Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Weekend in the Life of Sophie

Last weekend after 6 months of not seeing our families, we finally were able to make the trek to Michigan for a visit. It was a weekend of firsts - first time driving in Chicago, first time renting a car, and first time taking Sophie in a car and away from her city life.

(A lot of this happened - trying to sneak in baby naps because she was so much more active than normal.)

Here's the weekend in the life of Sophie, from her perspective. I think she enjoyed herself. 

On a Thursday evening, after a very early dinner, my parents ran around the house like crazy, carrying and moving lots and lots of things (why do they need so much stuff?). I really didn't know what was going on, but I followed them everywhere and tried to run up the steps and out the door a few times. They caught me every time though, and picked me up and made silly faces. I don't really understand them, but I kiss them anyways.

I was then put into a car. I don't really know what that is or remember being in one before, even though my mom told me I did once. Although I had my bed in the backseat, my mom's lap was far more interesting! I hardly sat or laid down. Instead I kept moving around trying to peek out windows and see what dad was doing in the front seat. There was a lot of lights and honking cars. What's the hurry? I loved all the action though. Eventually I laid down, with bribes of bones, and fell asleep. 

I got to get out of the car and run around a few times during the ride, but we eventually stopped at a big house in a little town. No sidewalks or trains or other distractions. Drat. I met my aunt (she's nice!) who took me in her house and showed me her family, including my favorite member of all: her dog Rolo. Although I only got to say hi for a few minutes, the next few days were bliss. I may be tiny and he may be strong, but playtime with him is my favorite. I will follow him anywhere.

When I did get to be at the house with him, we had so much fun! I ran around his backyard without a leash (freedom! mud! chasing!); I missed him when we had to be apart (gosh I hate parents sometimes); I pawed at him constantly because all I wanted to do was play (it was the only way to get his attention); I licked one end of his Kong while he licked the other (sharing is caring!). 

My other favorite trick during playtime with Rolo was using my size to my advantage. When he would chase me, I'd run under the glass coffee table where he couldn't reach. It pays to be tiny sometimes! I guess he'd jump on the couch when I'd chase him and I couldn't reach him there. Maybe he figured out his size too...

I learned that playtime with dogs and people is exhausting. I met all of my mom's family (including kids!) and all of my dad's family. I met a lot of people. I ran a lot. I smiled a lot. I was kind of pooped even though I didn't want to say it. I slept really good at night. When I woke up in the early morning hours one day, I discovered my mom's head was next to my head. That never happens! I looked at her sweetly and convinced her to let me be with them. First time in the bed - woo hoo! Alright, the extra snuggles and sleep was nice too. But woo hoo bed!

We made other visits. I have become a traveling pro. I tried to be really polite with everyone I met. I loved my uncle. I got to play on the computer and watch YouTube. Awesome! My parents never let me do that.

Eventually my mom and dad said it was time to go and say good-bye to everyone. I was so sad. But then they said we'd be back next month. Happy again! 

We drove in a crazy, crazy storm. Mom was scared and held me a little tight. I didn't mind. Dad wanted an apple pie. We watched as mom went to get him one. I saw all the scary clouds and heard the wind. I finally was ready to be home.

We made it back late. I took a nap in the comfort of my own home. On the couch. Spread out. Leaving mom without a seat. What can I say? I was comfy.

After a night of real rest, I was back to my usual self at home. Stealing socks. Wrinkling my forehead. Feeling defeated when mom and dad took the things I've found. 

Oh well. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Making the Chop, Empowerment, and My Story: Donating to Pantene Beautiful Lengths

When I started crafting up my list of 25 things I wanted to do while I was 25 during the early summer before my August birthday, I knew I wanted to add things to my list that were meaningful. I wasn't entirely sure what that meant to me at the time and I am not really sure what triggered the desire or how I even crafted up #2 on my list.

You see, for as long as I can really remember I've always had long hair. (Let's just say the last time I remember having short hair is when my parents gave me a "boy" haircut in elementary school!) It was always below my shoulders but usually much longer. For the past few years, it has rested gently on my mid-back. Although it wasn't the most gorgeous hair and I didn't get stopped on the street by passerby who wanted to ogle at it, I loved my hair. It was long -- which made people with short hair jealous. It was the perfect length and texture to wear different ways -- straight, curly, sleek bun. I could put zero effort into it or spend an hour and would still have good results. It was perfectly me.

Here's a snapshot into my hair life for the past 6-7 years:

It's funny how you don't realize how much something is a part of you and what it can mean to you. I never ever considered cutting my hair. I loved the versatility. I didn't have any ideas or reason to go shorter, so I never did.

I somehow stumbled upon the idea of donating my hair. Giving up my hair, an integral part of "me," to someone else who was stripped of something that was so them had significance and meaning. Once the idea popped into my head, there was no going back. 

I initially wanted to donate my hair to Locks of Love, as that was the only organization I had ever heard of. I started doing my research. If you are interested in donating or plan to, make sure you do too! I learned about a few other organizations in the process and started comparing them in regards to their donation rules and their organizations.

I ended up deciding to donate my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. They are partnered directly with the American Cancer Society, which is near and dear to my heart. The ACS gives the wigs out completely free to adult women who are battling cancer and have lost their hair. The donation requirement was similar to Locks of Love (no color treated hair), but asked for a longer length of at least 10 inches. For many, many reasons I went with Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I liked how they presented themselves, who they worked with, and how they operated. The decision was made.

No one knew about my cut besides my boyfriend, mom, and sister. I much preferred it that way. This was more about me trying to do something for someone else. I scheduled a cut at a nearby Chicago salon, which was a struggle since I've been going to the same hair stylist back in Michigan since middle school! 
<By the way, my cut was done September 30. I am just getting around to writing about it because the experience has been really meaningful and hard to put into words.>

She sectioned off my hair in specific ways in order to get the most hair cut. One by one, I ended up with 6 ponytails grouped together to make what normally hung from my own head. 13 inches gone. 

(Here's the transformation again.)

Boy was that something to get used to! I didn't know what to make of my hair...or how to keep it out of my face when the Chicago winds started to blow. I still am learning how to style it and "deal" with it.

But I did learn a few things throughout this process: 
-Because I live in Chicago and really know only a handful of people because most are still "back home," no one on the streets would know of my haircut or transformation. It was my little secret, which is fun in its own way too.
-Stepping out of my comfort zone and getting rid of something that I thought was such a big part of my identity was empowering. Every time I curl my hair I pretend I'm Carrie Bradshaw, which is pretty awesome.
-It feels good and worthy and comforting knowing that something I gave up that meant so much to me will bring a bit of comfort and peace to someone else who could probably use it far more than myself.

If you've ever donated, share your story with me! I did a lot of blog-searching for stories prior to my cut. If you ever consider donating and have questions, feel free to ask too -- it's nice to have hair donation friends and conversations.