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!

Reconnecting The Dots

For the next few weeks I'll be taking some time here and there to reconnect with friends near and far and with my husband during some long weekends, days off, outings, and visits from across the pond. Likewise, the next couple of posts will be a bit off-topic but, never fear, fashion will always play a role in them.

There is a common thread that will connect all of these dots. A terrible event that brought with it help from unexpected places and the foundation for strong, lasting bonds that remain.

I'll paraphrase.

Two and a half years ago my husband and I awoke to flood waters trickling through our front door. Seventeen inches of rainfall over the course of three days in Nashville hadn't been enough to flood our home. The brilliant decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to close the Cheatham Dam without warning did the trick. Hubby, myself, and our two dogs were forced to camp out in the furthest corner of our backyard for about 60 hours as we watched the water engulf our home and threatened to push us off of our property entirely.


When the waters receded we felt overwhelmed at the task at hand. Everything from 4' down had to go, including drywall, insulation, carpeting, cabinets, furniture, and personal posessions.  Then we had to rebuild with limited funds and even less experience.

We knew that we couldn't afford to contract out the construction. If we were going to have our home back we'd have to do the work ourselves. I lost many of my clothes not to floodwaters but to mold that crept into the bins they were stored in as we redid closets to accommodate them. I spent the next year or so on the worst dressed list. My uniform was oversized men's tees, raggedy shorts and capris, and a pair of plastic purple Hanna Montana Crocs I found at Big Lots. Everything I owned was covered in some kind of building material be it drywall mud, tile mastic, grout, or one or more paint colors.


What happened next was completely unexpected. We received a huge outpouring of support in the form of guidance and volunteer assistance without which we never would have succeeded in rebuilding. People that we had only known online came from all over to lend a hand in whatever capacity they could. We had a father and son from Liverpool, England spend their American holiday putting up drywall and assisting in building the wheelchair accessible front deck. I'll never forget them showing up in the midst of what was literally a disaster area with two bunches of flowers. Our friendship was cemented in that moment. Lots of relationships were defined, for better or for worse, during this period. When disaster strikes people show you who they really are, and I'm happy to report that most people are good.


Fast forward over two years later. Our house is almost finished but I'd be lying if I said the process hasn't really taken a toll on me emotionally, and especially physically. CP can augment aches, pains and problems associated with strenuous physical activity and aging. But these things pale in comparison to having a home that is now even more handicapped accessible. I am refining and rebuilding my wardrobe, having happily retired my construction rags.

Our British friend brought his wife with him to see us last year and is here once again for a visit and a brief tour around the South. This time I got to meet the girl in the family. She's very sweet, stylish, and loves to shop.


We Can Work It Out

And we should work it out.  I don't care how mild or how severe your CP is we Palsies deserve to look as good as anybody else.

The way you dress reflects how you feel about yourself. It doesn't determine your worth as a person, but it does determine your estimation of your own value. It lets other people know how much or how little you think about the package you're presenting to the world. I think it's really, really important for those of us with Cerebral Palsy to understand that we have the potential to be as valuable as anyone else. It's equally important to understand that we are being judged for our physical appearance far more critically than our able-bodied counterparts. It's not because people are jerks - although some people clearly are. It's because as human beings we are physiologically hardwired to notice differences in our environment and that includes people who look or move in a way that is radically different from the norm. In other words, people are going to notice you because you are handicapped. All the political correctness in the world isn't going to change that. It's just going to make others that much more hesitant to approach you for fear of saying something offensive.

Do you want someone else's first impression of you be of nothing but your disability? Are you so nicely wrapped that people are staring at you - in a GOOD way - because they'd like to interact with you? Or do you look like you either think little of yourself or wish you owned Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility?

Why deny anyone the opportunity to get to know you? Change their preconceptions with that first glance, that first impression. You can do it. I have done it, and I know that for a fact because people I've met that have become friends have told me so.

It took me far too long to come out of the shadows. Don't waste another day of your life waiting for the world to change. Change your world - today.

I want to get to know you! I want to start a movement with you. I want to recruit you as a fellow Spashionista. I want us to help each other look like we're worth our weight in gold; because we are!