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What I Learned from a Feathered Headband

My daddy needed a band-aid.

That’s how it all started, this plunge into the abyss known as insecurity and doubt.

I brought the band aids back to the cabinet in the bathroom and, in the absence of a cheap box, all the headbands I never seem to wear anymore tumbled over into the empty band aid container and lay in a jumbled heap, all askew with dust, feathers, glittered rhinestones and faded satin staring at me in dismay.

I tried to pick them all up without laying the band aids down, but just managed to drop everything and cuss a little as headbands, first aid ointment, gauze pads (just in case) and extra large bandages (no name brands for us…generic will do just fine, thank you very much) fell to my feet in a heap.

After I put the band aids back where they belong, I gathered up the headbands, one by one and laid them on the counter, attempting to put some order in an unordered stack, hoping the next time (and there would be a next time) I needed something close by, they would stand straight and tall, waiting without falling.

The last headband I picked up was the one with a beautiful crown of gray, black, white and silver feathers layered on one side of a slim black metal band. I had gotten it in Nashville at Goorin Bros. Hat Shop, a too expensive piece of accessory, and a splurge of fast cash, squandered on something so frivolous I was hesitant to buy it at all.

But it was so stunningly beautiful, so soft and smooth to the touch and almost decadent in its luxury, I knew I had to have it and would wear it often. It matched my hair color and when I put it on my head, just past the front of my hair so it hovered behind my pouffy bangs, it offered a flash of whimsy, a touch of class and a whisper of fun.

When we got home from that trip, I put it with the other, lesser head bands, careful not to ruffle the feathers or get them too close to anything that would damage them. That Friday, when we were getting ready to go out to dinner, I planned my outfit to match my new headband and gently placed it perfectly on my head, fixing my hair around the slim black metal so the feathers would all be showing. I loved how I knew it looked ~ it looked exactly like me.

We chose a restaurant we had been to many, many times before and the waitress knew us well. As soon as we had seated ourselves, she came over with our drinks, not needing to ask what we wanted and said our appetizer was on the way.

And then she stopped, stared at my head for a moment, and said, “What in the hell do you have on your head?"

It was that moment that I hesitated. I doubted. I questioned. And I lost my love for that beautiful headband. I stuttered that it was my new headband, reaching with unsure fingers to touch the feathers, thinking perhaps they had fallen off or turned an ugly rotting color during our travel time.

She said, “Well, I just don’t like feathers on grown women. I think it looks stupid.” I was speechless, amazed and all the other words you can think of that you would be at that moment but simply stared, because really, what do you say at that point?

After we came home, agreed we needed to find a new place to eat and got ready for bed, I placed the headband back in the cabinet and didn’t think about it much more, certainly not wearing it again. It became hidden in the clutter of life, feathers turning dusty and buried underneath things that didn’t look stupid.

But tonight, as I smoothed my fingers over those feathers again, it brought back the excitement of my first glance at the headband, my first thought that I really could buy it AND wear it, and how glorious it would look in my hair. I could see me in the clothes I imagined it would match and caught a glimpse of me laughing as the feathers danced on my head.

And then, the memory surged forward from THREE years ago, of ugly words, opinions of others that I let decide what I would do and wear. I recalled with amazing clarity the moment, where we were sitting, and the crisp clear voice of someone I really didn’t even know destroying my joy.

At that moment, my brain tingled and tiny explosions of light bounced off the backs of my eyes as I felt this uprising begin, led by my mama looking down on me and cussing a little bit about not being here to snap me out of it. Words and thoughts came together like fire and gasoline with all the moments of indecision in my life up to this moment tossed around and balled up, ready to spin out of control. I KNEW I had a lot to say now, no stuttering speechless wonder at what the words would be.

Now I know ~ I am a grown woman. I have lived 53 years, birthed a child, raised children, married 2 men and loved a few more, lost a grown son, and gained others not born to me. I have bought homes, sold homes, lost homes and cars, been hired and fired and promoted and demoted. I have been slapped, attacked, accused and escaped. I have laughed, cried, sobbed and giggled, all uncontrollably. I have buried my mother, lost friends, and gained others that complete me. I have given pieces of my heart to others that needed the solace I could give. I have known heartache, loss, and grief so deep it shatters your soul into a million tiny pieces unable to be glued together again. I have experienced love, friendship, happiness, joy, kindness, and peace.

I am a survivor. I am unbreakable. I love life and live it fabulously every single day.

And I’m gonna wear that feathered headband any time I want to. I’ll wear it to the grocery store, out to dinner, to the post office, and maybe even in the glitter dome when I work, because feathered headbands should never be hidden underneath anything and neither should I.

So I say to you: Wear your feathered headband....or whatever it is YOU want to wear. Yours might not be the exact same 'feathered headband' as mine, but don't let anyone else decide what makes you feel beautiful!

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