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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Be the Change

The stream returns.
Something happened earlier this year. I can't recall the exact moment I decided to change, but I did. I covered my hair. I started wearing wraps to work instead of allowing my locks to hang long.

Initially, it felt like fashion, but as I chose to cover each time I left the house, I could feel the commitment. I own dozen and dozens of scarves in solid and printed colors, so my options varied daily.

One day my co-worker asked if there was some significance to my head coverings. The truth was and is, that I realized hair, in all its forms of variation, causes attraction - at times, unwanted. Hair style, color, length, or lack, also invites opinions. My answer was that I was avoiding undue attention due to my hair.The other side of the story is that my hair is graying at the temples and I had not decided whether to color it or cut it all off. With it covered, no one would be the wiser. Hence, a new form of freedom and I am all about being free.

This month, May, I have been looking at modesty as intrigue. In a world where people are letting it all hang out, how about covering up? How do our relationships shift when we preserve some of the mystery? Modesty is an old concept, both socially and in my personal life. My family adhered to strict rules of modesty (in dress and presentation). It was a religious issue.

Today I am free of religious dictates for my life, so I cover on my own. It was a conspicuous experience. I work with Muslim women who practice hijab (modesty and privacy between men and unrelated women). I also work with conservative Christian women. I am neither. So, when I walk down the street with my head, neck and shoulders covered, I am an anomaly.

I feel peculiar. People look at me differently. They presume. They assume. They scold. "It's too hot for all that!"

I feel sacred. For the first time, I feel sanctified - set apart. Walking and praying seem more present, as if I am truly aware of not only the words, but my connection to them.

Driving covered, I am ashamed of the rage rising and spewing forth when I am cut off in traffic. I rethink the moment, recognizing that all is well and only my ego was assaulted. Still, I am reprimanded for my behavior. I expect to show up as understanding and forgiving every day. Being covered kept my attention on my intentions.

The biggest challenge came while I was shopping for liquor. Somehow it just didn't feel right to be buying alcohol while covered. I drink. I am free of any prohibitions against drinking alcohol. So, what's the deal?

Feel the feelings and keep on moving. That's what I've done this month. Having my head, neck and shoulders covered has refocused my attention. I reshaped the rest of my dress as well. I own plenty of clothing that covers my body. I wear them.

This is the best explanation I've heard for covering:

Think of your money. Would you leave it laying around for everyone to see, examine and handle? No. We put our money away. We keep it safe. away from prying eyes.

I am more precious than money. My body is sacred. I get to choose who has access, when and why.

I wish I were more comfortable covering completely outside of religious affiliation. It may come, or not. Today, I practice modesty as I represent individual freedom, choice, and intrigue. I'm taking back what's mine from the fantasy of being yours.


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