Accidentally Dyeing My Body Blue, and Other Acts of Love

blue splatMy goal was to have quality time with my daughter Heather, and I left the options wide open on the different things we could do together. She didn’t come up with any ideas, gave “maybe” as the answer to others, but when I suggested she help me get my hair cut and dyed, her response was that she’d be down with that.  And I’m with it (cool? hip?) enough to know that “down with that” is a good thing.  So that’s what we did.

For the next two days.

Not two hours as is typical, but two days because the adventure included things like having to fix, and fix again, the attempt at getting a particular style.

And then there was the whole accidentally turning my whole body blue part. That part took a while to fix too.

I usually go for variations of the natural colors of my hair: browns, reds, maybe some copper. However, I mentioned the idea of playing with blue since I have seen this done well by others in my circles. Heather was very encouraging of this. She seemed more than just down with it –something even bordering enthusiasm. Since the salon didn’t have a blue that would stay in for more than a single wash, Heather headed to Hot Topic to get something called Manic Panic Rockabilly Blue.

In anticipation of this amazing blue, the salon gave me a base of black with highlight strips.  However, when we got home, we realized that the strips were too subtle for what we were envisioning.  Since we couldn’t just paint the blue onto the strips as originally planned, Heather handed me the bottle to use on my own, without any supervision (she should have known better). I applied the entire bottle of Manic Panic to my head. In hindsight, I probably only needed about a fourth of it to cover my short hair.  Also in hindsight, using less of the dye might have prevented what happened next.

My previous experience with home hair dye didn’t prepare me for this. In the past, it was perfectly fine to hop in the shower and rinse out the hair until the water runs clear. This time, it took longer than normal for that to happen. Streams of blue ran down my body, from head to toe, and across the base of the tub. Even when the water started running clear, the tub color stayed blue, as did my body. I was absolutely Avatar! Only, short. And not nearly as athletically impressive.  So I guess I was really just… Smurfy.

Heather had to go to work and couldn’t take the time to help me, so I grabbed some make-up remover wipes and did what I could. However, I realized that there were parts I couldn’t reach, and Kevin wouldn’t be back to help me in time before our appointment for a couples massage. I called to cancel, apologizing for it being so last-minute, explaining what happened. You know that strained tone in a person’s voice when holding back laughter? The receptionist managed that before giving up and letting the giggles bubble up. But she did find a slot for us the next day.  I just had to desmurf by then.

Kevin appreciated how the black hair reflected blue like a raven’s wing, but he agreed to help me get the blue off of the rest of me.  Back at the hotel, he went to work with the remaining wipes, using each one to the point it couldn’t pick up any more blue. Scrubby-scrubby.  Everywhere – especially areas I couldn’t reach or see well on my own.  Scrubby-scrubby.  Even when I pointed out that, “Sweetheart, I’m pretty sure the massage therapist won’t go there!” Kevin made some noncommittal sound and kept at it. Scrubby-scrubby-scrub.

The next step was to get into the hotel shower, but Kevin realized that my hair would likely bleed out more blue dye, wasting all of his efforts up until that point. He used towels to make a soft pallet for my knees, and my naked (but now less smurfy) body was draped over the tub with Kevin washing my hair while I shielded my eyes. All this massaging and scrubbing could have been a relaxing – even sensual – experience, if it weren’t for the absurdity, touch of embarrassment, and giggle-fits dominating the mood. The mood was sealed when Kevin said, in a beautiful sing-song voice, “This is what we do for loved ones…” Scrubby-scrubby.  “Like picking off lice or ticks.” Scrubby-scrubby-scrub.

The next day, Heather used color correction with a highlighting cap to pull out some of the color and give the multi-color definition I am used to having in my hair – only a blue version of it.  If anyone can recommend a vibrant color dye that behaves more like regular hair dye, please let me know! Also, any recommendations of ways to spend quality time with teenagers – I’m open to suggestions here too. Meanwhile, Heather did ask if I would be available for an upcoming rave, and I’d be down with that.

Smurfy Holidays Everyone!



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Mindful Photography

sunsetAt my request, Kevin just sent a photo of a sunset, noting that the picture doesn’t do it justice. Here in the TC, if you get a lifelike photo of a sunset, Photoshop will be suspected due to how unreal they look. The picture made me realize that we didn’t take any pictures recently — of going out to Sushi with Cyel and Heather, or not even of feeding a baby squirrel. Thinking more about it, rarely do we have FB “check-ins” or take pictures. Instead, we are just enjoying the moments. The pictures are stored in the mind, in the heart.

Not to worry – we’ll definitely provide the pictures/videos as promised for the upcoming adventures that we want to share with you, but maybe – as this article suggests – we’ll practice “mindful photography.”

Hope your week is full of beautiful pictures.

Imperfect Heroes

I usually don’t feel disappointed when a beloved historical or modern figure is shown to be less than perfect.

I feel relieved.

Whether it be Gandhi or even an iconic figure such as Jesus, I think, “Thank God” (pun intended) because that means there’s hope for me in my own journey. Struggles and missteps are part of what make a person, and can even be a source of power. This seems to be even truer for those called upon to be catalysts in the world; it’s a messy job meant for those willing to scuff their shoes along the way.



My New Year

Young Girl and Death, 1876, by Henri Lévy

Young Girl and Death, 1876, by Henri Lévy

Working in education, August feels similar to New Year’s Eve. There’s that scrambling of the season, reflection of times before, and looking forward to what this next year will bring.

I have more reason to feel this way this year.  A year ago about this time, I was putting my affairs in order. Updating my will, notarizing an advanced directive, lining out clear instructions where I could, and lamenting over the things for which I might not have time to complete.

A severe reaction to a medication put me on an uncertain path. If it impacted my internal organs, I might join the others who died from this. I experienced pain at a level that exceeded childbirth; something slightly bumping against me would drop me to my knees. At the worst of it, I lost use of my right leg. Soon after, I began to recover, a process that would take time.

I would be one of the survivors, but my journey had only begun. One doesn’t kiss the cheek of Death and remain unchanged.

In a strange mix of chaos and clarity, the next months would play out like a triple movie-of-the-week for which Oprah’s couch isn’t big enough. I spent way too much time at the local court house. My daughter had to testify in a case, resulting in backlash against her, and I decided to finalize the legal separation from my dear friend whom I still loved but could no longer live with. Each of these are worth their own posts, with commentary on rape culture for one, and enabling substance abuse for the other, but for here the details are unnecessary.

Everything turned upside down.  Even my next choice of living arrangements caused people to pause. I let Heather – age 16 – pick where she wanted to live long-term, and we moved as housemates with the idea that, when she was ready to take over the lease, I would be the one moving out. I wanted to help her transition toward independence – as a good parent should.

My close call make me realize that – also as a good parent should – I needed to become expendable in the school I co-created. As a hands-on parenting type even here, this was difficult to do even though our five-year-plan, which is coming up on Year 5, demands this. With a team put into place, my business partner and I are to step back to be in mentoring roles.

At the same time we created the five-year-plan for the school, I had created a personal plan that aligned with it – but was I on track? Does anyone pay attention to their 5-year plans that they are told to make? I do, and after this past year, I realize how important this one is.

My focus had shifted on getting everyone I care about in the best position possible.  Those things I lamented on not having time for? I was doing them.

It wasn’t without hiccups.  My now-ex-husband would call me at 4 AM while intoxicated; I had to learn to not take the calls. I also had to cut ties with others who were detrimental to my well-being, creating an emptiness where they used to be. The first place Heather and I lived in had unfavorable changes in lease terms coming up, so we moved a second time inside of a year. Insanity! Revisiting the consolidated version of the five-year-plan showed where I was on track, and also where I had wandered off the path.  That five-year-plan might need an extra year, which was a depressing thought.

Tannen bei Mondschein by Carl Gustav Carus

Tannen bei Mondschein by Carl Gustav Carus

Sometimes, in the darkest hour of the night, I felt lost. At one point, the darkest hour stretched into the day, where all the fear and grief of what had gone on before caught up with me. See, that’s how I work. In a crisis situation, I’m your girl. I’ll feel the emotions later when everything is taken care of. Well, this one was a doozy, and I felt the full impact. I felt the pain of grief, and it was so bad at one point that I thought, isn’t there some way to just induce a coma for awhile? I needed a break. I’ve never been suicidal, but the moment that thought hit me, I realized that this must be what it’s like.

And one doesn’t kiss the cheek of Death and remain unchanged.

I shifted to a sense of injustice; this child of the Universe became insolent. I questioned if I were only here to serve, and had a “what about me?” moment. I was working almost every waking hour, giving so much, and making it so others were better off as a result. So what about me? [insert foot stomping] Was I struck by lightning in response to this tantrum? No. Instead, I was hit by the greatest sense of peace.

Peacefully, I just let go. I accepted that this was my path. An honorable but often lonely one. To love and be loved by many, with much to enjoy in life.  I could continue to get things done for others, and begin to redesign my life in ways that met my own needs, at least to a minimally satisfying level.  It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I did so with grace.

And then, as if waiting for that moment of letting go, I turned a corner. Or a corner was turned for me; I’m not quite sure how to explain it. It was like hiking through the thickest tangle of forest, trudging onward, and entering a clearing with water, berries, flowers, and all things to nourish the body and spirit in one place. A sense of finally: home. And I had company waiting for me there.

This child of the Universe is now eternally grateful. A new journey has begun.

FaerieWorlds 2014: A Gathering of Tribes

FaerieWorlds 2014: A Gathering of Tribes. Listen to music, eat yummy food, take a nap in the shade of Neverworlds, and fun at Oberon’s – it was a much-needed gathering of tribes. Photo by Francisca Mason

While taking time to regain strength, I had lost my footing in other areas, so now I get to do the heavy work in… not regaining footing.  No, because I don’t want to step back into where I was before.  It was fine for then, even good. But no longer. Instead, I want to forge a new path, have it merge with that original plan where it makes sense to do so, and then take off into a new direction without boundaries. Without compromise. And without others speaking for me, for they have no idea, and I need to use my own voice.

After all, I have much to say.

I recognize the value in support. I was always giving that support to others; now I am more open to receiving it. This post is part of that. It’s to say to my friends of old and new, “Well, that happened! Ya know, in case you were wondering?” And here I am, and here’s where I want to go.  I’m “finding my freaks” as Chris Brogan would suggest, and gathering close my trybe around me of both personal and professional relationships. I’m also receiving coaching and support from a couple of groups (one being women entrepreneurs) and a therapist who is helping me “find my fangs” and not feel bad about being assertive, for I have much to offer and cannot let anyone – including myself – stand in my way.

And on that note, here’s to a Happy New Year!

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