November 1, 2018

How to Live Authentically & Let Go of what Doesn’t Serve Us.

My hair fell to the floor as my stylist began cutting, bringing to life the inspiration I brought in—a picture of Michelle Williams.

Full transparency: Michelle Williams is almost always my inspiration lately. Short hair, long hair, dark locks, or platinum blonde, sophisticated, stylish, not trying too hard.

Sorry, I digress.

As I sat in the chair, hair wet, anticipating the finished look, I listened to the conversations that swirled around me.

“I would never have bangs,” said a lanky redhead in the chair next to mine.

Only feet away from her, my burgeoning transformation was going to include heavy, forward-swept bangs.

Through the din of blow-dryers and other voices, I set my intention to listen to the woman next to me—my eyes downcast, hopefully undetectable eavesdropping in action.

Why wouldn’t you try something? is my motto. I mean, it is only hair. A haircut isn’t permanent. Heck, even permanent color isn’t permanent.

My hair is my superpower. My hair transforms me.

What is your superpower?

There is something that shines the light on all the nuances that make you you.

Do you find yourself obsessed with science fiction novels one month, and then equally entranced by autobiographies the next? Reading might be your superpower.

Do you immerse yourself in hydroponic gardening and then pick up photography? Your superpower could be your hobbies.

Or maybe you feel different depending on what fragrance you wear.

Our superpower illuminates the beauty we have inside. It gives us permission, the freedom, to be who we truly are. Through our superpower, we create paths to our authentic selves.

People can’t be placed into simple categories of good or bad, nice or mean, friendly or aloof. The truth is we are more complicated than that. We all have different sides.

Trouble happens when we push aspects of ourselves into the corner. We lose our joy, our spark.

Each haircut or color brings out a different element of me.

I can be quite shy. I also can be outgoing. I can be polite. I can also be rude. I can be patient. I can be aggressive. I can be serious. I can be lighthearted.

My magical hair brings out my various sides. I feel different with as little as changing which side my hair parts or as much as cutting off 12 inches and dyeing it red.

My first major transformation happened as a young girl in the mid-70s. I was not even 10 years old, but I decided I no longer wanted the waist-length blonde hair I had been growing since the day I was born. Nope. I wanted feathery bangs. Farrah Fawcett, anyone? She was beautiful and could catch the bad guys. Yes, please.

Each big swoosh of hair from my middle part gave me a new identity. I was a little like Farrah. I wasn’t as afraid as I was before. I had confidence. I moved from right field to shortstop.

In those early years, I was limited in what I could change about my hair. No way Mom was going to let me color my hair. I was not nearly old enough (and she certainly wasn’t going to pay for it). Gen Xers didn’t get highlights, manicures, pedicures—which all seem commonplace today for many tweens and teens.

Who would inspire my next version of me? There were certainly strong style icons in the 80s, but Sheena Easton was the one who caught my eye. While dyeing my hair Sheena-dark wasn’t an option, I could adopt her short hairstyle: part innocence, part sass. I’ll take a dose of that.

My face was no longer hidden by layers of hair. I felt revealed. I was willing to take more chances, like getting on stage to perform in school plays. Old Angela never would have done that.

When I went away for college, gone were the parental controls. Yes, a dye job was in my near future. I had grown my hair out and let more of my natural curl rule (thank you, Molly Ringwald). Sophomore year, I dyed my hair brown—think Madonna in “Like a Prayer.” My darker angel. A little edgy. Taking the danger further, I went jet-black. (Maybe I should date a musician or poet?)

In the last two years, I’ve had everything from a platinum pixie to brown curls. The changes are sometimes so extreme that people don’t recognize me at first—even when they are looking straight at me. I’ve even noticed that my hair affects how I teach my yoga classes, how I approach poses, and how I cue them.

How fun is that?

Month-long retreats, self-help courses, meditation, and therapy are some of the ways we can cut through the crap and find ourselves. These methods are valid and valuable for many people.

I choose to celebrate me through my hair.

When we live with authenticity, we do more than stay true to ourselves and our values.

Embracing all that makes us unique brings us peace and strength. We will attract the right people into our lives. We can more easily let go of what (or who) doesn’t align with us anymore.

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Angela Copeland

author: Angela Copeland

Image: Charlie's Angels (1976)

Editor: Kelsey Michal