Hair and boobs

On the morning of my 39th birthday, I was grateful for two things: my hair and my boobs.

There were other things too, of course – the way Sam buried his little face in my hair at 5:30 in the morning. The way he and Drew planned how to surprise me with breakfast and cake and presents.

But my hair and boobs were on my mind the most because in the week leading up to my birthday, one friend had to shave her head and another friend found out she might be losing her breasts.

I sort of hate to feel gratitude like this—it seems like such a selfish feeling. Like by being grateful I am saying that I am grateful that YOU have this horrible disease and not me. I am grateful that I have my hair, but too bad about yours. That’s clearly not what I want to feel. So rather than grateful, I feel cautious, suspicious: maybe this thing didn’t get me—yet—but the next thing will. If it’s not cancer or divorce or a sick child, it will be something else. There’s always something else.

I am 39. I still don’t get a lot of things about life. Eyeliner. Why boys don’t call when they say they would. I am pretty crappy at marriage and I am winging this parenting thing every day. I am baffled by love and most cake recipes. I am at a crossroads in my career. I had hoped for more certainty by now, more wisdom, more knowledge of how the universe works.

Instead I am finding that the only thing I am certain of is the randomness of it all. Of the many, many ways life can be lived and the many, many ways life can turn and change in a second, without much consideration for what I have planned. A chance doctor’s appointment, a weird lump, a driver with a bad morning, an airline pilot with the wrong anti-depressant, a loose screw in the machine—none of it is up to me.

All of this is unsettling, especially when the bad stuff is happening to people I know. But the bad stuff makes me even more aware of how we are in this together, how over time we all grow our own tribes—some distant, some not. I never dreamed of having a tribe so far-flung and random as the one I have now. The happiness, the everyday silliness, the heartache, the pain, the diseases—it is all so close to me as I scroll through names of friends and acquaintances. Years and years ago, without all of this fancy technology, none of their pain would have been mine—and none of their joy, either. I would not have known about shaved heads or lumpy breasts or broken marriages, or sick babies. But now I do, and I can’t un-know any of it. The news pulls me in and I feel helpless in its face.

I am 39. And I still feel ill-equipped to react like a grown-up. I still don’t know the right words, I feel awkward and tongue-tied when my distant tribe needs comfort. I want to be there – but instead all I do is read their bad news and sit with it, taste its gritty, bitter chunks, feel its sadness, its stupidity, its unfair, luck-of-the-draw freakishness. I hate it. I don’t feel grateful that this time it’s not me—I feel pissed that it’s someone at all. I still foolishly believe that these things can’t happen to me, when I KNOW that they can. My heart aches for my friends and the rest of me feels numb and paralyzed with fear for them and fear of what and when comes next.

As I was appreciating my hair and my boobs that morning, I was also thinking about how little we can ask from the universe. Pretty much just this—to be kept whole. Healthy. Close to sweet baby skin. And that’s about it. Wishes about careers or money seem like a luxury. So what?

So here we are. I am 39. I have learned nothing. I have boobs. And hair. And not much else is certain.

186 Comments Add yours

  1. JMD398 says:

    Well I sense a bit of humor here, and totally understand the everyday trials of life. Enjoyed the post and your outlook.

  2. elegantwww says:

    Reblogged this on elegantwww and commented:
    Cheated by the title, then moved by the gratitude to life by u.

  3. I thought I was the only one who shared these feelings. Nice to know you:)

  4. muslimmama27 says:

    I am 28 and feel the same. Still winging this marriage thing, being a friend, totally making things up as a parent as I go…and I don’t know if I’ll ever be sure of anything! Thank you for your honesty.

  5. Graceful, elegant words. Living in the moment is hard. Lost a friend this week so it really resonated.

  6. At 22, I feel similar sentiments as yourself which is simultaneously reassuring and unsettling that I will continue to do so for a long time, if not forever. Great read!

  7. Kira Locket says:

    Sounds like you have your head screw on tight XD.
    I think you’re view on life at the moment’s fantastic. I think to enjoy life sometimes we do have to compare ourselves to others, even if it is our friends and just see how far we can and have gone from what we once had.
    I know that I do that with my old friends. I still see them as often as I can, but I’ve moved on to bigger better things. My old friends have turned to lounging around on benefits, taking dugs, getting wasted and just wasting their lifes away when I know, and I’m not just saying this to be nice to my friends, but I know that they’re cleaver and can do more. If not from their grades in high school, then when I have a smart, intelligent conversation with them.
    Sometimes we can chose what we do in life (like what my friends have chosen to do), but other times we can’t (like your friends), but overall, I think Y.O.L.O. Might as well try to live a long happy life, be grateful for the things we’ve got and try not to be as greedy in life. Reaching out for goals isn’t a bad thing, but thinking how your thinking and appreciating the little things is what gives life meaning and happiness to keep going and gives those, who are lost, hope.
    Enjoy your life with your friends without feeling guilty XD it’s there personality you love, not what the don’t have – that’s what you love about yourself and gives you self worth.

  8. …thank you for writing this.

  9. It sounds crazy, but this is the blog I needed to read today. I appreciate so much everything I have, and am so grateful for the fact that you shared that you still feel ill equipped for adult life! When does that start, if it’s not there at 39? Got my own lumpy breast issue to deal with, but trying to remain optimistic the doctor will tell me it’s nothing to worry about!

    Many happy returns! Happy birthday and happy blogging! X

  10. i love this very much, such a good post

  11. Kana.C says:

    When i started reading i expected this to be a joke of a post…when i finished, my heart was impacted. Truly appreciate this piece! 🙂

  12. All I’m certain of is that everyone is pretty much winging everything, but most have developed a poker face to hide their cluelessness of the general nature of life

  13. jennyddferguson98 says:

    Enjoyed your story. I’m 42 and I wouldn’t want to go back to any other age. I’m not wise but I’m smarter now. My kids are old enough to tend to themselves but not old enough to move out. I can still move and go with no problems. Life is awesome!

  14. Donachcha 30 says:

    Token of appreciation to you. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  15. I feel this exact same way, minus the boobs. 😉 I’m 37, and I feel like I should have had so much more figured out by now. Maybe we should stop trying, and start living. if you care to follow. I’m fairly new, trying to get a crowd. 🙂 Adding you now.

  16. emiviae says:

    Reblogged this on emiviae.

  17. Stay at Home Mom & Blogger says:

    Reblogged this on "Your Profit Blog { Like, Join & Inspire".

  18. Stay at Home Mom & Blogger says:

    If you are a woman over 30 these days! You must Thank God daily for your hair & boobs… My mother passed about three years ago of Metastic Breast Cancer it was brutal.. I love this post reminds me to always stay positive…Thank You

  19. Boobs are important to women and hair too. Have you ever heard of the connections we have with our hair? I don’t know how much truth there is to it, but it is interesting for sure.

  20. Why boys song call when they say they would? Ha ha!

  21. Reblogged this on brainsboobsbreakfastfoods and commented:

  22. janetscardsonline says:

    Beautifully written, thank you…from another 39er!

  23. Ekta Jain says:

    Awesome blog u simply laid down your thoughts:-)

  24. hw2girl says:

    Beautiful. Just, beautiful!

  25. reemhassan says:

    Hahaha, I really enjoyed this post! It 3nvoed some thought, loved it. Hope you can visit my blog 🙂

  26. oluzey says:

    Reblogged this on BIENaija.

  27. My mom had breast cancer 5 years ago… You wrote beautifully

  28. demiannee says:

    Love love love this! And boobs and hair cannot go wrong (well…it’s subjective)

  29. teenthang says:

    This is really good x

  30. This was intense, but I appreciate your openness and honesty in such a hard time. Your gratitude and compassion are amazing and I love your positivity.

    [Technical Recruiter:

  31. imgracen says:

    Subtly written. I was so down feeling alone and away from home. I realize that after all my self-inflicted desolation, there is always something good to troubleshoot it by taking some moment to be grateful. Thank you.

  32. Joanne says:

    Love this….honest and open

  33. Uy Do says:

    Reblogged this on My Blog.

  34. its3amradio says:

    I cant explain how helpful this entry is to me. I’m 29, my boobs and hair are pretty much all that is for certain in my life right now… And I’m shedding cause I need a haircut.
    I don’t know what to say, except thank you and happy belated bday

  35. 1shown says:

    i don’t think anybody completely ‘learns’ life. I believe wre continue to learn until our day comes. There will always be the bad in life that we have to take with the good, something we all have to accept, like it or not. Some things may seem unfair in life, but i feel as though we all have much to be thankful for. One will never have all the answers and not knowing stuff is just as much a part of life as anything else. All one can do is their best with what they have learned from life

  36. totallytweengeek says:


  37. Carmen says:

    I’m always grateful for living. This really came to me after my father passed away at an early age. Interesting blog… thanks for the read!

  38. i am 39 also and ive had a.l.s. for over 21 yrs and recently woke up from a haze of pain,drugs,paranoia and more happy times than i can remember.what i really want to say is i enjoyed reäding your post it gave me a boost of confidence to keep goin

  39. dreamelysium says:

    I’m just entering my 30s this year and still feel ill-equipped to be an adult by any means! If anything I feel late to the adult stage. I just recently finished college and just recently started my career, and no relationship/family to call my own in sight *sigh*. I almost feel the pressure of my biological clock ticking and it’s freaking me out.

  40. lhvi340 says:

    Reblogged this on Chief-Pressdog.

  41. Reblogged this on mummyslittlekingdom and commented:
    Great read.. not 39 yet but I understand that uncertainty!

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