At 11:30 last night I peeled off my running tights and sweatshirt and stepped into a piping hot shower. Water so hot it made my skin turn lobster red. So hot that it was almost too hot. But perfect. After a few seconds I made it even hotter. I stood there for forever; letting the water pour over my head and run down my tired body. Most of this shower was about simply standing still. There wasn’t much cleaning going on. Ok, a little. But just the necessary bits.
When I got out of the shower and began to dry off, I noticed that my armpit hair was rather … well … for lack of a better description, long. Longer than it sometimes gets. I stood there marveling at it. How on earth did it get so long? It never occurred to me to jump back in and shave it. I just noticed it. I’m like that. I notice things. I contemplate them. I sit on them for a while. My rationale this time was — It’s late and I’m tired and I’ll get to it next time. Whenever next time is. I’m fairly certain I cracked myself up and laughed out loud. Next time. Ha!
Still giggling to myself … okay I might have even snort-laughed a bit … I bent down to dry my legs and lo and behold, I discovered that my leg hair was pretty damn long too! Nothing really new there. I usually get to it when I get to it. But come to think of it, when did I last get to it? Time is like that. It’s a slippery little sucker.
In my defense, I’m not a very hairy person — or so I tell myself. If I miss my weekly leg hair shave and it becomes two weeks or more … No big deal. No one seems to notice or mind. My husband doesn’t mind so that works for me. And let’s just be totally honest — it doesn’t really matter to me that my husband’s legs are shaved more often than my own. He has longer and much stronger legs than I do. His legs are beautiful when they’re clean shaven. Plus he’s much hairier than I am so he requires more frequent grooming. Just sayin’.
This hairiness thing may seem odd to you knowing that I swim a few days a week. I’m at our pool almost daily because my children swim. My point is that I know just about everyone there. No matter. The days when I swim, I just pull on my baggy-chlorine-eaten-swimsuit and cart my pool gear across the whole loooonggggg pool deck. I’m too preoccupied to wonder if anyone cares that I’m basically bordering on being Chewbacca. I’ll often chat with the lifeguards, say hello to fellow swimmers, smile at the aqua aerobic ladies on my way over to a lane. Me with my hairy armpits, unshaven legs, baggy swimsuit. Let’s just say that if my legs aren’t shaved, not much else is waxed either. But I’m really not hairy. I promise. Okay, I think. Oh fuckitwhointhehellcares.
I think the only way people would actually give a rat’s ass about how hairy or not hairy I am is if I cared. But I don’t. And when I do, I eventually find some fragment of time to get to it. Like my shower. Remember my 11:30pm post-run-shower? You almost forgot about that didn’t you? This will help you remember — I neglected to mention that I finished that 2 hour run on the beautiful snowy trails with air so cold it made my hairy-nostrils burn at … drum roll please … 1:30pm! I did indeed. A mere 10 hours earlier. Just ten.
I narrowly squeezed that run into my day by the skin of my teeth. I did. When I finished, I had just enough time to wrangle out of my half-frozen/half-soggy top layers, unstick my heart rate monitor from my sweaty chest and yank some chunks of ice from my matted-ponytail-hair. Throw a winter cap on my head. Pull on my awesome black hoodie and shovel some food down my mouth as I drove to an appointment. Yup. I actually went to an appointment like that. Thankfully I sweat but I don’t stink. I have no body oder at all. I promise. Okay, I think. Or soIfuckingtellmsyelf. Who really cares anyway? Really.
I then flew — Did you know I could fly? Yes, I can! — I flew back home to welcome in my weary travelers. Feed their hungry bellies. Does no one eat the lunches and snacks I labor over and pack? I donned my teacher’s hat (A hat I have no business wearing!) and helped them with their homework. (I hate homework. I do.) I then shepherded my children — I am also a Shepherd, did you not know this? — to their sports and fed all of us at least three times more within the span of 45 minutes. We are a ravenous lot.
While transporting, homework-ing and hopefully mindfully-parenting-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, I also grocery shopped. I cooked dinner. I cleaned up. I tried to write a few sentences. I got my two boys to bed and then helped my oldest with more homework. At about 9:45pm, I tucked her into bed at last. I then did what I call damage control for over an hour. And now, we are finally at the part where I began my story — My shower. Ten hours later. My long awaited shower.
I tell you all of this not because I think I deserve a gold star. Nor because I want a pat on the back. I tell you this because I know that you too are juggling. Doing all of the things you try to do in a day. So. Many. Things. And with that, I think it’s so important to laugh. Honestly — If I can’t laugh at myself then what’s the point? Laughter. Lightness and a sense of acceptance towards myself. Tie it all together with a big-ass-bow called humor, because without it, I just might cry.
We work so freaking hard to juggle so damn much. Most of the time I think we can’t even see or appreciate all that we do do. I think more often than not we look at what we didn’t do and latch on to our shortcomings. Our failings. But here’s the thing I’ve come to know, they’re not failings. They’re simply being human. What is a failure, in my opinion, is the anxiety we have about our so called lacking. How heartbreaking it is to focus on the negative. How upsetting to let basic care, like sleep and rest and stillness, suffer so that we can strive to keep balancing. We do so much and yet we rarely tell ourselves or each other, “Well done.” “Well fucking done, Rock Star!”
I have a friend from college who is a professional juggler. While I have never seen her perform, I have seen these incredible photographs of her juggling with her toddler in a sling on her back, on her side, on her front. I cry whenever I see these pictures. Photos of this woman I haven’t seen in person for over 20 years. Juggling. Literally with her children on her back. I am moved because she’s beautiful and strong and brave and remarkable. I am moved because she is honestly capturing what we all do in life. Juggle.
Balancing what’s important. Letting go of what’s not. Choosing. Strategizing. Negotiating. Risking. And honestly, just freaking throwing it all into the air with the deep knowing that gravity always gets the better of us. The balls drop regardless of all of our efforts. They will eventually always fall. The best part is that we always get to decide which ones to pick up. And we choose when to stop juggling. This is being human. She captures life in her art. It doesn’t get better than that.
I like to think that humor and love always win out over all of the other crap. The worry, the fear, the shame and vulnerability. Our own judgments and criticisms. A light heart, a happy heart and a willingness to not take ourselves so damn seriously. Because you know what? Chances are we’re the only one who notices if our armpit hair is too long or if our eyebrows are ferociously unshaped. And the only thing that ultimately matters is if you care. Just you. If I walk across the pool deck hiding behind towels and apologizing for my wretchedness then sure, that’s what people will notice — This ridiculous woman hiding her crotch with her fins and pull buoy. Or I can just smile and say hello. Wave and go about my business. That feels so much better.
I highly doubt that any of us start our days off by saying to ourselves, “Man I’m going do my best to really suck today!” No. We totally don’t do that. We hit the alarm. Plant our sturdy feet on trusty ground and step into life. Each and every day. We show up and we give it our all. That’s just what we do. We give life our all.
Even if we are a little messy and a lot hairy and, okay, I’ll own it … stinky. We choose what we can balance and we decide what things to let go of. For each of us these choices are unique. Sadly because of our exceptional uniqueness we criticize ourselves and point fingers at each other. We compare but we shouldn’t because as I always say, we’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve got on our plates.
Here’s the thing to hold on to — Each day is different. Some days we feel like a rock star. Other days not so much. But I hope we can balance those days out. I believe life really is about balance. The middle path. Juggling. Being gentle with ourselves. I’m certainly trying. It’s all up to us and our perceptions of ourselves and how we choose to feel about ourselves.
Before closing, I leave you with this image — I just ran my fingers through my hair to pull it up and … wait let me start again … I just tried to run my fingers through my hair and they got stuck. Stuck in a knot. A sticky knot. When I smelled my fingers (of course I smelled them!) they smelled of strawberry jam. The jam I used to make my children’s not so perfect lunches today. No worries. I’ll get to it in about 4 hours or more. I have a bike ride I need to go conquer. And people who need me more than my hair does.
Take good care, friends. Take good good care.