Zen and the Art of French Braiding

Kathy Krugerbalance, go with the flow, motherhood19 Comments

I’ve always wanted to use an eclectic, if slightly pompous sounding title for a blog post and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a classic best-selling book.

I’ve officially become a Dance Mum, or a hairdresser, or probably just a shadow of both, but as we head into dance eisteddfod season this year I seem to have grown immeasurably in the eyes of my daughter (possibly starting from a low point of classic almost-teenager disdain, but still I’ll take the improvement).

She really didn’t believe I could do it. I didn’t really believe I could do it. But there you go – French braids both sides and not too many wayward strands, even with the layering in my daughter’s hair.

Miss Yin has thick, Asian hair which is surprisingly a bit curly since hormones have started to kick in, and my hands were cramping a little at the end, but that’s OK because I was a little proud – and she was shocked, slightly amazed and even a little delighted.

Miss Yin curly

Miss Yin’s curly hair after a swim – unusual for Asian hair

Past dance hair styles have mostly been buns (she is the master of her own perfect bun) and high ponytails, so the French braids upped the ante in styling, just as Miss Yin upped the ante in dancing with her studio’s showcase group – she’s still 12 and most of the competitors are 16 or 17, some even older than 18.

The showcase group didn’t place, but her age performance group got third, which was nice recognition for a long weekend of dancing (she didn’t get on stage until 10.45pm Saturday night with her open showcase group)!

Enough already with the proud Dance Mum!

“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.” 
― Robert M. PirsigZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

So it starts with the braiding, three small strands pulled from the top of the head – the essential ingredients that you intertwine to make a braid, or a life.

Perhaps the essential ingredients for you are family, friends, work/self-care/spirituality?

And then you add in new strands, bit by bit, thickening the beginning strands, hopefully so they balance and your braid doesn’t become lopsided. Too much hair into one section of the braid (too much focus into one area of your life) and things will start to look (and feel) imbalanced. Braid with care and it may even look like a work of art (or at least as wikipedia says: The final result incorporates all of the hair into a smoothly woven pattern over the scalp)!

If you try to pull in strands from the wrong place the braid (and life) starts to look messy – the strands you add to the essential three need to incorporate into the braided hair rather than stick out in different directions.

So you’re getting the picture – you braid life into a pattern and allow different things to be weaved into the essential strands, without complicating life too much.

Braiding is simpler than you think (even with those annoying fly-aways). Believe me, I’m no hairdresser.

Weaving the different strands of life together is harder than you think.

Is it hard?’
Not if you have the right attitudes. Its having the right attitudes thats hard.” 
― Robert M. PirsigZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

The right attitude –seeking balance, always coming back to the core strands of life and softness in the form of self-compassion and kindness for when things start to unravel. The unraveling and the pulling back together again is what makes life interesting after all.

“It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.” 
― Robert M. PirsigZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Thank you Robert M Pirsig, and thank you life for the lessons of French braiding. Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT? and Grace for FYBF.  Can you French braid? What are your essential strands?

Namaste sign off_edited-1Kathy X 

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Kathy KrugerZen and the Art of French Braiding

19 Comments on “Zen and the Art of French Braiding”

  1. hugzillablog

    Oh the hair thing is one reason I am grateful for boys! Their hair doesn’t even need to get brushed on a regular basis. LOL. Your daughters hair looks beautiful though.

  2. mummywifeme

    As Deb has said above, great analogy. My little one wants a french braid, but I’m fairly unco. Her hair is very fine and fly away. I need to practice 🙂

    1. Kit@Life through the haze

      My girls have been needing braids for a long time we have to braid the front of their hair you know that really fine wispy hair to keep it all looking neat. Braids can be the bane of my life sometimes. Wait until they discover other types like waterfall or fishtails and they decide they would like that!

      1. Kathy Kruger

        You’re very good to do the braids regularly – I definitely don’t find the time in the morning rush hour before school – special occasions only I reckon.

  3. Deborah

    Love this analogy Kathy. And great braid! As an aside, my niece had one of those big Barbie doll heads for hairdressing purposes and had my brother practice buns (for ballet) on that!

    But you’re right… it’s all about balance!

  4. Rhonda Chapman

    Where I was born and raised, if you don’t French braid, then you perish! lol

    I learned how to braid when I was in kindy. We used the threads that you use for cross-stitching. It was fun.

  5. Grace

    Oh, Kathy! I love this metaphor! You know, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has been my must read book for years. This post has inspired me to get off my bum and download it.
    PS I can french braid and dutch braid. There are some great video tutorials out there! x

  6. Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)

    A stunning masterpiece of hairdressing, Kathy. Oh I remember sitting at Eisteddfods waiting for kids to perform til late at night but 10:45 is outrageous. It’s way too late for young ones to be expected to perform. Sadly I was never a ballet Mum because my daughter refused to go after the first year. We were in all the speech and drama sections though as were all my students. I can do one simple French braid on my own hair but I can’t really see what the end result looks like which is probably just as well. Congratulations on the group’s excellent result.

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