Category Archives: women

When one closet closes, another window is opened–Wendy’s Closet Clothes Out

Yesterday marked both an anniversary and the end of an era. Wendy’s Closet in Stowe, Vermont, closed its doors after 24 years (to the day) of business. Those who have shopped at Wendy’s know that her store was so much more than “fabulous” fashions. Her goal has always been to help women feel beautiful and confident in their own skin, and she has empowered women for years to embrace their unique beauty. The energy and love that filled this small shop knew no boundaries.  All who passed through her doors received the utmost service of loving-kindness from Wendy and her staff, or her ‘Angels’ as she liked to refer to them.

I was blessed to be a “Wendy’s Angel” myself, coming to the store in 2008 on a return trip from college. With no summer job prospects, I happened upon Wendy’s looking for a birthday gift for a friend. As a long time customer of the store, Wendy knew my retail history and offered me a job the moment I told her I was looking for work.

Little did I know that this moment would alter the course of my life. Wendy took me in and opened up a world of love, kindness, generosity, loyalty, and spirituality to me. She is truly a guru among humans–humble and noble, fabulous and fashionable. She’s a woman who can throw anything on with a tee-shirt and jeans and make it funky and classy all at the same time. She taught me lessons about self-confidence and the importance of self-love as we played marathons of backgammon, read our horoscopes from the Seven Days and ate cupcakes from Harvest Market.

It was in her very shop that I even landed my current job. I had moved home from living abroad and had little more than two dimes to rub together. I called Wendy, as I always do when I am home and in transition. As expected, she opened her doors wide to me and offered me my coveted job back. I came to work only for the weekend, taking the bus from NYC to Stowe. Some might call it luck, but I call it fate, that on this very weekend back in October of 2013, I helped a customer who would end up offering me a position within a company called Education First, which would eventually launch my career as the Director of the Cultural Care Au Pair Training School.

The path that my life has traveled since that day has everything to do with Wendy’s Closet. All of the lessons I’ve learned over the years from Wendy about facing my fears, taking chances and opening myself up to the gifts of the Universe came to pass under her roof on this fateful day in late October.

Wendy is a woman of strength and character, and has been both a mentor and a dear friend to me. Her store was my haven, a place I called home. I knew it inside out, from the merchandise to her loyal customers. I relished my afternoons working with Wendy and the Angels.

And so, it is with bittersweet emotion that I write this piece. It is difficult to imagine Stowe without Wendy’s Closet, but I, like anyone else who knows Wendy, am certain that whatever this new chapter brings, it’s going to be “fabulous.”

Wendy, these mere words I’ve conjured pale in comparison to the feelings of gratitude and love I feel for you and your store. Thank you for everything, and my best wishes to you in this exciting transition.

Lots and lots of love,

Lizzie

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 26: Health and Well being of the Mind, Body and Spirit

Being kind to ourselves is something that most people need to work on. For me, it’s always been extremely critical to keep a healthy working relationship with my mind and body, because the synchronicity of the physical and mental is astounding. When the body feels bad, the mind responds appropriately. For many women, myself included, we have lived our whole lives subject to the male gaze and under the thumb of advertising companies. Beauty magazines, diet fads, and wounding comments from our peers, both female and male, are internalized by our psyche.

I’ll never forget my first negative realization of my feminine form, when, in the 7th grade, one my male friends told me I was fat. Until that point, I didn’t have that kind of understanding of the fleshy form that my soul moved through life within. But that day, that moment, those words have never gone away. Ever. My adolescent mind played ugly tricks on me and I began to look into the mirror and see what was wrong with me, not what was so perfectly imperfect and beautiful. I began to devour hateful rhetoric against the feminine form, reading magazines like Cosmo and Vogue. I compared myself ceaselessly to others, and my self-satisfaction and esteem suffered as a result of the hate I ingested into my body. Because my mind corresponded so intuitively with my body, somewhere in that vicious cycle, I drew that energy into my bones, my tissue and my cells.

Unlearning all of this is a process–one that I work on thoughtfully almost every single day. A delicate balance of health and wellness must be kept, and if my body is feeling good, my mind feels the same. Healthy eating, exercise and meditation are the tools I use to keep the peace with myself.

Today, I woke up with sore muscles from yesterday’s yoga class. I got up, dressed in the stretchiest clothes available and walked to a Bar Method class. My muscles trembled and my legs shook like there was an earthquake taking place in my body as we pulsed through pliés and relevés, ab curls and arm weights. After class, I could hardly walk down the stairs, and I smiled knowing that I am going to hurt so good for the next 3 days… Honestly, if I can walk tomorrow, it will be an absolute miracle.

But I am grateful—so grateful—for that stiff, sore, achy feeling in my fatigued muscles because it’s a reminder of the hard work that goes into the process of unlearning, which I need to maintain a healthy balance between my body and mind. This year, in particular, I’ve committed to slowly and mindfully breaking down all the barriers to Self-love that were the direct result of various adolesccent traumas. Little by little, I am peeling back the layers of self-dissatisfaction that have built up throughout the infinite lifetime of my soul, and especially in this lifetime, where my poor mind and body have taken a significant bullying from society and, admittedly, from myself.

My soul, however, is more transcendental, and has taken this healing quest upon itself in order to learn some valuable lessons. I’ve learned that comparison is perhaps one of the most useless forms of self-disparagement. Each and every one of us has our own set of trials and triumphs, strengths and weaknesses. It’s more productive to work with each other, than to constantly strive to be like someone else. Our uniqueness is what makes for a more healthy social order.

I’ve also learned that self-awareness is a practice. It’s not something that you achieve, but something that you constantly work towards maintaining. It’s perfectly normal to forget how good you felt after yesterday’s run or the hour-long meditation you did. Life is constantly changing and throwing new situations at us. We have to roll with the punches, because the punches are what makes life a  fun and challenging learning experience. Through constant self check-ins, we can help up keep the fine balance of mind, body and spirit.

Thus today, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and will inevitably continue to learn. I am also grateful to my body and mind, and for the balance that I have cultivated through exercise and healthy eating in the last two days. (I’ll have to remember to be extra thankful tomorrow when I try to get out of bed and my glutes, traps, biceps, abs, calves, and thighs scream like the chorus of a Slayer song.) And, of course, I am infinitely grateful to my inner guide and closest companion, my spirit.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 22: GIRL POWER!

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Today I sat around a table of powerful, smart, self-aware, successful female executives and directors. Being in the presence of my seasoned colleagues, and listening to their words of advice and wisdom was inspiring. These women have so much passion for what they do, and they are pretty damn boss–literally.

Approximately 95% of the employees at Cultural Care Au Pair are women, which doesn’t come as a surprise, given the nature of the child care beast. I don’t mean for this to sound gendered, and in fact, the whole point of this post today is to give thanks to all the bad ass female colleagues and role models in my life.

Here’s to the women who inspire me both professionally and spiritually and have played a key role in my personal successes. Keep being bad ass!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

 

 

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