I’ve gotten a lot of that question, especially on YouTube where new people find this still-awesome-to-watch video. So I decided to do an update video, mainly for you YouTubers who have asked, and partially just cuz.
the answer to that question, “do you miss your dreads?” and if I have any regrets
what I do to naturally style my short hair
my awesome new sidecut
plenty of weird faces (I’m, er…expressive)
why I kept it shaved off for so long
what I learned about myself/experienced in the process
some of the crazy things people have said about my shaved head
a challenge to those of you who think you can’t do something radical
P.S. If you’re tempted and need a little inspiration and support to take the leap, check out Tiffani’s challenge.
Oh hell, why not share the ever-so-awesome video again too. 🙂
I did something I haven’t done since I was a teenager. I applied chemicals to my head, drained the tips of color, and filled it back in with purple.
Yes, I’m the “Organic Sister”…my life orbiting around the natural, the innate, the organic, the mindful. And I bleached and colored my hair.
(@tarawagner on Instagram)
I don’t use shampoo. I don’t condition. I don’t use styling product or tools. (I use water, and my fingertips, and that be all, folks.) I cut it myself and I intentionally avoid products because, quite frankly, figuring out what’s safe and what’s not is a royal pain in the arse and why bother when it’s not really necessary.
Having dreads for almost 4 years got me into this habit of minimalism.
Then, shaving my head placed me square in the habit of fully alive.
Still, it’s sort of a big deal for me, being all hip on the sustainable aspects of life, to embrace what I used to call (still can see as) wasteful, superfluous, and potentially harmful.
And I did it anyway. 😉
Here are the thoughts I’ve been playing with in my head:
I’ve lived a life of minimalism and mindfulness and it bordered on the mentality of scarcity. We had our urban homestead, our chickens, our food storage, our ideas of sustainability and peak oil, and right versus wrong, and holy-hell-the-world-is-coming-to-an-end.
Since then I’ve embraced a world of joy and abundance. We travel, we explore, we create, we examine, we swim in the possibilities of life. But it can border on denial at times.
My goal since becoming aware of this dichotomy of our experiences has been to balance having two feet planted firmly on the ground, while simultaneously raising our hearts and minds to the universe. The balance of the spiritual and the practical. Of reality as we see it, and the awareness of the dream we call reality, the spiritualism that tells me all is ultimately well.
As we approach the idea of settling back down, we know we want chickens again. We want a permaculture “homestead”. We want sustainable housing.
We don’t want scarcity, fear, paranoia, mistrust, or that impending sense of doom.
We want to balance our values for the earth with our values for our spirits.
What the hell does this have to do with my hair?
I’m not totally sure. 😉 Except I think maybe I’m playing, toying with the balance of scarcity and abundance, with the ideas of responsibility and playfulness, pushing edges, and throwing around ideas through the “frivolous” and the “serious” things I’m doing, trying to figure out for myself what this new era in our life will be like, embracing the teacher before the lesson has really begun.
I assumed when I cut my dreads I would still have to let them go afterward. I pictured myself spending time reflecting on them as I burned them or buried them. I pictured it being ceremonious and personal and meaningful.
They felt so distant, like looking at a relic of my past…once a part of me, now just a detail in my story.
Maybe it’s because it wasn’t the dreads that I had so much gratitude for, but the experience of them.
Or maybe once I do take the next step it’s when I feel ready to truly let go of the last.
Or maybe cutting them off cut that tie to the heavy energy they were carrying for me.
I don’t know.
All I know is that my dreads have been wrapped up in one of my favorite white scarves and I’d like my scarf back now! 😉
We spent last week camping with such gorgeous, soulful, conscious friends and I thought maybe it’d be meaningful (and in good company) to release them then, around the fire or in the lake.
So I grabbed a couple and threw them in the water and laughed at the idea of someone’s dog finding them.
Then I grabbed a small handful of my dreadlocks to burn in the fire.
(I thought about burning them all, but wasn’t sure just how much hair smelled when being burned, so I opted against stinking everyone out just yet.)
And there I stood.
Standing under the full moon, twisting five dreads around each other and waiting in front of the heat of the flames, waiting for some sense of ceremony or rush of emotion or depth of experience to come to me.
And it didn’t.
So I smiled and gave my heart a hug for its powerful ability to release without doubt or second-guessing or need for fanfare and I tossed them in and watched them sizzle and burn (and yes, human hair smells badly when burned).
I had 40 dreads to begin with.
Two went to a soul sister, two to the lake and five to the fire. 31 are still occupying one of my favorite scarves and waiting to be sent off.
I’ve been thinking how I’d like to finally release the rest and the fire still calls to me. But maybe this time I’ll go it alone and see if they have any last words of wisdom to whisper to me in the stillness. And maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll just get on with the freedom and laughter I’ve been enjoying instead.
Want to read more about my process from dreadlocks to a shaved head?
I love you, Tiffani. You helped me commemorate one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Thank you for your talent, your heart and soul and all the tiny things you offered me in one brilliant weekend. ♥
It’s Contagious, I Tell Ya
There is something about it that is contagious. Check it out:
It was perfect, a part of the deep cleansing I was doing, a way to take what was inside and wear it outside, a symbol of new transformation in my life. I thought it was going to be a lesson in embracing my ugly – I wasn’t expecting to feel so radiant and sexy! I have bounds of clarity, especially in what is “other people’s stuff” and what’s mine (like how some people can see my beauty, some feel shaving my head is weird, and some people were way more attached to my curls than even I was). Sometimes I feel like a monk ripe with readiness for enlightenment, and sometimes I feel like a gypsy goddess extraordinaire. One thing is for sure, this is the mark of a new beginning for me. I feel reborn. I have been making some serious space in my life over the past few months, and I look forward to growing with my hair and appreciating it all in new ways. My curls are not what make me beautiful – I am
Within hours of coming home from that meeting I shaved my hair, all of it. And it felt very liberating. It felt like I had finally dealt with this thing that I was called to do and had resisted. It felt like completing this task that had been waiting and calling to me.
That was five days ago. It still catches me off guard when I see my reflection and I’m reminded that that’s really me staring back. There is no hiding anymore, there is no cowering behind the fringe on top. I am all out there.
Since then at least 8 other women (and kids!) have joined the ranks of buzzed, including Zeb who didn’t shave it completely bald but came pretty darn close AND Tiffani who shaved her head right after finishing with my photos!
I’m thinking of starting a club…maybe a “No Hair for Women Club” or a “Hair Liberation Club” or a “You Only Live Once, Better Rock It While You Can Club”.
Okay, maybe not a club, but at least a collection of stories.
I would LOVE to hear YOUR experience with shaving your head. Your photos. Your videos. Your blog posts.
WHY did you feel drawn to it? WHAT was the experience like? HOW did it affect you as a woman?
Share your experiences in the comments below!
Want to read more about my process from dreadlocks to a shaved head?
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”. ♥
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.
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.
Working our way from Madison to Dallas took some time. We stopped at six places along the way (two of them overnights in the middle of somewhere), meeting new friends, scoping out new towns and trying not to feel rushed (which we still felt).
Our first stop after Madison was Wisconsin Dells, home of America’s Largest Water Park. We spent our honeymoon amusement park hopping; it seemed only fitting that we celebrated 10 years together with water park hopping. 🙂
It wasn’t a perfect two days: Zeb crashed on his bike, my dreads gave me whiplash, we got all turned around on an incredibly long bike ride to and from the park and it was pretty darn cold. But it was still an amazing two days!
After the Dells, we left Wisconsin behind and headed into Iowa where we stopped to meet two new fiends, Niki and Toast in Decorah. They showed us around the many natural springs and beautiful countryside and we enjoyed the Vesterheim Museum, as well (Vesterheim is Norwegian for “western home,” what many of Norway’s emigrants called America…or Amerika.) We really enjoyed the small town feel mixed with the sustainable and artistic communities and plan to do some more research on the area.
Leaving Decorah, we headed toward Missouri with a short overnight stop with a Jen in southern Iowa, where we enjoyed yummy food and awesome conversation way too late into the night.
Oh my goodness, how amazing! Our minds are still reverberating with the information we tried to take in and process in our short two-night stay.
We were invited by Tereza, a 10 year resident, and I couldn’t be more thankful she emailed us. She was so gracious as to show us around, describing how everything worked and answering all our questions.
Dancing Rabbit is actually one of three eco-villages in the area, each doing things slightly different. It is also the largest. While Dancing Rabbit is cooperatively and closely built, Red Earth just a short walk away has a slightly more “homestead” feel to it, although still very community-oriented. (The third, which we didn’t have time to tour, is a more communal, income-sharing arrangement.)
We were especially intrigued with how Dancing Rabbit works:
DR is built on a land trust and through government grants. This makes living their very affordable for Rabbits and residents, who each pay a small price depending on the size of their “property”.
The diversity of their sustainable building is fantastic and inspiring! Anything from school buses to strawbale to Earth bag.
Each person/family commits to certain covenants and guidelines, similar to how a Home Owners Association works.
You can come and go as you please, and even sell your property to someone else. But it’s up to the community as a whole to “approve” new residents and members.
You’re not required to live communally in any way, except for agreeing to not have a car and thus participating in the car sharing. That being said there are lots of other cool co-ops which were intriguing, like a phone co-op or a kitchen co-op.
Both Dancing Rabbit and what we saw of Red Earth Farms seemed very comfortable, community-oriented and family-friendly.
Justin really liked Red Earth Farms the best. Each home was more spread out but still within close proximity to form strong community ties. And he really likes the independence it affords its members. I was really torn between the two. I liked the feeling of a close-knit town, but also really appreciate the ability to be more reclusive. Zeb had fun playing with the kids but wasn’t really sure what to think of the rest.
Our thoughts overall: If our experience at Ironwood Farm taught us anything it’s that we don’t want to go at something like that alone. Living within a community of like-minded families, all who agree to some same basic principles, really appeals to us right now. Knowing we have a support system, friends to share with, and social connections is really the only way to have a truly sustainable community. The scale of such community is something we still aren’t sure of, but this is certainly an idea we’ll be putting a lot more thought and discussion into in the future. Perhaps an intentional community of nomadic families? Or maybe just a caravan on the road? 🙂