It Wasn’t Just the Hair

So much going on around here, and I hope to catch you all up soon. But last week, we took a quick road trip from our new home in Colorado back to our hometown of Indianapolis for Thanksgiving. It was a quick in-and-out trip so we could see everyone we hadn’t seen in years, and I got to meet my new baby niece!

But the day before we left, I went in to get my roots touched up. And the last time I’d been there, my colorist had mentioned doing something kind of new with my hair to soften my look. I had been a little nervous, but ultimately, the idea of adding some spunk really started to excite me. I’ve had my hair dark for so long, because I haven’t felt cool enough to add in anything else. And prior to now, I was too lazy to maintain any kind of hairstyle that required more than yearly visits. But with my grays becoming a monthly issue, it felt like the right time to experiment.

So you can imagine my excitement and anticipation as I sat down in the chair. Bye bye dark hair!


She told me we’d be doing a “sombre” (soft ombre) and we used her own hair as an example. Her roots seemed to be as dark as my locks so it was nice to have a reference. Her ends were a beautiful light caramel color. I was so ready for a change. I may be a thirty-something homeschooling mom who proudly drives a minivan, but I can be funky! I can! Right?

She hand-painted my strands, and had me sit there roughly thirty minutes while the color (bleach?) set. (Is that glowing nose fantastic or what?)


As I sat there, I started to think maybe she hadn’t done enough of my hair. But what the hell do I know? She’s the expert. But as soon as she started to wash my hair, I knew something wasn’t right. She mentioned that it was a pretty subtle look. Subtle? Okay, I can handle a bit more subtle than hers. But it was still really noticeable, right? “Yes, definitely!”

Um, no. It was barely noticeable. So as I was blow drying my hair, and she went to help her next client, I started to tear up. It didn’t look horrible, but it was not what I was expecting. It looked absolutely nothing like hers. It mostly resembled super-subtle highlights that had started to grow out months ago.

She came over to check on me, and I was honest with her. She seemed to understand why I was unhappy, but she couldn’t do much to help because she was booked for the rest of the evening and I was leaving in the morning. So I finished drying my hair, paid my bill, and headed home.

And I cried. A lot.

I went into Target, and I cried some more. I arrived home and looked in the mirror again hoping to see something different. Nope, and that led to more tears. Look at that pitiful face!


I knew I was being ridiculous about it. It was just hair! But I could not stop crying. I had been so very excited about how it would look, and I felt completely let down. And after a call to the salon, the colorist left me feeling dismissed as if I should have known it would look like this all along. No. She didn’t tell me it would take multiple appointments to arrive at my desired look. In fact, she never once alluded to the fact that it wouldn’t be ready to go immediately. So on top of being bummed, I felt invalidated.

I really tried to figure out why I was so upset. Again, it was JUST. HAIR. I’ve had tons of horrific hair cuts in my life, and this didn’t come close to comparing. But I finally realized what was going on and it was two-fold: First, it took a lot of self-convincing to try something new. I’ve spent most of my life trying to blend in. But I’m finally ready to stand out. My dark hair helped me do that somewhat because it was SO dark and added a lot of contrast to my face, but I really felt like it was time to go a little more bold. I don’t need to blend into the pack. I’m unique and even though I don’t necessarily appear cool or funky on the outside, I feel like both on the inside! I’m ready to show it! So I had all that anticipation built up about my new look, and then it fell flat. Boom. Back to boring.

And secondly, I was feeling really self-conscious ahead of our visit home, and I thought the hair would help alleviate some of that. I hadn’t lost the weight I’d hoped to prior to the trip, and I guess I was relying on the new & exciting hair to distract everyone from my body. (Not that anyone gives a shit about my body, but you know how self-esteem works…)

I relayed all of this info to my mom, and after consoling me, she gave me a hearty dose of “shut the hell up, you’re amazing!” I tried to argue my way out of it, but I did stop and reflect on all the changes I’d made since I was in Indiana last. My weight may be up a little bit, but I am a completely different (and happier) person. I’ve accomplished so much and discovered more than I ever imagined about myself.  Who cares if my hair isn’t as funky as I hoped? I was still pretty rad on the inside! And although the changes may not have physically manifested themselves on the outside of my body, I know they shine through in my personality.

And with that, I got over myself and went about our last-minute preparations for the trip. But my mom was intent on fixing the situation. So she sent out an SOS to her hairstylist in Indy (who agreed that I got totally robbed!), and made an appointment for us both on the last day of our trip. I was hesitant to try again, especially when I could go back to my colorist here and have her fix it for free. (But how would she fix it? She didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with it!) Eventually, I gave in and started to look forward to seeing my mom’s so-called “magician” stylist.

The visit in Indy flew by, and none of my self-esteem issues were a problem at all. No one cared about my weight gain, and certainly no one made fun of my pseudo-grown-out-highlights. It was all fine and it was great seeing everyone. I had been stressing over nothing, and honestly, I felt pretty fantastic the whole time! (It’s amazing how a little makeup and cute clothes can make a girl feel.)

But, still, I was excited about my hair appointment and I’m happy to say, my mom’s guy did NOT disappoint. I look fabulous if I do say so myself, and I finally appear just as funky on the outside as I feel on the inside. By the way, apparently this technique of hand-painting on a soft ombre is called “balayage”.


I know it’s just hair, but sometimes it’s NOT just hair. I feel like a completely different person with this hairstyle, and I’m thankful I figured out why it was so important to me. So if you’re considering branching out and trying something new, DO IT! You’ll feel like you’re ready to take on the world!

P.S. If you live in Indianapolis, please check out Bo Cardoza in Greenwood. Not only is he crazy talented, but he was great to work with. He fit my mom and I into his busy schedule, and I watched him work his magic on three women while I was there. All of them left looking and feeling gorgeous.

P.P.S. If you’re digging my loose curls, head over to my friend Kelly’s site No Thanks to Cake. She posted a video tutorial that finally made me dig out my curling wand after three years of non-use. I had no idea the process could be so easy!


  1. says

    I totally get it and I am so very happy this story had such a happy ending. You look fantastic and your smile when you first saw it revealed just how much more this was than hair. I absolutely love it!

  2. says

    First of all, your hair looks AMAZING. I followed Kelly’s tutorial but I STILL suck at doing my hair! AND? There is no way in hell I would have paid the first person for doing nothing to my hair! I’m sorry you had such a horrible experience but WOW it looks so good now!

    • Nicole says

      Thanks! I seem to be getting better every time I work with my hair. The first time was a hot disaster. And I shouldn’t have paid her, but I did. And I tipped her 15%! Gah. LOL

  3. says

    Very beautiful! I recently had my hair done in balayage – I needed a “drastic” change and my stylist was so excited to get to work on me. I have had the same hair, just varying lengths, pretty much my entire life. I love the look of balayage!

  4. Roz says

    I have to admit I didn’t ‘get it’ when your mom showed me the pics. It just looked like old highlights. After seeing it done by Bo and how you reacted on the outside I ‘get it’ now. Your new hair is as AMAZING as you are and it shows!!!!

  5. says

    Wow I love your hair! This is exactly how I been feeling lately. I am wanting a change to my hair and I also had watched No Thanks To Cake hair video and makes me want to go out and buy the wand to curl my hair. I think I will get me some caramel highlights or something similar to yours Love it!!!

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