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Be Yourself: Rainbows and #41 For the Win

November 18, 2021

Thursday Thoughts on Nature, Fitness, Alopecia, and Self-Image

Out the window to the west, a pale rainbow, barely visible and not a frequent early morning sighting in mid-November in Upstate New York, shimmered. The forecast was 58 balmy degrees by 8 a.m. dropping during the day until snow arrived later on. The rainbow and temperature beckoned my soul to rise quickly for an early morning bike ride.

As I passed, “all the little ants marching” (lyrics from the Dave Matthews Band) their way to work on the busy highway leading me to my favorite bike trail, joy overwhelmed me due to my 26-year flexible career schedule which allows me to exercise when I want and report to work, in my own office, when I want. Knowing the rest of my day was filled with an online course and a client luncheon out of town, I took the opportunity to follow my heart and rainbow for the early fitness jaunt.

West Trail, Onondaga Lake Park, Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham

As you can imagine, no one else was biking on the barren trail which now showed the lake right at my side since all the leaves blew away. The smell of mud, old leaves, and water reminded me of my childhood growing up on a lake where I was content and happy being lakeside as often as I could. The earthy smell, perhaps turning someone else off, made me nostalgic so I breathed it in.

After a few miles on the 9-mile trail got me warmed up and rain drops started to fall, I didn’t think of going back to my car but taking off the hat covering my totally bald head to feel the raindrops on my skin. A few walkers looked at me with puzzling looks, not smiling, even though I did. Perhaps my bald image shocked them first thing in the morning, most people see me and think I have cancer, but my strong legs and fast bike speed probably confused them.

Weaving in and out of rain drops, I got happier. It’s taken 3 years to adjust to being bald and on rainy bike days like this morning, when I use to care if my hair got wet and messy, I realized my fortune at not caring. Losing one’s self image, might make you lose yourself in the beginning of an ordeal, but over time you become aware of the small blessings it brings. For me, it was enjoying every rain drop falling on my head, the freedom of not caring what I looked like, the cold wind whipping past my sweaty head, and the cool breezes perking up my cheeks to a pale color pink.

It really doesn’t matter what people think about you or what you are doing in life as long as you truly enjoy yourself and your daily decisions. This is the one piece of wisdom I’ve learned from my alopecia diagnosis and 3-year life as a bald woman. Sure, I wish I had my long, thick brown hair back, but if I did, would I ever feel the warming touch of a cool rain drop or the wind whirling around my skin, or even the puzzling looks from strangers that make me laugh internally. No, I wouldn’t.

As the bike ride started to end in front of the St. Joseph’s Amphitheater where I saw the Dave Matthews Band play in August, with the song #41 in my ear pods, and another rainbow appearing before my eyes, I looked down at my watch to see I had been biking for 41 beautiful, bald minutes in a space of joy and contentment. I hope you find as much happiness in your day as I found in mine. Look for it. Live it. Enjoy it. Relish it. We only have one!

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