0

It’s the little things

It’s 5 days before Christmas and yours truly is able to enjoy some time off before the big day. The last time I had time off at Christmas was because I had the stupid cut out (hysterectomy)…7 years ago. Sure, I had “time off” at the holidays when my daughter was a toddler, but those of us with children know that although the world may see it as time off, time with a toddler is a 24/7 job with no pay, with a boss who can’t find their shoe and cries because you gave them the wrong colored cup with their lunch…so “time off” is a relative term.

As I was running errands yesterday, I found myself getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I almost succumbed to the Grinch and Scrooge mentality. Almost.  Hearing everyone around me sighing, complaining that the lines were taking too long, or honking at each other in the parking lot because they needed that parking space, it’s hard not to get sucked in to it all. As I was listening to the ladies complain about having people over for dinner as they were about to start a rumble over the biggest pot roast in the meat department, I looked over to see an elderly woman with her little basket with a few items in it and I thought to myself “she probably wishes her biggest problem was getting a big enough roast to feed her guests.”. …and that’s when I began to hum a Christmas carol, carry on with my shopping and tune out the sighs and complaints that passed me through the aisles.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no angel as my daughter can attest to. I cuss like a sailor if you are riding my tail end too close in traffic – when I have my kid in the car, her safety comes first so all bets are off. I have been known to use a certain finger when the snowplow comes by just as I have dug out their first visit’s mound of snow and I may have pretended not to speak English when a telemarketer just wouldn’t get “take me off your calling list”. There have been times throughout the days of Christmas past when I pouted even though I knew Santa saw me. There were times I started to Scrooge out or felt the Grinch was onto something complaining about the noise of Christmas, but I always remembered something that others seem to forget. At the end of both these Christmas stories, Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch gave over to the magic and the spirit of Christmas. If they could do it, you can too.

  • give to the Salvation army. If they are giving out candy canes for each donation, do what I do. Ask them to give it to the next child that walks by.

 

  • wave to Santa at the mall. Trust me, he is having a harder day than you.

 

  • don’t fight over a parking space. If the other person is gunning for it, let them have it. If you have to park further away, the fresh air will do you good.

 

  • If the grocery store is out of the size of turkey you need, your family and guests will survive. I promise, the sky will not turn black and the world will not swallow you whole.

 

  • when you make eye contact with someone, say hello or wish them a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays for those weary of offending.

 

  • give to every toy drive you can find. Any toy will do. The dollar store has coloring books and crayons for a dollar a piece. …psst…you spent more than that on the mocha frappe latte concoction you have in your hand.

 

  • give to your local food bank. If you can, a monetary donation is best – the food bank can stretch a dollar farther than you can imagine.

Take a moment to remember how snow once made you squeal with glee, how hours would pass as you wondered how Santa got to every house. Remember the smell of your Gramma’s perfume as she reached out to hug you, or the cackle of your Grampa’s laugh when he got your joke. Think back to the smiles on your parents faces on Christmas morning, thinking they were so happy Santa brought you your favorite toy, only to now know, the smile was for them and you, not Santa and you. When you take a moment to remember the magic and spirit of Christmas, you too will realize it’s not having the perfectly trimmed tree or the biggest turkey that you remember, it’s all the little things that mattered the most.

 

0

Lost and Found

I hear the all too familiar chirp of the shop’s door, I look up from my orders to say hello and before I can utter a sound I hear “Well! Look at you!”. …with the right side of my head being shaved and a magenta swoop down the side, it is safe to say I am quite used to this… I smiled and said “Hey! Nice to see you again.”. I asked my customer if she needed my help. She did, so I showed her where the product was that she was looking for, carried it to the counter, asked if there was anything else she needed that day and began to ring through her purchases, all the while she was staring at my head and when I would catch her eye, her smirk would disappear. As we were waiting for her debit to connect, she looked me straight in the eye and said “Wow. Your Hair. Aren’t you looking very Neapolitan.”. I just smiled, reminded myself not to show it on my face, and told her to have a nice afternoon.

Now, in a perfect world, she would have meant I resembled a Mediterranean beauty, but knowing that my skin is whiter than preschool paste, and she was sporting a ponytail and yoga pants (with not a yoga studio within 20kms) I knew it was a crack at my hair color. For those of you a little lost …my hair is blonde, pink and brown and some find it to resemble Neapolitan ice cream. After she left, I found myself giggling. Yes, a little at her small view of the world and herself, but mostly at me and how far I had come. Before the age of 24, I was head strong and quite opinionated yet always fair and kind. I was referred to as “spunky” on more than one occasion and also as a tough broad – a true compliment in my book. You see, somewhere between 24 and 37 I lost myself.  I used to be the woman that after hearing that wise crack about my hair would have been floored and would have run to the closest mirror trying to see what she saw and thinking I should change my hair, and think I was stupid for even trying something new. I used to let the opinions of others control my decisions and would allow their words to hurt me. I wore my hair short because everyone told me to, it made my face “slimmer”. I wore clothes that were clothes “Mother’s should wear”…what ever the hell that means…I still don’t know. Hell, I even carried a purse I hated and wore shoes that weren’t cute and sparkly like I wanted to, because of some dumb ass comment someone made.

I remember when it began to change, or when I began to change. Actually, I didn’t change. I returned to myself. I was 37. It was December 2009 and I had my hysterectomy. That Christmas was low key, as I was physically unable to perform my yearly Christmas miracles. No cookies were made. Gifts were at a minimum. The only Christmas décor to be seen was our tree. Many had an opinion about my lack of Christmas spirit. Some actually were put out that they wouldn’t be receiving my cookies that year. You know what? I really didn’t care about what they thought. I was too relieved knowing that the 11cm x 21cm x 14cm fibroid was not cancer, and that it had not attached itself to any vital organs. I was too happy to have a week with my husband – our girl still had a week before Christmas vacation and hubby was able to be home with me. I still remember the two of us laughing at the fact we had just had an hour long conversation without an interruption – the first time in 12 years. In those conversations I started to feel like myself, and started to remember who I was. It’s amazing what you realize when you take a moment to be still. …try to do it without having to have surgery.

Fast forward to present day. I dress how I want. I own cute shoes with sparkly bows. I wear heels whenever and wherever I want. I have a cute purse. I own more than one red coat – depending on the weather and the season, a girl has to be prepared. I try new things – be it a new flavour of coffee or a new route home. I say yes to my life more than I say no. I no longer give my time away. I color my hair the way I like. I cut my hair and style my hair the way I like. Today, my wish for you, is that you begin to say yes to you, more than you say no. If you are lost, you begin to be found.

I would rather be Neapolitan than vanilla any day 😉

 

0

Miss. Understanding

My Birthday was this past weekend. Yours Truly is 43. My Birthday was as close to perfect as I had wished. I woke to a Happy Birthday smooch & smile from my beloved before he was off to work. I strolled into my kitchen for my morning brew to find a lovely hand written letter from my girl. I drove over to my parents home and had some morning coffee on the back deck, the sun shining on my shoulders and laughter filled the air. The forecast all week was for rain, yet not a drop fell. During my lovely lunch with my girl I received word from my beloved that he was coming home early. All day loving messages appeared via Facebook and text. We ordered my favorite pizza and caught up on our favorite show with our new found time – stolen time as I like to call it. I sipped my vodka & lemonade, with my feet up. It was a great day.

The next day, I woke up in a funk that I could not shake. I found myself on the verge of tears more than once. I found myself being nit picky over the smallest of things and my mind was not on my side – bringing up moments from the past that are best laid to rest and forgotten. At first I blamed the good ‘ol hormones (may have had the stupid cut out – hysterectomy – but still have the ol’ ovaries). Then, as anyone battling anything, I went through the list of people, places and events that were the true cause of my anguish. Once my mental temper tantrum was over I had a realization. Well, that and calling my hubby to see what wine he wanted with dinner and upon hearing his voice choked up and started to cry. My realization you ask? I have not been taking care of me. I was making time for everyone else. I was worrying about everyone else’s happiness and contentment. I was being the understanding ear for everyone’s issues and problems…and I had reached my fill. My funk and my angst was on me, and me alone. (…anyone who knows me knows how much I love that…). As I sat pouting on my front porch I realized why I had been so happy on my Birthday. On my Birthday I had made myself a priority, done what I wanted, spent my time with the people of my choosing and enjoying the gift of time. I had a funk the next day because I wanted more and deserved more. In short, I was kicking my own ass. Kicking my own ass for knowing better, but not doing better.

The reason for this glimpse into my personal life, you ask? To save you a mental temper tantrum (they’re exhausting and bad for the face) and to save your friends and loved ones wincing wondering when your head may begin to spin around. To remind you and myself that we are just as important as those we make a priority in our lives. A reminder to take a minute and take a breath. A reminder that cleaning and washing can wait until tomorrow. A reminder that no amount of dusting and polishing your living room can clean a tarnished spirit. A reminder that understanding the plights of others is a good thing, as long as you don’t begin to misunderstand yourself in the process. A reminder that although the truth may not always be pretty, there is nothing uglier than a lie and not being true to yourself is the biggest lie of all.

Take a moment for yourself when you can. Do what makes you happy. Celebrate yourself, everyday. Plain and simple.

1

Timing

I came across an interesting quote a few weeks ago and it crossed my path again this weekend, on Valentine’s Day as a matter of fact. “You will be married 7 times in your lifetime…hopefully to the same person”. When I first found this quote…or as I like to think, it found me, my mind shifted and I began to see my marriage differently. All of a sudden, things just made sense. It also reminded me of some wise words bestowed on yours truly by my grandmother Leah. My grandparents had been married over 50 years so I asked her one evening what was the secret to a long and happy marriage. “Never fall out of love with each other at the same time – that’s the secret”. Words I have cradled and held tight ever since.

Everyday at the Salon I meet or chat with a woman who thinks her marriage is falling apart. Seriously. Everyday. Most of these confessions happen as she is looking at hair color swatches. She thinks her husband has lost interest in her. She thinks he is having an affair. She thinks he thinks she isn’t as pretty as she once was. She thinks they have nothing in common anymore. She has noticed that things are just…different. Another constant – she has never discussed any of these thoughts or feelings with her husband and has usually drawn her own conclusions and has played out the divorce court proceedings in her head. Ladies, for the love of all that is good and holy, take a breath. Take another. Yes, your hubby may have changed…guess what? You have as well. Think about it. Look back at how you saw the world 10 years ago, how you dressed, how you viewed yourself. See? You’re different. You are still you, the same person, you’ve just… evolved, and that’s okay.

I am 42 years old and I have been married 20 years. I have known my husband longer than I haven’t known him. Looking back, I realize how much the above quote and my grandmother’s beautiful words ring true – I am sure due in part to my forties and getting the stupid cut out (hysterectomy). Over the past 20 years I became a mother. I have lost loved ones dear to my heart. I have been witness to loved ones losing a parent. I have had health issues and scares. I have witnessed health scares and issues of my loved ones. I have been a stay at home mom. I have been a working mom. I have had financial difficulties -some my own fault, some the fault of others. I have had short hair, red hair, brown hair, permed hair  – you name it – I’ve done it. Experiences and life changed me, changed my views and my perspectives. Over the past 20 years, I have been many women – always myself – yet depending on the situation at hand, a selected version of myself. I have also been that woman standing in a Salon, staring down at the color swatch book, believing that the right hair color choice would end the search for answers to the never ending stream of questions about her marriage running through her mind.

I am not a hair stylist. I am not a marriage counselor nor am I a therapist. What I am is a woman who has been married over 20 years and is not afraid to talk about those things that people don’t talk about at parties. I am a woman who doubted herself so much that the doubt began to seep into all aspects of her life – her marriage, her parenting, her career, her abilities…you name it – I doubted it. I was afraid of the hard conversations. I was afraid to ask my husband certain questions for fear of his answer. I also was unhappy – with myself – it was easier to blame my marriage, my job, my stylist for giving me the wrong cut, the scale for being broken…you get the picture. In my experience, the majority of doubts of my marriage were of my own making. Yes, gentlemen, you can get up…a woman has admitted her fault…lets move on, shall we? Looking back, many of my doubts were not mine, but the doubts of others. All day long I heard negative after negative about men and marriage and I began to let all those negatives reside rent free in my mind and then the moment an action matched a negative, all hell broke loose…proof it’s love. I am sure there were moments my husband was waiting for my head to spin around.

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, for some. For me, I try to make it everyday. A stolen kiss in the kitchen while my daughter is watching T.V., saying I love you and meaning it with each goodbye every morning and kiss goodnight, giving space or a helping hand when it’s needed. Remembering that when my husband is quiet, maybe he is just quiet. Remembering not to take everything personally and reminding myself it’s not all about me…still a toughie, but I am working on it. Ironing the bed sheets for a comfy slumber (yes, I iron my sheets. It takes 20 minutes out of my week and it feels divine and makes the love of my life happy). Remembering that although we may not agree or like each other’s behavior, we still love each other. Remembering that having separate lives (work, friends, etc…) and separate interests does not mean we are separate – it actually brings us closer together, and always remembering that although the road may get bumpy and words may get ugly and life will tirelessly try to get in the way, love is always waiting for us, if we take the time to find it once more.

 

ThatGirlx3

0

…I thought it was my Ab’s

“I thought it was my Ab’s!”. A phrase exclaimed, in a morphine induced haze, by yours truly while laying on an exam table in the E.R. of my local hospital. Long story short, I had been working out, trying to lose weight and tone up and was so excited that my tummy was feeling firm. I hadn’t been feeling well, been feeling discomfort that I was putting down to being 37 and working too much and working out too hard. I was having trouble with stomach pains when I ate certain foods, again, put it down to age. Little did I know that in the course of 13 months, (I know it was 13 months because during my physical the year before – no abnormalities were present) my body had decided to grow a fibroid on top of my uterus. A fibroid measuring 20cm x 11cm x 14cm – hence the pain – this little devil was pushing all my internal organs up and over to my right side. Long story short – a hysterectomy soon followed, no cancer present and yes, I still weep a little that it wasn’t my Ab’s….I had never had a firm stomach.

The point to today’s tale? To make yourself a priority. To keep yourself off the back burner. I had been feeling “unwell” for months, chalking it up to working too much, eating the wrong food, pushing 40, you name it. I should have called my Doctor. To be completely honest – I was hoping it was my Ab’s, but something in me thought it felt weird, but was too fearful to find out what it may be. In my case, I was damn lucky that it wasn’t cancer, that the fibroid hadn’t attached itself to my intestines, kidneys or any other internal organ.

Everyday at the shop I hear women make little comments about their health like “It’s probably nothing”, “I’ll call the doctor if it doesn’t get better in a few weeks”, “It’s probably normal”, or like yours truly, ” I think I’m getting Ab’s!”. For some reason, as women, we put ourselves last. We put work, our friends, our lovers, our kids ahead of ourselves. I see women buy a flat iron for their daughter before buying one for themselves, buying their mother the newest flavor of OPI Avojuice hand cream even though they love the scent, or buying Gehwol MedSalve for cracked skin foot cream for their friend who suffers from painful heel cracks as she is need of the same cream. We are so busy concerned with others that we forget about ourselves. Sure, we say our husband’s need us, that our kid’s need us and that’s why we put ourselves last. Well ladies, the jig is up – those are excuses and you know it. If we truly mean that they need us – we would be taking care of ourselves to the best of our abilities so we can be there for them.  Ladies, it’s time to take care of ourselves. Plain and simple.

Here’s the deal. If something seems strange, or something just feels off – call your doctor. If it’s nothing – great! If it is something – the sooner it is dealt with, the better. I know it’s a scary thought. No one likes waiting for test results. No woman enjoys a pap smear. Stool samples are messy and hospital gowns are not becoming, no matter their color. Dealing with a health issue as soon as it pops up also ensures less trauma to you, your family, your physical health and your emotional health – if I had gone to my Doctor as soon the question “what’s that?” popped into my head, I would have had a laparoscopic surgery to remove my uterus – instead I had to have it removed the old fashioned way with a 6 inch scar to prove it. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t care about the scar – my recovery would have been easier and less days spent in the hospital, and less worry for my hubby and my girl.

When our loved ones are under the weather or in pain, we get them and give them all the love, attention and help they need. You are worthy of the same love and attention and help. You are. …You are.

 

0

Hiding out

We’ve all been that person. You know the one. The one who has the answer in Math class but won’t raise their hand in the off chance the answer is incorrect. The one who knows what needs to be said but is afraid of the possible judgement that may follow. The one who knows they could rock a pixie cut but are worried their husband will find them unattractive. The one who knows who they are but stays tucked in the closet because that is where they are safe from judgement. The one who has a dream but cannot begin to chase it in fear of ridicule. The one who knows where their passion lies yet will not pursue it because the financial risk is too great. The one who has one too many at the party to fit in. The one who at one time knew she was pretty but listened to the wrong people and began to believe in them instead of herself. The one who was hiding out.

In a few days, I will be 42 and as you know, 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything (Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)…I am quite excited! Those familiar with my Salon Tales, it is no secret that yours truly has had issues with self esteem and my reflection. In the past, if you were lucky enough to have me stand still for a picture, I never wanted to look at it. I was also the woman who blamed everything but herself for her weight gain…yes, my daughter was 10 and I still said I was trying to lose my “baby weight” and yes, I was the woman who couldn’t workout because I didn’t own the “right” cross trainers. I was also the woman who kept her hair short for over 12 years because everyone told me how good it looked on me and it “slimmed down my face”. Fast forward to present day. Thanks to getting the stupid cut out (hysterectomy), learning to embrace patience – that was a toughie, entering my forties, my hubby’s health issues that made me take a hard look at my diet and how I was feeding my family and, quite honestly, removing my head from my ass and finally allowing myself to be the person I always knew I was. Everything began to fall into place, from my career to my family to my weight and self image issues. Don’t get me wrong, there has been many a tear shed out of fear and frustration. There have been bumps in the road and hurdles to leap over…they just aren’t as ominous.

Proof that patience, believing in yourself, believing that you are worth it, speaking your truth and healthy eating and exercise pays off – posting some pictures because I gotta practice what I preach.

SSPX0691-2  2010 (38)  20131207_125202   2013 (41)

 

With my birthday approaching I wanted to bestow a gift unto you. The gift of permission to be whatever and whomever you want to be. Permission to get your hair colored & styled how you want it styled. To be the person you always knew you were but were too afraid to be. Over the past 4 years I have learned that when you dare to dream and follow that dream, when you allow yourself to follow your passion and are willing to work your ass off, life begins to get pretty good. Another lesson I had to learn, it is not all about you – another toughie for yours truly. Everyone is on their own journey and they have their own road map to follow. Their paths may not be the same as yours. Maybe your paths will cross, maybe they won’t. Their journey is just as important as yours and their hopes and fears should not be belittled. I know I put my foot in it a few times and have since apologized. Last but never least, you must be kind, not only to others, but to yourself.

Be kind. Be patient. Love yourself and know your worth. Love others and show them their worth. …it’s time to stop hiding out.

 

*UPDATE! Proof that when you are true to yourself, it keeps on getting better and better. Yours Truly at the Contessa’s November 2014, courtesy of the Beauties at Piidea & Joico. Dress courtesy of Netty Vintage.

Contessa 2014 8

 

 

1

Deal with it.

The last month has been a real eye opener, not only at the Salon, but everywhere I look, and with every conversation I have. Maybe the planets are aligned..or misaligned for that matter. Maybe it is due to getting the stupid cut out (hysterectomy). Maybe it is that I am on the cusp of my 42nd birthday…who knows. All I know is this, “If you don’t deal with your shit…your shit is gonna deal with you” (came across this a few months ago…and ain’t it the truth). From a woman who thought that becoming a blonde at home would be nice & easy and make her partner take notice, a woman thinking that a pixie cut was all she needed to make her boss see her worth for that promotion to V.P. of marketing and a woman thinking she had everything under control because she made a list everyday…I have seen it all. What did they all have in common? Masking the real issues…not dealing with their shit. No amount of box dye will fix the problems in the bedroom, or will take chocolate brown tresses to platinum blonde. A great hair cut may get you some attention, but a great head shot does not a great V.P. make. As for the list maker, sure, you may be organized, but as you check off “sew button on shirt”, your child may have hurt feelings that need mending. You checked off “pick up cupcakes” for the family celebration…but you weren’t present. “Pick up prescriptions” -checked off, listened to hubby’s response to how he was feeling – but didn’t really hear him. Ladies & Gents, I know of what I speak, for yours truly is the list maker. It took me almost 42 years, I finally realized, lists are great, for the grocery store, for daily chores. They are meant to keep your tasks organized – not your life. Big difference. HUGE.

Sorry to disappoint, I will not be sharing the personal tales of my own shit dealing with me – for not all the tales are mine to share and I respect the privacy of my beautiful girl and my lovely hubby. The purpose for today’s tale is to remind you, and myself to ease up, slow down, pay attention and be present. It is true Beauties – if you don’t deal with your shit…your shit is gonna deal with you – and your shit doesn’t care what time of day, where you are or who you are with…it’s gonna pop up and deal with you. So take it from me, it’s best to deal with it, what ever it may be. Shit ain’t always pretty – hence the fitting name – shit. It’s gotta be dealt with. It’s gotta be said. It’s gotta be hashed out, then it’s gotta be put down and left there. Not just for those you love, but for yourself.

– want to spice it up in the boudoir? Talk to your partner…sometimes renting a movie (nudge nudge, wink wink) is all you need to get new idea’s brought up…pun intended.

– if your partner thinks blondes are more fun, save yourself the cost of a color correction and buy a wig – trust me…they aren’t looking at your hair color… they’re not.

– want that new promotion? Get your credentials together. Put together a presentation about you and why they need you – not why you need them.

– when someone is speaking to you, listen to them. Really hear them. Put down your phone, look up from your laptop, mute the television and pay attention. If you aren’t listening, you can miss what is being said, and damage can be done, feelings can be hurt.

– when someone is ill or has a health issue – let them bring it up. They know what they are going through, they know how they are feeling. They do not need to be reminded of it, with every conversation.

– when your child wants to speak to you, stop and listen. It may be about the cute puppy they saw on YouTube or it may be about the funny thing their bff said. It may also be about how they are feeling about their reflection…pay attention.

 

As for lists, if you have to make a list, remember it is only a piece of paper with some things written on it. It will not explode in 10 minutes if all tasks are not crossed off by 2 p.m. …something I gotta remember.