Inspiration Journal

Why I Wear The Same Thing Each Day

Why I Wear The Same Thing Each Day www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Erinne Magee

When I became a “work-from-home Mom” last summer I donated my blazers, dresses and the rest of my “business casual” clothing to local thrift shops. It was as if I was saying “never again” to the idea of a typical 9-5.

As a writer and health advocate, my uniform these days consists of two items in particular: plain v-neck tees and, you guessed it: yoga pants. On the days when I carry my “office” to the local coffee shop, I do my best to pull on a pair of jeans (Ya know, to help please those who still think leggings aren’t pants). What I love most about winter in Maine is the fact that I never have to style my hair. I simply pull on a hat, brush the ends that are visible to the public and I’m dressed and ready for the day in a matter of minutes.

Generally I blame working from home for the reason I spend so little time on my appearance but it goes beyond the fact that it’s “easy.”

Ever since I traveled to Haiti in 2012, I’ve been conflicted about clothes and fashion. During my five days there, I was volunteering with a group and our focus was distributing shoes to children and families living in poverty. To wash the feet of these beautiful Haitians and outfit them with what was, for some, their first pair of shoes made me take a step back from the material world that we sometimes get caught up in. For those who had shoes, most did not fit properly or were held together with tape.

The images of Haiti have stuck with me since my return, helping not only with becoming aware the abundance of “stuff” I had accumulated over the years, but also of my carbon footprint. After using a basin to bathe in during my time in Haiti and following the bathroom instructions of: “If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down,” I came back to my rural Maine life ready to make changes in the way my 6-year-old daughter and I consumed as well as what we possessed. As a single parent, I’ve always been conscious of where my money is spent each week, but still, it was on a “first world” basis. For example, my daughter may not have needed another tutu, but it was “only a few dollars on the sale rack.”

I remember how my grandmother, now 89-years-old, responded to my mother’s end of season clearances purchases with this perspective: “Would you buy an elephant if it were only a dollar?” I’ve loved that line since the moment I heard it and it echoed even louder after my mission trip.

But what’s funny is, it wasn’t that I valued the dollar any more when I returned back to the states. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The dollar essentially became worthless to me.

Each time our cargo van left an orphanage, school or village, I felt like a kid who asks to read just one more bedtime story or to stay at the park ten minutes longer. I did not want to leave. At the time, I couldn’t figure out why. Deep down I think I knew hundreds of “strangers” were on the verge of teaching me one of life’s greatest lessons and I didn’t want to miss the ending.

What I learned was the real currency in Haiti was joy and the locals give it away. Free for the taking. Tattered clothes, mended shoes and broken English did not hold the Haitians back from opening their arms to “strangers.” What I didn’t know before traveling to Haiti, was that it’s not a person’s name who grabs your heart and certainly not their appearance, but the exchange between human beings.

After all, isn’t that the privilege of interacting others? We teach the best lessons without knowing and we learn the most with no intention of doing so.

So today as I dress to research my next article or children’s book at the library, I may robotically pick out the same out as the day before, but when I peruse the department store or even the local grocer, I think of those little Haitian faces and make sure to ask myself: do we really need this or is it just another “elephant” to occupy an empty space.

Why I Wear The Same Thing Each Day   www.herviewfromhome.com

Why I Wear The Same Thing Each Day   www.herviewfromhome.com

Why I Wear The Same Thing Each Day   www.herviewfromhome.com

About the author

Erinne Magee

Erinne is a Maine-based writer and freelance editor specializing in first person essays, poetry and picture books. Her work has appeared in publications like: The Washington Post, Redbook, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping and The Toronto Sun. For more, visit: http://www.erinnemagee.com/

4 Comments

  • Erinne, Found you on the BYB FB page… GREAT article! My husband and I spent 2 years in the DR when our two oldest kids were 2 and 4. I SO “get” what you’re talking about. That was over 20 years ago, and I still thank God every stinkin’ morning for (among other things…) hot running water in the shower…
    Thank you so much for the reminder…
    (And I do love the elephant line, too! LOL)

  • First of all, yes, I would probably buy an elephant for a dollar. Okay, maybe not. Anyways, I love reading stories of people who have a bigger perspective on life. I have long been dedicated to volunteering my time and resources to others. It comes naturally to me. What’s worse than people hoarding their money is hoarding their time, but a lot of people just do not have the perspective. Even my husband doesn’t. We were recently discussing money and my husband noted that we could stop sending money to a missionary in Costa Rica whose sole purpose is assist in helping trafficked humans and prostitutes. I said “Do YOU want to have that conversation with her?” No way, now how. We will starve first. Oh wait, this America, we have soup kitchens, and food pantries, and churches and brand new iPhones. But like I said, not everyone has the same worldview.

  • Wow, this is so inspiring! And I LOVE that phrase about buying an elephant. I’m totally guilty of that, the spending money on things just because it’s so inexpensive!