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october 28, 2017

Change is in the Hair

A couple of nights ago I was doing a DIY project for a Halloween costume, sitting cross-legged in front of my floor-length mirror, with a hot glue gun, foam paper, and a pair of craft scissors in my lap. An inexplicable urge came over me, as I tugged a segment of hair just above my temple, picked up the craft scissors and snipped. I made eye contact with myself in the mirror, shrugged and smiled. A couple more snips - I had bangs and felt weight leave my chest.


My three months in Romania are coming to a close, as my visa expires in a couple weeks. My time here has been very magical - but, far from a fairytale. Like every chapter in the story we call life, lessons are learned and wisdom is gained. These three months have taught me to let go of the things in my life that I can not control. Let me explain...

I am so blessed to have a lifestyle that allows a lot of flexibility over my work schedule, living arrangements, and travel plans. Yet, these past months I couldn’t help but dwell when some things beyond my control didn’t go how I hoped or how they should or how anyone would predict them to. I felt like I was let down by some family members, who I have not been able to get in contact with for 2 and a half months, with no explanation. I was hurt and angry, to be ignored by those who are supposed to be there for me, by blood. I also set unrealistic expectations internally for an intimate relationship that totally failed, and I could do nothing to save it. And finally, as I was preparing paperwork to import the pup, Stewart, to South Africa (my next destination of choice), I was faced by the most unhelpful staff at the consulates and agricultural office. No amount of emails I sent or calls I made seemed to make it through or result in good news. After spending lots of time and money trying to find a way to bring Stewart to South Africa, I was informed that it would be impossible to do from Romania.


All of these things of course seemed to hit a boiling point of stress at once. My days consisted of me doing a really shitty job at work, because I couldn’t focus. Then when I breaked for lunch or  finished work for the day I’d frantically try to get in contact with vets and agricultural officers and courier companies to arrange blood tests and paperwork for my dogs import. When I received no response, or more likely another hurdle in the process, I would turn in for the night, escaping into the magical world of the Harry Potter book series and a bottle of Romanian wine.


All of this brought anxiety, bred from circumstances beyond my control - my feelings were based on the decisions of others to disengage or limit communication. But I must take credit for my unhealthy reaction. At the time, I couldn’t help growing wildly anxious and frustrated. Luckily, I had some incredible friends on my side who stepped up and talked me through things. They motivated me to grab the reins on the things I could control.


Which meant recognizing these friends as a part of my true family and canceling the trip I’ve been dreaming about for 2 years. But I still wasn’t ready to go “home”. I booked a one way ticket to Athens, where both Stewart and I will be welcomed with open-arms, minus all the administrative bullshit. Once again we do not know a soul, but we seem to be doing just fine as the two of us.


Now the funny thing is that Greece has been in the top three places I’ve wanted to travel for as long as I can remember - even before I my first trip abroad 3 years ago. And the main reason I haven’t made it there after 3 years and 23 other countries is so silly: I wanted to go to this super romantic and historical place with someone I really cared about. I guess it took all of this time for me to figure out that “special person” should be myself (and my dog). This realization, along with my acceptance of the uncontrollable factors in my life, freed me of anxiety and brought  tranquility and inner peace as I move forward into the next chapter of my life.


It is ironic that when we cut our hair, we feel no pain physically, Yet, it is common knowledge that humans often change their outer appearance as they move through a cycle of grief, growing pains, and self-acceptance. Yet, the haircut for me almost serves as an outward expression of my internal feeling - shedding a layer. Letting go of what was and becoming who I am - the best version of myself. Taking control of something as small as a swatch of hair on my head, felt like a metaphor for the steps I’ve taken to appreciate the other things I have control over.


I leave you with this: recognize that the only things that you can control are your own actions and feelings. And these feelings and actions should not be influenced by the decisions that other people make - which are outside of your control. Recognize the factors that are within your control and use this knowledge to make the most healthy choices for yourself. Lastly, be grateful for the things that are beyond your control, but somehow, miraculously go “your way” - shout out to the friends who are actually my family, because they decided to be.


                                                                                     Xoxo, L

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