January 18, 2012

the Beach before the Storm

I shaved my head.
I felt I could conquer anything.
I chose TRUST as my word for the year.

We went to the beach. In January. In Wisconsin.
The universe loves the crap out of me! 

The sly bitch (we're still talking about the universe here) was just buttering me up for a giant "you want trust to be your guiding force this year ... okay, I'll throw some shit at you; we'll test this trust thing out for realz, yo". 

In the last week ... 
  • We have a little more then 3 weeks before we have to be out of our house. 
  • Our credit sucks (damn rental foreclosure still plaguing us); so we weren't able to finance that super great freaking deal on a 5th wheel. 
  • My husband has decided to come off of his meds; making his moods and actions fall firmly on the end of unstable and unpredictable while he levels out hormones and learns to cope with his underlying issues med free. And you can go ahead and read that to mean he is driving me completely bat-shit-crazy! And that's on a good day.
  • Our van decided that she'd had enough of this shit; and died. On the interstate. Leaving us without a vehicle. Helloooo ... our food supply is almost gone! Not to mention finding another vehicle is not so easy when we can't get out to, you know, find one.  
  • Winter has finally hit. Making the walk to the store to get more food SUPER unappealing. I think I'd rather sit here and starve. And complain. And starve some more. 
  • Oooh, and the va disability compensation STILL hasn't hit (8 months later), so the little savings we had stashed away has since been spent living. The whole no money thing will probably be a factor in that whole finding a new vehicle thing. Probably. 
  • This one is a couple of weeks old ... but I broke my camera. My big, should just have it permanently attached to my hand, feel naked without it, camera. It's broken. And a couple hundred to fix. Relying on just my iPhone camera these days. Kind of resent my iPhone a little because of this. Kind of think my iPhone resents me a little back. 
So, to recap, I wanted more trust in my life ... thanks! Good to know you got the message. Maybe lay off for a minute so I can breath. Or at least long enough to take a swig of some heavy duty liquor. 

It's not been easy. Breathing through this and leaning into trust. And to be perfectly honest; I kinda totally suck at it! Screaming fits. Crying fits. Fits of total silence (the scariest of all fits!). But I'm working on it. I find I'm cycling through xyz fit faster then before; just seeing the word TRUST pop into my brain is enabling me to find my breath and my calm a lot quicker. And hey, I haven't killed anyone yet. I'll chalk that up to a big giant WIN, thankyouverymuch! 

For now, let's relive some more beach day. Because again ... we were at the freaking beach, in January, in WISCONSIN! And it was SUNNY!!! The universe might be a sly bitch who gets her giggles by fucking with people who ask for it (I did, after all, ask for this. in a perverted sort of logic) ... but she also gave me this beautiful, warm, perfect day! I guess I kinda like her. 

January 6, 2012

Part Three ... Feeling Fear

As I said in part two ...
Trust really is amazing. I'm still in awe over how this journey played out for me when I opened myself up and embraced trust. There was no (*known*) fear that day. But I've been asked what kind of fear plagued me prior. There were quite a few things that stood in my way. Obstacles I needed to work through; trust in. 

The biggest by a long, long, LONG shot; the ever spreading rash (seborrheic dermatitis) on my face would be so much more visible with no hair to use as distraction. So pronounced. So defining. So UGLY. That alone paralyzed me. It was bad (in my eyes) before we moved to this area 7 short months ago. It's 2-3 times as bad now, and I've shed many a tear about it (ok, tear shmear ... they were all full blown hysterical crying fits; lots of them). Something about this place has a huge portion of my face+ flaring up big time. I'm now suspecting it may be the water; so I have a heavy duty filtration system in the mail. But the thing about this rash ... it doesn't ever go away. Atleast in the 16-17 years that I've been dealing with it; it hasn't. Once a new spot/sore/lesion appears; it's here to stay. I have hope that one day I'll find something that will work to "erase" them, but right now I'm still working to find something to stop the progression of them!

Sooo, I have this "thing" all over my face, in my hair line, and now creeping down my neck, too. Serious crippling fear over shedding my hair ... a huge deterrent from the ever expanding splotches ... and opening that whole area up. There would be nothing to hide it behind anymore. They'd be right there. BAM! They'd be all "hey look at me" ... all red, all dry, all flakey, all sickly looking.  

Since shaving; I've had good and bad days with this issue. I'm working through it. I haven't yet let it stop me from putting myself out there; though I've thought about it. The intensity of the flare ups have been pretty bad; very red, very itchy, very much ALL OVER; I'm pushing past it. I've spent so much of my life ashamed of it. Letting it dictate who I was; what I was. There was a time in my early 20's when I didn't leave my house for months because of it. Months! And when I look back at that time I only had a handful of lesions. Nothing, NOTHING compared to what it is now. When starting this post I felt strong and capable. Right now I'm feeling a little scared and weak again. It's ok. I trust I'll pull myself through this. It's a process. I haven't, not even for one second, regretted my decision to buzz it all off. Too busy beaming with excitement I suppose ;-).  I'm so deeply thankful for it. There's no more hiding. No more "putting it off". I'm sure there will be a lot more tears shed, but I'm standing at the plate ready to swing as many times as it takes.

That asterisk up there about having no fear on the day I shaved ... I learned that wasn't entirely true. While I didn't feel a sense of fear during the process; reflection afterward showed that there was some. Thoughts of letting myself down/not really finishing what I started began to flutter around in my mind. Nagging at me. I used a size 2 clipper sleeve instead of just buzzing away sleeve free; and it proved bothersome for me. I came SO far; and I felt like I "wimped" out in a sense. Fear, again. Fear to really get down to it; to fully expose it; scalp and all. What if I had more lesions on my scalp then I realized? Did I really want to expose them? (turns out there are more up there then I realized, btw!). I remedied it. Bare sleeved clippers be mine. Hair gone. Swing! Score!

Again, for me, exposing my face was by far the biggest fear that stood in my way. But I had others:

  • I was fearful of judgement. I want to travel! The idea traveling AND shaving my head just seemed too scary. It's one thing to be stationary. Eventually you'll run out of people in your town to shock, right? Eventually. But on the road, new places; new people at every turn ... the possibility of a never ending line of judgement. That fear definitely stopped me.
  • I was fearful of losing myself. My dreads had become so self-defining, as I said in part one ... who would I be without them? I was fearful of being lost. 
  • The pure vulnerability of stripping down to "bare bones" was super scary. 
  • I feared what my head shape would look like. Perhaps I'd have bumps and points all over, lol. 
  • I feared I wouldn't feel like a woman anymore. Stripped of my beauty; bare and ugly.

While I haven't regretted by decision to "buzz up"... my reflection has caught me off guard a few times. I've had to do several double takes in the last couple of days. Which is not a bad thing ... new reflection; new me!  Though on more then one occasion I have seen a similarity between myself and Freddy Krueger... which is really kind of freaking me out! lol! I've also noticed that it seems to be more difficult then it once was to get dressed. I feel I may be trying to over compensate in the "girly clothes/accessories" department. But then when I really think about it; I've always had more difficulty getting dressed in colder weather. I don't like cold weather clothes. I don't like to feel bundled up. Loose and free is what I'm after. So I may just be uninspired by my winter attire here in WI, and it's causing me to rip through all of my clothes each time I want to leave; rather then a real sense of "girly overcompensation". We'll see. I'm leaning into all of these feelings. Letting each one teach me a little more about myself. 

I do believe I'll dread up again one day (for those who have asked) ... but right now the freedom is unmatched. I mean, c'mon, I can shower and be out the door in 5 minutes flat! I can wash my head at night and not shiver until the next morning. I can roll around in the sand with carefree abandon. I can enjoy a scalp massage by my husband. I can wear hats again! And when we leave here in a month (yes, we're leaving) ... I will run to the ocean and feel alive as the waves crash over my free noggin! 

I am every bit a woman. 
I am beautiful. 
Vulnerability itself is beautiful. 
My dreads never did define me.
I define me. 
My choices.
My character.
My strength.
My truth.
My life defines me. 
And it's a beautiful life indeed! Maybe messy, but beautiful!

If that's not beautifully perfect enough ... it snowed that night!

Whatta way to start a brand new year!

January 5, 2012

Part Two ... TRUST


Trust really is amazing. I'm still in awe over how this journey played out for me when I opened myself up and embraced trust.

I knew I wanted to wait until the kids went to bed before I got to cutting, so the rest of the evening was spent in a state of euphoria. A pleasant mixture of both enjoying my dreads for the last few hours; as well as immense excitement for the freedom to come. I talked to the kids about it before they went to sleep. I didn't want to just throw my bald head on them the next morning. I envisioned screams of an intruder! lol. They deserved to have some time to sort through their feelings, ask questions about it, and find comfortability without being forced to deal with it. We spent about an hour talking before I tucked them in, kissed them goodnight, and then sat in front of the fire and meditated for a while. Soaking in the feeling.

fire meditation

saying goodbye to my dreads.

I spent some time honoring my dreads. Thinking about everything I had been through since putting them in; good and bad. All the life changes that seemed to stem from the strength, patience, and love I took from them. But also all of the chains I felt tied to because of the fear I felt about "losing myself" without them. I've learned a lot about myself and life through this experience. I am forever changed because of them; because of who I became with them.

one last embrace
My dreads symbolized the past.
I envisioned breaking free from the past and stepping into the future. 
One last deep breath... SNIP!

off with the dreads
My hands were calm. My heartbeat rhythmic. No fear as I carefully snipped away each and every dread; exposing myself. Opening myself. FREEING myself. The sense of calm I felt still amazes me. It was unbelievable. And then when the clippers took that first buzz down my head ... oooh the happiness I felt. The giddy excitement that burst out of me. The smile that was permanently fixed on my mouth. LOVE! 

I chose to burn my dreads in our New Years fire. One by one I threw them into the flames. Watched as they sizzled and bubbled; turned to smoke and drifted away. I watched my past release me from their chains. I saw my future bright and open. And it all started with trust.

TRUST will be my power word for the new year.
Hello 2012 ... you look mighty sexy to me!

January 1, 2012

Pass me the scissors and set me free!

freshly shaved head ... marinating in the weightless freedom

I sat on a blanket on the ground; watching the fire dance as the smoke was pulled up the chimney. My face soaking up the heat; my breathing slow and deliberate. Feeling such a deep sense of peace and calm; enjoying the moment so immensely. No thoughts; just wide open enjoyment and appreciationfor life. For my life. Two little words washed over me so strongly ... "I'm ready". 
Right here, tonight, I'm ready. 

I've wanted to shave my head for a few years, but I wasn't yet ready. Fear and Intimidation stood in my way. When I dreaded up, I knew that shedding my dreads would only come when I had enough trust in my inner strength to take that leap.

Earlier this year I made a comment to a blogger friend. Her daughter had just gotten a cute little pixie hair cut, and I replied that I may soon be sporting a similar cut. The comment came so quickly, so naturally, that I didn't really have time to process it before I sent it. It was just matter of fact. As soon as I read it back, my heart pounded. And for a couple of days after that I struggled. I struggled because I was rushing my journey. Putting undo stress and pressure on myself to "just do it already". After a couple of days, I dropped all expectations and stopped focusing on "to shave or not to shave". I stopped thinking about it ... until a couple of months later (this summer). 

I don't know what shifted in me this summer; I can't pinpoint it ... I don't think there IS anything to pinpoint, actually. I felt myself opening up. I felt myself deeply appreciating who I am as a person. And I felt myself starting to trust me. I wasn't going to rush the journey. I still felt a lot of fear and intimidation, and I was't going to rush it. I trusted my ability to work through it. No need to rush. 

An inspirational blogger friend (one I would have been able to meet in person when we toured Lambeau earlier this summer had either one of realized who the other was. Standing literally inches from each other, ha!) Tara, The Organic Sister,  released her dreads in December. Her words, her photos, her radiance ... so completely inspiring. I felt this instantaneous urge to again "just do it". I sat with that feeling for a few moments, and then thought "New Years... that sounds like a great day to take the leap". And 2 seconds later my body was so tense, my knuckles white from my clenched fists, my breathing labored. I wasn't ready. I was afraid. New Years was just a week or two away. No way. I need more time. I can't let go of my dreads. I'm not ready to shave my head. My dreads are part of me. Who will I be without them?

I took a hot, hot, hot bath and mediated. Slowed down. Calmed my brain. I loved my dreads, and I wanted to enjoy them for however long they would remain with me. So, New Years is too soon. That's ok. If I wanted to commemorate the experience with a special date; there will be plenty more opportunities. Spring! My favorite season. I feel so deeply connected to it. It's indescribable. A time of rebirth could provide a wonderful backdrop to my own personal release and rebirth. I loved that idea. And if I wasn't yet ready when spring rolled around, that would be ok, too. Because there would be summer, or the date marking our jump to full time travelers, or my birthday, or NEXT New Years. Or any day in between. I wasn't going to rush this journey before I was ready. I felt at peace. I felt great. And I stopped thinking about it, completely. Trusting that I would know when I was ready. 

We're not a religious family, so christmas doesn't carry any christian meaning to us. We do like to exchange gifts of love and appreciation during this time of year, though. It's a tradition that we've tweaked a little to fit into our beliefs, but one we still want our kids (our family) to experience. We celebrated christmas day with extended family this year; which was great! It's been so nice living near family again. But because of that, we decided to push our intimate family tradition to New Years Eve so we wouldn't feel rushed through it (having to do it before we left for Grammas, or squeezing it in after we came home). And we didn't want to do it the day before or the day after; we like to be able to savor the experience for many days after. So we waited a week. Let the excitement of the holidays with extended family settle into our hearts before we celebrated on our own. And can I just say we LOVED it. I do think we'll exchange our annual gifts on new years eve every year! It felt right to us. So special! 

Anyway, so Nick and I were up all night setting up the basement (an area we never use) because that's where the fireplace is. We carried down a couch and chair, threw blankets and pillows all over. Brought down our little ornament tree, and placed all the gifts under it. Decorated with twinkle lights and paper snowflakes. And hung the stocking on the mantel. It was magical down there. So sweet. Small and cozy. It felt like tiny little cabin isolated in the woods! 

With wrapping paper and gift bags everywhere. A warm fire blazing. Lego pieces covering the floor. Laughter filling the space. I sat in front of the fire soaking it all in. 

And right then I felt it. 
My dreads, my journey, the furthest thing from my mind ... 
Seemingly out of no where it washed over me. 
I was ready. 
No fear. No doubt. No apprehension. 
Just stillness and peace. 
A huge smiled spread across my face.

Because I slowed down and took the pressure off. Because I wasn't rushed. Because I trusted my ability to venture through this journey and know when I was ready. It happened so naturally. So organically. 

Pass me the scissors and set me free!

Part Two coming soon... with lots of photos!