Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mastering the dash


Dress: Macy's;
Sweater: Ann Taylor Loft;
Belt: Camp Rainey Mtn. store, Clayton, Ga.;
Tights, boots: Target.

I  really liked reading your feedback from yesterday's post. It seems like many of you feel more inspired to dress up. I think it's the fashion blogging influence coming into play that also helps how I want to always wear dresses and skirts.

So, anyways, about this outfit. This is actually going to be very personal. While I usually like to keep the blog lighthearted, fun and mostly about style, this is one of those things that is probably worth mentioning because it had such a huge influence on my life.

 Today would have been my father's 52nd birthday, and my family went to visit his grave to commemorate the day. He died of a heart attack a couple of years ago. I knew I wanted to wear a cheerful color and a pretty dress so I could feel better about getting through today. I actually felt a little weird taking outfit photos because it seemed strange to do so on such a poignant day, but I'm so used to taking outfit photos now that I couldn't bring myself to stop the routine.
 I never know just how much to share personally here, but I feel like I've gotten to know you through your comments and your blogs, and that in a way, I want to share more of myself in this wonderful, friendly blogging community. Now that I'm talking about this on the blog, I'll probably talk about him a little more as the months go on. He was a cool guy.
One thought that went through my head today had to do with condolence cards. We got so many the week of and after his funeral, but one in particular sticks out and has brought a lot of comfort these last couple years. It was signed by his coworkers and it included a poem about death and how on a grave, there are always two dates -- the birth and death dates. The smallest part of the grave's inscription is the dash between those dates. It's the tiniest part but it's the most significant because it symbolizes the life spent between those years. The rest of the poem was about trying to make your own "dash" as big as possible. 
It may sound a little sappy, but the card had a huge impact on me, and how I felt about my father's death.

Now that a couple of years have passed, I've made my peace with his death. I'm sad every once in a while, but I try to live better than I did before he died. The summer of his death and having to transition back to college that fall was the hardest period of my life, but at some point I stopped letting grief take control of me and I started to tackle what I wanted to do most. Since his death, I've done many things that I'm quite proud of: worked a few internships, got control of my diet, lived in NYC for a summer, graduated college, got married, para-sailed in Hawaii, just to name a few. Many of these events started out as ideas that loftily floated on my "someday" list of dreams, and over the last couple of years I tried to make them tangible and real.

I do have my own special way of honoring my dad: every year on the anniversary of his death (June 6), I cross something off my "bucket list" to honor his memory -- basically, live my life as big as possible because he taught me to do so. Two years ago, I went to the top of the Empire State building. One year ago, I watched the sunrise on Waikiki Beach with Jeremiah. I don't know where I'll be this year on June 6, but I will be doing something I've always said I wanted to do or see.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that grief can be a crippling, horrible thing.
Or it can be an agent of positive change. 
It's all about figuring out how to master the dash.

signature1 by you.


  1. I'm very sorry for your loss. It sounds like you have made positive changes and had very exciting experiences since your father's death, which I really, really admire.

    This outfit is just perfect. I LOVE this dress and can't wait to see more.

  2. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. My husband and I lost his mom this year suddenly to cancer that she had been hiding for 5 years so I sort of know how hard it can be. There is no doubt that grief can be either an agent of positive change or crippling. I know exactly what you mean. But like you, I believe in making that dash a memorable one

    on a lighter note, I like this outfit= especially the boots= what brand are they from target? I never saw these!

  3. What an amazing post this was. Thank you so much for letting yourself be vulnerable and for sharing it with us. *hug*

  4. Thank you for sharing this. It was very sweet and I can relate to so much of it. It's been much longer since my father passed away but I was 16 at the time and it made a huge impact on me. I think your "dash" example is a really great one and I can only imagine how proud your father is of you and what you've done. Honoring his memory in that way is a fabulous idea.

  5. sorry to hear about your loss, and you're very inspiring in wanting to honour your dad with your list. I think its incredible :)

  6. Oh, JoAnn... What a great post. I know you'll find something awesome to do on June 6 this year, and I think it's a great way to honor your dad. I have to say, I love this outfit - sometimes wearing bright colors can make an otherwise somber day seem a little bit brighter.

  7. My heart goes out to you and your family. I agree that this blogging community is so kind and like a little family, we're here to listen to each others pain and joy, thank you for sharing. That analogy about the "dash" of life is really inspiring, it is a great thing to keep in mind.

  8. I wanted to respond to some of your sweet messages here:

    @ Caffeinerd: Thank you so much for your kind words. I found the outfit today really did cheer me up. Bright colors really do wonders.

    @ Andie: I'm so sorry for your loss, too -- that must have been very hard to lose your MIL. My thoughts are with your family.
    And about the boots -- they're Target's Kady boots in cognac and they're from fall 2009. You might be able to find a few pairs on ebay. If you want the brand that they're based on, you could try Steve Madden's Intyce boots.

    @ Kendra: Thank you for your sweet thoughts. I feel better getting it out. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    @ The Closet of Kim (ShopKim): Thank you for sharing and I'm very sorry to hear about your father, too -- it must have been hard to lose him at such a young age. My heart goes out to you.

    @ eunice: Thank you! I hope to add more to my bucket list as the years go on.

    @ Shannon: Thanks lady. I have no idea what I'll do this year but gah, I want it to be good. Also, we need a reunion very soon :)

    @ Liz: Thanks for your wonderful thoughts. I agree with you, the blogging community is a great one.

    - JoAnn

  9. i'm really sorry to hear about your loss =/
    anyway, i love your boots =]

  10. I really love the way thinking about mastering the dash makes me feel. I lost my dad (he was only 63) 5 years ago...and a lot has happened in my life in those 5 years. I like to think he is proud of me and watching what I do and accomplish. So sorry for your loss.

  11. That's not even remotely sappy, doll - what a wonderful message about life to pass along to someone who is grappling with loss.

  12. I absolutely love this post - it really moved me. Such a wonderful way to approach life. Thank you so so so much for sharing this!

    And you look lovely, too!

  13. @ Marla Singer: Thanks for your sweet words and for stopping by.

    @ thedirtyknitter: I'm so sorry to hear about your father and thank you for sharing your thoughts. I like to think the same thing about my dad too -- that he'd be proud of my life choices.

    @ Sal: Thanks for your kind words -- they really mean a lot.

    @ Orchidsinbuttonholes: Thank you -- the only way to get through something like that is to think about it in a positive way. Thanks for the outfit comment too!

  14. Joann, what a touching post, I'm so glad you decided to share. I found it so moving. I think the idea of "making your dash as big as possible" is the most wonderful and brave and inspired way of looking at life -- I am sure your dad would be so proud of your outlook and all the things that you've achieved and will achieve in the future. And at the very least, I'm inspired to follow your lead now.

    Take care -- Anjali.

  15. The color of that dress is A-MA-ZING. I think I'm inlove with your dress! jajaja

  16. Joann, this is such a beautiful post. You're very inspirational and I'm so sorry for you loss. I'm very close with my dad and don't know what I'd do without him. I love the idea of making your "dash" as big as possible! amazing. I hope you are well. You are beautiful and loved.

    xx Love & Aloha.


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