unless you can be a unicorn

 

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“Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.”

A few weeks ago, I had my first – but definitely not last – stint with pink hair. It faded faster than hoped, and what’s left are light strands of cotton-candy locks. The day I had it colored, my stylist told me to embrace the fade, and I have, but in an effort to make the pink last longer, I’ll probably experiment with dying my hair on my own soon – scary! – so wish me luck.

I will admit, after my hair was painted pink and purple, the foils came off and it was blow-dryed for the first time, I had a mini inner freak out. It’s so bright, I thought. Oh no! I can’t cover that up if I try!

But the hairdresser, with all her confidence in her latest artwork, told me I looked like a mermaid and a unicorn, and if that doesn’t make someone smile, I don’t know what would. Who doesn’t want to be a mermaid once in her life?! So I embraced the brightness, the pink and purple sections mixing in with the blond – a style I’d been wanting to try for about four years (but didn’t have the guts). I mean, it’s just hair after all, and in that moment when my hair went from frizzy blond lion to pink and purple unicorn, I knew it wasn’t a mistake at all.

It’s such a silly, vain thing, being excited about hair, so I hesitate to even write and post this. I’m also embarrassed to admit I took way too many selfies the last few weeks as I tried to save every stage. But if there was ever something meaningful to learn from pink hair, it may as well be shared, so here we go …

Life is hard you guys. Sometimes it’s really hard, and I know you all know this. A lot of the emotions inside a person are never seen by the rest of the world. I learned the hard way the last few years, and especially after my dad died, that depression and anxiety can come and go the way storms do, and sometimes they come fast. Sometimes I imagine my mind like a beautiful grassy field with blue skies and white fluffy clouds. There is a cute yellow house with flowers hanging on the porch, and birds singing their songs. But one thought can begin to change those white clouds to gray, until the whole sky is dark, and it starts to spin. The wind comes in, and a tornado forms and starts wrecking things, until all that’s beautiful – the grassy hill, the country house, and nature’s songs – are all in a million pieces. I know thoughts that trigger the tornadoes. They are thoughts of painful memories, of insecurities, of failures. And they are thoughts of the world’s hurt that is out of my control.

The spinning doesn’t always reach tornado status; sometimes the wind creates funnel clouds that change to blue skies again faster than tornadoes. The funnel clouds are more common than tornadoes, but both come around more frequently that I like to admit. And sometimes there is not even a funnel cloud or tornado. Sometimes there is just rain. Not fierce rain with roaring thunder and lightning that pierces the sky, but constant drizzling rain that makes everything gray for a while.

Not all rain is bad. Sometimes you have to just wait it out, and sometimes it allows time to slow down. It let’s you see what’s most important. I’ve actually come to love rain in the literal sense – the monsoon rain that falls from New Mexico skies in the summers. The rain that invites me to my back patio to watch in wonder. Last night, in fact, it rained for hours. I wrapped myself in a blanket and sat outside without any distractions. I saw the lighting in the distance flash against a dark purple sky and it all seemed beautiful and grand instead of sad. Some of the lightning lit up rooms in our house, and our TV even flashed off once, but none of it seemed scary. It was needed and welcomed this hot summer.

If I’m in a place where I can see the sky, I look for rainbows at the end of storms. Sometimes they appear as full arches right in front of our house and I’m always mesmerized. I rush to get my camera and will try to watch it as long as its there. I like to see the golden storm clouds lit up by the sunset, and the rainbow colors blended together. Those colors – it’s all about those colors – and the magic of a rainbow that can’t be touched, but comes and goes like a spirit in the sky.

Rainbows are so happy, aren’t they? And, somehow I’m going to bring this all back to pink hair although I’m afraid I got kind of off course. What I mean to say is I know life isn’t always happy, but for a few weeks, I had a tangible rainbow in my hair and it went around with me everywhere. And sometimes you need those silly, trivial, happy things to follow you around and remind you that life really isn’t so bad.

And on another note, it made me feel unique – and I don’t always feel unique. Every day I went to work and didn’t see one other person with pink hair. I went to movies, to the mall, out to dinner, and walked my dog around the neighborhood, and I was the only person with pink hair in all of those places.

So if there is ever something bright, and cheerful, and happy, that will make the storms in your life feel lighter, I say do it. Do it, even if it’s as frivolous as pink hair. If there is ever something that will make you feel just a little brave, I say do that, too. And if there is something that makes you feel unique – like a tattoo, piercing, or a daring haircut – go for it! Because in the end, life is still hard, and it’s short, and anything that brings out the rainbows is a good thing.

Pink Hair

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