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My Hat Collection

This week, I shared with our Hughes Homestead Instagram community that I had been a vegetarian once upon a time. To expand on that, I was married for seven years to a vegetarian, whose family were card-carrying PETA members. As I began more intensive exercise to support my emotional health during and after my divorce, I turned back to the easiest source of protein: meat. Some could argue that was a lazy choice, but as I look back now, I wonder if that hat ever really fit me. Truth be told, I like a good steak.


I have worn a lot of different hats in my lifetime--or football team paraphernalia, or dietary choices, or shoes, as the case may be. It started my senior year in high school when I reinvented myself from pseudo-goth to “kicker” to suit my new boyfriend’s taste. I went on to college in a town that made two-step and polka a way of life (and I enjoyed a good spin around the dance floor). I got a part-time job at a Western store and made some of the best friends I could have asked for during that time. The straw Stetson hat fit well for a while, especially when that job helped forge my career path.



In my mid-twenties, I donned a bridal veil and discreetly slipped a PETA card into my wallet. Technically, I was pescatarian because I refused to give up shrimp. On a work trip to China, I was presented with a giant mound (think: size of a Thanksgiving turkey) of fried rice based on my bias toward meat. I didn’t even want to confess I ate fish; the ones on the dinner table were staring back at me. I wasn't even sure what I stood for over that decade, other than making sure everyone else in my world was happy.


An ill-fitting hat can be troublesome. I look back now and wonder how often the discomfort fostered my growing alcohol addiction. There was some knowing that I was walking down the aisle without fully understanding my own wants and needs. I began to venture out to happy hour with my friends more often because of my discontent at home. There was some knowing when I spent $2400 on Texans season tickets just to impress a man who refused to date exclusively. I amassed a collection of red, white and navy hats to crowd next to my real team's green and gold in the closet. I drank shots to start every game, pounded overpriced beers, and then drove thirty miles back to my house with absolutely no business doing so.


Beneath all of these hats--real or metaphorical--lay a belief system. Too often, it wasn’t my own.


I’m not suggesting that borrowing someone else’s belief system is always bad. I think about the lighted miner hats my husband and I wore on a trip to Bisbee, Arizona that made us look like Minions. Sometimes, we need someone to gear us up with the right equipment and say “follow me.” I’ve leaned on coaches, mentors and spiritual leaders heavily in my sobriety, chewing on their advice until I decide if it lights a path I’d like to go down. It’s what helped me take a close look at my own beliefs, soon finding that courage and compassion as virtues fit me like a warm, cozy beanie (speaking of which, I’ll soon need an intervention for that collection).



As we welcomed a new calf on the farm this week, I thought about one of the favorite hats I keep at the camper. It’s a trucker hat I bought at Rural King several years ago when we had just purchased our land. FARM LIFE. The hat was a little bit tongue-in-cheek at the time, and it’s always been a little tall for my head and loose in a strong wind. Still, I wear it in the field when I need it to shade my fair skin. I wear it because I love this adventure. I wear it because I know it’s far more than just a superficial fashion statement like other hats I’ve worn throughout my life, it’s a feeling that resides deep in my heart. I wear it because if I give it enough time, it will fit like a glove.

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