Joy and the Fearless Heart

IMG_2910My hair went through a few changes last year. From spirals to straight and back again. No bangs to total bangs. And then last April, just when I was finally learning to embrace the curl and the fringe, without a second thought I chopped it all off.

There was a time when I believed that changing my hair would change my life. In my thirties I kept my hair in a graduated bob that would make Mary Crowley proud. And then, influenced by my new-found crush on all things Irish I took an electric razor to my head. I wasn’t quite brave enough to cut as close a shave as Sinead O’Connor but it was enough to turn a few heads – especially those times that I forgot to attach my #5 blade and carved random bald spots onto my pate.

Sigh. Those were the days.

Then there was the color. Various shades of red sometimes verging on purple. Dark brown leaning toward black. Platinum blond (just once for about ten days).

Not to mention the clothes. Vintage dresses layered with suit jackets and vests from the men’s section of the local charity shop. A cheap knock-off of the black Doc Marten boots I craved and fishnet stockings. Paisley with hound’s-tooth with plaid.

Those were, indeed, the days.

Each time I changed my hair or wore a new tattered treasure I thought, “If I look like this then I’ll be more like that.By ‘that I think I meant whatever quality I believed I lacked. In those years I hoped to be brave and confident, artful and hip. Those were the years I struggled as an artist and I hoped that if looked more like what I believed an artist should look like then I’d have a better chance at success. It didn’t occur to me that showing up each day and working hard, allowing my authentic voice to speak through my images and facing the world with a fearless heart would be more effective than a haircut or a pair of boots.

I’m thinking about my past and I’m thinking about how, from time to time, those same ideas rise up in me. About how I need to be a certain body type or wear a certain brand of yoga attire in order to look like what I think yoga teachers should look like.

Fortunately I’m older and maybe I’m a bit wiser, too. It’s not long before I remember all those things I wish I knew back when I was shaving my head with a #5 blade.   It’s not long before I remember my authentic voice and who I am as a teacher. It’s not long before I remember that who I am is someone who shows up to the studio with a fearless heart. It’s not what I look like that makes me a yoga teacher. If you asked me I think I’d say it’s the joy I feel when I teach. That’s what makes me a yoga teacher. The fact that I am filled with joy each time I walk into a studio. Even those days when my alter ego Snarky McSnarkington tries to take over. Joy still wins.

February was a fierce month. But now it’s March. I’ve settled into my new home and my new life. Those cravings and longings that I wrote about just a few weeks ago belong to someone else. Those couldn’t be my words. Those emotions, the desperation, they were all fleeting moments. But I moved through them. And I’m home.

Mani/Pedi Om

Last Thursday I indulged in a gel French manicure and a pedicure.

My unrecognizable hands now look as though they’re ready to become the newest cast members of any Real Housewives franchise.  My toes, tipped in red, are perky little Phalanges of Joy.

I didn’t stop there.  Lady Clairol stopped by and washed the blossoming swath of grey on the right side of my head away with a box of Medium Cool Brown.

Next stop?  Oh, I think I’ll have someone apply and then brutally rip away molten wax on my lip, chin and a few other places I’d rather not mention. It’s time to take care of the excess hair that has plagued me since puberty.  It’s just what my self-esteem ordered.

If only I could nurture my inner beauty with the same zeal.

I have a difficult time with balance.  I sometimes ignore the shades of gray and go right for the black and white.

This is not a particularly strong quality for a yoga teacher to have.

But I’ve been working on it.

I’ve figured out that I CAN have a pedicure AND care about Japan.  I can wear nice yoga togs and buy the guy who sits in front of Whole Foods a sandwich.  It’s not one or the other.  I can do both.

I can care about my Self without sacrificing compassion for others.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m never going to win any awards for altruism.  I don’t give a percentage of my income to charity, I don’t tithe, and to be honest, the guy outside of Whole Foods sort of bugs me.

Maybe it boils down to give and take, checks and balances.  Or maybe I never quite figured out that we all deserve to have a little fun – a little joy in life.  That includes the guy outside of Whole Foods.  But it includes me, too.

Mani/Pedi Om.

Hair Today

Hair is over rated.

Some people mark life transitions with tattoos.  I have commitment issues – the only tattoos you’ll ever see on me are the ones that fade away.  To mark my life transitions I’m more likely to go for something long lasting but a little less permanent.  Like a haircut.  A very short haircut.  Delivered through my own hands. With a one-inch blade.

Shaving your head when you’re twenty-seven – the age when I first took a cheap beard trimmer to my curly brown locks – feels brave and reckless.  Doing the same when fifty-two is eight weeks away leans a little closer to menopausal madness.  But I craved it.  I talked about it for the past week and when friends said “No!” I still threatened to do it.

And by 5:43 this afternoon my hair was in a pile at my feet.

Things change. Hair grows. When I left my apartment on August 15th for teacher training and then followed those two incredible weeks with my journey home, I changed.  I moved closer to my authentic self.  And I needed to mark that change somehow – make it tangible.  Go figure.