By Sheila Arkee
The inspiration for Painted Ladies came from a personal makeover three years ago.
There I was, a tired office drone. Literally, I was exhausted and feeling entirely beaten down by a less than ideal work environment. I took a chance to enter a makeover contest and won. It changed my life and gave much needed confidence back. This is something I’ve aspired to give to others through hosting a beauty blog and sharing my passion for the beauty industry, along with fellow beauty enthusiasts.
Six months after Painted Ladies began my then-2 year old son was diagnosed with Classic Autism. It was and wasn’t a shock. Last thing you really want to hear, but then again, good to know there is an explanation for and way to treat your child’s behavior. The photos of the child in the Wikipedia page on Autism made me laugh, because that was totally my child at that age!
Since then, my personal life has been devoted to my son Andre — driving him to school, being around for therapy, and living life as a divorced single mom. We are so lucky to have two sets of loving grandparents helping us, but the heavy lifting is my responsibility. It’s a challenge in so many ways, but also a huge gift. I’ve learned so much about life that I couldn’t have paid for a better experience.
The good news is that Andre is thriving. While he can’t hold a conversation, and won’t look you in the eyes if he can help it, he’s finally been able to communicate his needs and wants in 3 – 4 word sentences for the past 9 months. What a blessing! While there are constant reminders that Andre is different, we’ve settled in to our own form of normalcy. Will he ever be able to function like a typical child? It’s uncertain, but our entire family has very high hopes for him.
Here’s a typical conversation:
Me: Andre, are you ready for school?
Andre: Se-wold! (his imaginary name for himself, based on the name Charles)
Me: Ok, Charles, are you ready for school?
Me: Ok, Se-wold, let’s go to school.
Andre: Runs away to do a happy dance. Twirls in the hallway for about 30 seconds. Laughs.
You can’t help but love this kid.
He’s starting Kindergarten in less than a month and will be in a class with high functioning Autistic kids all day. I will officially have more time for myself than I have in years. Years!
I have to be honest and tell you that for a good part of the last three years I forgot about taking care of myself – I took out my stress in excuses and was in poor health perpetuated by bad eating habits and little to no physical exercise. It was bad, y’all. So bad that I was experiencing shortness of breath, exhaustion, severe headaches, dizziness, and was eating my way through Taco Bell, McDonalds, and the entire candy section of the 99 cent store to diabetes. This wasn’t fair to me and most importantly, not to my son. In order to be the best mom I could be, I had to make a major change.
By December of 2011 I’d had enough. Enough! So, I got serious. I’ve been going to the gym twice weekly and have a great workout down. I haven’t lost a lot of weight, but I’ve gained muscle and my health back. I feel SO MUCH BETTER. The dizziness, headaches, exhaustion – all gone. You have no idea how much taking care of myself a little bit has improved the quality of my life, and I am not looking back!!!!
Here I am. I’m in my early thirties and it’s time to make some more life changes. I want to be the best I can be and I want to make this my aspiration for the rest of my life – to always work towards being my best. It’s not about quick fixes, it’s about making permanent changes, and that is really my goal.
Although I don’t make a point to discuss my child or my personal life much on Painted Ladies, I thought my story might be familiar to some people and I hope my journey serves as a source of inspiration. I’ll post updates here and there,keeping you posted on my health choices and wardrobe makeover.
Yes, wardrobe. I’ve discussed this a bit before, but it really is time for me to get out of the jeans/sneakers combo for my daily uniform.
While I’m a pro with makeup, I’m in major need of help picking out clothes, so I will be asking for your opinions in the upcoming months. Help a mama out! A while back we started another blog to monitor the fitness goals of the Painted Ladies gals, but I think we’ll keep these updates here for now.
I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with you, and if you’re going through a similar journey I’d LOVE to know more about your story.