As much as we may want to be different or stand out in the crowd, on some level we all want to belong, too. It's one thing to stand out because you chose to, and yet, it's a completely different thing to stand out because you have no choice in the matter. For example, when I chose to stand out with magenta hair or a bright colored stripe in my bangs versus being forced to stand out because of issues that Scleroderma has struck upon me. There's a HUGE difference at how people react to you and interact with you.
Yesterday was a "beauty" focused day. Not necessarily for vanity sake. At least not wholly. Sometimes, a girl wants to feel pretty. Sometimes, she can't pull it off on her own. Sometimes, it all goes hand-in-hand. Or foot-in-hand (Yes, I find myself funny sometimes) ...
With a multi purposed intent, for the past 6 years, I get a hair cut and pedicure every month. I can't stand the hair on the back of my neck to get "fuzzy" and a new hair cut, however minor it is, makes me feel new and fresh and sassy for a couple of days.
I can't reach my feet well enough to cut, clean, etc. my toes like they should be. Why not let someone else take care of that hot mess and get some relaxation out of it? The whole time is an awesome few hours of being "pampered" that really releases a lot of tension and I profess my undying love to Michelle multiple times each visit. She's a treasure! I'm so grateful for her. I mean really - my toes can be S-C-A-R-Y!
A few months ago we noticed the big toe on my left foot looking like the picture below. At first we thought we thought it was that "ick" you can get from wearing polish all the time. However, you can typically buff that stuff off. And, I use products that are as plant based as possible and rate very well on the EWG scale to make sure I'm not poisoning my body as much as possible. So, I was really hoping that wasn't the case. After further investigation, it would appear that I have a calcium deposit in my toe.
I have calcium deposits all over my body. Some I'm not affected by and others can be painful. Fortunately, this one is not painful, so we will just cover that bad boy right back up and pretend it's not there. I have no intention of poking the bear.
In recent months I've added a right hand manicure to the list. It's extremely difficult for me to even cut and file my own nails, so...why continue the struggle when someone else can do it better? I've been seeing Michelle pretty much exclusively for the past 6 years. She knows what's going on with me and I trust her to be gentle and treat me right. I think I have a signature manicure color!
After all of that, I made a quick stop at Ulta looking for a tinted facial moisturizer. I struggle with the concept of makeup. It's a love-hate relationship. I don't want to put a ton of time, effort, and struggle into something that makes my skin feel suffocated, heavy and makes me feel fake and like I'm wearing a mask. Then on the flip side of that, sometimes, I DO want to hide certain aspects and feel pretty. Tinted moisturizer over those spots tend to do the trick.
Well. I ended up leaving with a whole new beauty/makeup supply and ANOTHER member added to my team. A new "friend" and beauty consultant.
Normally, I shop online and get my plant based products delivered to my door. I decided though, that as my skin tone has changed again, I needed some assistance finding the right match. The lovely woman at Ulta and I had a lengthy conversation about my condition, what I was looking for and how my struggles with application all play together. She helped me pick out the products I needed and gave me her contact information to help me out in the future. The line she pointed me to is by Juice Beauty. Organic and plant based products. Woohoo! I looked it up on my EWG app and it rates a 1 on every product I looked at. BONUS!! It's a tad pricey, but, if I've learned anything while living with Scleroderma, it's that, if it's going directly ON my skin or into my body...I won't cheap out. Additionally, the amount I actually use on my skin is enough that this stuff is going to last me for quite some time! Check out the difference in these before and after pics when it comes to covering the spots around my mouth...
I left the store feeling happy and rather confident in my new discovery when BAM! It changed in an instant! A woman in the parking lot made a rude comment that I imagine was directed at me, referencing the fact that I wasn't wearing a bra. Now, let me let you in on something that's not a secret to anyone that knows me - I have no boobs. Bra shopping requires going to the little girls section and essentially getting training bras. Second, the clasps and straps that twist when I'm putting them on are a huge nightmare to deal with. Anything similar to a sports bra is equally, if not more so - nightmarish! Getting it on isn't as much of a struggle as getting it off. Ain't nobody got time for that shit!
(You're welcome 😂)
So, I've just decided to say "screw it". I don't have anything that can "get loose" and poke someone's eye out. Nothing is on display. I've not been aware of any stares or even anyone noticing prior to this incident. With all that said ... I let her comment get to me. I allowed the behavior of one woman, that I don't know and will likely never see again, bring down what was otherwise a wonderful day. Time to call in more members of "the team". I needed help propping my self-confidence back up. Thank goodness I have some great peeps in my tribe. A quick check in for a little reassurance and I was back on track. I went to bed grateful for the team of people I keep close.
I've learned to read people and go out on a limb to connect with those that may add to my life as a whole, even if not on a daily basis. I've learned to make connections with those specific people. The Michelle's and Ulta women of the world.
Sometimes those connections become deep and strong. Sometimes other connections fade.
Doctor's can become your family. Massage therapists can become one of your best friends and gurus. New friends can become your soulmates. Long-time friends and loved can ones fade into the distance.
I've learned what friends are in my tribe and who I can count on in any given instant. Those people that prop me up when the shit is tough. The ones that can face the honesty and reality of my situation whether it's rainbows and sparkle shitting unicorns or the dark, gloomy mucks of hell. I've learned which friends will drop everything, without me asking, to be by my side in times of need or to help make my dreams a reality. It takes a team to help me live this life to the fullest. I am independent and take care of my own needs, and yet, as much as I'd love to, I can't do it all on my own.
I leave you with this ... Wander. Believe. Live. Dream (big dreams). Love. Grow. Even if you need help to make it happen. Teamwork really DOES make the dream work.
Persevere. Rock on.