Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lessons From The Dressing Room

If you need a confidence check, squeeze into a wedding dress that you hate, surround yourself with floor length mirrors and stand on a pedestal in front of complete strangers. 

I did it approximately 15 times last Saturday. It was worth it. I found the dress that I'll show my daughter one day - many, many years from now. 

But it was a journey to find "the dress". 

We were in Indianapolis where I had one of those encounters worth passing on. Once I barreled out of the dressing room, I didn't take time to explain to Momma or my bridesmaids what had just happened. I simply held my hands in the air, grabbed my coat from the coat rack and said, "BLOG!"
They didn't ask questions. We had been in the store a total of twenty minutes. 

You know that saying, if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans
I believe that. 
I also believe if you want to hear a bridal consultant laugh, tell her your budget. 

I was skimming the window displays when a gal approached me and introduced herself as Shonda, my "personal bridal consultant". 
I should have known then that I was in over my head. The only personal consultants I've ever had were two older siblings, and they've both lead me astray more than once in this life. 

Shonda gave me a tour of the entire store then turned to me, head down, pen and card out. "Give me ya number." 
"My phone number?" I asked. 
"Amount you wanna spend on the dress."
Why do I always assume people need my phone number?
"Ohh, ha! Sorry," I apologized, then I gave her a number. 
She looked at me over her bifocals. "Girl, you serious?....You flexible?" Shonda's response worried me. 
"Well, no, not really. I mean, I'll go less....of course. But that's a pretty hard budget I'm trying to stick to," I uncomfortably told her. In a moment of awkwardness, I reached out and grabbed one of the dresses beside us while she wrote notes on the card. I grabbed the price tag: 4x my budget. I was crushed. But I knew how much I thought my wedding dress should cost and I was sticking to that.  

Shonda grabbed my arm and guided me to the discount racks. Fair enough. 

In a rush around the set of discount racks, Shonda grabbed two dresses and asked if I saw anything I liked. If I would have had time to let my eye focus I guess I could have found something, but she didn't give me an opportunity to search for a dress that fit my budget and my guidelines. Probably because Shonda knew better. 

She grabbed the two dresses and told me to follow her - into the dressing room. Momma, Laura and Betsy each followed this madness until Shonda stopped them, hand up. "You girls sit here. I got Lizzy (I didn't feel the need to correct her at this point) here in the dressing room." 

Until now, I hadn't tried on a dress that my sister hadn't zipped, buttoned or tucked. I was a bit concerned. I turned around and gave Laura a little wave. So long, sister. I followed Shonda into a land of white lights and mirrors.

"Miss Lizzy you just strip down and let me know when you ready. I stand out here 'til you ready."
"Got it," I replied as I closed the curtain behind me, set my purse down and unclipped my necklace. 

Approximately 13 seconds passed.

"You ready?"
"Not...quite....yet....." I responded while thinking, Ok, listen lady, I'm still trying to pry this second damn boot off. 

One minute later and Shonda was in the tiny dressing room with me, holding the first dress. 
This was the step-in kind. 
One leg at a time.
Shimmy it up. 
I had the routine down. 

Then, it was stuck. 
Right around my hips. 

I tugged. 
Shonda pulled. 
The dress didn't move. 

"What size is this?!" I asked, bending my knees back and forth, trying to get the thing to move a centimeter. 
"Six. Can you believe they'd put a six on the clearance rack?"

Game over. 

Together, we worked in silence, shimmying, shaking, everything short of jumping up and down to get the dress past my Shafer hips
I started laughing. Out loud. 
Is this really happening? 
Is she really trying to stuff me - literally - into a size six wedding dress?

Shonda started laughing, too. Loudly, from the belly, deep down inside, laughing uncontrollably. 
"Girrrrrlllll, there is one thing we ain't no siiize six! Pull it down. We ain't doing this."

And before I could even prepare myself, dear Shonda yanked the dress right down. 
To my ankles.
And the hook on the back of the dress get snagged on my underwear. can only imagine. 
That's all I'm going to say about that. 

"I ain't seen nothing, girl, I ain't seen nothing!" Shonda said as she tried to unhook the dress from me and back herself out of the dressing room, head down. 

I was mortified, but still laughing. It all happened so quickly. 

In a rush to adjust myself, I tried to make small talk with the stranger who just had arguably the worst experience of her personal bridal consultant career. 
"Two things learned today, I'm not a size 6 and you don't get paid enough," I told her through the curtain. 

"Ha! .......I tell ya what. You found any dresses you like so far?" she asked.
"Oh, yeah, at a store this morning I found two that I really adore."
"Great. 'Cause we ain't even gonna try to stuff you into that other size 6. No way, no how!" she continued to talk as she left the dressing room, carrying both dresses. "And as for that number, good luck giiirl, Ha!" she laughed to herself. 

I laughed, too. Some crazy lady in Indianapolis just saw more of me than the law allows, she's thinks I live in a fairyland because of my frugal ways, and Momma, Laura and Betsy are sitting on the other side of this wall confused and awaiting my fashion show. Did that really just happen?

I learned a few things that afternoon in the dressing room. 

1. Stick to the budget. As with any big purchase, you know what you want, what you can afford and what is right for you. Don't let anyone talk you up or down. You'll find it. 
2. Self confidence is a great thing that fluctuates. Some days I have it, some days I don't. Luckily, I had it with Shonda. 
3. If you can't laugh at yourself, someone else will. Trust me.
4. Twenty minutes can last forever.

I did find the dress - under my budget, thank you very much. It is beautiful, so me and perfect for the day I marry Cody.

In fact, of the dresses below, can you guess which one I chose to wear August 10th?


You're right. None of them. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Twelve Degrees of Separation

The pilot came over the loud speaker and told us we'd be landing approximately 5 minutes ahead of schedule. "Current temperature in Indianapolis: twelve degrees."

I slept during 80% of my flight home from Denver. I was fading in and out of consciousness when the pilot made that announcement, but the man's reaction beside me woke me up quickly. I wiped the drool from my chin.

"I don't know how you people do it," he looked at me, then back out the window.
"What's that?" I asked, trying to pull myself together after my tiger snooze over four fly-over states.
"Live here. Twelve degrees. Twelve degrees? How do you survive?"

How do we survive twelve degree temperatures? Pretty easily, I thought to myself.
We wear coats, heavy ones.
We keep blankets in our cars and ice melt just inside our business entrances.
We let our pets inside and we check our stock.

Especially the babies. 

We start our cars at least ten minutes before we drive anywhere.
We eat meals that "stick to our ribs" like beef stew and corn bread.
We plug in our tractors, buses and trucks over night.
We drink extra coffee.
We wear socks.
We survive.

The man continued. "I'm from San Diego and if it hits fifty-five, I don't go outside."


I realized twelve degrees certainly separated my row mate and I. If he lived in Indiana with the "fifty-five degree rule", he would miss October through April. He wouldn't see a high school football game or go sledding. No snowmen would live and no snow angles would fly. Sad existence.

I looked over at the man as he wrung his hands over and over while looking out the window. He was sincerely nervous about the climate outside. I was looking forward to the piercing cold air after a stuffy plane ride.
I couldn't imagine what was going through his head.
But then again, I didn't have to try to.
I had watched it last week on Kimmel:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Acts of Leontien

Do you remember when I posted about Leontien?
The post was brief, optimistic and upbeat.
Much like Leontien's own life.
Today would have been her 34th birthday.
But her smile left us just last week on January 10th.

To honor this farm girl's spirit, love for life and contagious optimism, today Jean's Boots is dedicated to acts of kindness for Leontien.

Go out, face the day and be kind.

Double your recipe and give the second helping to an ailing neighbor. Discarding a shoddy recipe does not count!

Call a friend you've neglected.

Visit with your parents.

Write a letter to someone who isn't expecting it. Your recipient choices are unlimited - who does expect letters these days?

Give back to an organization you believe in.

Buy lunch for the guy in the drive through behind you. But don't roll your eyes when his total is $9.85 and your's was $3.45.

Hold the door for someone.

High five the trash man. He does great work!

You know that person at work that you're supposed to manage but you can hardly stand? Encourage them today.

Pick up litter. We all share this tiny piece of land we call Earth.

Don't turn on the light until you've warned your husband and have allowed him to pull the comforter over his eyes.

Pick up sticks in your neighbor's yard.

Hug a kid.

Once you've done your act of kindness in honor of Leontien, make sure you leave a comment below to share it with the rest of the great big world. You can also post your act on the Love for Leontien Facebook page.

Pass kindness on!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013



  1. (esp. of a system or machine) Achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.
  2. (of a person) Working in a well-organized and competent way.

One of those buzz words like sustainable and green that seem to be everywhere. 
Business results show that we need to improve upon efficiencies. 
High efficiency washing machines. 
And Light bulbs. 
We're going to start keeping metrics so we can track efficiencies. 

I've tried to work on my efficiency lately. I usually just re-start the dryer for a third time to avoid taking the time to iron.

I was on the phone with a phonebook salesman a while back, completely unimpressed with anything he had to say. For a week I let him know that we weren't interested in spending marketing dollars in his phonebook.

Creepy phonebook guy, Teddy: Here's what I'm telling you, Miss Bowsman...."
Jean: It's Bowman. No "S"
Teddy: Yes! I knew that, it's here in my notes. 
Jean: Yes, because I corrected you last week. 
Teddy: Right, right, right. But here's what I'm telling you. Phones, websites, apps, they will never replace the phonebook. It has been around forever. People still use the phonebook every single day. 
Jean: You know what, Teddy?
Teddy: Yes, Miss Bowman?
Jean: You're right. I use the phonebook everyday. 
(Teddy, under his breath: Yes, yes, yes)
Jean: It's in my dining room. Under the table leg on the right side. Keeps the table from rocking. 
SILENCE - it was beautiful. 

Teddy: Miss Bowman, I will go ahead and cancel your advertising with GoldenPages, but you'll need to go through a confirmation that will be recorded. I will give you the verification code and you just repeat it after me. Do you have a pen and paper ready?
Jean: Yup. 
Teddy: T as in table, D as in David, V as in victory, 1, 5, G as in giant, M as in Mary, 7. Now, please confirm that code. 

How efficient, I thought. He paired every letter with a word so that I didn't immediately ask if he said B or T. I loved it. It saved time. And questions. 

And, it presented a challenge: an instant, on-the-spot, word game. I had just seconds to find the best letter/word matches before anyone asked for clarification.

Two days later I was on the phone with Priceline with a travel inquiry. They asked for my confirmation number. 

BINGO: A chance to use my new, efficient communication tactic. 

"Ok," I told the gal. "I found my number: G as in good job, B as in bumble, 1 as in one-way street, V as in very good, 3 little pigs, 3 more, and 7."


I had to repeat it, no "efficiencies" attached. Realizing how thoroughly I had confused the gal, we concluded the conversation with a $100 flight change fee. Bummer. 

Nearly a month passed before I could use the word game/clarification efficiency again, this time with AAA. 

Jean: "Tempooorrrraary membership coooode....." I drug the words on as I searched the mailer for my code. "Ah! Found it. Ready?" I asked. 
Kind, patient AAA man: I'm ready. 
Jean: P as in pine tree, R as in real, K as in the jeweler that every kiss begins with, 7...deadly sins? Then C as in Chrissie Cartmell, Chrissie Cartmell again, 8 maids-a-milking, 4 square, T as in Tommy Boy, B as in boy and P. Like, Purdue.


I had failed. 

A New Year resolution of mine is to work smarter. That's why I gave the gal at Fidelity my social security number this afternoon, rather than my client code. Until I master the word game Creepy Teddy taught me, I'll find other ways to improve my efficiency. Like...deleting my Pinterest account.