new starts

Cut It Off

Have you heard of the guy who speaks to water molecules?

Dr. Masaru Emoto works on examining how the substance of water is intricately connected to our human consciousness. He has spent time studying the way language affects water’s chemical make up – its structure changes depending on the words used to title, label, or spiritually connect with the substance. Watch this video.

I find this research fascinating. It makes me question how I am choosing to label myself, what words I use to describe my experience. I wonder how snips of self-loathing are perhaps urging the little cells and molecules that make up me to morph and change.

I’m not sure if the same is true with hair follicles, but hang with me here.

As a hard-on-oneself perfectionist, I have been known to beat myself up a little bit on this bumpy road called life. My husband, mom and friends keep encouraging me to calm down, take it easy, rest. Friends send texts and magnets with euphemisms and articles like this one to remind me that life is a journey, not some point of arrival.

I think instead, maybe death is a point of arrival, but thats another exploration into something else entirely. The point is, I’m not the greatest at being kind to myself in my own little noggin. Pair that with learning to cope with grief, and the picture hasn’t been the prettiest.

I know that life can’t be pretty all the time. But over the past few weeks I kept thinking about that doctor, and those ice crystals, and the cells in my body and how they are reacting to my own self talk. And I got a little bit scared.

Now I do this thing in transitions – it’s an effort to have some semblance of control in this mad, mad world – where I chop off all my hair. It is not uncommon for females to go through spurts of rediscovery with their look, changing up length, color, cut for a renewed sense of self-love every once in awhile. My latest attempt at recreation though, was linked to something else entirely.

My hair has been getting long, really long. Over the past 13 months, I trimmed my hair once, instead appreciating the ease of pony tails, braids, simple buns. But I kept thinking to myself, what is happening in those hair follicles of mine? The ones that have endured a bit of suffering and stress? What do the little guys look like on a microscope? Can I transform their cellular sadness into something fresh?

No.

No, I thought. I cannot. And so I made an appointment with my hair stylist who has known me for years. Who, through God’s mysterious ways, has also lost a parent. On Saturday I sat down in her chair and she asked the standard question, “What are we doing with your hair today?”

I responded, “We are chopping the grief off Rachel,” and she smiled. Maybe, just maybe she knew what I meant.

With strong hands, silver scissors, and a loving heart she restyled my hair leaving a pile of messy, hurting cells on the floor as I wiped a few tears from my eyes. She blessed me with conversation, asking about my heart, and my family, and how it feels to be a year out from loss. She encouraged me knowing that the journey is long, but there are friends and beautiful people to walk through this process with you.

Another woman in the salon came along and swept up my hair from the floor, swiftly moving those nasty dead cells away from me. I could leave them behind and begin to grow fresh cells that morph beautifully in structure because I am going to be better to myself in how I talk, think, and process these challenging times.

She cut it off and that is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

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Mess of the Middle

Whew. I’m exhausted. Being that it is a Monday evening, most would say that is not a good sign. I’ve got mixed feelings, because this kind of exhaustion results from productivity and the after effects of throwing myself into new learning situations. Starting anything new can be taxing.  I spent the first week of 2016 jumping into a new job, and continue the diligent work of learning new tasks and databases. I hope to lay the groundwork for new relationships. I have spent so much time thinking about tone of voice communicating in email. Do I need a formal introduction to this brief question about business cards? Do I send the emoji with this instant-message and do I insert a joke here or there or wait….. until I come out of my shell – as the infamous extroverts ask of me. For some, this process of new may be invigorating and easy. Me, I need to ease.

As we complete the first week of 2016 I challenge you to ask the questions of Jonathan Fields, ‘What am I cultivating that is new and challenging? What am I maintaining that is rewarding, and what do I simply need to let go of?’ I had a friend send me a podcast by Jonathan Fields sharing his exercise on finishing out the year. I encourage you to take some time to listen to his advice on “Closing the Books”  . This podcast promotes a beautiful pondering experience that I turned into a journal prompt. His questions allowed me to process 2015 – to get my grievances and successes out on paper. Thank you, Jonathan, for reminding me that while our past influences our present, we get to choose to what extent that rings true.

I’ve been pretty stuck in my head the last few days, and am trying to remember to breathe, to meditate, to stop and drink some water while the thoughts of this new chapter swirl around in my head. Authors are supposed to catch the audiences’ attention within the first chapter of a book, or readers get lost, bored, lose interest. If I am viewing 2016 as a brand new book – this week’s first chapter has me hooked. What will continue to unfold as I try to negotiate these new routines, duties, evolutions of me?

Today I am awed by the beautiful cotton candy sunsets that the Colorado skies provide. It IMG_3350may be freezing outside, but the melding oranges and pinks soothe my soul as the sun dips beneath the snowy mountains across the way.

Too, I got a card of encouragement in the mail from my best friend from college. Snail mail is such a beautiful, delightful treat. Or maybe I should call her correspondence whale mail, as the card was covered in charming little gold whales with happy tails and bursting blow holes. It means a lot to me to have love written down and send with intention from town to town.

What beauty will you find when you wrap up your year and turn to face the new? Are you feeling delighted or overwhelmed? Supported or disconnected? Or maybe, like me, living a little bit in the beautiful mess of the middle.