has it really been that long?

hard to believe, but it's true -- i've now had my dreads for almost 2-1/2 years now. this was me the day before dreads and a few days after having them done, in portland.  more photos from over the years can be seen here and here and  here.

and these are my dreads now (all very recent photographs courtesy of jen and alpana)...

my hair pre-dreads was super high maintenance and i always struggled with it. i'm super lazy about my dreads and do absolutely nothing most of the time. ninety percent of the time, my dreads are pulled back in a ponytail. i don't dread the roots; they dread on their own, as they will. i wash the front part (the non-dreaded hair) every time i shower. i wash my dreads about every 4-6 weeks or so (either with apple cider vinegar & baking soda or with castile soap). i do have to keep them from mingling.  they would grow together if i let them and so i have to rip them apart every couple days. sometimes if they've mingled too much, i can't rip them so i have to cut them apart. i have my roots colored about every 3-4 months. they're still itchy on my neck, but less itchy, now that they're a bit longer. i dream of the day my dreads are really long and i can wear them in a variety of style. i absolutely love my dreads and have never been happier with my hair(style). i don't regret getting dreads for a single second.

how long will i have dreads?  five, 10, 20 years? who knows. only time will tell.

have a question about dreads?  please ask.  i'm more than happy to answer.

a dreaded thought

yesterday evening, while driving home from gymnastics... SKY: mom, there's something in your hair. I'M NOT KIDDING, there's REALLY something in your hair. ME: where, sky? what is it? SKY: it's brown and has eight legs. ME: [now frantically banging on my dreads] sky, where? get it? SKY: i don't know. i think it's crawling.

so i pulled over on the side of the highway. shook my hair all over the place and rubbed my dreads as much as possible.  i can only imagine how things looked to those driving by.

back in the car...

ME: sky, is it gone? do you see it? SKY: you know, there's lots of poisonous brown spiders. like brown recluses. ME: sky, do you see it? SKY: no, maybe it crawled in deeper. ME: that's so not funny.

true story.

i HATE bugs. and the thought of some bug deciding to make it's home in my dreads is one of the worst things i could possibly dream up. i basically messed with my dreads the entire way home. yuck, yuck, yuck!!  once home, i asked kiele to look for a bug in my dreads and she just laughed.  the thought still makes my heart race.

it's been two years, two months that i've had my dreads. i love them more and more as time goes on. can't imagine not having dreads.  i'm pretty lazy about doing anything to them. i don't do any maintenance, except occasionally ripping them apart, when they begin mingling with one another. and i wash them about every 4-6 weeks. the span between washings seems to keep lengthening.

they've come a long way since HERE!

p.s. i just really dislike self portraits. makes me cringe. i'll try and get some better shots of my dreads to share, when my friend, jen, gets here next week.

one year. two days.

yes, it's been over a year now that i've had my dreads.  i can't believe it.  and i still absolutely love them.  although i really wish they'd grow in length a bit. when down, they itch my neck like crazy.  i'm actually beginning to think they may never grow.  also, one thing i noticed, when looking at these photos is how much my ends have broken off (contributing to my length [or lack thereof] issue).  i'm thinking that next year, i may not have any loose ends left. so in celebrating one year of dreadlocks, i share some photos of this dreaded journey of mine.  :-))  you can also read my previous dread posts here and here and here.

have any questions, feel free to ask and i'll edit to add my answers at the bottom.

the day before i left for portland and six days later

december | © leigh miller photography


april | © untamed heart photography


july | © ryan muirhead photography i know it looks a tad bit like a mug shot, but it gives you the 8 month dread idea. be sure to check out ryan's work. he's a brilliant film photographer.

october | © jen wright photography

and how i typically wear my dreads

happy dread-iversary!

yep, exactly six months ago today, i got my dreads done in portland.  so i thought i'd use this anniversary of sorts for a dread update. it's weird because i had talked about getting dreads for years but then when i arrived in portland, i kept thinking...

i hope dreads look good on me. what happens if they don't? am i crazy for wanting dreads? what happens if i hate them?

i sat in the chair, pretending like i wasn't nervous, and watched as my hair was knotted, section by section.  and in an hour, i was done.  a full head of dreads.

i love them, i said.

although at that moment, looking in the mirror, i was actually thinking,

this is interesting.  i like them.  i think.  but i'm not so sure i love them.  i hope i end up loving them as much as others share that they love theirs.

but i can honestly say that i do now love them!!  well everything except the fact that they're currently at the length that they itch the shit out of my neck all the time.  they kind of twist and curl and the ends are always right there...scratching, scratching, scratching.

for a lot of people, getting and having dreads become a journey of sorts -- spiritual or otherwise.  but i can't really say that my dreads are anything more than a hairstyle journey.  they're just something i felt the need to do. and so one day i did (similar to cutting my long hair crazy short at 22). turning 40 gave me the perfect excuse, or perfect time, to get dreads.  mid-life crisis?  you can think so, but i don't!

one thing that does surprise me about my dreads is how much they've shrunk over these past six months. they were knotted pretty tight right from the start so i didn't think there was much room for further tightening | shrinkage, but obviously there was. and so at the moment...i really long for growth.

some dread questions answered --

how did you get your dreads? there's a few different ways to form dreadlocks -- not using conditioner and not combing your hair for a long period of time. they will eventually and naturally dread themselves. backcombing, with or without wax or other accelerator products. or using a crochet hook, which is how my dreads were formed.

using the crochet method, the hair is sectioned and then a hook is used to knot (for lack of a better word) the sections of hair. i had a feeling my hair would dread easily and i was right; it took stephanie about one hour to completely dread my hair.  i have a lot of naturally curly hair but it's baby fine and so my dreads ended up being thin-ish and i don't have a ton (37 to be exact).

how do you wash them and how often? i wash my dreads once a week using the no poo shampoo method -- a method consisting of baking soda, apple cider vinegar and water.  and no, they don't stink!!  however, i do wash the front (loose) hair every one-to-two days with regular shampoo.  also, i should note that i've never used wax or any other facilitator product on my dreads.

how long will you have your dreads? right now, i can't imagine not having dreads. i will surely have them for years.

do you have to do a lot (of maintenance) to your dreads? i went back to stephanie, in february, for a maintenance appointment. i had just had my hair colored (which was interesting to say the least) and i felt things were a bit crazy and out of control with my dreads (lots of lumps and bumps). in the end, i realized that i loved those out of control lumps and bumps and i don't intend on going in for any further maintenance.

what about as your hair grows? how does that hair dread? as i shared above, my hair is naturally curly and baby fine and seems to be dreading (matting, knotting, tangling) very well on it's own, at the roots. i do have a few dreads that might need some encouragement but i don't think it's anything that i can't handle on my own, with my crochet hook.

you used to highlight your hair?  what do you do now? a while back, i ended up having almost all my hair | dreads colored (except for the bottom layer in back, which remains my natural dirty-dishwater-yuck-blondish-brownish).  and that was a catastrophe; my hair looked orange. i went back the next day to have it fixed with toner and all was well. i've had the roots touched up once since then, which also went well. i can go about 3-4 months before i long to have the roots colored.

what happens when you're done with your dreads?  do you have to shave your head? well...i don't have to shave my head, but i might.  my dreads are very tight and knotted and i have a crazy sensitive scalp.  so there is no way in hell i'm combing these bad boys out.  i will either:

- have to start combing the roots daily, to discourage knotting (i would have to start this a year or longer before cut date).  then once i have some non-dreaded growth, i would cut off my dreads and have a short haircut. or... - try to raise a certain amount of money for charity and if that money was raised, i would shave off my dreads.  but who knows really.  we'll see when that time comes.

have any other dread questions?  ask away!

ETA:  dear commenter izzy, thank you for your honesty but i can assure you that i don't need a bath; i shower every day!  also, we as a society, way over-wash our hair and i don't think anything is growing inside my dreads.

here's some photos of my dread journey :-)

the day i left for portland

six days with dreads

six months with dreads (freshly washed and still pretty wet)

most of the time, when i go out, my dreads go back in a ponytail or pigtails, like this.

terri fischer on the left (with dread pigtails) and my dread head on the right.

last three photos are courtesy of terri fischer and jefra starr linn.

happy one-month dread birthday

since i'm on a blog posting roll today...and i just realized that today, i've had my dreads a month... and i've been wanting to share a dread update... well...

i love my dreads!! i really and truly love them. and i totally feel that i'm meant to have them; i don't regret the decision for a second. and i hope to have them for many years to come, especially since i hear that they just get better and better with time.

even some of the biggest doubters have been pleasantly surprised, when seeing them. so they say. or so they lie to me. my family seems to ummm...not really mind them. i can't say that they love them as much as i do, but they seem to be tolerating them quite nicely.

the other day, i had this conversation with ryder, while in the car: ryder: momma, your hair always looks crazy. me: i know, but isn't it awesome. ryder: it's crazy. me: lol.

and today, i read this book to sky's first grade class and talked about the beauty of being unique and embracing your differences. and then shared all about my dreads, which was fun.

for those interested... i wash my dreads once a week. and wash the loose front hair every other day. i do dread maintenance pretty much every day. and probably do too much.  there's these loops that happen within the dreads, which i crochet back in...although it's not really crocheting like you're thinking. and my roots. well, my hair seems to dread (mat, knot, etc.) on it's own rather easily...almost a bit too easy. i recently had a couple dreads start to mat together at the roots (and that's with me trying to keep up with them). separating them was not easy...and hurt. i know there's some folks that just let dreads mesh together when that happens; however, i think all of mine would do that if i let them.  and because my hair is baby fine, i don't have a lot of dreads to begin with. needless to say, i'll be paying close attention to my dreads trying to connect themselves together.

all in all, i think i have the front managed pretty well (whatever that means). the back of my head...let's just say, it isn't the prettiest (whatever that means). today, i actually came to terms with the fact that the back kind of looks like this...

i took these today with my iphone, for a friend.

this photo highlights my trouble spot in the back of my head. the spot that was trouble even pre-dreads. it's the one spot that i must roll around on throughout the night. pre-dreads, i would wake up with that spot completely flattened and matted--every. single. morning. the same thing continues; however, now none of the dreads want to lay over (cover) the spot.

one thing i've learned is that no matter how many photos of other people's dreads you look at, yours will most likely end up looking different than all of them.  your dreads...are your dreads and yours alone.

and well. i love that. and i love my dreads. i really, really do.  i'm totally happy with my dread-do.  and i guess that makes me one big happy carrot top!  :-)

dread day

your hair looks like a rat's nest.- steve schwedhelm

that's what steve said to me this morning about the back of my hair, as i sat at my computer desk, after waking up. you see...my hair is fine, naturally curly and i have a lot of it (yes, i straighten it every time i wear it down). all that equates to it knotting super easy. always has, but with it being way overdue for a haircut, the knotting is that much worse. and so, being on the brink of my entire head of hair being in knots, steve's comment made me laugh.

my dread day is quickly approaching.  i fly to oregon on the 17th and my dread appointment is on the 18th.  not everyone understands why i'm doing this and i respect that; however, getting dreads is just something that i want and need to do.

i've heard everything about dreads... they're gross. they're dirty. they stink. you're going to look terrible. i'll support you but when you hate them, i'll say, i told you so.

and sure...some are gross and dirty and look terrible. but not all. i keep joking with my friends that i'm going to have pretty dreads. and i'm sure there are some hard core dread heads out there that will laugh at me and my pretty dreads. but oh well.

my dreads are going to be done by stephanie at akemi salon, in portland. she will be doing a type of crochet method to dread (knot) my hair. the other way is done by backcombing and coating the hair with wax. oh, and there's the other way...of just not coming your hair and letting it naturally do it's thing.  with the crochet method, no wax is necessary, which makes me very happy. i will not be using any wax at all on my dreads...ever.

another thing that many might not realize...dreads require a lot of maintenance. as growth happens, that hair has to be dreaded (crocheted or knotted) into the the dreads. this obviously requires time and assistance. many just go back to the salon every few months to get the maintenance done. not living near the salon, will require that i do much of the maintenance myself.  however, i will also be recruiting friends and family to help, with those hard to reach and see places. we're going to be like little monkeys as they help me groom my hair. :-)

while i'm so excited about getting my dreads, there is some natural hesitation, just as with any drastic hair style change (cut).  in college, i went from long to really, really short hair and the feelings i'm experiencing with dreads are similar.  a couple questions that often run through my mind... what happens if i hate them? what happens if my scalp is too sensitive?

throughout this process, one thing is for sure...i will always be honest.  if i love them, you'll know.  if i hate them or am having a difficult time with them, you'll know that too.

here's some pics that i found on the internet of dreads that i love. i'm going to leave some loose hair in front, kind of like the girl in the first photo (who just got voted off survivor yesterday).  i long for my dreads to be a bit longer but stephanie says that dread extensions are really tough, so i will have to let them grow naturally.

my dear friend, denise, got her dreads done by stephanie a little over three months ago. she actually just went back for a maintenance appointment last week. anyways, you can read more about her dread journey and the process here, on her blog. she also has photos of herself with dreads throughout her recent blog posts. she too, has the loose hair in front...and a magical head of free, flowing, beautiful dreads.

have a dread question (or any question really), feel free to ask.  i will add the answer to the bottom of this post.

number 30

they're gross.they're nasty. they're dirty. they stink. you'll look terrible. i'll support you but when you hate them, i'll say i told you so.

i've heard it all. and i've done my research.

on november 18th, i'll be crossing number 30 off my bucket list...i'm getting dreadlocks.  i'm so excited and a tad bit nervous.  i've always been one of those people, who would stare at those people--those people, with dreadlocks--in awe.  but it wasn't out of disgust; it was out of admiration and longing.  for as long as i can remember, i've loved dreadlocks.  i can't even explain why.  i just always have!

i've been talking to steve about getting dreadlocks for quite a while now.  at times he was okay with it.  other times, he was like, why?  why do you need to do that? whatever...

it went back and forth like that for quite a while....until recently, when i shared with him that i'm really ready.  i'm at that place in my life that i really want dreads.

i. am. ready.

and he got it.

steve had no clue what to get me for my birthday and so he got me the most magical gift...a southwest gift card, to go get dreads.  his way of supporting me and letting me know it's okay to move forward.

so on november 17th, i'm flying from here to OR, for one day.  my dread appointment is on nov 18th and then that evening, i fly to san diego for 3 1/2 days of shooting.  and then back to KS.

once i got steve's support, i worried about two people giving me hell: kiele's dad and my in-laws (i guess that actually makes three). well i also knew that kiele would have a hard time with the whole thing, but she's too young to really give me hell (more on my kids' reactions in a later post).

when i broke it to kiele's dad via email, his reply was: as for the dreadlocks, no surprise. you were meant to be one of those artists who congregates in eclectic locations around the US. but you have other obligations (husband and family) that keep you from that lifestyle. the 60s was your era, but unfortunately you were born too late for that scene.

and then i broke it to my MIL a few days ago, when my in-laws were visiting. and for some reason, she wasn't very surprised. she kind of just nodded her head and asked a few questions, as i talked about things and showed her pics on the internet...like it was no big deal. either she had already been forewarned on facebook (yes, she's on FB and so are steve's siblings) or...she just wasn't surprised because there always seems to be something new with me (nose piercing, eyebrow piercing, etc.). i still don't know what my FIL's reaction will be, but i can't imagine it a very encouraging one. we will see.


so... my appointment is made. my plane ticket is purchased. my care products are on their way. i'm getting dreads!

i do have a few concerns. i'm super tender headed. and the dreading process can hurt. i also have fine hair (curly and a lot, but fine)...breakage worries me. of course, i've already talked to my dread stylist about this and she has assured me that it'll be okay.

during the hours when i can't sleep at night, i think and worry about...what my dreads will look like, if my hair is going to fall out, how itchy my scalp is going to be (i actually itch my scalp throughout the night).  but in my waking moments, i dream and wish my dreads to one day look like this (see below), except i'm going to leave some loose hair in the front.  one of my friends had described it as...it's kind of like business in front and a party in the back.  sigh...i love that.

photo courtesy of delight's flickr stream

i'll definitely keep you posted throughout this dread journey. of course, there will be no BS either. if it hurts like hell, itches like crazy or stinks...you'll know. if i hate them...you'll know. and if i love them...you'll know!