Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Am Not My Hair.....

" I am not my hair..." - India Arie

On Thursday June 14th at around 4 pm Eastern Standard time I made the decision to cut ``it`` all off.  At the time, the choice was simply in reference to my hair and I had no idea at the time how deeply this simple act of vanity would affect me.

Let’s rewind a bit, shall we?

Those who follow my blog regularly know that I’ve been going through a lot of changes lately.  During this time, I`ve learned a lot about stress (such a cunning thing!).  Feeling fine and being fine aren’t synonymous and it turns out that the human body has no problem making this distinction.  During times of anxiety or chaos some people may gain weight, others may lose it. Stress may surface as a breakout of hives all over the skin or it can present itself as an adverse reaction to the simple act of chemical hair processing.

(I’ll let you guess which one of these scenarios applied to me…)

At first it just seemed like my hair was having a hissy fit. I was initially up in arms about it but I was ultimately okay with a bit of dryness atop of my head.  “This too shall pass” was all I would think.  But then I came to notice that as my anxiety increased so did the crazy state of my hair.  Over the following weeks, the level of my stress was clearly depicted by the condition of my hair. There was a war waging in my crown of glory and I didn’t know what to do.

Then along came a whisper that said, “Let it go, Rosie”.

I promptly responded, “Hell no!”

My hysteria went from a tolerable Level One to a screeching Level Ten.

For days the whisper continued, my resistance persisted and my hair breakage increased.  What was a girl to do?


On the day of the big cut, I begrudgingly went through old pictures.  I was mourning and paying homage to the girl that I was.  The images that I scrolled through were very telling. As a little girl I used to run around the house with a towel on my head pretending to rival the bouncy, behavin' hair of my lighter skinned peers (let's chalk that one up to childhood innocence, okay?). I sported Jheri curls in the 80’s a la Micheal Jackson and I rocked extensions and braids for more years than I can count. I boldly carried off the curly ‘fro weave and later moved to straight, relaxed hair because motherhood required what I had interpreted as ``low key maintenance``.  Along with each style came a superhero-like persona.  I was seemingly a woman for every season but I never truly felt like myself.  My own hair just wasn't enough for me.

This brings me back to Thursday June 14th….

I decided to conduct an online search of everything that I could about women and short hair.  As I scrolled through images of Grace Jones, Sinead O’Conner, Demi Moore (as G.I. Jane), and Solange Knowles my anxiety about conceding to change increased.  The people who hated their look represented the majority; they acted as a jury and handed down their abrasive opinions like life sentences.  The aforementioned beautiful women were labelled as ugly, masculine, lesbians and fashion no-no’s.  Many posts in our cyber-world arrogantly advocated how much men dislike women with uber-short hair.  Those sticks and stones sure can make you wince but can they in fact break you?  I was dumbfounded by how conflicted this made me feel and it was then that I gave serious thought to what matters to me and why it did.

I was humbled to realize that for a long time I had been swimming in a shallow pool of public opinion simply because I was terrified to dive into the deep end of who I really am.  If something as superficial as my hair determined how I faced the world, there was a bigger problem.

I made the decision to get truly naked with myself.
I chose to peel off some layers.

After the scissors were put away and the clipper was shut off, I opened my eyes.  I looked at the ground and quietly observed all of the hair that lay at my feet.   I silently lifted took a deep breath and looked in the mirror to see what remained. 

I wanted to cry.

I hadn’t felt more beautiful or liberated in a long time.  More than that, I finally recognized the woman in front of me.  The haircut didn’t fix my life but what it represented certainly helped it along. Letting go of what didn`t matter was like a huge weight off of my shoulders and I knew that this philosophy would be relevant to many different areas of my journey going forward.

I hopped out of the chair and quickly put away the hat that I had planned to wear home. I strutted (yep, that’s right, I STRUTTED) out of the salon and let the sun kiss my head.  I was elevated by the warmth of the feeling.  When I got home, my son ran into my arms smiling big and offering up a bunch of kisses.  He didn’t look at me differently at all. To him I am ``Mommy`` and that`s all that he needs.

I hope that you woke up feeling like your own brand of beautiful today.  You can use someone else’s formula to try and feel it but I encourage you to create your own recipe for guaranteed results.  Take time to experiment with the things that make you feel good and if it’s right for you, take a risk.

Don’t ask for permission.
Don’t get wrapped up in someone else’s definition.
Don’t waste anymore tears on expectations.
Don’t seek acceptance from anyone regarding your worth because all that they can offer you is their perception.

 Validation will always elude you if you’re looking outside of yourself.

Do what’s right for you.
Break the mould.
Shatter it.
Clear the debris and revel in what lies underneath.
Share your findings with someone else if you're so inclined.

When it comes to beautiful, your opinion is the only one that matters.  Positive feedback is just a sweet and loving bonus.

Until next time, friends.....

(Note to regular readers:  This month has been pretty hectic.  I plan on resuming my posts on adventures in health and wellness once the proverbial ``dust has settled``.  Thank you for your patience!)

 I'm loving this India Arie anthem...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

To Tell You the Truth.....

"Let this truth go as deep in you as possible: that life is already here, arrived.  You are standing on the goal.  Don't ask about the path." 

- Osho (Indian Philosopher and best selling author)

I lost my job just over a month ago.
My relationship is at a painful crossroad.
I'm in the midst of packing to move at the end of the month.

These are my truths not a story that I've decided to sink into.  I need to make that distinction for my own benefit because there are times when it is easy to let external circumstances define who we are. My current station is simply a marker on my life map which reads "Rosie, you are here".   It's up to me to decide where I want to go and hopefully the universe is on board with how I choose to get there.  I share these things with you in the hopes that there is value to telling the truth about how life is lived and what we can do to flip the switch.

Many of the things that could break us down in life actually serve as tools to build us up.  It was Elizabeth Kubler Ross that once said, "If you shield a mountain from the windstorm, you'll never see the beauty of its carvings." I couldn't agree more.  Looking back I have to say that it has taken some of my most painful experiences and toughest challenges to tap into the depths of my inner (and outer) strength and resiliency.

Exposing truths and revealing vulnerabilities can often make even the most confident person squirm to some degree.  No one likes to feel "less than" or imperfect.  The irony to this is that showing this side of ourselves makes us perfectly human.  Everybody has a story.  Isn't it time that we listened to some or maybe even shared a few?  If we did, I think that we would be surprised with the nods of understanding, the tears of compassion or perhaps the offers of support that are extended to us.

We go through things for a reason and it's not for us to know or understand right away.  In time we will and hopefully at that time we'll be in a place (or mental space) where we can give thanks for learning the lesson that was taught. 

I am healthy.
I am strong.
I am loved.
I am abundant.

These are the things that define me and I will take them with me into the next chapter of my life.  I look forward to sharing that story with you....

Until next time, friends.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Clean Eating... A New Frontier

“Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.”  ~William Shakespeare

My body has been very loyal.  It has carried my son through pregnancy, it's taken the brunt of some tough external conditions and has consistently brought me from Point A to Point B. I can't remember the last time I've extended it the courtesy of a tune-up.  Going to an annual doctor's appointment is admirable and has definitely provided me insight on how my 30-something temple is doing but I have to admit that I sometimes worry while waiting to hear the outcome of routine blood tests.  Why?  Simply because I know that I haven't been always been cognisant of the things that I ingest or the environments that I expose myself to.

Like many people sometimes I just eat to eat.  Not for fuel, not for maintenance.  Nah, sometimes it just feels good just to eat. 

Let me ask you a question, though.  Do you know what you're actually consuming? What does our body do with food derived from a petrie dish?  It's not my intention to be a culinary buzz kill disguised as a holistic expert.  I'm just a curious woman who's willing to try a different way of  being.

For the month of June I'm turning my attention to healthy and clean eating. My interest in this lifestyle was brought about by Tosca Reno but my desire to pursue it was sparked by the video below that was posted in an online newsletter from Kris Carr. (Side-note: both women are solid and positive health advocates.  Check them out if you have a chance!)

I'm looking forward to sharing how this month goes. The highs, the lows, the revelations and the end result. 

How are you going to take your health to a new level? 

Until next time, friends.....