Friday, April 20, 2012

Reflection and Pterodactyl Fur

We just got home from watching Emerson perform in a little mini play at school.  She was a farmer (and a cute one, too).  Landen is watching a show and I began reflecting over the past few weeks.  After last weeks posts (here and  here), I felt like I was riding high.  Something I thought that might be a very sad thing was actually, while a little bittersweet, very freeing and the response I received was inspiring.  The meanness, teasing, and tormenting I received when I suffered from alopecia as a kid beautifully transformed into this wonderful connection with others as an adult.  I really couldn't ask for more.  I get to lose my hair and I'm honestly thankful.

And speaking of being a kid, I found myself filling out Kindergarten paperwork yesterday for this one.

I suddenly felt an urgency to get in as much time with him as I possibly could.  His days will soon have limited time for me and Jon has to sometimes remind me that I'm not actually giving him away!  This time - this sweet limited time - I've had with him when he's been small is coming to a close and I intend to make this kid feel an endless supply of love and encouragement to take with him to Kindergarten in a few short months.

A few days ago, the boys and I visited the local dinosaur museum.   During our long walk to get there Landen ran ahead and Braeden and I got to anticipate the things we were about to learn.  And our anticipation was not met with disappointment!  He soaked that place in.

He was telling me more about the dinosaurs and their lives that he was sure had to be true, it was hard to keep up.  However, it never grew old hearing Braeden add "right, Mom?" to the end of every declaration.  It was hard to tell him 'no' sometimes when he wasn't right, so there were times I just nodded my head with enthusiasm and gave a big assuring smile like he was the smartest kid in the world.  I knew he wasn't actually feeling the dinosaur's sweat and so what if he thinks Pterodactyl skin was full of fur so their babies could snuggle with them.   Besides, who says I can't nurture that imagination?  He's got plenty of time to learn the scientific stuff, but for that day, that Pterodactyl was furry and dinosaurs sweat was sticky, stinky, and very wet.

And then there was Landen, for whom asking to slow down and be quiet is like asking him to wait to go potty.  Both of those things - not going to happen.

So, there was a little chasing him around and my personal favorite, climbing into the display to snatch him before touching the thousand year old fossil.  Yeah, that happened.

These are the days I'm going to take advantage of - chasing and snatching and all.   I'll miss them someday, I know.

And since I've been a little inconsistent the last few weeks, my Friday Phone Pics will be fuller than normal this week.  :)

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Monday, April 09, 2012

True Beauty, part 2

I'm not sure where to start.  Overwhelmed, thankful, humbled, overjoyed and just plain amazed don't quite cover the multitude of emotions I've experienced these past several days.  I would have never in my life imagined as I sit Wednesday afternoon writing so quickly about what felt to me like such a  life-defining choice, trying to beat that clock marking the end of naptime, that I would receive the response I've had after writing about shaving my head.  Shaving my head!  If I had questions about people's ability to have compassion on a woman who was losing her hair and looking at taking the last of it away - a part of what defined her femininity - I need only look to the kind and encouraging words extended to me over comments, emails, and Facebook messages.  Weeping as I made my way through those words, I realized that I've been shown more about true beauty through the compassion and kindness you extended to me than I would have ever imagined.  I wrote in my last post that I get to search for and discover a deeper beauty that I wouldn't have had the chance to find had I never experienced this.  And oh, it moved me to see it coming true so quickly. And I knew it wasn't just about me.  Seeing the hearts of women and men, friends and strangers alike cheering me - and subsequently each other - on and sharing their own stories of losing their hair and the battles they were facing was beautiful.  And I hope that maybe somehow this is only the beginning.  Knowing we're not alone and cheering each other on through this life is a precious and beautiful thing.

So, if you are one who extended those incredibly genuine and kind words (including the beautiful Kelle Hampton), then from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  

Of course, closer to home than the wide reach of my family, dear friends and strangers online (whom I'll admit, I wondered how they might take the idea that I shaved my head) I wondered more about my kiddos.  Braeden, my 5 year old, came home from preschool when I revealed my bald head.  "Hey, Braeden, can I show you something?"   He turned, noticed immediately (how could you not, I suppose!), and studied my head for several seconds before asking if he could touch it.  Slowly reaching, he felt it, giggled a little, and then asked if he could watch a movie.  I smiled, feeling the unconditional love and over-site of such a thing as my hair from my boy.   And then there was my three year old, Landen, who asked, "Why did Shelly do that to you?"  Ha!

However, my 7 year old daughter, Emerson, is much more sensitive and aware - especially now that she's been exposed to the sting of sometimes being judged by her peers at school.  I knew she would know that this wasn't a normal thing for girls - for her mommy - to do.  Braeden announced on the way home from school that Mommy had cut her hair! She expressed her excitement of wanting to see and upon entering the door at home,  I turned, kneeled down and explained, "You know how I've been losing my hair?"  She nodded, glancing at my wig covered head. "Well, I decided that because I have already been losing so much, that maybe I should cut it all, instead of worrying so much about the number of hairs falling out each day."  I reached up and pulled off my wig.  Emerson, my sweet girl, whom I've always seen a compassionate heart in, took one look and immediately lowered her head and covered her eyes. "I don't like it, Mommy."  I searched her face as I began wondering if maybe I should have considered talking through it with her before I got rid of my remaining hair, or if maybe I should have just waited, when suddenly Braeden, taking a cue from his big sister, announced in a non-hurtful, matter of fact way, "Yeah, I don't like it.  It's not very pretty."  And as quickly as she looked away from me, Braeden's announcment snapped her head back up where she looked at me again and then back at Braeden.  I'll never forget how with pure confidence she announced, "Braeden, what makes you pretty is not the way you look or if you have hair, it's how kind and nice you are."

And there it was.  

That was the reason I let go of my hair.  

My hair, or lack of, has now given my children a chance to exercise what I've desired to plant in their heart from the time they were babies.   The seed of the same kindness and compassion and grace that many of you have already shown me has been planted in the hearts of my precious kiddos and is beginning a life of it's own in them.  My heart swelled with gratitude.

I won't lie, there have been a few moments where I caught myself by surprise in the mirror and I've instinctively grimaced, but I know deep down watching my hair fall to the floor was something I wouldn't regret.  In that moment, hearing those words from my girl, I knew that I had done something good.  

I'm still choosing true beauty.  And not just for me.  

Happy Monday and here's to the beauty in life!  

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I shaved my head

Yesterday I received a copy of a book I had been long anticipating.  My favorite blogger, Kelle Hampton, had her first ever book released yesterday.  I've been following her for a little over two years and have read her beautifully written words of the journey she's been on since her daughter, Nella, has been born.   The day she discovered she has Down Syndrome.  I discovered her blog through another author I like, Donald Miller, who somehow ran across her blog shortly after Nella was born and shared the post describing Nella's birth and the days after on his own blog.  It moved me.  It brought me to tears and made me want to cheer this family on.  I wanted to hug her and be a close friend to this blogger I've never met.  I've been reading her words ever since.

That blog post catapulted her into popularity as word of that infamous post spread.  Her raw honesty and emotion were to be admired and I'm sure fellow bloggers felt like I did.  My heart ached for her and at the same time cheered for her on this journey.  From that, she wrote this book, Bloom.

After receiving my copy in the mail yesterday, I felt a sense of pride for this friend I've never met. I feel like I've been able to follow her on this journey all along and glean from the lessons and wisdom she herself was gaining all along the way.  And her photography... don't get me started!  (She's been a major inspiration for me since the day I found her.)

A blurry phone pic I posted to Instagram when I got her book in the mail.
Anyway, last night I was reading and found myself underlining and underlining and both crying and laughing along the way.  Her courage and attitude and ability to see beauty in the people and world around her are truly inspiring.  And then I read this:

"It's taken me awhile to grasp it all, but I have finally arrived at the grown-up place of life-is-what-you-make-it and there are lots of things in life we go through that aren't comfortable or ideal, but they could be so incredibly worse, and a simple life of comfort does nothing to change us, mold us, make us into better, stronger more beautiful versions or ourselves...
I have been reminded so much these past couple weeks of just how wonderfully blessed we are, and the older I get, the more I embrace change as an opportunity to learn just what I'm capable of.

And I am capable of so much."

And later, her sister Carin told her, "So many  people fear hard times,"  she said, "they go through their life solely seeking comfort and avoiding personal growth at all costs because it hurts.  But I promise you, Kelle.  I promise - if you can find a part of you to believe me and trust what I'm saying - you will be happier than you've ever been....  Because life is all about how you look at it."

It was like she plucked all of my thoughts and experiences right out of my brain and wrote this for me.  For me.

You see, I've been hanging on so tightly to this worldly version of beauty.  I've been trying to hold on to every last strand of hair that was hanging on for life itself.  Every day - every single day - after I step out of the shower, I go through the process of "fixing" my hair - what  hair I had left.  I'd blow dry it, use my straightener on it and comb through it again - just before plopping my hat on my head or fitting my wig so it sat just right.

And last night I wondered why.  Why am I holding onto this hair that is flat out failing me?  And I couldn't answer beyond the simple fact that it was because it's what the "world" is telling me to do.  It was because I was valuing the wrong kind of beauty.  And I decided it was time.

This morning I got ready, shuffled my kids out the door, dropped them off at school and sat in the parking lot and thought for only a second before I texted my friend and said, "I think I'm going to shave my head."  And like the good friend she is, she didn't even question why, she answered, "Want me to come do it for you?"  And before she took the scizzors and eventually the razor to my head, she asked for my permission, "Ok, are you ready?"

Yep.  I'm ready.

Ready to be me.  Ready to not conform to the world's standards of who I should be, or what I should be ashamed of.  I'm ready to whole-heartedly embrace the excitement I felt as my hair was falling to the floor because I knew, I just knew, that God is using me.  That I get to go through this because "a simple life of comfort does nothing to change us, mold us, make us into better, stronger more beautiful versions or ourselves."  I get to search for and discover a deeper beauty that I wouldn't have had the chance to find had I never experienced this.

I'm ready.


Face-timing Jon while Shelly was shaving

That's not to say you probably won't see me with my wig on when I'm out and about (I've found my head gets cold quite quickly!), but you can know that underneath that fake hair is my plain bald head.  The shiny, bald, smooth head that represents a new sense of freedom.

This is me!

P.S.  If you'd like to see a follow up post, click here.  


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