the beast & the beautiful ordinary.

Photo cred: SheKnows.
Photo cred: SheKnows.

My hair is a beast.

There’s no two ways around it: I used to have dreamy and lust-filled auburn hair, if I do say so myself.  When I actually took the time to do my hair, (which Math Majors, is generally never), my head was the envy of hair stylists everywhere.

And then pregnancy and birth happened, and all of the sudden my hair became its own zip code, home to a vibrant and unruly monster.  There’s new growth – everywhere – and the little curls around my hairline that were just darling in the 7th grade are now just freakishly frightening as a 34-year-old.  Hair products that worked two years ago yield utter greasiness now, or they just stop working altogether, and my half-curly, half-straight mane can’t make up its mind.  I’m ever, always on the search for my coiffure’s perfect catch, scouring Yelp and asking friends and begging strangers for their hairdresser’s information.

And then finally, when I think I’ve found The One, I faithfully save pictures of cute, savvy bobs on Pinterest and my desktop and iphone alike, begging for a shorter ‘do.  It worked when I was 22 – why can’t it work now?  And with great ease and gentleness the reply is always the same: um, I don’t think that will exactly work for your hair.  The words “mushroom” and “volume” and “oh, no, Honey Bunny, no,” are usually uttered, and I’m left defeated, mane home to its usual shoulder-length bore.

But I’m accepting this first-world problem in all its drab glory, for Jill the Brit made up for it on Saturday afternoon.

Nothing was out of the ordinary: she told me that my dream of sporting a bob was not an option today, or ever, and as she washed and conditioned my hair, I closed my eyes, realizing the peace and quiet and perfection of a toddler-less hour.  She talked when I wanted to talk, and her pits didn’t reek of onions and leeks, and she worked around my very important need to read the latest issues of People and Star magazines.  Does Beyonce ever wear pants?  When will Prince Harry marry Cressida?

I mean, pressure must be on with Will and Kate.

She let me sip my English Breakfast tea in its entirety, and she only left my side to chat with a customer once.  [I’ve visited some overdetermined, multi-tasking stylists, who cut my curls with one hand while applying color to the next chair over, and then find it their duty to trample the receptionist in an eager effort to answer to answer every phone call and enthusiastically greet each new patron who walks through the door.  Bueller …Bueller?]

But Jill the Brit got it.

And finally, with mere minutes to go, after I’d woken up from the scalp massage, and read through my magazines and sipped my hot, hairless tea, we began chatting.  And she told me how she wanted to be a stylist from the time she was a pre-teen, practicing on her girlfriends back home – and how she feels so, so lucky that this is her job.  This is what she gets to do.

And I began to picture our little waddling, toddling man and his Dada back home: he was probably crawling up on the coffee table that very minute, remnants from the garbage can caking his fingers (because digging through the trash is his new favorite hobby).  College football is playing in the background, and he’s babbling to the screen and to his father, throwing balls and zooming cars and eating crusty bits of Cheerios and banana off the floor.

“Yeah, me too,” I said softly.  And I actually believed it.

I do feel so, so lucky that this is my job, that this is what I get to do.  I get to be with our boy, and then I get to dabble in a bit of writing and speaking and blogging on the side.  Proclaiming Truth and Beauty and Hope has become part and parcel of my daily job.  And while I struggle, hourly it seems, with the Comparison Game, and with wanting to be so very extraordinary instead of mere Ordinary, I realize that what I so often see as “drudgery is another person’s delight.”  I am reminded of Seth Godin’s short article about this very topic last week, exhorting that “The privilege to do our work, to be in control of the promises we make and the things we build, is something worth cherishing.”

Yes.  Yes.  

I needed Godin’s reminder, and I needed Jill the Brit’s reminder.  I needed the reminder  that the Ordinary is beautiful, and that this life I get to enter into really is wonder-filled and extraordinary in and of itself.

And that, if you ask me, is far from ordinary.

What about you?  Does Ordinary sometimes trip you up?  How is your ordinary actually, really and truly, extraordinary?  


4 thoughts on “the beast & the beautiful ordinary.

  1. Your ‘Jill the Brit’ reminded me of the gal in the Czech Republic who loved and cherished her job as a masseuse in an exclusive spa…catering to tourists…and loving EVERY minute of it. She had worked, without choice, for numerous years in a windowless cubicle office under the Communist regime. With freedom to choose in a ‘free’ country, she was able to practice her techniques and pamper those of us who were blest by her magic fingers.

    1. What?! You got a massage and didn’t tell me?! …just kidding. Thanks for joining in the conversation – what a perfect example!

      Cara Meredith

      be, mama. be.

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