Letting Go of “Should”

I feel like a tetherball. My journey through life is carrying me around and around a central point, and the object is to get as close to the center as possible. But on the way, I’m going around in circles, learning and forgetting and re-learning the same lessons over and over. This is one of those lessons.

It comes in a lot of different packages:

  • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Don’t compare yourself to the version of yourself you wish you were.
  • Don’t compare yourself to the person you used to be.
  • Live in the moment.
  • Don’t beat yourself up over the past.
  • Don’t stress out over the future.
  • Let go of “should.”

They’re all the same lesson. When you focus on what you should be, but aren’t, or on what you shouldn’t do, but do anyway, you miss out on so much potential for good things in life. When I hear other people say, “I should be __________ by now,” or, “I should stop __________,” my first instinct is to say, “Then start already!” or, “Then just stop it!” (respectively). But when I say those “shoulds” myself, my first instinct is not to snap myself out of it, but to wallow in them.

I don’t know if this makes me kinder to myself or a horrible enabler.

Here’s the truth. When you feel a “should” creeping up, or when you hear yourself say it, you have two choices:

  1. Agree with it and take action.
  2. Tell it to eff off because you’re just fine.

Those are your only options if you want to be sane and happy. If it’s something you really believe would be of benefit to you and the world, take steps to make a change. If you find that you’re comparing yourself to others and it’s bringing you down, kick that “should” to the curb. You’re fine.

Sometimes, you have to choose both options. You have to say, “Here’s my action plan. I am at Step Nine, and it is perfectly ok that I’m at Step Nine and not Step Fifty. Step Fifty comes much later. Right now, Step Nine is exactly the right step to be at.”

I have to tell myself that I’m fine a lot. I don’t know if it’s perfectionism or just general female guilt (ladies, you know what I’m talking about), but I very often feel like I should be doing more, I should be better, I should be thinner, I should be more outgoing, I should have more savings, I should be able to do everything just by willing myself to do it, I should have a cleaner home, I should spend more quality time with friends and family, I should eat less sugar, I should clean out my car, I should read my Bible, I should exercise more, I should change out of my jabambas on my days off, I should do a closet purge, I shouldn’t have cut these bangs, I should have cut these bangs years ago…

The thing is that using these “shoulds” to take action is one thing (I really am going to clean out my car this week), but using them to beat yourself up doesn’t help anyone. So the next time you hear yourself say (or think), “I should…,” ask yourself if it’s a change that would improve you and/or the world, and if it’s one you’re ready to work toward. If so, make a plan, and make it happen, and accept every step in the plan as a valuable, necessary, good, productive one. But if it’s not a change you’re ready for, maybe see if you can let that be ok.

The Deva Cut

Several weeks ago, I wanted to get my hair cut. Curly hair, though, is tricky because when you wash it and then cut it wet, you have no way of predicting what it will do after it dries and curls back up. To get around this problem and save some money, I used to cut it myself back in college. It was extremely short at the time, so basically what I would do was pull a curl from the back around to the front, and if it was long enough to see it, I cut it shorter. I had a hair stylist friend at the time who shouted at me about it, so eventually, I went to a salon. The stylist looked at it dry, and I told her I’d been doing it myself. Her response was, “Well it doesn’t look bad.” I know, right?

Then she washed it, combed it out, saw how uneven it was, and said, “Oh…”

But here’s the thing: If you wear your curly hair curly, nobody ever sees it wet and combed out. If it looks good curly, that’s all that matters. Why do we feel the need to cut all hair types the same way?

Enter the Deva Technique.

I’ve heard it pronounced “deeeva” and “deh-va,” and I don’t know which one is right, and I don’t care. What matters is that it makes sense for curly hair. Here’s how it works (just imagine the tree is my head):

See how he’s just cutting branches all willy-nilly? Yeah, that’s how the Deva cut works. Of course, like any artist, the stylist has a vision in mind for what the hair will look like in the end. The rest is just removing the unnecessary hair to fit the vision. So you go in with your hair styled as usual so they can see how it curls and how each curl lies. Then they get straight to it, cutting it dry so they can see the style take shape as they go. When they’re done with that, they give you the fancy head-massaging wash treatment. After that, I sat under a dryer for a while, and when my hair was mostly dry, she did some touch-ups.

There’s a dude in Raleigh who does this for like a million dollars a pop. It’s not really that much, but I would be just as likely to pay a million dollars as I would be to pay what he charges, so he was immediately out. I found another salon (a cool one in Durham…because that’s where cool things are) that charged less than half of what the fancy guy was asking, so I made an appointment.

I enjoyed the experience and appreciated having my hair taken care of in a way that seemed more fitting than the way it’s normally done (the way straight hair is done). But on the way home, I thought, I just paid her to do to my hair exactly what I used to do to it myself in college. I could be doing this for free. And y’all know how cheap I can be.

Well then, as if to encourage me further, my hair dried the rest of the way and curled up in a real funky manner on the sides of my face. I didn’t like the length it was right there once it was completely dry, so when I got home, I took my own scissors to it and was much happier. See, I said to myself, you can totally do this.

So my verdict on the Deva cut is that it’s good. Curly hair and straight hair are different, and they should be approached differently. But I don’t know if I will pay for it again. I mean, I would have to screw it up ROYALLY before I’d pay someone to do what I can do for free. And now, I have a curly-haired friend who understands and can help me to the back! Bonus!

Conclusion: Expect some exciting hair experiments in 2014, y’all. This is going to be fun.

10 Things That DON’T Change When You Get Married

Last month, I told you about 10 things that change when you get married. As a bit of a follow-up to that, here are 10 things thatdon’t change when you get married:

  1. You still have bed-head – Will affectionately refers to mine as “Mozart hair.” And you still don’t care. I think there was a part of me that thought I would worry about my first-thing-in-the-morning appearance when there was someone seeing me first thing in the morning, but make-up or none, glorious 2nd-day hair or Mozart hair, morning breath and all, he still says I’m the most beautiful girl in the world.
  2. You continue in your own individual growth and learning. Just because the “two become one,” that doesn’t mean that you stop being an individual. It just means that you now have a built-in discussion partner for life, who will also be pushed to grow as you tell him what you’re learning, and who will also push you to grow as he tells you what he’s learning.
  3. There are still things you don’t like about yourself. As many times as Will tells me I’m beautiful, there are still things about my body I think he must not have noticed yet. I’ve pointed them out to him, but he doesn’t care. He just doesn’t see me as critically as I see myself. And the reverse is also true. I don’t see him as critically as he sees himself. Being completely accepted by someone else doesn’t automatically make you completely content with yourself. But it does make you completely loved, and that is more than enough.
  4. You still want the same things. I still want to go to Europe on vacation. I still want to buy everything in The Container Store. I still want ALL THE THROW PILLOWS. I still want to sleep for 9 hours a night. I still want to eat chocolate cereal for breakfast. I still want to help immigrants learn English. I still want to tell women that they are valuable, worthy of dignity, completely loved, and absolutely necessary in the world. I still want to dance with somebody (with somebody who loves me).
  5. You work the same job. The only difference is that your boss now has a plan somewhere in the back of her mind for what she will do when you have a baby. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if the boss-baby thing is true. My boss will have to chime in here to clarify.)
  6. Your spouse doesn’t change (not that you’d want him to). This is why it’s important to marry someone you already love and respect completely. And of course, over time, all people change. I just mean that marriage itself doesn’t cause people to change drastically. They are who they are before and after the wedding, so you just have to make sure you know them really well and love them a whole lot before you get married. I suggest being friends for six years first.
  7. You still don’t have all the answers. Your wedding vows don’t automatically endow you with knowledge on how to be married, but hopefully, you’ve been learning how to communicate well and work as a team all through your dating and engagement time, so you just keep doing that.
  8. You have good days and bad days, individually and together. You get tired and cranky, you get stressed out, you get over-peopled if you are an introvert, you get under-peopled if you are an extrovert, you get stuck in traffic, you get sick, you get promotions, you win radio contests, you find $20 in your winter coat from last year, you check off everything on your to-do list and feel like a rock star, you connect really well and feel all gushy and in love, you can’t seem to get it together, you feel disconnected and confused. Being married doesn’t get rid of the feeling of relational disconnection any more than it gets rid of heavy traffic. Before and after the wedding, when you feel that way, you talk about it and work it out.
  9. You don’t stop dating. At least you shouldn’t. My husband still brings me flowers (and I still kill them within a few days). Then he takes me out to dinner and picks up the check, and we sit there holding hands across the table and grossing out the rest of the diners and the waitstaff with our googly eyes. And at the end of the month, when we don’t have the money to go out to eat, we still cook dinner together, then cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie.
  10. You still hate whatever chores you hated before you got married. It’s amazing. You don’t become some kind of super-wife who can magically now clean the toilet without gagging. You cross your fingers and hope that your spouse will do whatever it is that you hate doing, but if they hate it equally, then you make the choice to suck it up and do it (or pay someone else to do it)…just like you did when you were single. I think laundry and toilet-cleaning are the only things Will really hates doing, but I don’t mind either. And taking out the trash is the one thing I really hate doing, but he usually does it, so that works out very well for us.

It should be noted that we’ve only been married for 2.5 months. I know my self-esteem, my desires, my job, my knowledge, and even my husband will change over time. Most things do. But marriage isn’t the cause of the changes; life is. And I will welcome those changes when they come because I hope they mean that I’m growing and changing too.

Myths About Curly Hair

I got my hair cut the other day, and it’s great, but of course I had to leave the salon and immediately come home to re-style it. So as soon as we can get our acts together, my friend Dre and I are going to make an internet video (I wanted to call it a “movie,” but that sounded dirty somehow) about how to style curly hair. AT THE SUGGESTION OF MY STYLIST. As she was styling she said, “I try so hard to make it look the way it looks when you do it, but I just can’t.” This is after she’s been working on it for like 30 minutes, twirling and drying each lock of hair INDIVIDUALLY. Y’all. Does anyone really think I twirl and dry every single one of my curls one by one? I mean, I guess that would explain why I go to bed so early. If I did that every day, I’d have to wake up by 4:00 or something equally painful (6:30). But no, here’s the thing: Naturally curly hair is just that. Naturally curly. You don’t have to convince it to curl or tell it which way to go. You just have to put something in it to make it curl in locks and not have every solitary strand of hair curling apart from the others. Here are some other lies I’ve heard about curly hair. Stylists, take note.

  1. You shouldn’t layer curly hair. Um, can anyone say triangle head? Because that’s what happens when you DON’T layer curly hair. It gets all big and fluffy at the ends, and your head is triangular. Unless you have super-fine hair, not much of it and/or curls that are really not curls but waves. Then you can do whatever you want, but if you have curly hair that is approaching or below your chin, please, for the love of all things beautiful, get layers.
  2. You shouldn’t shampoo curly hair because it strips the natural oils which are essential for maintaining moisture. Right. And you shouldn’t wash your hands in the winter because it dries out your skin. Gross. I shampoo every other day, and my stylist commented on how soft my hair was, so suck on that, “curly hair experts.” You probably don’t even have curly hair. There is nothing wrong with shampoo. You just have to condition like crazy. And I mean with some thick mayonnaisey stuff in the shower and then a leave-in afterward. But all this crap about “washing” your hair with conditioner? I tried it, and it was useless. Wash your hands, wash your body, wash your hair. Nobody gets hurt when we’re clean.
  3. You can never use a hair dryer on curly hair. Malarkey. You should totally use a diffuser, and Dre and I will show you how in our video, but I’ve been using a dryer for ten years, and clearly my hair is awesome.
  4. If you’re short on time, you can just style the top layer because that’s all people see. Excuse me? Yes, this is a real tip I found on the internet, which is how I know the internet is a liar. I, however, am a real person with curly hair, and I can tell you that if I did nothing to the underneath side of my head, you would notice. Great God Almighty, you would notice because the top layer of my hair would be a solid four inches higher off my head than usual. And also, it would look like rats had built a nest under the top layer of my hair.
  5. Apply a quarter-sized amount of gel. HA! Ok, maybe this is the correct amount of product for very short or thin hair, but for me, it’s more like an egg-sized mound of gel. Yes, when you use that much, it’s going to make it crunchy. But if you don’t use that much, it doesn’t cover all your hair, and then you have frizzy sections. Plus, in the video, we will show you how to get rid of the crunch, leaving you with soft curls that stay in place.

That is all for now because I have a gajillion things on my to-do list, but I promise there is more to come, so stay tuned, and have a great holiday weekend!

I’m Not a Wen® Girl

A couple of weeks ago, I told y’all I had succumbed to the boredom of being on vacation and to the persuasive prowess of Alyssa Milano and bought the Wen® Hair Care System by Chaz Dean. And having used it for a week now, I can tell you that it sucks. It might not suck for everybody, but I’m definitely returning it for a refund. Here’s the full review:


There were definitely a few things about it that I liked. First of all, the stuff smells amazing, and it does feel like it actually cleans your hair. I’ve read a lot of advice for girls with curly hair, and one of the biggest trends is “washing” your hair with conditioner, which is such a joke because that’s not what conditioner is designed for. It’s not surprising, then, that conditioner does a crappy job of cleansing your hair. Before I got the Wen®, I read one review that said it was essentially the same thing. I’m  here to tell you that it’s not. Conditioner doesn’t feel like it’s cleaning anything; Wen® does. And I did like only having to put one thing in my hair in the shower rather than shampooing, rinsing, conditioning, waiting and rinsing again. But that was about it for the pros.


I’ll just list these out bullet-style as they are numerous.

  • In the shower, it feels like it’s very moisturizing, but once I rinsed the stuff out, my hair did not feel like it retained enough of the moisture to keep it on its best behavior. Here’s a little tip about curly hair: It needs a LOT of moisture to not go all frizzy, and the Wen® did not help me in that department, so as long as it was still wet, it looked ok, but as it dried, my hair just got bigger and bigger with the frizz.
  • Furthermore, my scalp was extremely dry and flaky. If you are at all prone to dandruff or have any other, more serious scalp/skin problems, I would not recommend this product.
  • The next problem is that I’ve only washed my hair FOUR times, and already half the bottle is gone. That means that in another week, the whole bottle will be gone, which means that what they call a month’s supply is really only two weeks’ supply, which means that what should cost $30 a month will actually cost $60 a month, which is just outrageous.
  • AND the laughably tiny bottle of styling creme is long gone. I was being very conservative in my use of it, not using enough (and ending up with enormous horrible hair) or supplementing it with other products, and still, that bottle is empty after a week. Honestly, if I’d used the amount of it I needed each time, it would have been gone after the second use. I realize that I have a metric crap-ton of hair, and that I therefore use more styling product than most, but seriously, they give you a travel-size. That mess would barely get me through a weekend, much less a month.


In conclusion, I would NOT recommend Wen® if you have:

  • a tight budget
  • curly hair
  • LOTS of hair
  • thick hair
  • extremely long hair
  • dry hair/scalp
  • dandruff
  • psoriasis
  • any other scalp irritation

It might be ok for you if you have:

  • an unlimited budget
  • short hair
  • thin hair
  • fine hair
  • oily scalp

If you live in Raleigh and want to try it, I’ll pump you out a trial amount before I send it back. Let me know.

Idle Hands (Order Things from Infomercials)

I know y’all thought that idle hands were the devil’s workshop or some variation thereof, and perhaps this is a variation of that, but I’m here to tell you that my idle hands do exactly two things:

  1. Sign up for online dating services
  2. Buy things from infomercials

Well, so far this vacation, I’ve managed to avoid the former, but I know it’s time to get my butt in gear and do something productive because I spent the morning watching infomercials and buying at least one product. Before you judge me, know that I did not buy the Genie Bra, tempting as it was at $14 a bra (though not quite as tempting in that you had to buy six of them to get that deal). AND I did not purchase the Ab Belt by Sport-Elec.

No, I bought the Wen® Healthy Hair Care System by Chaz Dean (brought to you by Guthy-Renker® all rights reserved). So you can look at it like I bought six products, or like I bought one hair care system. Either way, it was 30 bucks, and I thought, You know, I spend almost that much each month on hair gel alone. Not to mention shampoo, conditioner, intensive moisturizing conditioning mask, and leave-in conditioner. So I went for it.

If I were one of those girls who could just use White Rain shampoo and conditioner from Family Dollar and be done with it, then this would probably not be worth it. But as you all know, my hair is a bit more persnickety than that and requires a lot more doing than just a wash and blow-dry. Wen® claims that the cleansing conditioner will effectively replace my shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner, so that clears up some space in my bathroom. (Oh my gosh! I had not even thought of this as a strategic Simplify2011 move, but it totally could be if it works!) The Re-Moist Intensive Hair Repair Mask replaces my intensive moisturizing conditioning mask. And the Styling Créme is supposed to replace my gel. Y’all know I’m skeptical of that, but it’s worth a shot, right? If I’m not happy with it, I can return it within 60 days, and they will refund my purchase EVEN IF THE BOTTLES ARE EMPTY! AND I got some texturizing goo, a wide-toothed comb and a 30-day supply of vitamins for “free” (I didn’t have to pay extra for them, but you know ain’t nobody losin’ a profit on any of this stuff).

Sounds like a win-win (win-Wen®?) to me. I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

An Open Letter to Jon Bon Jovi

Dear Mr. Bon Jovi,

If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’d like to tell you a story. In 1988, a 14-year-old girl from Wilkesboro, NC got the best Christmas present EVER – tickets to your February 17, 1989 show in Charlotte (I believe this was the New Jersey tour). This girl was not me, but having grown up in Wilkesboro, I can tell you that this was an extraordinarily stellar gift. We didn’t even have concerts in Wilkesboro until MerleFest started in 1988. MerleFest didn’t become really popular for several more years, and even then, it was Bluegrass. Now I’ve got nothing against Bluegrass, but let’s be honest. It’s no Bon Jovi.

So this girl was stoked to say the least. She already had New Jersey on heavy rotation, but she threw Slippery When Wet back into the mix just to make 100% sure that she knew ALL the words to every song. “Livin’ on a Prayer,” check. “You Give Love a Bad Name”  – yeah you do. “Wanted Dead or Alive” – She could sing it IN HER SLEEP. And the songs from the new album were quickly becoming new favorites. (I don’t know about her, but “Lay Your Hands on Me” is still one of my favorites.)

As the day of the concert approached, she got more and more excited, and then, without warning, winter happened. On the day of the concert she’d been looking forward to for over a month, a snow storm hit western North Carolina, and the girl’s parents couldn’t drive her the two hours to Charlotte for the show.

She was so crushed that her bangs deflated.

And I don’t know why – perhaps to remember what might have been, perhaps out of devotion to you, perhaps out of a bitter sentimentality, perhaps to present you with a desperate plea through her sister’s blog 22 years later  – she kept her ticket.

So here it is, JBJ. The girl lives in Raleigh now, and she would absolutely pee her pants with excitement to be able to see you in concert after all these years. Could you make it happen for her? She couldn’t go in 1989, but I’ve ridden with her through some pretty bad winter weather, and I can tell you that absolutely nothing would stop her from going this time…if only she had a ticket.

Come on, Jon. I bet I could even talk her into teasing up her hair real big for you just for old times’ sake.

What do you say?


This productivity is wearing me out.

Well, it’s been a very productive few days full of fun, friends, surprise visits and getting things done. Rock-o-Ween was a huge success. The only thing that didn’t happen the way I wanted was that my hair didn’t turn blond despite the fact that I left the dye on it for at least a full ten minutes longer than I was supposed to. Oh well. I think the costume worked anyway.

Yesterday was beautiful, and I got to hang out with two out-of-town friends. I also got a lot of work done and did my weekly grocery shopping. BOOM. Productive.

Today, I figured out how to change the light bulb in my headlights. I also got my oil changed and my tires rotated. Now I’m blogging. See? Productivity. But the big news is that L-Josh and I registered for the 1/2 marathon yesterday!!!

So the race is ours to run, and now we just have to prepare for it.

Formspring Page? What Formspring Page?

Hey, remember when I had y’all ask me all those questions on my Formspring page, and then I never answered them? Yeah, woopsie. I sort of forgot about that for a while, which I suppose is fine because some of you told me you didn’t really like my Q&A times anyway. However, I left several of you hanging with no answers to your questions, and for that, I sincerely apologize. I’m going to answer two questions today because I think they go together nicely. The first question is this:

If all your hair turned into snakes, what color snakes would you want them to be? Snakes can be multicolored if that helps.

And the second is:

Would you ever shave your head for any reason? (voluntarily)

I have actually thought before about shaving my head. Back in college, I started cutting my own hair, and it was so darn addictive that at one point, I thought, “What if I just shaved it all off? That would be SO much easier.” And then I realized I’d be bald if I did that, and I have no idea what my head looks like under all this hair, and what if it’s all malformed? And then the hair would grow back, and I’d have to decide to either maintain my baldness or let it go through that awkward growing-out phase where it’s too long to just let it do its thing but too short to do anything with. And what if it didn’t grow back curly? Oh that would just be terrible!

So in the end, I decided (a) not to shave it and (b) to stop cutting it myself. I’ve found that it’s far less tempting to cut your own hair when you have a decent style you’d rather not ruin.

Snakes, as it turns out, do not fall under the category of “decent style” in my mind. If they could be shaved off, that would be the way to go. However, if for some reason they could not be shaved off – if they were attached to my blood stream/supply, for example, and if shaving them off would mean me bleeding to death – then I’d want them to be pink. Hot pink.

Easy question.


I swear, y’all, time has sped up exponentially today. I don’t know what’s happening. The weekend felt all slow and lazy, which was amazing, and then this afternoon has flown by at warp speed, leaving me with MUCH to do and very little time, so here’s a quick rundown of what I was going to say more elaborately if I had more time:

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DLF!!!!!!!!!!! I’m SO glad I got to catch up with you today. I will try to make my life more interesting for next time. (Note to self: Travel the world. Make appointments with highly respected musicians and ambassadors. Also, find boyfriend asap.)
  2. Dear WillyMac, I am very slow in my training, so although your math skillz are, I’m sure, quite good, I’m still on Week 4. I’m going to do it one more time before going to Week 5. Wish me luck.
  3. I went running on Saturday. I hadn’t had enough water, and it sucked. My legs felt like lead. Lesson learned: Drink plenty of water before going running (and also, pee immediately before going).
  4. To everyone who’s been concerned about my hair since Friday, it’s much better now. MUCH. It’s still settling into its groove (or whatever that thing is that hair does for the week or so after you get it cut), but I think the cut is respectable. We’ll just have to work on Dayle’s styling techniques.
  5. L-Josh and I started working on our Halloween costumes. I can’t tell you what they are, but suffice it to say that they’re extremely awesome so far.

The end.