When I was a kid and restricted to my room for something naughty I had down, I took my ‘kick the can’ attitude with me and slammed the door. “What am I supposed to do, just sit here? Why does my room suddenly seem so quiet? When I get outta here, I’m gonna”…
I’d stew for a while, not realizing that I wasn’t being punished but rather being loved into a new behavior, but it surely felt like punishment. Then suddenly, when I was aware that my adrenaline had calmed and I had set my ‘kick the can’ attitude aside for a moment, I began to open a drawer or take something from the shelf, poke around, which led to poking into rarely visited places of my room. And there it happened; a new found interest in things I once valued but often ignored, now became an interesting treasure trove of valuable ‘me-time’.
The COVID-19 ‘restrictive’ time, at first, reminded me of my naughty restrictions as a kid, until I realized, once again, I wasn’t being punished. I was contributing to an act of love; love for my family and love for mankind as I was protecting both myself and them by following the ‘stay at home’ necessity so a scary pandemic could be brought under control.
Suddenly, just as when I was a kid, the treasure troves of my life, not just the material things that surrounded me in my home, but every aspect of life that I valued, became more; me, myself, my talents, my interests, hobbies and the contributions I knew I was capable of offering to others while I was in isolation. In that moment I became excited as to the possibilities, projects, love-offerings I became aware I had to bring to this difficult and unusual time and keep myself busy and productive. I realized that this strange and eerie time of restriction would only be limited to my lack of creativity. Suddenly the possibilities became endless.
So…. Bring It On!!
Tools. Many years ago, probably when I was fifteen and my parents didn’t have much in the way of resources, I discovered my love for beautiful things. I was fortunate enough to have my own room, but my room just had a bed, a dresser and little else. My Room! It became my entire world, as a young teenager, that couldn’t wait to grow up and have a home of my own. So my room became the first experiment into the adult home I would one day have.
It was then that I realized that the only thing restricting me from having a fabulous bedroom, was me. If I was able to purchase a few items with my little earned money, I could make my room anything I wanted it to be. It was then that I began picking through other peoples road-side discarded stuff. A chair that wasn’t broken, just ugly. An end table that was scratched and warn. Stuff. Trash. Other people’s warn out stuff soon became the object of my treasures.
I taught myself how to sand the scratches out of wood and oil a nice finish back to them. I took apart upholstered furniture and figured out how to reupholster it with new fabric. I learned to work with the tools that were in our garage. Yep, I even managed a table saw, and at one point a gas-fueled chain saw. Paint, wallpaper, fabric, wood anything and everything became my challenge to utilize for the beauty of my environment. Pandemic isolation was no different! Restricted to home? Bring it on!
Income. By the age of sixteen, I was earning money. My mom had a little beauty salon and I knew I was going to go into that field of work every time I step foot in her salon. Like the film Steel Magnolias, where Dolly Parton had a beauty shop on her property and not only fixed hair for the town’s women but generated a safe place for women to help fix each other’s problems, I recognized the beauty of a safe women’s place in my mama’s salon long before I needed to think about a job.
When you work for family, there are often few restrictions as to how fast you can climb the ladder of success. Just show a genuine interest in the job at hand and you can pretty much call the shots. Well, I was only sixteen, but told my mother (no, I didn’t ask), I wanted to apprentice in her salon, while doing the trade program in cosmetology at school. She, of course being a mom who finds pride in a motivated child, was enthusiastic. By the age of eighteen, I had my license, a full book of clients and was making money while all my high school friends were poor and going to college.
There are few restrictions in life when you are a creative person! This career took me many amazing places in my life: New York for two years, Washington DC for eight years where I did both theatre and runway work on the side, which means my social life was flourishing. Then… I had my first child. Not married. Father, a billionaire and a foreigner who contributed ‘nada’ to the first seventeen years of my son’s life. What do you suppose I did? Yep! I went back to my home town, created a beauty salon in my home, just like in Steal Magnodlias and was able to raise my children (yes, later had three more), as a single mom and provide for them.
Then… they grew up, I retired and moved to Brazil for three years and wrote my first book, a fun, gossip beauty shop kind of book. Of course you can buy it on Amazon, but be forewarned, some of it is rather risqué! Confessions of a Hairdresser.
As life unfolded from that point in my life, and forty years a hairdresser was behind me, writing and filming became my passion and desire for a new career, maintaining my license was something I new I would never close a door on. You know, they say, never burn bridges, and just because I wasn’t working in the beauty industry any longer didn’t mean it wasn’t still in my blood. With film, now in my blood, I am as qualified for ‘on set’ hair and makeup as any one in the industry, if not more so, because from 1968 until 2020 I’ve seen and done it ALL when it comes to fashion, hair, makeup and looks!
Covid Pandemic hit. Beauty salons closed. For months, people I often saw on social media disappeared. Bad hair day? Months? Roots? Zero manicures. Scrappy looks? What a nightmare! I did, however, get in touch with everyone close in my life, stock them up on exactly what they would need to do their own hair color, remove gel polish nails and just use a few home tricks for keeping up with nails. Heck, I even drew a few crazy pictures (I soooo can not draw!), to show some of the guys in the family how to cut their own hair, or have a lockdown person do it for them.
Success, for me, is all about being in the driver’s seat of your life, not about how much money you make. I successfully afforded my own life after high school which enabled me to buy my own sports cars, name brand cloths, travel like a crazy person, and yes, even go to school on my terms. I studied languages, just because I wanted to expand my mind, my communication and my understanding of other cultures. Greek was first, then Japanese (rather extensively) Arabic, Italian and Spanish. Then, of course, three years in Brazil and Portuguese was added to this little hairdresser’s repertoire of life experiences. I loved having no one telling me what to do! From my late teens until my late 20’s that was success for me!
My late twenties until I hit fifty, success was entirely about being a stay-at-home mom AND a business woman who could manage both worlds while raising four children as a single mom. And guess what? All my kids are quite proficient in cutting and coloring hair! This unexpected extra that came from my years of having a salon at home, has been great during the Covid pandemic, given that they all live around the country and have families of their own.
Creative people rarely experience restrictions in life because we are always looking for new ways to utilize our talents. Did I mention that as a young teenager I learned to sew? Heck, we all did in home-ec class in high school. Problem was, I don’t like being told what to do, and the first and only garment we had to make in class was ugly! So, what did I do? Oh sure, I made the ugly dress, but in making the ugly dress I learned all I needed to know about making anything else I wanted to make. So I did. I made nearly all my cloths during high school, mostly because, working in a ‘beauty salon’ I had access to French and Italian Vogue magazine which had cloths none of the girls in my school were wearing. I learned how to design what I saw in magazines, use several patterns to create them and before long I became the most UN-POPULAR girl in school! Why? Cause in high school, like in other places in life, if you are not with the crowd, you must be against it. I honestly didn’t care! My sights were set on bigger things.
Later in life I found it incredibly useful to sew, so that I was able to make drapes for our home (silk, of course!), reupholstered furniture, make cloths for my daughter when she was a little girl and many other useful projects that required sewing. Once my daughter grew up, I made sure she learned how to sew, as I did also with my daughter in law, and bought them both sewing machines.
Fast forward to the Covid pandemic… second week in March and masks became more important than toilet paper, if we hoped to walk out our front door. They were no where to be found. Even the elastic to make them ceased to be shipped here from China and none of the fabric stores had them. I did. I also had crafting friends that had elastic. Fabric, I had, lots and lots, years and years of fabric. I made masks at first for folks in the food industry. Sent masks to all my family and friends. Then the orders started coming in to buy them. I think, in total, I made 400 masks during the month of March!
Success in life for me is all about being in the drivers seat of my life. Creative people, which I am, rarely experience restrictions in life, because we worm our way around the structures set all around us. Kids. If you are a parent of young children and have found yourself having to send your child to their room for time out, be sneaky… hide a few things you might hope to catch their interest on. You never know what creative inspirations can come from times of restriction, just like this year of 2020!