Monday, February 28, 2011

The Hand in the Cookie-Jar

I don't remember the first thing I stole. I do, however, remember the reason I started. Unlike most teenage shoplifters, I didn't steal for the thrill of it. It wasn't like the one time in high-school when Darin stole a Miami Dolphins beanie from a sports store to impress his friends.

I stole to hurt others. I felt so badly about myself, my appearance, my lack of possessions, that I wanted others to feel my pain as well. I remember stealing some Covergirl foundation from my friend Emily's dresser when she left her bedroom for a moment. I didn't have any makeup at home. I snatched Umbro soccer shorts from popular girl's Laura gym bag while on a 'bathroom break.' I was tired of wearing thick sweatpants to P.E. I stole lip gloss and jewelry from someone else. The list goes on and on. I went out of my way to find others' possessions available for the taking. Could I have gotten these things if I had just asked my mom for them? Yeah, I think so. But it was easier to take from others who had them, to punish them for having things that I didn't. They deserved it.

I began to steal small trinkets from teenybopper jewelry stores and pharmacies. Instead of feeling an adrenaline rush post-theft, a terrible guilty sadness overwhelmed my heart. Sometimes I would walk back in the store and slyly return the item. Another time I buried a beaded hemp necklace (remember those?) in my backyard. I didn't want a reminder of my crime, a symbol of my self-hatred, staring me in the face every time I looked into a mirror. Usually, I kept the things I took.

One day, my mother found a small bottle of hairspray that I stole from the salon we visited. I begged for forgiveness, swore I would never do it again, and finally confessed to also stealing $10 from her purse. She sadly took me back to the salon the next day so that I could apologize and return the hairspray. The manager and his assistant weren't angry; they felt badly for me, and appreciated my sincere apology. I was sincerely sorry, but I was sorriest for being caught. I knew I would have to act carefully from now on.

Later that year, I went on a beach trip with five of my girlfriends. While on a shopping trip to the outlet malls, we stopped into Claire's Boutique. I bought a cute headband and as I walked out of the store, I picked up some hair snap clips and slipped them into my bag. My friends and I walked down the sidewalk and I felt a hand on my shoulder. The manager. She took my bag, looked in, and accused me of stealing. “I didn't! I didn't!” Yes, I did. She took me back into the shop as my friends looked on with their mouths gaping. As I waited in the storage room riddled with absolute terror, she called the police. A huge policeman arrived soon after, took my information, and instructed me to leave. The manager told me never to step foot in her store again, and insisted I keep the headband I purchased as a reminder of what I had done. Instead, I broke it and threw it in the trash as soon as I returned to my friends sitting on the curb. “It was a mistake,” I mumbled. They looked at me with suspicion, but didn't say anything. I was nauseated, shaking, and asked if we could return to the hotel so I could call my parents. They never said anything to me about the trouble I was in, no one asked if I was okay. Ever. These were the same friends that laughed when the boys at school would taunt me with 'fat' and 'ugly,' so I didn't expect concern from them. In no way do I blame these girls for the path I chose to take, but I do wonder what my choices would have been if I had surrounded myself with different people.

I lay alone in the hotel bed until my parents arrived after the two hour drive. I don't remember anything about the drive home besides weeping until my head ached. We pulled up into the drive and I slumped into my home. Two of my sisters were there. They looked up at me. I will never forget the look of distress and concern on their faces. I felt humiliated, and did for months until I worked off the $350 fine my parents received as a result of my selfish behavior. I can honestly say that from that fateful day at the beach, I was not even tempted to steal ever again, and I never did.

Well, I never stole material goods ever again.

Still infested with self-loathing, I saw every beautiful, confident, or talented female as a threat. When a guy friend would tell me about his latest crush, I would wonder why he didn't like me. I didn't even have to be interested in him to feel this way. Every girl was a threat to my ultimate happiness. I began to withhold compliments. After all, you don't want her to realize just how pretty her hair is! It might go to her head. Her beauty takes away the little that I have. Keep it close, Louise. Don't let her know that she is beautiful. That compliment will whittle yours away.

I didn't see, as I see now, that love begets love. Beauty begets beauty. Friendship begets friendship. The more I give, the more I (and the world) receive. I am reminded of Dostoevsky’s immortal words, “Beauty will save the world.”

Withholding encouragement, praise, and admiration is little better than stealing. For me, it held the same motivation, and created the same result. It's theft of another's dignity. It's theft of what every woman deserves. I didn't yet comprehend how freeing and wonderful it was to help others recognize their own beauty. I wish I could tell you how I came to realize this, but it was so gradual that I didn't even realize when or how the change occurred.

One day years later, a friend likened me to the Bird of Paradise flower. She said that my presence and talents brought out the best in others without overpowering them. She insisted that I enhance others' beauty. I was astounded; this thought never crossed my mind, but I suddenly realized that I had finally broken free. No longer was I menaced by the goodness and beauty of others; I reveled in it. Amazing.

I've learned that we can't miss an opportunity to compliment or encourage others, whether it be about appearances, talents, gifts, abilities, or makeup technique. Every time I lift up another person, I lift myself up as well. I actually feel better about myself and my gifts, no matter how small they may be in comparison to those of another.

I hope that my experience differs from yours. It still hurts to remember the emotions I experienced during that dark time. So why did I blog about an experience that I haven't shared with my closest friends? Well... I encourage you to never waste a compliment, and to give your positive thoughts a voice. Be lavish with admiration, love, and respect. Since I made the gradual change, I feel happy, even overjoyed by myself! I am grateful for my beauty, my talents, and my possessions. I didn't even steal 'em.

Farmboy, fetch me that.

Cardigan, skirt: Gap
Shirt: won from Shade giveaway
Tights: c/o We Love Colors
Boots: thrifted yesterday
Pig: Wilson
I love visiting my brother and sister-in-law's home! Check out the view from their back porch. Stunning. They only live 25 minutes away from me, but I don't see them enough. I forget how close they live now that we moved away from Portland!

It's always nice to visit Milton's half-brother and mama, as well as Chester's orange brother. We tend to keep our cats in the family.
My sister (in-law) Lili keeps such a beautiful and cozy home, full to the brim with coffees, teas, flowers, warm colors, and the remaining Valentine decor.
I can't wait for the spring lambs to arrive! I'll take you back here when that happens. In the meantime, you're stuck with photos of fat & friendly Wilson.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Get Off My Lawn

Beret: Gap
Blouse, skirt: thrifted
Cashmere socks: Costco
Wedges: Jeffrey Campbell
Sunnies: Urban Outfitters
Necklace: Forever 21

This outfit was totally geriatric... until I added the Lolita sunglasses! Then it became a swearing geriatric with alcoholic tendencies! Nevertheless, I totally love it. I hope you are having a lovely weekend! Darin is in Eastern Oregon on retreat, so I spent the morning thrifting with Dutch Bros. coffee in hand! 'Twas wonderful- $4 cowboy boots and new-to-me books ahoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Snow of a Day

Hat: Vintage
Coat: Gap
Dress: Tulle
Tights: c/o We Love Colors
Scarf: c/o Hercatwalk
Boots: Minnetonka via Ebay

It snowed! I got my Christmas wish. It didn't stick, but it was a pretty sight. I also received flying powers for the afternoon, as you can see. I know, I astonish you.
As soon as I peeked out the window this morning, I knew I had to wear my Minnetonka boots. They feel like slippers and are great in the rain and snow when spritzed with leather protector. I think I will be loyal to Minnetonka moccasins for life... I just thrifted some pink Thunderbirds! I can't wait to wear them when it warms up around here.

Stay tuned, because I am in the middle of writing a TMI post! I am more than a tad nervous, but I think it's important that I do it. It's gotta be done. (Is that even a sentence?) I am inspired and encouraged by the friendship you have shown me since I began Coffee & a Cardigan in August. You kinda deserve my honesty, as uncomfortable as it may be for me! Ha ha!

PS- My Facebook page is up and running! 'Like' it if you want blog updates!

T-t-talk about the Weather

Hat, cardigan: Gap
Necklace: American Eagle
Dress: Target
Scarf: Forever 21
Tights: Ross
Boots: Jeffrey Campbell
I know many of you are complaining about snow, but I am hankering for some of yours right now! The cold is bitter, but we haven't had one snowfall in Mount Angel yet. The forecast says that we might get some tonight, but I doubt it. Oregon weathermen are drama queens, and bear strong resemblances to the Soap Network. Even so, I will rush to the window in the morning to see if my White Christmas has arrived two months late.

As you can see, I am not in any 30 for 30 items today. I was bumming about losing two of my photo shoots and I just needed something different. Also, I turned the challenge into a 22 for 22, so if you count the photos I lost, we're about even! I will recreate the lost ensembles for you soon, though. Sigh. Sorry guys. I feel like I failed you!

A note about these boots: YAY BOOTS. The ruffle is removable, but I prefer them fully clothed. They remind me of something a modern-day Wicked Witch of the West would wear. I would totally kick Dorothy's gingham rear. No, I wouldn't. You know how I feel about Judy Garland.

Love to you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Crying Air, Lost in Rhythm

Beret: Forever 21
Cape: Tulle
Skirt: Target via Ebay
Western shirt: Goodwill
Wedges: Pour la Victoire (on sale here!) (similar here!)
Once again, these photos were taken seconds before it began hailing like crazy. So glad I got these photos in-- I love this outfit. I should really wear this cape more often. I also like how my head looks like a cute cable-knit mushroom cap.

I am loathe to admit this, but I am having a heck of a time forcing myself to wear 30 for 30 items. I blame the cold weather. I don't want to wear my other clothes either; pajamas sound good to me! I recorded some music today to help fight off the winter blues.... perhaps I'll post one if the mood (or wine) strikes. I hope your day is full of warm toes and hot chocolate!

Title borrowed from "February Rain" by Mark Slaughter.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Walkabout

Hat, Coat: Gap
Sweater: Tulle
Skirt: Old Navy
Tights: c/o We Love Colors
Wedges: Jeffrey Campbell
Sigh, it feels so good to be back! My computer was completely on the fritz over the weekend and I lost my last two 30 for 30 outfits. Fiddlesticks. Since I've only revealed twenty-two of my thirty pieces, I've decided to just stick with a twenty-two day challenge. Kendi says it's okay, and that's good enough for me!

These pictures were taken mere hours before a good ol' Oregon rainstorm. It was so nice to take a walk around town with blue skies and sunshine! I said it before and I'll say it again, Mount Angel is a wonderful place to live.

It's great to be back! Three days is a long time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Campaign Derelicte

Beret: Forever 21
Sweater: Ross
Snood: Ebay
Skirt: Thrifted
Shoes: Steven 'Melin'
Thank you all so much for your get-out-of-rut-free advice! I now have some great ammunition when the next rut strikes.... dun dun duuuuuunnn.

And now, without further ado, Louise's Ten-Step Rut Evacation Program:

1) Begin the morning with a hot soapy shower. It's been... days? Who knows?

2) Listen to tons of acoustic performances by Sarah Bareilles, Adele, and Ingrid Michaelson.

3) Dress like you are part of Mugatu's Derelicte Campaign. Add oxfords to make it ironic. Hansel, he's so hot right now.

4) Go to a "geriatric diner" for dinner. Monikered by Darin, not me!

5) At said restaurant, order breakfast for dinner.

6) Sneak away to Anthropologie for twenty minutes while husband and daughter visit Borders. Purchase lovely yet inexpensive L'Aromarine perfume because you can't afford Tocca fragrances right now.
7) Recognize and meet fellow Oregon fashion blogger Alicia! Yay! New friend!

8) Go to Trader Joe's and stock up on chicken broth and rice pasta. Add Gruyere cheese. Stir.

9) Get peed on by your 'potty-trained' two-year-old. Change her, then cuddle her until she falls asleep and you can't remember the astronimical tantrum of biblical proportions she threw earlier.

10) Jasmine tea.

Love to you!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sunny Clouds

Hat, scarf: Gap
Dress: Tulle
Socks: Harajuku c/o Hercatwalk
Wedges: Pour la Victoire
Hi guys! Gotta be honest: I feel like I'm in a rut. A fashion rut, a cooking rut, a work rut, an exercise rut, a 30 for 30 rut, a rutty rut rut. I lack energy and feel a shade depressed. My favorite yellow dress didn't even help much! I don't know if it's a weather thing or a possible low thyroid, but I would love to hear how you get out of these darn things. Special music? Multi-vitamin? Ritual? Workout routine? Grant me some wisdom, oh wise ones.

PS- I almost fell out my chair while not watching "Gossip Girl" tonight... I don't watch that show! Blair and Dan watched Rosemary's Baby on Valentine's Day! Oh, why did I watch it two days late? Darin and I could have avoided that mistake!

Love to you!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lacy Sailor

Beret, top, cardigan: Gap
Skirt: Target via Ebay
Tights: c/o We Love Colors in navy
Boots: Steve Madden 'Masen'
Ah, that's better. I wish I could dress like a sailor everyday.

I bought this skirt in black months ago, but it felt overtly sexy for me, so I returned it. I was happy to find this gently used green one on Ebay for a song, and the next day I found the white version (brand new with tags!) at Goodwill! Kismet.
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