“I’m wearing second-hand hats…second-hand clothes…” – Second Hand Rose7 years old. It was one of the few solos I sang on stage with my family growing up as the (eh-hem) “Nelson Family Singers” (Yes folks, cheesy, but oh-so fun).
Coincidentally, being #7 in a family of 8 kids (1 of 5 girls) I LIVED for second-hand things; worn-out prom heels, dusty & forgotten nearly empty perfume bottles, 2-sizes-too-big concert tees and jeans, or bathroom bottom-drawer broken eye shadows and rancid lipsticks that I wanted to believe were just my shade. In my mind, there was always something cooler and more authentic to wearing these worn out treasures because I thought the world of the girls that broke them in. The way my sisters could curl their hair, the way they could make blue eyeliner look so electric, or the way they danced when they put on those bright heels and cassette tapes I would someday own- I wanted to be just like them. May sound pathetic, but I’m sure this may very well be the reason I, to this day, feel completely at home shopping thrift stores; I like to think it’s just racks and racks of some sister’s really cool stuff. In fact, as I type this, I realize I wore my second-hand jeans, heels, blouse (and just double-checked on the belt) AND belt to a CD Release signing today. This is the truth of my life. And yes, while my closet is peppered with a few fabulous first-hand things, between the solo and the sisters, this is a part of my life I don’t fight, just embrace.
Dried-out mascaras and holy 501’s aside…
Little did I know that years later, as I grew to watch my sisters become women tackling marriage, motherhood, careers, schooling, and a million other church and community callings, that these more unglamorous less-flashy hand-me-downs of wisdom, experience, and real-life perspective would be just the second-hand jewels I would need. Between raising autistic children, being broke, living single, miscarriages, battling depression, battling wayward kids, a home gone up in smoke, throwing their lives into serving their families and friends around them with whatever they have, fighting tooth and nail for what they believe and all the while holding onto faith, I have listened and watched wide-eyed over the years with all the admiration and respect of a little sister, wanting that kind of courage and bravery in my own dresser drawers and hoping someday it’d all fit.
Recently we had the chance to all be together, which happens just a few times a year. Besides laughing our pants off hackling like a coven of witches and checking out the latest jeans and jewelry we are now donning, we somehow manage to solve all the world’s (or our own) problems within the first half hour, laughing, crying, gleaning as much as we can from one another. I love these women. They are my teachers, my inspiration, and my friends. They are the “Soldier Girls” on the album. They are the chocolate milk in my life. While I’ve had to skin my knees and cut my teeth on some issues they haven’t faced, and while I have picked up a few dance moves and heels I’m sure they only wish they could have, there is one thing I know about these sisters- even though we now are all about a shoe size 7 ½, they will ALWAYS leave big (and a little bit 1980’s) shoes for me to fill. If I amount to any good at all as a woman while on this earth I’m pretty sure it’s all just second-hand.
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