life lessons from purple hair

You know how you start noticing something all of a sudden--like a certain car, or a name? You never thought anything of it until something happened and it's suddenly everywhere.

That's how death has been for me lately. I hadn't even realized until the other day that I've known a handful of people who have died just this year, though none closer to me than Colleen.

Last week, every show James and I watched either had someone keeling over dead or had a funeral. It was unreal. My friend's dog died while I was at Colleen's funeral. I was driving to Iowa on Saturday, listening to a song about living with God forever (Made Alive by Citizens) and the emotions hit me all over again. I was sobbing. I looked up, and a truck from a casket company had pulled up right next to me. I was telling my mom about it the next day, and mid-conversation I looked up to see a sign about a crematory. WHAT ON EARTH. Or what in heaven, rather. Obviously death is all around us, all the time, but I've become hyper-aware of it.

It's felt a little bit like death is haunting me. Har har.

In lighter news, I dyed my hair purple. The previous blue, purple, and magenta faded to a lovely shade of swamp water blonde. I had been thinking of dying it back to brown, but then Colleen died and I thought nope, purple it is. I'm finding that dying my hair bright colors is becoming my favorite coping mechanism. It's less permanent and painful than a tattoo, and it gives me license to change my mind down the road.

This might be weird, but I swear I feel more myself with purple hair.

I think other people feel the same way about it. The day after getting my hair done, a server at an Italian restaurant struck up a conversation with me. He saw I have a daughter the same age as his. He told me she was at home with lice. As I was trying to suppress the urge to bolt in the opposite direction, he looked at me and begged "Please help. I've used every treatment I can find and nothing is working. What do I do?" I had no idea what to tell him other than to watch that episode on The Office where Erin treats everyone's lice with mayo, so I texted a friend who battled it and won and passed on the info. He was so thankful he shook my hand. I spent the rest of the day nervously scratching my head.

Later that day, we stopped at a french bakery. The owner, upon knowing me for all of 2 minutes, opened up to me about her eating disorder. We talked for a long time. I love people's stories. I think it's fascinating to hear how other people get through life. But to have two strangers air their dirty laundry to me in one afternoon was a bit of a shocker. Something about my bright purple hair and pink lipstick must make me seem like a safe, approachable person, which is kind of the opposite of what I would think. Not that I'm trying to not be a safe person, but you know what I mean. I'm certainly not complaining.

I think it's a sign that my hair should stay purple. I had told my mom that once I dyed it purple, I was done. I'd let it go back to brown. I think I've changed my mind. The second I walked out of the salon, my brain was abuzz with ideas for next time. I think this is how some people feel about tattoos.

All I know is that if you dye a girl's hair purple, she'll start thinking about new lipstick and drag her mom to Target to help her pick out a new color. She'll wear a hot pinkish red lipstick she normally would never have the courage to wear, and before she knows it, it will lead to gold shoes and a dress she found for 70% off and conversations about french culture and anorexia over raspberry macaroons with a girl who has pink hair.

Like I said, the purple hair is working for me. It doesn't lessen the pain of death and grief, but it gives me some much-needed joy. I've wanted to dye my hair blue or purple for at least 5 years, but I never had the nerve. After turning down a major TV show, buying a house, the house flooding, crashing my car into the house, and then my mom having a rushed surgery due to possible cancer all while dealing with the holidays and a sick child, I needed to do something to fight the chaos. So I dyed two small strips of hair and never looked back. Then my friend died, and I did it again. A small piece of myself returned. Obviously dyed hair fixes nothing; it's just a placebo effect, but I'll take what I can get, especially if it morphs into the confidence to wear bright lipstick and other such fripperies.

It does have its limits, though. I discovered this when my child threw a nuclear tantrum in the middle of a small cafe. I grabbed her and took her outside as fast as I could while she screamed and flailed. I could see people staring and laughing out of the corner of my eye. I got outside, disciplined, and noticed Gracie was barefoot and had kicked her shoes off under the table. I held her and explained why she had been taken out of the restaurant while pacing back and forth in front of the restaurant. I started to walk back in and noticed my reflection in the window. When I had grabbed Gracie out of her booster seat, it yanked my shirt up and somehow got it stuck in my bra. I had been holding my barefoot daughter while baring my entire midsection and bra for all the world to see. Oh, and did I mention I only had one shoe on? Yeah. Don't ask.

I probably need to dye more of my hair to cope with that one. Because in that moment I wanted to die.

Like I said, dying/dyeing/death is everywhere.

Pass the hair dye.


  1. "I think this is how some people feel about tattoos." <------ Nailed it.

    I am in love with your hair!! I'm so glad you decided to dye it again. Never change it. There's nothing better than an 80 year old woman with purple hair.

    You win the internet today with your use of the word "fripperies."

  2. Your hair looks so good! This totally makes me think of a conversation I had with my mother-in-law a while back, after my SIL dyed her hair (it went from her natural red to blue to it turning green to her dyeing it purple, if I remember the progression correctly). Anyways, her view of things was that if her young adult daughter wanted to get wild and crazy, channeling all this passion through her hair is probably one of the most harmless ways to do it. And while I love my hair and don't particularly have a desire to dye it, I definitely appreciate it when other women rock their style through weird hair colors! I was working a women's conference this weekend and saw a lady who was probably in her 60s and had pink hair. And there was a teen who had this titanium yellow hair that looked pretty cool with her deep brown skin. Not going to lie, when I saw each of these people I had to resist the urge to run up and start gushing about how cool they looked and talk to them about random things. Who knew hair could make such an impact?

  3. haha -I'm sure there was a mom in that restaurant that was like, "Yep - been there, done that" :)
    I do think some people with the colored hair or tattoo does have a sense to them of being more 'hippy' - free thinking so maybe that's why people feel more open to talk to you about things.
    Isnt it funny what is all around us that we probably dont notice until we're in the midst of it? Makes me wonder what I DONT notice in a day.

  4. The purple hair is definitely fun! I think it's definitely one of those things where you don't notice something until it suddenly is prominent in your life, and then it's everywhere. I felt that way when I started having babies - all of a sudden it seemed like pregnant ladies were everywhere, but I'm sure they were there all along and I just never noticed. Death is not a happy thing to have showing up everywhere for you, I'm sorry. :-/

  5. We've also had seasons when it feels like death is everywhere you turn--more bad news, more losses. I hate it. I hope that the next season is one of LIFE for your whole community.
    I feel more "me" with colorful hair and that's why I've been maintaining it so long. A secret--the bleaching is really the only tricky/scary part, if you wanted to maintain the bright color at home, you totally could. Of course, salons are really nice too, but if the time/money of getting into a salon would get in the way of maintaining the color, I'd be happy to chat about maintaining bright hair colors at home.
    My hair has also led me into lots of encounters and conversations that I doubt would have ever happened if it weren't for my hair, and I appreciate that. I like the connections it builds, and when you work in youth ministry, having colorful hair is definitely a bit of a bonus, but I know that I'm the one who benefits most from my fun colors. There will come a day when I decide not to maintain it anymore...but I don't see it coming in the near future.
    BTW, it's also funny how many people don't notice bright haircolors at all. Last year, my grandpa was laying down the law for my 2 sisters who live with him (he has about 5000 rules for life, all of which he refers to as "the #1 rule"), one of the rules is no wacky haircolors because only weirdos have hair like that, and my aunt was like, "Dad, Rachel has purple hair." "What? That must be new! I've never seen Rachel with colorful hair!" he insisted. "No, Dad, it's literally been YEARS." The last Christmas that I was at Grandpa's house my hair was highlighted neon blue. Grandparents are too funny.

  6. You and your hair are an inspiration. I've been chickening out on getting my nose pierced but I should just do it. #Nike


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