The tagline I often think of adding to this blog is, “What you don’t see but everyone else does”.  I was speaking about this concept with a client this week and she reminded me of something I studied in College called the Johari Window.  The Johari Window was created in 1955 by two guys-Joe and Harry.  Get it?Joe+Harry=Johari!  (They were way ahead of Bennifer and Brangelina in the name-merge game.)  The Johari Window is a technique used to help people understand themselves in relation to self and others.  Basically, the quadrant outlines a simple way to view personal and interpersonal development.

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In the top left corner lives the self that we show the outside world.  I would call this our public persona.  It can now be found quite prolifically represented in Social Media because we are able to widely broadcast to others the version of our self WE would like seen.   Lately, the Selfie phenomenon has been linked with Narcissism and other mental illness but in lesser extreme cases, we are simply creating our image and inventing the perception of our public self.  Branding, really.  Here is my version of what I want you to think about me:

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In the next corner is what this blog is about-blind spots.  What others see about us but we do not see.  The back of your head.  The back of my head.  Here is a picture of the actual back of my head:

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The Johari Window technique has been widely used in the workplace to specifically target blind spots.  The idea is that we should minimize our blind spots, see our weaknesses or behavior and perhaps better forecast the impact of our choices faster with awareness.  If I could see myself more clearly, would I make the same decisions?  High levels of personal development require us to rid ourselves of this gap.

Athletes utilize this technique when they look at footage of their own games. They are trying to see, from the cameras standpoint, what they can not see in themselves while performing so they can make adjustments and achieve better results. I remember watching the show, “What Not To Wear” and always enjoying the moment when the subject views themselves from all angles for the first time.  Usually, this moment of clarity is enough for the subject to want to change when they finally see what other people are seeing in them.

Similarly, as Hairdressers we learn to use the mirror to show us what our own eye may not perceive.  We turn you into the mirror to check for balance, light, proportion and also to try and see what you see as our client.  I use my camera the same way.  I want to see accurately.  I want to close the gap between my eye and the perception of the lens.  It is these moments of truth (as seen by others, by the mirror, by the camera), the moment when we have a chance to truly see ourselves.

The next corner is the self that we see but we do not show others.  I think of it as the bad picture, the one you delete.  The double chin, the wrinkles.  The way we really eat when no one is around.  The underbelly, the sloth. Who are we when no one is looking? I took this Selfie when I was crying and sad and feeling like crap.  I am still managing how I look here as my “sad self” so I don’t look as bad as I probably do really crying but it’s pretty raw nonetheless:

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The last corner of the Johari Window is the self that we do not even know ourselves.  What we don’t know that we don’t know.  Our lack of awareness could be because the depth of self is still unconscious, repressed or even possibly undeveloped strengths and talents.  I don’t know what unhidden talents I have. I feel like I am maxing out the ones I am aware of!  I do know that I suffer from some anxiety as best represented by this:

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For example, if I get a rash, I am pretty sure I am dying.  Fortunately (and from 20+ years on a spiritual path), this aspect of myself doesn’t rule me but I see that if I could get to the root of it and make it merely a correctable Blind Spot, I could be happier.  I would gamble to say that the reason people seek Psychics or even Therapists is because we don’t feel we have access to this part of ourselves.  We feel there is something bigger, hidden and mysterious inside of us and in store for us.

What is it?

 

 

 

 

 

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On Heritage Day

For many years, I traveled for work and my kids and family were troopers.  They dealt with me being gone for days at a time and often I worked 16-18 hour days while I would fly across states to teach or conduct meetings and come back.  I was on a plane every week at least twice.  As you can imagine, this was quite a juggling act as a single Mom and looking back on those years, I can’t believe we pulled it off.  Every so often, I had a complete failure and this story is one of them.

 

It was 9 PM on a school night and I had just picked up my then pre-school girl and 1st grade boy from my Mom’s house after a long trip away for work.  We were heading home when I had a sudden moment of bad-mom panic. Tomorrow is HERITAGE DAY at school, I remembered.  A wave of fear flashed over my body as I vaguely recalled the memo that suggested we research our family’s heritage and create a dish to bring to school to share.  And your child would present the dish to the class with a speech about his heritage. The memo gave no direct menu suggestions but I imagined all the lovely Mommies chopping vegetables for Borscht, pressing corn for tortillas or melting chocolate for a French pastry.  A moment of perfect togetherness whilst simultaneously enforcing lineage and traditions. Making memories to last a lifetime….

It was just as we were driving past United Liquors as I had this thought and you know what comes next.

I pulled over.

So my 4-year-old and 6-year-old perused the shelves of our local liquor store with their haggard mother trying to determine what off these shelves could pass for a representation of our heritage?  Certainly I couldn’t bring in alcohol (when, in fact, that probably would be the best representation of our heritage).  What else is there at liquor stores? Beef jerky.  Chips.  Ice Cream.  Gum. Cigarettes.

Pop Tarts

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The next day, my son attended his first grade Heritage Day with 4 boxes of Pop Tarts and gave a short speech about how Pop Tarts are a part of his heritage because whenever he or his Sister get sick, they are allowed to eat Pop Tarts.

We are all “damaging” our kids in ways they will most certainly blame us for later.  We don’t know exactly how the scars will be made.  One friend puts all her loose change in a therapy jar, for future use.  The current, ongoing complaint about me is my cooking and that my solutions are (predictably):

A) Put some Barbeque Sauce on it

Or

B) Why don’t YOU cook dinner

But that, dear readers, is not a real problem in life.  My kids will survive having a Mom that is a shitty cook.  They are surrounded by love and well taken care of.

And the truth is, those kids loved the Pop Tarts.  Better than the Borscht.

 

 

 

 

On T.B. Sheets

It’s been many years since I have written about Mike, a man I loved from age 19 who died tragically 9 years ago. I will never forget the moment I met him.  I was just starting my job as a Hostess at the swanky Mexican restaurant I would work at all through college (Hostess, then Waitress, then Manager).  I was seated on a bench outside in my bright blue, spandex halter mini-dress, red lipstick and curled hair (my style icon at the moment was Laura Dern in “Wild at Heart”).  I may or may not have been smoking a Camel cigarette.  Ok, don’t tell my kids but I was smoking.  And he asked me if he could have one.

 

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He was a Bartender at the restaurant and he was stopping in to get a newspaper.

That he could read.

While he sat in his AA meeting.

Friends….the ONLY people who read in AA meetings are at an AA meeting because the court sent them.

And that didn’t stop me from falling in love.  As I mentioned in On Unicorns, I seem to have a faulty love mechanism that only has an on/off switch.  Once switched on, it is damn near impossible to switch off.  So, I loved him despite how the next years would unfold.  Despite all good evidence not to.

We all used to go to a dive bar after work.  This bar had a juke box and on that juke box was the album by Van Morrison called T.B. Sheets.  I would watch Mike across the room as he would smoke, drink, flirt with girls, play pool and at the end of the night he would put money into the juke box and play the title song from the album. It is 9 minutes and 34 seconds and I wished it would go on forever.

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Some nights, he chose me to go home with.  He was 9 years older than me but no longer had a car after his second DUI.  He would ride me on the handlebars of his bike to my cottage.  We would play Al Green and slow dance, smoke more cigarettes and kiss.   He would tell me stories about his childhood in Texas.  He would tell me that he loved me.  He would pass out.

 

He had to get up early to work construction and I remember the smell of cigarettes and alcohol from the night before, mixed in with the sweet smell of the jasmine flowers that covered the door and gate to my cottage.  When we would see each other the next evening at the restaurant he would often ignore me, as if nothing happened.  And I would be tortured.  And then we would do it again.

 

Those years were intense for me.  I had broken up with my first love by badly breaking his heart.  I found out my Dad was dying.  I discovered Feminism.  I was 19 and I felt 100.

 

I forced myself to get a nice boyfriend who treated me well, who had his drivers license.  Who wasn’t an alcoholic.  Who I cared for but wasn’t in love with.  We moved to the City after I graduated and I started the next chapter of my life.

 

Many years later I would write songs about Mike.  “Fool Like You” went like this:

“Ride me on your handlebars

Your two-wheel limousine

Bottle in your pocket

Your broken enemy

My heart’s already breaking and I’m falling to my knees

Lost hopes, skinned palms and dirty company

And you said, What am I doing with a fool like you?”

He used to tell me I was too good for him.  When we would slow dance, he would kiss me on the forehead and call me a fool.  I knew he was right.  I also knew that the whole world could disappear at that moment and I didn’t care.  I was happy.

I called him when my band, Drugstore Soul, recorded our first CD and told him the song, “Into You” was about him and that I would send him a copy.  It was the last time I would hear his voice.

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I found out that he died tragically doing construction on Valentine’s Day, at age 42.  He never had kids that I know of.  And he is one reason I know for sure that you can love someone, they can love you and life just has another plan for you.

“The cool room, Lord is a fool’s room”-Van Morrison, T.B. Sheets

 

 

 

On Bad First Dates

True confession-once I realized how much fun it was to talk on Facebook and at the salon about my bad first dates, I sort of started to look forward to them.  Not that I would seek out ill-fitting Suitors mind you.  I just knew that my friends and clients would be entertained.  Of all my bad first dates, this one took the cake.

I arrived at the restaurant first and waited outside.  I spotted him parking his white, American car and could tell from his swagger towards me, this gentleman was not “the one”.  He had a Bluetooth in his ear as well as two phones on his gadget belt and the Khakis were ill-fitting.  Tight, navy golf shirt, belt up too high on his waist, spiky hair gelled to the point of no motion, high testosterone.  How did I end up in this position, you might ask? Doesn’t a Hipster girl screen out guys like this?  When I hastily got back into internet dating the second time around, I forgot my basic rules, one being don’t have a meal as a first date.  And he was my first date back on the market so, we sat down to eat.

Upon being seated, he did a chiropractic adjustment/back crack in the chair that was so violent I had to ask, “What was that?  Are you OK?” and he proceeded to tell me that he was on his way to the Chiropractor after lunch. I took the bait,  asked why.  He asked if I knew the difference between Tennis Elbow and Golfers Elbow, which I did not.  He has Golfers Elbow and went on to explain the intricacies and how hard it was for him to continue to play.  Upon which I naively asked, “Maybe this is a dumb question but can’t you just switch arms?”. This was so offensive to him that he raised his voice and told me that that was like asking me if I can just switch hands to cut hair.  “Well, I  get your point but I don’t cut hair… I’m a Colorist.”  Silence.

When it came time to order he asked me what kind of coffee I drink.  I said, “I like Americanos, how about you?”. He said that he can only drink drip coffee now since getting the INTESTINAL PARASITE.  Oh?

So, how would YOU respond my friends?

A) um, gross (change the subject)

B) I guess you should have a drip coffee

C) Tell me more!

Now, you know from my personality that of course, I chose C.

So, apparently he got an Intestinal Parasite and his main concern was how it affects your protein absorption. For muscle building.  So he worked out extra-hard he explained and then, really-I swear, flexed his muscles for me and said, “I am still ripped though”.

As lunch went on he told me about his crappy childhood (mean Dad), his crappy divorce (took his money), his crappy last job (revolving door salesman, for real) and all the politics of having to “manage up” because of his crappy boss.  After answering a few work calls he HAD to take during our date, he asked me if I minded him telling me all this and I said, “No, go on!  My Mom is a Therapist.”  What that has to do with anything I am not sure but it felt like the right thing to say.

Online dating is not for everyone.  If you are very sensitive, easily offended or have your hopes up high with each date you may struggle.  We all have so little time.  There are hundreds and hundreds of potential candidates for you so it’s important to carefully screen from the get go.

 

Unless you are me and you want a good story.

 

Footnote-last I checked, he is still single.

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And so was this guy.  Go figure.

 

For tips on how not to date a clown, stay tuned for the pending entry, “On the 7 Types of Men You Will Meet Online”.

 

 

On Maya Angelou, RIP

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Growing up with the namesake of the great Maya Angelou was no burden since hardly anyone knew of her until I was an adult.  I was actually named after Picasso’s lover but really no one knew that Maya.  A little known fact is that Maya was not Maya Angelou’s birthname but a nickname her brother gave her that stuck.  Much of her amazing legacy was like this-a creation, an evolution and a powerful rebirth of a more powerful self.

 

Recently, a Facebook friend with a curious mind asked the question, “Do inspirational quotes or stories actually work?  Scientifically speaking?”  Her thread was 35 deep and I would say divided into yes/no evenly.  I found the dialogue interesting as it actually never occurred to me that inspiration would somehow NOT work (scientifically speaking is another matter because how does one measure the efficacy of inspiration?).  I hadn’t thought that inspirational stories or quotes would be regarded as catering to the less-intelligent among us.  Or considered trite, as in bumper sticker kitsch!  My contribution to the thread was that I thought people who seek inspiration are absolutely changed by quotes and stories because their mind is seeking it. The self-help market is alive and well for those seeking as are seminars, life coaches and quotes galore on Pinterest.

Perhaps some of us are caught off guard and moved, even when we are not looking for it by friends sharing inspiration on Facebook.  I have spent my life as a seeker and hopefully, provider, of inspiration.  I believe the meaning of our lives and experiences and how we make sense of them provide inspiration to those around us. And I have been greatly inspired by Maya Angelou.  With the passing last week of Maya, I wanted to pay homage to her and how she has affected me both personally and professionally.

 

I don’t recall the first time I heard this:

 

 

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But I do remember the year I began doing hair and observing Stylists with their clients. I observed how profoundly affected each client was by the Stylist (mostly positive but sometimes horribly).  As my career went on and I worked with Stylists in a corporate capacity, I participated and eventually taught a long seminar on business and purchasing habits as it pertained to success as a brand.  The seminar was a few days long but in a nutshell, Maya Angelou’s quote said it all.  We always remember the feeling we have about the people in our lives and in business, this is often enough to succeed.  We will NOT usually return to a restaurant if the food is great but the service is horrible, for example. We WILL, however, keep going to a mediocre Stylist because we LOVE them.  Not because the technical service is great.  But if we provide great service and we are pretty cool (and consistent!), we have a good thing going.  A slam dunk really.

Clients who come to me, usually come to either have their hair highlighted or to cover their grey.  The grey hair can be slight or profound and this has nothing to do with age or stress, despite what people think.  What grey hair does to most women psychologically, however, is makes them feel old and not-so-great. Because of this deeply personal and emotional relationship women have to grey hair, I have the opportunity to transform a client from feeling not-so-great, to feeling amazing.  All day, every day I aspire to create a great experience for the client in my chair so how she feels about her grey isn’t as bad.  This can be done by having a rich conversation, leaving her to read and drink coffee or giving her the opportunity to reinvent herself in changing how she looks that day or just by covering the grey.  I have taken the words of Maya Angelou to heart in my business practice and there isn’t a day that goes by that I forget this very important tenet.

 

The other profound quote I love by Maya Angelou I actually referenced a few weeks ago in my blog post On Unicorns:

 

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I do believe the subject of falling in love with someone’s “potential” deserves it’s own post (entire books written on Codependency…) but suffice to say, I used this quote as a mantra when dating.  Every time a man would say something on the first date or in the first conversation that indicated perhaps a tiny problem with alcohol or maybe not such kind words for his ex-wife or perhaps that he hated his mother…I thought about this.  And even when the dates progressed and I heard the words “not ready” or “wanting to just have fun” I would say to myself, “LISTEN!!!!!”.

There is really no way to properly honor the scope of Maya Angelou’s legacy here.  I am thankful that she has been recognized globally and that her work will live on.  I am hoping that my friend with the inquiry on whether or not inspirational quotes work will find proof in Maya Angelou’s life and know, whether scientifically proven or not, words indeed have the power to change us.  Forever.

 

RIP

 

On Truth Circles

I have a memory pending substantiation from my childhood friends but it goes something like this….

 

We are in 7th grade and it’s the end of the school year and my friends and I have been called into a Truth Circle. None of us know exactly what to expect but it’s a sunny day and we gather on the soccer field, about eight of us sitting cross legged.  What happens next is hazy but I believe the Leader of the Truth Circle (one of our 7th grade friends) told each of us what no one liked about us.  I remember some girls crying and I remember acting stoic as I heard my “truth” and feeling relieved that the only “truth” that no one liked about me was my apparent stealing of everyone’s boyfriends (kind of seemed like a compliment?).

 

Many months ago on Facebook, I posed the question to my friends, “What if someone could tell you the “truth” about yourself?  Would you want to hear it?”  The response was mixed.  Some said definitively “yes” and some said “no” and some said that they would like to hear it but it would have to be from someone they completely trusted and in a way they could receive.

 

In theory, this is what we have Managers for at work and Mentors for in our lives.  As a Manager in a corporation, I had my share of giving performance reviews to employees as well as receiving them and I always found it challenging.  Within a corporate structure, how honest can we be?  How do we know that the person giving us feedback really has our best interest in mind?  Are they rationalizing my shitty raise because of the company’s profits or was my performance really lacking?  How will I ever really know given the legal bindings of corporate America?

 

There is a mode of career coaching called the 360 I find intruiging.  It is usually for Senior Management in corporations.  The employee is evaluated and reviewed by everyone around them.  Peers, direct reports, colleagues and those above. This feedback is presented for your higher good by a trusted Coach and often reveals blind spots to help make you a better employee, Leader, contributor and peer to your colleagues.  My client and friend Erika who shared her 360 experience with me said it truly was a game-changer for her professionally and something that she craves again now many years later.  What it taught her by revealing her blind spots helped her become a stronger Leader and also helped her excel as a high performance communicator.  Could the 360 be the modern day and helpful version of the Truth Circle?

 

In the age we live in, we are presenting an image of ourselves in social media at all times.  We are creating a perception of ourselves and marketing ourselves every time we tweet, post a picture on Instagram or post a Facebook status update.  Those who observe us are making decisions and having feelings about us 100% based on the tone that we use in our pictures, updates and comments.

 

Recently Gwyneth Paltrow, bless her heart (as the Southern ladies say when they don’t mean it), found herself in a PR shit-storm for stating in an interview that working mothers have it easier than she does because while working mothers have a routine (9-5 job, mornings at home with our kids), she does not.  14-hour movie set days are so difficult!  We all, every mother (working or not) collectively vomited a bit and solidified what we suspected about Gwyneth.  She’s so deep into Gwyneth-Ville that she does not know HOW she comes across.  I call this Gwyneth Syndrome.

 

As horrible as that 7th grade Truth Circle may have been in the most awkward and uncomfortable stage of life, I wonder if there was a way we could do this for each other in a good way.  If someone could tell you the “truth” about yourself, would you want to hear it?  Would you tell me if I had Gwyneth Syndrome my friends?
Please?

 

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On Unicorns

In December, I met a man online and we fell for each other hard.  This was not just any man-this was the kind of guy I have only heard about that is usually taken/married/just in movies (picture Jake Ryan as grown man).  Not just smart, funny, wise, interesting, successful, a great Dad, athletic (but not obsessive), movie-star good looking and in a MEN’S BOOK CLUB for God’s sakes.  I kept pinching myself as we went on amazing date after amazing date and I came to label him to my Facebook friends as The Unicorn.  As I have done since I started dating about 2 years ago, I kept looking for the “dealbreakers” but really couldn’t find a bad one.  Dating in one’s 40s becomes a damage assessment game.  Will it be a crazy ex, financial stress, bad kids, STDs, DUIs…basically, I would screen each date like a Private Detective wondering, “How bad is it?”….

 

The only dealbreaker he kept showing me was his fear of love.  Fear of love?  NBD.

 

As it turned out, his fear of love was stronger than his desire to be with me so 2 months in he decided this whole love thing wasn’t for him and we stopped the BF/GF train on the tracks.  As crushed and blindsided as I was, I have always been of the school of, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them” (Maya Angelou) so I did NOT try and persuade him that his decision was a bad one.  I adapted.  We continued to date each other but not exclusively (against popular opinion which was to kick him to the curb) and I started Mission Get Over Him.

 

My mission was futile.  I seem to have the kind of heart that has an on-off switch.  When I love you, it’s nearly impossible for me to stop.  I give my whole heart to what I do and those around me, for better or worse. But I sure did try.  Here is a non-exhaustive list of what I did:

Read self-help books (Highly recommend the book “Attached”.  Brilliant!!!!)

Talked shit and asked existential questions about love on FB  and with Clients (very helpful!)

Wrote in my journal

Cried at night (late night was the worst)

Allowed myself to feel pathetic

Went over old texts to prove I didn’t imagine it

Massage therapy

Consulted a Psychic

Lots and lots and lots and lots of dating

Dated people I thought looked like him (a first and what I consider an all time low and extremely cliche)

Considered a mid-life crisis.  What things haven’t I done yet?  Date a 25-year old?  Visit a sex-club? Why not!

Read extensively about Consensual Non-Monogamy/Polyamory-maybe this is the future???  If I can’t have one relationship, maybe I should have 3 or 5 or 7?  

Made out with new guys

Sang sad songs

 

At one point, I encountered a brilliant 4-year old who was holding a toy purple plastic Unicorn.  Knowing that children are infinitely wise, I asked Josie if she thought Unicorns were real?  She said, “Yes, but they all died.”  And I said, “Why?” Her response was that when the boat came, they didn’t get on it.

 

An apt metaphor.

 

All said, nothing made my love for him go away.  I am sure he felt that when we spent time together but I had let go of any future between us.  Then, at the 5 month mark, my guy decided that he was ready.  I can’t speak for him and how that all played out but I can say that my response was, “Hell yes!” and here we are on the BF/GF train. So is he a Unicorn?  I guess it depends on how you think about it.  Is he rare and mystical?  Yes.  Is he exceptional?  For sure.  But he is a also just a man, with scars and fears and flaws just like everyone else.  It seems childish now to have ever used that label but at the moment, it made a point which is still true.  You don’t often meet Extraordinary.  And when you do, hopefully you are ready for him.

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