That little girl, is me, little Buna, a free spirited, fun loving, animal lovin’, creative, friendly, happy kid. I marched to the beat of my own drummer and was happy for anyone who was friendly and kind enough to join in to do so if they wanted. Even if they weren’t so kind, I didn’t mind if they still wanted to be my friend, ‘cuz I’m sure they had a reason why they were having a bad day, and they’d come around. I stuck with that. The old golden rule, “treat others as you want to be treated“. I learned it as a kid and I’ve done my best to live by it and teach my kids to do the same. The tough part is that when you grow up, you start to notice that the world isn’t quite so free spirited and happy go lucky. At first, it doesn’t matter. Then, it starts to grow on you a little, like a mold. Like a funky, smelly mold. Then, maybe those tattered rainbow flip flops, funky 80’s “jams” shorts, dirty knees from playing in the mud or climbing a tree, and costume-of-the-day for the grocery store doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Why? Because everybody else is watching? Why aren’t they wearing fairy wings today? And then… that ice cream sandwich at the pool side may not be such a good idea because those older girls are just sipping on water and eatin’ salads and looking mighty skinny in those bikinis. So maybe I oughtta re-think my sporty swimteam suit and grilled cheese with dessert. Why? Because maybe I’m getting too old for that. I don’t feel like it realy, but those girls over there aren’t doing it, and I guess they’re cool and beautiful, right? At least those boys over there seem to think so. My big brothers’ girlfriends sure aren’t tomboys and don’t seem to be so dirty or eat things like grilled cheese and ice cream sandwiches. And come to think of it, neither does my mom. Hmmm….
I was a care free, creative, wild fire kind of a child. Then, something changed. I never stopped being fun loving, creative or friendly. I’ve always loved a good time, have always been surrounded by friends and family, and have had a creative bug in me that itched to get out whether or not anyone thought my creative outbursts were “good” or not. For the better portion of my life, I feel I can safely say I have done all I could to live out the golden rule. And when I didn’t, I’ve apologized. But, somewhere, I stopped living it out towards myself. (Yes, This is all feeling very 90’s SNL Stewart Smally: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough. And gosh darn it, people like me“, but really… I have a point, so hang on!) I became very self conscious. I became very self aware. And I lost my “free spirit”. As a dancer, a cheerleader, a lifeguard, (all roles where your body is somewhat “on display”), & so many other parts of just being a girl, I found myself comparing and comparing …and comparing. I struggled with eating disorders, I worked out like a maniac, I tried and tried and when it wasn’t enough, I tried some more and pushed harder. I always have wanted the best for others. So, as far as just who “I was”, I tried more and more to make sure everyone else was always okay, at the risk of losing myself on the way.
Well, I’m back. It’s been a long road, that I’m sure still has so much more of a journey to go. But I can feel it. I’m back. So many times before, God has helped me to chip away the ice that was frozen over on the crutch I was gripping on to and the wound in my heart that I had let run so deep and permeate so much of me and the lives of others that I didn’t know I was hurting. My hubbie had helped me kick my whole eating issue as best as I could before we even got married. When, the doctor first announced “It’s a GIRL” at the birth of our first child, I panicked for a moment. I never wanted to have to watch a daughter go through what I dealt with and I knew her birth meant me needing to get my crapola together. And I did. Or so I thought, because clearly, I needed another daughter to call me out again. And then a son to look at me and make me feel lovely. And then 2 more girls again to remind me to keep my stuff together. Apparently, this big family that I had always dreamed of was really God’s way of kicking me in the pants! They are here to help me far more than I can ever help these angels in munchkin suits.
Never should my daughters see me worry about my body. Never should they hear me struggle to receive a compliment. Never should they see me frown in the mirror, not liking myself and what the good Lord did to put “me” together as his own little work of art. Because if they did, they would question, are they pretty? Are they enough? Well they are amazing. And they are enough.
I’ve mentioned before, that breast cancer has become a gift to me and to my family. It is. It has given me a freedom that I had lost. With each hair cut, with each buzz, with each lock that has fallen to the ground, I’ve felt more free. As my looks have been stripped from me of what was thought to be the stereotypical “all American girl” kind of beauty” (that which I have never felt secure in or confident in, no matter how many people that may have tried reassuring me otherwise), I have felt so glad to be broken from that mold, and off of that crazy train track leading me to nowhere! I will have 4 more rounds of chemo that will make me sick at times, will make my skin change, my stomach feel terrible and probably make my eyebrows and eyelashes fall out soon, too. Those will be very hard days. Days I can’t possible explain or could have imagined before. I will have surgeries that will first make me feel mutilated, but will heal me and help me survive. Survive to see my kids walk down the aisle one day. Or for now, get to their gymnastics practice or even just a snoball together, just because I can. And yes, there will eventually…long, long down this road, but eventually, I will have a reconstruction and my hair will grow back. It will. But, all of that, is temporary. That kind of physical beauty is just temporary. It’s nice. Boy! Oh Boy, is it nice. Right? But, not if you’re not comfortable in you’re “beautiful” skin. And now, in the bald skin on my head that I have to live with every day, I can actually say that I’m surprisingly comfortable. I’ve never felt so confident in all my life, not in a very, very long time. The care free, quirky little girl that doesn’t care what people think, and may or may not have worn cowgirl boots with her pjs to dinner the other night just because she felt like it.…. is back.
In a fight for my life, I’ve never felt so alive! And I have the pictures to prove it. Thank you, Angelle Albright, for the gift that you gave me in taking these pictures of me and my bald head. .Thank you for convincing me, after a Chemobeanie photo shoot, to just take off the beanie and be free! I sat in the swing on your front porch before you, bald as a baby; but like a baby, you saw me reborn. God held your camera for you and He used you. Because somehow, in these images, you captured my new found confidence, my comfort level in my own skin and in my diagnosis, my goofy side that gets me through it all, the freedom I feel as if I could fly like the 3 little birds in Bob Marley’s song that God’s been singing to me in my prayers every day, and my thankfulness to God to be resting in his arms and letting Him take the wheel. I see it all in the pics because God has given me such peace and grace. It’s that verse again from
“Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will give you a peace and grace that is beyond earthly understanding.”
It’s real. And here it is. You can see it my eyes, you can see it in my arms, you can see it in my walk.
I can feel it in my toes. God is with me.
I am not alone.
So I’ll keep on gazin’ over these pics, and kick back with my Marley tunes, “‘Cuz every little ‘ting… is gonna be alright.
I hope and pray you can enjoy and appreciate these pictures as much as I do
and find your own freedom In Him and grace in His beauty from within.