Long before earned the title Mama, I was a nine month-old baby unable to sit up by myself. Long before I could become The Frenzied Fashionista, I was so undernourished that I wore 3-6 month clothing as an almost-year-old infant. Then, on September 29, 1988, I became Ashley MacInnis – ten months after my birth.
Like many adoptees, I grew up feeling "different." I always knew I was adopted: I knew I had a birth mother and father out there somewhere, and it haunted me. I knew enough about the circumstances surrounding my adoption to be angry – enough to feel hurt and abandoned and betrayed by someone I’d never met. I also knew, and still know, how incredibly blessed I am to have been adopted. But the pain was still there, even after many hugs from the best parents a girl could ever ask for.
I felt inadequate, so I became a perfectionist. I felt damaged, and I beat myself up for every misstep and mistake. What had I -a newborn - done wrong? Why hadn’t she loved me enough to take care of me – to take care of herself? The questions crippled and consumed me. Where was she? Where was my father? Were they alive? Were they happy? Did they ever wonder about me?
My many negative feelings about my adoption have affected every aspect of my life, and while I’ve come to terms with and released those negative feelings, I’m not blind to the way they’ve shaped my life.
They are, after all, the reason why I answer to Mama today.
At 21, I was a university dropout working two minimum-wage jobs, and I was pregnant. I was terrified. Barely able to support ourselves, my now-ex and I felt hopeless. We booked an appointment for an abortion, which I cancelled 12 hours later. We bought What To Expect When You’re Expecting and we told my parents, but not his. We sat through two false miscarriages – both times, I refused the D&C, arguing that if I was losing the pregnancy, I wanted to lose it naturally. It would mean it wasn’t meant to be. But it was.
Countless people urged me to consider adoption - and I don't blame them for a second. What could I possibly offer a child? Young, stupid and single – I couldn’t support him. What kind of life would he have? My ex and I broke up, getting back together a few months later. I moved home. I carried a pregnancy to term and beyond – but adoption was never an option for me. I couldn’t live wondering where another part of me was. I couldn’t face the thought of that.
Was it selfish? Absolutely. I can admit that I wasn't even sure if I wanted to be a mother, but I was damn sure I didn't want to live with another what if haunting my thoughts. After 43 weeks of being pregnant, I became a mother on January 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm. Twenty-two years old, and frightened. But determined.
Nearly five years later, I still feel the weight of Finley when they first placed him in my arms.
I know women - including close friends - who've chosen to put children up for adoption, and I applaud them for making the right choice for them. Some have open adoptions, some don’t. And they’re happy. They travel, date, and do things that I know I’ll never get to do and that’s OK. I love being a mom – even when I feel like we’re never going to get past that next obstacle (which we totally crush, by the way).
Would Finley have a better life – a better chance – if he had been adopted? That’s subjective, at best. Finley has what any child needs – love, support, and guidance. He has the amazing, incredibly loving, open and supportive family that raised me cheering him on – and he also happens to have a lot of what kids don’t really need: stuff. He’s spoiled in every sense of the word.
Growing up, I fantasized about raising a child as a stay at home mom – or, at the very least, in collaboration with my partner. I envisioned my family sitting around the table, talking about our days. Five years ago, I dreamed of F playing ball with his Dad. I don’t know what Finley’s life would look like if I had put him up for adoption, and perhaps my life would have been “easier” in some measure, but I can’t really say.
What I can say is this: As an adoptee, I couldn’t bring myself to put my child up for adoption and it was the best decision I ever made. Had I not become Mama to that little boy, I sure as hell wouldn’t be writing this post. I wouldn’t have gone into Human Services, and then Public Relations. I wouldn’t have the drive or the spirit that I have today. It might mean that our life isn’t as comfortable as I’d like it to be right now, but I wouldn’t change it for all the money in the world.
*Please know that this is simply my experience, and my story. I applaud the hundreds of thousands of women who make the heart wrenching decision to put their children up for adoption. I applaud the families who open their homes and their hearts to kids who, like me, needed to be loved and cared for. I urge fellow adoptees who are experiencing negative feelings associated with their adoptions to seek help: it is out there. We must all make different choices, and choose the paths that are most right for us. ~ Ashley, xoxo*
Instead of polluting this post with links to my fashion articles, I'd like to share the adoption love with my beautiful friends Alex - a fellow adoptee - and Jackie, who regularly blogs about adoption here at YMC.
Don’t shoot the messenger, folks: Winter is upon us. I've finally dug out my stand-by hats and mittens as they’re becoming increasingly necessary as the temperatures continue to drop. I love wearing hats, so I enjoy this particular time of year because it’s not so cold that my nose freezes off but it’s cold enough to can wear my beanies and chunky knit scarves with skinny jeans and boots. Fall fashion is so lovely. But it's also fleeting and Old Man Winter has started his car, purchased his travel coffee, and readied himself for a long drive.
In many places the snow has already started falling. With that snowfall comes the need for real cold-weather accessories like stocking caps and wool scarves and mittens. I was out Christmas shopping this weekend, and I stumbled upon a number of super-cute hats, gorgeous scarves, and functional (read: text-friendly) gloves. While I didn’t pick anything up on these trips (they’ll be on sale in no time, after all), I did make a note of my favourite pieces to bring you this post on warm, fashionable winter wear!
When I was a teenager, I was dead set against wearing winter accessories like hats, mittens, and scarves to school. I can remember wearing sneakers through a foot of snow because I thought boots were “stupid” (don’t worry, Jeni, she’ll outgrow it!). Now, however, the more goober-y the accessory the more I love it. Hence, I wear a lot of pom-pom hats. And you should too because - let’s be real - it’s winter, and it's Canada.
My favourite hat ever came from Ricki's last year - similar to this - and it's perfect for fall. I like wearing it with my cape, skinny pants and boots. It makes me feel oh-so-chic!
Without further ado, I present to you the cutest, cosiest cold-weather accessories to wear this winter:
1. Fuzzy knit striped scarf – Forever 21: $15.90
2. Cable knit mittens – H&M: $12.95
3. Cable knit hat – H&M: $14.95
4. Calf hair tech gloves – Gap: $54.95
5. Festive Pom Pom Hat – Gap: $24.95
6. Classic Wool Blend Gloves – Forever 21: $10.80
7. Fedora Felt Hat – Smart Set: $29.90
8. Faux Fur Earmuffs – Reitman’s: $16.00
9. Knit Mittens with Faux Fur Trim – Reitman’s: $18.00
10. Fake Fur Mittens – H&M: $19.95
If you love hats and scarves and mittens as much as I do, I want to know: What’s your favourite place to pick up cold-weather accessories? Stay warm, look hot, and beat the cold. XO.
Thanks for dropping by! If you liked this post, you’ll love my tips on dressing for cold weather. And maybe you’d like to “weigh in” on this teen fashion brand that only caters to small-sizes. See you next time!
I’m a true believer that everybody - and I mean every single body - should be able to find and wear comfortable styles that make them feel good. When that doesn’t happen, fashion is failing horribly and unfortunately for too many, fashion is failing.
Clothes – and women’s clothes in particular, might I add – are often made to fit a “common” shape. But what happens when you don’t fit that mold? Because of amazing designers like Izzy Camilerri, persons in wheelchairs have fashionable, affordable, and functional clothing to choose from. And now, thanks to my former teacher Karen Breen-Welton, so will women who’ve undergone mastectomies.
As if breast cancer isn’t scary enough, women who undergo mastectomies often feel a loss of their “womanhood." After months of treatment, recovery, and (hopefully) the relief of knowing you’re cancer-free, it’s easy to get frustrated in a change room when clothing doesn’t fit the way it once did.
Welton (who will forever be Ms. Breen to me!) decided to focus on her health and wellbeing after recovering from treatment several years ago and discovered yoga. She added yoga to her daily routine, but ran into difficulty finding yoga wear that worked for her new shape.
“It’s discouraging because you go to the shops and look around and you find that you can’t wear things anymore,” Welton explains. “There are millions of people feeling the way I feel, and I thought Maybe I can make them feel better, too.”
From there, I Kare Yoga Wear was born. The entire collection is named after Karen’s mum - Nee - and will initially feature six styles of yoga top, each with a hidden pocket for prosthesis, as well as three matching headbands or scarves. Each top was designed by Welton and the designs were sent to a pattern maker and manufacturer in Vancouver.
The tops, though designed with breast cancer survivors in mind, can be worn by any woman and boast modest necklines to offer additional coverage. Proceeds from I Kare will support local, grassroots breast cancer organizations.
After putting thousands of dollars of her own money into her venture, Welton launched an Indiegogo campaign set to wrap up at the end of this month. So far, it has raised about one third of the $10,000 goal. Welton hopes to have her e-commerce site up by January, and can’t wait to send her first package off to a customer.
“Launching my website and having inventory and sending out my first package is going to be, like, 'Ah! I’m doing it!'”
Yes; yes, she is. And, in addition to being a general badass who’s kicked cancer to the curb, Welton teaches first graders at my old school in Cape Breton. She is also Mommy to one, and inspiration to many. There’s still time to support this amazing campaign, and you can bet I’ll be watching for the e-commerce site up in the upcoming year.
Author’s note: Karen, I am so proud to say I know you and I am inspired by your courage, resilience and especially your spirit. I wish you nothing but the best as you launch this incredible company. Stay yummy! Namaste.
Yoga is an important part of my life, and thanks to Annabel, I’ve got all the inspiration I could need right here at YMC. I invite you to explore her blog and learn how yoga can nurture your body, and how to live life with an open heart. And Zeba is writing today about another great cancer-related cause: Causemetics - who have a wonderful partnership with 11 companies offering all-natural skincare products who donate a percentage of proceeds to the Canadian Breast Cancer Support fund.