Here are seven things I have learned in seven months of dresses.
1. At the beginning, Clothed in Dignity dominated my mind. I was constantly planning the next outfit or blog post. I routinely took a daily picture, compiling them into weekly collages to post. Wearing a dress was the lens through which I saw the world. I had a fair amount of anxiety about the Wednesday Facebook videos. I realized I needed a bit of balance if this was going to last a whole year.
2. I realized I get to make my own rules. I stopped doing the regular Wednesday videos. After the first half of the year, I stopped taking daily pictures. It became more random. I decided to bail on the "Fancy Day" on the last day of the month, because strapless bras are stupid and uncomfortable.
3. God has taught me other things that generally have very little to do with issues related to Peoria Home, and in doing so He has illuminated in my mind those affected by trafficking, addiction, and prostitution. Namely the idea that the way I was living for decades (not eating enough) was normal for me but not actually normal, as those living in trafficking may find it to be normal when it's really not. I did not expect this.
4. God told me to say yes to things and no to other things. Yes to big projects at church that have nothing to do with Clothed in Dignity. And no to things I really enjoy but don't have time for. And yet through it He reminded me of His basic truths: He provides, comforts, heals, forgives, and loves. Last week was my church's VBS which was like climbing Mt Everest (also "Everest" was the theme so ba-dum-bum)!
5. I briefly considered continuing Clothed in Dignity for another year, even mentioned it to a few friends, but I think that is unwise to keep the expectation of creating content for another year. Our oldest daughter Caley is starting high school and it feels like another mountain to climb. I want to be available to her as best I can! But I will FOR SURE finish out this year!
6. I will continue to financially support Peoria Home after Clothed in Dignity is over. I hope others would choose to do the same, whether through monthly gifts or year-end campaigns!
7. I will continue to wear dresses in the next year. I actually really like it. I feel fancy and feminine. There are situations which are weird--like last Sunday when I did my girls stage makeup outside and it was windy and blew my dress all around. And wearing a dress in the snow and on a bike is also weird. Most of my life I have never liked the way clothes fit me--too lumpy or whatever, and I generally like the way dresses are fitting me now. Maybe more to do with the food thing, but dresses will be regular part of my wardrobe in 2020 and beyond.
There are still five months to go! I wonder what God will do?!
I can imagine when a woman makes the decision to leave her life of exploitation and step into Peoria Home, it's totally dominating at the beginning. Every decision is about her recovery, every day is a new step into the new life. As she gains more traction and routine, hopefully the days get easier, and she is able to manage more. By the time she is ready to leave Peoria Home, she has the skills to succeed and thrive in another environment. She keeps many of the tools learned, but has the freedom to leave the things that are not as useful as they once were.
She is my hero.
P.S. You may still pledge to Clothed in Dignity here or give directly to Peoria Home!