• Jen

When You're the Fixer Upper

Updated: May 15

We’ve lived in the same house for over twenty seven years, and during that time our home has gone through more than a few revisions. Our projects have run the gamut from a one room mini makeover to an expansive, blow-your-socks-off addition: "Never to be repeated!", according to my husband, who is always the muscle behind these projects.

Recently, another renovation project began, but instead of being done on our house, this one is occurring with one of its occupants. For years, I’ve dreamed of doing a major reassessment and reworking of my wardrobe and style. Unfortunately, the demands and distractions of everyday life have always pushed it to the back burner. Nearly 19 years ago, when our youngest was born, my husband agreed to my request to revamp my wardrobe (I’m sure he didn’t quite realize what he was agreeing to), but I couldn't muster the time and mental space to get very far.

When I started blogging here two years ago, I was hoping I could have some fun and finally start working on that new wardrobe 😜. Unfortunately, it became clear that I didn’t feel the freedom to do any of it, and there were no little kids with crazy schedules to blame anymore! People pleasing, along with its fear, insecurity, and lack of self confidence have been my companions for as long as I can remember. It was no small surprise to see them pop up here. I was honest about these struggles in my blog posts, but that alone didn't help me make much progress.

When the pandemic struck, and social restrictions were imposed, a completely unexpected thing happened: I was getting a break from what triggers my inner mess. Wearing a mask and keeping people at arm's length actually made me feel safe, and I was enjoying some much needed peace. So, I decided to take full advantage and not just abide by pandemic restrictions, but step away from online interactions as well. I enjoyed the emotional rest that it brought, and found that the mental clarity it fostered helped me to better understand the unhealthy thinking that overtook just about everything I put my hands to.

Almost a year later, it feels like the right time to start things up again, but you can be sure that the fight with all of this isn’t over yet. It may always be a part of my struggle as a flawed human being (hopefully just a way smaller part!). The light is dawning that the thoughts and opinions that I've been so afraid of belong to people who are just as flawed as I am. Somewhere along the way, their approval became the final word on how I viewed myself.

It's time to be brave, and I'm ready to get started. Just as we did a lot of planning on our big renovation at home, I've started doing that on my personal project. We enlisted the help of an architect on our house, but my project is a totally DIY job, so I've needed to figure out how to develop a good understanding of what the problems (and successes) are before I make any changes. So, back in January I started a journal to help me do that:

I’ve been getting plenty of data to see where there is work to do. Just taking an extra minute or two to write things down has helped to open up an awareness of how my clothes are making me feel. It was a bit of a shock to notice that I consistently felt pretty bad about what I was wearing. At the beginning, I wanted to get dressed how I normally would without trying to tweak it for the journal’s sake. After a short amount of time, it became clear that I should take a few extra minutes to put on what would feel better to wear. I am working on raising the standard for how I should feel in my clothes, which leads me to...

My shopping list is growing, and it's a good thing (but probably not for my husband :) I usually get overwhelmed when I’m staring at the endless options in a store or online, and most times I'll walk out without buying what I could really use. Engaging in somewhat regular tracking is helping to organize my thoughts about the holes in my wardrobe. Already, I’ve made a few minor purchases that I’m enjoying, so things are baby stepping along, which is the perfect pace for me.

As I've already mentioned, the issues to figure out are not always as simple as "what do I need?" and "what should I wear?". I’m very grateful to be at a place where I can start to take small bites on my personal fixer upper. I feel the risk, but it’s balanced with what could be gained: the freedom to actually enjoy being myself with my style. I’m banking on that it will be worth it. How about you? Would you like to join me? Do you have the guts to take on your fixer upper?

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24)

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