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Words I Just Finished Reading

The Kitchen House
The Atomic Weight of Love
We're All Damaged
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Wishful Drinking
News of the World
The Forgotten Garden
Out of My Mind
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love
My Not So Perfect Life
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency
The Lost Wife
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Anna and the French Kiss
Little Bee

Julie's favorite books »


Good Hair Days are the Best Days

I don’t have great hair. 

 There are some women in this world who are blessed with thick, shiny, bouncy hair.  They’re crowned with voluminous, gorgeous, meticulously highlighted hair that catches the sun; I see them walking down the street, casually tossing their hair behind their shoulders and causing me– nay, forcing me – to hate them.  Their luscious locks mock me.

I have fine hair.  Fine hair has one advantage: it dries quickly.  Women with thick hair are always bemoaning the time it requires to achieve their hair perfection, but I refuse to drum up any sympathy for them.  Yes, my hair dries quickly; the downside is that fine hair, without immediate post-wash intervention, will dry like a close-fitting helmet, giving one the appearance of a just-very-nearly-drowned rat.  All hail the ponytail (alas, not a thick, cascading ponytail, but a limp, anemic ponytail).  Sigh. 

But I’ve accepted my lot and learned to dry my hair in sections using a round brush.  I am, by all accounts, an overcomer. 

On the spectrum of life’s annoyances fine hair rests at the bottom, on the level with wrinkles, the challenge of toning one’s upper arms, and the increasing need for laser hair removal as one ages.  If I move up the spectrum I find the slightly more valid: tiredness (disregard that the easy fix would be going to bed earlier), emptying the dishwasher and other chores that I will perform fifty million times before I die, inconvenient weather conditions, and asking my children if they’ve brushed their teeth with sufficient toothpaste and ARE YOU SURE? 

The next step up introduces the more justifiable difficulties: a brutal commute; a bristly co-worker; children with head colds; having the same tired variation of the argument you and your spouse always seem to have.  Up, again: loneliness, depression.  The deep need for belonging and meaning in a world that sometimes feels bereft of both.  All of it belongs: from the small annoyances to the deep struggles of life.  But where, precisely, does it belong? 

Because on a given day I may feel vexed, or discouraged, or annoyed, and then I read about a friend whose spouse died suddenly, tragically, unexpectedly.  I open the news and see Hurricane Harvey splashed across the front page.  And suddenly I’m blessed with the best visitor: Perspective.  For a moment, the pieces of my life fall into the proper order with a satisfying clunk. 

But my question of late has been of the practical sort.  Perspective is beautiful but flighty.  Perspective visits, and then before you know it, I’m making the beds and five minutes late to my new job because the kids claim that preparing a turkey sandwich is beyond them and I want to connect with my husband but life just feels so very tightly packed and I turn around and poof: Perspective has fled and Self-Pity has rushed in to fill the vacuum.

The question: how do I consistently keep life in perspective?  How do I become a wise woman, who knows her good days while she’s having them?  Who embraces what’s good and allows the rest to simply be?  Who can love with deep, true abandon and yet know the necessity of healthy detachment in this horribly fragile existence?  How does one live every day fully and deeply, believing that it could be the last one like this? 

Oh, how I wish I knew.  There are millions of platitudes and formulas and ideas, and they’re all useless when I’m feeling assaulted by my children and their never-ending Main Street Electrical Parade of Questions and Needs.  But the truth is this: if I’m waiting for anything, or everything, or one particular thing, I could miss huge swaths of the great joys of my life.  Life will forever be messy and annoying and I’ll never have bouncy hair.  I may always have that one friend who asks too much, and I may love people who struggle with depression, and my husband and I may never see eye to eye although I’m clearly right and he’s clearly wrong.  Being a parent will always be this awesome and terrible journey, because the stakes will forever feel impossibly high.  Life will keep happening and happening and happening.

But if I believe that love and faith and joy and wisdom will see me through, then I accept that through is the only way forward.  And perhaps Perspective, like all good friends, needs some quality time.  Perhaps the more I issue the invitation, the more I’ll find Perspective perched on my kitchen counter, or sitting on my desk at the library, or hidden in the dishwasher.  Perhaps, like most good things, it will be a question of discipline and diligence, of prayer and patience.  It will require practice, and failure, and careful repair, and so very much grace.  But wouldn’t it be the most glorious gift?

So may I invite Perspective to be present in my life, in my home, in my heart: over and over again, every day.  May I be a woman of wisdom and freedom and grace.  May Perspective be not one who visits, but one who stays.

And may someone invent a miraculous, affordable volumizing hair product in 2018.     

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