Beauty, health and wellness, That girl in the red coat, Women, writing

Who knew?

Those of you who follow my blog and those of you who know me personally know all too well I always look for the positive in everything. I search for the underlying lessons. I seek out the light in the darkness. These past few months have been a true test to this. Someone dear and precious to me has been struggling…a story that is not mine to tell. Watching them struggle, seeing what it was doing to them and in turn to me and others was getting too much to bear. I found myself not being myself, or feeling like myself. Knots in my stomach, sleepless nights, lack of appetite…you name it, I had it. After a night of almost no sleep I reached a breaking point. Here I was, sleepless, bed head to the tenth degree, having a mental breakdown and it wasn’t even 7:30 a.m. I had been reading everything I could get my hands on to help spark my pilot light. I even reached for my bible…to no avail. Seriously, someone has to write a cliff notes for the bible. I scoured that sucker and couldn’t find any comfort. I am a spiritual person. I do believe in a higher power, and energy. There is something or someone greater than us. Call it God, the universe, the Smurfs, whatever. It’s there. In my frustration and down right tantrum I almost threw it across the room. Instead, I reached out to the husband of one of my best friends. He is a pastor. I asked him for guidance, for a scripture that may help me regain perspective. Within minutes, I mean minutes, I had a response. This was it,

“Don’t worry about anything;instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Well, let me tell you. The tears ran down my face, ugly face, snot nosed crying for over 30 minutes. A peace came over me. I cannot explain it, nor do I feel I have to. All I can tell you is reading that passage catapulted me back to myself. After I stopped crying and somewhat regained my composure, I started to feel that knot in my stomach again. I literally stopped walking through my living room, took a deep breath, and said a prayer about what I was worried about. I asked for strength and courage. I stated what I wanted for myself and others. I made myself picture it in my mind before I took another step…if I have a peeping Tom, he got quite a show. The knot went away. On my way to work that day, as I pulled into my parking spot, the knot came back and my mind flooded with all the what if’s and the memories of the past events. I put my car in park, shut of the engine and stated out loud to myself, the universe and the dude waiting at the bus stop what I needed. The knot went away. It’s been over 2 months now, and guess what? The knot went away.

I am not a guru on the mount, nor am I an expert. In the words of the beloved June Carter Cash, I am a woman who is “just trying to matter”. Praying, positive affirmations, whatever it is, only work if you do. Yes, the scripture made me feel better. Yes, praying made the knot go away. I also had to do the work, walk the walk and talk the talk if you will. I had to own my shit. Own my part in all the craziness going on. When you are honest with yourself, it may not be pretty, but trust me, you will feel beautiful.

Beauty, health and wellness, lifestyle, writing

Merciful Monday

Mercy – noun;

 

compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

 

I came across a beautiful sentiment yesterday. I was watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Elizabeth Gilbert and one of her beautiful insights into life was mercy. Mercy for others, most importantly, mercy for yourself. Her statement about showing mercy towards yourself about your failures, your short comings, your bad decisions resonated within me. I felt a calmness wash over me the instant she uttered that word. Mercy.

It got me thinking. How often we forgive others, show mercy to them and for them, yet we seldom offer ourselves the same gift. When someone we hold dear stumbles and falls, we offer a hand to help them up. When we hear of a friend’s failure, personal or professional, we listen with an open heart and open mind. We try to help them figure out where a wrong turn was made and help them get back to the right road. Funny thing is, when we stumble and fall, we continue to kick ourselves when we are down. When we fail in life and love, we stop looking for a way out. Why is it what we will do for others, we seldom do for ourselves?

Over the years, there are many regrets. I found myself wondering “what if”, or “I should have” or “why didn’t I”. Who knew that a five letter word would clear all those thoughts away. Mercy. I gave myself some mercy. It was 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday night. I went outside, sat in my backyard, looked up to the heavens and got myself some mercy. When I woke up this morning, I have to admit some of my regrets woke up with me. Today was a little different. My regrets were followed by “you did the best you could at the time”. One of my favorite quotes is by the beloved Dr. Maya Angelou “When you know better, you do better.”. I came to realize that I couldn’t have done better in the past, I didn’t have the tools, I didn’t have the belief in myself, I let fear and ego drive my decisions and reactions. I didn’t have mercy. I now know that I do know better, so I can do better.

We all make mistakes. We all have dreams that didn’t come true. We all have been a pain in the ass teenager to our parents. We all have made mistakes as parents. We have all hurt people. We have all hurt ourselves. We all deserve to show ourselves some mercy.

health and wellness, lifestyle, That girl in the red coat, writing

Reminder

I woke up this morning with words and phrases swirling around in my head. Conversations I’ve had with friends, words that were spoken out of haste or anger, from me and directed at me from strangers, family and friends. Snapshots of memories, past and present playing like an after school special. I’ve been reading more than one book at at time this past month before bed, jumping between Unfu*k yourself! – Gary John Bishop, The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson, Life will be the death of me – Chelsea Handler and Girl Stop Apologizing – Rachel Hollis, which is probably the reason for this morning’s array of thoughts, visions and emotions, all before 8 a.m..

As I shuffled into the kitchen for my first of many morning cups of coffee, I went to my “mug shelf “. Yes, I have a mug shelf. There’s just something wonderful about pretty mugs, or a mug that makes you smile or says something sassy or inspirational. Say what you want, side eye me if you will, we all have that something that we like. I like pretty things to look at when I start my day, because you never know what life is going to throw at you, so why not start your day your way. Enough about my mugs, As I reached for my “you did not wake up to mediocre” mug, a story that is not mine to tell popped into my head. Then another, and another. What I realized is all my stories and the stories from friends and family alike all had two things in common. #1 = Fear. Fear of not being enough. Fear of not being loved. Fear of not being able to love. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of the opinions of others. Fear of not measuring up. The list of fears is endless. #2 = we all have the same fears. Not always at the same time or to the same extent, but we all feel the same way. The sad part of this commonality? More often than not, no one talks about it. We all are guilty of acting like everything’s fine, everything’s great, nothing to see here. Instagram posts with the “fun in the sun” hashtag, but the fight before the picture and the silent treatment after the picture didn’t happen. The “love your spouse” posts on Facebook, all the while your husband is sleeping on the couch. I am not the guru on the mount, nor am I an expert, but I’ve been around the block a time or two, and in my not so humble opinion, everyone showing the highlight reel of their life adds to everyone’s fear.

Life can be easy, beautiful and wondrous. It can also be hard and a shit show. We cannot control anything or anyone but ourselves. Most importantly, almost everything that is happening in your life is not about you. Your boss is a jerk to you, your child is struggling with life, your parents didn’t hug you enough, your friend isn’t texting you back, plans are cancelled – whatever it is, more often than not, I’m sorry to say, it’s not about you, it just feels like it is. You are overweight and don’t like your body? That is about you. Your friend is overweight and doesn’t like their body? That is not about you. In the past, and sorry to say even in the present I have been and am guilty of making the reactions and words of others personal. Hearing their words and automatically thinking about myself instead of listening and thinking about them. I would hear the words that fit my mood or my fear if you will, to solidify my reasoning of self doubt and to prove my fear was relevant. In the end, all that was left was two or more people feeling frustrated, ignored and scared.

What I have learned and am continuing to learn is this. It is okay to have fear, it is not okay to let that fear define you. Let yourself feel it, then face it. If you can’t do it on your own, ask for help, from a friend, a coworker, a counselor, your minister – take your pick. We all make mistakes, we all fear making them. Mistakes are going to happen. You will stumble, you will fail, you will forget to pick your kids up after school, you will miss a deadline. It may feel like the end of the world, trust me, it’s not. Take a breath. Take a hard look at the situation. Assess it. Look to see where there may be another answer or room for improvement. Ask yourself “what am I to learn from this?” instead of asking “why is this happening to me?”. I know, easier said then done. Trust me, I know. I. Know. One other thing I know, you and I did not wake up to be mediocre.

 

 

Beauty, Hair Care, health and wellness, That girl in the red coat, writing

Seven Year Itch

 

Yesterday as I plopped into my favorite chair with my morning cup of Joe I heard the all too familiar bottle cap notification coming from my phone. It was an email alerting me of my 7 year anniversary as a blogger. 7 years. Within seconds my mind was flooded with images from the past 7 years. Nervously circling the table, staring at the computer, deciding to just go for it and write. Coming home from work to find a laptop waiting for me, given to me by my hubby with a “Happy Birthday” screensaver (which is still my screensaver by the way). Kristen Johnston reading my blog and retweeting it. Wynonna Judd sharing my “Kindness 101” blog that ended up getting over 700 views within hours. https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2012/07/21/kindness-101/    Major hair companies following my tales. Magazine editor’s and Hollywood stars following my blog. Writing opportunities coming my way. Strangers thanking me for my hair advice. Strangers laughing at my “Tales of Truth” series. My blog being read across the globe. The list of memories is endless.

Fast forward to today. For those of you familiar with my blog, you are well aware of the struggles I have been having trying to decide which direction my blog and I should take. I began this blog while managing a Salon/retail shop and once the shop closed I felt I didn’t have a platform of which to write. Every single fear and anxiety reared it’s ugly head and I am sad to say, more often than not, they won the battle, not me. I was having coffee with a dear friend yesterday and when I told her of my blogging anniversary I received a high five. During our conversation I came to the realization that I started this blog to spread information and to educate and enlighten, not only for hair care, but for all aspects of daily life, from business to self care to parenting, speaking my truth in hopes that it may give others the courage to do the same. As a reminder that a little kindness goes a long way.

When I woke up this morning, I found myself wondering if my blog related trepidation was due to the 7 year mark. We’ve all heard of the 7 year itch where relationships/marriage is concerned. Maybe it’s the same with goals. It’s all nerves and excitement at the beginning. Lots of new and exciting things happen. Milestones are reached. Celebrations seem to be every other month. Then things slow down, hit a plateau. It doesn’t seem to be as exciting, the shine is off the diamond if you will. It begins to feel like a chore. Other avenues are catching your eye. You feel like throwing in the towel. At least that’s how it felt for me. What I have come to realize and accept is that things change. Who I was when I began this blog I will never be again, and that’s okay. 7 years have passed and I have more experience, in work and in life. I have more of an understanding of who I was, who I am and who I intend to be. I feel I am a good writer. I enjoy it. It’s cathartic. I came to realize my lack of posts for the past 12 months was due to one thing – I was trying to be something and someone I am not. Writing blogs with others opinions in mind, not my own. I began this blog without any thought of what people would think, just the hope that someone would enjoy it and get something out of it. It’s time to get back to that.

Thank you to all my readers, my followers, my family, my friends and those who have shared my tales. More are on the way… hope you enjoy them.

 

health and wellness, lifestyle, That girl in the red coat, writing

Step back

It may have taken 22 years, but yours truly took a vacation. Yes, you read that correctly, 22 years. My beloved and I flew across the country to Vancouver, rocked out to the Def Leppard/Journey concert, ate at Gotham, the best steak house in town, strolled the streets of GasTown, Burnaby, and the glorious waterfronts with mountains on every horizon. We ate breakfast at a “You gotta eat here” restaurant. It was lovely. Except for a few Facebook posts and Instagram stories for our family and friends, yours truly unplugged from social media, my blog, my job, my day to day stresses, my to do lists, everything. I was present in every hour and every minute of my day. My hubby and I were able to complete conversations, to sit in silence together and just be. Time moved slower in Vancouver, maybe I was in vacation mode, maybe it was the scent of Mary Jane in the air around every corner (I shit you not.). All I know is I felt more zen than I had in a while, and the lovely thing is that feeling of zen flew home with me back to Ontario.

Over the past months, as you are well aware, I have been trying to find my place in this blogging arena. I started as a beauty blogger, giving tips and tricks and product knowledge. I wrote of my daily retail experiences and customer dramas…the lady thinking I stole her light bulb, the countless ladies showing me their ingrown hairs along their bikini line, the gents asking me about how to trim their nether regions….check out my Tales of Truth series for the full effect. I also wrote about lifestyle, kindness, the ugly things we don’t talk about at parties – and to tell you the truth, those were the blogs that flowed out of me, that were the best received and that brought me the most fulfillment and in turn ,the most opportunities. One of the things I learned while in Vancouver, other than those folks like their marijuana, is that I wasn’t being true to myself where my writing is concerned. I was trying to hold on to who I used to be and what I used to write about. I am no longer that woman, career wise or in my own mind. She still resides within me, but she has changed. She has matured, She has been through some shit and come out clean on the other side. She has something to offer. I have something to offer. I cannot articulate my reasoning. All I know is that it is time to stop being afraid of what may or may not lie ahead. Change is a good thing. Stepping back makes inspiration move forward.

I will continue to write product reviews and how to’s, for I love to help women and men feel good about their hair and in turn their appearance. I will continue to tell my Tales of Truth because I find it amazing the things people say to complete strangers, it’s funny and quite frankly cathartic. I will continue to write about kindness, for I believe it makes the world go round and in these days, we need it more than ever. From time to time, I may get political, for there are events happening in this world that are morally wrong, plain and simple.

I have no idea where this will lead or what may transpire. My intention, as always is to educate and inspire. To help people think of things differently, not to agree with me, but to open the door a crack to peek at what is on the other side.

Be beautiful to each other.

communication, health and wellness, lifestyle, Parenting past 15, That girl in the red coat, Women, writing

Baggage claim

Over the past months, yours truly has encountered many people that seemed tired. A blank stare when being spoken to. Quick to answer, even faster to object to anything anyone around them had to say. Snap decisions being made and words uttered that should have been held silent. I am starting to think the culprit to the above is holding onto baggage and trying desperately to look perfect. Now that would be exhausting.

Over time, you get to know people. You see when something has changed. Sometimes for the better, be it a new hairstyle, a new fashion sense, a spring in their step or more smiles than grimaces. Some of the time the changes you see aren’t what you hope for them. Their hair not styled, shirts untucked, their Louboutin’s have been replaced by Crocs…you get the picture. The person you once knew who had a smile for you now has a scowl or snide remark about any opinion other than theirs.

In this life, as I am well aware and those who follow my blog are well aware, things do not always go as planned. Hell, more often than not, it never goes as planned. In my 45 years in this earthly realm I have come to one absolute truth… it’s not about you. Sure, there is the chance that you were talking out of your ass and offended someone – something I am guilty of (who isn’t), but it is a safe bet that something else is going on. It’s easier to blame others, blame your boss, blame your ex, hell, blame the family dog for your life not going as planned. Guess what? Until you put some of the blame on yourself, nothing is going to change. Nothing. You gotta own your shit. You gotta. It’s your baggage sunshine, and every time you blame someone else and pass them your baggage, it just goes back to baggage claim and waits patiently for you to arrive.

Now, before you begin to throttle me with comments about there are somethings you can’t control, I totally agree. You cannot control a loved one’s illness, a hormonal teenager, a jerk for a boss, a job loss, you name it. You can however control how you deal with it and how you let it affect you and how you deal with everyone around you. Spreading anger and resentment will get you nowhere but alone and even angrier at yourself and the situation you have now found yourself in. Trying to fake your way out of your life is even a worse road. You know what I’m talking about, we do it all the time.

“Oh, I love my kids! They are perfect!” – meanwhile you aren’t speaking to your kids unless eyerolls and hand gestures constitutes conversation.

“Everything’s great! Life is wonderful” – as you are trying to figure out how you are going to pay your mortgage since your spouse just lost their job but doesn’t want anyone to know about it.

“Never better!” – although it took you 1 hour to get out of bed that morning because you didn’t know how you were going to face another day.

“Let me get this” – as you cross your fingers and every available body appendage hoping your card isn’t declined.

I could go on, but I am sure you get the picture. Here’s the deal. Your life is going to be messy. Relationships are going to get messy. Parenting…Jesus, there will be days when you completely understand why someone gets in their car one day to never be heard from again. You know what? Everyone has felt the same way or is feeling the same way – most won’t admit it, but they do. Maybe, just maybe, getting real with people will help not only you but them. I know it has helped me and countless people I know, many who have become cherished friends. When my life is going down the toilet and someone asks how things are, I tell them “my life is going down the toilet”. After the initial shock of truth wears off, I usually find out their life isn’t all moonlight and roses either. We bounce experiences of each other and somehow, someway, we feel better and solutions are found. Sometimes my honesty sends people running for the hills and that’s okay. This is my journey and that is theirs.

Here’s the deal. Own your shit. Be kind when you can, and you always can. It is not your job nor your responsibility to carry other people’s baggage. If you are carrying some baggage around with you, be sure it’s your own.

 

communication, health and wellness, lifestyle, parenting, Parenting past 15, That girl in the red coat, Women, writing

Making time

 

Over the past year, those familiar with my tales by now have noticed that yours truly hasn’t been posting much. This is true. Last August, the Salon/retail shop I managed closed, so I no longer had my daily escapades at the shop to write about, nor was I privy to all the latest and greatest hair products coming down the turnpike. I found myself wondering where my blog was going to go…was it going to choose it’s new path or was I going to choose it? What would I write about? What do I have to say? – which is hilarious to those who know me, since I always have something to say. I went through my archives, 5 years worth and found the tales with the most impact were those of kindness, of life, of riding the rollercoaster of parenthood, of the gifts bestowed upon us when the shit hits the fan and we think “This is it. This is how it ends.”. So, yours truly has decided to change it up a bit. More often than not, my tales are going to reflect the above, and hopefully shed some light on a dull day, add some laughter to your life and to let you know that you are not alone…and hopefully, get some heads out of some asses. Here we go.

 

“People who truly care about you will make you a priority”. “If your friend is truly your friend, you would get a text back”. “People make time for people they want in their lives”. Everyday, at least once a day on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, you name it, I see the following quotes or some rendition of them. I find them to be passive aggressive and quite honestly, stupid. Yeah, I said it. Passive aggressive because if said person means so much to you, you wouldn’t be posting quotes, you would be at their front door asking them “What’s up?” or to physically check that they were alive and in good health – physically and emotionally. Stupid because, what are we, 12 years old talking shit behind the school? Come on.

I have just celebrated my 45th. year in this earthly realm. On my Birthday I found myself looking back on the past 5 years – not just reflecting on my blog, but on my life. Over the past 5 – 6 years, my beloved hubby had a heart attack, my dear ol’ Dad had a heart attack, both suffered from Afib (atrial fibrillation), both had health issues and physical issues due to their heart medication, I was raising a teenager who was facing obstacles of her own with self image, mental health etc… . I was (and still am) building my brand, the business I managed for 5 years closed, oh yes, and I still had a household to run and all that entails – making sure bills were paid, mouths were fed and clothes were clean, just to name a few. Any spare time I had, I used to go to the bathroom. So yeah, the quotes about those who are important you make time for kinda piss me off because I was making time for those who were important to me. Yes, many of my friendships fell on the backburner. Just because I cancelled plans or didn’t text back the exact second I received their text did not mean I wasn’t thinking of them, wondering how they were. It didn’t mean I loved them any less. I was a little overwhelmed and sometimes just keeping my head above water. As a Mom, you have to be strong for your child, even when you think you have no strength left. As a wife who still adores her husband after 23 years, you must be calm and reassuring when all you want to do is cry and freak out when the love of your life is on his 10th hospital visit to the E.R. because of chest pain. (the upside to all those visits was I was able to help my Mom and my Dad when he went through the same thing).

More often than not, when someone isn’t keeping in touch as much as you would like, it has nothing to do with you. Many of my dearest friends have admitted to me that they weren’t telling me their problems, or were “keeping it light” because they knew how busy I was and how emotionally and physically spent I was and didn’t want to add to my load. To me, that is one of the kindest actions – to realize someone you care about is carrying as much as they can handle, so why add more weight.

Here’s the deal. Life is messy and gets in the way. Sometimes you get a call, sometimes you gotta make the call. Some texts are answered, some are not. If you miss someone – call them, go to their house with a coffee and a smile. If you feel out of touch with someone, decide this – do you see them in your life 5 years from now? If the answer is yes – seek them out and rectify the situation. If the answer is no, well, there’s your answer. Leave well enough alone and hope for the best. It’s all you can do. Plain and Simple.