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Thursday, May 01, 2008

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LilRedDress

While in New York, I went to Saks to look for a pair of jeans and, well, to see Saks. Does a person really need a reason? I was having a great time gawking and gaping, and generally playing the part of country mouse goes to town, when my friend pointed to a red dress hanging on a rack.

"That would look great on you."

"Mmmm," I concurred wistfully. The sign on the wall said Ralph Lauren. I kept moving.

My friend wasn't content to leave it at that, though.

"Try it on."

"What for? It's going to be way out of my budget."

"Try it on."

I was convinced the Very Elegant sales clerk could see right through the cheap leather of my Forever 21 bag to the contents of my wallet, and would just cross her arms and shake her head when I asked for a dressing room, but she gestured forward and ushered me into a chamber nearly as spacious as my berth back at the Hudson.

As I slipped the dress off the hanger, I glanced at the tag. $1200. OMFG. Now I was not only hesitant to put it on, I was petrified. What if I snagged it with a fingernail? I called out to my friend to come and retrieve it before I sneezed on it or sweated in it or spontaneously combusted and left soot on it.

No answer. Okay, I thought. It's just pretend. Get into it.

I slipped out of my Levi's and into that dress and then I died.

I died right then and there on the dressing room floor, and I came back in the mirror as someone Fabulous. I hardly knew myself.

I stepped out of the room and called out to my friend, who turned around with a grin. I think we both uttered several expletives right in front of the Very Elegant sales clerk. We hugged. We cheered. It wasn't a dress; it was an Occasion.

Before I took it off, I snapped a picture to remember it by. After I changed back into my Levi's and t-shirt, my friend and I went for a drink overlooking Rockefeller Center. We were still giddy, like we'd both just come from a tent revival.

Of course, I left the dress in New York. Even if I had the money, how often would I wear a dress like that? Twice a year? It's impractical, it's impossible, it should be very cut and dry.

But I have to confess, I look at that picture nearly every day since I got back, look at it and sigh, like stealing glances at a snapshot of an illicit lover. My fling.

The question of whether or not a twelve hundred dollar dress is a good value if it makes you feel like a million bucks is a topic for another day, and in this case, a moot point.

But this isn't really about the dress. It's about that woman in the mirror. She's the one I'd like to bring home and keep.

"Who are you to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Marianne Williamson asked beautifully and famously in her book, Return to Love. Long before the trailer for Akelah and the Bee got attached to every family dvd we ever brought home last year, long before it was quoted by and commonly misattributed to Nelson Mandela, I loved that rhetorical question and its inspired response: "Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God."

The idea that there is enough fabulousness to go all the way around is a principle I strive to live by. It wasn't always so. For most of my adult life, I lived in fear that the opposite was true: that someone else's claim on success, talent, good looks or wealth meant less of those things would be available to me. Perhaps more detrimentally, I acted as if I believed that laying claim to any of those things for myself would be stealing from someone who needed or deserved them more. It looks ridiculous spelled out, but that's how I lived, particularly where money and creativity were concerned.

Seeing the falsity of a belief is one thing, but learning to walk a new walk is quite another. The old tapes die hard.

Even as good and exciting things are happening all around, I find myself slipping back into scarcity mindset. I wake up at night worried that I can't deliver on commitments I've made. That I'm not really good enough. That my dearest relationships won't survive my saying yes to new opportunities. That the house budget will run out before the flooring is installed, that my husband's business will grind to a halt, that the sky will fall.

This fear is my default position, like slouching. It takes constant awareness and effort to pull my shoulders back, sit up, breathe, trust. To substitute every "what if?" with "why not?"

Recently, some wonderful things have been happening in my online community. Everywhere I turn, books are coming out, television appearances are being booked, speaking invitations offered. We've come a long way in a breathtakingly short time. Three years ago, when the New York Times first reported on "mommy-blogging," it was with enough acid to cause the ink to drip. Fast forward to a few weeks back, when the Wall Street Journal ran its report on the same story —99.9% snide-free. It's a good time to be in new media.

Amid the chorus of atta-girls (and boys), there has been the odd hiss-boo, some muttered, some howled. My first response to the spoilers is to be judgemental. "Get a life," I think. "Batshit crazy," I decide.

But yesterday, my friend Belinda took her own feelings about the batshit crazies and channeled them into an absolutely gorgeous post to her daughter, in which she wisely counsels her to rise above hating and "not-enough" thinking.

I so much embrace the values in Belinda's post, that it forced me to take a good look at how coldly and quickly I want to disassociate myself from the howlers in the gutter. Because it's one tiny step for health and wholeness to recognize that for what it is—sickness. It's a much bigger stretch to get beyond the reflexive aversion to ugliness and see that the person howling is in pain, and a mighty, muscle-tearing leap to come to a full stop and see myself in them.

We react most negatively to what we cannot allow in ourselves. For me, that's the victim card. Nothing will flip my switch like someone whining "poor me," whether it's in the key of self-rightousness or self-pity. But how many times have I been locked in the dungeon of my own thinking, howling and weeping while I held the keys? How many times have I blamed others for my own choices, because that was easier than taking responsibility and risking disappointment?

Plenty.

Sometimes, as Williamson pointed out, it's our own potential to shine that can't be admitted. And for as long as that's true, we can't really celebrate others, except to hoist them on a gallows or a pedestal and wait for them to tumble down.

"A high tide raises all boats together," my mom said to me over dinner in Chelsea last week.

If I parse that with my left brain, I know it's not exactly true. Some people miss the boat, some ships run aground. Some dreams sink straight to the bottom and never rise again.

But I have to live as if it is true, because I do know that my living small and scared serves nobody. It doesn't heal the suffering. It doesn't move anyone else ahead. It doesn't make me a hero or a saint.

Whether or not I ever get to wear another dress like that dress on the outside, I want to wear it everyday of my life on the inside. To dare to be fabulous. And dare you to be fabulous with me.

Try it on.


This post is dedicated with much affection to my New York husband, Bill ;-)

Perfect Post Award – 0508

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42 Comments:

Blogger Madge said...

wonderful post. wonderful dress. you've described my daily challenge, not slouching, but standing straight and believing in myself

10:23 AM  
Blogger amy t sharp said...

amazing post. Rise! Um, yr hot as a hot tamlale in that dress girl.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Jennifer H said...

I plan to bookmark this and print it out. It was exactly what I needed to read today. Every day. I'm trying very hard right now to get out of my own damn way.

That dress does look amazing on you. But I think most dresses would. Maybe when you go on Oprah (soon, surely), she will surprise you with the dress. (Oprah, you do read Kyran's blog, right?)

(Oh, also...last week at Nordstrom, I caused a $1950 dress to slip off the hanger and almost fall to the floor. I wanted to crawl under the rack and stay there until the store closed. I couldn't say whether the salewomen heard my expletive, or not.)

10:48 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Gorgeous dress, gorgeous post. Beautiful beautiful beautiful.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Heathercoo said...

I'm also going to print this off to remind myself of your amazing words. You talk about Belinda's post being amazingly written but I think this one is as well. The two of you did a great job.

I am accepting your dare and I can't wait to see just how fabulous we all become.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Charlotte said...

Superb post! I shall accept my own fabulousness from this moment on, and that of everyone else around me. I agree that scarcity mentality helps no-one.

And that dress does look stunning on you!

12:54 PM  
Blogger Belinda said...

Good gosh. Kyran, I tell you, the way you express things quite often leaves me completely breathless from sheer recognition. I don't just identify with what you write--it's like you're inside my head, telling the world, "What she means is this."

Amazing. Thank you.

Also, the phrase, "howlers in the gutter..." Please write that novel. Someday, I will feel like I might've felt if I'd known Eudora Welty "back in the day."

Oh, and my word verification for this comment? "karmic"

2:05 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

You were beautiful before the dress. You MADE the dress look beautiful.

You're such an amazing writer, and such an amazing thinker.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

This is an amazing post, an amazing piece of writing, an amazing attitude from an amazing woman.

After all these years, you still have the power to knock me flat.

I remain, your biggest fan.

2:22 PM  
Blogger TC said...

A day or two after my boyfriend of seven years dumped me (and hard), I walked into Barney's during lunch and bought a $600 blazer. This was no less out of character for me--who rarely shops anywhere other than Goodwill--than it would have been had I stripped down, climbed to the top of the Chrysler building and howled at the moon.

That was 15 years ago. I wore the jacket a few times soon after buying it, then moved to Los Angeles, hung it in a closet, and never took it out again. It has moth holes all over it these days, and my kids sometimes use it when they play dress up.

I've always that that that was the best completely useless $600 I've ever spent. It was as if I'd screamed, "I AM worth something, you son of a bitch!" Spending that money on myself gave me back some of the self-esteem that he'd almost robbed me of.

But now I sort of wish I'd just taken a photo of myself in the blazer and gone on with my life. So much smarter.

GORgeous dress. GORgeous you.

2:30 PM  
Blogger palinode said...

That was excellent. Or as the people in my hometown would say, "Boys, that was right Jesus good".

2:47 PM  
Blogger Hairline Fracture said...

Kyran, that was EXACTLY what I needed to read today. I have been struggling to shed the scarcity mindset-- thinking the sky would fall if I dared to hope my husband and I would succeed. I felt like I didn't deserve the blessings I've been getting. Thank you so much. I will reread this post whenever I feel that thinking return.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Miguelina. said...

Hello? Where have you been all my life?

4:04 PM  
Blogger me said...

Fantastic post, and added you to my Blogroll. Ninjapoodles sent me over here. Feel like an idiot for missing out on you this long!

4:20 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Beautifully written - AND you look gorgeous! Absolutely stunning!

4:21 PM  
Blogger kerrianne.org said...

Lovely, lovely. You and your writing. (And the dress, too.)

4:40 PM  
Blogger metalia said...

Beautiful, incredible post. Just...wow.

5:56 PM  
Blogger K8spade said...

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light." -Albert Schweitzer

I feel I know you, because you seem to know me. I guess you speak for a lot of women with this, though. Thank you for being the person to fan those flames. Help me believe. In myself. In others. In a life without fear, in a life of endless possibility.

Maybe you should start charging by the hour... ;-P

7:01 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

k8spade, angela, belinda, others,

your words have mattered to me today more than you know. even the simple "me too's" keep me going.

none of it belongs to me. not really. :-) but I feel blessed when it passes through.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

Me too.

That was the Beatles "Abbey Road" album of blog posts, if ever there was one. It sprouted so many ideas, charged off in so many directions, yet brought it full circle at the end... bravo!

7:45 PM  
Blogger jeanetta said...

i haave so extremely enjoyed reading you blog since i found you about a month ago. this post was extremely uplifting. thanks :)

11:19 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

Yes I will. Thank you.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Sister Big said...

Really well said. You're an articulate and poetic writer.

9:11 AM  
Blogger nancypearlwannabe said...

That dress was SO worth trying it on. And, of course, it looks fabulous.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Marcie said...

I've been silently reading and lurking for awhile. Your writing is amazing. Your words have alternately made me laugh..and brought tears to my eyes. You've got a true gift.

Today's post resonated with me so..that I felt compelled to write. It is about what I struggle with daily.

'It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us'
-Marianne Williamson

Shine on!!!!

3:49 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

You do not need that dress. Your words are stunning enough.

I really needed to read this today. It is a month now that I have been laid off and I feel small and worthless. A victim. But that serves nobody, least of all myself and certainly not my daughter.

I'm going to go write now. Thank you for the kick in the ass that I needed.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Rowena said...

Hot mama! Dress or no. Sometimes it takes a change in perspective for us to realize it. Perhaps the red dress did it for you. You didn't need to buy the red dress, though, you carry it (her?) around inside of you. And the picture helps you remember it.

Your posts on NYC make me miss it. I just moved away a few weeks ago, and I don't think it's hit me yet. Although the thought that Springtime will come to the city without me causes me to pang.

5:08 PM  
Blogger The bean-mom said...

"But I have to live as if it is true, because I do know that my living small and scared serves nobody. It doesn't heal the suffering. It doesn't move anyone else ahead. It doesn't make me a hero or a saint."

Beautiful. I don't comment much here, but I read nearly every word. And I had to comment on this one... Thank you. This is one that I needed to hear, words that I need to remember.

And you look fantastic in that dress!

7:38 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

You are so freakin' awesome. Wow. Such a powerful post...again.

So when is the book coming out?? :-)

Oh, and you do look like a supermodel in that dress!

8:34 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

This is totally, utterly brilliant. THANK YOU. And the picture? Breathtaking! God, I hope some millionaire reads this post and sends the dress to you in a box!

2:27 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Ralph Lauren
size 4
P.O. Box 250403,
Little Rock, AR 72225-0403

;-)

4:39 PM  
Blogger jen lemen said...

i love this post so much, i keep reading it again and again. so, so lovely!!!

11:44 PM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

Bravo! Bravo! dear heart!

7:23 AM  
Blogger PLUMBING said...

You are beautiful with or without red dress. You are an excellant writer and I so look forward to your articles in blog and magizine also. Write on girl. Mostly because you write from your heart!------Auntie Jacky

12:19 PM  
Blogger Joy! said...

Aw, you look *gorgeous*! And you are fabulous, always.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

You look so f*cking hot in that dress. Wow.

And now I'd like to be hot/fabulous too!

Also, the Hudson is one of my favorite hotels.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

As many have said before me, you look incredible in that dress, although after reading your heartfelt post I don't think you would get anything more from having the dress than your experience of it has already delivered.
I saw Marianne Williamson last month in Toronto, a dream trip for me - she was incredibly inspiring, exactly as one would expect.
Cheers from a fellow Newfoundlander who actually knew you many years ago in Wedgewood Park!
Alison Stoodley

4:00 PM  
Blogger princess emmy said...

See someone else believes that you will be jumping on Oprah's couch!!! She is so gonna buy you that red dress!

I wish you could be the little sister for a day, just to see that you have always been a superstar.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Julie @ Letter9 said...

Kyran, I love how you use the dress to address some of the mommyblogging business going on out there in the interwebs. A nicely wrought post.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Micheal Savoie said...

I am at a loss for words. I went through a time where everything seemed to be sifting through my fingers like sand through an hourglass. Your moment with the dress is the kind of turnaround that people need to read about, not because it speaks of the expensive posh "I'm too good for you" kind of stuff, but it shows us an attitude that exploded out of you like a Mount St. Helen of the heart!

You became that woman in the photo inside of you, so that the dress does not matter anymore, it is the person inside that is showing in that picture - giving us a glimpse of hope, love, perseverance and victory! All from a digital shot in a mirror!

Absufreakinglutely wonderful!

If I were a millionaire right now, your dress would be on its way to you! Just for reminding me that it is not how much money that we have that counts, it is the person we are!

Have an amazing day!

Micheal

11:19 PM  
Blogger Jenny, the Bloggess said...

And this is why I love you.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Lovely post from a lovely woman, and the one and only lady I've ever been on a blind date with :)

I so often live the scarcity mentality, but the truth is, I believe in a world created by a being of infinite love and infinite blessing and infinite goodness, and I should really start living like I think there's enough good to go around. Thanks for this post. And instead of saying that you look good in that dress, I'll say that that dress looks good on YOU.

1:14 PM  

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