Yesterday we had a good time visiting my aunt and uncle. Before we left we had talked about stopping by the mall near their house to do some shopping so after saying our goodbyes we headed out. No one else was hungry, but I was so I asked if we could stop at a restaurant we hadn't been to before. The name and decor suggested a Southern Florida locale, but with the cold and snowflakes it was definitely Midwestern Wisconsin weather. I'm always nervous when we go out to eat so I told our server that we had food allergies and found out that she had recently been diagnosed with serveral as well.

I was finished with my meal when I noticed that the left side of my throat was sore. The remains of my fish laid on my plate next to the remaineder of steamed vegetables I hadn't eaten. When I read Food Allergies there was a section on how to tell the difference between a panic or anxiety attack and a legitimate allergic reaction. Walgreens was across the street so I stopped there to pick up some liquid allergy medicine. Some part of me must have been thinking because I bought a generic version of Benadryl and Zyrtec along with some throat lozenges. I opened the bottles in the car feeling my chest tighten and prickle. By the time we stopped at the mall I knew that this was not anxiety or panic because it was getting harder to breathe.

When I'm anxious there's a knotted feeling in my stomach or lower abdomen. When I'm allergic to something it feels as if my lungs are outlined, and there's a strange feeling in my heart. We could have gone home, but for some reason I decided not to take that route. Armed with two doses of medicine I headed towards the mall. At first I didn't think I was going to buy anything. I was frustrated by the prices which seemed outrageous and I'm sure part of my mood was influenced by the changes that were happening to me as I shopped. After a couple of sales people stopped to ask if I needed anything I said that I was looking for some comfortable sweaters. The sale table had boxy knits in colors that wouldn't flatter me, but after I explained that I was led to a table I had seen before.

Finding comfortable clothes is always a challenge for me. I'm not very tall, but I'm curvy and heavy which make matters worse. I found a pair of jeans that fit everywhere except the waist so I asked a sales associate if I should try the next size down. When she shrugged her shoulders I thought that I was done shopping, but then this nice woman with longer silvery hair stopped by and asked if I had seen the curvy fit selection. I'm not used to finding clothes that fit off the rack, and they were slighty long, but not terrible. I tried on the sweater I liked and didn't want to take anything off it was so warm and cozy. I hate it when sales people don't listen. I don't really care if they love brown when they never have before or have an entirely gray wardrobe, they're not me.

The turning point for me was when the woman with the iron colored hair told me that I looked poured into a sweater. The honesty was refreshing so I found myself asking her about other things I had tried since it's hard to be objective about how I look in the mirror. Everyone liked a shirt that I didn't, and no one liked the sweater I really wanted, but I tell my footwear clients not to force a fit and I realized that I wanted the black and white patterned sweater to fit when it didn't. Long ago a girlfriend of mine had taken me shopping and showed me how to put outfits together. Last night I tried to remember everything she had told me about wardrobe versatility and creating options with what I have.

It was kind of funny to hear the associates telling me that I had other things at home that would work with the things I was getting. I don't think those women understood what my closet looks like, but I didn't argue with anything they said. When I was done I had a casual/sporty outfit I could wear on walks or around the house. I found a pair of very dark navy colored jeans, and I also bought a pair of black cords. Since it's so hard for me to find layering pieces I bought three tanks and probably should have gotten a couple more. I found a merino wool sweater in gray, a long sleeved white tee, and a really cableknit sweater in a different shade of blue that my new friend told me I could wear with the blue pants even though I didn't think it went. But I trusted her since she had been honest about the way the sweater had fit.

When she was ringing things up I found myself rethinking every item on the counter. But then I remembered how comfortable everything was, and thought about the clothes I had back home. My credit card with them had been cloesd due to inactivity so I had to reopen it, and I don't regret anything I bought because I had the money and I'm thrilled with what I bought. While I could have put a few things back I'm pleased that the decision was left up to me and I think it was really good for my girls to see that mom was getting some new clothes at the mall and not getting them anything since this so rarely happens. I have a tendency to feel guilty about money I spend on myself and I could have gotten better deals on things had I waited until the after Christmas sales, but I was at the mall and with the credit card I got an additional fifteen percent off which helped.

After that I probably should have gotten into my car to go home. But I saw the store where I like to buy bras and panties so I decided to stop in and see if anyone I knew was working. The entire staff that I used to know is gone. That was disappointing, but since I had met a few of the managers I wasn't shocked. A really nice woman measured me and what I liked best about her is that she knew what she was doing, but wasn't patronizing or snooty. Despite our different sizes she was able to recommend things for me since we both have a similiar situation where we need support at the bottom for lift and shaping. She also told me I could wear boyshorts, I tried a pair that I didn't like, but when I went up a size, I found that they did fit so it wasn't the shorts or me, it was the size.

What she was doing for me was so similar to what I do for my clients that I felt like I had known her for years. She was telling me about her son who is eleven and about her boyfriend who had just moved down to Florida. She had cared for her father for five years before he passed so she could relate to my being at home and slopping around in clothes and bras that didn't fit well. I've gained weight which is frustrating, but it's a fact so I bought some new bras and I'm so glad that I did. She was absolutely wonderful at making suggestions and identifying what wasn't working for me. She told me about everyone having a bra home and people needing to feel comfortable in what they owned and wore.

Shopping with her was fun. I'm still a bit stunned that I bought four bras, she said she advises people to have at least three. One to wear, one to wash, and one to breathe and air out. She got me out of my comfort zone, but also saw that I got the standard items that I typically buy and I thought the balance was nice. It is fun to get dressed up in things I wouldn't normally buy, but I don't want to wear a leopard print bra every day and she understood that. We chatted about foundation garments while she showed me other options and I'm not sure how we got to talking about shoes, but she said that her feet were killing her and she wanted a pair of shoes like I had, but when she went to the store at the mall she felt like they had sized her wrong.

I didn't say anything about that, but I asked if I could show her something and when she agreed I knelt down and pointed at the top of her foot. I explained that I wasn't sure if her instep was high enough to pull off clogs and then I took my shoe off to show her my foot. I could see the lightbulb moment when she nodded because her foot is longer and narrower than mine without the instep height needed to make the shoes I was wearing a viable option to her. She said that her mom loves them, but then I used the concept of the bra home to illustrate that everyone has a foot home too. What works for one may not work for another if their feet are shaped differently. When she mentioned that I was diabetic we had a short conversation about trimming her nails. The second nail on her left foot was too long and I said ideally she should be seeing a podiatrist to have her nails trimmed.

When she said that in the past she's trimmed hers too short I shared some information on determining how long nails should be. Long enough to protect that delicate skin beneath the covering, but not so long that they went beyond the toe. She said she would spend whatever it took to get good shoes and then wistfully stared at her feet when she said that she really wanted a nice pair of boots. When I asked why she hadn't gotten a pair she said none of them fit her well. Her calves are slim so the boot shafts tend to be too wide and her leg swims inside of them. An associate at the store I had just been at said she wanted a pair of boots, but her problem is boot shaft height since she is short. Her foot is also very wide and if she can find a pair of boots that fits her wide foot and slender leg, I will be very surprised.

At the lingerie store we traded contact info, the manager said that she would be in touch and it was nice to get a hug from her before I left. Her son complains that his feet hurt quite a bit. Her solution has been to buy him bigger shoes which was a nice opportunity to discuss how foot shape can influence fit. I said I would be more than happy to work with both of them, and she said that this was so important she would try to get a day off to go shopping with me. What struck me on the drive home is how each of the women I had met had a skill that was similar, but it didn't translate well. The clothes people need my help with shoes, and I can easily figure out most footwear problems, but bras and outfits have me stumped.

My friend Janice can pull things together and I want there to be a way for people to get this kind of attention because the demand for this kind of thing is out there. Why should this poor store manager have to hobble around in shoes that hurt her diabetic feet when she could spend an hour with me and get a few work shoes that will help alleviate some of her pain. I wish there was a better way to team up and share this type of experience with others so people aren't spending their money buying shoes that sit in their clothes and clothes that don't work well for them. I can do a lot for people just by going through what they have at home, I've gone through closets and helped people make piles and lists of what was needed, maybe I need to focus more on that and get a partner to help with the things I can't do for others.a

Lots to think about, but I'm excited. I've been taking allergy medicine all day, but my massage was wonderful and my therapist said she would come to my house if I bought a table. I'm allergic to her cat, but it would be the ultimate luxury to have someone come over when I needed her. Today she told me that I don't bend. She has a sauna that she said she would let me use. I'm seeing things differently than I have before and finally figuring some of these lifelong problems I've had out and taking small steps and making larger strides forward than I have previously. My massage therapist knows the MD I saw and is on her program. It would be a major commitment so I have to really think about this, but now I have more information and can make a better decision.

Until next time,