Thursday, July 7, 2011

highlighted beauty

there is no spiritual way to write this, but yesterday i got my hair highlighted.  oh yes, honest to goodness, highlights.  at a salon.  one of those salons with candles and good lighting and clean, herbal smells and chic stylists.   chic stylists all dressed in even chic-er all black. (just for the record, i have never once in my life worn all black).  the kind of salon where they rub your shoulders and your hands and your temples and you could just curl up forever in the lap of luxury and be blissfully shampooed.  and it is heaven for an hour.  it is the only place i allow myself to mindlessly thumb through glamour magazines and forget that i have dirty floors and even dirtier children back at home.  the people at this salon have names like summer and stone and autumn and amber... i've yet to meet a jody.

my colorist (keri with a "k") tsk, tsk-ed over my dark roots.  i was long overdue she said with a thin frown.  "yes, yes i am," i replied.  and then i smiled.  i played around with exactly how to tell her why i was so delinquent in my beauty regimen.  cancer isn't the kind of thing you can throw at just any old person.  especially a person who introduces herself with a letter.  but keri with a "k" was right,  i was absolutely overdue.  jody with a "j" had scheduled her highlight appointment for the end of april, but cancelled.  with chemo still undetermined, i couldn't imagine paying the outrageous cost to be blonde.  i am not always one to be exceedingly frugal, but in this case, my husband's planets miraculously aligned, and, somehow, i was.  maybe i thought it would be easier to cut off my mousy brown hair than (fake) sun-kissed locks.  i'm not positive,  but i'm pretty sure that thought was probably in the back of my root-darkened head.

today wasn't just about getting highlights or getting pampered though.  today was about getting back into the groove.  today was about life-goes-on.  that was my thought while sipping minty tea and listening to the hum of woman-chatter around me.  i sat in a sleek, black and chrome chair feeling like any other beauty-starved woman.  hungry for something brighter and lighter and fresh.  a new me.  i haven't felt very sparkly over the past few months.  i've had this mousy kind of look.  shoulders hunched and arms poised ready to protect.   keep in mind i spent a couple weeks at the end of may with tubes full of body fluids hanging from my armpits.  armpits which, i have to tell you,  i have only recently been able to shave.  people have kindly remarked on how normal i look.  but normal doesn't quite cut it when the whole brutal, breast cancer package is revealed.  (sorry mom, i know that crosses the line of appropriate images).

let's face it, we women struggle with self-image, cancer or not.  it is just part of our fragile wiring.  i have yet to meet a woman ecstatic, or even kind of content, with every God given part. we all carry around the weight of some unattainable ideal.  but then cancer comes along and it launches an even further, greater, deadlier attack on our femininity.  we can be left impossibly more fragile.  most of us could probably come up with something we wouldn't mind having cut off or cut out.  we'd all willingly part with a wart, or two, or that flappy, pregnancy skin around our tummies or the cellulite high on our thighs. but tell us you have to take our breasts or our hair and forget about it. geesh!  do you have any idea how long it took me to grow both?  i tried short hair once.  i liked it for about an hour.  after those first 60 minutes i spent a good three years growing myself back into the ease of a ponytail.

cancer is the craziest, ugliest thing.  there is nothing beautiful about it.  it attacks us from within and without.  we clearly see the ravaged results on our outsides, but what really counts is on the inside. and isn't beauty the same?  we can put ourselves through a whole lot of ordeal and angst trying to smooth it all out and gloss it all up, and yet, if our insides remain unaddressed, we become ticking, beauty time bombs.  an ugly explosion almost unavoidable.  if i focus only on the external and ignore what is happening underneath, it will all end ugly - highlighted hair or not.  "let not your beauty be external...but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God's sight."  1 peter 3:3-4

with three girls in my house, i seem to be forever giving beauty lectures.  there have been countless mother-daughter talks in front of my mirror while brushing and braiding brown hair. they all need something different from me.  some days i have to rub in or rub off or just flat out forbid.  i come into rooms and find my girls staring in mirrors.  even the very smallest girl.  pursing lips and wiggling eyebrows.  my middle daughter is always trying to sneak past me with something on her face.  i gently point her in the direction of the nearest sink and hand her a cloth.  "you are too young," i say.  the only thing i want to see there is a smile.  "that's it.  that's all you may add. a smile,"  i tell her.   why must she think her child-bright cheeks and eyes are in need of anything more?  i don't know.  but i was young once and i suppose i remember my own sneaking and staring.

the truth of it is, even at 42, i still stare and purse and wiggle and want for something different.  something more.  will i ever outgrow this foolish desire to enhance or improve or adorn some visible part of me?  i don't know.  i really don't.  i'd like to think so.  i am a woman in her midlife, and i have noticed myself beginning to gather up pennies for that eternal fountain.  regardless, i know it is all beginning to change. shift.  slide.  "charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."  ~proverbs 31:30.   cancer may not have left me physically any better off, but it has, without doubt, given my fear of the Lord a really good boost. 

i didn't end up needing chemo and so i celebrated with highlights.  deep, huh?  i was so proud of them last night coming through the door.  i wanted everyone along the way to stop and take notice.  my boys barely looked up.  apparently they were oblivious to their shimmering mother standing before them.  but let me tell you about fleeting:  today at the pool bella stood behind me while i sat on the edge catching up with my friend, maureen.  i sensed bella's small hands in my hair.  like any little girl, she loves to brush and style it.  i felt her fingers running through for several minutes before i realized what she was doing was applying great handfuls of sunscreen to my highlighted locks.  this woman's salon look was long gone and this afternoon she walked back into her house sporting nothing more than a smeared and sticky ponytail.  i could only laugh and be reminded of another beauty lesson.  beauty is fleeting, indeed.  and life goes on, sticky and smeared and oh, so beautifully normal.


Simply LKJ said...

Jody, I am reminded of the quote by President George W Bush, he said, "popularity is fleeting, but principals are forever". We so often want to look normal, fit in, and feel like we belong...but no one truly knows what each of us are or have gone through in our lives up until this point. Cancer is not what a colorist would expect to hear as to the reason your roots are showing more than they should, but yet it is real, it is now a part of who you are. And yet, some semblance of "normal" is a welcome reprieve from that same diagnosis! Your words will touch the lives of many. It is a diagnosis, not a sentence. Something as simple as getting your roots touched up, can be the difference between feeling "normal" or "not".

Aus said...

Good morning Jody - ah you hit on one of the hard parts for us guys when something like this happens to our brides!!

At the risk of speaking for your husband (although I know that he has spoken these words) - 1) You are as beautiful now as you always were, 2) He fell in love with you, not your breasts, 3) You are not now - nor were you ever - 'mousy' (but my bride describes herself the same way!!

Yep - men and women are wired differently - and that really is one thing that us guys just don't "get". But as a guy who is taking the liberty of speaking for all men everywhere at a time like this (at least us REAL men who know how to love their family's) We really mean it when we say that you are as perfect now as you ever were. Yeah we understand that you expect us to say that - but we really DO mean it when we say it - and we really do wish you gals would believe it!! ;)

And at the risk of offending your husband (and sounding like a lecherous old man) - Jody (with a J and a y) - you are a beautiful woman - inside and out!

hugs around - aus and co.