one year dreadiversary, canon 50d ~ august break #11
As of August 1st, my dreadies were one year old.
I took these photos for all of you yesterday...the day after I washed them. The few days following me washing my dreads, they have a lot of fly-aways and are a bit more fuzzy than usual. I thought it is still important that I photograph this part of the process. I always joke with my husband that I look like a wet dog during those few days. ; )
Sitting in that chair with the dread goddess, Stephanie at Akemi Salon feels like yesterday. It was such an emotionally full time for our wee family. The following day after getting my dreads in Portland, we went to visit Cedar's birth parents for the first time since birth. He was 9 months old. Perhaps some of you remember.
I felt so wrapped up on that day. My family and my lovelies sent me off to Portland with wishes and dreams and strength and courage. I was joined at the salon by my dear talented friend Amy Seeley, who sat on the vintage sienna couch near where Stephanie was twisting and knotting and infusing my hair with magic and faerie dust. Here we all are in this photo mid-way through the process...
Don't you just love Cedar's shell-shocked face? Like..."what the heckity heck is my mommy doing with her soft hair?" Later, Amy soothed Cedar with a private concert in her home, playing her piano and singing to us songs from her upcoming album. He was so crushed out. Especially when she let him sit on her lap and pound the piano keys. ; )
This journey has been so dear to my heart. It is obviously not just a hair-do to me and I think most people that go on a dread journey would say that. So much of the process of my hair beginning to dread on its own, paralleled my fertility journey. At first the strands were so tightly wound with expectations and then slowly, very very slowly, they began to unravel and unfurl and let go and loosen. Through it all there were so many fears of how they would turn out and disappointments. Finally I began to see it all clearly as each of them found a home on my head and I came to a place of acceptance and embraced the curves and bumps and fly-aways as part of the whole of what my dreadlocks are. The whole of what and who I am.
Journeys are messy and beautiful and full of being broken and put back together and rediscovering who we are and finding our center through it all.
Since I sat in that chair a dozen or more people connected via my blog or my friends have sat in Stephanie's chair and I received those panic emails after a month or two, just like the phone calls I made to Stephanie. "Are they supposed to look like this? Like a bag lady who hasn't washed her hair in months? What are these bumps? I have so many fly away strands! Are they coming undone?"
In her gentle voice, she would always respond to me..."Oh, they are so perfect, Denise. They are just where they need to be in this very moment." She is the Zen Priestess of Dreadlocks, that woman and totally gets the parallels of dreadlocks and life.
So I have embraced the idea of letting them do their dance. I don't do any maintenance myself. I don't crochet them. I don't put gel or wax on them and because of this, they are a bit wild and free where as those that tend to maintenance them on a daily basis have perfectly tight locks.
I did do maintenance once in Portland when I was there to support a friend...
I may go again next year to see Steph. I remember thinking I would want Stephanie to start from the beginning and tighten them up as they were that first day but when I sat down and looked at them in a new light and saw how teary and proud she was, I realized I loved them just as they were and she only did a few touch ups. Since then, I went to two other people, who were lovely women but it just wasn't the same spiritual experience and they ended up being too tight for me. But the photo I showed Stephanie when I sat in her chair that first day was of a woman that had loose, flowy locks with strands of hair free from the knots and very loose curly ends and long un-dreaded bangs. This is how Stephanie wore hers when she had them and she said those are her absolute favorite to create. I remember her response was "Oh you are so my girl!"
I do put smelly goods on them and conditioning sprays for the days where they feel a bit too dry. I wash them once a week, sometimes once every two weeks if I haven't been swimming or at the beach or getting dirty at all. I think because my hair is so thick and there is so much of it, that I am able to go longer without washing than those with thinner hair. My hair has always been like that growing up.
I will say the hardest part of this process for me has been how my scalp has responded. Since my hair is so, so heavy, the weight of the dreads irritate my scalp and has caused some flakeage. I also think I sometimes don't fully wash out my dread shampoo, which can add to the itching. This apparently is very typical and one way to help sooth is rubbing tea tree oil through the scalp or spraying it with peppermint spray.
Here are the products I use:
Knotty Boy Green Tea Conditioning Spray (to keep them soft and smelling fresh)
Knotty Boy Peppermint Cooling Moisture Spray (for itchies and irritated scalp)
Knotty Boy Dread Shampoo (this works better for my head than DreadHead shampoos or Dr. Bronners...but every head is unique).
I haven't yet gotten as creative with my hair as I had dreamed. Perhaps because I have a little toddler boy that holds my attention most of the day. But I would like to spend some time playing with up-do's and headbands and flowers and long strands of fabric/ribbon tied into my hair. I do wear beads all the time but I take them out at night because I can't sleep with them (most people leave them in). My beads come from all over the place online and from friends. If you do a search on Etsy for "dread beads", you will find so many handmade beauties. I also love the wooden flower beads at Knotty Boy. Etsy also has gorgeous hats for dreads if you do a search.
Well, I hope this helps as MANY of you have asked me to write about my dreads for months now and I wanted to wait until my One Year Dreadiversary to celebrate and answer them.
Here is another pic I took with my phone the other day before washing. You can see how they are a bit tighter than the images above.
If I haven't answered all of your questions, do ask in the comments and I will answer in the comment section as well.
Blessings on the journeys of all of you dreadies to be...xoxox