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.


  1. Thank you Steph for honesty and allowing me to have a peek inside your life! Love you!

  2. Very interesting. Thanks so much for sharing your life online, it has been enjoyable to share this experience with you by reading about it.

  3. how wonderful. your beautiful and soulful words. thank you.

  4. Stephanie, great articulation. A family of six, yikes sounds like a lot of work. I would like to offer you a discount on some superfoods! email me and i will hook you up. christopher at brightearthfoods dot (com).


    February 22, 2012 12:55 PM

  5. Oh my goodness this has been so helpful. Thank you! Linda linked to your post for me. I was asking questions about dreads. The internal question I am asking "Is it ok for a homeschooling mom, missionary, and pastor's wife to have dreads?" Or does it matter if it's ok or not. I hear a lot of myself in your words...struggles with consistency and long term commitment. We're headed to the mission field in a foreign country in less than a year. I will stand out, a lot, even without dreads. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I enjoyed reading your journey thus far.

  6. Shara, thanks for following my scattered ideas. It's such a personal decision because dreadlocks are definitely not for the faint to heart on so many levels. If you decide to move forward & loc up your hair, please share your journey with me because I'd truly love to hear it!