How to show up naked in the world: It’s only hair.


Life has a way of picking us up and dropping us down at unknown destinations. That’s what life feels like for me some days, like I’ve been dumped off in a strange place surrounded by nothing that I recognize.

Although I have the navigation path to live with this c*ancer detour all mapped out, things happen that continue to shape me and strip me down.

My current stripping down has been losing over half of my hair to chemotherapy.

My beautifully striking naturally curly, red hair.

You read that right. I have c*ancer and I’m upset about my hair.

I am told I won’t go completely bald, like it’s an acceptable consolation.

No apologies.

Currently, I have lost just enough hair to rock that slightly deranged look.   Think, Don King or Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future.

I fixate on thick heads of gorgeous hair as they stroll by with envy. I spend too much time looking at wigs, and hair extensions online, knowing they are not for me.

Even in the vulnerable moments when I know for sure where my power lives, it still stings.

I want to feel less. I want to hide inside a nice safe delusion, I want to block out this hair loss that makes my head and heart hurt. I am naked. My armour –my protection is gone.  Everything I thought I knew, everything I believed, everything I told myself about who I was in the world has become stagnant in a pond of doubt.

I then spend too much time telling myself I need to be hardcore.

Many days I let myself off the hook by believing that my idea of hardcore isn’t just about being tough, it’s about acceptance. Deep down, we all want to believe we can be hardcore every day.   Sometimes we need permission to ease off, because we don’t have to be tough every minute. There is power in being vulnerable. In fact, there are moments when it’s the best thing to do– as long as you choose your moments wisely I tell myself.

Other days I feel tired of being brave, learning from my experiences– and all those positive things that keep one foot ahead of the other. I just want to wrap up in a blanket of “the world is good” and stay there.


Then the very first question emerges: “Who Am I?” Sent by [my guide] the Crone.

Who am I when I am stripped down?

When there is only me –mind, body, spirit?

Who am I without my hair?

My eventual answer is: I’m everything – that’s who!

I stand in my everything.

This sensitivity obsession about my hair is hard, but I’ve begun observing things differently. I’ve started to make choices around accepting the parts of this storm that piss me off, that feel hard, and keep me stuck. I reluctantly value my discomfort when I don’t run away from it, numb myself to it, or deny it, because it brings me face to face with the fact that I will not be defined by the cards life has in its ass pocket.

While this “attachment” to my hair continues to occupy me,  I know that I can’t drag a ghost around and be happy.  I know that my hair has allowed me to walk around anonymously. It kept me from being seen. I know that looking like a c*ancer patient is difficult because I don’t identify as one. I know I am being forced to decide how I will show up in a new way in the world.

That feels liberating, naked and scary.

I consider shaving my head- a full head mendhi and a crown.

I admit to my journal that I spent too many years unconsciously counting on the positive attention my hair elicited from others.  I knew that when I walked in a room I was impossible to miss. I secretly believed that when people were captivated by my hair [which they were] that they found my less visible traits just as captivating. I had designated my hair in charge of my power.  I used it to my advantage. I used to hide– I exploited my exterior to hide my true inner power. How shallow and vain, AND typically human of me.

When something comes along that picks up a life and rearranges it entirely, sometimes it connects with us at our core.  Some things come to remind us that we are better than our worst day. We are more than the sum of our faults. We are forgivable. We are lovable. We are worthy of everything we desire in this life. Something comes along and reminds us that we can inhale, and expand from the deepest part of ourselves. We are all allowed to experience renewal.

Living with c*ancer [or any other life altering event] is about having no idea on any precious day how to do this thing the “right way”.  I’m thriving one day at a time.  I have my voice and I am using it.

Life is about the day to day living. It’s about the way we live, the people we choose to love, the way we love them and ourselves that matters most.

Always get back up.



cancer chronic illness Courage Life Spoken Out Loud Wellness

Leave a Comment

  • Sue Ann Gleason August 29, 2015, 11:00 pm

    “Some things come to remind us that we are better than our worst day. We are more than the sum of our faults. We are forgivable. We are lovable. We are worthy of everything we desire in this life.”

    You have a way of drilling down the essential. Always. What’s more, hair grows back, often even more beautiful than before. Thank you for reminding me that every moment is precious and that we can embrace all of it … the good, the bad, the fear, the joy. xxoo

  • Heather August 31, 2015, 11:52 am

    I can more than relate to the importance of my hair – my shield, my vulnerability protector. Starting in middle school when I got voted “best hair” I had years that my head of hair defined me, that is how people knew me. From my beautiful head of hair. I know how much I have hidden behind it and how nonsensical that can be. But I understand. It would be hard to lose the shield.

  • Lori September 1, 2015, 3:05 am

    I have spent my career treating women with the opposite issue…hair in all the wrong places! It seems that the world is obsessed with hair issues in general. There is a huge market for hair dyes, hair products, hair removers, etc. Even pubic hair, which is a visible sign of adulthood, is considered ugly and unattractive. I have gotten to know you from your writings as well as your Facebook posts. You are a beauty inside and out! xoxo

  • april September 2, 2015, 6:55 am

    beautiful, dana. thank you for your raw honesty and amazing grit.

    “sometimes we need permission to ease off, because we don’t have to be tough every minute.” you are so right, my dear – we DON’T need to be tough every minute. (so glad you gave yourself that gift of vulnerability.)


Receive Your Free Guide: The 4 Feminine Archetypes that Uncover Your Richness for Life

©Dana O’Dell 2013 | All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | Site by Social Suzi Designs