The Dawn of the Dread

392272_4383437664571_537099055_nIn 2007 Alex & I took off on an adventure. I had ALWAYS wanted to back pack the planet and the kids were with their dad, so for the first time in 19 years I had the ability to do it and took the opportunity. It was the most spectacular 2 years of my entire life.  I have way more to see and pray that another (possibly longer) tour is in my cards.  Fingers and toes crossed.

When we traveled, the way WE liked to do it was to pick a place and stay as long as we liked. We hit places on the way to and from one destination to the next, that sounded cool or that caught our eye on the road. We had the best experience that way. We either slept or rested up or stayed awhile, depending on the vibe and surroundings. Sometimes it was just over night, others (like in the Transkei of South Africal at the Backpackers called Amapondo or at the Sanctuary on Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand it was a full 6 weeks. We spent 12 weeks living in the rice paddies in Ubud, Bali Indonesia doing detox and cleanses and touring the island. Our last stop was Kathmandu Nepal, where we lived (and worked) for 8 solid months. 223291_1055492588024_6070_nMore on that later. There were a ton of amazing people and places in between and it was during those 2 years I increased the ink art on my skin and fell in love with dreads.

In my experience some of the most conscious, intelligent and unique people I’ve met in the world to date (aka., many of the people I want to be more like) were dreadies. Beyond the fact that I find them to be utterly beautiful, I found that most of the dreadie women that I met possessed so many beautiful and attractive qualities; they eminated the kindest and humblest juju, operated in both patience and wisdom…and confidence exuded from them as if simply knew who they were in the room and in the world.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t meet amazing people without dreads.  I did.  I met brilliant, beautiful souls that taught me incredible things that I will cherish for eternity…in every body style, fashion sense, culture, gender, race, creed, color and sexual orientation. However, I didn’t want to become one of them…I wanted to become a dreadie.  I wanted to gain access and acceptance into the dread community and to experience the process, and the freedom. I wanted what they had and there was only one way to get it.

Follow Dawn Wright-deBrantes’s board Dreads on Pinterest.

Fast-forward 7 years, into and through returning to the US, my “come-back” in the business realm, my fall in said realm and the transformative process of scorched-earth days, 3 years of (the other kind of) dread, and a total annihilation of life-as-I-knew it. Gone was my liberty, money, home, car, pretty much everything I’ve worked for for 25 years including the respect I’d earned among my peers…poof…gone. (More on that later) Suffice it to say that I prayed (and still pray) for the wisdom, patience, strength, courage and well…a deeper connection to God & Mother Earth to get through it all, because it’s not even close to done yet. All of the hammering (by self and others) had left me with a desperate need to feel connected to the earth, those women, the travelers and the other side of the planet (where my spirit and body healed once) and I simply could not/cannot/choose not to go there physically at this time without paying a price I’m simply not willing to pay. I longed/long 554761_3566823729733_1364221945_nfor; the drums and wildlife of Africa and the seas, pirates and islands of Thailand, the volcanoes and rice paddies of Bali and the healing waters, fire and freedom of them all. However, I needed them delivered to my landlocked doorstep right here in Arkansas. I wanted dreads. I needed them.  I needed to do this for all of the reasons above.
But, (yep, there wasn’t just one “but”… there was a huge list of them…which was why I hadn’t done it in years 1 through 7!) I had grown up a hair bear since birth and have toted long, silky hair most of my life…so my pull to tangle it all into individualized “rat’s nests” and the knowledge that I would either have to cut or endlessly untangle them if I didn’t like them was terrifying.  I wrestled with myself over the decision (I decided to get married without blinking…but THIS? This was my HAIR! 🙂 (get the picture?) So, I made the jump…with both feet…after torturing myself over it for a solid 7 years. 🙂

I am happy to say that I am finally a full-fledged dread-head. At 18 months into the process I have gone through every emotional response I can have to them.  I have experienced triumph, exhilaration, frustration, pain, relief…and many more (some all of the above in a single day.) I talk to them and refer to them like they are living, breathing entities with mind of their own (notice the use of “them” instead of “it” which is how I used to refer to my hair.) This is a totally accurate pronoun however, because they are alive and have a serious mind of their own!10404664_10203735268042663_333818943_o

I have to say that without a few killer YouTube tutorials and Pintrest pics that gave me a tip or ten – and ALOT of Tiger Balm for my tendonitis and arthritis 🙂 – I would’ve given up.  I read somewhere that baby and toddler dreads under 2 years old were just that…”unruly toddlers.” I want whoever wrote that to know that THAT one statement actually supported me in keeping them and sticking it out.  I am closing in on the 2 year mark and sincerely look forward to it.  I (more than anything) look forward to my super long 8yr dreads that I can pile up perfectly without so much tucking.
When I began on this journey, I thought “piece of cake” – but the first year was a TON of work.  I don’t have a head of hair that simply tangled and said “oh hey…no problem” when I teased it. I have a head of SUPER healthy, shiny, beautiful hair that many people ooo’d and aaaahhhh’d over so it was resistant (and still can be) to simply staying put. I enjoy not HAVING to wash it all the time – but when I do…I look like Garfield coming out of the fluff cycle of a tumble dryer. 🙂 Thank you layers and breakage.  I color my hair every 4-6 weeks with a temporary color because I hate the big line of regrowth – but I could 2014-08-23 17.46.24use the damage (damaged hair dreads easier) so it’s a lot of learning to think differently.  I think the most significant thing I’ve realized about dreading my hair was the attachments and projections that OTHER people had/have to my hair and that so MANY people react to them – either positively…or negatively.
I once had a man I’d never met call me a rooster and tell me I look stupid.  I had to refrain from my NY Italian hot-bloodedness taking over and DIDN’T tell him that “at least I can fix my hair” with the seething up and down look thing. (See Exhibit A. Growth) 🙂  I DID however question why what I chose to do with my hair (being a woman he didn’t know and has no relationship to whatsoever) bothered him so much that he would socially accost and demean another human being with the desire to make them feel bad?  I mean seriously…why would he care?  I then realized that he ALSO had an ego SO BIG that he felt that somehow I would care enough to change my hair for HIM.  LOL People can be really silly.
Then there was family.  Alex and I have one rule really.  It’s “I go…You go.” So, I asked if he would go with me, he said “sure” and he did.  3 weeks later he had taken every last dread out of his head.  He hated them in every way. I was on my own.  My hair was almost touching my ass and that left me humbled and begging for the support of my family (and specifically Alex)2014-03-23 17.18.27 when I knew that each one took at LEAST an hour to just get SORTA done. One of my daughters resisted me fully.  I have pictures of her resting “I’m so pissed I’m doing this” face.  See Exhibit B  on the right (gulp).
My Cancerian daughter (who despises change) was really angry with me over it 18 months ago…but seemingly (hopefully)
loves them as much as I do now.  (I don’t actually know that, because I’m afraid to ask).  Sometimes I find it’s simply easier
not to ask and assume the positive feedback exists silently (the alternative is that I would have to not care which I’m certain is more in-line with the point of dreads.). My other two off-spring decided it was cool in a hot second and I’m SO grateful for all of my family’s support because they and “they” mean the world to me.
On the flip side of the resistance of others, other dreadies, and people who understand fully the commitment they are and what it means internally to dread ones hair, are insta-family. 🙂 That part truly rocks. My first first experience of it what when I was 6 months in.  I was extending them so I didn’t look ridiculous for my son’s wedding and I had business to look semi-professional for.  Enter this guy on a massive fork-lift at a vape event in Las Vegas. I hear a booming “YO DREADIE SISTAH!!” and I look up 40ft up and there is a beautiful dreadie male of some SouthEast Asian heritage who pounds his fist to his heart twice and yells; “RESPECT on the dreads!” I beamed like sunshine the rest of the day.  I never got a chance to thank him.
I suppose that’s where a great deal of the growth and spirituality inherent in this process comes from. There is little understanding out there in the first world about dreads.  People thought I’d be dirty, that I wouldn’t care anymore about my appearance and that I would be the apology they’d have to make at the next dinner party. Some of the members of my family thought I had done lost my mind.  My BFF who own a salon in CT (who I count on for support on all of my “looking good” stuff) also thought it was a terrible idea. She simply didn’t like dreads. So those things made the decision to take the plunge ALL about ME.  What did I want and what did I think?  I wanted dreads.  I knew why.  I thought they’d look awesome and Gypsy HippieDivathat I could totally pull them off.  Fashion + spirituality.  I’ve never had my HAIR actually MEAN something until now.
I’ve never really been the fitting-in type.  I’m more of a “step-up and stand out” personality, so I want everything about me to be unique and to represent who I am, and who I intend to be.  I find conformity deadly to creativity and believe FULLY in self-expression through every available channel which for me, includes my accessories. It’s a true state of beingness.  So for me…this an extremely worthy process to undergo.
To the countless women (and quite a few men) who have walked up to me and marveled, touched and communicated how much they love my dreads and want them themselves, thank you.  Thank you for being my “feel good”, balcony people.  They get me through the maintenance days and the times I want to cry over not having thought through the water-jet head massage. 🙂 They keep me going…really.
I will do my best to offer advice on dread products, how to dread, dread maintenance, dread frizz and dread resources…as an ongoing series and as I have it – it will be yours.  I commit to do my very best to save you some of the headaches (both literally and figuratively) that come flying solo with this process, by writing about what I have found did and did NOT work for me in upcoming posts (pinky swear). However, I’m saving that for another day and another post. It’s time to water our BRAND NEW GARDEN!! (Thanks to Carrie Delaney – Pintrest cdelaney77) for all of her amazing tips and her leading me to: How to use pallets (instead of tilling!!) Woooo Hoooo! My Whole30 just got $600 a month cheaper :).
Always remember to love yourself unconditionally.
Once you can do that, you can unconditionally love others.
We all have our own shit to deal with, it goes with the territory.
Learn the lesson. Put the hammer down.
Ignore the haters.
Learn to hear and accept solid feedback given in safe space with humility and gratitude.
There’s a big difference between the two.
Know who you are.  If you don’t…go figure it out.
Choose to be comfortable in your own skin.  It’s yours…you may as well wear it with confidence.
If you don’t like something…change it.  You created it and you can eliminate it.
The choice is ALWAYS YOURS.
That’s it for now,
I’m outta here! Peace…xo

Starting Fresh

Hi everyone. It’s good to be back at my keyboard. I’ve missed it alot. Pardon the minimal site features and anything that’s not buil10335551_10203644749739762_1595284601_ot yet. I’m taking that part in pieces…(because my need to write is overpowering my OCD currently) :).

If you’ve ever read my blog before you will notice everything up until this point is missing. I worked for a few days trying to get all of my old stuff into here and then realized – sometimes…it’s about “letting the old stuff go and starting fresh” 🙂 I am clear that my inability to retrieve my “old stuff” was a direct and clear message from Source that I’m supposed to let the past stay in the past and to just start new.  So, I’m going to take some tips from our friend the snake…and shed my old skin.

I’m still the HippieDiva…I’m keeping that one permanently.  It’s tattooed on my ankle in Nepali for goodness sake…and afterall…even when a snake sheds it’s skin, it’s still undoubtedly called a snake.

I’ve been reading a lot about animal totems this week -because I’m getting my family tree tattooed on my arm and my family is going to be represented through animals :). What I learned is, snakes represent pretty powerful juju. When they show up in your life (or mine) it’s for a distinct purpose and we have a great deal to learn from them. Here’s a quick excerpt from just one of the sites that delve into such matters:

“The snake animal meaning is powerfully connected to life force and primal energy. In many cultures, it is revered as a powerful totem representing the source of life. When the snake spirit animal appears in your life, it likely means that healing opportunities, change, important transitions, and increased energy are manifesting.

What is the meaning of the snake spirit animal?

When the snake shows up as your spirit animal, it generally means:

  • Snake spirit animals represent healing
  • Transformation, life changes
  • The spirit of the snake is connected to life force, primal energy
  • A meaning for the snake spirit animal is spiritual guidance

The snake as a spirit animal can be to provide guidance about life changes and transitions, whether they are happening at the physical, emotional or spiritual level.” (read more)

I’ve read about a BUNCH of them – and will share the tat and the totems and their meetings just around the bend here.

This blog is going to cover a great deal, because I’ve got a great deal going on and my mind is chock full of stuff it wants to put down (that will hopefully benefit others).  So, I’ll see you all again really soon.  I’m committed to writing 30 posts in 30 days to get into the habit.  It’s a lofty goal but I’m on the Whole30, so I figured it was in alignment. (More on that later too)

We are off to opening day at the Farmers Market today and it’s a beautiful day…so I have to run.  I’ll bring pics and a story back with me. Have a wonderful day filled to the brim with love.  xod

"D" for the Hippie "D"iva, Dawn, my nickname "D" and my newest role and title "Didi"

The HippieDiva Returns

Last week, I recommitting to writing.  I have been stuck on it in my head for months – but just didn’t know what to write about – until Alex told me about the practice of “free-writing” which is simply – just write.  Write about anything you want.  Just let it flow.  So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m praying I don’t bore the living shit out of my readers – but at the same time…this is way more for me than anyone else.

I have found over the past few years that I’m more stifled then ever.  Lot’s of “can’ts” have entered my realm (and I don’t believe in “can’t” so it’s been a helluva process.)  They aren’t really “can’ts” as much as they are topics and opinions riddled with consequences that aren’t worth the “sense” of freedom the discussions would offer (although there have been many days I would have argued that point.) 🙂 I’ve learned to bite my tongue in my fifth decade on earth. Miracles will never cease.

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As a woman of 47 (gulp) I have the honor of looking back AND forward on my life now. I do so with a great deal of intrigue and with what i like to think of as some semblance of wisdom.  The problems with gaining wisdom (for me at least) is the shit I had to go through to gain it.  It’s not like it’s available in a book.  That’s purely knowledge.  Wisdom is different.  Wisdom (for me) has alway come through grief, loss, strife, pain, death & what the Tibetan’s call bardo (1).  I’m learning a lot about bardo by living in this often torturous space of “in between” I’m currently residing in.  It can be a real bitch.  Whether one believes in reincarnation or not – I see life, death and rebirth cycles inside this journey playing themselves out over and over.  I don’t necessarily LIKE that very much – but that’s irrelevant.  It simply “IS” so attaching an opinion other than acceptance to it is a waste of energy right?  So why do I do it?  lol who knows?  I find myself wasting a great deal of my energy and qi (life force) on incessant questioning and total resistance over what “is” these past few years.


d_noclueI find the resistance mantras and confounding, unanswerable questions like to rear their ugly heads and hijack my day. Every time I see tragedy or come up against an injustice I’m going: “It’s not RIGHT!”, “HOW can this be?”, “WHY??!!!”, “How did I create this?” running laps in my monkey-mind like a junkie trying to solve a damn rubix cube!  What if…I didn’t “create” this thing this time? What IF there actually is a bigger game board and sometimes I’m not the one in control?  What if there are major reasons (like really big GOOD ones) that I’m (we’re) walking through darkness and I just can’t see the end game? What if I have lived my life with integrity and purpose and listened well to my inner self and to the divine guidance I’ve received and have been operating in dharma and light and love and I can put the hammer down? What if this shit heap I’m sitting in (and working to actively dig out of) is simply a critical place with mission critical lessons I MUST walk through for my highest and
best wisdom?  (Ugh…there it is again – the big “W” – wisdom is only gained through trials and tribulations…blah blah blah.  Can you tell that really pisses me off?)

The thing is…I DO know in the place of my knowing (based on my journey) is that there isn’t one singular belief system that sums it all up for me.  That’s the illusion I 2012-10-11 01.41.49keep building my foundation on time and time again…and I’m 90% sure that’s why the earth shatters every decade or so. I keep trying to pigeon-hole my core belief systems into being “right” and comprehensible with my current mind/knowledge/understanding and then I look around and the “I’m right and You’re wrong” of organized religion doesn’t flesh out. I bump into the same truth/message/mindfuck again and again. Expand your consciousness further. If God knows “everything” and I’m created in His image (for the sake of comfortable terminology – feel free to fill in the blanks that suit you there). Every time I open up…I smack my face into the same wall of “ah HA!” (There is NO SPOON Neo!:)) – and then I am not sure but I think I must chicken out (or my old taught comfort zone programs kick in) or something…because I go looking for THE (singular) answer (that someone else already figured out and lots of people believe in) again.

What if it’s not JUST “To think is to create” and it’s not JUST pre-destination and it’s not JUST the holy trinity or Godhead or Goddess and what if it’s not JUST karma and dharma?  What if it’s all of it and more?

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A gold spray painted cow patty that hangs on my wall. It reminds me of when I am in my shit. That no matter how I may try to cover up my shit…it’s still shit at the end of the day. And last, that EVERYONE gets into and has their own shit to deal with. 🙂

Being a mother and grandmother and walking through some of the stuff I’ve been walking through the past few years – I am questioning literally EVERYTHING. Here’s my spin on the “Believe THIS WAY or you will GO TO HELL power and damnation thing; knowing and coming from the pure and unconditional love (and total instant forgiveness) I have for my family (my 3 children, and my grand child especially) I just can’t fathom that the Creator, (composed of pure spirit, love and light) Source of all of humanity has set us all (or at least a large chunk of us) up to fail and fall in our most intimate relationship and space.  If we are created beings that were created with minds that are built to differ, question and manifest (with countless other functions we have yet to scratch the surface of), and then we were parked (scattered) in totally different places, with different faces,

cultures and spiritual leaders…all over the world, how could a loving entity with exponentially more love, unconditionality, diversity and power than I possess ever love or accept their “children”/creations less than I do? It simply makes no sense to me. That would be like my putting my 3 children into 3 different schools, 3 totally different churches in 3 different countries/climates/cultures and speaking 3 different languages to them individually – and then telling each of them they were the only one who was correct. Who would do that? So, I don’t choose to believe that story.   Liam_d_hand


What I believe in (so far) is:  Beginninglessness.  Endlessness. Agape Love. Compassion. Forgiveness. Kindness. Giving. Receiving. I believe
in gentle acceptance of our own and other’s humanity (which is often a supreme effort for me).  The journey to enlightenment and the realization of our unlimited potential (whatever that may be for each and every one of us). Seeking the face of God in ordinary, every day things as well as during meditation and prayer (and that the smell of a puppies breath, a river, an ocean and the wind carry as much spiritual healing power as any doctor or church.) I believe in practicing dharma every single day.  I believe in karma (both good and bad.)  I believe we need both sun…and rain, to grow.


2012-11-09 19.42.16I have lived what seems like many lives already inside this earthly body’s journey, and I believe they will continue long after it’s gone to dust. Most of the lives I’ve lived, I’ve cherished. All of them taught me a great deal and are why I am who I am today.  I have been divorced and both times those ten year marriages were utterly destroyed by the time they finally ended. I take my share of the responsibility for that.  Those failures taught me a great deal. They taught me compromise and unconditionality. They taught me to cherish every moment and to be very careful to honor my tribe, my partner and my life as I know it.


I’m the best of friends with Jeff (the father of my 3 kids) today, he and my husband/life/business partner Alex (left) are also the best of friends. We have a truly beautiful and amazing combined family. It took a long time, a lot of work and the elimination of all other toxic relationships to our combined top priority (maintaining the closeness of our family) for us to transition into what we  are now…but damn…it was worth it on every level.


I can’t write about my beliefs without diving into “To think is to create” and a bit of my current conundrum.  My “I am” has quite honestly sucked for a couple of years. I have allowed external influences, situations and other people’s beliefs ABOUT me, in and as one of the closest people to me so eloquently pointed out to me recently, I’ve been consciously and unconsciously projecting myself into happenings and situations that haven’t even happened. (Yep…I heard you Mike 🙂 thanks for always having my back and knowing just what to say for me to hear the audible “clunk” so quickly.)


Aka., My mind is giving me a world of shit and I see it. I’m gonna chop that toxic thinking down like a tree.


29912_1489653321771_2808912_nOne of my lifelong, best friends told me that I had turned into a negative person a couple of months ago. That’s what best friends are for right? 🙂 It pissed me off beyond belief, and…well..I was totally in my shit about it. I let it eat and me and justified all of my totally good reasons I had for talking from such a negative place. I was back home to help a friend bury her daughter at the time, so it was a very hard couple of weeks…I was physically and mentally exhausted and I’m facing some heavy duty stuff with terrifying possible worst-case scenarios.  I’m the matriarch in my family – aka “the glue” – aka “Didi” – aka “mentor” and business mind and and and… so my mommy, wife, money, emotional, spiritual, physical concerns and burdens are running high…and my fears admittedly consume me at times.  She was correct in her assessment because I absolutely was letting my thoughts dive into to the darkness and worst case scenarios. In truth, I have been sitting on a fence.  The two sides of this particular fence are:
 Side 1 = Faith/To THINK is to CREATE vs. Side 2 = Prepare for the worst/Hope for the best.
I always say: “When you sit on the fence…all you get is splinters up your ass.” Thanks Bean…Love you. 🙂

I have been totally and completely double-minded over my own outcome
for way too long now and I’m done with it.  470-LI see my miracle every single day. I live it. I’ve lived freer than most human beings on this planet and I cherish that freedom every single day of my life.  I don’t take it for granted. I see myself walking holding hands with Liam (my first grand baby) as a toddler in the sunshine with his brown full head of hair…picking flowers for his mom next year (and for many years to come) and fishing with him in my favorite river on earth the second he can hold a pole.  I see myself at my daughter Suzi’s and Emily’s weddings and at the birth of their babies.  I see myself backpacking and camping with Alex again. I see myself with Emily at her grand opening of her first business and at Suzi’s grand opening of her first professional theater production.  I see tons of kids and love and my family surrounding me long into the future…every vision I have.

I have chosen to “see” both sides of this fence for what they are (glimpses) because when I was only seeing one outcome as “good” and everything else as “bad”, I was absolutely terrified every single day and fear focused all of my power to manifest on the very thing I don’t want. So now, I have chosen to focus my energy and intention on everything good, that is and that the rest of my life is going to being amazing. I am choosing to eat healthy (stay tuned for my upcoming post on The Whole 30) and to get strong again physically, so I can live out the rest of my life with a strong healthy body, liberty, power and goodness, surrounded by my beautiful family, with my husband by my side til death do us part.  And so it is.

I’m walking the path focused on light, love and family, and working diligently to take control of my my mind every minute.

“The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune’s spite; revive from ashes and rise.” Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Join me. 🙂 xo

"D" for the Hippie "D"iva, Dawn, my nickname "D" and my newest role and title "Didi"


(1) (bardo |ˈbärˌdō| noun

(in Tibetan Buddhism) a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person’s conduct in life and manner of, or age at, death.• an indeterminate, transitional state:wandering adrift in a bardo of intense negativity, blame, disappointment, criticism, and denial.ORIGIN Tibetan bár-do, from bar ‘interval’ + do ‘two.’)