Soon thereafter, I began to amass a respectable collection of scarves. They are of various fabrics, weights, colors, and styles. But one thing many of them have in common is fringe. As much as I like the scarves, I do not like fringe.
This past Saturday night, I stood in my closet staring at my scarves. They are arranged on hangers, so I could plainly see all the annoying fringe. What I noticed most that night was the way in which the fringe on my favorite chenille scarves, especially the large throw/scarf, had formed huge knots. Some of the knots were so big that I could no longer lay the scarf out flat. Several times, I have attempted to untangle the knots but have been unsuccessful. Whenever I use those knotty scarves, I fold them in half length-wise and wear them that way.
As I stood there staring at them, I found myself getting upset. Am I really going to be limited in how I can wear these scarves because of those silly knots? Really? Am I really not going to wear the other scarves I like because I don't like the fringe? I like everything about them except the fringe.
Suddenly it hit me: just cut off the fringes, Gail!
Suddenly I remembered: these are my scarves. I can do with them whatever I please.
I stayed up until nearly midnight cutting fringe off my scarves. Breaking up the knots with pointy scissors and discarding that awful gnarly mess. It feels like I have an entirely new inventory of scarves - and all I did was cut off the parts I always disliked and never needed.
Stuff like that gets me thinking, wondering, asking myself questions.
Where else in my life am I allowing myself to be limited by things that I can simply cut off?
Are there bad habits, silly habits, harmful habits that need to be broken up and cut off?
Are there old rules, regulations, expectations, and standards that no longer apply and need to be cut off?
Whose old stories, lame excuses, weird idiosyncracies are knotted around my throat and need to be cut off?
Looking back, I recall a few habits, rules, and excuses I have abandoned.
* Overpacking for travel is one. I remember going to Spain for ten days with two large duffel bags of clothing and returning home without having worn half of the things I'd taken with me. Now I never check a bag, unless an airline worker is in a bad mood and forces me to check my backpack. I've learned to cut of the fringes of excess clothing - and I've never regretted packing light. Ever.
* Wearing shoes that were too small is another. I wear a size 11 shoe. Period. For years, I crammed my feet into size 10 shoes and suffered with sore toes at the end of every day. My dear husband would sometimes agree to cram his feet into my shoes in order to stretch them out for me. That is some serious self-sacrificing love! Now I wear the right size. Whenever a salesperson tries to talk me into trying on a size 10, I politely decline. I refuse to cut off the circulation to my toes, so I have cut off the very bad habit of wearing painful shoes.
* I used to eat food that I didn't like simply because someone else cooked it. My mother is a fantastic cook. She makes THE best fried chicken I've ever eaten. Her yellow turnips, rice, and apple turnover are also delicious. But she also makes oxtails, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese - none of which I like. Other people in my family love that stuff, but I don't. I used to eat a lot more of what she cooked just so I wouldn't hurt her feelings. Nowadays, I simply say, "No, thank you," and eat another piece of chicken!
* I used to eat foods that were pretty bad for me simply because I liked them. I began to slowly wean some of those things out of my regular diet. Then kanswer hit - and I jettisoned those things out of my reportoire. I still wander down the candy aisle at Target and stare at some of my old favorites, but it was time to cut off the fringe and now I give my body the best food I can find... for the most part.
* The ultimate fringe cutting happened on the day I cut off my hair before beginning chemotherapy. Those dreadlocs were some fringes that I loved and had enjoyed for more than twenty years. Nowadays I am loving loving loving my short hair. I have no plans to grow the locs back. None whatsoever.
* I used to stifle my questions and disagreements on issues of faith, the Bible, and how our faith affects the world for fear of offending others, especially those who were older than me. No more. I may not find the answers any time soon, but I plan to keep on asking.
I look forward to finding more fringe to cut off, whether that be from a few more scarves or from other areas of my life. I'd better keep my scissors sharp and close at hand.