Stacey London and Style For Hire_Rachel Fawkes Style and Confidence Coach
I have nearly 30,000 photos on my phone and maybe 500 are from a span of those few dark years. Looking for ones to share here, I was amazed to find this, of me at one of my first big styling jobs, giving advice and looking reasonably put together two months after my husband's suicide attempt. P.S. blame old technology for the blurriness. Trust me, if you'd had been there, haziness and a general "unclear" is very appropriate for the times.

…the thing that happened that rocked my world. It’s not the lede because the point of the conversation we’re starting really isn’t what happened before and during, but how I used style as a catalyst to regain confidence and what transformed after. Still, I believe connection comes from sharing our journeys and this is what’s true…

My marriage broke up. Nothing so special about that, but to borrow a very favorite line from a very favorite book*, “each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” True to my brand of rainbow glitter extraness, our unhappiness and undoing was truly and supremely spectacular. It’s summed up something like: severe mental illness, substance abuse, a suicide attempt, and months of hospital that turned to years of treatment—and that was his side. Mine looked more like, zeroing my bank account, complete neglect of my mental and physical well being, and a brand of fear, isolation, loneliness, and living with secrets I pray I never revisit. Did I mention the crisis peaked weeks after I left a stable, high-paying corporate career to start a styling business from nothing? So. Awesome.

The details are gory, and if you’re in similar circumstances and need encouragement, or just morbidly curious, I’m here, style advice not required. But, I’m here to talk about the part after the gore, when instead of celebrating surviving dark days, I was suddenly aware I’d spent all of my energy, my money and myself on that supremely spectacular undoing. Without the momentum of illness and divorce shoving me forward, it was just me, starting over as an exhausted, broke, shell of myself, who’d stress eaten 50 lbs. I didn’t know the girl in the mirror, and worse, the confidence and self-assurance that’d always been my touchstone in hard times was no where to be found. Losing my marriage and its promises was devastating, but I stayed standing. Realizing I’d also lost myself brought me to my knees.

The Sad Before
Realistically I was much more this person...tired and unable to muster more than this smile with a baby and a puppy on my lap at Christmas. Sigh.

If you’re feeling that same hurt, I share this so you know I’ve been there. It doesn’t take a drama like mine. Feeling like you’re not your true you can come from much nobler endeavors…Giving more and more time to work and less and less time to you. Filling the cups of your children and partner until yours is empty. Prioritizing what others ask you to be over what you are…If any of that rings true, I want you to know how very awesome the other side can be if you declare you want it. I’m proof.

The moment I decided to stand back up and reclaim myself, the kernel of The Catalyst was born. I had no clue what I was doing and few resources to make it happen, so I leaned on what I had: openness to creative solutions and style. They were the sparks I needed to step into the world like I had it together when I didn’t, and to rebuild my confidence one small effort at a time. They carried me to the friends, teachers, and inspiration that blazed the trail back to myself and helped me reach goals and reclaim a life that is bigger, dreamier, and more authentic than ever.

It’s possible for you too. And I hope The Catalyst, which really is the sum of all the trails I’ve blazed, the mistakes I made, and the lessons I’ve learned, guides you to being the most amazing, authentic, stylish, confident you possible.

Let’s go be awesome.

*That’s Leo Tolstoy and Anna Karenina by the way. The full quote, also the famous first sentence, is “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” For an amazing story, read it. For amazing fashion, watch the Keira Knightley version. Swoon.

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