Discern

Image of Adriene Mischler reaching upward with text reading "I'm In! Dedicate A 30 Day Yoga Journey"

January is yoga month, has been for three years running now. Adriene Mischler’s 30 day yoga series on YouTube this year is called Dedicate and that’s exactly what I need to do to so many things. As blogging is one of those things, I think I’ll write up quick posts everyday based around the daily word. Today’s is “Discern.”

The idea is to recognize why you’re here, doing this, and probably to make you think about why you’re here at all and what motivates you. I got on the mat this morning with an intense desire to reestablish a daily practice and working out in general. I get distracted very easily when my habits are broken, even by one day, and I find it really hard to start up again (as evidenced even here, on these pages), so a re-dedication to a daily practice is exactly what I need. I’ve also started following the Couch to 5k program. There isn’t a 5k I’m interested in running, and there may never be, but I am interested in getting outside and being active regularly, to get my stamina up, and to get some good cardio in for my heart. I want to live a quality life for a long time, and I know exercise is the key to that.

With yoga always comes emotional and mental peace for me, and I’d like to get back to that as well. I’ve let in a number of toxic thoughts in the last six months, and I want to clean those out and fill the space up with positivity or at least more useful musings.

The physical yoga today was very basic (which is a word I do NOT associate with negativity, so you go love your pumpkin spice and fuzzy shoes all you want, girl!) The practice was 50 minutes, but the movements were slow and limited in scope. I can see it as a great practice for both beginners and seasoned yogis because it reminds you to be aware of all parts of your body and teaches you patience. Since I’m in the middle of those, I really tried to blank out my mind, close my eyes, and follow her words as intuitively as possible. No, I didn’t sweat (in fact, I shivered because I had a fan on), but I did get a little shaky in my core when I really focused on engaging all of my muscles. If you do it correctly, yoga is an amazing workout, but you absolutely must engage your whole self, including your mind, to get there.

My favorite moment when I’m following any yoga practice is when I just seem to intuitively know where we’re going next, and I get into the next pose a second before the vocal cues happen. I’m not rushing, but my body is just moving that direction already. Of course, it’s largely probably because the poses naturally flow into one another, and when you sync up your breath and your body you just kind of keep going, but I get a nice wave of belonging and purpose in those moments. There are also moments when I blindly start doing something that’s really way off too, so sometimes my spirit’s a little out of sync with the vibe of the video, but that probably makes those instinctive moments even more magical. I had one of those today, and it just brightened up my whole morning.

So I guess that’s why I’m here, to get a little brightness.

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A Hairstory

This is roughly what I used to look like at the end of 2014:

2014.01
That bathroom’s theme was Ravenclaw except I was firmly in the “Ravenclaw is blue and silver” camp. I knew not what I did.

I had cut my own hair for the first time with Christmas-themed craft scissors that were a gift from my friend Maggie (you can see the handle under my armpit). I gave myself swoopy bangs and layers, and I was feeling VERY proud. Dangerously proud. Poseidon-threatening-you-with-10-years-at-sea proud. I wanted my hair a certain way, and I never really got what I wanted at the hairdresser, so I figured I should just do it myself.

It was at this point, on an emotional high from achieving something I thought I needed at least a year’s worth of training, a certificate, and two children out of wedlock for, that something in my mind clicked, and I realized: I could do what I wanted with my hair. And what I wanted had never been to be brunette.

I have, however, very desperately and for a very long time, wanted to be pretty. I know what you’re thinking: the girl in that picture is not necessarily ugly, and I don’t disagree. I have learned over the years and in the age of the selfie how to fake a good picture, but there is nothing about me that’s classically or even interestingly beautiful. My face is alarmingly asymmetrical (hence the desire for swoopy bangs), eyes sunken and tired with one lazy wanderer, nose broken and too big, eyebrows a fucking mess, a history of hair that would make year one Hermione thankful for what she had, hair in places that would make a lycan jealous, moles, and for about a decade I had the kind of acne that prompts older women and mall kiosk hawkers to grab you roughly about the arm and try to apply makeup to your cheeks without your consent. My eyelashes, I think, save my look, but to really see them you have to look past a whole lot of bullshit.

And I know this, it’s no secret: while most little girls get told at some point growing up that they’re some version of the word “cute” (for better or worse) I have literally never experienced that, not even from family members. I was a disfigured infant, and no amount of growing into my skull could convince anyone I could grow up to rely on my looks.

Of course, you don’t know you’re ugly just because of the absence of praise–you really find out when people tell you, mostly in the form of little boys who call you everything from Lurch to Pizza to Sloth (I’ve still never seen The Goonies and I never will, fuck you very much, but pizza is one of my favorite foods and the Adams Family is one of my favorite families, so who knows where my head is at.) I was an ugly baby, a weird looking little kid, a disgusting teenage, and I’m an occasionally okay-looking adult, but my body and my memories are the same.

This is all to say that when I realized I could do whatever I wanted with my hair I opted for distraction. The general consensus seems to be that people who dye their hair wacky colors are looking for attention because, I guess, doing something fun for yourself never crosses those uncreative minds. But the truth is, humans are all actually different people who do arbitrary things for different reasons and my reason was this: I think color is pretty and I want to be pretty and if my hair is colorful it will be pretty and also if THAT is what people look at when they look at me instead of my lazy eye or that chin hair I missed, then by the will of the gods my hair will be fucking purple. Also I wanted to take back my hair from the kids in high school who shot spitballs into it. (Yeah, I fucking remember, ex-boyfriend. Still wondering why I didn’t end up marrying you? That’s certainly part of it!)

So in the early months of 2015, I watched a fuck load of YouTube, bought some bleach and developer, and dyed the tips of my hair purple. It was nice, I liked it, but it was NOT ENOUGH. Because like tattoos and (I imagine) piercings, once you pop, you absolutely cannot stop.

So I bleached everything and dyed it pink into purple into blue. It was glorious and I…didn’t take a picture. BUT a month later when it faded, I did:

2015.03
March 2015. Husband and I had been married exactly two years and he was probably getting scared.

So just to be clear, this isn’t a searching for sympathy post. This is a celebration post. A post about making a choice and being much happier for it. You’re going to see a number of pictures of me that don’t prove the “I’m ugly” theory above, but trust me, they’re hand picked, and I’m not here to have you tell me otherwise. I’m here to tell you to do whatever the fuck you want with your body because you’ll never please all the people, but you certainly can kinda please yourself. At least a little.

By August of 2015 I had redyed the hairs a couple times and come out with a “bangs one color and rest of it a different color” theme:

2015.08
This would have been a great MySpace profile photo, and it was my Facebook profile photo for a loooong time.

I still had some bounce and life to my hair, but then I wanted to change, and I mean like BIG change, so I had to bleach it again because I decided I wanted to embrace my goth side and become a vampire:

2015.09
Honestly I miss this, but I will never go back.

In September I went red, and it was probably the biggest mistake I could have made. unless you want to be red forever and ever, DON’T DO IT. It’s impossible to wash or even bleach out. This was the turning point where I really started to damage the hairs. But on the other hand I had this rockin’ Ronald McDonald ‘do for like a whole month!

Then by October I couldn’t stand the way it constantly faded to orange like immediately after a single wash, so I went darker:

2015.10
Bonus pop art zombie.

I don’t actually remember making this choice, I think I actually tried to go purple and this happened. I really wanted to be purple though and I knew I had to lift to get there. So lift I did:

2015.12
I actually liked this orange it was hella unique.

You can see I have less hair here because…damage lol, but I was still having so much fun! And then I bleached it again:

2016.01
How do those layers happen? I don’t know, I’M NOT A PROFESSIONAL. Also if it looks like I have a bunch more hair here, you’re right, it sure LOOKS that way, but it’s actually just very dry and brittle here and taking up more space.

So that was January of 2016 and I don’t really have any photos of myself again til December 2016. I don’t remember what I did that year except probably played around with pink because that was my only option. Here’s the one time I dressed up in 2016:

2016.12
See I can take a good picture! Husband can too, but this was the best one of ME, so sorry, Husband.

In February of 2017 I redid my roots and fully embraced pink. The color I bought was called violet, and the color on the bottle matched the color you imagine when you buy something called violet. The company has since changed the bottle’s color (but not name) to match the actual shade:

2017.02
That’s REAL happy there, I actually loved this shade.

Then I went blue because blue is different and why the fuck not:

2017.06
Admittedly this is a bad photo for showing off hair, but look at that bird!

Then I went two-toned again:

2017.07
And I wore makeup. Why? I don’t know what this was for!

And finally transitioned all the way back to purple:

2017.08
Vacation mode activated, bring out the teeth!

So now I am letting my natural hair grow out again. I haven’t bleached it in I don’t know how long and I have a bunch of regrowth at the roots. I miss having insanely bright hair (it’s having the roots that bight color that really makes the whole thing pop), but for my hair health I need it to grow out. I still have my ends to dye when they fade, so I’m still colorful.

I was other colors over the last three years, turquoise, green, faded periwinkle, almost lavender, but I do always come back to purple because that’s where my heart is. As my brunette comes back, I actually feel unhappy. I don’t like the color of my natural hair. Where others have these warm, chestnutty, honey, oaky tones to their hair, mind is best described as “mousy” and while mice are absolutely adorable, the matte, almost grey tinge my hair has is unappealing. But I know I can change it, and I will eventually because I can and that’s a pretty great feeling.

Do the assholes who called me names still have power over me? Yep, they certainly do. Their words and actions were impactful enough to make me feel bad then and feel bad now and even take action to change myself. No, I never learned to love who I am completely. I never overcame those bad feelings and I don’t think I even will. But I did learn to love something I wanted, something that was a little out of the box and controversial, and I’m happier for that. Will I always hate my lazy eye? Yes. Will I always be happy I can cover it up with PURPLE hair?? YAAAAAAS, BITCH, YAAAAAAAAAAAAS!

2018.04
And thanks to the one dude who loves this ugly ole broad.