An Empowered Hair Journey Through Loss and Grief.

I want to thank Courtney Luck for her bravery and fierceness and her beautiful sharing of words in this guest-post.

I’ve always changed my hair.

The first time I dyed my hair I was in 8th grade.  I’d begged my mom and she allowed me for my 13th birthday to dye my hair flaming red.  From then on, it was a free for all.  Short, long, purple, blonde, green, brunette; you name it I did it. I really didn’t think there was a rhyme or reason to my hair urges and needs.  I just went for it.  Or so I thought.

It wasn’t until my husband died suddenly in March of 2011 that I actually became keenly aware of how my hair changed with different emotions and changes happening in my life.  When I stumbled upon How-to Hair Girl in June 2015 I really resonated with the words “stuck in hair, stuck in life”.  Reading that was like a word arrow shot straight into me.

IMG_9511Before my husband died, I was floating through life.  I wasn’t a good observer of myself.  When I lost him, I lost everything.  Allowing myself to be in the unknowing was a huge learning experience; getting to know and understand myself, my thoughts, feelings, and motivations. This is where my hair story begins.

Loss

About 9 months before my husband died, we decided we were finally ready to have a baby. This is something I had wanted my entire life (and still do).  I immediately went to the salon and had my stylist dye my hair to as close to my natural color as possible. I didn’t want to worry about chemicals when I got pregnant.

I was a week late on the day that my husband, TJ, died.  And it wasn’t until another 2 weeks had passed that I brought myself to take a pregnancy test.  I couldn’t even begin to think about that would mean to me if I were pregnant and yet I had to know.

I bought a test and told my mother “if you hear a big thud in the morning, it’s me fainting if this thing is positive”.  The next morning it showed up with a line and a half.  What the hell does that even mean?

I went to the doctor to get a blood test instead.  I wasn’t going to keep peeing on a stick and hoping it was wrong.  The blood test confirmed that I was not pregnant. Loss number two.  Not only had my husband died, my dream of having his child died, too.

Three months later my husband’s uncle, who was more of an uncle to me than any of my own, died suddenly.  His funeral was a real setback.  I felt totally smothered by the condolences and attention from wellwishers wondering if I was okay with all this loss, even though it was coming from a place of love and concern.

Stranger to Myself

IMG_9218During this time, when I looked in the mirror in the morning I didn’t recognize the woman looking back at me.  Her skin was greyish in color, her eyes were so sad with dark circles, and her hair was matte brown with no lustre.  I needed a pick me up, big time.

It was around that time that the ladies I worked with at the interior design firm had pooled together to buy me a gift card to a spa in town.  The day I received the gift I knew I would be using it for hair only.  I decided to start slow with some highlights.  Simple enough and a still a nice change.

The night before I was due to go back to work I had a complete breakdown.  I cried and shook and couldn’t even begin to speak.  Both of my parents laid in bed on either side of me and held me.  The numbness that I’d been experiencing was turned off like a light switch.

In the morning, my mother called my boss and let him know that I wasn’t going to be able to come back to work just yet.  I realized that the only way forward was to make a clean break from everything old in my life.

After I quit my job, new hair was once again in order….This time a short angled bob dyed platinum blonde.

Several months passed as I went from platinum blonde to red, to brown, then back to blonde.  Nothing really stuck around for long and nothing seemed right yet.  I still didn’t feel like myself.

Seeking a Different Path

IMG_9203I began to travel with the little money I had left from TJ’s life insurance.  I went to Oregon to house sit and pet sit for a friend in January…….I arrived with chin length hair colored brown with blonde highlights.  Eugene felt like my safe haven.  It’d been 9 months since TJ had died. With his one year anniversary approaching it was a life saver to be out of town.  And not just out of town but across the country.

I spent my days reading books, walking their beautiful wolf dog, Lucius, and snuggling with their sweet kitty Scallop. I was finally feeling more like myself because I was able to be alone, thousands of miles away from home, and I actually felt happy.

It was a total miracle to feel happy, even a little bit. When my friends returned from their trip, we spent an extra week together before I was to leave for home. I didn’t want to go.  I was happy, I felt content.  And going home meant that his anniversary was in just 2 weeks.

Life-Changing DIY Hair Cutcomic

As my friend and I sat at her adorable kitchen table sipping tea, I looked at her and said “I think I want to cut my hair.” She beamed and shouted “Let’s do it right now.

We had a hair cutting party in her bathroom that instant.  She put my hair into a bunch of little pony tails and started to cut them one by one.  She was being conservative and I was feeling impatient so I asked for the scissors and said “I’m just going to hack at it”!  I felt totally giddy and crazed.

I chopped my hair in the front first into little tiny short baby bangs.  Then began to grab the sides and cut into it mercilessly and haphazardly.  It was glorious!  My friend offered to cut the back for me because I couldn’t see what I was doing.

The finished product was exactly what I wanted.  A total mess!  No continuity, no blending.  This was the first time that my hair felt like I did.  My feelings on the inside were finally represented on the outside.  No salon necessary.

A New Direction

As my favorite haircut ever began to grow out I was preparing to enter grad school to become an acupuncturist.  This was a big fucking deal.  This was the first decision I had made, since TJ’s passing, that actually started me on a new path.

Everything I’d done since his death was kind of like a holding pattern of sorts.  This was taking a step.  A big one.  I felt it only right to chop my hair off again, only leaving the strands about 5″ long on top and even shorter on the sides.

Over the years of schooling I let my natural color grow out, which happened to be this lovely mix of brown, auburn, and gold with a smattering of greys.  And here I’d spent all this time covering that up!

I let my hair grow past my shoulders, which is the longest it’s been since I was 12 years old.  As the end of my program and clinicals drew near, I was itching to do something to my hair to mark the transition.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t want to cut it.  I most certainly didn’t want to dye it all over and mess up all the hard work of growing out my natural color.

This felt similar to being in Oregon only magnified.  I was the happiest I’d ever been, even when my husband was still live.  Which is really hard to say.  Before he died, he was the only good thing I had going.  I was miserable otherwise.  And now I had found my calling.

I had grieved hard and true, I had cried and pushed and succeeded at finding my passion through acupuncture.  I had created this incredible life for myself that I was so proud of.  What could possibly help me to reflect my inner excitement onto my outward appearance?

Ringing the Bell

soul garden acupuncture hairPink Hair.  Hot hot pink Hair. I had the ends done right before my bell ringing ceremony. Because each student completes clinic at their own pace there is not a graduation ceremony.  Instead, there is a big beautiful copper bell outside of the building facing the forest.  You invite your beloveds and you ring the bell 3 times.

Once for your ancestors and all of those healers who came before you, once for the future generations that your work and healing will serve, and once for yourself– for the holy particular that you are and for all you have accomplished to bring you to that exact moment.

The joy I felt ringing that bell with hot pink hair was unmatched.  I’d done the work, I’d made the changes, and now I was ready to embark on my new, exciting, glorious path as healer.

Gratitude

I am grateful for this journey.  And I never thought that I would be able to use my hair as a mile marker.  What a great discovery!  My hair reflects the path I have walked to get to where I am today and leaves me curiously excited to see what hair wonders will unfold as my journey continues.  I am thankful for sparking this connection within me about how hair and grief most certainly go together.  And not just hair and grief, hair and LIFE

With Gratitude, Courtney

Courtney Luck is a Five Element, Maryland state licensed acupuncturist and received her Masters of Acupuncture at the Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2015.  She opened her private practice, Soul Garden Acupuncture, on Nov 3, 2015 in the heart of downtown Frederick, MD.  Courtney has experience treating symptoms related to grief, anxiety, PTSD, back pain, knee pain, bowel disorders, respiratory disorders, immune disorders, and women’s health, to name just a few.  She has patients of all ages and all backgrounds and is passionate about bringing holistic healing to one and all.

Find her on the web:

www.facebook.com/soulgardenacupuncture

Instagram: soulgardenacupuncture

Personal blog on grief:

http://www.gowiththemotion.blogspot.com

http://beestingbrose.blogspot.com/2012/02/home-sweet-home-part-2.html

(This is the specific post with our hair cutting party.  Julia is amazing- based in Eugene and travels often to Paris and NYC doing her shows)

 

Mushroom Love

I grew up in a foraging family. We fished, we picked berries, we hunted, we dug clams, and we foraged for mushrooms. Photo from @filthandbeauty

IMG_9247Of course, like many of you, I spent many years between the ages of 11-23 or so, trying to rid myself of all of my families strange habits, rituals and general impositions……Only to circle back around as a mother myself, and find a deep-seated true love and reverence for the art of foraging deep inside myself…..and a strong will to instill it in my children.

Since moving back to the Pacific Northwest, I have grown to really love and appreciate mushrooms. Partly because they are all around me all the time, but also because I sense a very important relationship between humans, the earth, and the force and magic of the mighty fungus.

In my quest to understand my own body and the PH scale,  I learned that fungus grows where things are out of balance, in places where acidification proliferates. In an effort to re-mediate their environment, fungus/mushrooms appear to function as both warnings and re-balancers, letting us know when we need to be weary of the shift in balance, and working to bring bio-vitality back to wherever they are by stimulating microbial and enzyme activity…..In the soil, or on the body. This function is hard-wired, and incredibly cool.

The purpose of mushrooms as bio-re mediators (All-Life-healers or Mycoremediators) has been proven time and time again, as mushrooms are frequently used to clean up man-made environmental hazards. This same concept can be applied just the same to the body, with the fungus working to remove toxins and prevent illness.

This shit is really cool. I really look forward to learning more about mushrooms in my lifetime, as I really sense a real importance and magic in Mycology, the study of Mushrooms.

IMG_9510Today, I am sharing this little hair offering of braids and mushrooms and a little picture I sketched of mushrooms, just to show my appreciation:)

For a tutorial on these braids, check out this post. Then, forage some mushrooms and flowers and pin them into your braids, making sure to thank each little mushroom with a smile every time you pick one.

If you are interested, check out Radical Mycology, a podcast from an incredibly inspiring conscious woman named Ayana Young who shares stories of Radical Earth Repair on her show Unlearn and Rewild. She has taught me so much:)

Check out this website for valuable information on wild mushroom Hallucinogenics, fungaltools used to expand consciousness in the mind. Take it from most documented indigenous tribes the world over……There is value in this sort of mind-altering experimentation……..But only when administered with great care and mindfulness, and lot’s of credible information.

Many believe that the Vikings were such fierce warriors because of their relationship with the Amanita Muscara. Photo from @filthandbeauty

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Random fact about the Reishi, one of my favorite mushrooms:

Reishi Mushroom, which is also known as Ganoderma lucidum, is a mushroom which has been used in Chinese medicine to bolsters the body’s immune system, and has been proven to help prevent and fight cancer. It has also been used as as a hair growth treatment, made into a restorative tonic that helps slow down premature hair loss.

IMG_9249This Photo by @Jill_bliss just shows how lovely and magical mushrooms can be. An absolute delight!

I encourage us all to learn more about the magic of mushrooms!

xo, HTHG

 

 

 

HTHG’s Empress Guide to 2016

IMG_9917( tutorial for the Nautilus Braid here:)

I am dubbing 2016 the Year of the Empress. The year of divining our inner power and letting it lead us forward, together!

Hi my friends! Happy New Year to all of you. I wanted to take some time to celebrate this new year with you, and share with you all the state of things are here at HTHG, for 2016 and the foreseeable future.

To begin with, I woke up on New Years Day with a sense of gratitude and wholeness and excitement for the future that I haven’t felt before, ever. I want to thank you all for your support thus far, for sticking with me as I navigate the world of blogging, styling, healing, creating, and small business ownership. IMG_9918

(Bamboo Braid Tutorial Here)

As you all know, HTHG is a multi-faceted labor of love, and one that I decided several months ago to fully commit to by quitting my day job and trusting the vision and the support of my readers…..That is you. So thank you SO VERY much for being here, from my deepest heart:)

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I have found such inspiration this year from nature, thanks @jacquieaiche for this photo. Eternally, my biggest muse is the beauty around us that grows from the earth. This years Free Your Hair Earth Collection was a wonderful exploration of hair and earth-based healing. 47BEF5D1-5A70-4145-ABAC-3827833F3823-1

 

Here is a quick little view of what life is like right now…..I am spending about 12 hours a week cutting hair out of my living room parlor salon, the Free Your Hair Salon. I have a lovely little clientele, a great-fit group of people who are a pleasure to work with. I am still taking new clients, but trying to keep it small and intimate and special.

I write whenever I can, take my camera out when I have the time and space for it, and try constantly to get to the roots of beauty and truth. Our girls, Marley and Selah are the apples of our eyes, the raucus, creative and vibrant thorns in our sides, and our inspiration for stewardship…..The older they get, the more we want to make this world better for them to take over when they step into their own power.

We spend time with family and friends as much as we can, and we bitch about how busy we are while constantly taking on more and more. This year, I took one month off of work in July, and 2 weeks in December. This time allowed me to step back, slow down, re-asses, and stress about not making any money. Ha!

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(Photo and hair by @caitlinfordhair)

My husband Jonny and I are excited to embark on a big co-creation project this year, biggest thing we have collaborated on since our baby girl Selah almost 5 years ago. We are going to build a small building behind our house…… A woodshop and a hair salon in the bottom floor, with an apartment/multi-use creative space on the top floor. This, as we jokingly call, the Hair B&B, will create the opportunity for us to make our livings in our own backyard which is what we both aspire to.

We hope to run the building on solar power and collected rainwater as much as possible, and to be able to build the little studio house of our own co-dreams. The kids will help, when we can bribe them into it, on the small jobs. Our goal is to have it be a project that allows us all to learn and grow together and to create something which will help sustain and support us all. I can’t wait to share the progress here at HTHG! and I also can’t wait to have some of you in my chair at the Hair B&B in the coming years:)Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 1.44.04 PM

What I’m excited about this year at HTHG? Teaching a skillshare circle on Earth-based Hair care and Adornment at the Spiritweavers Gathering. I am majorly excited to share knowledge and connect with other creating women this year. I am also scared shitless to step into a teaching role. Always have been……And also always knew it was an inevitable step for me. Here is to taking on challenges! 2016 is the year!Desert Alchemy in collaboration between Totally Blown and How To Hair Girl are proud to announce Feed, Quench, and Build organic wild havested hair products.

I’m really looking forward to more creative collaborating with brands and artists that I love, like last years Totally Blown/ Free Your Hair Desert Alchemy Haircare line. 2016 at HTHG will be chalk full of guest artists and brands with good ethics and great products and tools. I can’t wait to introduce you!

join the movementGeneral Empowerment! Let’s not forget this touchstone value of HTHG…….This year, there are women all over the world who are embracing their natural body hair, as an expression of their freedom to choose to accept themselves as they are. in 2015, the FYP Movement hit the New York Times, after months and months of conversation in the public forum on the topic of body hair.

Since then, we have watched the conversation shift towards normalization and acceptance, to something of the past that isn’t very interesting anymore. This, and the fact that armpit hair is all of the sudden appearing everywhere from the cast of GIRLS to mainstream magazines and ad campaigns the world over, make me think that our job championing body hair and personal choice with the FYP movement, is done.

What will the be the next empowerment movement to come out of HTHG? Only time will tell, but I can promise you it will be bigger, and better organized the next time around. And YOU will be a part of it with me, won’t you please?

IMG_7545Mandala making, my main meditation. I can’t escape it. It brings me more peace than anything else in the entire world.

7U6A8852Oh! Wait What? It’s the Free Your Hair Brush!!!!!!! Mixed Bristle, Beech wood base…….The perfect brush for moving oil through the hair from roots to ends, the mechanical cleansing device and sacred tool of self-care……Coming Soon!!!!!!

IMG_99532016 Empress Guide to Companies I Love

Before I say goodbye, here is a quick link shout out to brands, artists and companies who I have had the pleasure to stumble upon and connect with this year who I really love want to help support, because they have helped me to channel my inner empress by creating a life that feels true and authentic and powerful.

These companies are forging positive change, encouraging greater health and consciousness, and encouraging eternal creativity……Check them, and a big thanks to all of them:)

Hair

Free Your Hair Earth Collection

La Tierra Segrada

Hairstory Studio

Manic Panic

Tinge Pastels

BeBiotin

Hairprint

Salons

Vain

Coven

Mayapple

Hairstory Studio

Seagull

Edo

 Beauty

Naked Eye Beauty

Sound Botanical’s

Ozark Herbal Creations

Owls Botanicals

Local Rose

Body

Sunpotion

HostDefense

ZenBunni

Poppy and Someday

Healthforce Superfoods

Ometepe Coffee ( Cuppow Lids!)

Baird Farm Maple Syrup

Honey from Beaverslide Drygoods

Azure Standard

Adornment/Artists and Designers

Nikki Jacoby

Rainbow Kimono

Mala beads from Soul Garden Acupuncture

Ceremonial Headwraps

Totally Blown

Adina Mills

Maplexo

Lykke Wullf

Dina’s Great Finds

Darwin and Delilah Handmade Children’s Clothes

Tools/ Life

Hemmer Knives
Fermenting Crock

The Foxfire Book
Healing Wise

Adrien Miller Ceramics
L’Equipe Food Dehydrator

Vitamix Blender

Champion Juicer

Plants/Seeds from Raintree Nursery

Yarn from Beaverslide Dry Goods

Soul/Spirit

NuEssence Incense

Olive & Pine Smudgestix

Book a reading with MyEnthios

Attend the Spirit Weavers Gathering

In Southern California? Attend a mind-expanding class with Active Culture Family. Any class.

Get a massage! If you are in Seattle, check out Carlie Williams. Northwest Arkansas, check out Jesse Lynn at The Fern Healing Center.

Ready to start that small business? Book a consult with Girl Friday Seattle’s Jenny MacLeod.

Read The Fifth Sacred Thing

Woven Art by Tehya Shea

For Fun

Go to Bandittown. Just do it.

Get your photo taken by the gentlemen at Revival Tintype.

Book a photo session with yours truly, (Filth & Beauty.)

Check out Jaime Wyatt and the Bang Bangs. Buy an album!

Here is to 2016, wishing you the BEST and the BRIGHTEST year yet.

xo, HTHG

 

Childbirth, and Expecting Mama Braids

7U6A7489 (1)There is not a more sacred time in a woman’s life than right before her first baby is born. This beautiful time, the last month, is filled with unknowns, emotions, and the insanity of your body growing past what feels like it’s own limitations. The anticipation and excitement of an upcoming birth and then life as a parent is an almost unreal, dreamlike place.

7U6A7316I spent last weekend with my 36 week pregnant sister friend Nikki Jacoby and her partner Gabe enjoying the woods, cooking food, playing music, reading up on birth, and relaxing. Both Gabe and I happened to be reading a book called The Birth Partner by Penny Simkins, which was perfect because we get tag-team her  support when the time comes, which is such a incredibly cool honor.

7U6A7296 (1)While in our little cabin in the woods, I shot some photos of Nikki, to document her body at it’s most pregnant extreme so she will never forget how radiant she is.

I gave her special braids, Expecting Mama Braids, because it seemed like the perfect time for her to wear her own golden crown. I thought a lot about how our hair is our crown, and that there are times in life when we need to own our power and wear crown proudly, and to be brave……and this was one of those times.

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With that said, this braid is for all of you Expecting Mamas.

What makes these braids different is that we began with a deep, diagonal side part.

7U6A7408I did two dutch braids, the first started along the front hairline, the second started at the apex of the diagonal part, sweeping around in an arc to meet the first one in the back.

Both braids were secured at the ends, deconstructed, and then each end was wrapped around and pinned under the opposite braid to complete the circle.

7U6A7419Does that make sense? I hope so.

Here is a quote from legendary American Midwife Ina May Gaskins

“Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”

If you are in the Seattle Area and are pregnant and about to give birth, and you want braids to crown you and help you channel your power, please email me at howtohairgirl@gmail.com

May your births be smooth, powerful, mighty, and peaceful, and your hair be shining and royal.7U6A7201

P.S. I got all my Nikki Jacoby Jewelry re-tumbled, and I can’t stop looking at it.

xo, HTHG

Country Music’s Best, Macefield Music Fest, Hair.

I have to take a minute to introduce you to my two favorite babes in the Country Music scene, who I had the pleasure of styling last weekend.

Meet Jaime Wyatt of Jaime Wyatt and the Bang Bangs and Lucile Kuntz from The Crying Shame, both up and coming country music lady legends in their own right……and by Country, I mean like some real chops, throw-back to the greats of country music Country, but with just the right amount of Pacific Northwest Flavor, like the same flavor that happened when Loretta Lynn lived in Aberdeen, WA.

I met these gals at Bandittown last month through Missbeehivin’ Holley, where they both played gigs. This past weekend, their bands played at the Macefield Music Festival in Seattle and I got to style their hair up right quick before they played.

7U6A2739 7U6A2722Jaime got a little bit of a Keith Richards Rock n’ Roll braid with white leather tassels and a couple of feathers wrapped into the ends. She said it reminded her of a pony that her family used to have named Feather who was a real asshole and bit her once on the stomach. Jaime’s sister used to braid feathers into Feather’s pony hair.7U6A26927U6A2695

Lucile got a daringly sweet little low half-up beehive bump with a little braid coming from each side, and a little white stripped leather bow pinned into it.

Sadly, I couldn’t make it to hear them play that night, I had to be home with the kids. Which was great, I just really wanted to stay for the music…..But as my grandfather would say….’ you can’t kiss all the girls.’ So there.

6G7A4708 copyPhoto by Ryan Jorgensen

Check these ladies out and listen to what they have been working on and while you are ad it check out their tour dates to see when you can catch em in your town…….I have a hunch that you will be really into it.

Need more Country Lady Legend hairstyle inspiration? Check out these 3 tutorials!

xo, HTHG

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