Jordyn’s Yia Yia Has AL LOW PEE (giggle giggle) SHAH

When I walked my granddaughter through the halls to her kindergarten class with a smile on my face and my bald head, there were a lot of comments and questions. I could see my granddaughter, who has decided she likes me better without hair than with hair, was getting uncomfortable.

I answered questions and soon had a flock of children clambering for attention until the bell rang and they had to run to their classrooms. This, I thought, will be a great opportunity to teach. I went to the office and said I wanted an all school assembly on the topic of hair loss and bullying. Whoda thunk it…they said yes and a week later I spoke to the entire elementary school. I asked my granddaughter to stand up and tell her school the name of why her Yia Yia has no hair. She did. I had the whole school repeat the word.

“What?” I said cupping my ears.
“AL LOW PEE (giggle giggle) SHUH,” they shouted.
“Oh, come on, I said, you can do better than that!”

They shouted it again and I started asking questions. Had anybody in their family lost some or all of their hair? Did they know why?

There were many responses, among them cancer therapies.

I talked about alopecia and what it did to get rid of hair and keep it from growing back in kid friendly terms. We talked and laughed and I told a story and hands went up all over the room. Their interest was intense and the level of involvement enormous. I was surprised and happy and knew this was something I could really have fun with.

At the end I asked them, “Who am I?”
“Jordyn’s Yia Yia!”

Where’s Jordyn? I had her stand up again. Everybody was telling her how cool her grandmother was – a delightful perk for me!

After that, Jordyn was the most famous kindergartener in the school and whenever I walked her to her classroom kids called out in the hallway.

“Hello Jordyn’s Gramma! I remember you. You have AL LOW PEE SHAH!”

And I waved back and said, “I remember you too. You were in the assembly!”

It was lovely. The entire school had a new perspective. Kids with hair loss were treated with knowledgeable interest and respect.

What surprised me even more and completely melted my heart was what happened the first time I walked Jordyn into her first grade class the following September.

“Hello Jordyn’s Gramma! I remember you. You have AL LOW PEE SHAH!”

And I waved back and said, “I remember you too. You were in the assembly!”

*sigh* I do so love being bald.

6 Ways to Share Your Experiences with a Wider Audience

Today it is my great pleasure to introduce Donna K. Fitch, Technology Guru to the Technologically challenged – that would be me among many thousands of others who looking for a way to express and share their experiences and thoughts on the internet. Many of the chapters in Boldly Bald Women were based on past blog posts. If you are looking for help setting up a professional looking WordPress blog, Donna is your go to person.
Donna transferred my website from a previous provider to WordPress. My husband was very grateful to her. Why? Because before Donna, my technological sanity was teetering on the edge. My little Greek was certain the rest of me would follow into Lala Land and he’d never see the real me again.

Donna K.Donna K. Fitch Fitch, Master of Library Science, Master’s Certificate in Web Design and Development, is the founder and CEO of Maximum Author Impact, creating beautiful WordPress websites, training webinars and other resources for indie authors. She is the independent author of Second Death, The Source of Lightning, and The Color of Darkness and Other Stories, and a long-time member of the Horror Writers Association. In her day job, she is the digital communication specialist in the office of marketing and communication at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

 Your hair loss may come from disease, chemotherapy, stress, or any number of other reasons, but as I’ve learned from Pam, sharing your story and expressing your feelings is a better approach for your mental health than hiding in a dark room. Today’s online technology makes it easier than ever before to share your experiences with a wider audience. The idea may sound overwhelming, but it’s really not as bad as you think. Here are some suggestions online venues for talking about your hair loss, and how to get started with them.

1. Facebook

So many people use Facebook on a daily basis that this is the least scary option for sharing your hair loss experiences. Either use your personal page, or create a business or interest page as a way of consolidating your writing and making it easier for people to find. Another Facebook option is creating a group. A group creates a space where you can discuss your experiences with other members. We hear so much about how technology creates isolation, but the Facebook group can become a close-knit community of support and reassurance.

2. Twitter

How do you share your experiences in messages of only 140 characters? Granted, constructing messages for Twitter is more challenging than Facebook, but it can be done. Be creative; write out your message before you post it, and condense it to the absolute heart of what you want to say. Leave a few characters so anyone retweeting (RT) your post has room to include their request to RT. As you pick up followers, be sure to respond to them and welcome them. You can create a community, even with such short messages.

3. Pinterest

Pinterest is all about images. People love images, so take advantage of this by posting pictures of visual interest—textured scarves, unusual wigs, whole-head tattoos, funky earrings. Beautiful landscapes with inspiring quotations allow people to participate by sharing. Use your imagination to help others understand how hair loss makes you feel. Hate itchy wigs? Visualize how to convey that to others. Thinking of dyeing what’s left of your hair? Photograph your head and doctor the photo using a photo-editing service to experiment with boldly fun colors!

4. Blog

Keeping up a blog does require a commitment to yourself and your readers, but it isn’t all that difficult. WordPress.com is just one of the place you can create a blog for free. A step-by-step wizard walks you through what to do, and help is just a click away. Not only do blogs allow you to share with others, but readers can comment on your post to create an ongoing dialogue. If you want to reach a wide variety of people, a blog is the best way to do it.

5. Guest blog post

If you don’t feel up to creating your own blog, guest blogging is the next best thing. Find a blog that contains content you like and that is appropriate to your message, and ask the blog owner if she accepts guest posts. The only responsibility you have is to write up your post in MS Word and send it to the owner. She will take care of posting it for you. Once the post is up, be sure to visit the page and comment if anyone has questions. Guest blogging is a great way to develop relationships with others who share your experiences.

6. Podcast

Podcasting takes a little bit more effort in setup, but is a wonderful way to share your stories with others. Blog Talk Radio is just one of the sites where you can easily set up a podcast. Name your podcast series, make sure you have a microphone, and talk to your audience. Yes, it’s that easy!

These places are just a few ways you can communicate with others. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to share, whether it’s social media, blogging or podcasting. Share your favorite tools in the comments below!

 

Having a place to express your thoughts and feelings is great. Take advantage of Donna’s special offer: Just Getting Started Special.

Dear Mark

Today I responded to a comment in a public forum from a man who has has alopecia universalis – no body hair at all – since he was thirteen.

He is in my Baby Boomer generation, and there was little help available to cope with alopecia when he was a child. This wonderful man shared his hurt and his pain over the bullying he experienced both as a child and an adult. It took courage to share. My heart was full of empathy and compassion for him, and I could not leave without responding. Here’s what I wrote:

You are so right about growing up and the rest of the world staying immature and ignorant in areas in which they have no experience. I too have experienced the negativity, but I didn’t have to deal with it as an adolescent like you did.

There was no understanding of alopecia then and zero help for kids to cope. And that sucks. Today things are changing – way too slowly to be sure, but changing. And a lot of that has to do with bald men and women stepping out of the shadows, openly accepting their hair loss, reclaiming their joy and sharing it with others.

I’m 64, bald as an egg and loving every minute of it. It was wigs I hated. And the feeling I was no longer worthy to be seen by society. It was worrying more about taking care of other people’s feelings than my own feelings, comfort and personal freedom that left bitterness in my heart.Continue Reading

Yes, I Have No Hair Today…Maybe

Over the past few days I have received a couple of replies from a query I posted in AlopeciaWorld.com. The query was about the most difficult things women newly diagnosed with hair loss have to work through.

These women focused on the anxiety of not knowing how much hair would be lost and whether or not their hair would regrow and stay put.

I addressed their concerns with the following registered copyright excerpt from Boldly Bald Women:

Chapter 10

Yes, I Have No Hair Today…Maybe

You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.                                           – Eleanor Roosevelt

“This morning I made a cup of coffee, padded to the bathroom to shower, and sang happily as the water bounced off my bald head. When I’d finished showering, while brushing my teeth, I noticed a few blemishes on my face.

Looking closer, the front lighting of the mirror and the back lighting of the sun through the outside window merger, catching patches of colorless strands on my face where the breakouts were. HAIR! Not the fine, short downy hair that used to cover my face, but straggly goat beard hairs – the ones that had you grabbing for the tweezers back when hair was not a novelty. But these hairs looked confused. They were the non-color of clear fishing line and had no sense of uniformity at all!

The more I looked the more astounded I became. Nope, no nose hair, but there were ridges growing along the outside edges of my ears like transparent pine trees storming the heights of a barren mountainside. No eyebrows, but a patch of hair wannabes at the nape of my neck.

This has happened before. In the past all the new hair quickly fell out again leaving me once more smooth as a baby’s but and blemish free. What will happen this time?Continue Reading

Happy Bald And Free Day Everybody!

In case  you didn’t know, today is National Bald and Free Day

baldo 1

A day for baldies of both genders and all walks of life to take off the wigs and hats, head covers of all kinds and stride boldly into the world of bald.

Whatever the season, for whatever reason,

bald is gaining in notoriety and popularity.

 

Huffington Post wrote an article about National Bald and Free Day in which they highlighted the pictures of thirteen famous bald folks. Only three of them were women. But, ahhhhh my dears, that’s three more than there would have been ten years ago. Still women face a disproportionate amount of obstacles to live life Boldly Bald.

Are you new to hair loss? What are the top three challenges you face as a woman coping with hair loss? What would help you the most to become comfortable in your own skin?

Bald Pain Image

Sign in to the form on the top right to download a free copy of:

Getting Past the Pain – Three Things You Need to Know.

Be True to Your Personal Brand…And, Ladies, That Includes Bald!

Guest Post by Rahna Barthelmess

Rahna Barthelmess

Rahna Barthelmess

Rahna is an expert on personal branding. What is personal branding? It is putting into practice the concept that by marketing ourselves in a way that leads to a uniquely distinguishable, and memorable impression, we increase our prospects for success in our lives and careers. Personal branding is an ongoing process. The goal of personal branding is to establish a particular image and impression in the mind of others about an individual, group or organization. In this case, Rahna’s advice is geared to women struggling with hair loss.

Who says we have to hide in the shadows under hot itchy wigs? Why can’t bald women as a group develop a brand as smart, savvy, sexy and successful in all our shining glory?

I am so pleased to have Rahna share her knowledge and insight about personal branding today. And I hope you enjoy reading her blog and learning her tips as much as I have.

 

Like it or not, your personal brand is partly conveyed by what you look like… But what if you don’t like what you look like?

Then it’s time to rethink how you view yourself.

Continue Reading

We’re Here, We’re Bald and We’re Beautiful

When I first lost all my hair to alopecia universalis, I tried a wig…but not for long. The heat, the itching, the constant worry about who was wearing what that might snag it when I gave or received a hug—it was just all too taxing of energy I could have been spending accepting my baldness and getting on with the joy of living.

Look at us now!

Look at us now!

There weren’t many examples of how to live as a bald women in a hair obsessed society. In fact, everywhere I looked it turned out I was the only openly bald woman in the city. The day I saw another openly bald woman in the passenger seat of the car next to me was a day of celebration. It was so uplifting to know I was not terminally unique.

Now, there is a growing movement of women who are throwing off their wigs and reclaiming their joy. Women are talking about their problems and their pain and are looking for solutions. Some are looking for ways to improve wigs. More and more, however, are tossing the camouflage and frolicking in the freedom of being comfortable in their own skins.

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Mary Marshall

 

The first Bald Mannequin Project is the perfect example of the growing confidence of bald women. Mary Marshall, founder of International Alopecia Day (IAD) saw an opportunity to put real bald women next to bald mannequins. Here is the beautiful resulting video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACmSfUNdFNQ

The Dash

 

 

Recently I received the book form of the poem titled: The Dash, by Linda Ellis. The poem speaks of the importance not of the date of a person’s birth, nor of the date of death, but the importance of the little dash in between those dates. That dash represents a person’s time on earth. The poem invites us to look at how we spend our dash, our time on earth.

My sister’s first son lived only two hours. She never got to see or hold her baby. He would have been fifty-two years old now, and she has never missed  putting flowers on his grave each Memorial Day. At the other end of the spectrum, our grandmother lived to be ninety-six.

I’ve lived more than two-thirds of my dash. Or, maybe it will end before the day is out. None of us really know, do we? I’ve had a good run in my life so far, but I’m not done. I have be given another opportunity to hide behind shame and fear and live my remaining days doing nothing, or, to rise above adversity and use my time to facilitate change in society’s perception of bald women.  I’ve chosen to put the rest of my dash into rising above and facilitating change.

So, these days I spend long hours in front of my computer learning how to create a platform from which I can reach women to educate, facilitate acceptance and encourage. I want to create a strong network of women helping women cope with hair loss.

Aesop wrote a story about a crow, half-dead with thirst, that came upon a pitcher that had just a little water at the very bottom. He could not reach far enough down to get a drink. He tried, and tried, but finally gave up in despair. Then a thought came to him.  He picked up a pebble in his beak and dropped it into the pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the pitcher. And another, and another. Pebble by pebble at last he saw the water rise high enough to quench his thirst and save his life.

Each woman who chooses to face the world boldly bald, without apology, without embarrassment or  shame, and then reaches out to help another woman, is a pebble in the pitcher of change. When there are enough of us, perceptions of bald women will change. Instead of a source of bullying in school and evoking negativity in society, a bald head will simply become unremarkable. People will no longer ask if we are undergoing chemo, or attempting to make a rebellious statement.

When my eulogy is read, I want to be remembered as a woman who always did what she could, where she was, with what she had to make a positive difference in her lifetime.

What about you? What will you do to make the most of your dash? How do you want to be remembered? Please add your comments below.

D’vorah Lansky’s 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge – A Literary Antipasto

0_0_0_0_112_112_csupload_64686596When I finished writing Boldly Bald Women, my publisher, Valerie Connelly of Nightengale Press, told me the easy part was over. Easy? Really? All the research and interviews and writing and rewriting and rewriting and rethinking and rewriting until it was as good as I could make it was the easy part? That couldn’t possibly be true. Ahhhhh, dear reader, but it is. Getting a good book into the hands of the people it was intended to serve falls squarely on the shoulders of the author. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know that when I started or the overwhelm factor would have scared me off.Continue Reading

From Baby Steps to Flying Time to Warp Speed

In my last post (October of 2013 -sheesh it’s May of 2014 already – how did that happen?) I remarked on how fast time is going by. Well…now it just shifted into warp speed!

0_0_0_0_189_126_library_4607Boldly Bald Women. It’s written. It’s published. It’s an Amazon Best Seller. It has five star reviews. But none of that is worth anything if I can’t figure out a way to connect with more of the people who would benefit from reading it. Who are they? Women struggling with the emotional and social impacts of hair loss. Women with alopecia areata. Women with cancer undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Women and little girls with tricotillomania. Hormonal imbalances from malfunctioning thyroid glands and pregnancy. The families, friends, church members,teachers, classmates, employers, co-workers, doctors, therapists, anyone who knows a woman in any stage of hair loss for any reason or knows someone who knows of one.Continue Reading