Putting on My Skin

I peeked out—and when I spotted my three companions—I sauntered out of the dressing room.

One sales person immediately grabbed black, pointy-toe, 3-inch stiletto pumps. I’m not sure how she knew my shoe size.

The other sales person cocked his head, squinted his eyes, pondered. He wasn’t so much sizing me up as he was crafting an art piece of an outfit in his imagination. Then he opened the jewelry case and picked out a chunky, over-the-top, key-and-locket chain necklace.

I fidgeted a bit, tugging at the hemline…but I knew it: the dress was a hit.

+++

Curitiba, Brazil.  Shopping in downtown Curitiba Brazil

I could barely say more than “tem desconto?” in Portuguese to ask for a discount.

Camilla, Rebecca, Mike and I were in a punk designer store.* Lots of asymmetrical black clothing, gaudy rhinestones set in sterling silver chunky rings, and too-high heels. Electronic music—not pulsing—but just enough to make you want to groove a little. No other customers.

When I spotted the dress, I laughed at its absurdity. And then promptly snuck into a dressing room to try it on. Fuschia and black zebra pattern. Crazy, colorful patches hand-sewn onto one side of the hemline: “Gabba Gabba Hey!” and “Motor City Baby” and a patch with a woman’s face outlined on it and the name “Joey.” Short, but with a sweet and fluttery hemline.

+++

Once I donned the stilettos and necklace, the clothing designer himself came downstairs (from what I only presumed to be his très chic design room in the upstairs loft), apparently called down by one of the salespeople.

He looked at me, then nodded his head in approval.

He knew I didn’t speak Portuguese…and really, there was no need for dialogue. It was merely an act of him approving the frame & canvas for his art. I was a frame for his masterpiece outfit. And I felt like a work of art.

I bought the dress, shoes and necklace.

+++

The dress hangs in my closet. It still fits; it’s still stylish. But I’m not comfortable wearing it right now.

+++

My pale skin may as well be hanging right next to The Brazil Dress.

The last many weeks have been full of growth—emotionally, professionally, heartfully. And perhaps more than anything, I’ve recognized the responsibility and leadership I’m coming into. And it terrifies me. So I step out of my skin.

My skin hangs next to the dress. I look at it longingly, knowing it has the power to transform me if only I’d slip it on.

Like the Brazilian clothing designer giving me the nod of approval, so has Zachariah. And Gwen. And Dad. They’ve given me the nods of approval, knowing that if I can wear my skin with a bit of swagger, I’ll be a walking piece of art.

I need to give myself the nod of approval. And then put my skin back on.

 

*this designer
  • Kandicenate

    You are telling my story. I had to give myself permission today to be happy and be ok with who I am. Thanks for sharing this at such a timely point in my life.

  • So happy to read this, fresh off the presses! Awesomeness! My first thought is…thank you, and you know why ; ) My second thought is, “Yay!” My final thought is, watching you bloom and sharing space, ideas and ourselves as we grow simultaneously in overlapping ways is an honor and a gift. Thank you for sharing : )

    • Lady…you’ve gently and subtly and gracefully *also* given me the nod of approval. And I appreciate that. Love you tremendously!

  • Beautiful! And…I want to see you in that dress! :)

  • When my sister was shopping for her wedding dress, I remember everyone saying to her…”You should wear the dress. The dress shouldn’t wear you.”

    Being comfortable in your own skin is essential to not only feeling good, but also looking good. You may be in need of some encouragement from others right now, but you don’t need anyone’s approval. You don’t need permission to feel beautiful. Beautiful is a choice you make.

    So I hope you make the right choice. I hope you choose to feel comfortable enough in your own skin to rock the shit out of that funky Brazilian dress.

    • Okay. Every word you said is so spot on, David. (Even if my initial reaction was “But I’m not talking about feeling beautiful in a dress!!! I’m not talking about my physical looks!”)

      But I actually am talking about feeling beautiful in a dress… both the physical dress and the metaphorical one. The one where I need to “own” fulfilling the leadership role I’m coming into in my life’s work.

      And, obviously, my initial resistance to your comment is revealing, too. : )

      • Yes, the fact that your initial response was one of a semi-hostile girl stamping her foot is very telling indeed! ;)

        It’s both awesome and irritating when someone crawls inside your brain like that, isn’t it?

        Well give yourself all the credit. It’s not that I creepily crawled inside your brain. It’s just that you have a way with words and I was able to read the full story between the lines.

        Also, you know what goes well with skin? Black stilettos. (That sounded more sexual that I intended, but hopefully you know what I’m getting at. Read between the lines.)

  • It is my opinion that you should come up with an excuse to wear the outfit — even if it’s just for a few minutes in the privacy of your own home. My daughter has given me the perspective that one is never too old to play dress up (so says the woman who enjoys slipping into Macy’s to try on prom dresses just for the heck of it).

    • PROM DRESSES AT MACY’S!!!!!!!

      That is BRILLIANT. I think I need to get together with a couple of girlfriends and do that! :D

      (Thanks, Meredith.)

  • Anonymous

    I suspect that you are not going to have to put your skin back on. Because you’ve already grown into new skin.

  • Anonymous

    I suspect that you are not going to have to put your skin back on. Because you’ve already grown into new skin.

  • “I need to give myself the nod of approval. And then put my skin back on.”

    And you shall. <3

  • Amanda

    Thank you for writing something I so greatly needed to read, right in this very moment.

    ~Amanda

    • Wow – that makes my heart swell. And makes hitting “publish” on something I didn’t-so-much want to hit “publish” on VERY much worth it. :) Thank you, Amanda.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful post Cali…

    “I look at it longingly, knowing it has the power to transform me if only I’d slip it on.” What you do also need to remember is that you are powerful, beautiful, and a piece of art, just the way you are. Although, I have to say that is easy to forget. ;)

    Thanks for always being a reminder to me to live out of who I am, and nudging me back in the right direction when I step off the path.

    :)

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful post Cali…

    “I look at it longingly, knowing it has the power to transform me if only I’d slip it on.” What you do also need to remember is that you are powerful, beautiful, and a piece of art, just the way you are. Although, I have to say that is easy to forget. ;)

    Thanks for always being a reminder to me to live out of who I am, and nudging me back in the right direction when I step off the path.

    :)

  • This is so vivid and honest. I’m hanging my skin into all kinds of things and hoping to slip it on with gusto one day. Lovely. Lovely.

  • Thank you for your timely and extremely poignant post.

    For quite some time I have been aware of this nagging feeling that I have yet to truly step into my own skin; to truly be the best version of myself.

    As I was hiking this morning it became crystal clear to me. At times my skin is up ahead on the trail waiting a bit impatiently for me, tapping a finger to its watch as if to say, “Get a move on, girlie! It’s way past time for you to step on in here” At other times it has seemed as though my skin was running along beside me, cheering me on. “Are you ready yet? You can do it.” And yet, I have continued to resist.

    At still other times, my skin sits quietly by my side watching my internal struggle and quietly whispers, “Don’t worry. I’m here when you’re ready. When you’re finally ready to push through your fears of failure, and your fears of success. When you are finally ready to set aside your self doubt. When you finally trust that you are enough. When you are ready to risk that, though it might be a tiny bit uncomfortable at first, this skin was designed especially for you to take on your role in life. It won’t fit anyone else. It won’t look as good on anyone else. Each stitch was placed with care and with you, the real you, in mind. So, I’m here when you’re ready to finally own your strength and embrace your beauty and share both with the world. When you are finally ready to love and be loved. I’m right here so you can step right in.”

    Thank you, Cali for reminding me that it’s my skin and if I will just breathe and slip it on, it will fit.

    • Wow: “I’m right here so you can step right in.”

      Thank you for such a thoughtful response, Ali. You speak truth (as always).

      {Hmm….seems that you could take your comment and create a blog post… HMMMM…. ;)}

  • I love this post. Coming back to it.

    What do I love about it? You are showing yourself vulnerable but STRONG.

    And giving us a taste of what’s to come!!! Bring it on chica!

    xox

    • You’ve just made my heart happy. Thanks, love!