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Saturday, January 4, 2014

a letter to the girl with purple hair shopping at target

So, I saw you at Target the other night, shopping with your mom, browsing the dollar spot, rolling your eyes at her as she asked your opinion about something trivial. Your side looks of perhaps, maybe, admiration? I saw your mother check out me too with that "Oh good grief, does that woman have dreads in her hair" look on her face. And I saw you see that response. Your look of "So wait a minute, that lady can "be different" and have three kids and a husband? And shop the dollar spot on a Saturday night? And just be "normal" but "different" all at the same time? Really???"

And maybe I am reading a lot into those looks. But I am pretty sure I saw that all take place. Just like I get comments from kids, hanging out in the rough section of the city on skateboards, the old me would clutch my purse tighter as they came riding toward me full speed, the dreadlocked me stops and smiles as they slam their skateboard to a stop right in front of me, look up at me in surprise and say "Wow. Nice dreads."

And I smile and say thanks.

And. You know. Different. I am good with different.

Perhaps its growing up in a giant family. One of a row of ducklings in the grocery store, taking up a whole pew at church. Then being raised a homeschooler, when homeschooling wasn't a thing people did. And then traveling overseas, going to place where people reached out hands, perfect strangers, to touch my long blonde hair, a novelty in their corner of the world.

Perhaps I am just comfortable with "different."

But here is the thing, my friend with the purple hair. You are rough, we see your piercings and the hair, of course, and the carefully stylized "I don't care" clothing ensemble. But you are also sweet and kind. And you may roll your eyes but you shop with your mom on a Saturday night and answer her questions and I saw you pick out a puzzle for your little sister because you said she would like it.

And, here is the thing.

Don't be "different." Don't try to be "different."

Just be.

Be the multidimensional person you are. If that means purple hair, go for it, but don't think you need purple hair to "be different."

Just be.

The world doesn't have a "you" in anyone else, except you.

And I want to give you a hug. To thank you for trying to express yourself, so bravely. Meanwhile I see girls you go to school with, groups of three and four walking around the mall with matching sweatpants with words like "Sweetie pie" on the rear end and Ugg boots (NOT knockoffs) and tight t-shirts (and no coat!) and long hair and coach wallets in the latest color set. And I have to say thank you for being someone different. For trying your hand at individuality. Because really, I'd rather my daughters one day be the one purple haired girl in their class than one of a matching set of girls all the same, unable to step out of the mold to be anyone "different."

But hey, that's the thing right, don't feel like you have to be "different," like you have something to prove. Let go of the need to prove your difference. Just let it go, and BE, be YOU.

...And awkward segue way here...

...because have you seen the movie "Frozen"?? We saw it last week and I can't get the music and the message out of my head. Its lovely. About Sweden! And sisters! And finding who you are! And who you should be in the world! And empowerment! And this song,  I swear, gives me chills up and down. I think its my theme song for the next transition year of my life. Transitioning away from the world of tiny babies, into the land of writing book international go-getting mama and suddenly I realize how okay I am with being different. With being me. And honest to God, how I am kind of in love with my life, and, am I allowed to say it, who I am becoming? Mother, wife, sister, writer, blogger, homesteader, artist type. All of it. And yes, purple haired girl's mother. Yes, I have dreads, and I'd apologize except, well, I'm not sorry. I'm proud of who I am and who I am becoming. And really, sincerely, I hope the same for your daughter, mine too. Hugs to you mama, out there, wherever you are, for being cool with the purple hair, even if you really aren't. I hope you can see there are more offensive things in the world than dreads and purple hair for your daughter to admire, and I say that sincerely with good wishes, my fellow mama in the trenches.

And okay wow. This is really a "rah rah go me" post. I don't mean to say I'm "all that" but sometimes its good to step back and say objectively, yes, that Sara, she is KICK ASS, and really admire that, and that is what evil side glances/stares of admiration from purple haired girls do for me.

So, there you have it. My thoughts. And honestly please seriously see this movie. At least listen to this song.

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand in the light of day
Let the storm rage on!!
The cold never bothered me anyway.
(except for that it DOES bother me, ITS COLD OUT) 

Hannah, keep reading below for "how to make dreads" tips. GOOD LUCK!

So, tis is for Hannah who dared to ask the question, "Tell me, Sara, how DID you get those dreads in your hair."

So, yes, rolling out the dreads was quite the process. Like any good thing in life, it takes some doing. Ha. Um. Anyway.

Section off little bits and pieces. Keep the chunks under one inch. Smaller is easier to wash and keep clean. Now there are lots of theories out there about the "how" and which method is best. I chose to avoid all wax and NO perm dreading, thank you. I read too many scary things about chemical burns and hair falling out and wax that attracts bugs and mold. EW.

So, I sectioned off bits and pieces, after not washing my hair for several days, not too long though, just a few days. Then get those tiny rubber bands to keep all the sections in place. Then gather some sturdy combs and sturdy friends with sturdy hands. And then start teasing each strand back, like old school ratting up the hair, one lock at a time, your hair will bunch all up but will flatten down eventually, so don't freak out when you look like a total puffball. Because you will. There is also a "ri and twist" technique that I used when a few fell out. You will have to google this because its impossible to describe without pictures.

Now comes the hard part. Tolerating the next few days/weeks as you wait for it to "take." I didn't wash my hair here, for awhile. I did spray my scalp with some water and lavender oil. Finally after a few weeks, two maybe, I washed my hair with my standard routine, now I do this once a week. Take 1/4 cup of baking soda, 2 tb of lemon juice and mix in hot water, then stir in a few drops of tea tree oil (helps with the musty smells that inevitable happen) and lavender oil. I also use ylang ylang oil, because I like it. That first time I let the solution sit and soak on my scalp and in my hair for a good 20 minutes, then rinse in hot water. Now I just use this solution like shampoo once a week, like I said. Maybe one other time a week I wash with Dr. Bronners peppermint soap diluted in water. I have also done vinegar rinses a few times, which totally gets rid of musty smells and really softens your hair.

During this period and for the next several months just roll your dreads every now and then. I think I did this to each dread for several minutes after the initial ratting too, to get the poofs settled down. Just hold your dread in your palm, flat with your thumb hooked around the top to hold it in place, then use the other palm to roll back and forth working your way up and down the dread. I still do this. My kids do this to me. HA HA. No seriously, they do.

I also used several sort of trouble shooting techniques that first year. At one point the ends just weren't holding well so I did the loop and tuck technique (like flipping a ponytail once its in to create rolls of hair on the sides, remember when that was a thing??) this helps locks the lock in place. It also causes weird lumps in the dread when it grows out. I wouldn't recommend it. I also did tie embroidery floss around a few of them to strengthen them. I have one that needs this now. The floss eventually came out, except for the one that was meant to be permanent. I also used wool and a felting needle to felt around one of them with my one "in real life" dreaded friend. I should do more of that too. What I would recommend if your hair isn't "locking" is to use those tiny clear plastic hairbands to secure your locks at the roots. This really worked and I should've just done it right away. Once things seem more securely in place you can just easily clip them out. I think I just broke them out by pulling a little actually.

So there are my "recommendations." But really, do what works, just try to avoid wax and perming. Also remember your hair will be MUCH shorter after dreading, not at first, but eventually within a few months. My waist long hair was just below my shoulders after 6 months. I would recommend growing your hair out first before dreading. Its easier to keep them in at first with longer hair too. More hair to get knotted up.

So hey, there you have it. Happy dreading! Also, read this original post after I did the dreading. HA. The whole "dreads" series of posts are also entertaining. Click on the "dreads" label on the side.

early dreads. before sisters and mom got out them.
the length keeps coming up as the dreads really take
this is fall of 2010

dreading sisters!

after sisters and moms combed them

dreads after several months

early dreads
late winter, that first year. see how much shorter my hair got!

the favorite summer hairstyle with dreads. this past summer

the crown braid. love this one.

me pre dreads. (baby little man!!)

the dreads, a year in

my typical hair style, this past summer.

long and crazy dreads. three years old this fall

the original inspiration picture...I'd say I'm there!


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