Show me your scarf.

This is not a “clap for me” post. Oh, please, don’t clap for me.

Today, I wore a scarf on my head to stand in solidarity with a friend of a friend who has alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that has caused her to lose her hair increasingly over her life. She’s had to go through the hair loss process not once but twice in her life, so far.

I can only imagine the heartache.

No, I’m not being sarcastic. Hair is more central to our identity than we realize. Watching your hair fall out is like losing a part of you. What do people say when they describe you to other people? “Oh, yeah, she’s tall, has blonde, curly hair…” If it’s not the number one descriptor, it’s number two.

And for me? I’m a healthy, happy, natural hair fiend. I take so much pride in treating my hair well and even more so when it results in a good hair day. I actually love my hair, though over the past few days it’s been all flyways because it’s hot and I sit in front of a lot of high-powered fans.

So though wearing a scarf on your head is a simple enough request, it seemed like it would be better to not do it. I can still support people without covering up my hair. I can still do that. Yay for you. You are courageously going bald. Woohoo. I’m so with you… except I’m not.

I don’t know why, but it struck a chord within me, maybe because I don’t think I could ever give up my hair for good. Shave my head? I’ve considered it. I would need a good reason, but I could do it, because it’ll grow out again. But watching it fall out, bit by bit, and knowing that I’m going to struggle to have enough hair even for a thin ponytail for the rest of my life?

Call me shallow, but that makes me want to cry.

You know I have an identity crisis every year when my hair stops being blonde in the winter. My identity, though this isn’t good, is so wrapped up in my appearance – particularly in my hair. Who am I? I’m a writer who looks like this.

So that little, stubborn, unsupportive resistance was my hint that I needed to do this. I needed to understand what it felt like, in a small way. I needed to take a small step in courage as she takes a big one. Yay for you, Katie. And yay for me, too. I think we’re both learning something here.

There it is. That picture makes me think of how my ears stick out, and well, at least I’ve got a nice smile. My roommate (in a loving manner) told me that I looked like a mystic.

Good grief, Ashley. Haven’t you been told time and time again that it doesn’t matter what you look like? So why did you feel so conspicuous and unusual and not yourself? It’s just hair. You don’t have this crisis when you shave your legs. (though you might when you don’t)

Who are you?

I’m Ashley. I’m a writer. I’m learning that my identity has little to nothing to do with what I look like and more than everything to do with who I am.

I’m 20, and I’m just now putting this into practice.

Copycat hair.

Taylor Swift, you are a copycat.

I mean, I’m flattered that you cut your hair short the week after I did, but really? This is a bit much.

We both did the shoulder-length thing, too. Do you ever wonder if we’re telepathically connected? Oh, of course you don’t. You don’t know me or that everyone thinks we look alike. I’ve written about this to you before, with no results. But that’s okay. I know you’ve got a lot of people vying for your attention.

I’ll just wait my turn.

I’ve wondered before if we’ll still look alike when we get old. If we still look alike at age 80, can we do lunch? I’d like that. Or I think 80-year-old me would like that. I guess we’ll see. I’ll probably be a pretty snarky old lady, so if you’re still strutting around onstage with red lipstick at that age and going through boyfriends like pairs of socks, I might have something to say about it.

I still wonder why I look like you. I really don’t think God does stuff like that arbitrarily, so I feel like there’s some good reason.


Well, if you see this and feel like contacting me, I’ll be tied up til July, but I bet I could squeeze you in after that.

You just have your people contact my people. (I gotta find some people.)

Coming to terms: hair edition.

I think I may have to come to terms with the fact that I’m not a blonde anymore.  It’s really disappointing, but whenever I refer to myself as blonde, people tip their heads to one side and looks at my head.  Then they squint one eye and say, “well…  kind of really dark blonde.”  Then I try to defend my blondness by saying, “It’s WINTER, so it’s darker than usual right now.  It lightens up a lot in the summer.”  That being said, let’s take a trip into the history of my hair, shall we?  (It looks dumb now that I type it out, but I’m going to go with it.)

I was born with a full head of dark hair that soon lightened to platinum blonde.  And it stayed there for quite some time.  Around middle school, it started getting darker in the winter and lightening less in the summers.  And the progression has continued to this day, the day when I start to wonder if I can identify with the blonde crowd at all.  It’s a small identity crisis.

I’m not sure why, but the discovery that I’m not really blonde anymore just makes me want to dye my hair.  Well, if I can’t be blonde, then I’ll be a REAL brunette.  I’ll go chestnut or auburn… or purple!  You’ll see, you people.  I was almost blonde, but all these comments about whether or not I was blonde sent me into a tailspin.  And now I’m hair-dye lococrazy!  It’ll be the equivalent of a psychotic breakdown, but only on a hair level – not on the brain level.

I suppose I’ll just have to come to terms with it, to realize that I’ve been brought to this new identity where I’m not really blonde, more like golden brown.  (that might even be stretching it)  I’ll come to terms with that right along with the other changes in my life and my thoughts and my habits that have been a part of the college growing process.

And I suppose I’ll be okay.  Don’t be surprised if you hear about a hair-dyeing adventure coming up though.  It might still happen.

Scavenger hunt.

Here’s what I’m thinking about today.
People often depict life as a walk, that we’re all on this path called “Life”, strolling along through the nice weather and the rainstorms. Things aren’t always easy, and the view isn’t always nice, but we’re walking.
I would like to propose that life is more like a scavenger hunt. It’s a purposed walk. And you don’t always know where you will be going next or what you should be looking for. It’s not just a stroll down a pre-paved path, because no one has ever had the exact sequence of events that you have. Sure, you’re not the only one who has ever been in your situation, but perhaps you are the only one who has ever been called to India then gotten behind in Calculus, gotten stressed, and had your hair start falling out, in that order.
The path image makes it seem like we always know what’s ahead and where we should be going, like we have a map. I won’t say that we don’t have guidance, but let’s be honest – it’s quite a bit more ambiguous than that. There are some times when you just know the right thing to do, because it’s a black and white choice, a right and wrong decision, chocolate vs. vanilla. (you always pick chocolate in that circumstance, by the way) But what about when you’re deciding between who homework assignment to complete first? What about when you don’t know whether or not you need to sign up for the 21 or the 15 meal plan?
These type of things are what make like a scavenger hunt. We get clues and have an idea of what we’re looking for, but we have to rely on God’s guidance (who He so abundantly provides, when we ask – and often when we don’t ask) to find our way.
Scavenging, doesn’t that bring up images of searching through a dumpster or looking for berries in the woods?
It’s a search. A search for truth and right and the sure footing that will lead us to the place where God wants us.
Just my musings on my homework break. Homework break = over.

Promises, promises.

I’m just wondering today about promises and obligations towards those to whom I make them. Don’t worry, if I promised you something, I’m sure I’ve kept it unless the promise was made after 12am. I lose brain function shortly after midnight.
There’s a story behind all this:
On my flight back home from India, the second leg from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, I sat next to a woman who was probably about 80 years old. She was Iranian, and may have been one of the quickest and most volatile people I have ever sat next to on a plane. It was an experience to remember.
As I’m telling you all this, remind yourself – as I had to do many times during this flight – that she grew up in Iran and didn’t grow up in a western, suburban culture. So when I tell you that I would open my eyes, waking up from a nap during the long flight and she would be staring at me as though she’d been waiting for me to wake up, it might not be as weird as it sounds. She also put her feet up on her tray table (a flexible lady, for sure), demanded tea three times before takeoff (getting the same negative – and apologetic – response each time), taught me to play a card game where the rules kept changing (I don’t think either of us knew how to play), and vehemently insisted that I fill out her customs form for her. It was a slightly scary time.
But then again, she also told me I was beautiful. And that I had beautiful hair.
And she made me promise to never dye it.
I sputtered an, “oh-okay. I won’t.” in response to her demand. What else would I say? The woman had proven her tenacity and desire to have things her way.
I probably should have no problem dismissing this promise. Not that I was planning on dyeing my hair anyways, but I can let go of the promise I made to a woman I only knew for about seven or eight hours and will most likely never see again, right? I mean, this is a question of my hair. Mine. It will get gray eventually. I will want to dye it at some point in college, I’m sure. (not that it’ll be gray by then…)
Does it say something negative about me if I dismiss that hasty promise? Logic says no, but I still feel this nagging voice in my head, in an Iranian accent, telling me I need to keep my promise. It’s silly. And it probably wouldn’t hurt anything if I broke it. But how far do I go in breaking promises of I break that one?
Sometimes there aren’t answers right away. Sometimes, I just sit in the sun and wait for inspiration.

philosophy on football, owner’s manuals, and hair

Football is one sport of which that I don’t completely understand the origins.  I get volleyball – it’s like the game you play with a balloon where it can’t touch the floor, except there’s another team, and you try to make it harder for them to keep it up.  I sort of get baseball, it’s like a more complicated game of catch where you have to run sometimes – and all the spectators eat peanuts and cracker jacks.  I understand swimming because when you’re in water you have to do something in order to keep from drowning.  I get soccer because it’s pretty simple (minus all the weird throw-ins and stuff they do) – just get the ball into the goal and don’t be a ball hog.

But I do not understand football.  Throw this leather ball around while wearing pants made for someone two sizes smaller than you are and tackle anyone who tries to take it away from you.  What kind of lessons is that teaching our kids if we let them watch a sport where people pummel each other for absolutely no reason?

All I can conclude is that it must be a guy thing.  Then again, I know girls who like football more than some of the guys I know.  So I guess I can’t make any conclusions about that.

For me, football is more about state pride.  If the Vikings win, it’s one more reason why Minnesota is the place to be.  If they do something well, it’s proof that Minnesotans are superior – all because we have tough winters that make us into macho people.

Philosophy.  Right there.

apparently Percy Harvin was the man of the game today... at least in the first five minutes I was sort of paying attention to.

Now, on to the hair philosophy.  I have a new philosophy about my hair, as I have mentioned before: I’m not using any heat tools on it anymore.  Woohoo.  Go Ashley.  Go healthy hair.

I got a new camera in August.  (trust me, this story has a purpose.) I got everything out of the box because that’s what I do when I get something new.  I got out all the cords and the quick start guide and the instruction manual and the computer software.  It was so exciting.  I used the manual to get started but quickly found that I could figure things out on my own.   I don’t have a problem with using trial and error to figure things out when it comes to technology.  So, I put the manual back in the box, and it has been there ever since.

That’s how I treat my owner’s manuals.  I use them to get started, and only if there’s a problem that I haven’t been able to figure out on my own do I consult it to find answers.  I never read it for fun or look at it when things are going well with my electronic buddies.

Which is why I will never truly understand why people use the “owner’s manual” illustration to talk about the Bible.  Yes, the Bible has solutions for life, and yes, you can use it’s wisdom to solve your problems, but if we treat our Bibles like we treat our owners’ manuals, we’re going to end up doing a lot of things on our own.  We’re going to put it on a shelf and only pick it up when all else has failed.  It won’t be the first thing we read in the morning – on good days when it doesn’t seem like we need outside wisdom.  It’ll be the last resort: the dust-covered volume that is unfamiliar and maybe even unnecessary to the way we live our lives.

Can we all agree that we need to throw that illustration out the window?

Thanks.  I appreciate your agreement with me.