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Friday, August 27, 2010

insights: from a donut to a tiffany girl

I’m standing in our bathroom in a Tiffany blue cashmere sweater, undies and a new Tiffany charm bracelet. That I won. In a Tiffany & Co. fashion show. It’s 11:32pm. My hair is in a ponytail, my face is scrubbed and my toothbrush in is my hand. I look in the mirror and I’m surprised. I didn’t know you could smile so wide when you’re brushing your teeth.

Tonight I was The Tiffany Girl. Unimaginable.

I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s go back to the beginning when My Perfect Life became What The Hell Is This? last summer and I gave up. My dream job being eliminated on the day we were buying our dream home, losing the babies, almost dying in the process. It was too much for me. I’m not a strong person. I gave up. I ate to make myself feel better. Then I ate. Then I ate again. . .Keep that up and um, there’s a problem. When you find yourself wondering if it wouldn’t be so bad if a Mack truck swerved and hit you on the 405 you don’t exactly think about the fact that the weight is piling on and you resemble a donut rather than a cute girl.

I was a donut. A sad little donut.

On June 1 of this year something happened though. I had enough wallowing. Of waiting for my life to begin again. I met nutritionist Kathryn Flynn and with her help I started on the following plan: no wheat, sugar, caffeine, dairy, or alcohol. I joined Weight Watchers so that every week I had accountability. I had proof that I was doing this. And then I started moving. I joined a gym and found a trainer. And the weight started to come off. There were nights when I wanted Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese more than anything. I dreamed of the creamy, smooth, orange, homey taste.

So. 12 weeks and this week I am down 50 pounds. 50. Wild. My husband, L., was supportive of this endeavor. He wanted me to be happy again. Like I used to be. As an I Love You/ Job Well Done present he wanted to get me something I would love. Which is how I ended up at Tiffany & Co. earlier this week. He bought me a Tiffany & Co. Tiffany blue handbag, small and sweet. Apparently, I got the very first one in the area and an invite to Tiffany & Co.’s private party tonight.

The curtains were drawn and the store was closed in preparation for the private event when I arrived but at 6pm sharp the steel doors swung open by white gloved guards. It felt like the opening scene of a Reese Witherspoon movie. I walked in and servers offered us sugared rimmed pink martinis --The Bradshaw after “Sex and The City’s” Carrie of course as well as wine and hors d’oeuvres. I met John, the impeccable and fabulous store director. I saw Anne, the sales associate who arranged for my “50 pounds gone you look great!” bag and I hugged her. I looked around the room at happy people. I listened to the giggling, the clinking of toasting glasses, the jazzy music, the tiny barely audible sound of gold bangles sliding onto wrists. It was a party with women and pink drinks and laughing and baubles. Oh good God, the baubles. Pearls, sterling silver, gold, diamonds--whatever you wanted to wear during the cocktail party was yours to wear.

The host, Erika (tiny, chic, draped in pearls), announced a fashion show: Find a stylist and put on your best Tiffany & Co. look! Women around me draped themselves in strands of diamonds, pearls, Elsa Peretti gold cuffs, sunglasses. . .

There was never a moment that I was going to enter a fashion show. Ever. I am insecure about myself. The tragedies of the past year took away my self confidence, my happy, made me doubt myself. Then Lorie, a Tiffany associate, found me looking in a case in the frenzy that was “OMG, there is a fashion show! Let me pile things on!” She cocked her head at me, nodded, walked over to another case and came back to me with three sterling silver necklaces, including a tiny one that another associate was wearing as a BELT! She slipped them over my head one at a time. I looked in the mirror and yes, it worked.

We started talking and I told her about The Happy Girl Experiment. She looked like a happy person so I asked her “What makes you happy?” She paused for a moment and told me how her husband had died tragically not long ago. She was learning to treasure every day and she opened herself to new experiences. She got out of her box. Lorie said she learned to trust what the universe was putting in front of her. She told me about traveling in Europe alone and trusting in what could happen. “The most wonderful things happened”, she said “When I let myself be open to possibilities. I did things I never thought I could." As Lorie  turned to help another  partygoer, I thought about what she had to say-- Open your mind, trust in what can happen. Trust yourself.

I found a Tiffany scarf on a display and tied it into a bow on the clasp of the Elsa Peretti necklace. I slid the loveliest Tiffany & Co. sunglasses on my head and the floor model of my new bag over my arm. I vaguely heard Erika call for all the contestants. I disregarded the invitation. Obviously. Then I thought about what Lorie said. Get out of my box, put myself back out there, trust in the universe. As I made my way to the runway line I felt a little sick. What if I made a fool of myself? What of the judges thought "What is this girl doing here in a fashion show?" What if if was humiliated? I stood in line behind the girls in their diamonds and pearls and gold and beauty. They all looked so sparkly. My turn came. I nervously walked, stopped in front of the judges and I smiled. As in, I SMILED. I could see the light, the HAPPY radiating from me. As The Tiffany Girl I felt classic, I felt happy, I felt like I was putting myself back into my life. I had relegated myself to living under a rock for a year but now for the first time in so long I felt like I was stepping into sunlight after a long winter’s slumber.

Absolutely gorgeous contestants followed me and I thought “You did it. You took a chance. You put yourself out there and it doesn’t matter what happens, you got out of your box.” The judges conferred, looked again at all the contestants and announced the winners. 1st place was the lovely Margo in her turquoise floral dress and delicate accessories. Then they announced second place “Taylor!”

“WHAT?!” I thought. “THAT’S ME!”

Remember the 70’s footage of Miss America winners and how they cried and held their hands over their mouths shaking and crying? That was me tonight. I started to cry. The ugly quivering lip cry.

“I just lost 50 pounds and I came in 2nd in a Tiffany & Co. fashion show?!” The judges shook their heads “YES!” and they handed me a little blue bag as my prize. The 3rd place winner with a sweet teen who was a young Coco Chanel. When they announced Delancey’s name her mom was beaming. Another Tiffany moment.

I was shellshocked as I stood there in the aftermath of picture taking. I took a chance. Instead of hiding, of trying to fade into the wallpaper I took a risk. A whimsical risk and I won. Even if I hadn’t taken 2nd place, just the fact that I took a chance was enough for me.

After the pictures I found Erika, the emcee and thanked her. I told her about The Happy Girl Experiment and I asked what makes her so happy, so bubbly. Erika told me about losing her dad when she was young and how his tragic death affected her. She said she made a choice to be happy every single day, to make every day count. Her bubbly, happy personality draws people in. You want to bask in her sunshine.

I couldn't wait to get home to L., my husband and the person I can't wait to talk to 24/7. I  found Anne, who had invited me to the party. I thanked her, I cried (of course!) and hugged her. She said “Are you going to open your present?!” I nodded and said “Anne, it doesn’t matter what is in this bag. What you all gave me tonight is the best present. You reminded me to be happy, to set my mind to it and to open my life to possibilities.” I lifted the little blue box out of the bag, I gently untied the white satin ribbon and carefully opened the box. Inside the small suede pouch was a sterling silver charm bracelet with a heart shaped charm and a key. I touched the little key and I thought “Yes, that’s right. That is exactly the way it should be. Tonight I got the key to the rest of my life. I needed to open my heart again and I do so right here at Tiffany & Co.”

Tiffany gave me the key. I’m ready to open the door.

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