Posted in Rambles

Forced to Look

I got a haircut last week, for the first time in about 9 months.  Usually, I wear my hair long and wavy.  Or, more precisely, tied back in some version of a classic housewife-style ponytail or bun.

This time, I was up for a change.  Here is the picture I showed my stylist:

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The model’s waves, I thought, are similar to mine, so maybe this style would work for me.

The hairdresser gave it a quick look and proceeded with the cut.  She decided to straighten my hair prior to cutting it, to make sure she got it even on both sides.  And she cut it a little shorter in the front than in the picture I had showed her.  So, although I got a nice cut, rather than looking like the model above, I left the salon looking more like the aged Mandy Moore on “This is Us.”

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The next morning, after seeing the new ‘do for the first time, my nine year-old told me I looked “kind of like Grandma.”

Now, I believe that my mother has beautiful features, but that’s not exactly what I was going for.

It all reminded me of what a seasoned hairdresser once told me.  She said that she had often endured being sworn at or abused by customers.  I was shocked, and asked her why.

“People are so broken,” she explained, “they hate themselves so much, and have so much pain, and they want me to fix them.  To make them feel better about themselves.  But I can’t.  Only God can do that.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a haircut and felt a little disappointed that I didn’t come out looking more like the model in the picture.  And if you’ve experienced this too – (be honest…I think many of us women have) – you will know that the pain it uncovers is extremely real.  It’s more than just shallow vanity.  This is a deep-cutting, heart-rending kind of pain, that has less to do with our hair than it does with something that runs far, far deeper.

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James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote in what became a part of our Bible (James 1:22-24) about a person who looks at himself in a mirror, goes away, and then immediately forgets what he looks like.  He is using this metaphor to describe a person who reads the law, but doesn’t remember it or follow it.  I think I get what he’s saying.  If you are one to study the Bible, you will understand that it can be like a mirror – revealing who you truly are.  And that, truthfully, can be uncomfortable, just like coming to terms with your reflection in a physical mirror.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Hebrews 4:12‭-‬13 NIV

How many times have you looked in the mirror, but not really looked?  I don’t always want to see that latest pimple (yes, I still get them), crease, or grey hair.  I don’t want to accept that my skin has loosened and softened after the birth of my children, or that I have a few more inches sticking to me here or there.

It’s easier to take a quick glance, just long enough to sweep my hair back, give my face a quick wash, and then go on my way.  Maybe, in my mind, I look like Jessica Alba.  Or Charlize Theron.

But the truth is, I don’t.  I’m not a model, or an actress.  And in the process of fixating on what I’m not, I may walk away from the mirror and forget all of the things that I am.  

I am: a wife and mother, who often messes up, but is working hard to do what’s right.  I am: no longer a youth; no longer a woman in her 20’s.  I am: a woman in her mid-30s who has learned a few things, and also has a lot left to learn.  I am: able to make sacrifices and put the needs and wants of others ahead of my own.  I am: endowed with a limited measure of intelligence, creativity, and abilities, that I can use to improve the lives of those around me.  I am: looking more like my older sister and my mother as I age.  I am: dependant on Jesus for strength, guidance, acceptance, and forgiveness, every single day.

I am who I am, and no, I don’t need to look in the mirror only to look quickly away, because my reflection doesn’t comply with some fleeting combination of features and qualities that I wish I had.

And so, although I dislike posting pictures of myself online, here I am with my new haircut.  (For the record, I never said make-up and soft-focus lenses were out of bounds!) 😉

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I don’t look like the model I showed the stylist, or the aged Mandy Moore, or Jessica or Charlize or even the lizard I used as the featured image for this post.  I look like me.  No hairstylist, however talented, will ever be able to change that.  And that is actually ok.

Do you need a haircut?  How do you like to wear your hair?  Do you have any “I am” statements to make?  I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Rambles

Hey Young Mom, Your Feelings Matter Too!

The other day, I took my kids to the park.  In order to get a bit of exercise myself, I opted to do laps around its perimeter rather than just sit on the bench.  As I walked and kept one eye on my children, I devoted the rest of my mental energy to naming the different feelings I’d had over the past few days, and why.

This may seem like a rather strange, self-involved thing to do.  But lately I’ve noticed something about myself.

I don’t know how I feel.

As a kid, I remember believing that I needed to get out of the way so the adults could have their important discussions.  As I grew, I learned to care about others and put them ahead of myself (a good thing, but it needs to be held in balance).  I entered a helping profession, and my mind was filled with my clients and all their stuff.  I became a mom, and was quickly consumed by my children and all their stuff.

In the meantime, however, I forgot about all my own stuff.

Why is this a problem, you might ask?

Because un-dealt with stuff has a way of boiling over at the drop of a hat, in ways that can harm yourself or the people you love.  You bump your head, and explode in tears.  Your kid spills his milk, and you nearly take his head off with your words.  Someone says something offensive to you, and you’re despondent for days.  (Please tell me I’m not the only one!)

There’s a lot of talk these days about self-care.  That’s important too, but right now I’m talking about something else: self-awareness.  Self-awareness is what allows us to recognize and name our feelings.  Going one step further, we identify the cause or trigger behind the feelings.

This is as simple as:

  • I feel lonely when I take the kids to the park by myself.
  • I feel anxious when my children are sick.
  • I feel joyful when we go out for ice cream as a family.

After becoming aware of how we feel and what is causing it, the next step is to take ownership of and responsibility for our feelings.

Ownership: These feelings are mine.  Others are not experiencing them in the same way as me.  And other people may not have a clue how I’m feeling, unless I tell them.

Responsibility: My feelings are not the fault of other people.  There are things in my power that I can do, in order to deal with my own feelings.

This can look like:

  • I’m going to ask the neighbour if she would like to come to the park with us and hang out.
  • I’m going to stock the house with the supplies I need in case children get sick, and ask for help or emotional support from other people when they are sick.
  • It’s been a rough week.  Maybe we should do something fun together and get some joy back.

As a mom, and as a human being in general, caring for others is essential.  But when you are so others-focused that you are not dealing with your own emotions, and taking steps to deal with them, your ability to help people will be severely limited.  You have feelings, your feelings have causes, and these things are worthy enough to be dealt with.  For your family’s sake, and your own!

Can you relate?  How are you feeling today?  (Do you even know?)

Warm wishes,

Lisa