When my mom began the never-ending rounds of chemotherapy, I got her an iPad so she could watch movies and Netflix shows while she sat through the hours of chemo. Then she discovered YouTube. She spent the first few months watching Liam Hemsworth workout videos and sending them to me. “He’s a hunk!”
Throughout the day, I hear her giggling in her room – my remote workstation is in the adjacent room. Then I’ll hear a “ping” and an email will appear from her in my in-box. The videos range from the Ohio State University Marching Band playing Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” to “ANGRY AND RUDEST AUDITIONS ON AMERICAN IDOL!” to my personal favorite, “America’s Got Talent Emil and Dariel Brothers perform Jimi Hendrix.”
In the mornings, when I clatter downstairs in my leopard print and heels, she giggles. I show her my shoes of the day and it makes her laugh. I have an entire closet dedicated to leopard print. And I have well over 100 goddamn pairs of shoes. Because if another pair of shoes and leopard print keeps my mom here another day, I’ll keep buying the f*cking shoes and wearing the leopard print. Another day, another day. Another day, please.
My favorite section of my shoe closet and my closet-closet is the leopard print section. I love leopard print. Here’s why: Because even though leopards are the smallest of the big cat family, they are powerful and capable of taking on prey much larger than them. They are incredibly strong and can climb trees while carrying heavy loads. Although they are not known for great speed (like a cheetah) they are still pretty damn fast and can jump and maneuver in small spaces. Leopards are brave and badass.
On days I want to feel brave and badass, I wear leopard print. When my mom has chemo, I will wear leopard print. When I feel lonely, I will wear leopard print. When I feel stuck, I will wear leopard print. When I feel scared, I will wear leopard print.
When I was growing up, I adored watching my mother get dressed for work in the morning. Hair, makeup, clothing, shoes. It meant so much to her to look professional and show her students she cared. And so, I do the same. I take the time, because she did. That is what she taught me. Take the time to show the people you serve that you care about them and you want to do your best for them because you took the time to get up, do your hair, get dressed, put on your makeup. Yes, it’s hard some days. But I still do it. I do still get up and get dressed and put on makeup and do my hair. Because she does it to go to chemo and doctor appointments and some days just to get up and be here. So I can do it. I can do it. Now, more than ever, she shows me that it matters. So I do it. Because I am my mother’s daughter.
We all have our ways of dealing with that parade of horribles that may actually be happening or may only be in our minds. We all have something we have or do that makes us feel a little braver, more present, a little fiercer, more tenacious, precious, steadfast, and determined. We all have our own version of leopard print. If it makes you braver, if it makes you giggle, if it reminds you to lift that middle finger to fear and giving up, then do it.
Here’s to YouTube videos that make you giggle, to your tribe, to your badass self. Here’s to one more day. And another day after that. Here’s to leopard print. Here’s to shoes. Here’s to the many ways we beat the odds, every damn day. However you do it, keep doing it. Do it. F*k fear. Keep going.