Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Hoop slump.

It’s the middle of summer here in New Zealand and finally the weather has caught up with the season. December has been a gloriously warm and fine month – just as it should be.
I love hooping at this time of the year. The long evenings mean I can hoop outside till 9pm, with birds twittering around me in the trees, light breezes cooling my skin, and the sunset light washing over me.
And yet, this year, I’m in a hoop slump – the worst I’ve ever experienced {okay, the only one I’ve experienced so far} and it seems to be related to my new hair. Hooping has been a struggle for me ever since I cut my dreads off. Which is ironic, because part of the reason I wanted to get rid of my dreads was that they were always getting caught in my hoop or knocking the hoop off-balance. I thought being dreadless would make hooping easier. So far, the opposite has been the case. I feel static, boring and lacking in creativity.
One of the things I am finding particularly difficult is no longer being able to head hoop. If I had a signature move, it would be head hooping. Head hooping is my favourite move: it brings me instant calm and happiness. When I was at Under The Spinfluence recently, my ability to head hoop was much admired. I even made a YouTube tutorial on head hooping – and now, here I am, having to learn it again myself! It seems that dreads provide excellent grip for the hoop while non-dreaded hair is just too slippery.
I have been told by other former dreadheads that these off-balance feelings are a natural part of releasing dreads for those who do any form of dance. That it takes the body a while to adjust to not having a lot of weight on the head. So I’m not panicking. I’m still showing up in my hoop every single day. And I’m practising head hooping like a demon – I will master it again!
Happy hooping,
Anne-Marie x

Monday, 22 December 2014

Midsummer reflections: Release

We are just about to release 2014 and move into 2015. And I have just released my dreads, after many years of having them - a really big step for me.

I never expected to get to the point where I wanted to let my dreads go. Sure, they could sometimes be annoying. They interfered with my hoop and they were so heavy they gave me headaches. But they were {literally} part of me, and part of my identity. Because they formed naturally over several years I developed a deep emotional attachment to them. People knew me and recognised me by my dreads, and they gave me a certain amount of cool. I loved how low-maintenance they were - I didn't even have to comb them.

The first suggestion of releasing my dreads came this time last year. I was irritated by them. They hung down to my hips, massive things that seemed to drain my energy. I took one tiny dread and combed it out, freaked out, and stopped halfway through. I definitely did not want to get rid of my dreads. My husband suggested I cut my dreads to a manageable length, and all was well again.

So when, this November, I started to feel twinges of wanting to get rid of the dreads, I figured it was just something that happened at this time of the year. I sat with the feeling for a while. Then one morning - just a couple of days before the anniversary of starting my dreads - I woke up convinced the dreads had to go. That evening two of my dreads actually broke off in my hands - something that had never happened before.

The next day I came home from work feeling like I was being smothered and couldn't breathe properly. I grabbed the kitchen scissors, handed them to my husband and told him to start cutting. He snipped them up to my shoulders ... ah, what a release. I took a bottle of conditioner and a comb and spent the weekend combing, combing, combing. Before I began on each dread, I ran my fingers over it and whispered, "I thank you - I release you."

In two days I had combed out 22 of my 42 dreads and filled an entire shopping bag with knotted hair. {I put most of it in the compost heap, but buried one dread under my elderflower bush in the garden.}
I spent the next two weeks combing out the rest of the dreads, just a few at a time.

This Saturday, just before the new moon and Midsummer, the very last dread was combed out. I washed my hair and rinsed it in rain water that had had rosemary, sage and lavender soaking in it, and allowed it to dry in the warm summer air.

And now I am starting to get to know this lovely new hair of mine. A lot of people don't recognise me; I still get a surprise when I see myself in the mirror. I love the feel of the wind on my scalp! I'm enjoying the texture of my hair, which somehow manages to be soft and rough at the same time {I've never had sleek, shiny hair}. My hair doesn't like to be combed or brushed; it just goes flat and sullen, like a dog that's been told off. So I comb it before I go to bed each night and finger-comb it each morning, which seems to work well.

Happy Midsummer to you all!

Before {the last picture I took of myself with dreads}:

After {completely dreadless and with hair freshly washed}: