Last night I treated myself to an amazing yoga class. It was my second trip to this yoga class. I'd prefer to call it a yoga experience because it's more than just a class; it is an awe-inspiring hour that helps me relax, connect with my body, my breathing, and my surroundings. It is a quiet medicinal meditation. I already feel connected to these beautiful, intelligent, open-minded souls who attend. Last night, as I stretched my emotional muscles in long steady poses, I felt love. Love for these women of all ages and backgrounds, love for all of the different bodies and abilities, love for the calm quiet connection, love for life. Maybe it's the stretching or maybe it's a common energy we share that provides this soothing atmosphere of love and acceptance. I think it's both.
As we wrapped up our yoga experience, I noticed one of my new friends had a haircut. I complimented her and, come to find out, she did it herself. I desperately needed a trim but, not ready to find a new hairdresser, had been putting it off. Now that we've moved and are so far from what's always been familiar, I am really pushing myself to relax, grow my confidence, and do my best to listen when the world is telling me something. For example, my new friend Kate had just gotten her hair cut and it looked so polished and pretty. She even told me who does her hair and said I could go to them, too. Then, I got a text from my sister-in-law and she had given my niece an adorable haircut. The final straw was my friend Trish's freshly cut healthy ends I noticed at yoga. UUUGH, okay okay ... I hear you, World! One way or another, I must trim my hair.
So today, I treated myself to my first "at-home haircut." Now, this was not the first time I've ever had my hair cut at home, or the first time I've ever cut hair. It was however, the first time I've ever cut my OWN hair. I can't take too much credit because I simply gave my hair a little trim... nothing major. Luckily, it turned out almost even.
I was a little nervous to attempt this first haircut on myself. While I know hair is something that "always grows back," I've had my share of hair trauma over the years. I think it stems from childhood. I've always had a subconscious correlation between how I feel about my hair and my self-esteem. For example, if I get my hair cut and I don't like the way it looks, then I'll feel ugly for weeks! Ridiculous, right?
I can still picture that first time I had my haircut: one of those horrific, can't-believe-I-did-it and never-will-I-forget-it memories. I had been growing my hair out since I was born. One day, when I was about four, I decided it was time for a new look. It was a few months before my November birthday when I remember my mom asking, "Jillian, are you sure you want short hair?" I was positive. Mom gently combed and began to cut my long wet hair. The scissors crunched through my waist-length golden locks and I felt excited as the clumped strands fell to the floor. She took her time, methodically separating sections of hair, combing the hair straight, and taking breaks to spritz the drying hair with a little spray bottle. I remember the cool fresh feeling of the spray on my neck. She finished up and handed me a small mirror. My breathing quickened and a lump pressed against my throat as I peered out from under the new helmet that sat hugging my little head. My long silky gorgeous hair was gone. Uncontrollable crocodile tears began to roll down my cheeks.
I had been fearless, but no longer. The fear was not from the bad haircut, but the subconscious realization that this seemingly unimportant decision could end in such turmoil. I do believe this one horrific haircut sparked a fascination in me that would last, well, all my life.
Shortly after I recovered from this haircut, I began to experiment with dolls, Barbies, and quickly progressed to my little sister Britt's bouncy curls. I made a mess of her beautiful hair and Mom was livid. She scolded me and told me to never do it again. If I did it again, she would give Britt permission to take the scissors and cut as much of my hair off as she wanted. You know how scared I was of ever going under the scissors again! The only thing Mom could do for Britt in the meantime was cut off the rest of her hair to make it even. So I watched poor Britty get the shortest pixie haircut on a little girl that I'd ever seen. (She has always been years ahead of her time when it comes to fashion!) It was awful. This had happened right around Halloween, and as there are no famous short-haired princesses, Britt was forced to trick-or-treat as Charlie Chaplin!
For the rest of my childhood and young adult life, I simply let my hair grow with an occasional trim. I felt confident and pretty because of my long hair. There were times I wanted to cut my hair into short trendy styles throughout life, but I was afraid.
It wasn't until years later that my sister was able to get her revenge for her "pixie cut." It was senior year; I had loads of homework, basketball season was underway, and Mom was out of town for the weekend, leaving me and Britt at home with Dad. What could we possibly do to tear his nerves up while he was on watch? Well, we decided to dye my hair red! Britt and I drove to the grocery store and scanned the cosmetic aisle. There it was, Herbal Essences: Ruby Red. We headed home with this new and exciting permanent hair color! Britt aided in applying the color to my extremely long dirty-blonde hair. My hair was so long that we decided it would make sense to wrap it up in a bun, secure it with an elastic hair band on top of my head, and wait while the color set. After we waited the time it said on the box, adding a few extra minutes to make sure it got nice and bright, Britty helped me undo the hair band. We watched in horror as my hair fell down my back in a fluorescent fuchsia tie-dyed pattern! HOLY COW. What had we (I) done? Even though she swears it was not her fault, that she was just there for moral support, and it was totally unintentional, we joke that it was payback. I'll never forget the look on my Dad's face when he caught his first glimpse. He looked both dumbfounded and horrified.
While that four year-old haircut was the last time Mom ever gave me a full hair cut, she had remained as my "hair dresser." She continued to give me (no more than two inch) trims, and a couple of hideous bang experiences, up until that fateful fuchsia weekend. It was then we decided I needed a little professional help to rid my hair of its new fuchsia hue. Mom declared this an emergency, and I took my first trip to a professional salon first thing Monday morning, before I was even allowed to go back to school. Skipping school to remedy a hair disaster! Mom took me to see Janice, a lifelong family friend and hair miracle-worker-extraordinaire. When her first color treatment didn't do a thing to correct the permanently pigmented fuchsia strands, I shed a few tears. She dyed my hair twice before it reached a more natural-looking black cherry and I was so relieved. She had just given me my first professional hair cut and color and I was hooked. I continued to see her every month for new lighter shades of red, red-brown, and strawberry blonde, until I was back to natural. Ahh, I was able to head off to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with my long blonde hair in tow.
At UNC, I majored in Fine Art. The majority of my studio classes were conceptual, contemporary, and my own kind of therapy. Body Imagery and Conceptual Photography, among other classes, gave us a setting to work with personal history projects. Often my projects dealt with the body, self-esteem, awareness, perceptions, and like many artists before me, hair.
I continued to keep my long locks through college and for my first year in the "real world." Then I met my equal, Zach. He was charming and intellectual, and he loved my art. He thought I was beautiful and it had nothing to do with my long hair. In fact, he gave me the courage to change it up. So, I made an appointment with Brooke, a girl I had met through work. I remember walking into her chic modern salon in Charlotte, scared to death. She comforted me and we laughed a little about the big change that was about to happen. She washed and pulled my hair into a low ponytail. Then she asked if I was ready. I think she was a little nervous, too! As she cut through my thick ponytail, it had that same crunchy feeling I remembered from my four-year-old haircut. I anxiously watched in the mirror as my ponytail fell away and my new short hair danced free. I couldn't believe it; I loved it! Brooke looked pleased and told me she was happy that I liked it, but she wasn't finished yet! She cleaned up the cut into an adorable classic bob that framed my face perfectly. Although I instantly loved it, I was still super anxious when I returned home to see what Zach would think. He loved it, too! Sometimes it can take a little extra support and encouragement to step out of our comfort zone and I'm so glad I found mine.
I can't believe I'm able to draw up all of these connections to my childhood, adolescences, and my present day hair philosophy.
I'm probably not the only one who feels like a million bucks on a good-hair-day or a little hideous on a bad-hair-day. After all, why else would we pay so much to have our hair professionally washed, cut, colored, and styled every four to six weeks? In fact, I know I'm not the only one who suffers from this ideology. I ran the front desk at my dad's dental practice for the last four years before we moved. Do you know how many times people would call to change or cancel their dental appointment due to a conflict with their hair appointment? It was absurd! I digress...
The haircut I gave myself today was very minor, but I feel I grew a little bit spiritually. I feel a little more connected to that four-year-old baby girl I once was and I'm thankful. I had been fearless. Today's pondering helped me remember what it was like to dive in without fear and try things with the confidence that it's gonna be okay if they don't always turn out how you plan. After all, "it's only hair, it'll grow back."
I pledge to feel confident and comfortable, even on my bad-hair-days. ; )
Today, I cut my own hair. I sort of like it. It feels fresh. I feel pretty. It feels good.
Today, I feel connected. I feel aware. I feel thankful.