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, 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.

Oh, that’s risky.

What I’m going to write about today doesn’t feel beautiful. It feels scary, and uncomfortable, and really frustrating. And in fact it’s something I wish I could eliminate from my life all together, because it makes my stomach hurt and tears come to my eyes. Risk. Isn’t that a nasty four letter word? In light of our recent circumstances, risk seems to be a consistent undertone in decision making. So this is my effort to reclaim that little word and say, ” Hey you, you RISKY situation you, I see you and I’m going to do it anyways.”

I think, when I was in elementary school, my teachers would often tell my parents, “Katie doesn’t take many risks.” I guess that personality trait stuck with me and continues to be in my blood, my character make up. I like to play it safe, assess a situation, and see all the possible outcomes before making a decision. I’ll usually make a decision after taking some time to calculate the risk, and the benefits too. I’ve been known to do cost analysis, make pro/con lists, weigh the options. But, surprise, God isn’t working that way in my life right now. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

This week we made the decision for Dylan to take a part time job. No more unemployment benefits, and no guarantee that there will be enough hours in the workweek to make ends meet. A scary risk. But I am trusting in a wide open door where an interview and job offer came easy, and in the hopes that this may lead to new connections, new opportunities, and perhaps something else. They say it is better to be working. That it is easier to find a job when you have a job. Ugh…please help me to remember this. It is so easy to see the potential negatives in a risky situation rather than the positives.

We took another huge risk this week in that we finally set a date for our wedding! This risk, this one is exciting, it’s one I’ve been waiting for for quite awhile. But doesn’t the big MARRIAGE feel like it has a huge risk too. In my generation, half of our parents are divorced, and there are so many things that can go wrong. Wedding planning alone, on a small non-profit salary budget with the help of our parents, feels risky. Picking a venue that fits 200 people feels risky. What if it rains, what if its windy, and what if I get too overwhelmed by all those wedding decisions? Because I am not the girl who cares about those Chivali chairs. Or whatever they are called.


Something to celebrate

About a year ago I remember I participated in a group conversation where we were talking about risks we had taken. The context was risks “at-risk” youth take – at risk of what? I’m not sure I like that term. Most people’s responses leaned towards negative risk behaviors, stupid things kids had done in high school, drinking too much, driving a car with their eyes closed. The facilitator redirected the dialogue mid-conversation and asked us, “Why does society always think risk taking is bad? What are some good risks you took?” And I think that is the perspective I am hoping for here. Yes, there is a risk in not knowing for sure where that pay check is going to come from. And yes, in this day and age, marriage is maybe one of the biggest risks I will ever take in my life. But I know this. I love Dylan and I wouldn’t want another life partner. We are going through tough stuff now, and maybe it won’t get easier. But at least we will be together. And maybe we will drain our bank account for a four hour celebration because we want to get married and I’m kinda sick of waiting for that perfect moment where we say ahh, now the situation is great – let’s move ahead. I am not sure it’s going to arrive and if I take this approach, I might be waiting forever.

I came across this quote today – they say Brad Pitt said it, I’m not quite sure – but it goes like this, ” A family is a risky venture, because the greater the love, the greater the loss. That’s the trade off, But I’ll take the risk.” Oh, that nasty four letter word.  When I care about people, when I want success, when I wait around for clear answers, there is risk that I may get hurt and lose it all.  That loss is perhaps a real consequence, but I want to live in the moment and continue to hope for something better.  There is beauty in the potential positive outcomes of risk, and the learning opportunity in the negative consequences of risk. And beauty in me being vulnerable and saying, “this kinda sucks.” This trusting stuff is risky business… but what’s the alternative?