braindribbles

At this time of year, my Facebook memories bombard me with photos of cool hair from years gone by. It’s fun. There are many photos of excellent hair colour, occasionally accompanied by some especially unusual styles and clipper designs, most of which probably ought not to be repeated. Every year, I acknowledge my ‘hairiversary’ and reflect back on the place I was at emotionally at the time, how it took me from natural to unnatural, and marvelling that the whole crazy idea wasn’t just a flash in the pan, but actually a new way of expressing my newfound – and thankfully ongoing – joy with the life I’ve been given.

My initial switch from being invisible to becoming visible happened because of a number of things.

  • Knowing who I was on the inside
  • Being happy with who I was on the inside
  • No longer needing to hide in conformity and try and be like everyone else.
  • Being ready to step out of the shadows, and not worry about how others might perceive or judge me.
  • Expressing joy in that new understanding of myself outwardly and unashamedly.

And then, as I became bolder with colour and style, and explored way beyond my comfort level, sometimes a new thing would happen. I would go further than I was actually happy with. Whilst I have absolutely adored some of the more fun options, there are a good number of ones where I would look at my reflection and think to myself, “OK, well that didn’t work. But hey, it’s only hair. I guess I can live with it till it grows out.” And I do.

Here’s a question, then.

Could choosing to be so visible ever possibly be an exercise in humility? 

(By asking this, I’m not suggesting that I myself am humble. Whilst I am noticing more when my behaviour is decidedly NOT humble, and actively working to change it, I still have a loooong way to go in that respect.) 

But because I am visible, could that fact change me and how I behave for the better? I honestly believe, especially in the early days when I was much more self-conscious, that it has made a positive difference. 

I wish I could say it meant my manners and general deportment had improved… On the other hand, people do notice me. And it has meant that I have felt more accountable for the words that come out of my mouth and the manner in which I conduct myself. 

Because, for quite a while, I was still very fragile in this new found joy and visibility thing. And I was terrified of being seen doing anything I couldn’t respect myself for in the future. Small but important things, like minding what you say when you’re in a bad mood. Like trying to be the best version of yourself. And I really hope those things stuck and that I am still mostly the best version of myself. (No, it’s never going to be 100% true, as those who know me well will attest to, but it’s at least more true than it was. The version of me before then was much less lovely, because of all the baggage I hadn’t yet dealt with and didn’t know how to.)

Here is my little timeline of how it went for me, bit by bit:

  1. I am not humble. I have new found confidence and I am still continuing to explore who I am in many ways.
  2. I still have a massive need to prove myself in all the standard ways we measure success in our society.
  3. I have renewed faith and am also trying to be a better Christian on the outside…but I’m not doing the inner work needed.
  4. I have no idea how to do the inner work, but humility is important to me and I kid myself I already am getting there. I do at least try. I don’t know about the ADHD related challenges yet, but they’re there.
  5. I am visible, so a fair people notice the big need to prove myself, and very occasionally comment on it
  6. I react with huge upset and outrage and utter denial. HOW could they even think that of me?
  7. Subconsciously, though, I know it is true, and even months and years later, I am still mortified (and still in denial) that anyone even could have such a misconception of my motives.
  8. Life moves on. Bigger things that matter more take priority. They have to.
  9. My own focus on conventional society’s take on success changes. I start to see first-hand, what I’m already aware of second-hand through my kids: that it’s an artificial construct that can only bring unhappiness. My attention shifts away from that and toward individual pockets of joy, beauty, concepts and kindnesses.
  10. I find my relationships change as I become so much more relaxed. My kids actually start to talk to me properly, even the ones with massive problems.
  11. My own internal monologue – finally – starts to focus less on me and more on God. Prayer life goes up another notch.
  12. I start to see things differently, but also start to identify moments where being more visible has been the very reason that I’ve been in a position to assist others, significantly helping their trajectory in life
  13. I start to recognise a pattern in where I’m placed to help people, whether or not I’m humble, and spot the bigger picture.
  14. And yet I still have plenty of subconscious voices trying to call me back to frame life around typical societal expectations, and I still have natural tendencies to be grumpy and moan about stuff, especially when I’m tired, which is often.
  15. Repeat again from point 5 and keep going till humility actually becomes a thing.

I think I’m currently first time consciously round this little cycle around point 14…but I wonder if I’ve been round more often than that subconsciously. All I know is I’m starting to get it, but I have a very long way to go indeed.

Funnily enough, I nearly didn’t include God in this post, with a view to not scaring off people who find that side of things uncomfortable…but it would have been only a half story. And since that journey started around the same time, and has taken up far more of my attention in recent years than an hour or so in the bathroom every few weeks, here we are.

Visibility. Hm. More to it than meets the eye, perhaps.

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I’m not a regular blogger these days, am I? Ah well. Can’t do it all.

Today is my 100th and final day of the 100-day dress challenge. It’s been an eye opener, so here is a little bit of Q&A I did with myself as I reflect back on the last 3+ months..

—What was my attitude going into this challenge? 

Pretty neutral. I didn’t know if I would or could complete it. I did want to see if it challenged my thinking.

—Did I have any other hopes or expectations at the start?

I think I expected to care less about what I wore by the end of the hundred days.

—And do you?

No, not at all! I care a lot more! 

—Ah. So it DID challenge your thinking.

It did. A lot. It also challenged my resourcefulness taking a photo of myself Every. Single. Day. And that was interesting too. Reminded me of when I took a lot of photos when I was first getting used to colourful hair. Totally different motivation, but about the same amount of photos!

—Oh yes, the photos. But then loads of people take selfies every single day and it boosts them. 

As indeed it boosted me during the early days of the hair colour thing. But it becomes unnecessary, especially if you are centred, settled and happy in who you are. Anyway, it was fine, but not my favourite thing. We are getting off topic here.

—Sorry. Back to the challenge. Was it easy? 

Most days it was just fine. Especially when I didn’t make much of an effort.
Some days it was hard. Unlike some doing this challenge, I found it forced my thinking about what I wear to the top of my mind every day, and as my priorities established themselves, I found I had conflict between my priorities and my reality.

—What do you mean by that?

Well, some people have done this challenge because they don’t want to conform to fashion / appearance expectations and wanted a reason to be able to just wear the same dress every day. I applaud this.
But, people do notice me (indeed I made a big step to become noticeable as a celebration of finding my true identity), and it does make a difference. I can’t just go down to the corner shop and be anonymous…well, not without wearing a wig, anyway… So I actually do care about how I present myself to the outside world. And, possibly even more importantly, it’s really important to me to have my identity represented through my appearance.
So I started to think about that properly.
There were days when the inner me was not represented by the outer me. And those were the tough days.

—So was that a style thing?

Look, I would love to say it isn’t about style, it’s about identity, but I have come round to the thinking that the style thing is a fantastic tool, which, if understood and utilised properly, can help you nail your identity in a visual way for others to ‘get’ who you are just by looking at you. So yes, but as a means to an end.

—And does the dress you chose to wear for the full 100 days not reflect your personal style?

Well, at the start of the challenge, and up to about a month in, I really felt it absolutely did. And I do believe it still does, to an extent.
But by becoming conscious of this, and having a lot of off days, it really made me re-examine what my own personal style is. I did a lot of homework, booked on a wardrobe detox zoom-based course and explored where my little spot in the world of style really is. My wardrobe has been hugely purged as a result, and there is no longer anything in there that doesn’t serve me well. It is either functional (eg musician’s black) or it is there because I can wear it, be comfortable, and still feel like me. 

—OK, but do you even have anything left in your wardrobe?

Yep! But less than half of what I had before.

—And you love all the things left?

No. I love about a third of it. Another third is lovely but needs altering (yes, I’m looking for local recommendations!). The final third is good enough, but not in colours that bring me joy, and will have to make do until I am in a position to replace them with things I really love. This is a long term game I’m playing, after all.

—So what happens now? Because the idea of the challenge is all about sustainability, after all…?

Yes, absolutely. Less impact on the planet. Speaking of that, one of the ways in which this dress REALLY impressed me was how little it needed washing. Which is hugely beneficial for the planet, or at least it would be if we all learned to wash our clothes less often. I have only had to wash it roughly once every 10 days, and I could probably have halved that amount if I really wanted to. 

—Surely it smelled a bit?

No, it never smelled. Wool is a remarkable fabric. Not just in those terms, either. Considering the environmental impact most other fabrics have on the planet (even cotton), producing wool takes a relatively low carbon footprint.

—😮😮😮

I know! It really did make me re-examine the types of fabric I buy and wear. It’s definitely showing up the more poorly made clothing I own in a new light, too.. 

—And in terms of slow versus fast fashion, where is your thinking now?

I did get to a point thinking all this through when I realised, if I were to follow this to its logical conclusion, I had to know that for every item of clothing I bought from now on, I would wear it regularly and lovingly until it died. Not only that, but in the process, I had to do my best to minimise the impact of fast fashion on the planet. Especially in waste, but also in the way fast fashion affects labourers all the way up the supply chain. I needed to know that the retailers were making an effort to address these issues. So I now have a mental tick list when looking to replace my good-enough clothing:

  1. Do I love it enough to wear it to death?
  2. Does it duplicate other things in my wardrobe? (And if so, why am I even thinking about this?)
  3. Is it still going to look ok on me if my weight changes? (I’m at *that* time of my life where this is a big factor) 
  4. What is it made from? 
  5. Where was it made?
  6. Do the manufacturers show ethical responsibility? (Most don’t, so it’s worth checking.) 
  7. Is it new or used? (Buying used is ethically neutral, as you’re not contributing to the manufacturing process. Handy, especially if you really love the look of a certain brand but their sustainability policy is dire)

—That’s quite a list. Are you going to stick to it rigorously?

Almost certainly not. But my priority is number 1. I’ve got to love it that much that it falls apart from the amount of use it gets. 

—Aha, So I bet you have recommendations for further reading/watching, if we think we might like to explore this whole concept a bit further?

Of course I do! Thought you’d never ask…

  • Start here. It’s a short (<4m) video and succinctly explains what the problem with fast fashion is without forcing it down your throat. It is US made, but almost all of it applies universally. https://youtu.be/8_oY-5hpt3Q
  • If you’re thinking of participating in the 100 day dress challenge yourself, here’s what it’s about. https://journal.wooland.com/post/2020/5/1/100-day-dress-challenge
  • And if you’re not sure how sustainable your favourite clothing brand is, look here. They have lots of great suggestions for retailers that put sustainability first, but also have an extensive directory of well-known brands for you to look up. https://goodonyou.eco/

—So what’s the big takeaway for you doing this challenge?

Just being a lot more mindful about clothing: why it matters, what impact your choices have, how it makes you feel, and being very selective indeed with future clothing purchases.


If you want to scroll through all 100 photos, find me on Instagram!

Sometimes things don’t turn out how you plan. Maybe something unexpected happens. Maybe you thought you would have the cash for something you really wanted and were waiting for for months, and then you realise you just don’t have that kind of money. You had put off facing the obvious truth because you weren’t ready to believe it. It wouldn’t be the first time I wanted to do something and only later realised the money wasn’t there.

So that happened to me a while back, and I had to let some people down. So I sent an apologetically toned email explaining the situation.

Then I received an email from one of those people a few weeks later, asking me if I could change my mind. So I explained again, much more fully, that it just wasn’t an option, even though I was sad that I couldn’t make it work out. It took me a long time to write, because the person who sent the email is important to me.

I received a two sentence reply. The response implied that they didn’t understand that I cared. That I had spent a long time trying to find a solution to the problem and failed. Even though I had said so, in the email. Extensively.

I love email, it keeps me in touch with people I would otherwise lose entirely. But sometimes it really sucks as a form of communication.

Or maybe it just sucks because people choose to read what they want, no matter what words are in front of them. When I read the two sentence reply, I felt that my correspondent wanted to be offended. If I had been able to call, maybe that person would have been offended anyway. My inability to produce a magic wand and make it all better appears to have made me the wrongdoer.

Or maybe  am choosing to read what want from that person’s short reply. I still feel there is a lack of understanding or perspective due to the words used, but maybe no offence has been taken. Maybe it is me reading into it. That’s the thing with email and written forms of communication. It’s too easy to assume how the other person is thinking when they write it.

I don’t really have a solution here. It just worries me that a few emails can seemingly create a faultline in such a cherished relationship. It has weighed on my mind for some time already. I will wait, and hope for understanding. If it doesn’t come, it doesn’t come. And that really would be a shame.

Has anyone else had this kind of experience? Or maybe read something into someone else’s words that wasn’t there?

Easter Music

Posted on: 02/04/2013

I promised you more about my musical shenanigans… and it’s been a very interesting couple of months on that front.  In a good way!  (It’s rare for me to not enjoy anything involving music.  Unless it’s rap or hip-hop, of course. Oh, and terrible 90s club music. Ugh.)

The bad news is, our choir’s professional conductor fell ill and had to take time off for a couple of months.  The good news is, he’s now fine. And in the meantime the choir kindly let me have a go at the helm.  So I spent Friday afternoons waving at the piano to the music, Friday evenings waving at the choir singing the music, and finally last week waving at the choir performing the music in concert.

Steep learning curve doesn’t even begin to describe it. I had to re-learn how to conduct properly rather than just keep a beat ticking (even that was back in my student days), and I had to really know the music.  As someone who’s been lucky enough for sight-reading to come naturally, that was a surprise.

But it was so worth it.  I enjoyed the experience immensely.  If I’m not mistaken and people did honestly appreciate and enjoy the concert, I was OK at it too.

And, even though I could never keep that kind of thing up while the kids are still young, it did ignite a spark of ambition to take this more seriously some time in the not-too-distant future.

I feel a summer school coming on one day …

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My nerves are shot. Let’s hope we succeed today, for the sake of our sanity…

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Just a little everyday snippet that I managed to capture after bath time the other day…

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This hasn’t happened in a while. At least, we don’t think so..we only unpacked the baby monitor a few days ago. And boy, is it on a loud setting. It’s too intrusive to ignore.

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There is a short pause. Not long enough for me to stumble back into bed. And then, music to my ears.

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Piccie post

Posted on: 31/12/2011

I must confess to being inspired by another blog for my piccie posts. And you should be warned, my piccies are of especially poor artistry.

Here’s one I prepared earlier, when we were still with the in-laws…happy new year!

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Smallest one calls from her cot persistently one evening.

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We can’t be doing with having our TV pleasure disturbed.

Well, things have become insanely busy round here! Admittedly it has rather more with trying to say goodbye to friends and keeping track of an increasingly intrepid toddler, than to do with any packing that should be being done… Indeed, the only reason I am sitting down to blog about it is because Loved One bought me a shiny new iPad for my birthday and I wanted to try out the WordPress app. Which is OK, but very basic. Nothing but plain text and NO pictures. Which might explain the rather boring appearance of this particular post..

Here are six things I am slowly starting to realise about moving:

One
Take all offers of childcare you can beg, bribe or blag – you need every second of child free time you can get.

Two
Try and keep doing things you enjoy if you can. Don’t let the packing demons force you into a hermit-like existence or you will become a person devoid of good humour and your children will hide from you.

Three
When you are doing things you enjoy, try and ensure it doesn’t involve more laundry or catering than normal. Swimming, for instance, will give you a double headache because you have to find somewhere to dry the kit afterward. And on no account do it three times in the last ten days.

Four
When trying to chase up school admission departments who seem to have no idea of the urgency of the situation, do so before 2pm and on a weekday, or the entire department will have gone home and left nothing but an irritating answer machine message telling you to call back at a more suitable time.

Five
If you have been running around like a headless chicken all day, do not expect to be able to pull out endless reserves of stamina to deal with yet more headless chicken impressions in the evening. You will get the kids in bed and you will no longer be any good to anyone.

Six
When contemplating the sheer enormity of what you need to achieve, do not let your urge to procrastinate inspire you to blog about your predicament rather than picking your socks up and actually getting on with it.

Yes,well…

I look forward to updating you when the dust settles. And if you catch me blogging between now and then, feel free to give me the severe reprimand I deserve.

Smallest one in the early days

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