Body Talk

Ah, the human body. It’s only as high maintenance as we make it, I guess, but just doing whatever without taking the effects on the body under advisement can lead to…well, a much shorter, more difficult life in general. Too bad that realization doesn’t really make the constant attention to maintenance any less annoying.

With that in mind, a few things from the past week:

– The bathroom scale is now registering high enough when I step on that I was forced to face the fact that my experiment with adding more bread and cookies back into my diet is a complete failure. I’ve started imposing restrictions again and am already seeing downward movement. Call it bloat or “water weight” or whatever you’d like, the fact is, my body does not process breads and flour-based foods well. Moderation is a *must* – no getting around that. I need to plan better for next week so I have alternatives ready, and can easily limit both calories and breads/pastas/flour-based treats.

– Still on the subject of food, I tried not-snacking in the afternoons to limit calories, but the brain drop is severe enough to stifle productivity, and it wasn’t helping with the weight issue anyways. Tried nuts again, still not as helpful as I wanted. Then a co-worker shared a single thin mint (girl scout cookie, for those poor unfortunate souls who don’t know), and the chocolate/slight bit of sugar definitely seemed to help. Tried it again the next day (with a single dark chocolate cashew-butter cup), and same thing. In the meantime, the scale is still moving down (inching, but not going up, which is the important part). The nice thing about this is, I don’t like chocolate well enough to sit and eat a whole candy bar or pack of chocolate (it’s not like…say, Pringles or gummy worms, both of which I will consume the entire can or bag of before I even consider stopping). I really don’t like milk chocolate, but I like dark in small doses, and just a very small piece is plenty for one day. So I got some Bark Thins in this week’s grocery order, and I’m going to try one in the late afternoons for the next week. If it works the way things have been working, that’s a total win for me.

– I dyed my hair this week, but unlike previous times, I did the roots first, and then the rest of my hair for less time. Because I’m growing my hair out, I’m worried that dyeing my whole head like normal will result in the lower part becoming much darker than the roots, because they come in white, and henna is permanent (so it doesn’t wear out, and I’m not chopping the length off anymore). It went okay, though I still ended up with lighter roots than I was hoping for. I’ll have to experiment a little more, I guess. One person who also uses henna just does her whole head all the time, and doesn’t have a problem with the roots blending (or not). So maybe I’m making it more complicated than it needs to be? We’ll see. It will be about 6 weeks before my roots start bugging me again. We’ll see how it looks when this dye job has grown out that far, and make a decision then.

– When I dye my hair, it’s a three-hour project (because that’s just how long it takes for natural pigments). I have to take my earrings out first, which is another hour or more project after just choosing a theme and putting all my jewelry back in. Saturday nights are nail nights, so that’s another three-hours (remove polish, cutting, filing/shaping, buffing, polishing). And Friday nights are foot-care night, which is an hour for filing, soaking, and moisturizing. Plus random eyedrops & hand lotion – because…dry is bad.

So all in all, I spent a full workday or more just on physical maintenance this weekend. I don’t do that every weekend, of course, but…it just struck me as a lot of time spent just…maintaining. Obviously I choose to do that, and none of it is strictly necessary, though all of it makes my life easier in various ways. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing or it just…is.

I don’t think I want to make any different decisions at this point, but…it is a lot of time spent.

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Hair Everywhere

I don’t really have a clue why my hair is so much a part of my personal identity, but it is.

My short hair/pixie cut.

Nearly twenty years ago, I cut it all off to start wearing it short, and stupid as it sounds, I actually had a major identity crisis for a good several weeks just over having short hair (or not having long hair, whichever way you want to look at it).

But it goes back even farther. When I was a young child in Girl Scouts, we went to a beauty school for a tour. My mom was the only parent there who could consent to a cut for her child, so she did. Neither one of us realized that the stylist/student would cut *all my hair off*, and leave me with a buzz cut (literally shaved at the back and sides).

I cried (and I very, very rarely cried, even back then). I vowed not to let anyone other than my mom cut my hair again (and never short), and I didn’t, until I was nearly thirty and decided it was time for a major change. My hair was waist-length at that point, and I cut it in stages, up to my shoulders, then into a bob, and then into the pixie I’ve been wearing ever since.

Here’s the thing that I found interesting after I got over the whole “OMG! What have I done?!” shock:

Women complimented me more when I had long hair. Men seem to find me more attractive with short hair.

I’d experienced that occasionally before when I had long hair, as I often wore my hair up for work and going out (especially as I was getting ready to cut it), and I definitely noticed a difference in how those two genders reacted to the different hairstyles. But after I actually cut my hair, women rarely mentioned it at all, and I swear, men expressed a lot more interest in both passive and far bolder ways. I honestly wasn’t really equipped to deal with that sort of male attention, having always just been the girl-with-guy-friends rather than the girl-guys-wanted-to-date. I was engaged anyways, so it was a moot point, but it was a weird feeling, that just changing my hairstyle could make me that much more physically attractive to men.

My personality did change a bit, though not until I made peace with the new ‘do. I always had my hair to “hide behind” before, and when I cut it off, it was like cutting off a security blanket. I definitely ended up more confident, and relatively more outgoing. I say “relatively” because I’m still not all that outgoing – the fact that I’m an introvert isn’t going to change no matter what my hair looks like.

So…why am I thinking/posting about this now, those of you who aren’t Facebook friends with me might ask?

Recently, the hair stylist I’ve been going to for nearly as long as I’ve had short hair moved away without a word. She ghosted me – when I texted her for an appointment, she just never texted back. I called the salon, and they said she moved to the other side of the state. Cue my panic and anxiety at the thought of finding another stylist, especially *this* year in the midst of a pandemic.

I’d been considering growing my hair out again since last spring, and while I made an appointment with another stylist at that salon for two weeks out, I had an uneasy feeling about it. I thought about it for a week and a half, and then in the shower one day, I made a decision.

Time to go long again.

It will take awhile, as growing anything always does, and I need to start taking better care of my hair now that I’m not going to cut it off every 6-10 weeks. I also need to figure out how to dye just my roots to keep my color up. That…could be interesting. We’ll see. But, I’m committed to growing my hair to at least the middle of my back before cutting it off again. I will eventually do that – cut it all off again, if nothing else just to cut the colored part off when I decide to stop dying my hair. I think it will be easier to cut it off again now that I’ve done it once, and I’ll have gone through the growing out process as well.

Sometimes finding the courage to do something is just a matter of doing it once, and living through it. It’s always easier the next time around.

It helps that my hair grows very quickly. As I write this, I’m nearly a month out from when my last haircut should have been to maintain the pixie cut, and the lowest layer is already down to the middle of my neck. I will probably find a stylist to maintain the layers at some point, because my hair is also naturally very thick, and I really did enjoy the layers of the pixie cut keeping it thinned out a bit.

Having different lengths of hair is a complete change in lifestyle, and I’m kind of ready to go back to the lower maintenance of having long hair. Not having to wash it every day just to style it for work (yes, that is necessary with a pixie cut, or my preferred one, anyways), and being able to style it different ways (there are no variations with a pixie – you just always look the same) will be a nice change of pace. I miss braids and pony tails and pretty/fun hair clips and ties, so it’ll be nice to have those options and shiny baubles again.

In any case, it’s been fun having short hair, and having people interact with me the way they do with that cut. I feel like I look sophisticated and chic with a pixie cut. But when I had long hair before, I really didn’t take care of it or maintain it much (or at all), so this time, I think I’ll make more of an effort to keep it layered and styled and looking more…well-groomed. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyone interested in hair-growth pics? If so, I’ll post monthly photos of my progress (or rather, my hair’s progress, as it were). Let me know if that’s of interest – comment on your soc. media platform of choice, or right here, whichever you prefer.

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The Hair Metric

I’ve been coloring my hair for…well, quite a few years now. It’s not a fast process because I use chemical-free ground herbs – henna and indigo being the main ingredients. So the process includes mixing the herbs with water, black tea and a little vinegar (to help it soak into my whites), letting that sit for an hour or so to let the indigo “bloom” (so it’s less red, more brown), and then working the thick, dark green goop into my hair. I cover that with a reusable shower cap (leopard print, of course), and let it sit for 2-3 hours. I always think I’m going to make three, but more often than not, I end up rinsing it out at 2.5 hours because I get sick of trying to catch all the occasional drips from the shower cap with the towel draped around my neck.

I don’t touch up my roots, because I’m lazy, and because these dyes are very permanent, so dying over the top of a previous dye job results in a darker color, and that would leave the crown of my head lighter and the rest darker and I’m pretty sure it would be a really bad rendition of the “ombre” color fades kids are going for these days. I just wait until I need to get my hair cut again and then dye it the night after my appointment, when it’s short and a lot of the dye has been cut off.

That works okay if I stay on top of cuts. Which I often don’t. My stylist is super-busy, and I can’t wash my hair the day after I dye it which leaves only Saturday for appointments. So I often end up with gray/white roots and hair nearly to my shoulders in the span of ten weeks (my hair grows fast – always has, just like my nails).

So lately whenever I get my hair cut, I come home, take my hat off (it looks horrible just after a cut, because roots, dye, no dye, lighter dye…it’s a wreck), and look in the mirror. What I’m mostly looking for is whether there’s more white than gray. Enough white to just finally say, “Okay, it’s finally socially acceptable again, so no dye job needed.”

Why? Because to me, it seems like the only hair color that really isn’t acceptable and generally tends to make a person “invisible” is salt & pepper. That in-between stage that makes one look older than they are, but still too young to be “going gray”. It’s an uncomfortable stage, in my opinion (and in my experience, the one people are most likely to comment on). That’s the stage I’m covering (mostly). When it’s done, and my hair is all white, I feel like it will be “socially acceptable” again, and then I’ll be able to do away with the whole six-eight week dye routine.

I realize this is my own hang-up, and that plenty of women go gray/white naturally and gracefully, and kudos to them for that. But in my experience, people respond to the dyed hair better than the “transitional” stage, especially at work. So for now, I dye.

Do you have a hair metric? If you dye your hair, is there a point at which you know you’ll stop dying it?

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