) this is a really fun surprise.

Just call me Blaine. It’s my new motorcycle name.

(And yes, our bedroom is STILL resplendent in three different paint colors, missing outlet covers, and a rug we dragged up from the basement so THIS DOG wouldn’t slide so pitifully across the new floor.  All that chaos? Looks like progress when you’re wearing a Moto Jacket!)

(Not really. But doesn’t that sound good?)

The Moto Jacket was $98, but I had a $25 referral credit because one of you filled out a style profile and scheduled a Fix to try yourself. Thank you! It makes shopping so much easier to have a break on the price, and I hope you get at least one awesome thing when your box arrives.

I’ll be back this weekend with deep thoughts on adoption and foster care. There are a lot of them churning in my mind right now. Thanks for humoring me as I take a detour through lighter topics :)

 

The One With The Fake Trish

I found a tube of toothpaste in the laundry this morning. This is the second time this has happened (we’re averaging 1 a year) and it shows that I’m really getting through to the Cherubs as I share my wisdom on how to do life.

But the great news is, I have a cold, so I DON’T CARE! Honestly, who knew congestion and a bit of lightheadedness could be so positively freeing? I pulled the Crest out of the wad of t-shirts, hit “start” on the laundry, and went back to bed.

Folks, THIS is living.

In other whatever, I’m not thinking clearly news, Stitch Fix is sending me a Moto Jacket today.

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When I first saw it in the reveal (you can peak on the app once it ships) I laughed so hard the coughing started up again and I had to drink a whole glass of water. Who does my algorithm stylist Katelyn think I am?  More interestingly, can I be that person? I feel like that FRIENDS episode, “The One With the Fake Monica,” where Monica’s credit card is stolen and she looks at the bill and realizes that this interloper is having a better time being her than she is.

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But a moto jacket? The closest I’ve ever been to “moto” was my senior year in high school, when my Dad bought our family a secondhand moped to help with all the teen transport. Only it wasn’t one of the cool, easy-start key mopeds. Nope. Our moped was some special brand that was a BIG DEAL IN EUROPE.

I called it The Puke.

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It looked like this.

Perhaps my favorite feature of The Puke was that, instead of twisting a key to start it, you had to push a little hidden button down near the engine to release drops of oil (gas? angel blood?) to prime the thing…then use a KICK START to get it going. I could not get that stupid kick start to work no matter what I did. It was endless, fruitless, and loathsome. You’d think at age 18 I wouldn’t mortify so easily, but that moped was my nemesis. I remember standing in the back parking lot of the restaurant where I worked at 11:00pm, trying and failing to get that stupid engine running. Never have I been so glad to be in the dark (although I wasn’t exactly hidden – I’m pretty sure there was swearing). Once, I just left it behind and walked home.

I do have one special memory of riding The Puke, though. I don’t how I got it going, but there I was, cruising through our little town at 22 mph, the wind blowing through my hair…when I hit a patch of gravel and wiped out. The beast fell on me, burning a big scar into my leg.

So moto? No no.

And yet if it’s just a white jacket with some funky zippers that will replace the white cargo jacket I ripped last year, and requires no mechanical know-how? I’m open to that.  As my friend John the Lawyer used to say, “I’ll pay a lot of money to look like someone I’m not!”  He was joking, as he stood there in Center City, Philadelphia, decked out LL Bean gear that would never see a tree. But I remember his point all these years later.

I doubt that this jacket will propel me into a life of new possibilities, the way Fake Monica challenged real Monica to try roller skating and tap dance. But my high school reunion is this summer. What if this is JUST the motivation I need to roll up on a Yamaha Supersport?

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Me. Only the jacket will be white.

It’s amazing the things that seem possible after a day or two of cold meds :)

I’ll let you know how it all works out.

My Latest Escape

I mentioned a while back how I deal with stressful times by picking up embarrassing hobbies. Making jewelry, reading about the apocalypse, almost burning my face off with peppermint essential oils. Good times!

I didn’t know how stressed I was about this coming summer (so many long days…so few plans…such bored Cherubs) until I scheduled my sixth Stitch Fix shipment in three months. I. Am. Hooked. I have officially entered the Random Modes of Escapism phase of my stress cycle, where the anticipation of a box of clothes – items that may or may not fit, be my style, or be anything close to what I need – brings me HOURS of joy. And because the financial commitment is so low (I might keep 1 or 2 items of what they send) and the wonder at having a few select items that actually fit is so high, I keep updating my Pinterest board and watching my email to see when my next box of Things to wear while listening to the Cherubs complain about how bored they are will arrive. (Seriously. This is a new fashion category for me. I have business casual stuff I wear to speaking events; jeans & tops I wear to church, meetings, appointments, etc.; and a small but growing collection of items I wear while sitting my home office deciding how long to let the Cherubs bicker before I intervene.)

The Serenity Prayer says something about accepting the things I cannot change/having courage to change the things I can. This is right at the heart of that. I cannot change summer. I have tried. I have failed. Camps were full by the time I called. #1 just wants to play video games, and #2 just wants to go shopping and paint pottery. I don’t blame them, but that seems like thin stuff to fill the seven weeks for which we don’t have plans. So to fend off worry (because panic is not helpful) I distract myself with lesser things.

To wit:

Here is a picture from my most recent Fix.

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Out of the box, I thought this top was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen, and the jeans looked like mint gum. Then I put them on and fell in love. I look like Kate Middleton! I thought, woozy with delusion. You know…when she’s twenty years older, and has finally made Queen, and can eat sometimes….

I’m Kate at 48!

I’m not sure Kate will ever have a crowbar lying in her closet because her bedroom renovation got a bit out of hand, but whatever. Now I have a DEFINED STYLE! It involves mint gum jeans, which I didn’t see coming. But whatever. It’s a distraction. I’ll take it.

Here’s the rest:

 

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The white top was too big, and I sold the blue bag on Facebook because I have one sort of like it. And the shorts…are just shorts. But as you imagine me saying to the Cherubs, for the 129th time this summer, No, you can’t go roam the northern suburbs with your friends for nine hours…no we can’t do unlimited screen time again today…Yes, I know you’re bored… isn’t it a more pleasant to picture it coming from Kate Middleton’s Future Self, rather than me in stretch pants and a giant T-shirt that used to be Steve’s?

The good news is, this too will pass. Actual summer will come. The sun will shine, temps will go up, and I’ll remember that if the kids are home and bored, we can go to the beach every single day if we want to. We won’t (want to, that is). But awareness of that freedom will permeate my brain when some critical combination of Vitamin D & salt air is reached, and I won’t need to manufacture fun surprises at quite the same pace.

But for now? I’ll take it.

If you need an escape, this is a fun one. If you try it through this link, I get a $25 referral credit, which brought the cost of my last Fix down to $13 for the sweater I kept.

I expect to hear from twenty-something Kate any day now, thanking me for giving her a vision for her future :)

The Amish Nun Strikes Again!

Last night we went to a Gala to raise money for Cambridge Family & Children’s Service, the awesome organization that helped us adopted the Cherubs. Last year, my friend Super-G & I went. This year, Greenhouse Mission sponsored a table. (Next year we hope to WOW THE ROOM with a 40 person roller skating performance to the tune of Stayin’ Alive, but the room has carpet, so we have a few things to figure out…)

mentioned before how I had a bit of a struggle over what to wear to the Gala (and how I don’t do well with dresses generally), and that I turned to Stitch Fix in my hour of need, hoping they’d find me a certain dress. My algorithm/stylist Katelyn tried, she really did. And while I was cautiously optimistic when I opened the box and saw this pretty array of Spring possibility…

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My hopes were crushed in a brutal collision with reality.  Let me remind you…

The dress in a picture:

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The dress on me:

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You know it’s bad when your first reaction to a photo like this isn’t, “I need to delete this immediately…” but rather, “Oh I need to show this to EVERYONE!”

So last night, after trying on all four dresses I own, I went back to the Amish Nun Dress. It IMG_5654really was the best of the bunch, and I knew that I wouldn’t run into the same Everyone  else is wearing a ball gown issue I had with Steve’s holiday party. I wore cuter shoes this time. Honestly, I thought I’d be okay.

I walked into the gala feeling cute & confident. But then, out of nowhere, I was TOTALLY BUSTED.

A nice woman I’ll call D came up to chat. I’ve met her before at other CFCS events, as she’s on their Board. She’s really fun so was excited to see her. BUT THEN she told me, trying not to laugh, that SHE READS THIS BLOG. She even forwards the link to friends (Hi Kathryn!) And therefore she knew that not only was I not wearing the Stitch Fix dress, I was wearing my Amish Nun ensemble. Again.

I was hilariously mortified.

Just as I was struggling to justify my choice (I was working on a line about how Nuns help children, so it was the right thing to wear…) she confessed her own dress struggle, and mine faded far into the background. She gave me permission to share it here, and you should thank her now.

D. told me that, as she got dressed that morning, she thought she looked pretty good. She called to her husband for his take on things, and he (being a wise man of discernment and kindness) told her gently, “Um, something’s not right in the front…” She could see what he meant – things around the tummy area were bunched up in an unusual way. But she couldn’t hone in on the problem and had to get on with her day.

Later, she discovered the problem. She had her Spanx on backwards. 

Her shapewear was diligently doing it’s job in all the wrong directions, lifting and separating her tummy into butt cheeks.

I laughed so hard my face hurt.

I feel like this is a theme of my week – how, when we get together with our hopes and dreams and stories, and lift each other up by sharing the funny things that happen, the atmosphere changes. The world actually becomes a better place.

Thank you, D. for making my night! (I so wish we’d grabbed a picture!)

Here’s part of our Greenhouse Mission crew at our table.

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Behind us you can see some of the young ladies who live in one of the CFCS group homes. The money we were raising will go to support them, and the young men at the next table, as they transition into adulthood. Such a cool thing to be part of. If you want to donate to CFCS and the work they do, click here and be part of the fun.

And if you’re curious about the rest of my “Fix,” here’s a gallery:

 

I liked the purple pants more than I expected. But can’t really see them becoming a key part of my wardrobe, so back they went. I loved the off-white top, until I realized it’s entirely sheer in the back (not nearly as sexy as it sounds). Back it went. And the shorts were so cute! But huge in the waist and, well…bunchy in the front. Back they went. But I kept a blue sweater! I’ve worn it 4 times already and received at least 3 compliments, so I’m taking that as a solid investment.

At last weekend’s women’s retreat, several us us were attired by Stitch Fix, so much so that we had a running joke about getting “Stitch Fix 4 Jesus!” bracelets with the tagline, If we look good, HE looks good!

We won’t actually do that. :)

If you feel like you’re in a style rut, give it a try. (If you place your first order via this link, I get a small discount on my next Fix. Thank you!) You might get a whole new outfit…or maybe just a nice sweater that goes with everything. That’s part of the adventure. And now you know that if something looks wonky, the first thing to do is check to see if you have your Spanx on backwards!

We’ll file this post under fashion tips ;)

Blergh

I was sick yesterday. You know that weird feeling where it feels like all the blood has been drained from your arms and you just want to go to sleep for the next sixteen days? Yeah, that. Nothing was really wrong. I kept trying to buck up and get with the program. I schlepped Cherubs. I wrestled with an excel spreadsheet for next weekend’s women’s retreat. I thought about how, as much as I love retreats? That’s how much I loathe excel. I sent the wrong spreadsheet four different times to two different people. This is a test of my spiritual fortitude, friends, and I am failing.

Then I scrolled through Facebook and Pinterest until my head swam.

I love the practicality of Proverbs in the Bible, but sometimes I hate it when they’re true. Like the one that says, You can make plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. Sigh.

On a funnier note, I peaked at my next Stitch Fix box (you can see what’s coming once it ships). It’s good that the last one was such a hit, because this one contains a pair of jeans in MUTED PURPLE. I can’t even describe how ugly they are, except that the first thought was That looks like something a cat puked up… And there’s a dress. You know how I feel about dresses. And while it’s true, I requested a dress (I have a Gala early next month for the organization that helped us adopt The Cherubs), I requested a very specific sort of dress.

I pinned THIS:

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Notice how the stripes make it almost not a dress, even though it is a dress? I was practically excited about it.

But they’re sending THIS:

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It’s like the striped dress got caught in a wood chipper, then the Duggar sisters pulled it out and added extra fabric to the bottom to make it modest. I’m cringing.

And finally, last night Steve & I discovered that we’ve been using the same toothbrush. For at least a month. Turns out we both like the red one. #Hygiene

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The Best I’ve Looked Since 3rd Grade

In Third Grade, I had a very special outfit, probably my favorite thing I have ever worn.

It began with forest green polyester pants. This was the 70s, so of course they were flares, and they swooshed back and forth as I walked, as if each of my knees had its own skirt. There was a matching white rayon blouse, soft and shiny, patterned with a bucolic forest of pine trees. There were small woodland creatures in those trees, at least as I remember it. The blouse would be cold when I put it on, and then warm up throughout the day in a way that is unique to synthetic fibers of that era. A white knit vest completed the look. I believe it was acrylic. It echoed the trees & creatures theme from the blouse.  My skin couldn’t breath and no sweat ever escaped. But I felt like I was on top of the world.

When I wore that outfit, I felt invincible. Sassy, special, and ready to face life. I remember walking through my third grade classroom watching my pant legs swing around my ankles, thinking there was no better person on earth to be than me.

I’m not sure I’ve felt that way about an outfit since.

In the years since third grade, I’ve had fashion highs and lows.

I was BEDAZZLED for two summers in high school when I worked for a woman from iu-1New Jersey who sold $500 sweaters in her boutique. I looked like an add for Ronco, with sparkly wonder flung across everything I owned. That’s where I learned to wear shoulder pads. And hair accessories. And big earrings.

It was this unique look I brought to preppy Wheaton College in the fall of my freshman year. I thought Laura Ashley was a girl who lived in our dorm, and kept asking, “Why would you buy a J. Crew Field Jacket when you’re never in a field?”

After college, I found my professional look when my roommate introduced me to Ann Taylor. I’ve dressed almost exclusively in black, grey, white & navy ever since. Those years were okay, but a friend from my bedazzled high school days saw me and asked, “What have they done to you???”

I went through a frumpy stage when I became a Christian. I read all these books about dressing modestly until the only attire that felt even remotely appropriate was sweaters handed down from my father. He’s six feet tall. I’m 5’4.’ I spent that first Jesus-ey year swaddled in yards of wool.

Then a few years ago, I discovered Target. It was cheap! As my body, well…GREW, I had some fashion growing pains. My no longer required Ann Taylor-level professionalism, shopping became a chore instead of a treat. I didn’t like how I looked, so the cheaper the better became my motto. Until very recently, my wardrobe assembly process looked something like this:

Spring/Early Summer: T-shirts on sale for $10 each? Great! I’ll take white, a navy, a grey, and a color like peach or green that I’ll think of as “fun” but never wear. The cut is unflattering and makes me look astoundingly wide, and the fabric both clings AND gets little holes every time I wash it. But whatever, it’ll do.

Fall/Early Winter: Sweaters on sale for $15? Great! I’ll take a grey, black, navy, off white, and something with stripes or a cardigan that I’ll think of as “on trend” but never wear. I’ll need to buy all of these new because last year’s sweaters fell apart. The cut of these makes me look like a basketball, and the fabric pills on the sides and where the seatbelt goes (and pretty much anywhere else it touches something.) But whatever, it’ll do.

I spent a lot of time untagging myself from other peoples’ pictures on Facebook.

I had ALL THESE CLOTHES, but they looked terrible. None of them made “outfits.” I understood, suddenly, that when women look frumpy and disheveled, it’s not because they don’t care. It’s because they don’t know how to make it better. Because that’s how it was for me.

So yeah, the past couple of years have been awkward. Especially once we began meeting as a church, and I was speaking most Sundays. The Vineyard is about as casual as churches come. Jeans and flip flops are common. But I just looked sloppy. When the hotel where our church meets remodeled their conference room, I was terrified they’d swap out the giant oak podium I stand behind for one of those tiny clear lucite things made popular by TED talks, and there would be nowhere to hide.

This is part of why Stitch Fix has felt like a miracle since I discovered it last month. I’m a bit obsessed. It’s become my new embarrassing hobby. I’m now a person with a Pinterest page.

My third Fix came last week. I’d asked for a jean jacket, a grey & white striped top, tops in colors other than blue, and jeans in a light wash.

This was the best one yet. My stylist tweaked some of my sizes and found the exact jeans I had on my Pinterest page. In three Fixes, I’ve scored three pairs of jeans, five tops, and a jacket. They all fit. They make outfits!

There are PATTERNS – a floral, a stripe, a sort of dot/splotch, and something a friend described as tribal); and COLOR! Okay, two tops are blue and two are grey. But one is RED, a color I’ve avoided since an unfortunate incident during the Giant Wool Sweater phase, where I donned a tomato-ish v-neck and my sister told me I looked like Gilligan.

But look: I’ve overcome!

If you’re feeling like you’ve been covering your body more than getting dressed, give it a try. Here’s how it works & what I’ve learned:

For a styling fee of $20, they send you five items selected based on a questionnaire about your style and notes you make about your current needs.  (Example: “Summer is coming so I’m looking for a dress to wear to a fundraiser, shorts with a 5″ inseam, and some fun colored tops I can wear to work either alone or with a sweater or blazer.”) In your profile you’ll have a chance to note things like “Please don’t ever send me X color or Y style.”  The more detailed, the better.

(I think of this part as handing a skilled stylist a $20 bill and sending her to the mall to do all the shopping for me. She can use the $20 towards whatever she finds.)

You pick the date to receive your Fix.

When it arrives, you will be horrified by at least half of it. Shut down your inner critic and try it all on. Let yourself be surprised. Don’t overthink it. If you turn around and can’t believe how cute something looks that you were sure would make you look like your grandmother’s couch, trust your first thought, and take a chance. That’s what happened to me with the navy blue floral top in #1. I pulled it out and thought, No way, because I don’t wear florals. But now I do :)

If the style is good but the size is wrong, you can usually exchange it up or down. I just did this with some jeans. I held on to the first pair until the second arrived, then sent back the ones that didn’t work. Quick & easy.

If you keep everything, you get 25% off your total. I’ve only done this once. The other times, the jeans & top I kept were worth the full price, even though they were more than I’d been paying at Target. Your $20 styling fee is applied toward anything you buy.

Once you decide, you checkout online, then put anything you don’t want in the pre-paid bag they provide. Hand it to your mailman or drop it at the post office and you’re done.

If you use my link for your first Fix, I’ll get a $25 referral credit when you place your order. (Thank you!)

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Have a dedicated Pinterest Page for Stitch Fix style with things you are looking for NOW. Put pins for future looks or random ideas on a separate page. Your stylist will look at this page when she’s pulling stuff for you. Update this page between Fixes.
  • Join one of the Facebook groups where people show how they style different items. It’s helpful to see the clothes on real people, and sometimes you can even trade or buy items.
  • Remember that clothes are meant to enhance our lives, not become our lives. We’re still us, whether we’re in a frumpy Target tee or a flowy red top that does not in any way resemble Gilligan. But it’s fun to feel a bit more pulled together.

If you’re looking for a fun and helpful gift for a Graduation, Mother’s Day, or other celebration? A gift card to SF would be an amazing surprise.

And who knows? Maybe you (or someone you love) will find your very own forest green polyester/rayon/acrylic woodlands ensemble, and it will make your whole world glow :)

 

 

Laughing & Crying

I didn’t realize how schizophrenic my weekend was until I sat down to write this post.

First, the funny part:

Have you guys noticed that the way clothes look on Pinterest & style cards isn’t AT ALL how they look on a live body? I think this is a metaphor for EVERYTHING.

This weekend, Steve & I both had boxes arrive from Stitch Fix. I am incredibly in love with this service, ever since they sent me a pair of jeans that fit right out of the box. My round #2 came at the same time Steve got round #1. The results were…mixed.

Here is Steve’s face when he opened his box:

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I laughed so hard I hiccuped. You can’t really tell from the picture, but that plaid shirt looked like it had been made from men’s swim trunks as part of a Project Runway challenge. The look is best described as metrosexual surfer. It even had those loop things on the sleeve with the button!

If you have met Steve, you know that there is no way he would ever wear something like that. The man is a hockey goalie. He buys his clothes at Timberland, NorthFace & L.L. Bean. Next he pulled some grey Sperry-type boat sneakers from the bag and I had to gasp to get enough air.  He tried it all on under protest. The Cherubs were speechless.

We looked at the little style card they sent with the packages and realized something: There is a GARGANTUAN GAP between how things look in 2D, set out flat on a style card with coordinating pieces, and how they look in 3D, on a living person.
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(I’m sad to report that Steve would not let me take a picture of him wearing these items. This shows once again that he is wiser than me.)

Here’s the thing: If you’d shown me this card in advance, I’d have said, “That looks great – he’ll love it!” (Provided I didn’t notice the little sleeve loops). But there’s this collision that happens when we try to transition things from 2D to 3D. Not everything survives the trip.

Honestly, I cannot stop drawing deep metaphors from this experience.

***

Yesterday, I gave a Palm Sunday sermon inspired in part by this Stitch Fix experience. I talked about how disappointing it is when something you hope might be the answer to your prayers comes within reach…and then turns out to be not at all what you expected.

At least 5 people in our congregation have asked us recently some version of the questions, “How do you deal with disappointment? How do you stay faithful to believing God’s promises when you’re in pain?” As silly as it sounds, Stitch Fix gave me a starting point. It was a low emotion example that helped me think this through, and share it in a way that we could all laugh at. Because we’ve all had the experience of seeing something in a picture and thinking, “That would be great!” only to have it collapse when exposed to the challenges of real, 3D life.

So I told them about how, in order to face getting dressed in the morning, most of us have to die to the idea that we’ll look like a supermodel, or a flat style card. We all laughed.

That was the easy part.

Then came the harder part, because some things are a big, pain-filled mystery and we just don’t know where God is in it all, or what He’s doing.

I talked about the pain of losing Princess Peach four years ago – the devastation Steve & I felt then, the hurt look I still see in her eyes when we see her, how she tries really hard not to ask why we let her go. (Two years ago we gave her a doll for Christmas and her first eager question was, “Does it smell like you?”) I’m still looking to God to make this right when it looks so very wrong.

I know it’s obnoxious to compare this loss to an unfortunate Stitch Fix delivery. But I need both examples.

Steve has already forgotten that that plaid shirt ever happened. (He’ll be quite surprised to see another box arrive in June, with selections from a updated style profile and a Pinterest board I made from pictures of clothes hockey players might wear.) This low-bar example gives me space to think through how I deal with disappointment: in most cases, I trust that there is a something better is possible, and that it’s coming.

The challenge is applying this to bigger things; to real hurts where the emotions are  too live for me to figure out what response my faith suggests, because I’m simply surviving. There are so many swirling questions when we’re in pain. How do I trust that this is God’s best for Princess Peach? For us? What do we DO? How do we move forward? Of course, learning about adoption from foster care led us to The Cherubs, which is amazing. But I don’t think God leaves one little girl out in the cold so that two other kids can have a Mom & Dad. I have to believe that the story is not over.

Closing out the sermon, I shared one special memory that helps me:

It was our last day with Princess Peach. We were in the car, driving her to where the social workers were meeting us to take her away. They were over an hour late, so we had a lot of time to fill. Steve prayed a Father’s blessing over Princess Peach, speaking love and a vision for her life. Then we drove around Cambridge, all three of us numb with disbelief. Princess Peach starred out the window and stroked the soft fur of the stuffed puppies we’d bought to take with her to keep her safe. We had the iPod on shuffle to fill the silence. Then a song came on and Princess Peach lit up. “Play THAT ONE again, please!” she said.

It was a song by CeCe Winans, called “It Ain’t Over.” It’s one of those songs where you stand up in church and stomp your feet and clap. It’s a BATTLE song. Princess Peach kept saying “Play it again?” So we did.

So you gave it all you had

And you still came up short

You’ve been faithful through it all

And you answered the call.

Keep your eye on the prize

Don’t give up the faith

God has a plan for you

That’s why we say…

It ain’t over.

It felt like God was right there with is in that awful moment, challenging us to believe.

And so we do. It’s been four years. I still cry every time I hear that song. We’ve seen Princess Peach 3 times in those years. I don’t know what God is doing, but I know this for sure: It ain’t over.

We pray for her every day.

We move forward with life, trusting that God will reconnect our dots someday.

And we take joy in small things, because they add up and make a difference.

One of the hardest things for me after we said goodbye to her was figuring out how to LIVE. To laugh at something funny, or enjoy a good meal, or be excited about cute jeans that fit…it seemed like such a betrayal of her. We lived in a suspended state for months after that, certain she’d be back.

We were surprised when Easter came, so to speak. How Jesus showed up and reassembled us, giving us new life where we were dead inside. It’s been miraculous. The pain hasn’t disappeared. But we’ve grown into the ability to carry it and live on. And in that, I trust that He is doing something similar in Princess Peach, because she loves him and so is covered under the promise of Romans 8:28 (“For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.“) I hang onto this verse like a lifeline. And then I entrust this sweet girl to Jesus, and get on with everyday life.

***

My Stitch Fix box turned out better than Steve’s.

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There was another pair of jeans that fit, which makes me want to hug my stylist “Katelyn,” whether she’s a person or an algorithm. I kept a top that was not at all something I would have picked for myself after Steve walked in and said, “Wow, that looks great on you!”

The other three things – a blazer like one I already own, a top I loved thats didn’t quite fit, and a wool scarf – went back (and made me realize I need to take the cold weather outfit pictures off of my Pinterest style board). I didn’t get the 25% discount you get if you keep all 5 items. But even at full price, it was worth it. I spent five minutes placing an order, rather than three hours at the mall, and came out with a new outfit. I don’t look like the perfection on the style card. But I’m a nicely updated 3D version of me :)

I’m taking every bit of joy I can out of that small, silly win.

To sum it all up…

Listen to this song. Pray for Princess Peach, and for the big questions you still have about what God is doing in your life. It’s okay to clap and have some fun with it. I think part of heaven coming to earth is that it brings a lot more joy than we expect, even in the midst of pain:

And if you need some clothes, or feel like you’re style is hopeless and you can’t face the mall? Try Stitch Fix. If you order for the first time through the link, I get a $20 referral credit, which makes jeans more affordable.

This life is both/and, you guys. It really is.

My Fashion Woes

A couple of months ago, I went to Steve’s company holiday party dressed like an Amish

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If you look closely, you can see the patch pockets! #classycocktail!

nun. I didn’t mean to.  The dress code was “classy cocktail,” which I interpreted to mean, Like you’re coming from work, only a step up. I found a cute preppy dress from Tommy Hilfiger. It was a little big, but I kind of liked that; I’m not exactly in top form right now. I paired it with a jacket & boots because it was about thirteen degrees that night. And yes, I knew that I looked a bit like I was there to serve a warrant. But Boston has a pretty wide professional dress code. I was sure it would be fine.

We walked into the venue a bit early (it’s so hard to calculate traffic across the city) and I knew instantly that I’d screwed up.

Friends, the sequins were blinding. Hair had been professionally done. Hours had been invested in mani-pedi-facials. There were GOWNS. Everyone looked elegant, upscale, and GORGEOUS.

I glanced at Steve and whispered, “Wow. I really miscalculated…”

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I didn’t even realize until later when I saw this picture that we MATCHED. We look like an audition tape for The Real Housewives of Ultra Conservative County.

He looked mortified for me. We checked our winter coats, and took a picture in front of an unavoidable step & repeat that stood between us and the bar. I prayed for a camera malfunction. We walked into the mostly-empty room and I took a deep breath. I knew had a decision to make: I could ruin this night with my embarrassment, or I could figure out another way. So I decided to fight for it. I looked up at the seventeen Buddha statues decorating the restaurant and said, “Jesus, I know you’re here somewhere…I could really use some help…”

We found a place to stand with our drinks & small plates. I made it a point to talk to Steve about things OTHER THAN how underdressed I was. And when he introduced me to people, I did not say a single embarrassed word about my outfit, because nothing makes social situations worse than that.

We had a great night. Everyone I met was fantastic, and we had so many deep, good conversations about biotech, writing, faith, and adoption. Yes, I felt awkward the whole time. As much as we’re not supposed to care what we wear, and we’re supposed to appreciate each other for what’s on the inside, blah, blah, blah… my missing the cues on the dress code meant the night was way more emotional effort than I wanted it to be, at a time (right after the holidays) when I didn’t have a lot of extra fight in me. I’m so glad we went. But I’m not sure I’ll ever wear that dress again.

***

I thought of this the other day as I caught up on the blog of a fellow memoirist who had a baby last year at the age of 46. As she described her woes in getting dressed, and how her body feels lumpy and odd in ways it never was before, I realized: I ALSO have a one-year postpartum body. Only I never gave birth.

It’s pitiful. Don’t you think the benefit of adopting should be that I don’t look like I have kids??? But nope. I got dressed the other day and realized I looked like a big marshmallow covered in denim & 2-ply cashmere. But I think the problem is less about having too much size, and more about having lost my style: Last week when I wore a ponytail to church, one of the teens came up and said, “Miss Trish! You look so different!”

You know you’re in a rut when a ponytail is a bold move forward.

So you can imagine how my curiosity was peaked when that blog friend talked about her clothing woes and how she’d just received a box from a company called Stitchfix that mails you clothes. She was going to POST PICTURES of her in the new items (!!??!) I was horrified/captivated/in awe: wasn’t that the equivalent of taking the entire internet with you as you try on jeans at Target???

She has awesomely sarcastic humor, so I was excited to see how she’d skewer the experience of trying clothes picked out by a complete stranger on a body that shifted daily in all sorts of unplanned directions.

She kept every cute thing in that box. (They send 5 things. You pay $20 for the styling service, which is credited against anything you buy. And there’s 25% off if you decide to keep everything. Apparently, this is a whole thing that’s been happening for years. Enter Trish in her Amish ensemble, a little late to the party…)

(I’ll admit, I was a bit salty that she found a dress, because I have this secret theory that people who look good in dresses and like them have ALL THE DRESSES. It’s like the dresses know. The rest of us get a boy dress with patch pockets. But whatever.)

In a fit of I don’t even know what, I signed up for a Stitchfix delivery of my own. I think I was just excited to leave my problem at the feet of an expert (even if that expert is an algorithm supposedly named “Katelyn”). I knew my blog friend would get a $25 referral credit, and that seemed like a way to thank her for being so honest (her blog TITLE is “An Inch of Gray,” referring to her hairline. I love her!) and making me feel less alone in navigating my fashion challenged state.

I had LOW expectations when the box arrived. I liked that it was pretty, and I was prepared for disappointment. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you the miracle: They sent me jeans that fit perfectly. Length, width, everything. It was like they’d been tailored for me.

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I might even wear them to next year’s company party. If I’m going to be underdressed, I might as well really go for it.

The rest of the box was a mix. There was a blue jacket that made me look like I was there to change the oil on your car, and a pair of earrings like ones I already have. Those I sent back. There was a blue floral top that was unbelievably cute once I tried it on.

And then there was the green shirt.

I haven’t owned anything green that doesn’t say “Boston Celtics” on it since about 1975. It’s just not my color, or so I thought. But this shirt was so pretty! It didn’t fit. But still, I loved it so much that I pulled it back out of the return package (they send you a postage-paid return bag you just drop off at the post office) after I’d sealed it, just to try it again. It was still a no. But now I’m on the hunt for a different top in that shade of green.

What that box did for me had almost nothing to do with the actual clothes. It was more about how it energized my thoughts about dressing in general like nothing in recent (or even distant) memory has. The the little style guide gave me ideas for other outfits from things I already have, and I even got back on Pinterest (which I’ve decided is like going to the Mall with your friends, only while lying on the couch by yourself. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but at least now I understand the appeal.) I’m so glad I did this. It’s good for my style and my soul.

It’s good to find help when you need it, and to be reminded that more is possible in life, IMG_5282even with things that shouldn’t be such a big deal, but are. I kept the empty Stitchfix box on the floor of my bedroom for about four days after it arrived, just to remind me of how happy it had made me. That’s some pretty good return on investment.

If you’re in a style rut? Try Stitchfix here. If you use this link, I’ll get a $25 referral credit on your first go, like my blog friend received when I tried. The Cherubs thank you for making their mom slightly less embarrassing.