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Why I’m Cutting Off My 5-Year-old Dreadlocks

I am cutting my 5-year-old dreadlocks!!! Gahhh! What am I doing? Why? Why, why, why?

Simply put: It is time.

Part of the reason I started my dreadlock journey is that I was looking for a way to express myself.

I was grieving at the time, and if you know anything about grief, you’ll nod your head in agreement when I say it’s an internal process that’s hidden from the world around you.

Five years ago, I was facing the aftermath of losing two children through miscarriage. It was the loneliest, hardest experience, and yet — I looked unchanged. I needed a way to look changed.

And that’s where dreadlocks came in.

  • They were a hairstyle I’d always been drawn to and interested in.
  • They were a challenge and a step into the unknown.
  • They were a way to help my grieving mind focus on something positive.
  • They were my own creation — an extension of myself, quite literally, and I could form them to look however I wanted.
  • They were a fresh breath of something new at a time when new life had been taken from me.
  • They resembled, to me, my desire to be an unhidden soul, and a voice that could be heard.
  • They stood for freedom, uniqueness, power, and strength.

So why am I choosing to cut them now?

It is time. 

A few months ago, much to my surprise, I looked in the mirror (something I rarely do these days as a busy mom dealing with an illness), and suddenly, I just knew — it’s time to say good-bye to my dreads.

Up until then, I’d had the occasional fleeting thought, the sudden urge to just chop them off.

Because, let’s face it, dreadlock upkeep is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work and commitment to take care of them.

My problem was, with Lyme disease, my arms and hands would get numb within seconds of trying to put them up or perform maintenance. As soon as I’d feel the numbness set in, anxiety would overcome and I’d have trouble breathing. I grew frustrated and soon felt depression follow — wishing I could just be normal again.

For me, the decision to now cut my dreadlocks is a way to say: I accept this.

I accept that I am not “normal,” and that this is okay.

What I’ve realized is, the anxiety I’d felt when my tingling arms would again, fail to master my ideal dread bun, was rooted in my belief of who I was. And what I was holding on to.

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It’s because I was forcing myself to live up to unrealistic standards, that I dealt with this anxiety.

I’m sure this could transfer to other areas of life — especially for the chronically ill person.

  • I never call so-and-so, I’m the worst friend.
  • I forgot that word again? My brain is so lame.
  • I wish I could go on a hike, ride a bike, go grocery shopping — you name it, I miss it.

How do we find a new normal when we’re forced to live such abnormal lives?

In order to find our new normal, we must create a new normal.

We must accept what’s in the past, while not letting it hold us back from our future dreams.

Despite temporary anxiety and frustrations, I have loved my dreadlocks.

  • They’ve been a conversation bridge, leading to some cherished encounters and friendships.
  • They have served as the most perfect ‘pillow’ or ‘scarf’ on a whim.
  • They have empowered me by helping me feel unique and beautiful.

And so it is with a sad expression that I bid these heavy, thick-knotted pieces of art adieu.

But sadness can exist along with joy and hope. I’m choosing to move forward with the freedom that comes when you find the strength to say good-bye to something meaningful.

I’m choosing to, once again, create a new normal.

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How Lyme Disease Takes A Village

Lyme disease can leave people feeling alone and abandoned.

Alone because no one understands. Even their closest friends and family members have trouble understanding.

Abandoned by the medical community.  Lyme patients are forced to pay out-of-pocket for treatment costs, and in a way, forced to become their own doctors.  Continue reading

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23 Ways to Imagine What It’s Like to Have Lyme Disease

This article was featured on The Mighty.

Dealing with Lyme Disease can be challenging enough based on the complex symptoms alone.

What makes it ten times more challenging, though, is the fact that (for most with Lyme Disease) our symptoms are invisible. Continue reading

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To the Passenger who Called Me A Slut

I don’t even know what you said in full, the wind disrupted the sound waves as your words were on their way from your mouth to my ears.

“Slut village?” “This isn’t Slut Village?”

Whatever you said, it initially made me chuckle. Receiving catcalls and obscenities is something I’d expect in my college town. And something that did happen often while I was in college, not because of how I acted, or how I dressed, but because men are men and that’s all. Continue reading

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United for Medical Freedom

A woman stands with an umbrella, rain steadily dripping above her head. She holds a sign: “My child, my right.” Pushing a stroller with two young ones, she makes her way closer to the front to hear the speaker.

A man in overalls steps in place to keep warm. He grins as we catch eyes. Passion emits from the microphone, and he is the first to applause. Continue reading

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Never Give Up Working With Your Hands

“You look more youthful.” The words hit me with surprise. 

Here I was, gripping a beast of a camera, one on loan from a good friend. I wanted to cry with the pain its weight brought to my arthritic fingers and wrists. But instead, I beamed with happiness. A youthful sort of happiness, as my husband pointed out. Continue reading

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It’s Still Hard | A grief poem

Today, January 14th, marks the due date of the second baby my husband and I lost to miscarriage, now four and half years ago. Words fail to describe the existence of pain that still resides in my heart as a result from enduring such losses.

In remembrance of what today should have been, I’m publishing an old excerpt from my journal. Continue reading

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A New Year’s Letter to My Decade-Younger Self

Dear Self,

You think it’s pretty crazy that it’s already two-thousand-and-seven, don’t you? You wish you could have accomplished more in this last year, but you’re sitting down with pen and paper, eager to write out a full list of all the amazing things you want to accomplish in the new year.

After an hour of journaling right before bed, your hand writing at awkward angles as you use your pillow for a desk, you come up with something like this.
Continue reading

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Have You Ever Shed Tears Over Christmas Cards?

When is the last time you cried? For me, the most recent tears came just the other night. I felt them creeping up, as my lips firmly frowned. I did not want them to take over, but they did. The wet droplets against my cheeks made me feel embarrassed, even though no one was around.

Not because I was crying, but because of what I was crying about.

You see, I was crying about Christmas cards. Continue reading

Beyond Me: How Many More Will Suffer?

I am not the only person suffering from chronic Lyme disease. And chances are, I am not the only person you know who has it.

Have (or how have) you been touched by Lyme disease?

Perhaps you have a friend who has Lyme. Or a sibling, parent or child. Or multiple siblings or children. Perhaps you don’t know anyone personally, but have friends or relatives who do. Continue reading

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