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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.

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The Heart of the matter

For those of you who follow my blog, you are well aware that my hubby had a heart attack. The last thing any couple expects, especially at 39. I wanted to revisit my personal tale with you all one more time. We received some terrific news, from three separate M.D.’s, that my beloved is well on his way back to a normal life. The past 9 months have been the greatest of struggles for my beloved, for my family and for me. I won’t get too deep into the details because, not to get all Rhonda Byrne on you, I no longer wish to give the negative any more power.

Over the past months, I have had to cancel plans at the last minute. I have had to say “no” a lot, to a lot of people and occasions and I didn’t always give the real reason, the reason being that my husband didn’t feel well and was in pain. I didn’t always disclose the severity of it all to everyone because it was what was happening to him, I was not going to let it start to define him. There is more to my beloved than his health/heart issues and I was going to do all I could to protect that. I also stayed home because of my lovely daughter. It was bad enough she had to see the initial heart attack. I wasn’t about to leave her home alone with her Dad not feeling well and all that entailed.

The purpose of today’s tale you ask? The point is this – you never know what someone else is going through, so try not to take their actions or their behavior so personally. As I have had to realize in my 41 years, it’s not always about you. A lesson all of us in the beauty biz and retail biz should learn. Sure, there are those who are nasty for the sake of being nasty – those Nellie Oleson’s need our pity, not our anger. I am talking about;

– the woman who comes in looking for Sebastian Shaper Plus and when you tell her it is on order, she looks through you and scowls “what a waste of my time”. Instead of getting upset, I ask her if I can have her number so I can call her when it comes in and I can hold a can for her. In this case, she just looked at me, put her hands down on the counter and said “thank you, that would be so helpful.”. – you see, she was on her way to the funeral home. Her mother had just passed away, and she had buried her brother the month before.

– a woman complaining that all the mousses and root boosts are crap and don’t work in her hair. When I ask her what other products she uses and who colors her hair, I come to find out that she is on chemo and she didn’t like her hair color so she used a box dye and didn’t like that, so used another box dye the next day. I gave her some conditioning treatment samples and explained why it isn’t a good idea to color your hair twice in two days. After 15 minutes, she calmed down and thanked me, and apologized…and purchased some product.

So, the next time someone is being nasty, or plans get cancelled with a reason you feel is an excuse, or your client starts to lose it because her favorite hairspray is on back order, take a minute and try getting down to the heart of the matter. You never know, you may be the only glimpse of kindness that person has seen all day….if they come into the shop with a faulty flat iron in their hand – still be kind. Just be sure to duck.

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Fool on the hill

I woke up this morning with “The Fool on the Hill” by the Beatles in my head – so clearly that I actually checked my clock radio to see if it was on. (Yes, I still have a clock radio. It was my grandfather’s. He got it free with his “Maclean’s” subscription and when I saw it I thought it was pretty cool, so he gave it to me and it has been at my bedside for 25 years). Needless to say, the radio was off. I got up, made some coffee and the song still played in my head.

It got me to thinking about the past few weeks of my life, and the lives of those I love and cherish. You see, for me, most of my life is pretty awesome. I have been a  guest blogger on http://www.salonmagazine.com . I have been invited to blog on another website – which one you ask? Well for that one you are gonna have to wait – it’s a surprise! I have a 16 year old daughter who still wants to be seen in public with me ( A HUGE deal if you ask me.) and I have the love of a great man, who has loved me for over 20 years. My lovely hubby is why I said “most” of my life is pretty awesome. You see, his health has not been the greatest as of late, by no fault of his own. Those familiar with my blog know that my love had a heart attack back in 2011. His heart is well on the mend, alas the medication to keep his heart healthy is not so nice to the rest of his body.The kick in the ass is everyday he feels different, he doesn’t know until he gets out of bed what the day will hold for him. Some of the medication makes his skin super sensitive to touch, some of the medication causes acid reflux and chest pressure – the latter is a another  kick in the ass since chest pressure is how his heart attack felt. – AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL SEGUE! – not all heart attacks present with a pain shooting down your left arm and a red face followed with a collapse to the floor. If you are not feeling well, pain or pressure in your chest area/upper back that won’t subside, pain that goes up your neck into your jaw – go to the hospital. As the Doctor’s say to us – they would rather everyone come and it be nothing then wait too long and nothing can be done. Back to the tale at hand.

So, I looked up the lyrics to the fool on the hill, and as with any piece of music or literature everyone seems to have their own vision of what the song means, myself included. You see, I am an optimist. I can’t help myself. I always seem to find something good in something bad, it’s what I do. Many times because of this I find I am ignored or not listened to, and that is okay. It used to hurt my feelings, now I realize that it is either because I over stepped my bounds (which I know I tend to do) or that the person I am speaking to is not ready to be happy or ready to have hope – I have found that giving over to hope and happiness is one of the scariest things for people to do – it sure as hell was for me. So the lyrics, “but nobody ever hears him, or the sound he appears to make, and he never seems to notice, but the fool on the hill, sees the sun going down. and the eyes in his head, see the world spinning round” comfort me. They do. I saw myself in the lyrics – the woman who always sees the bright side of life and is seen as a fool on the hill.

I also found a new perspective about my hubby. You see, he looks fine but feels like shit most of the time. As with any health issue, when the person looks fine people don’t always believe you when you say you are not well, so you begin to feel like “fool on the hill” and begin to doubt yourself and how you are feeling. Another great compliment is when people doubt that he is taking his medication properly, or accuse him of not taking care of himself properly. This used to make me mad, but after watching a few episodes of Honey Boo Boo and some other so called reality T.V. shows, I now understand why some people are, well, assholes where the health of my beloved is concerned. (if you have seen the above – no explanation needed).

Here’s the deal. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan “don’t criticize what you can’t understand”. Everyone is going through something, or has a loved one on their mind. Sometimes it shows, most often it does not. If you don’t know what to say, say nothing at all. Be careful not to judge too severely, for one day you may be the fool on the hill…and I will be more than happy to sit with you.

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Hospital gowns and customer service

Today’s tale is about customer service. It is also about taking a moment and paying attention. It is about being kind. Life is hard enough, why add more road blocks?

Picture this…You are at the hospital. You are waiting to have a routine upper G.I. procedure. A nurse and a nursing student come to get you to get your I.V. started to prep you for the procedure. You are fine with a student being present (would have been nice if you were asked if you were comfortable with it).You are a little nervous since the last time you were at the hospital you had a heart attack and the pain you have been having for the last 9 months feels just like your heart attack did. The nurse looks at your hand and tells you your veins are horrible ( uh…yeah…you have been fasting over 12 hours), then puts the I.V. in (first try…bad veins…uh huh) and blood goes everywhere. She begins to ridicule you “why didn’t you tell me about your heart meds?” (all the info. was on the chart she initialed right before she began your  I.V.), then proceeds to ask if you took all your heart meds that day and you tell her no and she asks you why with a tone courtesy of Nurse Ratched and you find yourself looking for Jack Nicholson. You politely point out that on the form she just initialed that you take two doses a day of certain medications, one in the evening, one in the morning. She asks if you had a stent put in. You tell her no. She doesn’t believe you, because everyone gets a stent. (unless the artery was too small to fit a stent – hence the cause of the heart attack). Then she looks at your hand as she is wiping away the blood and see’s a mole that you have had all your life. “You better get that looked at…doesn’t look good…”. Then you are told you can go back to your seat and wait. So, you began your day thinking you just have a little tummy trouble or acid reflux and now you think you are stupid, have terrible circulation and bad veins and probably have skin cancer. The patient was my husband and Florence Nightinggale just turned over in her grave.

Yes, my husband was a patient, not a customer, but the lack of service he received was embarrassing. If I acted that way with my customers or the Salon’s clients, I would be out of a job. We are given two ears and one mouth for a reason – to listen twice as much as we speak.

When I have a customer come into the shop with a questionable scalp condition, I don’t look at them and say “Your scalp is horrible. Looks cancerous. Better get that checked!”, or run and get my stylists to come out and gawk. Wanna know why? One – that’s rude. Two – I am not a skin specialist. Trust me, be it a health issue or a scalp condition, people know what they are going through, they know what they have, they do not need to have it pointed out to them or shoved down their throat. What I do is this;

– I ask if they mind if I ask a few personal questions

– if the answer is no – I ask about the products they are currently using, if this happens only when the seasons change, if they are on any medications ( some medications affect hair/skin/nails), or if this is something they have always dealt with.

– if I need to get one of my stylists to take a look, I ask their permission first.

– I never blame them. I never make them feel like I don’t believe a word they are saying. Sometimes you don’t get the right answer because you didn’t ask the right question.

– I sell them the product that may help with the issue. The Nioxin line has helped many people with mild scalp irritations, Joico’s Daily Care Treatment Shampoo is quite nice, and Smart Solutions Problem Hair and Scalp Shampoo is terrific. I tell them to give it a week or two, explain how to use the product, and tell them if it doesn’t seem to helping, maybe give the Doc. a call.

If you are a Stylist, Doctor, Nurse, Teacher be kind. Pay attention. If you make a mistake, admit it, apologize. Read something wrong? Don’t blame the other person, admit it, apologize. Don’t know about something? Don’t belittle the other person and treat them like they are the stupid one, admit that you don’t know and get yourself informed. (pssst…there are these things that are big and rectangular in shape called encyclopedia’s and dictionary’s – or Google for our techies).

Be kind. Treat others as you want to be treated. Plain and simple.

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An attack of thanks

I live in Canada and this coming weekend is our Thanksgiving holiday. This has been an interesting week for me. You see, in 2011, on the Thanksgiving weekend, my husband had a heart attack. I was at work on the Saturday when he called to say he had come home from work early, he wasn’t feeling well. He told me how he was feeling and I told him to get to the hospital and  would meet him there. Thankfully my mother lives down the street so she drove him and kept a loving watch over our daughter. After I called my boss who told me “close the shop…don’t worry about it.” a woman walked in the shop saying she was looking for a blow dryer. I told her I was closing up because my husband was on the way to the hospital, “It looks like a heart attack” I said, to which she responded “So you’re not gonna sell me a blow dryer?” I shit you not. That is what she said. I told her to get the hell out. It just came out. All I could think of was my husband, my daughter, my life, the feeling of my husband hugging me, the way his hand looked and felt in mine and I needed to get to him. As she left the store she shook her hands at her husband saying “she won’t sell me a hair dryer!”. Wow.

Long story short, no damage was done to the heart muscle, hubby had an angioplasty done. Seems his D2 artery was malformed from birth, hence the heart attack. Eight days later my Dad had a heart attack. He had an extra artery that was blocked. Again, no damage to the heart muscle. Those two, always competing for my attention.

So, as I said earlier, it’s been a strange week for me. As strange as this sounds, I am thankful for all of it, the heart attacks, the rude customer, all of it. Because of my experience with the doctor’s and the hospitals, I was able to help my mother, I could honestly say “I understand.”. I was reminded of all the reasons I love my husband. I remembered all the special memories of my father, things I hadn’t thought of in decades. I was able to show my daughter strength and how to look fear in the eye and kick it’s ass. I am thankful for such an understanding boss and the support of the best Salon team in existence. I am thankful for the “blow dryer rant” for now I am able to deal with crazy, rude customers…it just rolls of my back.

What I am getting at is this. Don’t wait until the Thanksgiving holiday to be thankful for what you have. No, I am not having an Oprah “AHA” moment and no, I haven’t found my savior…it is the right thing to do, plain and simple. Live your life, love your family and yourself, do what is best for you and your loved ones,hug your children, visit your parents, laugh every day. Oh…and it won’t kill you to wait for a blow dryer…trust me.

 

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Purge the Vanity

So, there I was, going through my closet seeing what still fits, what I still like and what I am ready to part with. Fall is upon us and as with any season change I find myself scouring the bible for fashion ideas…the bible being the September issue of Vogue. I don’t know if turning forty has anything to do with this but I have no need to hold onto anything that does not bring me happiness. Maybe it was my husband and my father having a heart attack 8 days apart last October. Maybe it’s both. Anyways, I found myself looking at sweaters that I have had for over 4 years and wondering “what the hell was I thinking?” and then realizing it wasn’t me thinking, it was whomever I was shopping with that particular day and listening to what they thought was right for me instead of what I thought was right for me. Which got me to thinking about my vanity and all the products that I bought because of the same reason I own a sweater that makes by breasts look so big that Dolly Parton would blush. (trust me…it’s not pretty…even my husband looked on in horror and my daughter ran out of the room screaming).

I know you have all read about or heard of cleaning out your closet. I think it is time for a new tradition…clean out your vanity and rid yourself of any product that doesn’t bring you happiness. You know the products I am talking about…

– that facial cream that your mother gave you – the one that every time you unscrew the lid you hear your mother saying “hopefully this will make you look less tired.”

– that organic deodorant that promised all day odorless freshness and you ended up smelling like the onion ring guy at the county fair.

– that eye cream that promised to eliminate the dark circles under your eyes and it did…and it also puffed them up so much you looked like you went a few rounds with Apollo Creed.

– that waterproof mascara that took 20 make up remover wipes, 30 baby wipes, baby oil, soap and 25 minutes each eye to remove.

– those “all day freshness” panty liners  – the only thing they kept fresh was your anger each time they stuck to your pants or your butt…yeah, I said it. We all know it happens.

– the lipstick that your best friend told you to buy so you would look “hot” for the guy you wanted to impress at the party…the same guy she took home.

– the mousse that your so called “friend” told you would be good to use so your hair would be so big that no one would notice your butt. (personal experience with that one…I heard she now lives in a trailer with 10 kids…that’s what I heard).

– the baby blue eye shadow. Enough said.

– the banana clip from 9th. grade. I know it’s painful…it is time to let it go.

What I am getting at is this…be happy. Set up your life so you can smile, not wince. When putting on face cream you should hear nothing but your own inner voice saying how beautiful you are. When putting on lipstick the only thought going through your head is “I like this color”. Take a look at what is residing in your vanity cupboards and drawers. When you hold the product in your hand – if it makes you anything but happy – throw it away, or give it to a friend who may want it.

Make it a point of your bedtime ritual to put the negative to rest as well.