Pack Up Your Troubles...

in your Louis Vuitton bag and smile, smile, smile.

I think in one of my previous posts I briefly mentioned that I haven't been away from home for recreational purposes in about 13 years. I've got a million excuses for this and very few really good reasons. As I get older, slower, more "special needsy" I realized that it may not be long before a trip away from home is more of a production than it's worth.

About six months ago my favorite artist's Facebook page announced that 250 of his pieces would be on exhibit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa until the end of the year. It's the first time his creations have been shown in the US since 1999 and I've never had the chance to see any of his work in an exhibition. Should I go? More importantly, could I go?

Mr Spashionista said, "We're going. That's all there is to it."

So here I am, packing for a few days in Cedar Rapids courtesy of one terrific husband, a wonderful house/dogsitter, and with accessibility and tourist tips from two lovely ladies. I'll get into specifics soon. For now I'm just concerned with packing. There are some things I need to pack that are disability specific. I'm mildly stressed about that because want to be sure I don't forget anything vital. But the bulk of my stress lies in having to cherry pick just a few outfits and accessories that are going with me. I have to be sure I bring clothing that is appropriate for what I'll be doing, comfortable enough to let me do it without feeling constrained or exposed, and accessible enough that I don't have to stress out if  I have to use a public restroom.

The first thing I'll do is pack the medications and supplements I take every day. Instead of a suitcase full of pill boxes (I need every inch of space I can get!) I'm using a 7 day pill dispenser. I carry a small pillbox in my purse so I'll move my meds in by dose as needed. I'll also packing small quantities of "as needed" prescription medicine - anything I can't get from any grocery or convenience store. The next item is my carpal tunnel wrist brace that I have to wear to support my left hand while I sleep if I don't want to spend the next day with a numb hand. Last, but not least, is my blindfold, because lack of sleep will definitely put a damper on my waking hours.

T J Maxx proved to be a great place to find a good-sized cosmetic bag. In it I'll store portable makeup brushes and applicators, makeup and remover, tweezers, clippers, emery board, safety pins, fabric tape, ear plugs. A trip to Bath and Body Works during one of their sales yielded travel-sized shower gel, lotion, and body spray in the same fragrance I wear at home. Likewise Publix provided a travel kit with shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrush and paste. The shower scrunchie was separate. I already had a trial sized mouthwash bottle, and the lint brush and mousse are Target purchases.

The only real albatross is going to be my lighted makeup mirror. I wish I didn't need it, but as I'm blind as a bat I have to have a 10x mirror to apply makeup unless I want to look like a rodeo clown.

Maybe I can sweet talk Mr Spashionista into putting it in his suitcase along with the 700 chargers we need for all of our "devices"!

"What about the clothes?" You say. I'll show you those once I get to Cedar Rapids. I may even try to do that in video form; we'll see.

Fashion Friday: Travels With Louis

Louis Vuitton, that is.

This week's Fashion Friday is centered around my fabulous thrift store find, the Louis Vuitton Keepall 60 Shoulder Bag.

The outfit is made up of classic, tailored separates. Straight-legged trouser "leggings", belt, three-quarter sleeved V-neck top, blazer, and pointy-toed flats. The accessories are the focus here - they're all from Louis Vuitton. Of course, the anchor piece is the Keepall, but I also chose a Monogram Tulum Pochette Key Cles Holder, a Vintage LV Lock Necklace, a pair of Authentic Louis Vuitton Kusama Waves Flower Sunglasses, and a Louis Vuitton Tambour Mysterieuse Watch. Even the cane is special. It's a Twisted Bocote Hame Top Exotic Walking Cane from Brazos Walking Sticks.

All in all it's a sophisticated combination that shows a lot of love for LV. Will I ever come close to owning any more of these pieces? Maybe, but if all I ever see of this outfit is the Keepall I'm not going to cry.

Spashionistas Wanted

The outfits that I put together for Fashion Friday are based on my BODS profile. Sure, some of the items I use are beyond my price range but I’m certain I can find reasonable equivalents within my budget. I would love the opportunity to put some together for you for the next installment of Fashion Friday. If you’re interested email me with your BODS profile and we’ll make it happen!

What Would You Do?

If you were out on an adventure and found something you needed to embark on another, longer, more exciting adventure?

I found myself faced with this question as Mr Spashionista and I entertained our company from across the pond - remember, I introduced you to them in Reconnecting The Dots?

We spent several days together and I was in heaven. Not only because I got to see my old friends, but because I got to spend some serious quality shopping time with my newest friend. Lindsay is a beautiful girly-girl with a serious talent for shopping. We spent about half her visit finding great bargains for her to take home to England. Alas, we forgot to take a photo of all the goodies together so she promised to email one to me and I'll save it for another post.

This post is about something I found while the two of us were pillaging one of the local thrift stores. Actually, that's not true. Lindsay found it and, under normal circumstances I wouldn'tve bought it because it would've sat, unused, at the top of my closet.

Recognize it yet? It's a Louis Vuitton keepall 60 shoulder bag. Leather tag, suede interior,"made in France"; the real deal. And a deal it was at $50. My luggage sank in the 2010 flood two years ago and I hadn't seen the need to replace it until now.

I bought it because later this year, for the first time in over 10 years, I will be taking a trip and this bag is perfectly suited to my requirements.

Of course I'll be chronicling my journey and will divulge more details later. But I just couldn't keep my treasure to myself a minute longer!

The Value of Labels

As a fashionista I know the value of a label - even if I can't afford to purchase the article of clothing it's attached to. I have certain expectations when I see names like Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Donna Karan. I will forever associate the infamous Little Black Dress with Coco Chanel. I know that Alexander McQueen's aesthetic is going to be vastly different from Donnatella Versace's or Louis Vuitton's. Although it generally takes a while for the haute couture influences to make their way into the pret-a-porter world it is the shapes and colors that define the major labels that morph into what we everyday fashionistas lust after in the stores.

Yet, when I label myself a spaz, a palsy, or a cripple the reactions I get are very negative - especially among my peers.

"Don't say that!" They tell me. "You're differently-abled," or, "you're physically challenged," or, "you're handi-capable" - my personal favorite.

While I truly don't wish or intend to be offensive or injurious to anyone else I refuse to dilute or diffuse the specifics of my disability by reducing it to a politically-correct, technically flaccid, feel-good phrase. I have not arrived at this position unthinkingly. I think it's safe to say that anyone whom society deems as different gets ridiculed as they are growing up by other kids for their differences. We can spend the next 20 minutes debating the cruelty that all children at one time or another display towards one another, how wrong it is, how they're bullies, etc. I'm not going to bother with that. Righteous indignation doesn't neutralize pejoratives.

When I was in high school - a Catholic high school - I suffered no end of taunts and torments. To be perfectly fair, some of those were well-deserved, but the ones pertaining to my disability were beyond any actions on my part. There is no need to give an itemized list of the slights I had to endure but there is one incident that turned the tables and made me understand how to deal with verbal abuse. One of my classmates used to get infinite pleasure in calling me "Paul" every time she saw me.  Of course, her friends found this hilarious and she thought I was too stupid to understand that she was making fun of me. After hearing this for the better part of six months one day I'd had enough. "I'm not Paul; I'm Palsy," I spat back at her.

She froze. Her friends were mute. They all turned red and looked away. None of them bothered me again.

Oh, so I just have to be open, honest, and proud of the Outer Spaz? Aha!

No, I didn't arrive at the "aha" overnight; but I did arrive.

Nowadays if I'm approached by a curious child - the kind that run right up to me and ask, "What's wrong with you?" - I tell them. The way I deliver the answer depends on the child's age, but in general I explain that I was born this way and can't walk so well by myself so I use a wheelchair or crutches to get around. I'll answer even the snottiest kid's questions in the hopes the kid learns early in life that taunting a handicapped person doesn't faze them. Most kids aren't sure what to do, but even the shyest child generally warms up with a smile and a wink.

I've met many kind, gracious people that are simply terrified of doing or saying the wrong thing. This is one of the negative repercussions of too much political correctness. I can't tell you how many times I've been approached with an offer of help by someone petrified their assistance might be misconstrued as offensive.  My "labels" let them know that I'm very secure with who I am and they don't have to walk on eggshells around me. However, just because I'm comfortable with my Outer Spaz I never assume others are at ease with theirs. If I see other handicapped people when I'm out and about I do my best to make eye contact with them and smile - because I get it. Our journey is not an easy one but our path is not made easier by the averted eyes and nervous whispers that are not much better than stares and name-calling. My attitude, along with my wardrobe, makes my disability much less important, much less prominent, in the eyes of others.

After all, everyone has something they find physically challenging, and we're all differently-abled. I have Cerebral Palsy, and I wear it well.