My love story for Fashion Revolution Week is about a little red bag I found at a second-hand store in San Francisco. It takes me back to an important moment in my life, when I started to love myself, demons and all.
Dear Little Manels,
I found you at a second-hand clothing store in San Francisco. You somehow survived the giant closet purge of Edmonton 2014 and made your way to Panama, where you patiently waited for me for 1.5 years until I returned from Switzerland.
Now that I am married, I got a room in my parent's house so I can stay with my husband (before I would just sleep in my sister's bed). As I was organizing my new space, I found you again. How could I forget about you? You are so pretty and bright and the perfect size to take anywhere. You are also one of my most exotic accessories, I found out that you were made in the Philippines, a country that I have yet to visit!
I remember those days in San Francisco and the sweet taste of post-graduate liberty. I left Vancouver and went to work to another city I knew nothing about, a place that had a bad reputation for its winters and dangerous neighborhoods...a town that I ended up loving so much I cried my eyes out when it was time for me to leave again.
It was a time of unraveling. My job tested every single self-limiting belief I had about myself. I was also single (after 7 years of being in a relationship) so I had some adjustment to do. Being alone in a new town was not scary, the scary part was meeting other people and realizing how useless and futile the whole "dating" charade was, and realizing that I needed more time to process how my life went from STRESS to SHIT to FRESH START in 48 hours (not even exaggerating).
I ended up going to San Francisco for work, and extended the trip for some tourism. It was so much fun, it was the first time that I truly traveled by myself! I had no one to meet in town, so I had three days to explore the city on my own. I rode a bike, walked around all the neighborhoods, spent hours checking out independent bookstores, the de Young Museum, drinking craft beer and just absorbing all the sunshine before it was time to head back to the Great White North.
When I look at that purse, I remember those amazing two years when I cleared my debt (and stayed debt-free), I learned to be vulnerable and I was finally willing to talk about my anxiety and depression and manage it in a healthy way. It was the "me time" I needed to grow and to be able to be an adult in a relationship. Not that being in a relationship is the be all, end all for a woman...but when you are willing to be in one as an open, vulnerable human being and really love someone for who they are (and not because the meet the checklist or some impossible ideal) it becomes another channel for growth, discovery and adventure (and not that thing you do to show off people that you got your shit together).
Those two years were so important to me. It was the first step in the road I walk now, where I try to do things out of a love for life and not out of love for my ego. I let go of a lot of baggage and started to accept that I did not need "fixing" (that shit really hit the fan in Switzerland, that's another story for another time).
It reminds me of a time when I was scared about my life and my future, it reminds me that I also figured it out and had a lot of fun along the way, even with the screw ups and the crying, it was all necessary and beautiful.
I need to be reminded of that every day, now that I am an entrepreneur...I've been scared before and I am still standing strong.
Looking forward to many more outfit days, my dear Manels.