Ever since I was a kid, I've felt that fashion was important. Well, maybe not fashion exactly, but definitely how I present myself. There is a certain vibrance in appearance I was always searching for, a kind of zest that burst forth from the clothes and shoes and accessories I chose. In short, I dressed purposefully.
|[My first day of school outfit, age 6.]|
I still dress purposefully. It doesn't have anything to do with the best clothes or expensive taste. I'm a social worker. I bargain shop. I look for the little pieces of awesome. I match and pair things together in a complimentary way, much like some folks pair a good meal with fine wine. It's a conscious decision about trivial stuff like earrings, pops of color, or scarves, but every little thing I put on, every little thing I carry with me...it's like a message for anyone I meet. I dress purposefully...with intention...because I want everyone I see to feel like they mattered when I got ready in the morning. And I want to bring cheerfulness and joy with me when I walk into the lives of others. I feel like my outfits can do that.
|[Bright necklaces can be talking points!]|
I can't tell you how many times the bold necklaces I've chosen become fun topics of conversation with female patients in memory support units. They touch them as little children would...they comment on the eye-catching qualities...they talk about the necklaces they used to wear.
|[Color and joy in living can show up in anything...including my clothes.]|
There was a day a few years ago it dawned on me that I might be the most exciting part of someone's day. I think about that often now. My burst of energy through someone's door, my smile, and my outfit might be the best thing they see. What a huge responsibility, if you really think about it. What an honor and an awesome opportunity, if you think about it further.
It's not a big deal, this whole outfit thing. But at the same time...it's kind of a big deal. I remember a patient I used to have who looked forward to seeing what I'd be wearing every week. Where did I get it? She'd ask me. She'd really want to know.
|[I want my clothes to say: I like what I do. I'm happy to be here.]|
I remember a patient who said, "Where did you get this dress?"
"Stitch Fix," I said. And from that point on, it was like our "thing." She'd want to know what had come in my Stitch Fix package every other month. Silly? Maybe. Human? Absolutely. We're all curious, fun-loving creatures. And just because you're used to wearing pajamas and staying in bed all day every day doesn't mean you don't love clothes!
|[Even my rain boots are fun. I wouldn't have it any other way.]|
My rain boots are teal green. My winter coat is red like Little Red Riding Hood. I want even my outwear which has the primary purpose to protect from weather to have the secondary purpose to bring a shot of color and personality to the homes I visit.
I have a male patient who calls this my Pineapple Hair. Who knew that so much attention would be paid to whether my hair was up or down? That it could become an inside joke?
|[One of my favorite tops]|
|[In the cooler months, I love to rock a variety of scarves.]|
Some might call me crazy, say I'm putting too much stock in material items...but that's not what it's about for me.
Sometimes I dress up, sometimes I don't... but no matter what I wear, I enter every home, every space, with a smile and as I say "Hi" and "How are you?" I'm also saying - with my clothes - "I'm present. I always look forward to seeing you. My job is important to me. I want to radiate joy for you. I love life. Let's enjoy it together."
And I will continue to dress purposefully.