In school (talking Kinder all the way through College) I was always the first to talk. First hand in the air, first to volunteer, first to stand in front of the class and present. I didn’t need to know the answer, I just wanted to be there. Connecting. I loved after school activities, ever evolving friend groups, I took a lot of joy in arriving in spaces where I knew next to no one and would get to make new friends. When I was 14 I went on a two month missions trip all over Europe, I knew exactly one person when I arrived and was amongst the youngest on the whole trip. And I relished in all of that! Extravert. Basically, the definition of it. I found my energy, deep joy, and so much FUN in being around people, out there, and being a bit… Extra.
But somewhere along the way between marriage, kiddos, stay at home mom isolation (and exhaustion), as well as age, my pendulum has made a massive swing into introvert territory. Enjoying time alone above all, space from people and noise, and being far more drawn to a book or a cozy night in than I am by a party or a room full of strangers. There hasn’t been much impetus or room for the extra parts of me to have any sort of avenue. And frankly, I hadn’t realized I’d even been missing it. Right up until I had the chance to stand on a stage, becoming some alter-ego of myself, or rather… me from a decade+ ago, and pose like… a cat?
A few days back I had the fun of attending a halloween event with Goodwill of Washington. The largest Goodwill Halloween Store (and just BEST, HUGE, I lucked out with a ton of finds after finding my halloween costume too!) is here in the PNW! I was paired up with one of their costume experts (JP Patches, sob sob, made me feel so nostalgic for being 10 and watching SeaFair parades!) and we hunted down the perfect costume.
I used to LOVE Halloween, my grandma made my costumes, the whole neighborhood would trick or treat together, and we had a blast. But just like my extravert tendencies most of my own halloween fervor has been passed down to my girlies and I spend my energy getting them decked out and ready to adventure, and end up tossing on a witches has myself. But this year Eliza asked me to go as a ‘Mama space cat, Moona’ as she will be a Space Cat, Luna (errr, maybe I’m Luna? The details bounce a bit) so when Bailey (JP Patches) asked me what kind of costume I was looking for. . . Well, I thought I may have her stumped a bit.
The costume experts are RIDICULOUS. Trained, excited, and also really knowledgable. Asking what you have at home already, finding ways to make it totally affordable, and also full of easy DIY ideas to help make the whole thing unique. After just a few minutes of hunting, Space Cat was coming together easily.
After nailing down the costume, we added in some amazing makeup, and from there? Costume Contest time. THIS IS OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE. That bears saying more than once. It was in this moment than I drew on 16 year old Autumn and I just. . . went for it?
Maybe it was the makeup. Or the tail. Or, really, the possibility of winning a gift card right then and wanting to shop desperately. But whatever it was? I posed like a cat on a stage and smiled on my face off to a crowd of strangers. And had SO MUCH FUN doing it.
After all that risk. . . it totally paid off! I won runner up in the contest, and shopped my heart out afterwards. Anyone who knows me knows that I love Goodwill. A good thrift haul can fill me up like none other. The majority of my kiddos wardrobes are goodwill, and a big bulk of my own too. Not only that? But my hand-thrown ceramic mug collection is all thrifted and beautiful.
Goodwill does a lot more than just feed my shopping love, they provide a HUGE number of job training programs (barista, culinary, computer and office support, warehouse and transportation, GED programs, as well as Youth, Veteran and Elderly specific training and support). 100% of their profits are used to provide these programs, that are designed to be as low barrier as possible and with high job placement numbers.
We got to meet a graduate of their culinary program, Honey Batthe. After she finished her training she went on to launch her own small business. Sharing authentic Thai Chai and tea-time treats as local Famers Markets in the Greater Seattle area, with plans to launch her own brick and mortar soon! For us she whipped up some spooky halloween treats (I’ve got a halloween birthday party happening here so it gave me some much needed inspiration!) and shared her story with us.
I left the whole experience feeling so full up, and a little nostalgic. Channeling that teen me, being so confident, ridiculous, fun, and bold felt. . . GOOD. So, while I may not be the first to jump on stage still, this experience reminded me, that I really should jump up there sometimes. Putting aside the tired, the Mama, the ‘oh, that’s not for me’ and remembering that, sometimes I just need to Do It. A massive thank you to Goodwill for the confidence building cat costume, incredible work you do, and welcoming me in to learn a bit more about it.
Off now to go to Goodwill to find the perfect Zombie costume for my oldest, and a few spooky decorations for our home!