Sunday, July 22, 2012

A bit of this and a bit of that

"I should write that down" often passes through me but never makes it to my fingertips. My mind and life move too fast, I suppose....or at least that sounds like a good excuse. But as I sit here on the back porch in the darkness of the night with the crickets and cicadas cheering me on, I'll attempt to write my current disjointed thoughts....

I love our new abode & 'hood. My mama soul is comforted by the neighbor kids already starting to bond with my own, the house is so "me" and definitely more manageable, and I feel eternally blessed to have the kindest people next door & across the street & down the way & a few blocks over. After a short 3 weeks I sense good friendships taking root.  

A mere hour ago I sold our old patio furniture set and helped load in on a young man's truck but I instantly forgot, coming out armed with my computer & wine & a glass of water only to discover an empty space. So here I sit on the wooden floor.

I've been shopping online way too much. I'm not a shopper, by nature, but a new home beckons new bling. When I purchase them all at once, though, it feels decadent. And yet I'm excited to set up all the beds, put together the new patio set & hang the porch swing.

Today I dropped off my first born at camp and am unsure of the ease in which I can hand her over to a group of teenage counselors & camp staff. I have no sense of fear, no melancholy & no pit in my stomach like many of the other parents. All I feel is joy that her life is filled with new experiences & new friends & that she's free to grow & live out from under my wings in her own confidence & youth. I'll go with my gut on this one & try not to work up any tears. 

I quite like not having central air. Window units are old fashioned zoned cooling systems. 

If I hadn't promised myself to give these dreadlocks a year to mature, they'd be gone by now. In this season of tank tops, they scratch the skin on my neck & back and I can barely tolerate them. These ropes are tied up at all times. Six more months to go.

Facebook is starting to bore me. After taking a break for vacation & then to move, I can't seem to jump back in with any vigor. Again, going with my gut & not forcing anything. 

I'm now off the wooden porch & back inside enjoying the comfort of my mattress on the floor & have two sleeping beauties by my side. It's truly amazing how life ends up in places you never imagined. 

Thoughts. Occasionally deep. Mostly shallow. Trying to embrace the lighter side of life.




Friday, February 10, 2012

The dreaded question

Yep, a couple weeks ago I knotted up my hair & started the fabulous journey of forming dreadlocks. There have been no regrets, no extreme hardships and no sideways glances.....thus far. I do, however, come across the regular question of "why?" It doesn't come in that one simple word, though. Rather, I hear.....

"What is your intention?"

"What is the meaning of your dreadlocks?"

"What is the significance?"

No offense to all my serious questioners, but it makes me smile. I've chopped my long locks to super short proportions with just as much intention & significance but what I mostly heard was, "That is so cute!" I'm sure a few people asked "why" but if my memory serves me, it was more like, "Why did you cut off your beautifully long hair?" and not "What is the significance of your short haircut?" Because I'm not one to hold back, I would surprise them with my too-serious answers involving words like "growth" & "discovery" & "trying to force internal change via external modalities." That tended to be a conversation buster. Sometimes, though, I would simply say I thought it would be cute because, well, I did. That, and babies like to pull long hair whilst breastfeeding.

But I digress. I appreciate the more in depth questioning about my decision. I'm sure some people are dying to ask, "Why oh why would you purposefully do that to your hair?" but thanks to all of you who've kept that tid bit to yourselves.

Before I blabber on about why I have dreadlocks, allow me to emphasize that my ideas & intentions will change over time, guaranteed. I'm not a black-and-white type of person. I often do things for one reason & over time, discover that it's taken on a whole new meaning in my life. I cherish that. Marriage, my faith, vegetarianism....they all started off with one ideal but have evolved into the beauty I hold today. And with continued grace, they won't stop evolving.

So, it all started during the full moon of July '05. Some friends & I were sitting around a bonfire, listening to Bob Marley & passing the pipe when I had a spiritual revelation of immense proportion. Wait, that wasn't it. *wink*

The truth is, it's been growing in me over time. It wasn't an overnight decision nor something I took lightly. I was forced to ask myself real questions such as.....Can a white suburban mama have dreadlocks? Do I have to believe Haile Selassie was the reincarnated Jesus? Will my family & friends confirm their belief that I'm totally wacky? Do I need to become a reggae aficionado? When I realized the answers to these questions were yes, no, I don't care, and that would be cool, I had to ask myself one more question. Why?

Let me throw out a few words that have floated in & out of my consciousness. Simplicity. Experience. Adventure. Self-discipline. Commitment. Behind these words lie the origin of my dreadlocks. If you care to continue reading, I'll explain.

I lead a full life. I'm a homeschooling, part-time doula'ing, full-time parenting woman who is forever trying to keep her family of 6 happy & healthily fed. I'm actively involved at church, with family, with friends, with neighbors & occasionally with strangers. On a daily basis, I seek simplicity amongst this beloved chaos. Sounds like an oxymoron but I truly know it can be done and as of this writing, I'm in a peaceful place. Dreadlocks represent this to me - ultimate simplicity. Knotted hair that needs no combing and little styling. Granted, I'm quickly realizing this is not the case. At least not yet. (An example of my ever-evolving ideals!) I've spent more time fiddling with these dread babies in the past 2 weeks than I did styling my hair in all of 2011. This is where the self-discipline & commitment come in.

Anyone else struggle with consistency or long term faithfulness to, well, anything? Not me. No, no, never. *rolls eyes at self* Sometimes I think I have a disorder. I'm a woman of vast & grand ideas, an initiator, jumping headfirst into intense decisions (after much research & thought), only to wane in my commitment. For some reason, I can't keep up a rhythm. Over the years I've learned to embrace this part of me & accept my need for change but in the quotidian, I struggle with my lack of self-discipline. The dreadlock decision has become part of this paradigm. As I separate dreads, palm roll & figure out the best ways to nurture & maintain my hair, I'm making a daily commitment to be faithful & disciplined. So far, it feels grand.

I cannot go without mentioning experience which walks alongside adventure. The world is vast. Options are endless. I'm not an adrenaline junky but I appreciate a variety of, what some may say are, non-traditional experiences. I enjoy venturing outside my comfort zone, expanding the narrowness that guides damn near every one of us. I want to know what it feels like to have knotty, coarse hair. I want to know how others will perceive me, walking around suburbia, blue eyed & wild haired. I fully realize I'm not the only one with dreads in my community but even if all my friends had them, I wouldn't fully understand. Living vicariously is not good enough. I thrive within adventurous experiences.

And did I mention that I love the way they look? I'm not totally altruistic in my motives, I admit it. I've been drawn to dreadlocks for years & years, possibly for the same reasons I mentioned above. Maybe not, though, now that I think about it. Reasons change, people change, motives change. It's all good.




Monday, January 30, 2012

The dreaded adventure

Well, I did it. The hair is all knotted up & waiting to mature into lovely locs. The process took much longer than anticipated but gratitude & amazement go out to some ever-so patient & giving women in my life! In the words & photos to follow, I hope to take you through the first steps of my journey. It's been quite a trip!

Before it all started, this is what my hair looked like. Long (apparently uneven) & straight as an arrow.


Step one was to section & band my hair in preparation for the backcombing. (Backcombing is essentially teasing the hair.) I had plans to get together with friends the next day but had the brilliant idea of asking T, our lovely 19 year old, to section my hair the night before to make the first day's work easier. T graciously dropped what she was doing, grabbed a comb & got to work.



Little did I know, THIS was the first day's work. I sat on the chair in front of her desk and we talked & laughed as she parted & banded my hair into little strips and 2 hours later her task was complete. *phew* I had no idea. Check out her handy work....


Instructions on how to start dreads by backcombing don't include this step but it made sense to me & I honestly think it eased the following day's work. Plus, my dreads are incredible and I give partial credit to the prep work. When the night was over, I had a teeny inkling of what my hair would look like.


The next morning I loaded the kids into the car, stopped by Trader Joe's for some food & headed to a friend's house to meet 4 other mamas willing to sacrifice their time for my hair. Our 16 unschooled children enjoyed lots of quality time together in the hours & days to come as my hair became the center of attention.

I couldn't have been there 10 minutes before I was plopped in a chair. Me thinks everyone was just as excited about this adventure as I was!


Below you can see the tiny sections of hair they were dealing with. Each section was backcombed for 5-10 minutes, then slightly waxed & palm rolled to keep it's form. (I later read that waxing is not the best idea but it worked out ok, in the end.)


It's intense work & this dear mama took it very seriously. My lovely locs are due to love & dedication like this!


AP dreading!


The older kids enjoyed lots of Wii......

.....and play time outside.


Each friend took turns with a comb & soon, progress was being made.

Ouch

Check 'em out!
More AP dreading!
At the end of the first day, my hair looked like this and I loved it! One pleasant surprise was that I didn't lose inches of length. I understand they shrink as they knot up & mature over time but even if I lose 3 inches, I'll be thrilled.


Here's a great shot of me & my "dread wives" on day two. Love you, mamas!


It didn't take long before they were back at it, sleeping babies and all.


When one of the little ones was asked what she thought of my dreadlocks, she promptly ran to the other room & grabbed an octopus stuffed animal. Ha! From the mouth of babes.



By the end of day two, my hair was looking dread-a-licious! These women backcombed their hearts out. 






......and palm rolled.


 We were all exhausted, by this point, but the task was not quite complete.


It looks like it's almost done but there were 26 more to go, on top & up front. Yowsa. 


Our trusty photographer came back on day 3 but because her hands were busy in my hair, few photos were actually taken. I think you get the gist, though, from the above pics, right? Backcomb, wax, palm roll. Repeat.


Drum roll, please.......





16 hours of love. 80 dreads.
They're wild & wooly & totally amazing! I adore the way the dreads look & feel & am anxious to grow & mature with them in the coming weeks & months. 


The journey has just begun.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Don't hate me because I want dreadlocks

I'm white. I live in the suburbs. I'm a homeschooling mom. I want dreadlocks. I am not a Rastafarian. I am not a pot head. I am not the creative artsy type but I still want dreadlocks. You wanna make something of it?

Seriously, though, they represent a free & easy lifestyle; a simplicity that I long for. I've appreciated dreads for ages and 5 years ago I started researching the process, dreaming about having them myself. I was pregnant at the time and the dream easily came & went as I focused on other more imminent needs but it has lingered in the back of my mind. Now may be the time.

I'm not a stranger to new hairstyles & my long straight locks have often been chopped to ultra short proportions & been colored random shades of brown, red & white. (I'm not much of a blonde fan but I enjoyed the bleached look for a short stint). Recently I've had the urge to buzz the hair again but then the thought occurred to me, now's my chance to dread this mess! I can try it out for a few months, see how it goes & get rid of it all if it doesn't suit me, right?

Not everyone appreciates the look of dreadlocks like I do, I'm well aware, but age brings this beautiful attitude of not caring. Thankfully my friends & family & church community & people in my neighborhood know me well enough to understand. I'm pretty sure most of them think I'm "out there" most of the time anyway. Ha! Homebirth? Homeschool? Cloth what?

So in the weeks & months to come, if you run into me with a bandana on my head & dreads hanging wild & free, I meant to do it. It wasn't a result of not washing my hair but rather a conscious choice to change things up.

Should be an interesting adventure.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

That sacred December day

You were "due" Dec. 10 but I was hoping for earlier, as most pregnant mamas. Not only was I ready to meet you but I wasn't thrilled about your birthday being so close to Christmas. Alas, 12/10 came & went without much ado & my belly continued to shine. As a matter of fact, the more one goes past her due date, the more the pregnant belly becomes a celebrity, of sorts. You received quite a bit of attention those last few weeks. I so enjoyed standing in the checkout line at the grocery store and the clerk would ask, "When's your baby due?" "3 days ago." An eyebrow would raise & I would be given a word of encouragement as I was handed my bag of groceries. As time passed, my answer became more shocking. "8 days ago." "9 days ago." I imagine a few people hoped I'd leave their presence lest I drop you that very moment. Thankfully that didn't happen.

I'd had such a beautiful birth with your big sis and was confident you & I would accomplish the same but the silly date thing started getting in the way. I asked the midwife how long they would let me go past our EDD before discussing induction & sadly, 2 weeks was the absolute max. At 41 weeks they wanted to do some testing to make sure you were ok in there & I prayed the entire time that my fluid levels were ok & that your little heart was galloping, galloping. Yes! I was sent home relieved but nervous, all at the same time. I did NOT want to be induced. I knew you would come when you were ready but was I prepared to fight? Thankfully it didn't resort to that.

On Dec. 21 I awoke feeling a little "off" but Grandma & Grandpa were coming to visit with cousin Dominic so I got up & started the day. They showed up very early, around 8am, and by that time I was having quite a bit of GI distress so I called the midwife to let her know. She was at the hospital & asked that I come for a quick check so Daddy & I left Simone with Grandma & Grandpa and headed out. 

When we arrived at the hospital, the midwife, Shirley, asked me a handful of questions & wanted to check my cervix before making any decisions. All seemed fine & dandy, no reported contractions, feeling you move in my belly, no fever, etc, etc. But..... I was dilated to 4cm. At that point they hooked me to the fetal monitor & apparently I was indeed have regular contractions. No one was going home without a baby! We have a photo around here somewhere of me lying on the gurney, strapped down with monitors, smiling & talking on the phone. I was calling Nana to let her know the news because she was hoping to come from Wisconsin to see your entrance. She didn't quite make it, though.....

We were admitted but I still wasn't feeling so much as a twinge. I'm not sure when the action started but it definitely came on fast & furious. I believe Tia was there at that point (and Auntie Heather arrived soon thereafter) and all I remember is pacing the room, naked. Tia & Shirley tried to keep a sheet draped over me but I couldn't have cared less about modesty. I paced, I squatted, I lay in modified child's pose which felt oh so comforting. It couldn't have been more than an hour before I started having mild urges to push so Shirley checked me again & sure enough, I was ready....we were ready.

I attempted a few pushes in the bed before realizing it wasn't working so the birth stool was brought in. With Daddy behind me, I welcomed the surges of your little body & soul coming out to meet us. At 12:30pm, you slid out & I grabbed your sweet slipperiness to my chest. We did it! 

As you read this, I pray you're moving through life as confidently as you came to us that sacred day. And I pray you're continuing to smile & laugh as much as you did those first few precious months that followed! 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Simply run

In 2009 I did a sprint triathlon.  Nothing miraculous but it took consistent training and learning and growth on my part. Since then I've only done one other race (an 8K crazy snowy trail run) and if I've run 10 times since then, I'd be surprised. No swimming. Casual biking. What's my deal??

Go big or go home. That's my deal. I have trouble setting small goals and anything short of a marathon seems unworthy. Thankfully I'm starting to be realistic with myself and have decided to run a handful of 5Ks until I feel ready for something more.....and if I never feel ready for anything more, that's perfectly ok.

Immediately after I close this computer, I'm donning my running gear & heading to the treadmill. I wish I could run outside because indoor workouts zombify me but the 3 young kids wouldn't appreciate a mama disappearance act.

Here I go......

P.S. This post is an act of accountability.  Please hold me to it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eagerness

When did I lose my eagerness for the simple things? As I watch my children, I'm always amazed by their energy & zest for life. They race to the cabinet to get the oatmeal for breakfast, they skip to the mailbox to meet the mail carrier, they fight over who gets to bring up the next gallon of milk from the basement fridge and my son was just belting out Do Re Mi while sitting on the toilet. Their little souls are constantly forming fun out of function.

Somewhere deep inside, I remember that.

So what would that look like in my present life if I were to reclaim that eagerness? Let's imagine, for a moment.......

At 7am I roll over & realize it's morning. MORNING! I jump out of bed & head downstairs. Tea, tea, I must have tea! As I boil water & fill the French press with a variety of scrumptious herbs I can't help but inhale deeply & take in the aroma. Ahhhh. I saunter over to my iPhone & plug in some of my favorite music. The kids are all awake & begging for food so I sing them a song while tossing fruits & greens into the blender for our morning smoothie.

After I clean the kitchen with a radiant smile, I head upstairs to get ready for the day. "C'mon kiddos. Let's race!" At the top, we roll around on the landing laughing before I head into my room to get dressed & brush my teeth. I hum a few bars of Do Re Mi as I floss and stick my tongue out at myself in the mirror. Time to pack a lunch & head out!

Ok, I could continue, but I think we all get the gist. And to be honest, what I just wrote doesn't sound half bad. I could actually do that! Some of it I do.....sometimes, but definitely not often enough. Life's mundane tasks usually bore me to tears & I grumble through them, thinking the after-moment will be filled with joy. But guess what? It's usually not. More quotidian tasks, little laughter & continued expectation of coming joy. This won't do.

As a commitment to myself & my family, I embrace the moment, the beauty of the stainless steel bowls on the counter, leftover from lunch in need of cleaning. I treasure the time sitting on the living room floor, sorting & folding laundry. I inhale the smell of dirty children after a long day, knowing they all need showers & I willingly postpone my glass of wine & race upstairs to scrub their little scalps while we sing & sing & sing.

I welcome the eagerness back into my life.