Monday, February 23, 2009

From the Heart...

It has taken me all day to get to the point where I could write this. I'm sure I'll reach the point of tears, yet again, before I'm done.

Over the past 8 months, I have watched a family of friends endure the journey of terminal lung cancer. This journey came to an end on Saturday, February 21, 2009, with the passing of Johnny Ray Williams. Johnny is the father of one of my best friends, Scarlett.

There are few words that can describe what it's like to lose a father, friend, and husband. Instead of bombarding this family with words, I've covered them with love, hugs, hand holding and prayer. I've been crying off and on for the past thirty or so hours, for reasons other than this loss, but mostly because of this loss. Scarlett is not the first friend I've seen go through the loss of a parent, she won't be the last, and I know that one day I'll be in her shoes. The thought saddens me, but the reality reminds me of God's plan for each of us...that we each have a purpose on this Earth and that we will one day be in Heaven with Him.

In a blog post in July of 2008, Rene (Johnny's wife and Scarlett's mother) mentions a story in which Johnny said that if something happened to him, he'd come back to her and Scarlett as a butterfly. I've remembered that story, and I know that for as long as I live I will think of this dear man and his family every time I see a butterfly. What a unique and beautiful creature to have as a reminder of a loved one.

Last summer, I traveled to Orlando in time to see the flower festival at Epcot. It was there that I photographed this butterly on a flower.

"Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not to your own understanding."

Proverbs 3:5

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of my true friends for being there for me, now and since the day we became friends. I cherish my true friends and it is in knowing, in word and in deed, that they are there for me I have purpose on this Earth. I'll always be there for you, too.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank my family for their love and support of me over the years, and especially now. As time has gone by, I've realized more and more how dear you are to me, especially you - Mary.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Confessions of a Recovering Shopaholic

My name is Rachel and I am a recovering Shopaholic.

Ever heard of "Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella? A book (and now a movie) about Rebecca Bloomwood, a young career woman who gives in to purchasing anything she wants - shoes, clothes, bags, accessories....and finds herself in major debt because of it.

When I read the first book in the four book series, I laughed out loud at how funny she was with her multiple purchases in spite of the unpaid credit card bills and debt collector who was continually sending her letters, reminding her that despite her excuse of illness, family death or European trips that she STILL owed the money outstanding on her credit card. The truth is, and perhaps the reason why I stopped reading the series, although well written and hilarious, that Rebecca (Becky) Bloomwood was ME! Five years ago, four years ago, three years ago, two years ago, one year ago, four months ago, I was.....a Shopaholic.

I was the woman who gave in to the urge to buy clothes, bags, shoes, accessories, make-up, books, junk.....despite the lack of money for such purchases. Although I had a decent income for someone my age and the sky was the limit on the things I could use my money for...saving, buying a house, charity...anything else...I always gave in to the things that I liked when it came to fashion.
I wasn't one of those people who shopped to "feel better" or "get over a break-up." No, I shopped out of boredom, because I happened to be at the mall for something I actually NEEDED and saw a "Sale" sign, because I needed one thing and happened to find three others that were pretty and because I happened to like the dress, shoe, necklance, bag and belt that I may one day wear to a party, to work, on that road trip, to that football game, to the Gala or to dinner.

Like anything else, compulsive shopping can turn into an addiction...something that you just can't do without and would sacrifice anything to have. In my case, I subconsciously sacrificed my future income to buy the things I needed NOW and would pay for LATER. Well, my friend, LATER is NOW and NOW I'm realizing the sacrifices I made then. And, on January 1, 2009, I very easily gave away items which represented the sacrifice....clothes. About 50% of what was in my closet, to be exact.

One of my best friends, Jennifer, not only encouraged me but physically assisted me in carrying out my plan to clean my closet. I had intended on doing my "closet clean-up" for months, but had never gotten around to it. It wasn't because I didn't have time or was just being lazy. It was because I felt it was IMPOSSIBLE to do. How was I going to give away all those things I'd spent time and money on purchasing? Tops I'd never worn...with the tags still on...blouses I knew I'd never wear again....the collared one my mom gave me years ago....clothes with memories of old boyfriends.... and, of course, the clothes I'd outgrown. With Jennifer's help, we accomplished making four large garbage bags full of clothes to give to Goodwill. It was two days later that I took the four bags to Goodwill. I didn't go through them after Jennifer left "just to make sure there wasn't one thing I wanted to keep" and didn't cry or turn back, thinking maybe I just wasn't, with a smile on my face and a feeling of absolute confidence that I handed these bags to the Goodwill worker and went on about my day.

I still feel joy when I walk into my closet (I can now actually WALK into it without walking ON things to get to the clothes), I feel joy that I can find things, and that I'm SAVING money today.

With a strong will, a great friend and God's help in transitioning my materialism into goodwill for myself and others, I was able to make it happen. I gave away the old to make room for the new, that is, the new ME.

The new me that will SHOP in her closet before she SHOPS in the store.

The new me that will remember those less fortunate and that saving money is just as important as spending money, and spending should be reserved for the things I NEED and not the things I WANT because they're pretty and would look great on me.

As part of my recovery, I'm not going to the mall "just to look around" ALONE. I'm shopping in my closet for every occassion rather than thinking "Oh, I need to get a new dress or pants for that party." Sometimes, I do need an item to make an outfit that I don't already have. In those cases, money IS an object. I spend less than I could for that item. Because I enjoy the act of shopping...looking for that perfect item, I can do it and not make a purchase. Thus, if I have to spend eight hours looking for the perfect belt to go with the costume for the 80's party, I'll do it....and if I spend $5 instead of $15 for it, I'm still recovering and my shopping trip was a success.
I'm officially on the road of "recovery." I'm still traveling on it, and as long as I'm on this Earth I may never be off the road of "recovery," (after all...I'm a woman...I love to shop) but I know that I will never again be a "Shopaholic." As Becky learned, so have I!

*Photo by Scarlett Lillian.
*Dress by The Limited
* Shoes by Steve Madden

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Totally Love The 80's

I LOVE the 80's! The movies, the music...the clothes...the fashion!

I'm not sure what it is about this decade, but part of me will always remain within it...watching and re-watching all of the John Hughes flicks that are "classics" today and all of the other flicks from that decade like "Flashdance," "Dirty Dancing," "Risky Business," and I think you can name a few of your favorites...

To me, these movies represent a time when our views, our ecomony, our worlds...were moving up. Most of my memories from my life in the 80's are from the age of 1 until 10, I don't remember much before the age of 5, but what I do remember of the 80's is me and my family...happy. My parents, aunts, uncles and cousins were focusing on building careers and wealth. They were, in a sense, where I am right now. When I pop in one of my 80's flicks, I take myself back in time....wishing I was back in the 80's, but at a different 22....I'm TOTALLY a freak, right?

To me, the music of the 80's is a daily-fed addiction. From the music in the car to the music I play at the office, to the music I've made all of my recent house guests listen to whenever they are over...the hits of the 80's. Mostly, though, the pop and classic rock from the 80's. Some of my favorite bands include The Police, Simple Minds, Pat Benetar, The Cure...and countless others. When I pop in one of these bands' albums, my attitude changes. I'm able to shut the rest of the world out and go back in that "happy" time. I don't think about anyone, not even myself. I'm transformed and all I want to do is sing and dance. Again, I'm TOTALLY a freak, right?

From "Message in A Bottle" by The Police

I'll send an SOS to the world, I'll send an SOS to the world, I hope that someone gets my Message in a bottle

From "The Breakfast Club"

Brian Johnson: Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...

Andrew Clark: ...and an athlete...

Allison Reynolds: ...and a basket case...

Claire Standish: ...a princess...

John Bender: ...and a criminal...

Brian Johnson: Does that answer your question?... Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

What movies, music, decade transforms you?

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Movie, New Soundtrack

Those of you who know me know that I LOVE music, especially movie soundtracks. You also know that I LOVE movies!

This Friday, February 6, 2009, a new movie opens. It is entitled "He's Just Not That Into You" This movie has an all-star cast and an awesome soundtrack which I just purchased here:

Check out the movie details here:

I read the book when it first came out and I LOVED how it summed up the different types of people you meet, and the types of relationships they may offer you. The book was written by the authors of "Sex and the City" and offers the same advice you may find in the show about relationships.

Onto the fun part of this entry....the movie is full of EYE CANDY! Including, but not limited to, Ben Affleck and Kevin Connolly (my personal fave, and from Entourage, hehe).

I've gathered a group of my closest girlfriends for the premiere...and I hope you'll do the same!