Friday, January 30, 2015

Being Brave

I may have hinted at confessed this on my fourth day hair post, but I have a... shall we say, "bold" personality. I'm loud and outspoken. I'm dramatic and blunt and have a very slow-to-act filter at times (okay fine, most times).


When it comes to action - the doing, being, changing - I am incredibly timid. I get anxious over big changes. I'm afraid of failure. I over-think things which causes me to stall, or avoid, action.

It has gotten increasingly worse in the last few years. Having kids was maybe part of it - I feel like I have more to lose now. Plus, because I like stability and structure, the number of moves and changes we've had over the last two years left me dizzy. The constant adjusting to Big Life Changes made me agitated and worried that I would never find solid footing again.

When I do (on my own accord) consider making changes that I could feel in control of (ha!), I find myself fearful of failure. For example -  I used to love, and find much of my identity in, graphic design and theatre. But when I think about getting "back in the game", I'm so afraid of failing that I just push those desires away. For the time being, I have the somewhat legitimate excuse of devoting most of my time and brain power to caring for our three little ones. But they won't be this tiny and dependent forever (I don't know whether to cheer or sob). I can do those things I loved again some day. Yet, when I look just a few years ahead to the possibility of getting involved again, my stomach just clinches with fear. Because I'm afraid of failing at things I used to be good at. I fear that I will never measure up to my previous self.

But here's the thing - I'm sick of all that. I'm tired of having all of my decisions and hopes and dreams dripping with thick, toxic fear. It's pathetic and boring. I want to be brave and open to trying new things and excited (not afraid) at the possibility of changing things up. Yes, I still desire stability and want to use wisdom, but I don't want to use those things as an excuse for never changing or for my anxiety when things do change (which they inevitably will, because that's life).

This is something that's been on my mind for a while, and then with all the "new year  - new you" stories and quotes and resolutions that have been floating around the Internet this month, there was no shortage of inspiration. There were two quotes in particular that really resonated with screamed in neon flashing lights at me to do something about my change-related anxiety.

"Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity."

This is part of the reason I got a pixie cut. I'd always wanted to try the style, but been too afraid. So I decided to be curious if I'd like the cut, rather than afraid I wouldn't. That curiosity grew to excitement and then I just had to go for it. And I'm glad I did. (Though there was a definite moment of heart palpitations when my long ponytail got chopped off and there was really no turning back.)

The second quote I stumbled upon was from author J.K. Rowling:

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default."

Reading this was like a splash of cold water that jarred awake my mildly catatonic, inner self. I just remember reading it and thinking, "Good grief - that is me! I'm failing by default because I'm so afraid of living."

The timing of this revelation was fortunate as Devin has been longing to quit his part-time job at FedEx to pursue more freelance design work. Normally, I would be having HUGE anxiety about this. But once all angles had been reasonably discussed and a decision needed to be made, I felt calm about trying to make this dream of his a reality. The fears of failure and not making enough money and all those other things I could panic about are still hanging around somewhere (which I think is natural). They are just in the back of my mind as possibilities, not at the forefront screeching at me to stop everything - this is the worst idea EVER. And while I can't promise I won't have my freak out moments, I do feel ready to celebrate with my husband the end of a physically demanding job and cheer on his pursuit of the work he's passionate about. Let me tell you - it feels SO much better than the anxiety.

So, deep breath and here we go! I raise my coffee mug to possibility, curiosity, bravery, and taking chances. I'm ready to see where this may lead...

artwork by Jennifer Hanson 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Why I Got Pixied

It would seem that having children triggers an impulse in me to make drastic changes to my appearance.

After I had the twins, I went out and got my nose pierced. Which seemed rather daring for my conservative, Southern Baptist roots. Plus, I got it done at a tattoo parlor by a guy named Rebellious Tony, so I was really living on the wild side.

Last week, I chopped off all my hair. Which I can only assume had something to do with the fact that I recently gave birth to child. This particular child likes to pull my hair, which may have also had something to do with it.

There is something about a women chopping off her hair that gets noticed (positively and negatively). In both adaptations of the movie Sabrina (1954 with Audrey Hepburn and 1995 with Julia Ormond), the leading lady goes from frumpy, lonely recluse to confident, sought-after love interest (with a killer sense of style) after she crops her tresses short. 

Okay fine, she also spent a bunch of months in Paris finding herself, but WHATEVER.

Obviously that's Hollywood's version, but personally, I have noticed a confidence boost since I cut my hair short. It helps that my husband loves my new do. Another bonus is that the cut is so fast and simple to style that I always feel pulled together. And since it could be considered rather "boyish" for a women to have short hair, I find myself putting a little more thought into my clothes, accessories, and make-up, which always makes me feel less like a frazzled mom.

Still, the over-achieving pleaser that I am (thanks a lot birth order) feels like I need to give an explanation as to why I got rid of my long locks. Weird assumptions are made when a women cuts her hair short. Something inside of me is yelling, "People are going to think you're having an emotional crisis! Or you've given up on looking pretty! Or you're questioning your sexual orientation! Or you're going to turn into a punk rocker! You have to explain yourself to The People!!"

New Hair Me is like: "(Shrug) Whatever man, I look great and I'd toss my hair at you if I had any, but I don't need that long-locks nonsense anymore."

Still Stunned I Actually Went Through With It Me is like: "Maybe you need to explain to yourself (and The People) why you did this so when you look in the mirror next week and dissolve into a puddle of tears, you can remind yourself of your reasoning."

So here it is folks: 6 Reasons I Got Pixied:

#1. I've wanted to have a pixie cut since high school, and I've been too afraid to try. I decided recently that I need to show more bravery in my life, so this was a good place to start.

#2. Another something I've wanted to do since high school was donate my hair. My little sisters also wanted to make a donation, and since all three of us had crazy long hair, the timing seemed right. Plus, it made a great excuse for some fun, sissy memory-making!

(We donated to Beautiful Lengths, which provides free wigs to women fighting cancer)

#3. When I hesitantly mentioned to The Hubs that I wanted to donate ten inches of my hair, his response was, "Cool! But, if you're going to cut off that much, do something fun. Don't just come back with a bob." I figured I'd better jump on that ship while it was sailin'. (Also, my stylist friend said I could pull off a pixie and that she'd cut it for me, so that sealed the deal.)

#4. I've got three tiny kids, man. 'Nuff said. I need something fast and easy that still makes me feel pretty. (Because I also live in a house with all boys and I need to have some pretty in my life amongst the dirt and farts and booger-eating.)

(The Hubs does not eat his boogers... just to be clear... that disgusting habit belongs to my three-year-olds.) 

#5. Maybe I just I needed a Big Change that I was in control of. After the rapid-fire of big life changes that I've experienced in the last couple of years (job changes, new baby, new house, lots of moving), I just needed the next drastic alteration to my life to be one that I chose for myself.

#6. I was just plain ready for something different. I actually really liked my long hair (except when I didn't... which was more often than I did). But I was tired of having to put a lot of effort into it to make it look nice and I was sick of the greasy mom ponytail (or even my fourth-day, greasy bun). I was tired of greeting my husband at the end of the day looking like a mess, or trying to find the time to not look like a mess before he got home. I was tired of The Same.

(This is what fourth-day hair looks like now, and I'm lovin' it.)

What about you? Do you need to be braver, or get rid of some of The Same in your life? If you could make one big change, what would it be? What is keeping you from going through with it?