So, not clothing related today I'm afraid. Instead I want to talk about something I have been thinking about for the last week or so.
As part of my job I help to run a training programme for female staff and students. It's the Springboard programme and it aims to help women to gain self confidence, assertiveness, goal setting and generally feeling more empowered. The course is four day long workshops which one or two trainers lead. As part of day 1 we had a speaker come along to talk about her experiences of the course and her life in general. This woman was truly inspirational.
I don't say that lightly. She had gone through a divorce and a change in career by her early 20's and then married again to a man who was older with teenage children. He had then lost his highly paid job due to disability making her the sole earner. They had a child together, who was then diagnosed with autism. Then her husband was given 6 months to live due to cancer and she went on to have two serious life-threatening illnesses.
You could hear the room of 40 women listening thinking 'oh my god. How do you cope? How would I cope? I wouldn't cope...'
And her message was this. You have a choice.
Simple as that. And as powerful as that. You have a choice.
You have a choice in how you live your life and you have a choice about how you feel about things that happen in your life.
It's too easy to say oh well, lots of things happen in my life I have no control over, things I can't change. Afterall no one would make a choice to suffer illness, or redundancy or loss. And that's true, but the sometimes uncomfortable truth is that you still have a choice about what you do in these situations and a choice about how you feel about them.
A good example that resonates with me is being fat. I'm fat. I have a choice about whether I am fat or not. No doubt. Genes, family history, set point, metabolism completely aside, if I wanted to work hard, not eat the foods I enjoy and dedicate a significant part of my life to weight loss and maintainance I could be thin. I am making an active choice not to. And I'm alright with that. My weight isn't beyond my control.
I also make an active choice to feel ok about my weight, and indeed that is linked to me making a choice to be fat. After years of dieting I was back to my heaviest weight, refusing to get photos taken and feeling crap about myself. So I gave myself a talking to. It went like this:
If I am making the choice to be fat, that's fine, but it has to be a choice based on the facts and honestly made. It has to be a true choice. Not a 'I'll be fat because I am but I'll really hate myself any way and not live my life as I really want to'. That's not making a choice, that's resigning yourself.
So I gave myself the choice that I could be fat but on the condition I embraced how I looked and loved myself and got on with my life, or I had to decide to get thin. And I chose fat.
Here I am the same size and weight I was 15 years ago but I feel completely different. I'm not hiding from myself or others. I'm not a victim of my weight and because I accept the choice I have made it ceases to define me.
It would be naive to say that knowing everything in our lives is the outcome of choice is easy. It's not, it's scary and it's hard. But once you recognise this as a reality it gives you the power and options to transform your life. It stops you from feeling like a victim and gives you a sense of control.