Part Three: On the Experience of Shaving My Head and Being Free (Before, During and After Photos and Video!)

I’ve sat here looking at a blank screen grasping at inadequate words to describe the shaving of my head for way too long.

Incredible? Weak.

Empowering? Still weak.

Enlightening? Closer.

Let me start by backing up a little to the beginning of my weekend. We’ll see where it goes from there.

The Start of One Incredible, Life-Changing Weekend

Tiffani, my badass freeplaylife photographer, arrived in Orlando on Friday evening.

Now let me just say something about Tiffani.

She’s flipping amazing. Colorful. Playful. Daring. Vibrant. Envelope-pushing.

But she also has this deeply sensitive side that you only get to see in her photos or videos or in long conversations about Life.

So I knew she was the perfect person to help me commemorate this powerful step. Because she totally “got it”. ā™„

We had an amazing weekend that I know I’ll be talking more about later.

But the photos!

Oh wow, the photos.

We started with the before photos (for obvious reasons) and let me just say, one amazing photographer can make you fall in love with yourself.

She captured so much more than either of us felt was possible to convey without being there.

Because, oh being there was amazing!

We laughed, drank wine, ate and talked, shared epiphanies and dreams and laughed some more. I love that woman so much. Yes, I’ll definitely be writing more about that soon.

But back to the experience…

Capturing the “Before”

I wanted to capture it. My dreads. What they meant. I wasn’t sure if it would be possible but if anyone could do it, I knew it would be Tiffani.

And she did.

And I love them, each and every one of the “Before” shots. They so perfectly capture the depth and love I’ve had for my dreads. They leave me breathless. Speechless. In awe and honor of my own spiritual path, of where I’ve been and Who I Am because of them.

I’ll let my favorites do the talking…










I looked at them on her camera between Day One of photos and Day Two. And I had an ache. I saw the beauty and the story Tiffani had caught for me. And for the span of one deep breath, I loved them so much I couldn’t fathom letting them go.

But then that breath passed and I felt my whole body, my whole spirit say “Trust”. Mmm, yes I can do trust.

The During and After Experience

As much as the before photos LOOK amazing, it was (and is) the during and after process of shaving off my dreads that FEEL amazing.

And that feeling of “amazing” was something that the camera couldn’t capture.

The way it FELT to have my husband there, the man who spent 14 loving hours putting my dreadlocks in, handing me the empowerment, the strength to take this next step – on my own this time.


The way it FELT to acknowledge my fear as it turned my hands cold and made my heart pound and asked me to pause, to breath, to give it a just a moment to be heard so that it could willingly let go.


The way it FELT to call forward the faces of the beautiful women, my many sisters, who had emailed or texted or messaged me their love, to feel them circling around me.

And then the way it FELT to remove my dreads, one-by-one, to feel the world shift beneath me, while also shifting me forward, the rushing in of exhilaration, and of an emotion I still do not have a name for.

I’ve said it so many times but it bears repeating again: It was as if my dreads had, over the last 43 months (to the day, I just realized), systematically entangled all the energy of my past, the fears and challenges and limitations and all those things that were not serving me.

And towards the end of my three and a half year journey with dreadlocks, it was “heavy” with the past and the stories that were ready to be let go.

And so, with all the yuck carefully secured in my dreads, I began to snip it all away.

The past that didn’t belong in my present, the heaviness…

The weight of the world fell off my shoulders.


One at a time. Landing on the ground. With only a few feet between us but feeling as though it was the length of the world now separating me from it.

Distant. Done.

Old and gone and unattached.



And then the way it FELT to see “the past” lying on the ground, to hold it in my hands, to feel as though it was ancient history, detached from me, in my hands but with such distance between us – something to honor and smile upon or ponder about, but not something to ache for or regret or miss.

(To miss them would’ve felt awkward, like going backward, like losing wisdom, slipping into clothes that had once been comfortable but that I had outgrown. It would’ve felt silly trying to wear the things of my past, like a grown women trying on her favorite childhood shirt. It was and is and always will be beloved, but it’s not comfortable anymore.)

I felt LIGHT…not weight-light, but energy-light.

I text my mom an After photo and she said it perfectly in just a few words:

You look beautiful. And FREE!!!


Yes, that’s what this feeling is.

It’s the feeling of being free. Open. Unencumbered. Spiritually cleansed.


A lot of people (my step-dad included) don’t get it. How was I not free before?

But I AM FREE now. I recognize the difference, in the way only a previously and ignorantly unfree person could recognize. I’m suddenly free of the past. I’m free of the expectations I’ve accepted in my life (from myself and others). I’m free of the facade, the props I would use to convey Who I Am.

I’m free of the NEED I had to convey Who I Am.

I am free.

I never expected to feel as free and as feminine and as sexy in my own skin as I do right now with no hair. I’m walking on clouds, in love with my raw self. Feeling as though I’ve settled into Who I am, dropping into my own essence, JUST my essence. Nothing trailing along behind me.

Calm and simple and joyful authenticity.

I can’t stop rubbing my head or reveling in that menthol-cool feeling of the air across my scalp or the warmth of the sun or swimming in the pool, holding my breath beneath the water, feeling the sensations moving around me, no more worry about “getting my hair wet”, nothing taking me out of the moment, out of the experience it.

Present-moment awareness. How does having no hair offer me that?

I don’t know but there it is.


The whole experience. Commemorating my dreadlocks. Preparing to send them off with love. Those two minutes of fear, where my hands went cold and shaky and I wasn’t sure I had the courage to take my next step forward.

Then the instantaneous and immense feeling of YesYesYes! as I snipped the first dread and it fell to the ground, the feeling that propelled me forward like a mad-woman, feeling the heaviness lift from my spirit, feeling the open space begin to fill with excitement and LIGHTness as each knot of hair was shed.


The JOY and smiles and that sense that my whole body was laughing that suddenly came rushing in, not from my mouth or my face or my words (I was pretty much beyond words), but from my belly, from my core. Bubbling up and spilling out of my eyes, my pores, my fingertips, the top of my head.

The way I suddenly felt lit up, nothing getting in the way of SHINING. Radiating. Reveling.

To feel so deeply connected to Who I Am, to the people in my life, to Spirit and Life itself…

It has been one of the most deeply spiritual (yet insanely, hysterically, joyful and downright silly) experiences of my thirty years.


It’s sounds silly to many.

I even have to laugh at how silly it sounds to me.

It’s just hair after at all.

But it’s not about the hair.

It’s about the experience of the hair. MY experience.

It’s about what this small, seemingly meaningless experience (in the grand scheme of life) had to offer me.

And it’s about me accepting that offer.

It’s about being open to a grandiose, breathtaking and awe-inspiring overture in what looks inconsequential, impermanent, and trivial.

This is life.

Mundane. Simple. Momentary. The details small and ultimately insignificant. A blip on the screen of the Universe. A monotonously repetitive story throughout the span of the centuries.

But still never duplicated in the narrative. Consistently renewed in our emotions. And regularly, excruciatingly and inconceivably mind-blowing to participate in.

It’s all “just hair”. Until we embrace the experience of it. And then it’s the whole Universe bursting alive within the space of one fleeting moment.


Click here for all the photos from our shoot.

More Dreaded Goodness

All dreadlock posts from start to finish are here.

Part One: My announcement video of my decision to shave my dreads

Part Two: A more in-depth, emotional and raw video on my decision

Part Three: Putting The Process of Shaving Them into Words (and lots of photos)

Part Four: A GORGEOUS Video and words from other women who’ve done the same

And lastly: Burning My Dreadlocks: The Final Goodbye

82 Replies to “Part Three: On the Experience of Shaving My Head and Being Free (Before, During and After Photos and Video!)”

  1. i am about to embark on the journey of putting dreadlocks INto my hair and so i was curious about the removal of yours. but when i saw that first glowingly beautiful photo of you with your head shaved, tears instantly came to my eyes. i don’t even know you and yet i know this is right for you. that is the most beautiful picture. what a beautiful journey. thank you for being intimate and vulnerable with the world.

  2. WOW, to put it into words and for someone to understand what you mean by shedding your past. I would think you can only understand what you mean and the feeling behind it if you went through the “School of Hard Knocks” yourself. We all have a past and we all have a story to tell. I love the way you put it into action and the words that came with it. I completely understand……

  3. Oh Tara! You are absolutely beautiful with and without hair. You are so inspiring and have such a beautiful way with words.

    Thank you for sharing this experience with us!

  4. LOVE LOVE LOVE! And kudos to Tiffani, those pictures don’t just show a physical image they manage to show the experience. (Although I doubt that would have been possible had you not had such an open spirit about it.) Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. To be here, today, reading your words in this chapter of your lifebook, is to stand in the doorway between-worlds. There is grace, vulnerability, profound beauty and boundless joy in your words, in the light that dances all around you in these photos.

    Thank you, Tara. For sharing this part of you, this puzzle piece (corner piece, even) with all of us.

  6. Oh Tara, you are vibrant beyond words. I, too, looked at your before photos as Tiff was posting them, and falling so deeply in love with your locks, your beauty, your strength, that I couldn’t imagine you going through with removing them. I felt myself having to concentrate on my breath to stave off the heavy breathing panic I was having over YOUR hair. Crazy, right? lol! But seeing the after photos. The exhilaration and vibrancy that just blasts through the screen. The strength and down right sexiness! Oooh my. It’s intoxicating! Trust. That really is all it boils down too. Kudos to you for having that inner trust, and leaning into it. What a rocking hot, bad-ass inspiration you are! I’m digging deep to strengthen my own inner trust, so that I may make a step so bold one day soon (I adore my dreads, but have had the yearning to release them since this summer. Still sitting with my feelings and summoning the trust). You’re amazing!

    1. If I look at it, the process begin over a year ago, unconsciously. Consciously it took me about 4 months to ready myself for it. Thankfully, all you have to say is “Yes, but slowly” for Life to offer the most powerful process at the most perfect pace. Big (((hugs))) to you in yours. ♥ ♥ ♥

  7. I’ve been following your blog for over three years now and am so excited for your journey. Like Rain, I cried when I saw the photo of you with your shaved head. My gosh, you look so beautiful, so happy! It is wonderful! Congratulations!!

    1. Courage is always something I thought I had but never something I really experienced as deeply as I do now. It’s a feeling I wish every women could experience in her life. ♥

  8. YES! what a triumph! what an amazing heart opening soul expanding triumph for you and for us all, for when one of us leans into fear and accepts the gifts waiting there, we all become richer. wow. all this at 30! i cannot wait to see where you go from here. congratulations, tara! i am absolutely celebrating with you and for you.

  9. Congrats! I am simply trying to get my damn curly hair to grow to any length at all, LOL! You are amazing and beautiful and sexy and smart all rolled into one. That Justin is one lucky ducky.

  10. Thank you. For being who you are, so raw and so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this amazing moment and by your words, we feel we were there, with you, tears in our eyes and a smile as big as the world, sharing this…this most perfect moment.

  11. i totally get it. and i think anyone, even those that say they don’t, ought to get a least a glimmer of understanding and appreciation after reading your beautiful words. you rock, Tara!

  12. I’m glad you love your new look. Your friend, Tiffani, takes AMAZING pictures. They show the the joy you feel and a reflection of the experience. I’m glad you enjoyed your break and were able to enjoy sharing the experience. It’s nice to be able to comment on your blog. I hope your journey continues with the joy you’re feeling RIGHT now. šŸ™‚

  13. Oh Tara!!!!!!

    Your words. Tiffani’s photos. Justin’s support. YOU.

    Beautiful in every way.

    Thank you so much for letting us all be a part of your journey.



  14. I could feel the energy coming forth from your photos and your spirit. I’ve only followed your blog since yesterday, but it’s instantly become part of my “circle”. I’m slowly discovering, unearthing, allowing. Thank you for sharing your spirit with us.

  15. I love the first photo and the last. From the “The During and After Experience” set, in the second photo, you look so in tune and strong. You’re an amazing woman and I’m glad you share so much with others. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you Elizabeth! That second photo was actually my two minutes of “Am I ready?” Glad that looks peaceful and not scary! LOL Actually glad that it felt more calm and peaceful than times in the past. ♥

  16. Your wonderful words and those gorgeous photos tell the story so well – thank you for sharing your experience with us. I admire your strength and courage and your ability to truly do what you feel led to do. You really look like you’re feeling joyful and free!

  17. Hi Tara, This is my first time to visit your website! I have plans to shave my head for New Years – and I googled head shaving as a symbol of letting go. What Divine Timing to connect with you. Thank you for documenting and sharing through beautiful pictures your empowering, freeing and enlightening experience. Gratitude & Blessings to you Organic Sister!

  18. Wow, talk about getting your groove on…..freakin amazing. Way to go with starting a new year/new you. Love your inspirational blog Tara.
    Happy New Year….look forward to reading your blog and going “deep” next year.

  19. Wise and beautiful as always Tara. You really are an inspiration. What you have written here really reasonates with me and has touched some raw nerves… you’ve really made me think. Thank you.

  20. ahhh, what a beautiful journey!

    it struck me that the bundle of dreads lying on the ground had so much energy and personal power held in them… they seemed to have their own personality and life force! magical to see.

    I did the dread to shaved head journey a loooong time ago…. and it was bliss, the shaved head, the feel of fingers on scalp, I even shaved to skin, and that was INKredible!

    and now I have dreads again, and they are…. only as old as my little girl, 1 year and 2 months, but I am starting to find them heavy… the knots tying me to past, I like your cleansing ritual. What magic can unfold?

    I will sit for a bit with your journey in my heart.
    Thanks for sharing. bliss to you and your velvet head.

  21. You did a beautiful job documenting the experience! I am so proud of you! I recommend everyone do this at least once! So nice having the support of your loving male partner!

    I shaved my head this year as well, it was one of the most surreal events of 2011! Here is the before video, my hair was so long!

    Here is the after video

    The comments are so funny. Did you know that if you shave your head, you are doing it as an affront to men and must be a lesbian? šŸ™‚

    Love and Empower to you, my fellow brave sister!

    1. Bahaha! I said this below too, but I haven’t noticed anyone affronted. I feel so confident and gorgeous and sexy that if they don’t get it I must just not be seeing them (or I’m just assuming their affront is their admiration! LOL).

      I can’t wait for Tiffani to finish the videos! She’s telling me they’re amazing too!

      (((hugs))) to you!

  22. Tara – I could not wait for this. I was scared and nervous for you, and I was not sure I would like it. BUT I DO!!! The pics tell a story like none other. I felt the emotion and the freedom that you lovingly reveal to us. Thank you for that. It suddenly occurred to me that I could totally relate what you have done to what I am planning on doing before the 1st – getting rid of a box full of old journals. These journals reveal a lot of negative, emotional drama that I no longer can relate to. But I do because it was me, my past. I am proud of overcoming so much, even tho I still have family members who have not forgiven me for some of my actions in my past. I have forgiving me and I now must let them go. I have been feeling nervous and scared for myself, as I did for you. But no longer, I now have a glimpse of the freedom I know I will feel when I let go of these journals that have followed me around for years. I am PROUD of you and I think you are BE-YOU-tiful. Thanks again and love for the new FREE 2012.

    1. Yes! It’s that same emotional tie to the symbols of our past, or our expectations, or our anything. There is so much empowerment in letting go of the things we’ve outgrown spiritually. (((hugs)))

  23. Wow! For almost ten years I’ve wished I had the nerve to put my hair into dreadlocks. I think it would be easier for me to commit to than shaving it all off! I’m happy for how rejuvenating this process was for you and the pictures are beautiful. Enjoy your new look and all of the time freed up in your daily routine from not having to tend to lots of hair! Thanks for your great blog and inspiration. I always look forward to an opportunity to connect through the Tribe or otherwise and in the meantime, your writings help me get through this difficult stage of my life that I’ve been in for a couple of years and that won’t end for a couple more.

  24. I have been following your blogs for a while…and you are an absolutely beautiful person. With or without hair! I admire your courage along your spiritual journey, and am inspired as I journey through my own. Thank you for sharing!!! Jackie

  25. Tara – Welcome to the shaved head club! You look beautiful! I want to say congrats, but I’m not sure if that’s the right word. I feel proud of you? I feel excited for you? And I’m (again) amazed at the support of your husband. What a treasure to be loved like that!

    I shaved my head for the first time last June (2011) and I know firsthand that feeling of freedom. That’s exactly the word I used too. Not only do I feel physically and emotionally free, I feel like my time and energy are free now too. I swim with abandon, I wrestle with my kids more, I can get ready in about 3 minutes and I rush off to enjoy my life. I’ve saved a boatload of money on haircuts and hair products….lol.

    I second what Kendra said though, “Did you know that if you shave your head, you are doing it as an affront to men and must be a lesbian?” Thanks for the laugh, Kendra…I’ve heard that over and over again! pfft. I always answer with a Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that…” and we have a good laugh.

    Aside from the feeling of freedom, I’ve also experienced higher self esteem and more confidence than I’ve ever had in my life. I just know who I am now and have the confidence to let all the negative comments roll right off my back. Their problem, not mine. In every area of my life, not just my hair. I wish you all the love and freedom and confidence you deserve. Again, “congrats”!

    1. Heidi! I didn’t know you shaved yours too! But you described perfectly my experience.

      It’s funny the “affront” to men thing. I feel so damn sexy now that any man who doesn’t sense that just isn’t on my radar! LOL And happily my husband does sense that. šŸ˜‰

  26. First, your description of such an empowering moment was beautiful! I understand the feeling of being free and looking at the photos you can just see the energetic shift within you! And on a bit of the superficial side-you looked amazing with dreads-and equally beautiful with your new bald do! Love it! Thanks for sharing this adventure! Namaste!

  27. Wowsers! I have to say I have been reading for awhile (a year, maybe two, who knows?), and this is the best post by far! The others are all amazing for sure, but this one is just out of this world. Your journey is such a beautiful story–the letting go of heaviness and of the past & embracing freedom and beauty. You are abolutely radiant. My favorite part is the ending of “it’s all just hair.” Yes! It’s all seemingly insignificant yet the experience of that moment holds so much life and truth and beauty, not only for you, but for us too as you share it! Thanks so much for letting us in!! ~erika

  28. Everything about the whole process was absolutely beautiful! Sometimes we just need that huge change to free our minds and souls.

    Congratulations to you!

  29. All I can do is cheer and whoop and clap and giggle with complete JOY for you – this post is astounding and remarkable and I hope that you read it every day to remind yourself of how powerful you are.


    P.S. You sparkle and shine in all of those photos – so beautiful!!!


  30. Wow. What fun! Delightful to read your process! I am doing similar things, just not cutting that hair, because it isn’t that big a deal for me, but I totally get the symbolism and the feeling… outgrowing, shedding, letting go… me too sista. Fun.

  31. Fabulous! I love the ‘awakening’ it seems you are experiencing…ahhhhhh. Just to hear someone utter (or scream from the mountaintops), ‘I am free!’ – that’s powerful. Thanks for sharing!

    (My daughter, who is 5, just recently told me she’s ready to get rid of her dreads, or dreadies, as she likes to call them. I’m wondering if she will want them back? Or if she will experience anything emotional or spiritual).


    1. I’ve always admired how kids know so much better what they’re ready for than we usually do (and generally without all our fears too!). Does she want to shave her head or do a pixie cut or comb them out?

      1. She wants to cut it short and then comb out what can be combed out (she’s totally sensitive, it may not work)…it’s been interesting watching her *not* notice others’ reactions and thus not care…love it! I wonder if it would be the same if she shaved it? Curious.

        Again, thanks. I just love this post šŸ™‚

  32. I know exactly what you mean. When I first dreaded my waist-length hair for my 27th birthday (Saturn returns, anyone?!), I felt so bold and .. revolutionary. As if I was standing up for myself and who I was and what I believed, in a town that was, for the most part, much more interested in maintaining the status quo. Then, after 2 years, a divorce, and an even bolder braver move across the country, I felt like those dreads were weeeeighinnnnng meeeee dooooown. Spiritually. Emotionally. I felt as if they were an albatross of my past ~ baggage ~ that would not leave me alone. Plus, I had bleached and dyed them a bunch of rainbow-fabulous colors along the way, so some of them were literally breaking off. It felt to me like my Self was rotting! I remember the day I decided they needed to go. My sweetie and I were coming back from a road trip to the Utah desert for Christmas. And I ached to take scissors to them then and there in the car on the way through Nevada! My sweetie was way nervous (6 years later, he still misses those things.;-) ). I waited till the right time when we returned, and took photos along the way, too ~ not so glorious as yours! Those are amazing!! šŸ˜€ It was monumental and I felt … more mature ~ like, the New Me had ripened underneath those things, and also: FREE, just like you said! I had laid my burden down! glory hallelujah! I loved my dreads and still have them in a bundle, kept in a sacred place. But the day I was ready to say goodbye to them I never looked back! I have had buzzed hair and short hair for 6 years now, through pregnancy and all, and it has felt so Easy and Me. Now I feel ready to grow my hair out again, as I transition into a new chapter of my life (country livin’). And making that decision is taking courage, too. Cheers to our woman’s hair in all its manifestations and for all it means to us! Regardless of who “gets it,” and who doesn’t! šŸ™‚ I raise my glass in a toast to you, sister, for representing and being true to yourself.

  33. Hi Tara! I saw your blog post on Google+. I haven’t been here in forever!! Wanted to say, I love this line:

    “Iā€™m free of the NEED to convey Who I Am.”


  34. So beautiful Tara! and Tiffani… wow, wow, wow! the freedom, the light the energy… so inspiring, I have wondered about dreads for a while, now I wonder about shaving, but I need to dig deep first and explore some more about who I am now……….. {{{hugs}}}

Comments are closed.