Go Big or Go Home

I haven’t felt like I’ve had much to write about lately. Much of that comes from just being too busy, tired, in the midst of deployment, blah, whatever – to put forth the energy to make coherent sentences. I often identify with Solomon in Ecclesiastes…”there is nothing new under the sun” Ecc. 1:4-11 when it comes to writing, but just when I think ‘why should I bother, it’s all been written before anyway’ – I’m quickly reminded that I don’t write necessarily for others. If someone benefits from my experiences, that’s wonderful. I’m grateful to be a conduit of a message needed, but I don’t write for anyone but myself. It’s a release, a creativity, a hobby, a sorting of my thoughts, and a clarity-giver. Sometimes I just don’t know how I feel until it escapes my fingertips, flying across the keyboard faster than my mind can form the paragraph. While we’ve been getting through the blah days and the good days, walking the dogs, I’ve been reading and thinking. My niece wrote this post about her wellness journey, and all that it entails and it got my mind churning again. I’m also celebrating a milestone.

I have been sober for 6 months.

The thought of a glass of wine sometimes sounds so good. The delicious swirl flicking across my tongue, the warm flush as the alcohol enters my system. I daydream about it sometimes. Not often, but when I do, it’s vivid. I have become hyper-aware of both the overt and subtle marketing of alcohol to women. Across social media, you can easily see either a movie featuring a female lead drinking, or a funny meme with ‘mommy juice’ as the topic, and even fitness-themed posts such as beer-yoga and lifting the barbell, with a convenient bottle taped securely, one rep = one swig. Isn’t fitness grand?! A wry smile crosses my face, but I really don’t find them funny. I find them to be… normalizing. Normalizing behavior that really isn’t healthy, but I admit the marketing strategy is effective. Smoking was mainstream and normal once, too. They were and are marketing geniuses.

At the beginning of this sobriety path, I started taking selfies and little mini-check in videos. Not as a vanity measure, but as some evidence of the beginning of change, where my head was at on a given day, and/or any physical changes due to the change over to a whole-food plant based way of eating. Watching the initial video, I was startled at how puffy I was, and how tired I looked. In hindsight, there’s a lot of stress and anxiety, there too.

Day 1, still shot taken from a video.

The last 6-7 months have encompassed many changes – giving up alcohol as well as switching to a whole-food plant based way of eating. I decided to stop coloring my hair almost a year ago, and actually wanted to go super short then – but couldn’t get my stylist on board. Embracing authenticity in many areas, it has been a season of shedding the superfluous – including hair that for as long as I can remember has almost had an identity of it’s own.  No, I didn’t have a Brittney-style meltdown, but simply feeling the need for some outward expression of inward changes.


I probably won’t keep it short forever, but I love the idea of a fresh clean break. A starting over and a reboot. It’s freeing in a way I didn’t anticipate. As I picked up the kids from school sporting the new ‘do, I felt lighter, bolder, and honestly – pretty badass. I always thought women who go pixie or bald were so brave. I remember staring in awe as Demi Moore shaved her head in G.I. Jane. “If only I had the guts to do that,” I thought. “I could never….”

Turns out, I have the guts to do a lot of things I didn’t think I could.

I don’t miss the hair. I don’t miss the upkeep of highlights. I don’t miss meat. I don’t miss cheese or bacon, surprisingly. I don’t miss alcohol or the fuzzy way it blots out life. I don’t miss numbing out, because alcohol can’t mute the crap without muting the wonderful.

The crap is definitely worth wading through to get to the wonderful.


Dear Straight Mom of a Curly Kid…

Dear SM (Straight Mom) –

She hears you sighing when you attempt to brush her curls. She hears your comments about her “rats’ nest”. She’s listening. She hears you.

She gets the message.

So let’s change it.

First, since you don’t have curls, there will be a bit of a learning curve. Please check out sites like these: naturallycurly.com (reviews of products in all price ranges and more!) or Deva (product and how-to videos!).

Educate yourself, so you can educate her on how to best take care of her tresses. The Deva site also has sample questions to ask a prospective stylist! Curly hair can (and should) be cut dry. To quote Lorraine Massey, “We don’t wear our hair wet. Why should we cut it that way?” Many stylists will underestimate the shrink factor. The hair dries, and what was thought to be a trim actually chopped off 4 inches!

Then figure out what type of curls she has…curly, kinky, etc. Then based on that – find out what products work best for that specific type of curl. All curly types need hydration. Shampoo is dehydrating. Look for hair cleansers with no sulfates and no parabens. You want something with NO lather. There is no magic in lather. I use DevaCare No Poo, but there are quite a few no/low lather cleansers on the market.

Throw away the brush. Curls should not be brushed out. (Okay, maybe for Halloween, but that’s about it!) No longer are we in the Marsha Brady world of 1000 brush strokes for hair health! I don’t own a brush. Keep a wide-tooth comb that in the shower and ONLY use it with conditioner in those locks.

Marcia Brady brushing hairCondition, condition, condition! Curly hair is thirsty hair! A great conditioner makes all the difference. It will help to keep frizz at bay and help the hair hold styling product much better.

A curl defining product is a must. This can be a gel, creme, or a spray – or a combo of all of the above. On my two-year-old, I’m not going to slather her curls in gel, but I do use Ouidad’s Botanical Boost. It gives a bit of curl definition and helps to detangle out of the shower/bath. I use Deva’s ArcAnGel on my own hair and really like the hold. Not too much crunch, but some definition. On days that are humid, or when I used to live in Hawaii, I liked Tigi’s Curls Rock styling creme.

Above all else, give your curly kid the tools to help her look and feel her best. Don’t add negativity to what she already may be feeling about herself. We may think “it’s just hair”, but it’s not. It does go deeper.

Final deep curly thought:

“I often have the fantasy that curly girls are mermaids who have had to adapt to life on dry land. We come from the sea. The ocean is in our blood. It sings through our heart and lungs, our skin and hair. Our curls require the nourishment only a watery environment can provide. Both ocean waves and curly hair are forces of nature that can’t be tamed. We can only accept and admire their power and beauty.” Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl: The Handbook.

Go forth and be curly!


Dear Curly Girl

Dear Curly Girl,

Where do I even start?

I, too, was made fun of because of my hair. I was called all the not-so-nice nicknames, and know that it sucks being ridiculed about something over which you have no control. It stinks and it’s frustrating because no matter how you try – they are what they are: curls. They can be unruly, wild, frizz-filled strands with what seems like minds of their own. (Often going in opposing directions!)

Being mocked at the bus stop daily isn’t a great way to endure middle school. High school was a rotation of baseball caps, hair ties and my good friend the banana clip. Like yours, my tresses have been coiled, straightened, blow-fried, brushed, braided, juice-can rolled, flat ironed, chemically ‘relaxed’, and dyed. I’ve cried after leaving the salon, too. (When the only person that thinks your hair is beautiful is your 65 year old hair dresser, it’s not a good sign.)

To be fair, growing up in the 80s/early 90’s puts a person at a disadvantage from the start. I mean, really!? Hammer pants? Yes, I did in fact have a pair. (Okay, I had 4, but who’s counting?!)

U Can't Touch This
U Can’t Touch This (Photo credit: Enokson)

And let’s not forget our friend, the mullet. Oy. (Yes, I basically had one of those, too.)

my 1980s mullet shame
my 1980s mullet shame (Photo credit: Anosmia)

It doesn’t help that the majority of media and advertising messages push the idea that attractive/sexy = sleek and straight. Between the people you know thinking you are a freak and the message of the media – what’s a curly girl to do?

Until my mid 20’s, I fought my curls every step of the way and even made the fatal mistake of asking a boyfriend, “What one thing would you change about me, if you could?” He, without hesitating, said, “Your hair.”


(Yes, it was dumb of me to ask.)

I straightened my hair for one of the first dates I had with my husband. He looked at it and said, “It’s not you. It looks fine, but it’s just not you.”

He was one of the first people to not suggest or encourage me to straighten my hair. (I knew then that he was a keeper!) It may sound silly to think about hair as such an issue, but you and I both know how deep this curly thing goes. You and I (and most other curly girls) have many stories of how this mane has shaped and defined us. In one way or another, we’ve had to come to terms with who we are as curlies. Do we go with the flow or continue to change into something we are not?

It is a big deal.

It has been years since my strands have been straightened. I have grown to love my curls and have learned so much from sites such as naturallycurly.com, Ouidad, and Deva.

It gets better, Curly Girl. Product, knowledge, and a good stylist are priceless!

When you have curly daughters, teach them to love their hair and work with it, not against it. They are going to get enough of the opposite message as it is. Find good product. Throw away those brushes. Embrace your hair and embrace who you are, and teach her to do the same.