• Michelle Smith

Letting Go To Grow: the big chop

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

This past weekend was quite a big one for me. I came out to the world with my big choppa style. Yes!! I did it! If you are a sista reading this, I’m sure that you are very familiar with this “big chop” I speak of. There is a 95% chance that you yourself, or someone you know has undergone this feat.  While there are a number of reasons for women to exhale (get it 😊), the big chop usually represents a breaking point. Nothing dramatic… just the removal of that small piece of hair that keeps brushing past your face, occasionally getting caught on an eyelash. Too focused on the many tasks at hand, you didn’t realize that it was there, let alone dancing on your nerves. But when you do, not only is that irritation relieved, but you see clearer than you did before. While my big chop did not stem from some philosophical enlightenment, it was a necessary force that I would have to eventually face. Struggling to recover from postpartum shedding almost 21 months after giving birth was a physical indicator that helped me to realize it’s time to take a step back, assess, rearrange and act.

Despite my efforts to hold on to my “between bra strap and waist length hair”, I had to throw in the towel and accept that it was time for a reboot. Along with this realization came the need to take accountability for skimping out on myself. While I’ve managed to create a flow and rhythm with our daily doings… caring for a house, a husband and two toddlers, I somehow fell short of caring for myself. While I was aware that it’s just hair and will grow back, I couldn’t help but to notice an underlined bout of anxiety that I felt at the thought of being “exposed”. Unless you are one of those stunning women who’s just naturally flawless rocking a short cut, it can be quite an intimidating and humbling experience. It takes courage to face yourself head on, bold and naked with nothing to hide behind. There is a reason we cry when cutting onions. The more layers you pull back, the more layers you expose... and nobody likes to feel exposed. Feeling a little overwhelmed, I was excited that I had something to look forward to, a chance to let go!

What better way to kick off a new journey of self-care than to glow and bond with a beautiful crew of black queens. Side note; I do not use that term loosely, if ever, so that’s exactly what I mean.  My sister in law transitioned into her fabulous 40s, and because she is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, she chose to celebrate by treating her closest ladies to a day of beauty, fun and celebration. Little did I know that while I was looking forward to a day of letting go, I would be leaving with so much more. I collected gems from each one of these ladies that I had the pleasure of spending a day with. Along the way I was sure to inscribe memories and lessons on each of those gems.

Birthday Bae a.k.a Siren, choosing to honor those around her not only exhibited charity and selflessness, but gratitude as well. She reminded us throughout the day that a part of growing is appreciating each stage and phase of life. It is only when we appreciate what we have that we are given more.

NettieKellie served as a real life inspiration and example of finding the power to create your own platform. Walking into her studio immediately gave me a feeling of warmth and empowerment. It is a treat to see someone make a vision for themselves come to life while being a wife and mother.

Elsa teaches me the power of love and sacrifice. Elsa is a brilliant lady who is capable of attaining anything she wants, and instead of making choices rooted in material gain, she chose a payment of love. Packaged in hazel eyes, sandy hair and pink cheeks, she cherishes that gift and continues to show her gratitude through her love and sacrifice.

Stormie reminded me of the delicacy of patience and longsuffering (endurance) through her ability to raise 6 beautiful children while staying pretty and poised. I think about the two that I’m raising now and can’t imagine making such a sacrifice, while continuing to contribute to my community as a wife, sister, daughter, employee and so much more.

Delicious was a constant reminder of the strength in compassion. There is a special place in my heart for those who work hard and sacrifice for children that they are not obligated to. It also takes an exceptional person to be able to connect with children, offering a fresh perspective. Most importantly I appreciate her ability to be tolerant of others, respecting their experiences, while holding fast to the belief systems that she has developed through her own experiences.

Nova allowed me to see the beautiful fruits of a strong foundation. I’ve known her for a few years now, but only recently learned about her upbringing. Coming from a family with a hardworking father and a nurturing mother who managed to make it work, it is easy to see why her beauty, intelligence and grace comes so effortlessly. Listening to her recount stories of her childhood and relationships with her parents is a reminder of the foundation I strive to build for my children.

Lolo represented self awareness, persistence and the ability to adapt. As I learned more about Lolo over the weekend, I especially admired her ability to recognize how her experiences have impacted her choices over time. To take accountability, not just in admitting fault to something or becoming a victim, but fixing it and following through with the recovery is something that a lot of people are not capable of.

It takes a certain confidence and faith to earn the stripes if being a grown ass woman, and that’s what I realized... I am officially a grown ass woman! Having this experience also helped me to realize that a part of recharging my batteries is exchanging energy and innervation with likeminded women. There is no confirmation and motivation like seeing a sister overcome the challenges that you have a rough time seeing your way through. To have that level of trust to let your guard down and truly be vulnerable is a blessing that many take for granted. Each, through their own journey have shown me what it truly means to be a Momrad… a mom and a comrade to my fellow mommies who fight for their children and communities. To go with my gut, to make the necessary sacrifices for my family. To extend myself to those who may not initially be a part of my tribe, but to be compassionate, yet stead fast in my intentions. To serve as a power source when my sister is depleted and in need of support and empowerment. To acquired wisdom to pass along to the next generations and to serve as a light in darkness.

Mommies make the world go round.

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