The Journey

Dreadlocks. The mere mention of the word has my grandmothers running for the hills. But I love them...and I have always wanted my very own. So, after we moved West, I decided that life is too short to keep wanting. I didn't want to turn 80 and wish I had done dreads when I was younger. So, I did it. My lovely and amazing friend, Becky, flew up from South Carolina to visit me and she helped start my hair on it's dreading journey. For those of you who don't know anything about dreads...this will be a wonderful chance for you to open your mind and broaden your horizons. Dreads are not just for pot smokers, homeless people, hippies, African-Americans, or Rastafarians. Basically, ANYONE can have dreads if they stop combing their hair. They have been around for a long, long time. There is a great book I recently added to my collection called "Dreads". It has tons of stories and beautiful photos.

Here are a few excerpts of dreadlock history:

The first known examples of the hairstyle date back to ancient Egypt, where dreadlocks appeared on Egyptian artifacts. Mummified remains of ancient Egyptians with dreadlocks have even been recovered from archaeological sites.

The Old Testament also recounts the tale of Samson and Delilah in which a man’s potency is directly linked to ‘the seven locks on his head’ and according to Roman accounts, the Celts were described to have ‘hair like snakes’ Germanic tribes, Greeks and the Vikings are all said to have worn dreadlocks too.

Dreadlocks are a universal phenomenon in the East as well as in the West. Spiritualists of all faiths and backgrounds incorporate into their paths a disregard for physical appearances and vanity. And so, throughout the world, such seekers often cease to comb, cut, or otherwise dress their hair: This is how "dreadlocks" are born (click here for more info).

Dreads are hair that is knotted, matted, twisted...and uncombed. Stop combing your hair today, and in a year or two, you'll have some dreads. However, you can help the process along. There are several different ways to make them, but I chose back-combing. Becky separated my hair into random 1" sections and she used a metal comb to backcomb every section. It took 3-4 hours. I did have the option to use wax (a beeswax concoction) to help them stay together more, but decided against it. This is the method advised by dreadlock megasites Dreadhead HQ and Knotty Boy. However, I have heard way too many horror stories about dreadlocks and wax gone bad. It will take longer for them to "lock up" without the wax, but it's worth the wait.

One of the main misconceptions about dreads is that if you have them, you can't wash your hair. This is absolutely untrue. You can wash your hair every day if you want. Of course washing your hair everyday isn't good even if you don't have dreads. In the beginning, it's best to wait at least a week while they mature a bit. However, what I've found is that because I'm not using any products at all, my hair stays nice and clean for a long time! Every 2-3 days is more than enough. You can always spray your hair with some yummy essential oils if you feel like it. Peppermint is good.

I have had many people ask me why I finally decided to go for it. Here is the short list:

I like them. I think they look cool. Profound, I know.

I wanted to simplify my beauty "routine". Prior to dreads, I used (and toted around when I traveled):

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Mousse
  • Volumizing Spray
  • Comb
  • Round brush to straighten my hair
  • Blow dryer
  • Pomade/Wax
  • Hairspray

Now I use:

That is just mind boggling to me. I never realized just how freeing and simplifying having dreads would be. It has been so wonderful not having to "do" my hair everyday. I've had less stress...and more time. I use less products...and save more money. Hair products are expensive! Another perk is the added space in the suitcase! I love traveling light.

They are a reminder to me that I am set apart for Christ. The entire journey is very spiritual. Dreadlocks are rooted in spirituality...back to ancient times. In these last 2 weeks, I have learned so much about myself and who I am in Christ.

    • I am learning patience. My dreads will take about 3-6 months to "settle down" and about a year for them to be completely locked up. Dreads are constantly changing and forming. There are lots of photos in this set of dreads I love. Whenever I'm discouraged with them and the process, I go and look at photos of people with mature dreads and I am encouraged.
    • I am learning non-judgement. In purposely becoming unlike anyone else around me, I can relate in a new way with those people who feel judged by others.
    • I am learning about commitment. Dreads are long-term. If I want them to look how I will take time. The same is true with my commitment to Jesus. It takes commitment become to become like Him! Every time I look in the mirror, I am reminded of recent commitments I've made to Him.

So there you have it. I'm going to be posting photos of my journey on this Flickr set. It will be fun to watch as they lock up.

About a year ago, I read a great book by Anne Lamott called "Traveling Mercies". I wrote several quotes from that book in my Moleskin journal and found them recently. I love them and this is a great place to share them:

"No one knew the effort it took to make my hair look like it hadn't taken any effort at all (p. 234)".

  • This was definitely me BEFORE I dreaded my hair. It took so long for me to get my hair looking like I wanted it. My hair is very fine with no body at all...and it took a lot of coaxing to make it work.

"How much longer am I going to think about my hair more often than about things in the world that matter? (p. 235)"

  • So true. Hair is big business. Women (and men) are consumed by it most of the time. How it looks. What color it is. If their mother-in-law approves of the style. I'm not saying I will stop thinking about it...but I really want to focus on other things that are way more important.

"Dreadlocks would be a way of saying that I was no longer going to play by the 'rules' of mainstream white beauty...but that I was going to CELEBRATE instead (p. 234)"

  • Doesn't everyone want to CELEBRATE? I do.

The best compliment I've gotten came from my sweet daughter, Bella. We were talking recently and out of the blue she said,

"You're a good mama. These dreads are cute."

Children always know just what to say to make you smile.