Where muse meets whimsy...

A Quote By Melissa McCarthy

Even when someone gets to looking like she should be so proud of herself, instead she’s like ‘I could be another 3 pounds less.  I could be a little taller and have bigger lips.’ 

You just have to say “It’s pretty damn good.  I am right here at the moment and I’m OK with it.  I’ve got other things to think about.” ~ Melissa McCarthy

{{Information |Description ={{en|1=Melissa McCarthy at the Audi and Derek Lam Kick Off Emmy Week Celebration 2012.}} |Source =http://www.flickr.com/photos/minglemediatv/7996875793/ |Author =http://www.flickr.com/people/47170787@N05 |...

Melissa McCarthy at the Audi and Derek Lam Kick Off Emmy Week Celebration 2012.  Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/minglemediatv/7996875793/          Author =http://www.flickr.com/people/47170787@N05

The above image is from Wikimedia Commons. Information about it can be found here.

A Change Of Pace

It has been such a different lifestyle not working.  For me it has been great to slow my processes down and take time  for the journey my head insists on taking.  When I was working my brain seemed to “quick fire”, always making me  fast on my feet and accomplishing lots of things but not really allowing that deep brewing that can shift one’s thinking.

After the store closed and I had some time to catch up on sleep. It seemed that I was in for a time of engaging with friends who needed me.  As always it was also a time for me to learn some universal lessons of my own.  I believe that as one engages with a pure intent to be sincere and “there”for friends in need, we receive an opportunity to grow.  I have trained myself to listen carefully ( in a large part thanks to all of my friends from the store) for lessons that I need.  Wow have they been coming in my direction…

Like learning to say “no” which I am good at, it feels very powerful for me.  It gives me a sense of authenticity.  When I say no, I mean it and therefore when I say yes I mean that also.  This is not a new lesson for me, in fact I think I did write about this before.  It comes up still which probably means I need to pay attention.  I have a friend who’s yes and no I do not trust.  She does things often that she does not want to do and shares that with me.  I find it hard to have a meaningful friendship under those circumstances.  On the other hand I have a dear friend that took on this lesson with me and we love the feeling of pure clarity, although she says I waffle sometimes.  Waffling for me is just working out the logistics and I am sticking to it….

Thanks for  asking about what I have been doing.  This is a taste.  In this moment I am in the “zen zone” as one of my friends and I are fond of saying.  I am learning to do things and have relationships in life without expectation.  I am also learning that this is very tough work.  I believe it has something to do with getting it all clear about yourself and therefore being truly available as best you can at this moment in time.  Expecting nothing in return, incredibly, has brought me great joy. 

Pennington Ads

I hope you have had a chance to see the Pennington ads that are now showing on TV. It is a woman of size wearing a bra and briefs, several funky choices and she dances in and out of the shot. It is also a breast cancer campaign if I recall. I have heard lots of chatter about the fact she is a large woman. From my camp it is mostly positive but of course lots of the negative chatter from those who are opposed to using large women as role models.

This could be a very long piece, as most of you know I have lots of opinions, but this reminded me of something important…..When I started to teach fitness for large women 30 years ago it was the first time folks in community centers had seen women of size participating in fitness classes. At first it was shocking to them and as we assimilated it became part of the norm. I remember very vividly when I was asked by the center to sub for a “regular fitness class teacher” who was away. The fact they asked me in itself was amazing (they were stuck but still…) but when I taught and stood at the front of the class of 50 adults, men and women I was accepted. They were accustomed to seeing me in that environment. As the class progressed I was could feel the shift and by the end they were asking me if I could come back.

Seeing this Pennington’s ad has the potential of having a real impact. It is well done, positive and hopefully will be the first of many… I am sure there are lots of opinions about the underwear but the big picture from my many years in the “plus” business is “we are being seen”. We all might choose to stand proud and give a clear message we are here, in this moment in time, as we are. For those who are fat phobic and don’t like it, well maybe you will just have to get used to it, we are great and we are part of all communities.

In My Opinion – Suzanne Bells Fashions Closing

It is with a huge amount of emotion I write what is my last “In My Opinion” as we have known it.  Retiring seems such an odd word for me to even say.  I never thought  about it and expected I would stay here for much longer.  Ha…well I should have known that the road would divert for me.

I suppose I really saw this coming in the last few years.  The truth is that so many circumstances converged to bring me to this point.  It is no surprise that retail as we have known it has changed, really changed in the 30 years since I have been in business.  I love to tell the story of Christmas pasts when we would spend months getting ready to decorate the store and fill it with liquid gold and silver lame pants and tops and more.  It was so sparkly and fun.  All of us went to Christmas parties and dressed up and had huge celebrations.  I guess we even had a” few” and drove home. Let me bring you to this last “Holiday Season” where we hardly put up decorations  and our customers were buying big shirts to stay cool while cooking the turkey.

Suzanne Bells Fashions logo  I know this will not feel great for many of you but I know that the time is right.  Aside from the fact I can feel 30  years on my feet in my knees, in this business leases and contracts are usually fairly long and my lease is up.  I have been fortunate to have a great landlord and been here in this location for 20 years.  Access is tougher, Vancouver city taxes are so high and a move was out of the question. Nothing a young entrepreneur and a few million wouldn’t fix.

I have always loved being in this business, most probably because I have had customers who have been so interesting and loyal.  I have  been very grateful for you.  Now that I am closing let me have my last words to you.  Thank you for being there when I first started and took what was a huge risk to follow my dream. Thank you for coming in year after year and reminding me that what I did was important to you. Thank you for allowing me to get to know you, and thank you for your stories that always made me laugh and cry.  Thank you for teaching me that I should never give up my fight for the right to live my life as a woman of size with dignity.   That in itself my friends has given me the drive to stand proud and speak on your behalf (self appointed of course).  Thank you for allowing me to come to work everyday with joy, how often can one say that about work? Thank you for teaching me so much, more that I can even express.

I have a good friend who always said to me that this business of fashion was always a cover story.  A reason to connect and share and help each other.  I for one have taken a great deal from you, I have learned to really listen and therefore really learn. You have probably not heard the last of me.  Although I have not got solid plans I am bursting with projects left undone.

This last 30 years would never have happened without some very important people.  My business partner Stephanie who has an amazing ability as a buyer, a very smart business person and my very best friend. Inez who you all know as the “model”,  has been here for 11 years and likes you all as much as I do. Jane Ham who was with me from the first days and always promised to stay until her husband retired ( now they are globetrotting) and Jody who we miss but is now a mom and calls us to make sure we are doing our jobs up to standard.

As I put labels on this “mail out” I see so many names I have not seen in years.  I would love to see you, just to say hi or for you to get a great bargain.  We will be here until we sell everything but I am not sure how long that will take.  I am told it can go quite fast…

In the words of Maya Angelou “Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now!!!”

Suzanne

Finding A Car For Women Of Size

Two of my customers were having trouble finding new cars that were comfortable, safe and had lots of room for women of size.  They asked me if I would pass on their request for information to our customer via email.  Here are some of the responses I received:


I drive a 2005 Ford 500 and I love it.  It is a full size car with plenty of room.  It was fairly pricey when it was new but should be fairly affordable on the used market.

p.s. They claim that there is enough room in the trunk for eight sets of golf bags and I believe it.


I’m super size but only 5 foot 2 and my Toyota Echo is super.  Don’t need to use the steering wheel mech. even tho’ it does have one adjustment.  Seat belt fits beautifully as passenger and driver without any extensions.  Tight in backseat to sit however.  Huge trunk.  Fun drive.  AND even tho’ I’m short, other taller drivers (5’10”) have said there is still lots of room between top of head and roof.  Hope that helps.


The car that I drive and works for me is the GM Terrain 2010….. it’s more like a compact SUV.  I find it roomy for me, as well as if I have adults in the back seats – good leg room/height for them.  I also like the fact it’s more of a “slide in” helps with my knees…. not low as a car can be, and not high as the van I used to have…  since I too have have the “butt & gut” issue;  it was important for me to find something comfortable & functional too…  Hope this helps…. 


I love my Subaru. While it does not have telescoping steering there is lots of room and the seat belts are long! I have a Forrester. 


 About the car issue, I drive a 2000 Toyota Echo sedan.  I don’t fit in the Corolla or several of their other cars but I do fit in this one and the seat belt is also long enough.  The car is not showing up on their website anymore but may be available used, or the other option is more expensive but the Prius was the same body, just a hybrid.  

I know I fit in very few cars so I hope this helps.


I’m a (very satisfied) member of Modo – the Car Co-op, so I’ve driven  a range of 2003 – 2011 cars. I’ll use my membership to try out even more models. Joining temporarily could be a way to test drive on your own. My deposit to join in 2006 was $500,  100% refundable when I cancel my membership. Probably still similar now. Other costs are based on usage.   Contact Modo at 604-685-1393, or info@modo.coop.

On a personal note, the co-op once upgraded a Mazda at a location I used frequently with a Mini Cooper. One phone call to Modo and the Cooper was re-replaced with a car I could use comfortably. I realise your customers are looking for a car to buy, not share – I just like to shout out for those who treat large people well.
I’ve found the Mazda 5 seats slide back quite far. Not only am I large, I’m stiff, specially in the knees, so I need lots of space for getting out. I like the Pontiac Vibe too.
I’ve found the amount the seat slides back changes from model to model and year to year in the same brand of vehicle. Same with the wheel tilt.
My  favourite in the cars now available near my home is the Nissan Cube. Not the most beautiful vehicle on the road, but tops for accessibility before going up to an SUV or Minivan. Often they’re not The clearance is higher than most other cars’. The driver’s pod is roomy  – I don’t feel like I’m packed in a can. Best, the rear hatch opens on the side like a cupboard door, so no contortions are necessary to load or offload stuff.
I hope this info proves helpful.  Best of luck, 


 I just bought a Nissan Rogue and find it very comfortable.  It is one size down from my previous car which was the Nissan Murano. While I was looking I found the Kia Soul to be very very roomy.  Hope this helps


I LOVE my Honda Element.  They are not making them starting 2012, but Honda’s hold their value and used ones should be very reliable.  The seating in wonderful, lots of room (front and back), moveable steering wheel, plus it is just the right height for me to step into (I’m 5’4″) which makes it much easier to maneuver in and out of.

Bonus, I was able to find a seatbelt extender online.  I can use the regular belt, but I just wanted a little more wiggle room so that I could lean forward without undoing my belt to reach my glove compartment, etc.  It was purchased from http://www.4extender.com/ for a reasonable cost (US$28) and I love it.  It also fits my brother’s GM truck so I am extremely happy with it.

I found out about 4extender.com through Amplestuff.com’s website, which is a site I would highly recommend for everyday things for supersized people like me.  I got 10x hospital gowns from them so I can bring my own to the doctor, x-ray clinic, etc.  They sell things for mobility, hygiene, etc, most of which I didn’t even know could be adapted for me!


I have a Hyundai Santa Fe – this is my second one.  There is ample room for us grand ladies.  It has the telescopic steering wheel with tilt steering as well.  There is ample room for two ample ladies to sit side by side too with an arm rest in between.
They are not low to the ground which I love – saves me having to put weight on my dodgy knee when getting out of the car.
I bought both of mine at the Jim Pattison Hyundai in Coquitlam – on Ottawa Street – opposite Costco.  Tel:  604 552 1700.  If the ladies want to look at one I suggest that they go there and ask for Larry – he was a dream salesman – no pressure and understood exactly what I wanted in a car!  Should they decide to go there, tell them to tell Larry that “Phyllis sent me”!  He better give them wonderful service or he will hear from me!!!!!  He spent many an hour with me while I haggled with him, what colour, what added gizmos to buy if any, etc!!  He had the patience of Job.
I tried the Tucson – next model down from the Santa Fe but it did not have the zip which is what I wanted but very similar in style and size inside.


 I’m currently size 2 – 3x but when we were looking for a vehicle I was 4 – 5x.  We bought a Toyota Venza in May of 2011.  I love that car!!  lots of driver space, steering wheel moves up and down and in and out, the car is easy to get into and out of and the seat belt is long enough.  However, it is quite expensive.  We also have a Honda Civic which is okay also.  Harder to get out of because it is lower but it has lots of driver room and the steering wheel moves and the seat belt fits large size people.   It is less expensive than the Verza and quite a nice car, easy driving also.  Late this fall we tried out other cars as well and I found the Toyota Camry nice to get in and out of with lots of room for large legs and driver space.  The seat belt fit well, the car is very nice but I didn’t like the interior style.  We (my husband and I) also tried the Toyota Corolla, which is considerably less expensive but I found that although the seat belt fit nicely there was not enough leg room for me between the seat and the steering wheel.  We also looked at a Nissan Versa, again lots of driver space and the seat belt fit well, quite a reasonable price especially now with the sale price, I really liked the hatchback but my husband did not like the car.

Hope this helps.  I know how hard it is for a larger person to feel comfortable in a car.  I’d suggest sitting in the vehicle and for me trying the seat belt was really important.  The GMC, Ford and Dodge vehicles don’t seem to have long enough seat belts and then you’re stuck asking for extensions.

 Thank you all for your input… I’m sure many women will find your thoughts and comments helpful!
 
Regards,

SB 

Acknowledgement

This year I am heading into my 30th year in business and I must say it has been amazing.  I say this often, I love my business because I have  all of you who I truly care about.  You have not only kept me in business but you are interesting, funny, sad, happy and a constant source of inspiration.  Every year I pick a focus word to help me improve. This last year I chose “acknowledgement” as my project.  Let me acknowledge how I am grateful everyday for you.  Thank you so much…

acknowledgementThis last year has been challenging, not only for me but for many of you.  You have shared some very heartfelt stories.  It has  been tough financial times and it seems like many things have surfaced for all of us to face.. Maybe this is a good time for the 2012 prayer to be “Dear God, my prayer this year is for a fat bank account and a thin body, please don’t mix these up like you did last year! Amen. ” Well, on that note I am going to share mostly good things that came my way ( often via you) .

My first thought goes to a story I heard recently.  One of my customers was with her grand daughter on a cold day waiting with a group of her pre-school chums.  They were cold, so grandma decided to teach them the Hokey Pokey.  “Put your right foot in…..” A circle of tiny girls in pink and very energetic boys  did wild jumps when they “turned themselves about”.  They all screamed with glee and had to have elbows, hands and bare legs touched to prove how warm they now were.  That vision has stayed with me and makes me smile,but not more than my friends grand daughter who on an “adventure” to Starbucks with her classmates stated that she had a hot chocolate and the “allergics” had juice.

As I mentioned, every year I pick a project for self-improvement. For me that meant taking the time to let people know how great they were, customer service, personal issues, just anything I really liked about their behaviour.  The most surprising thing was just how truly moved most of these folks were.  I just told them what a gift they had for “whatever”. To one woman I mentioned how kind she was when  I  observed her help a senior.  I said to her she had an impressive way of handling the situation.  She told me no one had ever said that to her before.  I intend to write about this in detail at some point as I had so many encounters and what it taught me was  how little it takes to make a huge impact.  This really had very little to do with me, I just observed and acknowledged the deed.  It was so obvious how touched most recipients were.  I mistakenly thought this was just us everyday people who tend to get ignored but no… I told a doctor ( I actually said to her ” I need you to listen to me for a moment”) ,that alone got her attention.  I praised her for being a healer, having a  superior bedside manner, that she showed no judgement about the fat issue.  She stopped in her tracks, got very quiet and said no one had ever said anything like that to her and she would never forget it.

This thing I do every year came about because I refused to make New Year’s Resolutions about diets.  I choose words instead and then try to live up to them.  I don’t always do a splendid job but it does help me be mindful.  I recommend it as a project if you choose to do one.  One cannot actually fail at this, just going there will change you.  One year I chose kindness, I am not always kind but I always think about it and am more kind than I was before I took it on.  Stephanie ( my business partner) suggested I should try humility this year..ha!!!

I am open to suggestions for my 2012 word project and I do love all your quotes and items of interest you send to me.  Here are just a few of that came my way, hope you enjoy them.

For 2011 my favorite quote is “Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want” Jerry and Esther Hicks.   My favorite Tweet is from Jenny Ellison who wrote “Eating disorders are up among children in the USA. Congratulation anti-obesity crusades for teaching kids that healthy equals skinny”.  My favorite response when a woman of size was asked  “What are you hungry for?” her answer: Powerful life changing results!!!

As one of my long time customers said, maybe the Hokey Pokey IS what it is all about!

Merry Christmas