It also goes with my recently acquired life motto: "She decided that if she couldn't be happy, she could at least be beautiful."
I believe that ladies like ET and Marilyn Monroe probably felt this way too. Hard lives, hard times, emotional distress, pain and sadness. And yet they (and now me too), simply poured themselves a drink, put on some lipstick, and pulled themselves together...for better or worse, they chose to be beautiful on the outside, even everything on the inside was broken and ugly.
Now, I am definitely not advocating alcohol as a solution to your problems. Nor am I a vain enough to believe that a stick of lipstick, some eyeshadow and a good picture can make your problems go away. However, it is a nice momentary distraction, and just because I am sick doesn't mean I have to look sick.
So, on to the core of today's post, since I seem to be in a list mode lately, I have decided to share with my chronic illness buddies a list of tips/timeline for how to prep for a party or a big weekend event. Over the last couple of years I have had to learn by trial and error how to physically and mentally prepare myself for a weekend outing (wedding, birthday, dinner, work event etc).
For the average healthy person, this does not seem like a big deal. Shower, get dressed, get ready, go out. For the chronically ill, "getting ready" requires using up a lot of our engery stores, so, for me at least, I spend 4-6 days "getting ready" for the Fri or Sat outing. I learned the hard way that I cannot and should not try prep for a party the way I used to (pre-sclero) because I will not have any energy the night of the event.
So, here is what I do, and hopefully this will help some of you out there who struggle with feeling good enough to look good enough and looking as good as you feel.
1 Week Before Event: GO SHOPPING. If you REALLY don't have anything in your closet you can't just spruce up with some new accessories or a different hairstyle. For those who live with chronic illness and fatigue shopping is our version of running a marathon, especially if we feel we HAVE to try things on. It's freaking exahusting. So, I recommend doing this at least a week in advance because you'll need at least one day of recovery afterwards.
If you're not shopping for something new, I recommend "shopping in your closet" one week before too. Try things on, see what works, what doesn't. Consider how hot or cold the venue is. Will you need a scarf, cardigan, jacket, open or closed toed shoes? Will you sit? Stand? Dance? Can you walk in those shoes?! How big does your purse need to be? Need to carry meds? Consider all these things, and pick at least two YES outfits. (I say two becuase you NEVER know how you'll feel the day of and if you decide to change your mind you want to have a back up already in place)
Again, doing all this will take A LOT of energy, so...
5-6 days before event: REST and/or PAMPER YOURSELF I am NOT good at doing nothing. Anyone who knows me for longer than five minutes knows this. So, resting and I are not good friends. BUT I have learned to listen to my body, and if shopping has totally exhausted me, then I will spend the next day just relaxing. But, if I have even just the slightest bit of energy, I will "rest" and be productive.
How do I do this?
I go get a pedicure! A girl's gotta have cute toes with those cute shoes and after a day of shopping a good foot rub is exactly what the doctor ordered! I take the time to "prep" for the party AND I'm doing something nice for myself. So, do the same. Get a mani/pedi, or facial, or massage. This will help you relax and feel good, your body will thank you for it later.
Can't afford it? Take a bubble bath. Soak your feet in warm water and epsom salt, paint your own toes/nails..ask a loved one for a back rub, foot/hand massage.
3-4 days before event: GROOMING Ok, ok, so this may ONLY be a hairy Latina's problem...BUT... unfortunately for me, there is A LOT to groom. (Lol, TMI?) And lately, with limited hand mobility, this requires a lot of careful planning and WORK!
So, a few days before (3ish) I go get my eyebrows threaded, my upper lip waxed, and I shave my legs. I recommend doing any and all hair removal several days before the event, because if you're like me, you never really know how your skin will react. I learned the hard way NOT to wax too close to the event...had a blistered, red, painful upper lip for days..NOT CUTE!
Also, if you're trying new skin products, now is the time to do so, not on the day of..again your body/skin may reject it and an allergic reaction is not something you want to deal with right before or at a party/event.
Lastly, I shave 2-3 days before because I have to shave in sections. Because It. Is. So. Exhausting. On one day I shave both legs to the knee. The next day (if absolutely necessary- short skirt involved) I shave from knee up. Yep. There's my dirty little secret.
My sclero buddies will understand how stressful shaving is when you have digital ulcers and swollen achey fingers that make you drop everything.
2-1 days before event: HAIR Again, maybe ONLY a curly-haired Latina girl problem...but my hair is always only one of two things: My best friend and greatest accessory OR MY WORST NIGHTMARE. And in order for it to be the former, I must carefully plan and take care of it in advance...NEVER the day of.
I wash my hair a couple of days before the event because my curls just look better on day 2 or 3... slopping wet curly hair ain't cute. Big, bouncy curls are.
But washing my own hair (with one hand, two ulcers and joint pain and fatigue), in sections, and styling..in sections is no easy feat. So, I make sure to do this at least the day before but I try for 2 days before..because after I wash and style my hair, I'm exhausted and need a nap.
(So gentlemen, when a woman with chronic illness tells you she can't go out with you tonight because she's washing her hair...believe her!)
Even if you don't have the curly haired girl problem, I recommend playing around with hairstyles and deciding what you will want to do with it the day of. Up? Down? What will the weather be like? How simple or fancy do you want look? Try some things and decide on 1-2 styles that are easy and won't exhaust or frustrate you the day of. (I ALWAYS carry a clip or sruncci in my purse, Houston weather sucks and as beautiful as my curls are, I hate feeling hot- my hair always ends up in a pony tail before night's end)
Day of event: GET READY Pour yourself a drink. Put on some lipstick. And pull yourself together.
Now that you have spent the last 7 days "prepping" for the event, all you have to do is pull it all together. I recommend, doing NOTHING the morning/afternoon of the event, so you can have fun and enjoy yourself all night. Morning event? Be sure to go to bed early, shower the night before (to save your energy in the morning) lay out clothes and wake up at least 2 hrs before you have to leave the house.
Again, no matter how much we plan, we never truly know how we'll wake up the next day, or if we're going to sleep the night before. (I often do EVERYTHING right, then stay up all night dealing with GERD and feel like hell the day of the party..bleh) But- we can try our best.
So the day of the party just put on your clothes, throw on some makeup, fluff your hair and GO HAVE FUN! You shouldn't feel rushed..give yourself time to get what you worked so hard for ready to make sure you feel as good as you're going to look!
Two last tips:
- Always take backup shoes (I always bring my glittery flip flops or fancy flats). You don't want to miss out on the fun cause your feet hurt. Who cares if it's not super fancy, no one's going to take pictures of your feet.(And if they do that's just weird)
- Don't drive yourself. - This is very important. You may have energy to get yourself there but at the end of the night, will you have enough energy and mental capacity to get yourself home? And I don't mean for those who drink...brain fog, prednisone brain, and fatigue can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. I've been there! Not fun, very scary. Luckily, my hubby will drive 99.9% of the time. I am lucky. If you don't have a spouse, invite a friend to go with you to drive, get dropped off, call a cab...whatever, but again, save your energy for the fun stuff, not transportation!
So, those are my tips for prepping for a party, because after all, even sick people "just wanna have fun."