My hair was getting heavy and I was growing antsy.

It’s a cycle of my life I’ve continued since I was 15, the year of my first “chop.” I grow my hair out for a few years, finally get it below the shoulders and realize, yet again, long hair doesn’t look the same on me as it does on Hollywood’s red carpet celebs, or even some of the people around town who wear it so beautifully!

I chopped my hair, just like I did four years ago. And four years before that and...

I chopped my hair, just like I did four years ago. And four years before that and…

It might not look like it, but I have thick hair with sporadic clusters of wavy unruliness lurking underneath layers of straightness. These wild spots need to be tamed and straightened with a round brush when I blow it dry. Once my hair hits a the shoulders, it takes forever to dry and becomes difficult to style.

That is a pretty big hindrance, especially for a mother of two who works full-time, exercises regularly and has her fingers in a whole bunch of different pots.

As my dear, honest sister said of my hair last spring, “It overpowers your face.” Looking at recent pictures, I had to agree.

So last Friday, I went to see my  long-time hairdresser, Ashley Carmack of Exhale Salon, who never tries to pull my in one direction or another. She simply delivers the best cut possible based on my requests.

During this last visit, my request was a casual wave of the hand  indicating “above my shoulders.”

Five inches later, my hair was indeed above my shoulders. I started fidgeting and would put my glasses on and take them off, wait a few minutes and try it again.

“Karen,” Ashley laughed. “Your hair is not going to get longer every time you put your glasses on.”

I wanted a change and I got it. Of course, Ashley did a phenomenal job (a compliment to her, not me) and I’m happy with my bob, but it is a dramatic change.

Later that day, I saw a reflection in a window and it took a second to realize it was my short-haired reflection staring back at me. For a while, I was mildly bummed. Crazy as it sounds, I had become attached to my longer hair.

Over the weekend, though,  I saw a woman whose beautiful head was bald. She was donning lots of pink, an instant reminder that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I immediately thought of all the cancer patients who lose all their hair through chemotherapy. Who cares about a few inches when more than 232,000 Americans, mostly women, are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year? And when, according to the American Cancer Society, nearly 40,000 women will die from the disease in 2013.

Those statistics can change one’s perspective very quickly. So can a woman in pink.

Here I was, coming to grips with a hair cut. It’s just hair. It grows back. And hair grows back for most cancer patients following their chemo treatments, if they survive. Medical teams at the Mayo Clinic advise those who are undergoing treatments for cancer to use their energy to stay as healthy as possible, rather than worrying about how they look. As logical as that suggestion sounds, it’s not always easy in our looks-obsessed society.

Here’s something that really matters: our sisters who are standing up to cancer or any other life-threatening disease. I figure it’s time I spend less time worrying about my looks, and more time remembering those who have succumbed to breast cancer, while praying for those who are still fighting for their lives.

Fighting, so courageously, with grace, determination and love.

We can all join the fight by donating to cancer-fighting or patient-supporting causes in our own communities. In Huntsville, there are several great fundraisers this month, including the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run on Saturday, October 19, and HudsonAlpha’s Tie the Ribbons luncheon for breast and ovarian cancer research on Thursday, October 24.

But time is of the essence, so let’s get to it. Chop, chop!


About minndixiemom

I'm a Minnesota native with an Alabama heart, reflecting on the past while looking toward the future. My husband, David, and I landed in Huntsville in the late 90s through my former career in TV news. We have two amazing girls, Serina and Sophia, whom we are raising with God's guidance and grace. Besides faith and family, my passions include writing, walking, mental health, and recovery. By day, I'm the Director of Development for WellStone (another passion), North Alabama's largest and most comprehensive mental healthcare provider.
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5 Responses to Chopped

  1. Ann Marie Lang says:

    What a wonderful post! Yes, its just hair and I think you look wonderful in a bob!

  2. heidi hovland says:

    Hair is just hair, but yours looks beautiful and so do you! Great post and great perspective on where hair falls in the spectrum of what ultimately really matters.

  3. Kristina says:

    Your hair is beautiful, Karen! I understand the fustration of thick + straight and wavy hair though, I have it too! (Must be the Viking blood…) But a couple of years ago this same thing occured to me as I was complaining about how long it takes to fix, blow dry, straigther my hair: “I HAVE HAIR!” And a LOT if it…many would die for it! Especially women going through chemo. I felt very guilty for ever having comlained about my hair, and I have honestly been much more thankful for my unruly haystack since that day! 🙂 (Oh, and on a funny note, Ashley cut my hair too a couple of times when we lived in H’ville our 2nd time.) 🙂

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