new hair, new year, new me

I was proud of my long hair; it was the longest it had ever been. Many people commented on how nice it was. But it was starting to break down. The ends were horrible, fried and split. I was bored with it. We are on the cusp of a new year.

Time for a haircut.

While I love what a haircut symbolizes – cutting away the old, making way for the new, a fast and easy transformation from one version of yourself to a slightly different one – I often approach them with a feeling of dread. Not because I have had bad hair experiences – though I’ve had a few of those; I once came out of a dye job with straight-up orange hair – but because I dread the small talk. I don’t know what it is about hairstylists, but they all seem to love small talk, which, as an introvert, I loathe. Talking about the weather or the song on the radio or what your favorite color is kind of makes me want to shoot myself in the face. So this hairstylist that I went to this time won my (probably) undying devotion through the simple fact that she seemed as averse to small talk as I am.

She asked me what I wanted to do to my hair. She asked me if I was from Edmonton. She made an allusion to having a child, so I asked her about that. I asked her how long she had been cutting hair. And then, gloriously, miraculously, we lapsed into a beautiful, convivial silence for much of the rest of my time in that chair. She apologized for poking me with the scissors, she conspiratorially confessed that she likes to listen to the other clients’ conversations (hey, me too!), she asked me if I liked the cut. That was it. Otherwise, I sat in the chair and stared into space and composed blog posts in my head, letting her gently pull my head this way and that as she cut, occasionally correcting my positioning with a soft touch to either side of my head.

Early on, I got a hair in my face and went to move it. She scolded me soundly, telling me that if I was going to touch my hair, then she was going to just leave it half-done. She was obviously kidding, but maybe only half-kidding. I decided not to test it. I have been reaffirming my commitment to meditation lately, and it seemed like a good opportunity to practice.

There is an episode in Eat Pray Love when Liz Gilbert is practicing a radical form of meditation that requires one to sit perfectly still and not move a muscle, no matter what discomforts may be doing their utmost to disrupt. She sits for two hours on a bench, with mosquitoes basically eating her alive, and she does not move. My experience was not that intense, but it did feel like it required Herculean amounts of effort to let the hair fall into my face however it wanted to and to not touch it. No, don’t touch it. Just leave it. I know it’s tickling your nose, and there’s a strand stuck to your eyeball, but leave it. Keep your hands in your lap. Just close your eyes and forget about it.

And slowly, I did. I forgot all about it and then, suddenly, I’d realize that whatever annoying piece of hair had been plaguing me was now gone, had been moved aside without me even noticing. That what had seemed aggravating to the point of distraction had righted itself without my having to do anything but let it ride. I have a hard time relaxing and letting life happen as it will; I want to always feel like I’m in control. Perhaps this was a tiny lesson that I could carry forward with me.

Life has been buffeting me around a lot lately, or at least it feels that way. Simply existing has felt like a monumental effort, like getting through each day should be enough to earn me a medal for extraordinary valor. Part of the reason that I wanted a haircut and was so desperate to make sure that it happened before the dying light of December 31, 2015, was because I wanted a new beginning. I needed to cut away 2015, to see it laying on the floor in a bunch of blond, crispy clumps, and to bid it adieu. I needed to start fresh.

I got up out of that chair, my new hair swishing over my shoulders, and I felt transformed.

So here we are, in the final hours of 2015, and I feel about ten thousand times lighter. All the agony and frustration and confusion of 2015 is in a garbage can behind a salon on Jasper Avenue, and 2016 lies before me, sparkling and unbroken and new as fresh fallen snow. I don’t know what will happen this year. I guarantee that there will be some heartache. But now, with six inches of my misery gone, I feel ready to meet it.


new hair, new year, new me

Looking Forward: 2015

how all of 2014 felt *
how all of 2014 felt *

For 2014, I wanted to focus on authenticity. When December was winding to a close, I was working a job that seemed to be sucking my soul out through my eyelids, and I didn’t like what it was doing to me or my life. I was bored and listless, angry and sullen, lethargic and unmotivated. I was not doing any of the things I loved because I was simply too tired to even consider doing anything besides sitting on the couch and staring at the TV. Bryan and I fought a lot because I was very unhappy, and that unhappiness seeped into every aspect of my life, most especially my home life.

By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, I knew that I had to make some changes, that the life that I was living did not look anything like the life I wanted to be living. Where was my joy and spontaneity, my creativity and travel, my quality time with the people that I love?

I wanted to focus on creating a more authentic life for myself, focusing on the things that I wanted and needed, rather than the things that people expected of me. I stayed in that job longer than I should have in large part because I knew that some people would be disappointed in my choice if I quit. And guess what? They were. But it didn’t matter. Because they were people who loved me, and when they saw how happy I was after I made that change, their disappointment disappeared.

I quit that job. I got a job that I love. I am working in a field that I love, that I find desperately, wonderfully challenging, that keeps me on my toes, happy and engaged and exhausted in a way that still allows me the time and energy to participate in the other activities that I love the best: spending quality, unangry time with Bryan; painting and drawing; writing; doing yoga; reading; traveling. My creativity has soared in the last year. With each decision that I made for myself, for all the right reasons, I have found it easier to be true to myself, easier to make tough decisions, easier to tell people what I need and why. I have accomplished more this year than I think I ever have: finishing a novel, starting a new blog, going on four different trips to six different places, downsizing to a smaller apartment, completing a half-marathon, getting married (!!). Making the decision to remove myself from a bad situation and to pursue what I actually wanted in life was an empowering decision that set off a chain reaction.

2014 has been the best year yet.

I want to carry that forward into 2015. This year, I am still going to focus on authenticity, because I think that it is an important mindset. I cast around for a while trying to figure out what my focus for the following year should be. At first, I thought creativity, then I thought connection, and then I realized that the thing that has been holding me back in both of those arenas has been my unwillingness to be vulnerable. Click. There it is.

My focus for 2015 is vulnerability, which I hope will marry nicely with my focus on authenticity, and continue the upward trajectory that I have been riding.

Goals for 2015:

  • Health and Fitness
    • beat my half-marathon time of 2:57:30
    • take a circus aerials class
    • do a 30 day yoga challenge
    • complete the New Rules of Lifting for Women workout – 6 months
    • cut out sugar completely
    • cook one healthy new recipe a week


  • Adventure
    • make it to one new country
    • purchase a camper van
    • go on three trips
    • take surf lessons


  • Creativity
    • edit NaNoWriMo 2013 and 2014 drafts
    • complete NaNoWriMo 2015
    • learn to draw people
    • take a writing class
    • learn some new painting techniques
    • start a creatives’ circle
    • complete a 365 photo project
    • write and illustrate a children’s book


  • Finance and Career
    • save $10 000
    • be debt free
    • get a second job


  • Spiritual
    • attend a meditation retreat
    • practice daily meditation


  • Friends and Family
    • host a dinner party
    • say yes to more invitations than we say no to – say yes at least once a week
    • work on healthy argument resolution
    • attend 3 sorority events


  • Personal Development
    • read 150 books
    • become conversant in a language (Spanish? French? Italian?)
    • learn how to change a tire
    • learn to drive a standard transmission vehicle
    • take piano lessons (or voice lessons?)
    • be in a play or do an improv workshop
    • complete 75% of my 101 in 1001 goal list
    • create a new 101 in 1001 goal list
    • learn a new hard skill

Do you have a watchword or theme for 2015? What are your goals?

*photo by Kaihla Tonai Photography

Looking Forward: 2015