Randomness

Life Behind the Mask

Everyone knows Pin Up Persuasion is centered around fabulous vintage inspired fashion and the “pinup” lifestyle but occasionally we switch gears to talk about the hard stuff as well. It is no secret that 2016 was one of the toughest years of my life battling severe health issues, making major life changes and I struggled…I struggled HARD! This is not easy to admit as I am a very proud person but we must acknowledge when we need help and support of those around us. A few months ago, I honestly had no idea if Pin Up Persuasion would see its 5th Anniversary. I was in a dark place, not able to find the spirit in me to continue on with the one thing that has brought me so much joy over the years. It pained me terribly but I just could not bring myself to write, let alone genuinely smile in front of the camera. The blog was quieter than it has ever been but I made it a personal mission to not abandon my readers as this was not something I was prepared to do.

My husband asked me one day “have you lost interest in your passions?” referring to loving vintage clothing and blogging. I knew the answer was wholeheartedly HELL NO! But his outside observation made me realize I had lost a part of myself along the way. The last few months I have felt like a shell of myself just going through the motions of life, not knowing where I would end up. It felt like a black hole of a funk that was never ending; putting on a little makeup and nice clothes for work was a struggle most days. At no time would I ever be seen in public wearing jogging pants or looking like a slob but I had become that person. Maybe that sounds overly dramatic but my pride and self-confidence had clearly gone astray.

Retail therapy was not exactly helping with the true nature of my depression but it gave me a little pick-me-up to buy something nice at that moment. All my pretties sat dormant in the closet along with the new ones just got tossed in a pile, not even tried on. Still, I hadn’t loss my love of vintage clothing but I retreated from regular social media interactions on most days. I was emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted…the thought of having to get caught up on what happened that day online brought on an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. Seriously I was dumbfounded, what the hell is wrong with me…this was so trivial! This only caused me to retreat further and distance myself from even my close online friends as I didn’t want to burden them with my life problems. It took me a long while to confide in one of my closest friends as I felt this surely sounded so petty to someone else. Thankfully she listened and made me understand that after all that I had been through this past year…anyone would have reached their breaking point. I guess I had never looked at it that way, life finally caught up with me and I crashed landed hard.

Day after day, I went through the motions and kept on the best I could. In early November, I was lucky to go on a trip of a lifetime to Disneyland thanks to my friend Mae and I made sure to enjoy every moment together. We visited with a few old friends and made some new ones as well. You all know how much I love Disney, being in one of the most magical places on earth with one of my closest friends was a dream come true. This vacation came at time that I needed it the most. Being around friends helped change my frame of mind and feel “normal” again…lifting my morale tremendously. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things though, it would be at least 6 months or more before I would see them again. Distance sucks! Once I returned home, I went back to my old routine with the mindset of pushing through and organizing the blog’s next anniversary giveaway. There was a long while that I doubted that I could muster the energy and time to do so, but I finally realized I wasn’t done with blogging.

Although I was still battling with the funk, I saw a pile of beautiful new clothes that I really wanted to feature on the blog. Ok, this was a good sign right? One Saturday evening I put in some foam rollers before bedtime and planned to do my first blog photoshoot in months the following day. While I prepped outfits, did my makeup and setup the studio downstairs, I was cautiously excited. The first ensemble I had been really looking forward to from my recent purchases and is by far the furthest thing out of my comfort zone…a jumpsuit! The cynic in me was out in full force but I didn’t let that stop me from going in front of the camera, I CAN DO THIS! My husband remarked on how much he liked this outfit and he thought it really looked nice on me (for those of you who don’t know my hubby, he doesn’t shy away in telling me when he dislikes something I wear). After that session, I felt something inside me really light up…I was feeling energized with a massive boost in self-confidence. This overwhelming feeling truly caught me by surprise and for the first time, I shared a bit about my day and struggles with all of you on social media. This was the pivotal moment where I realized I had found my “spirit” again. How cheesy it may sound, it is how I can define the black hole that I had been lost in for so long. You become a shell of yourself battling depression, not knowing when or if you’ll come out on the other side.

Some people may say that I don’t owe anyone an explanation for the last few months but I feel people need to see how life is not perfect behind mask we often wear. So many of us struggle with depression and no one should have to suffer alone. I have poured my heart in soul into Pin Up Persuasion and my readers are some of the most incredible people I tell ya! Whenever you take the time to comment on a blog post or social media, it warms my heart tremendously. It may sound silly but those are the things that helped me push through along with my hubby, friends and family. Thank you all so much for sticking by me these past 5 years and hopefully there will be many more to come! xo

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Categories: All Posts, Randomness | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

How to Look Fabulous for Under $100.

It is no secret that our love of vintage and pinup comes with a hefty price tag. With the rising prices of vintage reproduction clothing, many of us have to cull back our shopping habits and/or seeking more affordable alternatives. Let’s get real…most people cannot afford to spend upwards of $150 on one dress but we all know that our style costs substantially more than the “fast fashion” that is readily available in our local malls. We “collect” quality made clothing that will last for many years unlike the disposable nature of retailers like Old Navy, H&M, Forever 21, etc. Today, I will showcase two fabulous ensembles that cost under $100USD and share helpful tips to find great savings to stretch your dollar even further!

Look # 1 – $100

Dress ~ Dolly & Dotty $43USD (£32.99)

Shoes ~ BAIT $32USD (Clearance)

Brooch ~ Luxulite $25USD

IMG_8487 IMG_8489 The Vanessa dress is a great staple that can be styled in a variety of ways to create versatile looks all year round. With this being my first dress from Dolly and Dotty, I was unsure of their sizing and found my measurements (b36w28) to be in between the 10 and 12. Taking a risk, I went with the smaller size 10 since the 12 would have been quite big in the waist. With the fabric not being stretchy at all, I found it to be quite snug all over, especially in the bust (this style appears to run on the smaller side of the size chart) and I definitely recommend sizing up on this one. Tip: Sign up for the Dolly & Dotty newsletter to save 10% off your order.

IMG_8498 IMG_8494Since I always love a pop of colour, I opted to switch out the check belt with a nice cherry red that I had from another dress. Tip: Mixing and matching accessories is the key to creating a variety of new looks with your wardrobe no matter the size. The BAIT Dennise Wedges have always been my favorites since they are super comfortable and coordinate with pretty much everything including vintage and reproduction. Tip: BAIT is now available on Zulily for insanely low prices. You can also nab their end of season styles on Black Friday for double the savings. Adding a novelty brooch to any outfit really adds a little pizazz and ties everything together. Luxulite is available on Etsy and at some of your favorite online retailers so you can nab them with other items to save on shipping. Tip: Check out your local Antique Stores & Thrift Shops to find old brooches for under $10.

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Look # 2 – $92

Dress ~ Dolly & Dotty $52USD (£39.99)

Shoes ~ BAIT $40USD (Sale)

IMG_8518 IMG_8514 Originally I really wanted the Darlene dress in beige and green but it sadly sold out in my size as soon as they were restocked. The mint/coral was a great second choice seeing as it’s a fabulous and unique colour combination. Tip: Branching out from your go-to favorite colours helps to diversify your wardrobe. The Darlene appears to run more generously in comparison to the Vanessa and the fabric has a little bit a stretch as well. The size 10 fit me well with room to spare in the waist. The medium weight fabric makes this dress perfect for the cooler seasons and comes in a variety of colour combinations that are flexible to wear year round.

IMG_8537 IMG_8513The Darlene is a great style that can go from day to night. Tip: Simply change your accessories and shoes to transition your daytime look to evening glam. Thanks to the unique colour blocking below the bustline, it creates the illusion that is a two piece ensemble. Once again, I found that my BAIT Demi Wedges matched perfectly and I got them at PUG during their Black Friday Sale in 2013. Tip: Make a wishlist of items that you can mix & match but don’t often go on sale (make sure they are stock items available year round). Have your wishlist ready when planning Black Friday purchases and make a point of prioritizing the retailers that only ever have a big sale once a year. You’ll save a lot more money! A fun and inexpensive way to accessorize any outfit is with costume jewelry. Plastic bangles, fun charm bracelets, chunky necklaces and earrings can all be found at any local thrift shop, tween stores, Etsy, etc. for under $10. Tip: Check out local estate or garage sales, often you can buy costume jewelry in bulk for super cheap.

IMG_8522 IMG_8525Retailers like Dolly and Dotty are creating affordable vintage reproduction designs, while not sacrificing quality like in “Fast Fashion”. With more budget friendly options, we are able to grow our wardrobe and also offer a great starting point for the ladies just beginning to dip their toes in the pinup lifestyle. I am all for finding the best deal and supporting local thrift shops recycling old treasures. There are endless ways that we can look fabulous on a limited budget. My everyday look consists of minimal makeup (ie: liquid black eyeliner, mascara), hair tied up or occasionally straight, with full emphasis on my outfit (dress, brooch, costume jewelry and cute shoes). Pinup is not just about fashion but how one carries herself and exudes confidence.  I hope these little tips and tricks help you look fabulous for less! 😉

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What do YOU want to read about???

For the past 4.5 years, Pin Up Persuasion has been going strong with such devoted readers and I plan on continuing for many more years to come. That being said, recently I have noticed that the blog’s traffic has been unusually quiet and I have been racking my brain to figure out why. The only conclusion I have come up with is that I need to ask my readers what content they find the most interesting, helpful and informative.

I recently consulted with the Pinup Community on Facebook and received so MUCH wonderful constructive feedback that has inspired me immensely. I think focusing solely on product reviews since my health break has really limited my audience. I hope to use all of your incredible ideas to bring you more well-rounded content.

Next week I will be taking a short break from everything to enjoy a much needed vacation in cottage country with the hubby and our fur babies. This time will also allow me to brainstorm on great new ideas and subjects to feature on the blog.

Now tell me…What do YOU want to read about???

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The Last 10 Months ~ A Personal Battle

Becoming a blogger was one of the scariest yet most exciting adventures of my life. I am so very thankful every day for your continued support and allowing me to share my passion for vintage fashion with all of you. One thing that may come as a total surprise to everyone is that although I do have a very public lifestyle being a blogger, I really do my very best to keep my personal life private. I went back and for a very long time on whether or not I should share this with all of you and I came to the realization if in doing so, I help can someone else… that in itself was worth sharing my personal battle over the past 10 months.

First and foremost, this story is not going to finish with me asking for any kind of financial support from my readers…I promise you!!!

It all began last July, when I happened to notice a few little red marks on my hands that I assumed were just regular bug bites for that time of the year, I never gave them a second thought. The following morning, I woke up and noticed that those spots were now much larger and multiplied becoming quite itchy…again, me thinking maybe it was just a little skin rash…went about my day. By day 3, my hands were completely filled with what looked like hives/rash that was so insanely itchy that the pharmacist said I needed to go to the Emergency since it was the weekend. The doctors were baffled and thought maybe it was a virus similar to Hand/Foot/Mouth that children typically get and sent me home saying it “should” pass. The next morning, the itch had turn to extreme pain that I cannot even begin to describe and it started appearing on my feet. I called my family doctor that morning and was told to come in immediately. Everyone was baffled; Dr. N and her colleagues ruled out the ER’s diagnosis and sent me for a bunch of blood work to pinpoint what exactly it was that I had. The results were all inconclusive but Dr. N was fairly certain it was an auto-immune disease called HSP (Henoch-Schönlein Purpura). In adults, this disease can lead to Kidney failure for the 6 weeks that it’s present in the body which meant weekly tests to watch for any signs of kidney trouble. Once I safely past the 6 weeks mark, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief but Dr. N felt there was a need to run more elaborate tests to see if anything was missed. Since I have always been in great health, her gut feeling told her something wasn’t adding up. I remember when she said, “Jessica, I am sending you for a couple ultrasounds on your abdomen and pelvis.” Ok…that sounds easy enough right?

A couple weeks later, I had my first ultrasound on my abdomen and sensed something was amiss when the lab tech was lightly (very lightly) scanning my right side below the ribs and I felt sharp pains. I asked the tech if that was normal and she replied that it could be nothing…but I instantly knew she found something with all the images she was taking in that area. Now the online guru that I am, I went home and searched the inter webs (bad idea I know) on what organs are located in that area: right kidney, liver, gallbladder, and part of the colon. In talking with my bestie Amber who works in the medical field, we came to the conclusion that it my gallbladder was causing the pain. The second ultrasound was a few days later and I was told the results would be sent within 4-5 days to my doctor. Now I wait… When my doctor’s office phoned a couple days later, they insisted that I come in right away after work. Panic set in, this doesn’t sound good at all. I prepared myself mentally the best I could and went in that afternoon. Dr. N began going over the results: “Jessica, your gallbladder is FULL of stones which is very unusual for your age and healthy lifestyle. It has to come out, so you will need surgery.” She then asked if I had been experiencing pain on the right side and it never event dawned on me…YES! I had fractured a rib years’ earlier and always thought they were phantom pains from not healing properly, so I never thought twice about it. Ok, I can handle this…a gallbladder is no biggie right? But Dr. N wasn’t done… “Jessica, they also found spots (lesions) on your liver, they are most likely benign and nothing to be concerned about but they recommend sending you for an MRI.” Ok…panic is now setting in. Believe it or not, she was still not done with the results… “Jessica, they also found a very large (5mm+) cyst on your left ovary that will also require surgery to remove”. At this point, I was beyond overwhelmed and starting to freak out. How did I go from being 100% healthy to needing 2 surgeries and who knows what else once they knew what was on my liver. I left there in a daze and went home to tell my husband the news.

The next step was getting referred to a general surgeon and gynecologist, with wait times of 6+months! My appointment with the Surgeon was not until January 2016 and Gyno late Feb (it was August 2015 at the time). Yes, Canadian healthcare is free but it comes with the downfall of very long wait times. Six weeks later, I went for follow up ultrasounds to confirm if there were any changes and from there Dr. N decided to proceed with the MRI’s for a clearer diagnosis. Once the MRI’s were complete, I waited for a call with the results. When the call came, it was the same as last time…”Jessica, Dr. N needs to see you immediately”. My heart sank. The MRI confirmed the prognosis that my gallbladder was full of stones and the ovarian cyst was getting larger. I was fine with that really; we were more concerned about the liver. The radiologist believed the spots were Focal nodular hyperplasia (benign lesions) but could not exclude “metastases” aka Cancer that has metastasized from another source in the body. In an instant, my whole world came crashing down on me. Since I had no other major symptoms except the ovarian cyst, Dr. N strongly believed there was no way I had cancer. We both agreed that I should take the CA125 test to rule out if I had the cell markers for ovarian cancer. On the drive home that day, I completely broke down. I cannot even begin to tell you all the thoughts and express the fear that goes through one’s mind when you think…”I might have cancer”. I was a complete wreck telling my husband the news but hearing the words “Jessica, we will get through whatever it is together” was what I needed at that very moment. The blood tests came back the next morning…Negative! …all levels were normal. It was a huge relief for everyone, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. By this time, it was late November and I would now have to wait until January to see the surgeon.

Every month that passed, my gallbladder which we named “Fred” was causing more frequent severe pain episodes despite my healthy diet and “Oliver” (the cyst) had his own bouts…often at the same time. January finally came and I was really looking forward to finally getting my surgery date to evict Fred. The first consultation with the surgeon didn’t go at all as planned and there was no surgery date booked. I won’t bore you with all the details but the surgeon felt like everyone who handled my case was incompetent so he wanted to run a bunch more tests to rule out “cancer” before he could safely operate. After each test came back negative one by one, we were cautiously optimistic. When the final test came back on my liver to confirm the lesions were indeed benign, everyone rejoiced at the prognosis…I was indeed CANCER FREE! YIPPEE!!!!! I finally saw the gynecologist in February and the two doctors decided it best that they perform both laparoscopic surgeries at the same time on May 12th.

When the date was finally set, it was like the weight of the past 8+ months hit me all at once and I fell apart. I had to give up working out back in the fall because it took everything in me to just to get through each day with a smile on my face meanwhile I was in constant pain which was making me physically and emotionally drained. My clothes were no longer fitting how they should, the scale was going up and there was nothing I could do to control how my body was reacting to Fred and Oliver. I was a shell of myself when I reached my breaking point; emotional, depressed, exhausted and hating my body because it was the enemy. I was SCARED!!! Until this moment, surgery seemed intangible because it was going to happen so far in the future but now it was only weeks away. Yes, I know these are routine procedures which are minimally invasive (if all goes as planned)…but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying to someone who has always been healthy. Fortunately, I am surrounded by incredible family, friends and coworkers that have been there for me when I was too proud to say I needed to lean on them. I could not do it by myself as I had tried so hard to do since this all began…I don’t know what I would have done without them.

The end was in sight…but with only a month to go, I suddenly developed severe migraines and headaches that lasted for 3-4 days at a time week after week. With a little push of my best friend Amber, I went back to see Dr. N because something wasn’t right. Apparently the type of migraines I was experiencing (aura) are a dangerous sign that can lead to a stroke due to a reaction to birth control. Oh yay… just what I needed to hear. Dr. N decided it was best to send me for another MRI, this time on my head since that was about the only body part left that we never checked. Lol. The results took a while longer than usual, but Dr. N phoned me personally after work to say there were no signs of tumors or masses but…there is always a damn but these days…the radiologist noted “mild mass loss” which is not common in people my age. To err on the side of caution, Dr. N is referring me to a neurologist in hopes that the migraines will disappear post-surgery and there is no need to see the specialist. All fingers, toes crossed that the migraines go away after Fred & Oliver are evicted and I am 100% my healthy old self again.

Now that May 12 is only days away, I must take a little break from blogging to recuperate and get well again. The good news is…I have a team of incredible bloggers and fans who answered my call for a top secret project to guest post for the readers of Pin Up Persuasion. I want to thank them all in advance for stepping up to the plate and delivering exciting new content to the blog. Lastly, I would like to thank all the fans of Pin Up Persuasion for everything!!! The last 10 months would have been much more trying if I didn’t have all of you to interact with, sharing photos of gorgeous clothing and being surrounded by all of your positive energy that I hold dear in my heart. I read every comment, message and emoji that you send my way. Fret not, I’ll be back to blogging before you know it and checking in on social media while recuperating at home. Big hugs to all Pin Up Persuasion readers and fans, I love you all so very much!
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