Pandemic Surrender

thinking about surrender

During the last year and a half, I’ve done a lot of thinking about surrender. That’s why I chose surrender as my word of the year.

I believe that surrender is not about giving up, but making peace with reality. Because I’ve learned that what you resist persists and the fighting is emotionally exhausting.

A few days ago, I did a selfie photo shoot of my new look. Normally I’m not one to share many pictures of myself. But I do change up my photos on this blog and my social media every year or so. This change is dramatic, so I thought I’d blog it too.

My hair has been thinning for years and has been a constant source of stress and anxiety. Society places so much importance on thick long luxurious hair. What do you do when you don’t have that no matter how hard you try?

You do the best you can with what you have. You try to overlook comments that people make about other people’s hair while wondering what they think of yours.

Then you just get exhausted by the whole thing. Because life is short and what’s the point of worrying. I can’t control other people’s thoughts — only mine. I need to be comfortable with myself. I’m 56, soon to be 57, and want to age gracefully. Wigs, weaves and braids have never been my style, so I started looking at the other end of the spectrum.

Several of my aunts have embraced the bald look and some well-known glamorous women like Christine Platt and Ayanna Pressley rock it as well. Ayanna Pressley is such an inspiration and powerhouse that I’ve especially taken strength from her and see her as an expander. I don’t have alopecia, but many women in my family have thinning hair, so it’s almost certainly genetics.

My mom had a stroke at the end of February and I’ve been helping her get back to her life. It’s been a long journey for both of us. Through all this, we both were vaccinated. PSA — Get vaccinated!

The day before I became fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second dose) was also the day that I picked up my mom from rehab and brought her home. It’s also the day that I got most of my hair chopped off. I only have so much physical and emotional energy and focusing on my hair is not how I want to use it.

The pandemic has given many of us time to think about what’s important and what’s not. At the beginning of the pandemic, I vowed to myself that if I survived it, I wasn’t leaving it the same way I went in. None of us will. Intentionally or not. Time will reveal other changes that I probably can’t imagine yet.

What about you? How are you leaving the pandemic differently than you went in?

Recently Read: The Woman I Wanted to Be

The Woman I Wanted to beHappy Holidays to you!

Time is more than scarce right now, but I wanted to make sure that I wrote about this book before Christmas. It would be a great gift for someone if you are still shopping.

The Woman I Wanted to Be, by Diane von Furstenberg, is truly inspiring and has changed the way that I start and end each day. What an amazing woman!

Even if you don’t buy this book, read it. Borrow it from the library. Read it in the store. But read it. Especially if you are trying to start something new and find your own way. If you are seeking inspiration and confidence, you will find it in the pages she has written.

Her philosophy has been that she wanted to live the life of a man, but in a woman’s body. She wanted the career, money, and freedom that used to only be in the reach of men, but she wanted to be able to do that as a woman. And she has!

Because of this book, each day I ask myself the question, “Am I closer to being the woman that I want to be?” If not, I try to make little changes to get closer the next day. If yes, well, then I smile!

Most of us know of von Furstenberg as the creator of the wrap dress. She has had a life full of glamour and leads a very jet set existence. But in the book, she still comes through as being very down to earth. She was part of the Studio 54 scene and knew all the stars. But it’s not like she is being fake and making things up. This was her life!

Her mother was a Holocaust survivor and her story provided core values and great determination that were passed down to her daughter. Regardless of her deep strength, we learn about the ebb and flow of confidence in her life by how she wears her hair. Plus she tells an interesting story about a very young Bruce Springsteen.

My curly hair had become an asset. I felt confident and free. That confidence didn’t stay with me all the time. My hair became a barometer for my self-esteem, and in the early nineties I started to straighten my hair again. Those were not great years. I was yet again in search of myself and was a bit insecure. As I regained confidence, I let the curls come back. I learned how to master them, how to use them and let them be a part of the true me. I even started to welcome humidity because it adds so much volume to curly hair.

It might seem trivial to give that much importance to hair, but I know all women with curls will identify with this struggle. So will some curly-haired men, I recently discovered. During a vacation last year on the boat of a friend, entertainment mogul David Geffen, I was having a conversation about hair with the women on board when Bruce Springsteen the macho, superhero rock star chimed in. He, too, used to hate his Italian curls when he was fifteen and starting out, he confessed, and so did his teenage band mates, The Castiles. They all wished they could switch their Mediterranean curls for straight bangs like the Beatles. So, at night, they would go secretly to a beauty parlor for black women in Freehold, New Jersey to have their hair straightened!

I laughed out loud with that story! Especially as a Black woman and having gone though my own natural hair journey. The book is full of so many interesting stories and they all make their points. The introduction to her book sets the stage and summarizes what her life is about. I really like this quote from it as a nice takeaway.

As a girl, I did not know what I wanted to do but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be. I wanted to be my own person, independent and free. I knew that freedom could only be achieved if I took full responsibility for myself and my actions, if I were true to the truth, if I became my very best friend.

I liked this book a lot. And feel like I’m becoming a better person for having read it.

+ + +
Screenshot: Simon & Schuster