Tag Archives: bald and beautiful

I’ve been shot at and was setback… Maybe or maybe not.

I’m sure you’re wondering… Maybe?

Reading the first 4 words in this title is unsettling for me, and although I wish it were different, unfortunately it’s true.

On July 17, in the wee hours of the morning, a group of individuals did a drive-by shooting on my home.

I woke up to the sound of bullets shattering through the walls, the sight of sparks as it ricocheted throughout the room and the smell of gunpowder as the bullets exploded. I swore I was dreaming.

Not in Montgomery County, Maryland… or so I thought.

My husband and I are hard workers, both entrepreneurs, and have never been involved in any form of criminal activity and fought our asses off for the past 12 years to maintain our home (renovating it little by little all by ourselves).

So the question we were left with was…

Why?

And…

Who?

Who in the hell would drive-by and shoot up a family’s home and for what reason?!?

Since then I’ve felt different emotions, anger being most prevalent. Although I’ve been frustrated and had moments of fear, tears and prayers, I’ve had to do my best to shake off the worry and prepare myself spiritually, mentally, emotionally and most definitely physically.

Thankfully, I planned a trip to California months before and was able to clear my head, take in the beautiful sights and get a change of scene for a few days.

Alyscia takes photos of La Jolla Cove in San Diego, CA

During my visit, I had the opportunity to film Mary Marshall, founder of Bald Mannequin Project and International Alopecia Day Facebook group, as well as a drummer, dancer, and diver among so many other wonderful qualities.

We connected two years ago about my project (I Am More Than My Hair) and I told her I would film her during my next visit to San Diego. At that time, I wasn’t sure when it would happen but the time finally came in July 2017.

During the interview with Mary, she mentioned a moment in her life that she literally had to “fake it to make it”. In her example, she was referring to her concerns while facing alopecia (hair loss). She went on and on with so many powerful statements about her experience and how she conquered her emotions.

Mary didn’t know of the shooting incident.

There I was… in Beautiful San Diego… still worried about what happened back home.

I choose not to tell Mary because I didn’t want to spoil the mood. She also didn’t know that her comments during my interview with her, empowered me and gave me strength.

When I returned to my hotel, I reached out to several of my spiritual communities, rehearsed certain Psalms and chanted for peace of mind.

I needed to get my sanity back.

After returning home, I connected with a priestess in an indigenous spiritual community I am a part of , and spoke with her about the incident. She made a comment that helped to put things into perspective. Her response was…

Haven’t you wanted to move for a while now?“… her question gave me goosebumps. I replied, “Yes, but…”. She responded, “So why are you still here?”

She then went into a discussion about how the Universe, although sometimes harsh, forces movement. Especially if we’ve made it known to the Universe that we’re ready for a particular type of movement in our lives.

In that conversation I had an AHA moment…

No matter how difficult the circumstance, there is a reason for everything and there’s always a bright side. 

theres a reason - oprah - alyscia cunningham

I’ve wanted to leave Maryland the first day I step foot here from Queens, New York back in the 90’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned to love and appreciate where I am but always felt there was something more, something better, a place I truly feel connected and can call home for my family and I.

In 2014 I traveled to San Diego for the first time and feel in love. In my soul, I knew that California was the place for me and my family. I just haven’t figured out exactly where (the city). Though San Diego is beautiful, I know it’s not the place for us. The biggest reason being the lack of diversity.

And today, as I type this blog, I open my email and see the subject “The Universe’s Plan for You” by Madisyn Taylor, one of my favorite writers. A section of the article reads…

Nothing happens without a purpose. Whether we attract success or repel it depends on our willingness to stay open to a wide range of possibilities and to embrace concepts like synchronicity.” ~Madisyn Taylor

I must be honest with you and myself and accept the fact that this situation changed my life. At first, knowing that I was just a few feet away from a bullet, left me in fear of my life. Given that my children didn’t sleep sound for a few weeks because of the constant nightmares, broke my heart.

Afterwards, considering those “few feet” saved our lives, I gained a different perspective and felt grateful.

In that moment of gratitude, The Farmer’s Luck came to mind (a wise tale I’ve read to my children since they were all very young). My afterthought was, although situations may sometimes look like bad luck, it could actually be good luck for a future time.

And in that I also learned, time passes and we often find ourselves “busy”. In our “buziness” we may have missed an opportunity to connect with a friend/family who may need our listening ear or support though a rough time or challenge.

I truly appreciated the small handful of people who were genuinely concerned and kept in touch to make sure my family and I were OK.

And to those who who knew my previous hurdles and considered this event to be another setback, my response is… Maybe… Maybe not.  It could be a blessing in disguise.

As for now, I have some serious work to do in figuring out my next move and having faith and trust in the process.

I took a break to gather my thoughts but I won’t allow an obviously unhappy and miserable person to make me unhappy and miserable. That goes for family, friend or foe.

I’m excited to  finish the filming and photo shoots for I Am More Than My Hair and finally now in the post-production phase. I’ll continue to keep you posted. Until then, please continue to support my fundraising efforts by sharing and contributing via my Fiscal Sponsor, Docs In Progress – https://docsinprogress.nationbuilder.com/hair

In the meantime, enjoy this short clip of my interview with Mary during my visit to California. May the solar eclipse bring positive energy to you and our world.

maryl-video-still-youtube

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“Hair is an accessory. Not a defining trait.”

“Hair is just an accessory. Not a defining trait. I don’t have to have hair to be beautiful. My hair doesn’t justify who I am. Beauty comes from within. A beautiful heart and soul makes a beautiful person. So through my life’s journey, I have learned to love all the things about me that I once thought imperfect.”
~Nketia, 62

Read more: https://www.facebook.com/IAmMoreThanMyHair/photos/a.300453623483252.1073741828.230282350500380/546103318918280/?type=3&theater

bald-beautiful-62-nketia

#IAmNotMyHair #MoreThanMyHair #baldandbeautiful #naturalbeauty #beauty #beautywithin #hair #cancer #alopecia #solidarity #documentary #coffeetablebook #selflove

Acceptance

I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me
Photograph from Alyscia Cunningham’s photography book, I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me

“I am NOT my hair because I have accepted and EMBRACED he fact that I AM so much more.”
~Jameelah, 46

What that comes to mind when I think about Jameelah is she has an undeniable strength and sincerity. I met her just a few weeks after I had the idea for my project I Am More Than My Hair, at a book fair.

I spoke excitedly about my plans and Jameelah reciprocated the excitement as well. I asked if she could recommend anyone for my project and she looked at me and said, “I have alopecia.” And she’s also the Founder of SWAG (Sisters With Alopecia Group). Most of my participants thus far have come through Jameelah.

She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and encourager. I am so grateful for Jameelah because if it wasn’t for her, through my frustration I would have given up. And so I continue.

Shanna Tells Her Story Behind Shaving Her Hair After Losing Her Father To Cancer.

Video Clip of Shanna's Story

“My father, he was diagnosed with cancer in his early 60’s. It was colon cancer that ended up the size of a football and spread throughout his lungs. He tried all types of things. I went to visit him in Thailand. He saw a spiting monk of all things, to try for his healing processes. He found this pill, Any Horse Can Count. It was a herbal remedy he used that kept him from loosing his hair when going through chemo. He didn’t loose it because of that pill. I wished he had tried more natural options.

Unfortunately he didn’t make it, and it was really tough. Sometime shortly later, I just need a change in my life. I had long hair all my life since a little kid, never done anything different. So I shaved it. I wanted to get a Thai warrior cut and stay connected. I ended up shaving the sides and that’s what I did.
I am more than my hair because my hair does not define me. I am who I am am, no matter what you see. No matter what I wear, no matter what I look like, I will always be myself.”
~Shanna, 38

Portrait of an "I Am More Than My Hair" participant, Shanna, 38.
Portrait of an “I Am More Than My Hair” participant, Shanna, 38.

I Am More Than My Hair: New Project and Crowdfunding Campaign

So I’m finally letting the cat out the bag. In a previous newsletter I mentioned I was working on a new project but didn’t give any specifics.  And I’ve received tons of calls from friends and family inquiring why they haven’t heard much from me lately.

To tell the truth, over the past several months I have been in hiatus. Besides taking some needed time for myself, doing mommy duty and starting amazing entrepreneurship classes with Empowered Women International, I have been focusing on an upcoming photography book project.

Today I am SUPER EXCITED to announce to the world… I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me!
I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me

I Am More Than My Hair is a photography book celebrating the beauty of baldness (bare headed).  It includes participants who have lost their hair due to alopecia, cancer, trichotillomania or any other hair loss condition as well as those who cut their hair in support of a loved one.

On January 12, 2015 (changed date to reflect the criteria of a successful campaign and to give me more time to organize), I will launch a crowdfunding campaign for my upcoming book and I ask for your support in helping to make it a success by spreading the word. $25,000 raised will help me with the production of I Am Not My Hair as well as professional assistance with marketing, design, editing, layout as well as assistance from a publicist and administrative assistant. In other words…through my first book I’ve learned that hiring a professional is a tremendous benefit. And although I remain self-published,  I am making some tweaks this time around.

Serene getting a henna crown by henna artist Deepti Khona, founder of Henna Harmony DC Metro. Serene did not loose her hair but instead shaved it in support of her friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. That's a true friend.
Serene getting a henna crown by henna artist Deepti Khona, founder of Henna Harmony DC Metro. Serene did not loose her hair but instead shaved it in support of her friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s a true friend.

As with Feminine Transitions, I Am Not My Hair is a social-change project paying tribute to the girls and women who’ve lost their hair involuntarily and to those who cut their hair in solidarity.
I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me

Through this journey I have noticed there is an undeniable radiance in bare headed females. In my opinion, attention isn’t drawn to them due to a lack of hair. Instead their features become more captivating. You truly see raw beauty as hair is not a distraction.

“The best way I can describe my experience is without the focus on hair you truly see the soul.”

Simply beautiful!

I Am More Than My Hair: Bald and Beautiful Me

Until then, expect a newsletter about my participation at EWI’s  upcoming Artisan Food & Marketplace as well as other unique holiday gift ideas.

Please also share share this information with any girls and women that may be interested in participating in my project. My contact information can be found on my website www.Alyscia.com.

Peace & blessings,

Alyscia