Letters from the road

Posts tagged “joy

How a Dress with Pockets Can Cure Everything.

Originally featured on elephant journal April 26, 2017

I love my dresses with pockets.

I have at least four. One in cream linen with fuchsia and lavender wildflower print, one in white muslin with burnt orange embroidery, one in slippery man-made fabric with hot pink ornate vases, and one in studious black cotton with white lace.

Most importantly, they all have functional pockets.

 Any time I was sick growing up, my mom’s advice always included putting something nice on (after drinking a glass of water, of course). As a teenager, I humored her. I didn’t believe there was any way that getting out of my comfy pajamas would actually get rid of my headache. Until, of course, I got out of my comfy pajamas and my headache went away.

My mom was unwittingly channeling Chögyam Trungpa and his teachings on inner drala. Psychologically, it’s similar to “fake it until you make it,” and I can attest that it works.

When we look good, surprisingly we feel better.

Dressing is a way of communicating with the world around us. For better or worse, we dress according to gender norms, wealth, religious beliefs, activities, culture, age, body shape, and the weather. We most often dress for others before we dress for ourselves. We meet work dress codes, uniforms, and society’s relentless expectations.

Getting dressed each day can quickly become a chore.

But we have a choice. We can choose instead to dress joyfully.

My teenage self would be loath to admit it, but my mom was onto something. In the same way that clearing and cleaning the space around me instantly improves my mood, I always feel better after putting on an outfit and jewelry that I love. It’s like magic. When I lived alone and insomnia kept me up in the middle of the night, I’d try on my fanciest clothes just because it felt good to do so.

A dress with pockets is the epitome of a simple, joyful outfit.

When I put on one of my dresses with pockets, I instantly feel like I’m invoking the elemental energy of the universe that Trungpa speaks about. I imagine that I exude sophistication with my lovely dress, but in reality I’m just being practical, with pockets filled with ChapStick and tissues.

I’m not exactly a fussy dresser. I’m a new mom who considers pants a luxury, let alone a swipe of mascara. I wasn’t always this way. There was at least a solid year or two in middle school when I wore blue eyeshadow. Every day.

Now when I’m exhausted and can’t possibly drag myself off of the couch and out of my pajamas, I put on a cute dress that I hope I can breastfeed in (or else I’ll flash whoever else is nearby) and earrings that I hope my baby won’t rip out of my ears. Sometimes, I can only wear said outfit until the next hungry cry or watery burp, but even those few minutes are enough to shift my mood for the better.

Wearing a dress with pockets is like carrying around a secret.

Every time I wear one of my dresses with pockets and some kind soul compliments the style or color, I immediately beam, stick my hands in the pockets, and declare, “And it has pockets!” I can’t seem to help it. It’s as if I’m sharing my secret with others so that they too can marvel at how a pretty dress can be more than it initially seems.

I think this is why I love a dress with pockets. It’s a metaphor for how we all want to be appreciated for more than just how we look on the outside. We crave somebody to recognize our depths and the things about ourselves that may not seem exciting, but which make us unique, clever individuals.

A dress with pockets is something special.

When I step into one of my dresses with pockets, my mood immediately improves. This one small act brings me joy.

“A great deal of the chaos in the world occurs because people don’t appreciate themselves.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

So let’s defy the chaos and appreciate ourselves. Wearing a dress with pockets may not cure all ails, but taking the time to intentionally invoke joy in our lives will.