It wasn’t in a moment of enlightenment or courage this time. It didn’t bring with it all the ecstasy and liberation. This time it was done out of frustration toward myself, almost like “pulling my hair out”. I had noticed how attached I had become to my hair, how much I cared about how it was looking, what it portrayed, and what others might think about it.
And that pissed me off.
Old patterns die hard, and even after several years of feeling free of that one, it had snuck back in. And I was not okay with that. I was angry. Mostly at myself. So out of anger, I shaved it all off again.
Like I said I didn’t feel so liberated and joyful this time around. Instead I felt horrible, ugly, and full of self-hatred. Yes, self-hatred – as I witnessed its power, I could barely believe it. (Self-hatred? Really? Yup. Full force.)
As the emotion began to settle back down, I saw myself start to ease back into that comfortable sense of Just Being Me…no gimmicks, no image, no persona again. But I also noticed that with my shift in energy came a shift in how I perceived the perceptions of others.
Last time I shaved my head, I felt so buoyant, free, and vibrant…cloud-walking and stardust-shimmering and all that self-loving goodness. And so naturally I perceived the world around me with as much Light and Love as I felt within. I had countless women approach me and ask questions, express their own desire to do the same, or compliment me. And when I noticed someone noticing, I felt beautiful and seen, and assumed they saw what I felt.
This time I just feel like me. Not artificially high on the exhilaration of it all. No longer in the anger or self-hatred. Just comfortable in my own skin. And so what I noticed was naturally different. I noticed curious looks, people pointing it out to others, and only one complete stranger expressing their desire to try it. I noticed it all without attachment to the stories (positive or negative) of what it meant. But mostly what I noticed was that there were times I felt self-conscious and times I felt beautiful and times when I didn’t even remember, didn’t notice anything outside me or within me.
I just simply Was. I could just simply Be without even thinking about it.
That’s curious to me. That true peace doesn’t necessarily look big and shiny and joyful. That real self-love doesn’t always come with trumpets and emotional highs.
That sometimes it’s the practice of noticing what ourselves and others notice, and choosing to be at peace with it, until finally you don’t notice it anymore – until finally it’s just a known fact, like the way we don’t notice the grass is green, and yet we know it is.
And I think that’s what I heard in Heather’s words above, that ALL of that is what we get to be thankful for….Life for the lessons, challenges for the practice, and our own inner wisdom for the guidance through our own witnessing of each moment of our experiences.
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.
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.
Today was hair cutting day. The rain had stopped, so we set up shop outside with some clippers, a pair of scissors and a camp chair. I’m happy that Justin and Zeb are both glad to have me cut their hair; it saves money and resources to do a simple cut at home. Most of the hair went into the trash but I’m assuming the rest will end up in a bird nest or as humus.
Zeb was first up. Oh, it was hard. I so loved his long curls. But he’s very tenderheaded which makes brushing difficult and infrequent. Because of this the back was starting to dread and that wasn’t what he wanted.
He wanted short hair. He was tired of being mistaken for a girl, tired of getting hair in his eyes, tired of trying to comb it out. So as hard as it was for me to do it, I lopped off his curly locks and watched my tween transform before my eyes into someone younger and lighter and happy to feel the breeze on his head. He loves it but I will still secretly miss his curls for some time to come.
Justin was up next. He’s not sure what the heck he’s doing with his hair or his massive beard, but I convinced him to let me trim things up around the edges and define his beard into a goatee.
After looking at his before and after, he’s not real happy with his look.
He’s asking your opinion…should he go back to a shaved head and shorter facial hair (like this photo)? Or should he keep growing it all out?
P.S. Um, no. I was not included in hair cutting day, thankyouverymuch, Mom.
I’m sure there are all of two of you with dreads that read my blog, but when I was curious about this and searched my booty off for info, I found zilch. So, I’m filling a gap. 🙂
What is no ‘poo you ask?
It’s a method of washing you hair based off the belief that shampoo is a conspiracy; actually causing our scalp to create more oil, thus perpetuating the false idea that we need to buy massive amounts of expensive, highly-scented shampoo to fix our greasy, smelly, embarassing problem and be forever scalp-beholden to “the man”. 😉 (kidding! …..mostly)
Okay, anti-consumerism tendencies aside, shampoo is a completely useless product that does cause us to produce more oils. No ‘poo uses baking soda and apple cider vinegar to wash instead and break the cycle. Read more about it here.
I’ve heard of no ‘poo from so. many. bloggers. but everyone seemed to wash their hair several times a week and I wasn’t sure if washing once-a-week was feasible. But seeing as how dread shampoos either left me greasy, gave me dandruff, cost too much or include ingrediants I don’t want to use, what were my options? Still, I was a bit unnerved about playing guinea pig with my precious’s.
Silly me. I’ve been doing it for two months now and am here to tell (both of) you, it’s great!
1 TB of baking soda
1:3 or 1:4 ratio of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to water
Essential oil of your choice (no, I don’t use patchouli!)
A jar or squeeze bottle or whatever
I dissolved the baking soda in a smallish recycled glass jar and filled it with water (about 1-1.5 cups of *warm* water unless you’d like a shock). I just pour small amounts over my scalp and scrub as usual. I don’t rinse yet.
I have a squeeze bottle – similar to the beauty store type – that I fill 1/4 of the way with ACV, then the rest of the way with water. I add about 10-15 drops of essential oil to the bottle and shake it really well. I like the squeeze bottle because it makes it easy to apply the ACV. This I apply to my scalp and dreads. (I only use about half of it so it last at least 2 washes.)
Oh, then I rinse. And wait an insane amount of time for them to dry. :sigh:
Since I’ve been washing my hair once a week since before I had dreadlocks, I noticed no difference in the amount of oil my scalp produced. I’ve had no “adustment period” that others have. And my husband *promises* the essential oil leaves me smelling lovely.
Do you no ‘poo? Do you have dreads? Do you still think I’m crazy?
I figured after posting all about my own hair, I should fill in some gaps on Justin’s hair.
After reading on Path To Freedom’s blog about their Justin’s experiment of using no shampoo, my Justin decided to give this a try. He’s shampooed exactly once since reading this back in March and has had no problems at all. He does a quick rinse with water to wash out any dirt or sawdust from the jobsite. (Others often “no-poo” with baking soda and vinegar, but Justin hasn’t seen the need.)
To back this up, I offer you two articles. The first is provided by Jennifer about the Shampoo Scam. The second is in regards to “no-poo” provided via AboutMyPlanet.com.
But the best part of Justin’s hair is the haircuts. For a couple years he’s opted to spend $15 at the Hair Cut Conveyor Belt down the street. I finally convinced him that I can mess up his hair at home for free!
We opted to do this on the garden, near the compost pile. And after years of not cutting his hair, I must say I haven’t seemed to have lost my touch.
[If you haven’t heard the song, “I Am Not My Hair” by India.Arie, I highly suggest checking out this remix with P!nk.]
I’ve been thinking and I’d like to know where in history so much importance was first given to our hair. When did it become Who We Are, the first thing people see and judge us by? In every written record of history from biblical references to cave drawings, our hair has been depicted through the centuries and through many cultures as mystical, seductive, all powerful. It commands attention. It tells the room we’ve entered how much money we make, where we might work or whether or not we’re good friend material. But as India.Arie says, does the way I wear my hair make me a better person, a better friend or determine my integrity?
To much of the world, the answer seems to be “yes”. It’s strange how much we’ve become our hair. It is our personality. Even the woman who only pull theirs back into a ponytail still takes comfort in knowing it’s there if she needs it – I know; I’ve done it. It was the brick wall between me and anxiety. Feel uncomfortable? Pull your hair down, let it fall around your face and feel the safety that it brings.
As a teen I never cut my hair. It was my security blanket, hiding the scar on my back and giving me something to hide my heart behind. I could figuratively and literally wrap myself in it to protect me from a cold, hard world.
It was down to the small of my back by the time I took the plunge. In one fail swoop I cut it off to below my chin, then within a couple of weeks cut it to about 2 inches long. I felt naked; exposed to the world, as if everyone could now actually see the inner workings of my soul. I also felt brave and extremely liberated.
But I still had my hair. I still maintained it, made sure it looked its best and represented me well. Give that a moment to sink in. My hair represented me. Or my hair product I should say. Bed Head represented me. And the more emphasis put on the outside of my representation, the less left to point inward.
Already at 26, I’ve gone the full spectrum of hair styles, trying to find what suited me and going back and forth every few years – short for massage school, long for my wedding, even shorter for work, chin length for a balance between the two.
But as I made more and more steps toward natural living, I felt the need to grow my hair out. Not because I wanted long beautiful hair, but because I wanted to not care about my hair. Not spend money on chemical products or monthly hair cuts. Not spend time in front of the mirror.
Oh but this…this is a whole new ball game. Yes, I did it. Sooner than I expected the time felt right and with the help of my supportive husband, I am now a knotty girl.
It took a total of 14 hours, spread out over two days to finish the job. And through tears (not because I was emotional but because it hurt so much), several movies, the proverbial Marley tunes and a lot of patience and love, I feel like a completely different person. Like the person that was locked up inside is finally getting her moment in the spotlight.
And I’m loving it!
(Click here for the full photo journey on Flickr.)