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Shabby Chick......Shabby Chic.....What? Who are you?

Amber Malcom

My journey into the adult working world began just after the turn of the century and my graduation from law school. When I joined the working class, I did so as a young, green, lost soul. (Literally lost, as in I went to the wrong courthouse on my first day; as an attorney, my soul was probably figuratively lost also.) I made a bit of a name for myself by hanging a shingle, getting directions, and helping people who were being harassed by debt collectors. I loved my job, I loved helping people; I woke up early to get to work and came home late. I worked weekends, took on more clients, and filed bigger lawsuits.

Until my body started shutting down. While I was pregnant with my second child, I developed hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)-a fun little disease that caused me to throw up almost every waking moment. With my first pregnancy, I had morning sickness. To compare morning sickness to HG is like comparing a cat scratch to a gash that nearly ripped a leg off and required 200 stitches to heal. Once the fun vomiting got going, I had to be hooked to a PIC line for nutrition and medication. My body clearly thought it wasn’t having enough fun retching like sorority girl after Mardi Gras, so it decided to shut down my immune system too. This paired well with the tubes running straight to my heart-it allowed infections into my blood that would lead to long, torturous hospital stays. The last infection was so severe, I barely survived and I chose to have my daughter delivered early.

Spoiler Alert-I survived, albeit quite damaged physically. It took my body years to recover. I spent years with little energy. I had the stamina of 97 year old woman. I caught every little sickness and bug that went around town for years. My body was just different. What shocked me was how different I had become. My tastes in food and music changed. My taste in people changed. The most dramatic shift (other than the 80 pound weight loss) was in my perception.

My direction in life completely changed after I began to heal. Prior to my brush with death, my philosophy on life could be summed up on a NoFear t-shirt from the ‘90’s- “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” After my brush with death, I am no longer materialistic. Before, I thought the big house, fancy cars, and snazzy title brought happiness. After having those things and losing them, I realized they aren’t important at all. Before, I was elitist and thought the size of one’s bank account dictated one’s importance; now I know that’s silly. Before, I thought power, status, and wealth were the only things in life worth having; now I know love, friendship, family, and community are the most important important things in life. I am still ambitious, but now I’m humble. I still desire wealth, but not at the cost of my life, love, or family.

Prior to my illness, I was on fleek; now I’m as dated as “on fleek.” When I was a practicing attorney, I went every six weeks to the salon to have my hair and nails done so that I always looked professional. I wore designer suits most days-in fact, I did not own tennis shoes or jeans. Now that I’m a “recovering attorney,” I’m a hot mess. Most of the time there is dirt under my nails from gardening, or paint on my skin, or holes in my clothes. I have no idea what I look like because I oft forget to look in a mirror. (My office doesn’t have a single mirror in the whole building!) I can’t remember the last time I had a hair cut and I’m sure it shows. I buy clothes that are on the clearance rack and wear them often and often for too long.

A truly interesting thing occurred after I looked death in the eye and told him to kiss off- I quit killing plants. For 30 years, I couldn’t even keep silk plants alive, and magically, I can now grow almost anything. Once I discovered this secret superhero talent, I also discovered my passion for flower gardens. I love growing flowers and I’m pretty good at it too! How truly odd. Gardening has also contributed to the demise of my appearance. I’m sure “age” contributed some, but I’m currently in denial and blaming gardening.

After learning of my new found skill/obsession, I convinced my handsome husband, affectionately referred to as Shabby Hunk, to buy a small farm and homestead with me and our (now 3) kids. Always ready for my crazy ideas and adventures (okay, maybe not “always ready,” maybe more like “shockingly tolerant”), Shabby Hunk agreed, and within about six months, we were up to our elbows in chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, and cats (and kids).

If you’ve met me in person, you know the rest of the story of how Shabby Chick came to be. As Shabby Hunk and I raised our animals and planted our gardens, we began to sell the produce at our local farmer’s market. I kept trying to get the nasty old farmhouse clean using the same cleaning products I had used my whole life. One day there was a rather toxic fight between me, bleach, and my disgusting shower that changed the course of our lives forever. I was tired of using horrible chemicals to clean-it defeated the whole purpose of living a healthy lifestyle. After my skin regrew-I started making my own cleaning products. Quickly thereafter, Shabby Hunk started stealing the cleaning products. I did not realize this at first, so I would make a bottle, use it, put it up, then spend 2 hours looking for it. When I gave up looking for the first bottle, I would make another, and suspiciously, history would repeat itself. After several missing bottles, I mentioned the magically disappearing cleaners to Shabby Hunk, whereby he confessed to stealing them to clean his tools. It was such an amazing cleaner, he suggested I make some to sell. (Remember the part about being humble? That hadn’t happened at this point in my life). I told Shabby Hunk that I had a doctorate degree and that I absolutely would not ever be that creepy guy going door to door selling cleaning products. And I’m not-I’m just the crazy chick selling cleaners on Facebook!

So, that is how I went from a chic lawyer to one Shabby Chick.


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