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New Perspectives…on Hair

After touching up my roots this weekend, I found myself going down the rabbit hole of “Going Gray” videos on YouTube. Every time I’m less than impressed with how the hair dye goes, I find myself wondering yet again if I should just embrace my natural hair color and get off the dye, touch-up, repeat carousel.

And every time, I’m reminded that a lot of these women still bleach their hair to get an even color, or use purple or blue shampoos depending on their personal tone to keep their hair from turning off-colors like yellow. Point being, going “natural”, whether that means white or gray or a patchwork of colors (like mine is underneath the henna and indigo), does not mean “no maintenance”. It just means a different kind of maintenance.

I ask myself if I’d truly be happy embracing my natural color, and the answer is no. Could I, if I had to? Of course! I’d never have started dyeing my hair at all if the lab-made dyes were all that was available, but I have natural powdered plants to dye with, so, it seems less damaging than the nail polish I use weekly.

So why then, am I do annoyed with the fact that I need to maintain my dye job? Mostly because I have trouble getting a consistent result, honestly. I miss spots, or I don’t get the color “right”. It’s because I’m not “perfect”, even though I’ve done root touch-ups exactly four times now.

Seriously. That’s ridiculous.

I do my nails every Saturday night. I started that habit decades ago, and it wasn’t because I really liked doing my nails. It was because my nails grow fast and are hard, but tend to break easily at the tips if they aren’t maintained regularly (cut, filed, and at least top-coated).

So as a way of making the nail maintenance I needed fun, I learned to do a full manicure and started doing nail art. A new design every week, and my nails were protected and maintained. Now it’s one of my favorite times of the week, because it’s a time to relax, watch YouTube videos that make me question my life choices (and also the occasional movie or series – currently the second season of Virgin River), and eat questionable snacks gingerly as my nails dry.

Could I let my nails just go au naturale? Sure. They’d still require maintenance though, and it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as a new color every week.

So how is my hair different than my nails? It’s really not, I’ve just built it up that way in my head. And I’ve put far too much pressure on myself, especially when it comes to being perfect. It’s just hair. And if I miss a spot, I can go back and catch it later. Or next time, even, because no one is going to blink at eye at the occasional stray white or gray hair on my head, just like most people don’t notice when I have to cut one nail shorter than the others for whatever reason.

And if they do…does it really matter?

No, no it does not.

There will probably come a day when I can’t dye my hair for whatever reason, and I’ll deal with that. For now though, I need a change in perspective. And a weekly hair-pampering routine on the weekend that makes the necessary maintenance seem more like a treat and less like a chore.

To that end, I’m going to appoint some time every weekend for hair care. It might be a hot oil mask, or maybe just trying a new hairstyle, but it will be scheduled time that will hopefully become like my nail nights, or my foot care nights (I do foot care while budgeting and grocery shopping online late Friday nights). I think that will make the root touch-up nights just another normal thing I do, like polishing my nails and shaving my feet (yes, that’s a thing…and in my case, necessary).

On a related note, I think we all need one day a week where we can just focus solely on caring for our bodies. It would be so helpful to have time set aside that didn’t also have to be used for household chores and errands.

Weekly spa day for everyone! Wouldn’t that be the life?


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Thanksgiving & Historical Hair

I’m not sure if “Happy” is the correct word to put with “Thanksgiving” this year. I think many of us are so tired, beaten down, depressed or angry for one reason or another that while we’re thankful to have survived this far, a lot of us probably still aren’t all that “happy”.

That said, we have survived this far, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so while it may be a ways off yet, we can make it. We just have to keep slogging along, and do the one thing that seems to be the most difficult for humans to do – stay away from each other for a little while longer.

Admittedly, I don’t really have an issue with that like a lot of people, so it’s really not a hardship for me to eschew family gatherings and such. Honestly, it’s kind of a convenient excuse. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with just my husband this year, and making a nice dinner tailored to our own tastes. Nothing to complain about as far as that goes.

In other news, I’ve recently become fascinated with historical hairstyles/styling. The thing about growing your hair out is, if you don’t focus on the goal, you are pretty constantly tempted to chop the whole thing off again during the awkward “in between” stages of growth. I’ve been buying fun hair accessories and even pony tail holders in anticipation of my hair being long enough to use them, and one day a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel of a historian demonstrating how to care for hair during…the Edwardian period, maybe? I can’t remember really, but it started my spiral down into the world of historical hair care and styling, and I’ve been watching similar videos every since. Here’s a different hair video I watched this weekend…fun and fascinating, methinks!

Needless to say, the wait for long enough hair to braid (or “plait”) again is even more excruciating while I watch because I want to “play” too, but also something I’m really looking forward to. A few more months and I should be able to do quite a bit more with my own mop.

I got very little writing in last week, and that’s something I’d really like to change. So along with a really good ham, scalloped potatoes & sweet potato pie dinner this week, I’d like to get some words in consistently. With any luck, I’ll hit four mornings out of five, and have another fun something for Friday.

Until then, I do wish you the happiest Thanksgiving you can possibly have.


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Weariness, Planning, Hair, & Granola Culture

I think it’s safe to say we’re all tired of the pandemic. I’ve heard from more than one person lately that they’re just tired of it all, tired of thinking about it, tired of the mask thing, tired of staying away from people. They’re ready to throw in the towel and go back to just living life normally, letting whatever happens, happen.

We humans do tend to have a painfully short attention span, unfortunately.

I’m tired of thinking about it too, and tired of masks, and constantly analyzing whether my sneezing fit is caused by smoke and fall allergens, or if it’s the dreaded Covid monster. I’m not really tired of staying away from people, but I am tired of having to think before going to dinner, or planning a night at the movies three weeks in the future – will our infected rates be going down or up by then?

But, I’m not going to stop taking precautions just yet. Yes, we have some very promising treatments, and the mortality rate has gone down quite a bit. We are less likely to die from it now than we were a few months ago, just because doctors and scientists are more informed, and have several really good treatment options they can employ right away.

Thing is, they still don’t know what causes some people to react worse than others to the virus, and the long-term effects are still a possibility for anyone. And frankly, I’d rather not put my body through that if I don’t have to. So as tired as I am of all of it, I’ll keep masking up inside and around large groups of people. And I’ll keep evaluating case loads and numbers before I decide whether or not to do something. Because it seems like the responsible thing to do, both to avoid getting sick, and to avoid giving it to someone else who may be affected badly by it.

If you think that’s “living in fear”, well, sure it is, to a point. I’m allowing fear to make me cautious. And in this case, I’m okay with that, because the potential threat is still largely unknown. That’s what our innate fear response is for – to keep us safe. I’m merely listening to mine, because it seems logical/practical to do so.

Last week I posted about focus and planning, and I’m happy to report that on that front, really good progress was made. Every night, I took 15 minutes and made to-do lists for work and home, and then I scheduled all the things I needed to get done (and could reasonably expect to do) for the next day. Not only did that make my entire day a lot easier and less stressful, I was far, far more productive, even with a million different interruptions. It felt good, and I’m definitely going to keep that up. It was so…refreshing to be able to just know what I wanted to work on when, and be able to kind of just put the rest of it out of my mind because I *knew* it was already scheduled, and that I’d left plenty of time to work on it, so it would get done and I didn’t need to stress about anything.

I did, however, fail to do any planning whatsoever for the weekend, and…that kind of hosed me up as far as productivity goes. I’ll be more mindful of that for next week, and actually schedule those planning times on my to-do list so that maybe I can have a little more control over my weekend as well.

As for my hair-growth project…it’s kind of stressing me out. It’s at the point now where it’s just going to be difficult to manage for the next few months, and my confidence is waning. I’m having trouble with the idea that it might affect the way I’m treated, both at work and in other social situations. I’m excited at the prospect of having more versatility again, but there’s this voice in the back of my head that’s afraid to just ignore what people obviously respond well to (my short hair, in this case), just because I want something different.

I just remember how things changed for the better when I cut it off, and I’m afraid all that will revert as my hair gets longer (especially in this stupid grow-out stage when it’s just going to be unruly).

We’ll see, I guess. I can always chop it back off, if I find that I just need that coiffed-pixie look again. When I cut it off before, it was mainly for other people. Now I’m growing it out for me, but I’m keenly aware of the perks that come with keeping it short. It’s…difficult to do what I want when I know that the option that serves me better both socially and in the workplace is something different.

I guess it’s like my tattoos all over again, in a way. And I maybe just need to keep reminding myself that once it gets past my shoulders, I can just wear my hair up whenever I need that “short-hair” boost, and then be free to leave it down for myself evenings and weekends.

Am I superficial for spending so much brain power on my hair? Sure, I guess. But honestly? I’d rather worry about that right now than all the other more serious things I could be anxious about.

For my next personal change of 2020 – I plan on buying some flannel shirts, and re-embracing the granola culture I spent my college years in. Not because I want to go back to college (definitely not), but because it’s comfortable, and it feels more like “me”.

I can’t decide if I’m “devolving” or “evolving” given that I’m basically going back to who I was in my 20’s. I guess the real question is, do I care? The answer right now is, not enough to stop. We’ll see what happens as the months go on.

Rest assured that whatever happens, I will never wear socks with my Birkenstocks. And I don’t even own crocs. I do still have *some* standards.


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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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