Reflections on healing trauma, writing, and books by Tokyo-based memoirist
 
A Breath of Fresh Hair

A Breath of Fresh Hair

I didn’t feel much like blogging last week plus it felt like it was getting too time-consuming. I wasn’t planning on blogging any time, soon, actually, but I find that I’m craving it today. I don’t have any particular focus for this post, just updates.

Last week, I had appointments outside of the house on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’d normally go to ballet class on Thursday, but I was so exhausted by then, I decided to stay home. Part of that was that I’d also done hard workouts on Monday and Tuesday.

On Friday, my appointment was at the salon. I don’t usually go very often nor do I consider it a very big deal. I just want whatever haircut is the least fuss. However, I’d finally met with a milestone and decided to dye the grey out of my hair.

So, because my entire experience with hair dye was doing awful things to myself with Manic Panic in my late teens and early twenties, like I mentioned before, I really don’t know much about hair dye.

I took the advice of the hair-dresser. He’s from Japan, but he spent 18 years travelling between Toronto in NYC doing hair.  He’s temporarily back here because of a mix of visa issues and the pandemic.

He told me that he used to do makeovers for the show Today. That made me feel like I could probably trust his judgement. He recommended that I get lowlights and that he’d only dye half my hair.

I didn’t like the idea of dying only half my hair. I was there to get rid of my grey hairs, not half my grey hairs, so we agreed that he’d dye 75% of my hair.

He wrapped 25% of my hair in foil, and it took forever. I think I was in the chair for about two hours, and the whole time I was nervous about how it’d turn out.

After the shampoo, my hair was much darker than my natural color. He reassured me that the color would lighten up in about a week.

I wasn’t horribly offended by the color, but my natural hair color is a lot of colors. It’s a complicated rainbow of reds, browns, and golds. After it was dyed, it was pretty much one color, except for the remaining 25%, which I can only really pick out because of the greys.

That’s when I realized that my hair will never be my natural auburn color ever again. I’d dyed it because it was getting grey, after all. Pretty soon, I was holding back tears in the salon chair. I’d crossed a threshold that meant that then now on, I was officially old, and nothing in this world is going to restore my youth. They don’t make hair dye that looks like my old hair.

I’d never understood why people cried over their hair before. I always got whatever haircut thinking, “eh, it’ll grow back.” But, now, even if it does grow back, it’s not going to grow back the way it was unless I get some kind of gene therapy that youthifies hair.

The stylist saw my distress and said in a half-gentle, half-panicked voice, “I told you that’s why we should do 50%, not 75! You need time to get used to having dyed hair!” That’s when sheets of sweat immediately started pouring off of him. He obviously felt awful that I wasn’t happy, which made me feel awful, but I could not muster up any fake happiness.

I sucked up my shock the best I could. He promised me that we’d work on the color as long as he was still in Tokyo, and we’d find something that I really liked. After a quick haircut, he gave me a really big discount on the whole thing, which was really nice of him.

Now that I’ve had a few days to get used to it, I realize that it actually looks a lot more natural than my natural color. People always thought that I dyed my hair before because it was a color that didn’t seem to exist in nature. I was happy when I first started getting greys because that proved that my hair color was my natural hair color.

My hair is no longer unique. I’m in a new era now, I guess. Maybe I’ll get highlights to make the one-color situation a little more interesting.

Anyway, it’s Golden Week here in Japan, so we took the day off yesterday. Over the weekend, we had some rain off and on, but when it wasn’t raining, the weather was gorgeous. So, we did a good amount of walking and attempted some picnicking, but we got rained on.

I’ve kept up with my morning routine the past few weeks. I’ve become more productive, and my sleep has improved even more. Mentally, I’m more content and more resilient. I feel physically stronger and even a bit slimmer.

It does take more energy, which is why I was so tired the first week or so, but I’m getting used to it. The benefits are outweighing the hassles.

I’ve been reading a book called Breath by James Nestor, and it’s one of the more life-changing books I’ve read in a while. It’s all about some of what science says about breathing. Changing how we breathe for a few minutes a day is accessible to everyone and can have profound effects on our health. James Nestor has a collection of youtube breathing videos on his website.

His book includes a section on Wim Hof’s breathing method, so I’m inspired to go back to it. Even though I’d seen a lot of benefits from it in the past, I was having trouble motivating myself to keep up a regular practice.

I used to do Wim Hof breathing at night before bed. I did this because I normally had such intense anxiety right before bed that I needed that kind of serious intervention if I didn’t want my night to be plagued with panic attacks and insomnia for hours every night.

I wish I were exaggerating, but I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t immediately go into cortisol overdrive right before I hoped to sleep.

After practicing Wim Hof for a while, I started feeling tired right before bed, like a normal person. Because I was tired, the last thing I wanted to do was some intense breathing exercises, so I only did it when I felt anxious enough to need it, and my benefits stalled.

After I started my morning routine, my Wim Hof breathing fell through the cracks completely. I never stopped doing a small amount of gentle cold exposure, which is about as much as I can handle.

A couple of days ago, I changed up my morning routine to fit in Wim Hof in the morning, and so far, it feels great. At night, I’m doing more gentle and relaxing exercises, like slow breathing and pranayama. That’s a lot more appealing than hyperventilation when it’s late at night.

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