As delegates arrived for my presentation in Vernon, Canada, it became increasingly clear that the weekend would be animated – filed with diverse thoughts and unique ways of thinking. How did I know? It was the fascinating array of hair styles of varying lengths -along with the wide assortment of colours. Yet it was Joy with her long scraggily grey strands – limply accentuating her drawn and worn out features -who stood out the most. Her thinning lifeless locks spoke volumes about the harassing times that she had just been through leaving her so totally depleted.

I first met Joy seven years previously at Hong Kong airport. I had just flown in from South Africa and was immediately interviewed by Hong Kong radio via a telephone at one of the airline desks. Joy – about to depart for Canada – was most impressed! A year later we were swimming with wild spinner dolphins in Hawaii. The following year she arranged for me to present at her alpaca farm on Salt Spring Island, Vancouver.

Communications had been scarce since then as Joy went through a roller coaster of emotions that had finally caused her and her husband of over 35 years to split – it was no wonder she had so many split ends. Even though she had only just moved to Salmon Arms – forty minutes up the road from Vernon – she kindly invited my friend, Kath Forster, and I to spend a night at her new abode. Little did she know that this kind hearted gesture would drastically change her life!

Her hair had not been cut for 37 years – scant attention had been paid to her increasingly forlorn locks. Prior to meeting her husband, her hair had been short and bouncy – but when he informed her that he preferred girls with long hair – guess what -Joy began growing her hair even though she preferred it short. She had symbolically ‘handed the reins over’ to her future husband and meekly went along with his decisions – whether she liked them or not. It seemed so much easier to do! Joy and her hair though were now showing signs of how much she had mentally suffered. She came to realise that keeping her views out of sight – under hats and scarves – was no longer working for her. She needed to be free of her husband and think for herself.

Lengthy discussions about hair at the presentation had Joy thinking; – without a moment’s hesitation she agreed to change everything that night – all it took was a simple snip of the scissors and a sachet of dye! As Kath gathered the pathetic strands of limp hair, one straight cut took away years of frustration, despair and emptiness. Joy was overjoyed! Shaped into a delightful bob – with colour – the transformation was miraculous! Joy looked at least 20 years younger and couldn’t stop ‘jumping with joy’ as she pranced around the apartment – staring into the mirrors with a ridiculous grin on her face.

Not only had Joy rid herself of her long hair but also her old ways of thinking – no longer needing ‘to go to great lengths’ to explain herself. Meanwhile, dying her hair effectively took away concerns and worries that had once ‘turned her hair grey’. Without her past hanging over head, Joy felt light-headed and knew that she could confidently face life with a far more youthful and fresher outlook.