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The best rituals are unplanned.
The ones that show up in our lives when we least expect it and propel us into the next chapter. This unplanned magic happened when I moved to New Mexico and cut seven inches off my hair.
The days leading up to the appointment, I could feel the sacred life marker, like packing up the last box and locking the door behind a house you’ve lived in for 10 years. Those inches I grew in in Colorado cooking chicken dinners for my ex and crying myself to sleep. The imprint of my butt growing deeper with each day, in the corner of our black leather couch, crushed beneath the weight I was gaining while watching endless Netflix characters play out the life I wish I had.
But I clung to those long, red, curly inches for dear life because my hairdresser said women in their mid-30s don’t grow hair like that anymore and my ex loved it long; he said all boys loved long hair. How could I cut it? Everyone was attached, but me. I tolerated it like the life I had settled for. I’d straighten and curl, run my fingers through the ends, tried to stay in love, but I wasn’t. It finally went feral, hanging down my neck, split, and sweating from the work I was putting into what gave nothing back to me.
When I walked into my new salon in Taos and my new short-haired blond bombshell of a hairdresser tossed her light locks around her shoulders, laughing, an easy smile on her face. I felt that kind of freedom. It was time.
I didn’t let myself think. I showed her the Pinterest picture of a woman with I-could-give-a-sh*t short hair, highlighted different colors skimming her shoulders like she just woke up like that. She grabbed the end of my tail like a frayed rope, asked me if I was ready, shrugged, and tossed my past into the trash like bad fruit that sat on the counter too long. That was it. Effortless. Free. Just like that.
Some rituals are planned with thoughtful intention and others when you least expect it but crave it like the dreams you have for yourself. Like spiritual markers, they tell the universe this is who I am and this is what I want for my life.
Like the time I was 13, and my mom and my sister took me to the river when I got my period and we tossed stones into the rapids describing the brave, compassionate woman I was becoming.
Or the time I was 19: after my abortion, we found an owl dead from a trucker’s windshield on the side of the highway, and my sister and I buried it in a forest in Oregon next to a creek crying for what I went through and the path I wasn’t ready to take.
And at 35, when I stood around a bonfire in Ojo, New Mexico with my mother, my elementary school teacher, and her son writing on torn sheets of paper sitting on thrift store stools and dining room chairs, taking turns throwing our addictions and toxic relationships into the fire and cheering as we watched each other’s past burn.
Rituals give you the ability to co-create your life with the universe. Symbols like these help us to root our intentions and declare how we’ve changed, grown, and turned the page throughout our lives. These sacred milestones mark how we were one way before and how we are different after. They show us that we have grown. The end of something and the beginning of something else.
Seven inches of hair thrown away letting each strand that was once washed, curled, and cared for, times I cried for too long in Colorado and wasn’t sober, and when I moved to New Mexico to set myself free and decided to be. The end of a chapter—the beginning of something else.
It’s about the life that we want to create for ourselves. That is the importance of rituals. The lovers we need to let go of, the dreams we want to make come true. We are the creators of our lives and with our thoughts and actions, our beliefs come true. If we are mindful enough we can use these moments to manifest and celebrate the brave changes we have made in taking the next step toward the life we want for ourselves.
These are some of my favorite, simple rituals that you can do when you are near a body of water, sitting around a fire, or spontaneously when the moment strikes you:
>> Tossing stones into a river when you need to let go of something.
>> Throwing written sheets of paper into a fire for the things you wish to bring into your life.
>> Burying a representation of something you want to let go of and transform into something else.
>> Connecting to the four directions and sending gratitude for the things you want to manifest in your life.
>> Using water to cleanse what you want to wash your hands of.
>> Cutting a cord and burning the ends to let go of a toxic relationship.