A FASHION SHOW
“You are really inspiring, Alayne.” Or something to that effect, my friend Maria said as she coupled the kindness with the request to be part of the Gloria Gemma Fashion Show, named Our Heroes Fashion Show, this upcoming Saturday evening. She has been one of the many lovely women who has read my writings and usually gives an enthusiastic thumbs up when something strikes her.
I write so much and many people read what I write especially around the time of before and after breast cancer. I am one of the lucky ones because there is the after breast cancer I get to write about. What I learned from the cliché gifts many people mentioned when they first learned of my diagnosis is the permission slip to say no to many invites that came my way. In this particular instant, I would have never even considered a no. First off, I met Maria at a RI Hospital breakfast I was fortunate enough to be invited to by my lovely bad ass Dr. W. Maria and I formed one of those instant chick connections, not the kind where we are hanging out and drinking Proseco together every summer eve, though I would love that, as a matter of fact, we haven’t seen each other since. Actually we haven’t even spoken since that lovely breakfast with the brilliant female doctors who RI Hospital is lucky to have so when I got the ask to be part of this fashion show, how could I say anything but a big happy yes. That was like five months ago and here I am, my fashion show debut at the RHODES ON THE PAWTUXET. The west bay version of the Venus De Milo, the mecca event space where weddings, proms, charitable events take place and I am going to be very small part of a really big and impressive effort from all of the people who support the work of the Gloria Gemma Foundation.
I love powerhouse women. I love knowing them, being in their company, engaging with their energy fields and watching their tireless work ethic that their deep passion fuels. I could probably name fifty women in RI alone without so much as a blink of an eye. They are not in it for the accolades; the accolades are the result of their efforts. The efforts come from a deep special space only accessed by passion. I know that feeling and when I am around it, it is magnetic. This is why I said an uninterrupted yes when Maria asked me. This is why I traipsed to David’s Bridal in North Attleboro, Mass on our first 85 degree gorgeous could have been at the beach but wasn’t going to happen day to try on the selection of dresses that awaited. I hadn’t realized until I got there all of the intense efforts by Mandy Zito who was there waiting with a big confident assuring smile to try on the last seven choices left from the other twenty two models who had made their way there prior. The pickings were slim, but as I started to head into that judgmental place so easy to head to I was quickly brought back to the point of this whole event. We are raising money for a powerful and focused grassroots RI organization that does only amazing things for breast cancer and survivorship. Wearing a dress that wasn’t perfect or to my likings was the whole point of this entire breast cancer experience anyway. Releasing control. Allowing the natural unfolding of things to take place for a higher purpose and good. The peaks and valleys along the way are the point.
From the day late call I made to plead for two tickets for my only two chick friends who were available to come cheer me on in my coral taffeta as me and my fabulous breasts would be sporting down the runway and Jane not sighing and only smiling to try to help me get the tickets I had procrastinated in ordering. Then there was lovely Mandy at David’s Bridal saying with a perfectly straight face, “You will need to be at Rhodes at 2:45 to have your hair and makeup done.” The event isn’t until six pm, I immediately thought, I have gardening and barn cleaning and a workout to get to on Saturday. There I went, that self-serving mind chatter forgetting albeit briefly that this day was not about me. I was here to serve, not be served. I was here to be humbled and appreciative of all of the care and love that has been graciously offered for the past three years. And to support the thousands of other women who had the diagnosis and needed help and support from their friends, their families, their doctors and Gloria Gemma.
“Yes, of course I will be there.”
“Did you want to do your own makeup and hair?” She asked knowing my business of beauty.
“No of course not,” I said, hopefully without hesitation. I want to be part of the whole event, not just a snippet. When was the last time I got to sit and have someone do my hair in some fun wacky fashion show way, or some crazy runway too much makeup application. Breast cancer from the get go has been an out of the box experience. I joke that it is the gift that keeps on giving. From these events, from the relationships I have formed and the ones that have left me, from the appreciation of the medical professionals we have right here in our own state who have brought me to my knees (and not the way I prefer, haha). I have a softness in my heart that I am not sure I had before and a humility that is now a permanent fixture in most of my decision making. There is a sense of urgency to get shit done, to make life happen and to also try not to over commit to the undeserving time sucking that no longer serves my soul.
I bow humbly to the women I know and I don’t know yet who cheer me on and support everything that Gloria Gemma stands for. And I can’t wait for my recap of what I know is going to be a super fun experience completely out of my comfort zone as I lean in to all of the nuggets that have tumbled towards me since this whole shebang began right after my fiftieth birthday three short years ago.