A Good Attitude Never Goes Out of Style

By Val Jones

A Good Attitude Never Goes Out of Style

I’ve been waiting on this day for thirty years. And believe me, it’s taken patience, commitment and optimism. Although widely known in my circle of friends for my positive outlook, I must admit that, at times, even I doubted it would ever come to pass. Then last week, and out of nowhere, I caught something familiar from the corner of my eye. Too good to be true, at first I thought it was my imagination. I broke into a full sprint across the department store, unable to hide my delight. And right there, hanging in all their glory, nestled between the knee socks and the winter scarves, was the most beautiful pair of black leg warmers I’d ever seen.

Inside I was doing cartwheels, but after catching sight of a few women standing nearby, I managed to maintain my cool exterior. They were mostly chatting with each other and trying on shoes, and in all my excitement, it seemed odd to me that none of them seemed equally enamored at this find. In fact, it was as if they hadn’t even noticed this goldmine at all – an entire wall of legwarmers! A flood of memories swept over me – all of which included my favorite baby blue leg warmers from the early ’80s. A time when big hair was cherished, leotards and tights were the preferred exercise apparel, and I was young. I grabbed several pairs, as though I somehow expected there to be a mad dash at any second, and clutching them to my chest, I grinned. The seventh grader inside of me begged permission to scream, “Attention everyone, but the leg warmers are BACK!” While the 43 year-old me said nothing.

Yes, indeed, I’ve been waiting on this day for thirty years. My favorite clothing trend has finally returned, so this morning I put those leg warmers on over my skinny jeans and confidently left the house. When I reached work, I practically skipped down the hallway wearing my precious find. I continued toward my classroom, strutting around in those legwarmers like a peacock proudly displaying her feathers. I sat down at my desk, admired them for probably the fifteenth time, and slipped into deep thought about all the years that have passed since I first remembered wearing them. Which, of course, conjured up some uncomfortable feelings.

Okay, so I admit that lately I’ve been feeling a bit like an old shoe. And, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to be said for old shoes, of course. Mine are tried and true – comfortable and broken in favorites – but gone are the days when I considered myself more like a pair of strappy stilettos. Lately, when I walk past a mirror and catch a glimpse of my reflection, I think, “Who are you?” The woman staring back at me looks more like a loafer than the black, sexy, peep-toed stiletto I remember. A former high heel with toe-pinching capability, I’m now a comfy, scuffed loafer, dulled by the passing years. And things. Lots of things.  

The failed relationships and the scars left behind from staying in it just a little too long. The personal disappointments. And my all-time favorite, the cancer. After that last one, I noticed a few extra wrinkles, the loss of the “luster” I once possessed, and a little more wear-and-tear than I’d anticipated. If I’m completely honest, however, I’m often reminded that I’ve earned these battle scars and that they tell their own story of beauty and resilience. Back in my younger leg warmer days, I may have possessed a more youthful, outward beauty, but I didn’t have the finesse to handle heartbreak, the stamina to deal with long-term illness, and while I certainly didn’t exhibit the crow’s feet, I didn’t own the strength that this face proudly displays either.

After sitting here wrestling with thoughts of my aging face, I cursed my beloved leg warmers for beginning this inner dialogue. But then again, I was having, perhaps, the epiphany I so desperately needed. Maybe the girl staring from the mirror isn’t as weathered as she is “seasoned.” I’ve come to realize that a few gray hairs and fine lines do not an ugly woman make. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to throw out my wrinkle cream anytime soon. And I’m certainly holding onto my hair color. But true beauty is timeless. And it’s more about being the best me in this moment than the best me that ever was.

So, back to the leg warmers. A pathetic attempt to cling to my youth? Nah. Just a stroll down memory lane to a place where things were simpler. For just a moment, they transported me back to a time of zero responsibility, zero stress and yes, even zero wrinkles, but where I’ve been and what I’ve walked through has formed the person I see before me, and I must say, after thinking about it this morning, I wear it well. All vanity aside, the woman peering at me from out of that mirror is older, yes, but she’s smarter, more balanced and still quite vibrant.

Trends come and go, but a good attitude never goes out of style.

About this writer

  • Val Jones, a freelance writer from Austin, Texas, teaches middle school English and is a breast cancer survivor. Founder of Victorious Val & the Breast Cancer Crusaders – a community of encouragement and kindness – she helps women through the emotional ups and downs of cancer. Her work has appeared in Coping with Cancer, Sasee and multiple editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

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11 Responses to “A Good Attitude Never Goes Out of Style”

  1. Karen says:

    Val,
    This is heartwarming! You have grown into a beautiful, giving woman. But it is on the inside that you are absolutely stunning.

  2. Phyllis Carroll says:

    Great job Val ! I truly enjoyed reading this trip down memory lane.

  3. Phyllis Carroll says:

    I truly enjoyed reading your trip down memory
    lane.

  4. Marta says:

    I’ve been struggling with the woman, 46, I see in the mirror lately, so this is well-timed. Also, I recently bought a pair of black leg warmers. They have buttons. What’s not to love?

    • Val says:

      I feel your struggle, Marta! Grateful to be alive, but always shocked at what I see in the mirror. It’s like it just sneaked up on me! Right?

  5. Roxie Davis says:

    Wonderful story, Vallory! I remember the sweet seventh grader you were. Keep that good attitude, and it’ll take you far. Love you!

  6. Val, I laughed out loud at your sprint for leg warmers. Your story took me back. I enjoyed it!

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