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. 🙂
Tiffani and I were sitting on the edge of my bed when I had the epiphany (I’m calling it “The Epiphany with Tiffani”.)
We were looking through my closet trying to find the perfect thing to wear during the dready photoshoot when she said something extremely obvious along the lines of “Pick something that reflects you and that you feel really good in” and I realized how much I felt “comfortable” in or “okay” in, but nothing to fit her description.
I started talking about how much of my clothing I don’t actually *love* or that doesn’t fit me well and how much I dislike to shop because I can never find what I want and love, when it hit me that I had my closet and my head so full of what I didn’t want that I had no space in either for what I did!
I know the value of creating space in my life (physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally) for the things I’m ready for. But I hadn’t applied it to the simplest of things. (Duh.)
I then proceeded to yank things off hangars and throw them on the floor, where they stayed for several days (Justin loved me for it. 😉 ) instigating me to finish the task.
And I did. I purged over 80% of my closet over the next week.
Then within 4 days I had found a handful of new things that I love and can’t wait to wear each day!
I created space and Life rushed in to fill it with the things I was ready for.
These things reflect me and highlight my favorite parts of me and make me feel radiant and comfortable at the same time. Yum. 🙂
Then last week I got a new iPhone.
I had milked my last phone until the last possible day, when it went haywire and started calling China like a curious 3 year old.
And I love my new iPhone! It’s fun and easy to use and syncs with my everything and has Siri which makes me feel like Tony Stark telling my robot what to do for me (or asking it the meaning of life – seriously, try it. Several times.)
It makes my life easier and I feel high-tech and hip and fun. I’m playing with Instagram and Hanging with Friends and getting automatic updates to my calendar.
But All This Triggered Me Too
I’m writing all this because it has me reflecting on consumption and my reasons for it.
We gave away nearly everything we owned when we hit the road and I’m suddenly finding value in “stuff”?
On top of that is my strong resonance with sustainability and eco-conscious living.
We live in a pretty consumable world and we (as a culture) love to consume.
And I’ll admit it. I loved the “high” of finding my new purple, off-the-shoulder top and tapping away on my new iPhone.
It feels good, especially to someone like me who hasn’t done a lot of shopping or consuming outside of thrift stores and farmers markets, based on the principle of it.
And so I can understand why it can feel so easy to fill a void with the superficial, the “stuff” in life.
Because it’s not the “stuff” we’re after – it’s the feeling it might offer us that we’re hungry for.
Maybe it’s a sense of newness, a clean state, a change that doesn’t actually scare us.
Maybe it’s the idea of deserving, of self-worth, of “I earned this”.
Maybe it’s the connection we experience when we fit in with our crowd, know what they are talking about and can share our experience of the same.
Maybe it’s the beauty and the inspiration from filling our homes or our closets with the things that make us smile, feel comfortable and radiant or offer us less stress or more time.
It’s easy to mistake what we’re really after with the means to get it.
It’s easier to get caught up in the “retail therapy” to make us feel good again than it is to actually DIG IN to those uncomfortable feelings that keep us from feeling good all the time and address them once and for all.
It’s also easy to demonize the “stuff”, to point fingers at consumers, to make ourselves or our kids go without for fear of creating waste or feeling (or fearing we look) shallow or conventional.
One way or another, it’s easier to get caught up in the surface, the superficial, than it is to look beneath the surface of our experiences to the real human experience happening within each one of us.
I’m finding it more and more true that the real solution is to notice when the “stuff” is suddenly a tragic attempt to access that joy we all so desperately need to experience, or whether it’s an external reflection of an internal joy we’ve already found.
As I reflect on all this – on my own consumption, my own guilt and concern in contrast to the positive feelings I’m experiencing as a part of this new “stuff” – I am noticing that the happier and more grounded I feel internally, the more I want my external environment to reflect that.
I want to paint my walls and wear rich and vibrant colors and take gorgeous photos faster and organize my life better to reflect what I know as Truth – that the world is beautiful, colorful, inspirational and enjoyable and I want to get back to the act of living it to its fullest potential.
When I keep my focus on the external being a mere reflection of the internal I find my consumer choices are more conscious and simple and eco-friendly, anyway. I choose things that will last, I care for them better and I make sure they are just right for me so that I have no regrets. Because that’s my internal experience as well – full of love, care, mindfulness and value.
If I had to summarize all these reflections I think my point would be this:
Love what you do. Love Who You Are. Let go of the fear and move into Truth. Live your life from the inside out. Find value in yourself and your life, and reflect that in all you do. Reflect outside yourself the Truth you experience in your heart. Allow every choice to count. And INSPIRE the world to something greater, starting with you.
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.