Meeting other hairstylists who understand that beneath the hair of every person lies a key to the door of their identity and sense of self is both a pleasure and an affirmation to me. The more I write and connect with others from around the world, the more I see how potent our jobs as hairstylists are in the realms of healing.
This post is dedicated to all who hairstylists who have struggled in their journey with drugs and alcohol and work very hard to stay on their path of sobriety.
Last month at the Spirit Weavers Gathering, I met a woman named Adriana Marie Rizzolo. She had wandered over to the Adornment Area where a group of women were doing each others hair in a grove of Redwoods, and she sat herself on a large fallen log, peacefully watching the action. She, like many other women that I had the pleasure of meeting in my 2 weeks of hair in the forest, felt at home in the Adornment Space Redwood Hair Salon.
A quick detour……
A hair salon, when curated with the right group of people and esthetic, becomes a natural home for those from all walks of life to come and engage with each other and be inspired and grow together. This post is in homage to that very fact, and to Adriana Rizzolo who fit right into that.
I want to take a minute to identify the definition of the word Salon. According to Wikipedia…….
A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.
I love this, and I love what happens in hair salons where all are welcome. The sisterhood and brotherhood and co-inspiring that can happen is tangible. Ideas are birthed into action, bonds are created for life.
This post suggests that t Hair Salon is an important place to spread important news and incite change on a world level. How Hairdressers could be a Secret Weapon Against Climate Change. Just sayin.
Adriana, as it turns out, came to the Adornment Space because she knew she had gifts to offer in the form of healing and braiding, and she (like so many hairstylists) could not bare to just stand by idly watching. So, she dove right in.
Over the course of the week, catching snippets of her braid work and her voice and her thoughts on hair, I felt the bonds building of hair sisterhood.
Today, Adriana shares words with us on hair and healing, and her path to recovery.
Adriana, where are you from and what are you up to now?
If my name hasn’t already given it away, I am originally from New Jersey. I lived for ten years in Brooklyn and most recently have been living and loving all over Los Angeles.
How long have you been doing hair?
I have been doing hair since I was 15 and I am now 34. So 19 years. Really weird to say that.
What inspired you to pursue hairstyling?
My main inspirations for getting into the hair love were my friends in high school and to be totally honest, I was looking for a way out. I was always creative and found myself super stifled and held back in public high school. I even had a ton of insecurity around creating which was the thing I most related to and loved by then and so choosing hair styling was a guarantee for me to get at least half my school day occupied.
I understand you are in recovery. When and how did you realize that it was time to take that path?
I realized I needed to be on the path of recovery the first time I did cocaine after my father had ended his life and lifelong battle with drugs. It was a moment of like .. “Really?! That wasn’t a wake up call enough for you?!” For years I had survived as a hair stylist on cocaine. Doing lines off the same mirrors I showed people their new haircuts with with the money rolled up to my nose that they handed me for my time and service. Apparently, I really needed to understand the depths of addiction and the effects it has for my work in years that had not yet arrived.
Shortly after my father passed I used yoga like a drug. Three classes a day on my days off and after long days at the salon helped me get off hard drugs and start detoxing my body. I didn’t know at the time that’s what I was doing. I began to smoke a lot of marijuana which for me helped mask the grief and emotions that I was unable to deal with at the time.
A few years later I found a teacher that reflected my worth and Love so intensely I saw that even smoking weed wasn’t meant to be a part of my journey. Some months after my first pilgrimage to study the mystical traditions and practices in India, on New Year’s Eve when I was at my home in upstate New York by the grace of god I chose full sobriety. Everyone was taking mushrooms and I realized I could not make empowered decisions in my life unless I was completely sober. And I wanted so badly to know and understand what Love was all about.
Now a little over 4 1/2 years later I’ve hit other bottoms. Emotionally, financially and in relationship to others, it’s a long beautiful messy journey of becomingfor me. Staying close to the connection of my heart and soul, and helping others see that soul and love within themselves is why keeps me going. It’s why I love offer hair healing sessions so much. It’s anther visible transformation to this energy and Truth that at times feels invisible, although it’s always there.
How has your journey through recovery informed you journey to heal and share with others?
If I hadn’t gotten sober I wouldn’t be able to connect or care about connecting with the tender openness I always intend to bring to my clients, to my work and into my relationships. If I was never an addict I wouldn’t know the intense suffering many of us face, just being human. I also wouldn’t know the extreme depths of joy, compassion and the lust for life that I’ve starting to come to know and live. I believe we are all on a path of life, of figuring out how to deal with being human. The more we can learn to offer our hearts to one another and ask for help or surrender when is hard, the safer we feel within, the more peace and love exists in the world.
Sobriety helps share my passion of connection and creating with my heart and my hands- with hair, body healing, life transformations, and writing. That has truly saved my life and I’m humbled and grateful for those that have supported and inspired me with their own truths and passions along the way. Thank you so much for asking about that.
At what point did your hair and spiritual practice collide into a healing practice?
Over the years of working and styling in New York my hair business supported my spiritual and healing trainings. Having the flexibility of a schedule and clients allowed me to go on countless retreats, get to India four times and take me through a few yoga and meditation teacher trainings. My hair practice has evolved with me. The conversations changed, some of the clients shifted, and more and more I am able to hold a space for soul and beauty together.
What are some of your theories/thoughts about the importance of our hair to our sense of self and identity?
WOW! As a longtime yogi I feel like our outer worlds are created by our inner worlds. In my research of people and their explorations of hair and self, it seems like we can use the outer as an extension of what we are experiencing inside. I don’t feel like there are any rules or this means that, because everyone is SO UNIQUE with such different interpretations. The importance, just like anything, comes from what we give it. That is why intention and love can really shift the way we experience our sense of self and our hair. Learning to love your hair is the same as learning to love any part of yourself. It’s all practice and it all helps us to bring out who we are and continue evolving into who we want to be!
Do you have any hair experiences that have transformed you?
YES! Shortly after my father passed away I felt this intense need to make some major shift in my being. Away from what I was experiencing and facing at somewhat of a young age. I went from black to platinum hair and looking back somehow that experience mirrored this process that was beginning for me from moving from the darkness to the light. THe hair didn’t last that long but that moment really was a marker for the beginning of my more serious healing path and devotion.
Do you have a hair mantra?
My soul sister Jules offered this to me for my work and now I use it all the time … Let it go, Let it grow!
Who are some of your muses/inspirations?
My muses really come from the women that I work with doing inner healing work, and those of us willing to move past habitual patterns around not good enough and jealousy or what have you. Women like you that are kicking ass doing what they love. I believe the creative energy that moves through anyone doing what they truly love holds the power of a million universes. When we open to receiving that from one another we open our own channels to allow that energy to flow through us in our own ways. I also get a TON of inspiration from the unseen and natural world. The desert and inside the heart of anyone willing to be more open.
Any thoughts on how/what we as stylists can do to take back the corporate hijack of the Beauty Industry?
Well I think YOU are doing a great job! Supporting one another when it comes to more eco-conscious and natural ways of doing things and just inspiring one another with kindness goes a really long way. I always find the only way to make a change is to change the way I am and do things that are not in alignment with the greater good. From that place, many things feels possible.
I want to empower more connection and love into the industry and help other stylists enhance their abilities to be vessels for love and creative energy I feel strongly about bringing more health and naturalness to the beauty industry. I cut hair according to a persons natural texture and the way they will wear it, and I support locally made products as much as possible. find others to be exuding beauty most when they feel good and connected to that which is below the skin or hair. It’s not that it doesn’t matter, it’s just that when that kind of attention and care comes from an inspired place within we literally see differently. .
When we learn how to connect to a moment deeply, which most stylists do all the time, we heal ourselves and others. It’s my favorite thing about people that love doing hair and I want to see more of our naturalness exposed, appreciated and accepted in both people and the products that we use. Moving away from corporations that hurt and towards supporting people that help. We can do this by supporting local brands and salons in your town and as stylists shifting the way we see ourselves from not good enough to change agents that can reach so many people with our love!
Read more from Adriana here, at her online community space dedicated to feminine connection and support for conscious growth. There, you can get info on bookings and healing workshops that she does around the country.
Follow her here on Instagram.