Meet Patty

Five days have passed since I met sweet Patty. She emerged from the back like an angel, and words won’t adequately describe the way she made me feel that day. But try I must, to put this experience in words, because as I circled the mall after meeting Patty, I felt with all certainty you must hear how she moved me from a black hole of uncertain obsession to the bright light of certain authenticity.

The origins of this story bring me back in time. A special event turned dark in a moment. I felt beautiful, ready, prepared, at my best. I had planned for that day. With a glance and a handful of words, he made this intuitive soul feel little, squelched, like nothing, like I had a dull, invisible cloak all around. In that moment, I was silently shocked, taken aback. I felt so beautiful, just right, yet he so quickly managed to steal every bit of that away from me. And I knew my intuition was right. He thought little of me and for some dumb reason I cared.

So when I discovered our family had an awesome opportunity to join my husband at the Kids’ Choice Awards this weekend (yes, we’re leaving tomorrow!), I was certain this once in a lifetime opportunity would require a once in a lifetime dress! I knew I would want to feel beautiful, completely comfortable, with no regrets and no doubts about the way I experienced this very special event.

Unfortunately, in all my desiring for good, memories brought me straight back to that moment when I felt beautiful and he made me feel like nothing. Only this time, I had grown, matured. Never again would I allow someone to make me feel that way. Never again would I experience that kind of rejection. Never again would I allow someone to project so much negativity straight to my face. This time, I was going to feel beautiful for myself and for my husband who loves me with all abandon.

So the search was on! I toured malls, strip malls, and stand alone stores on a mission to find the just-right dress. Fun, hip, and a little outside my box were the words to describe this elusive dress. Orange (for the Nickelodeon orange carpet) it had to be, or blue or green maybe, but nothing fit the bill for me.

After all the searching and in my first moment of desperation, I entered my favorite store, White House Black Market on a whim. I knew there was no orange, and no blue and no green. But there was lavender they said, and lavender a complement to orange! Two wonderful souls sensed my desperation and brought me straight to the dress I needed. Fun and a little playful, it was beautiful, it really was. The dress fit me perfectly, and I did feel beautiful in that moment. It seemed just right! I brought it home and tried it on again, and my husband said it was wholly Amy. All I needed was jewelry, and I was set for the awards!

But as each day passed, I tried that dress on again and once more. Something was not quite right. Yes, it was perfectly Amy, and yes, it was a dress I’d normally buy. In fact, it was beautiful! But I knew how I wanted to feel, and the feeling wasn’t quite right.

So I tried that last stand alone store, the discount one this time. I found two dresses, both fun and hip and a little outside my box, just what I proclaimed to want. I bought them both, leaving my husband to guide. Maybe he and I would find these better? Maybe these were the solution to the lavender dress that wasn’t quite right? But the striped one was too “hipster,” and the cool hip one with navy and orange was thin and way too short, like a near 40-year-old trying to fit into a 20-year-old’s dress. Although I wanted so badly for one of these to work, it was clear they were headed for return.

You wonder where’s Patty in all this? What does Patty have to do with all this craziness? Hold on, she emerges as my earth angel in a few moments.

In my obsessive nonsense over finding the perfect dress, I just knew there was a solution. So five days ago, I set my sights on the Mall of America for one last chance (yes I have a determined, at times obsessive spirit when I set my mind to something!).

I made my rounds at the Mall of America, and had nearly surrendered. I was going to keep the lavender dress, and I had actually come to terms with it. I was happy. I was content! It was a beautiful dress from my favorite store, and it was very much a dress I would normally buy. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for at this particular event, but oh well! I’m a perfectionist, and I just needed to get over myself and my crazy idealistic mindset.

Just one week from the event and my last outing by myself, I knew this was my last chance. I stepped foot in the White House Black Market store one more time.

I don’t believe in magic, I don’t believe things make people happy, and I don’t believe at the end of life it will matter much what I wore, but I do believe clothes can make your best self shine, clothes can make you feel completely comfortable and beautiful in your own skin. And White House Black Market is the place that makes that happen for me. Just right, every time, like their clothes are designed for me. When my obsessive self has reached an end and I think there are no other options, I enter that door and White House Black Market pulls through.

And let me tell you, White House Black Market has the most wonderful employees I’ve met.

But Patty at this Mall of America store? She was the most special I’ve met. She emerged from the back of that White House Black Market like an angel sent for me.

Her quiet but sincere compliment about the purple shirt that was barely peeking out of my coat started it off just right. I told her “thanks, I’m not much of a purple person, but my mom bought it for me and I get compliments on it all the time!” Patty assured me it looked great, and asked how she could help.

I was quick to explain I already had this lavender dress here in the back, but it hadn’t felt quite right as I tried it on this week. Our eyes set almost simultaneously at the wall on the left where a white dress with flowers hung. I hadn’t seen it before and knew it might be the one! In fact, the only dress I had seen was the lavender one, so the whole world was at my fingertips at that moment. As Patty and I pulled dresses for the fitting room, she said quietly with all conviction, “we’re going to find you something.” As silly as it sounds, all this fuss about a dress, my heart was at ease.

Seven dresses hung in the dressing room plus the lavender one at home for comparison. A feast for my eyes, I knew one of these was going to work!

Patty let me be. She had impeccable timing. The white dress with flowers was first. It was perfect! Just what I was looking for – fun yet sophisticated, and classic Amy style. Patty brought in a shrug, and the lavender shoes were much better than the nude ones she “lost me” in.

That dress was the one, and we both knew it. She brought me out of the dressing room, all put together just right. Into the black space with mirrors all around, a couple of employees passed with sincere compliments abound.

But Patty, and here’s where words aren’t adequate…

Patty, she affirmed me like no other.

The way she looked at me in that open space with mirrors was something special. Her smile, her beautiful eyes, her sincere, warm presence in that moment brings tears to my eyes five days later. She said more, but all I remember was “You. Look. Stunning.” And she looked into my eyes with all the sincerity of her heart, and I felt it and my eyes welled with tears. It wasn’t so much I felt beautiful because Patty’s comments made me feel beautiful, but Patty helped me see and believe the truth about myself. I looked beautiful, I felt beautiful, I am beautiful, inside and out. My inside matched my outside, and I felt assurance in that.

And in that moment, I saw a reflection of myself in Patty. The necklace and belt she wore were in my closet at home, but it was more than that. Patty reflects the woman I want to be, the way I want to make others feel. She made me feel so sure, so confident about myself, and she was so authentic in her presence I can’t put words to it. I have no hesitancy in my heart that she meant what she was saying, and I felt it as well. Patty wasn’t about the sale in that moment, she was about affirming me as a human being, affirming me as I presented my best self, my most authentic self to the world in this dress.

A long and ridiculous search had led me back to this store, White House Black Market, an earthly place I can call my own. It had happened before in this store, but this time was something more. I found joy, peace, and assurance in who I am.

And the interesting thing was that even in our assurance we had found “the dress,” Patty didn’t stop me at that. She let me flounder as I continued to try on all the other dresses for size and style. The one that didn’t do anything for me, the one that was just ok, the one that was 100% Amy on the hanger but not right when I put it on, two that were beautiful but not quite right for the occasion, one that was sophisticated and fit like a glove but was best for a wedding, and the one that was sexy but totally not me. She let me try them all.

At the end? We returned to the white dress with flowers.

Patty reaffirmed me “that’s the one,” and with all my heart, I knew it to be true. It was. just right. So she brought it out, with the shoes and the shrug and I stood at the counter with no hesitancy.

Because this time, I felt an assurance that ran deeper than any man could squelch in just a moment. For my assurance rests in who I am. Woman, child of God created in the image of God, perfectly unique, Amy.

I feel beautiful. I am beautiful.

And so are you.

Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense. You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.  Song of Songs 4:6-7


  1. I loved reading this post. You have a way with words and, through reading this, I felt uplifted. Thank you for sharing this experience!

    • Amy says:

      Thank you Michelle for visiting and for your kind words. I have been so blessed and encouraged by all of your posts, and am so glad we connected through our passion for Compassion.

  2. Horray! You found the dress and the emotion to match! I love that checkered dress in the photo – adorable! I hope you had a great time at the awards!

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