Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Inspiration Amidst the Blah (and a story about a 1st grade haircut gone amuck)

This is me. Yes, I drew this. I know you're impressed.
I have been absent from the Isle for far too long. Each time I sit down to blog, the phone rings, my children begin to squall, I remember that we're out of coffee creamer--and that simply cannot happen--and must run to the store. (Oh, and I've put the guest posts on hold until September, by the way. Something I intended to mention last week at about the time the cat's litter box needed cleaned.) Some legitimate excuses, some not. But what I'm realizing is that I'm tired of summer. It gets to be about mid-August, and I start to go "blah." (I think there's even a dribble of drool hanging from the corner of my mouth.) The constant sun annoys me (although we had a blissful thunderstorm yesterday morning), the non-school/non-work lethargy is now getting irritating. My kids are tired of being around each other and around me. We have depleted all craft supplies in the house and need to make a Hobby Lobby run. I can't find anything in the fridge or pantry that I want to eat apart from Nutella.

The school year needs to start. Now.

And this morning, after getting out of the shower and attempting to dry my hair, I realized I was desperate for a little inspiration today.

So in an effort to lurch myself out of my end-o-summer slump, I've decided to drink my coffee (for which I now have creamer), settle myself in front of my laptop, and tell you all a story. A story about a little girl looking for change.

I'm not sure why this little girl thought that to be beautiful she needed to cut her hair, but that was the perceived direction in which beauty stood. So, while sitting in her 1st grade class and listening to her teacher, Miss Stauffer, discuss the mathematical process of adding 3 numbers together instead of two (and always remember to "carry the '1'"), she commandeered a pair of blunt-nosed craft scissors from her desk, and snip-by-snip cut off a good length of her long flowing ponytail. She knew better than to simply throw the hair hunks on the classroom floor (the song "clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere" floated through her head), so she placed them in her pencil box (the pencils discarded in the bowels of her desk) and stored the hair there. And in that box the hair would rest until recess when she could walk to the trashcan and properly dispose of it all.

I--yes, this little girl was me--happened to be staying with my aunt because my parents were away, and when I arrived at her house after school, she immediately saw what I had done. My ponytail was half the length it had been when I had left her house that morning, and having cut it while up in a ponytail instead of it hanging straight down, the chop-job was jaggy, patchy, and uneven, to put it ever-so-mildly.

My aunt had me sit in her kitchen on a stool--"don't move!"--while she trimmed  and tried as best she could to even out my hacking. A hacking that I was convinced would make me beautiful. Would make me feel like the princess or queen or prima ballerina that was hiding away inside my 1st grader's body. To bring about the change I felt I needed. Instead I now just looked and felt ridiculous. I didn't cry, because I wasn't much of a "public crier"--I'm still that way--but I knew that my attempt at beauty was ill-conceived. My quest foiled.

And today, this morning, my 1st-grade-self long gone, I stood before my mirror and had that same "something needs to change" mindset. I didn't like what I was seeing. I felt frumpy. My hair looked frizzy. I didn't like how my clothes fit. Make-up couldn't hide the blemishes and growing creases I wanted it to hide. Even my feet looked fat in my flip-flops. 

I thought about my parenting. My writing. My teaching. My housecleaning (or the lack of it). And it brought me back to my 1st-grade-self who felt like she just wasn't enough.

And if I could tell my 1st-grade-self what I know now, this is what I would say:


Smile bigger, lift your chin, laugh even, in the face of that niggling voice hissing, "no, not quite good enough...never quite good enough."

Your hair, your body, your voice, your mind, your abilities are exactly as they should be.

You have been uniquely and perfectly made to accomplish what has been set before you to accomplish.

So put down the scissors and, for pete's sake, don't dump out your pencils (you know you'll never find them again). Make peace with who you are, realize what it is that you uniquely offer, then set to doing it with all the strength and beauty and kindness you possess. And along the way, inspiration will be waiting.

(And if you could remind your 33-year-old self of this when you see her, please do. She needs a little inspiration today.)

This is me. Coffee, a smile, clothes (even hair and a headband!)
Yeah, I'm better with words.

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  1. Oh to be my 33-year-old self again . . .

    I'm feeling the summer doldrums, too, friend. I need my routine back.

    Be thankful you just chopped the ponytail. I did the bangs . . . and wore a hat to school for two weeks to cover my hack job!

    I appreciate that you can take that deep breath and be thankful. This often does not occur to me.

    1. So sorry you feel the same Amy--it always seems to hit hardest this time of year. Blech. And I don't always stop and take the deep breath I need to. But my nutella jar was empty this morning, so this was my last resort :) Hope your routine is restored soon! (And if all else fails, try drawing stick figures on your computer's paint program--it will inevitably make you giggle.)

  2. Replies
    1. I can only assume this is due to my stick figure drawing abilities. Thanks, Alison :)

  3. Your stick figures are amazing!;)
    So is the post. Thanks for the reminder that life's about more than we see in the mirror and that wretched voice in our heads. (My thirty-three year old self must be alive somewhere, but she's getting pretty old since my oldest kid just turned thirty-one. She is laughing her head off.)

    1. (My 33 year old self. Not my kid. He's a guy)

    2. Hahaha! I laughed out loud at your reply to your own comment. I appreciate the clarification. :) So glad you liked my stick figures. I was having a hoot of a time fiddling with the paint program on my computer and, despite the fact that I am a rubbish drawer/painter, I still am thoroughly entertained by the process of it. Thanks, Danni!


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