Cut, Color, Community & Compassion

No, I didn’t make it to the ripe age of 37 without ever having my hair cut and thanks to stubborn grey hairs that continue to pop up, I’m no stranger to hair dye. However, I will admit that I have not cut my hair since moving to Orange County in October of 2015 and all dyeing has been from a grocery store bought bottle in front of my bathroom mirror.

Why? Because I had a limiting belief that new hairstylists are risky. Let’s face it, we have all suffered from regretful haircuts. Some we regret only when we look at old photos (aka “the bowl cut” in First Grade and perms throughout Elementary), others can cause tears as we leave the salon parking lot.

When I headed off to college, I thought “Here’s my chance to reinvent myself.” When I shared this boldness with a hair stylist I had never used before but came highly recommended, he suggested the new “in” look of the pixie cut on top plus shaved the lower base of my head to a half inch. It sounded like a step toward independence at the time, then both my mother and I cried the whole drive home. My boyfriend at the time added fuel to the flame by commenting, “It’s like I’m kissing a guy.”  (It’s a wonder that relationship didn’t last.)

As an adult, I have had two stylists who I trusted implicitly because they knew me as a friend, understood my personality and what I’d be comfortable with. I liked each cut, style and color they suggested.  Since moving to Southern California, I have procrastinated finding a new stylist and used the excuse that long hair is very “beachy, surfer girl.”

Time for me to face my limiting belief and turn it around to “new hairstylists are not risky, I am when I make the decision to allow them to cut my hair as they do.” This is their expertise, yet I make the choice. And with dissolving that belief and the fear along with it, I’m now ready to entrust my hair to someone else again.

To make this a true completely new experience (aside from a new salon and new stylist), I have decided to do three things:

  1. Donate 10-12 inches to Pantene® Beautiful Lengths.
  2. Dye a 2-inch strip of the base of my hair purple (a color I have never ventured to use before).
  3. Let the universe pick out my stylist…no referrals, no yelp reviews…simple call a salon and ask the receptionist to assign me to whoever is available.

Before:

Long Hair
Taken this morning of pre-cut length.

During:

At Studio 5050, the universe assigned me to a bubbly woman named Ally Cas, who I instantly adored because of her warm nature and genuine smile. We talked a bit about what I hoped to do, she asked a few questions and then left to get a ruler.

The redheaded woman in the chair next to me asked if I was donating my hair, to which I replied a cheerful “yes.”

Her stylist, a handsome bearded man wearing a fedora and tattooed arms, asked “To which organization?”

I replied with Locks of Love, which was my original choice.

“That’s so great of you,” the redhead said. “Children need wigs more than adults.  I’m a two-year cancer survivor and I just donated my wigs.”

“Congrats on your two-years!” I replied.

“Did you know Locks of Love charges the families of the children $1,800 for a wig,” the hipster stylist said. “You should look at the Pantene program, they donate the wigs for free.”

“Do you know if the requirements are any different?” I asked.

“I think they only need 8 inches,” he replied.

I was comfortable donating the original 10-inch length commitment, so while I waited for Ally to track down a ruler, I Googled the Pantene hair donation program to make sure I met their requirements. Thankfully, my grocery store hair dye was washable. I also learned that they partner with the American Cancer Society to distribute the wigs, which makes me feel better about my donation.  Switch made!

Once Ally came back and it was time to make the drastic cut, another helpful stylist, Ed, offered to video the experience:

10 Inches of Hair for Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Throughout the cut and coloring process, I enjoyed chatting with the redhead next to me about her battle and victory over cancer. How she can finally breathe again hitting the two-year cancer-free mark. Instead of tests every few months, she only had to visit her doctor once a year. To celebrate this milestone, she got a tattoo. With genuine confidence, not one feigned from denial, she talked about how she wants to do something big for her five-year anniversary.

She shared how she donated one of her wigs to an older woman she met in a bar, whose hair never grew back, because the woman was on fixed income and couldn’t afford a “real hair” wig. How she was asked out more frequently with a shaved head than she ever had with hair – because confidence is sexy! How her naturally red hair grew in a much thicker dark brown and she dyes it back to what felt “normal.” How the only way to beat cancer is with humor and a positive outlook.

I can’t even tell you how many times I teared up at this amazing example of strength, resilience and optimism sitting next to me. The universe really was aligning stars to sit us next to each other so I could hear her story just as I was donating my hair to women just like her.

Hair for Women with Cancer
Two years cancer free deserves a tattoo to mark the occasion.

And after:

After spending three hours with my stylist, I realized how much I enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. She was sweet and spunky. And I love what she did with my ‘do.’

What I learned from this?

When you open yourself up to living in the moment and surrendering to whatever the universe has planned, those moments are such gifts.  I received much more than I gave today…and for that, I’m grateful.

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