Should I Get My Hair Done?

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is, infinite.” ~ William Blake

Our amazing hair stylist, the one my sister’s seen for 19 years and I’ve gone to for seven, opens shop May 15th, as allowed by Ohio.

My sis immediately sets the first available appointment. I panic.

When a person gets Coronavirus, they’re asked where they’ve been. Would I say I risked my life to be pretty?

My sister doesn’t hesitate. She’s in job-seeking mode and Zoom welcomes like the new boardroom.

Not to mention she has a fiancé. Don’t we all like to look our best for ourselves and our mates?

For me, the salon feels like a date with fate. I can’t shake the fear of being intimately close to someone, even a woman I know and trust. The asymptomatic aspect of Coronavirus scares me. Someone can look and sound healthy and still be a carrier.

Heck, I avoid people with the flu! When I first heard of Corona, I didn’t even want to speak of it for fear my magnetic mind might attract it.

This isn’t the flu. Currently, 286,371 people in the world, 80,423 in the United States, and 1,357 in Ohio have died. Our desire to resist statistics, science, and history seems as contagious as the pandemic.

I pride myself in my ability to seek, understand, and accept truth so I can deal with it.

The truth is I love going to the salon, being pampered and beautified. Isn’t our emotional health connected to our physical?  

If I feel pretty, am I protected?

My sister clearly chooses this trip to the salon. Yet, she refuses to enter a grocery store.

I take that risk if I miss ordering online in time. Or I need spinach (beer). The other day, I said, “I’m never going in the store again!” People in every aisle. I freaked behind my mask. It felt like running an obstacle course.

Upon checkout, a young brat, I mean lady, didn’t stay in her place on the red X. Mask free, she came forward, passed so close behind me I could feel her breath, just to put her Little Red Riding Hood sized basket back on the rack. Then, she stood youthfully convinced of her invincibility less than six feet from me.

We each get to decide how we’ll act and react within this new reality. The way I make peace with people like Miss I Do What I Want is A) remember I, too believed myself invincible in my 20s, and B) practice compassion and recognition surrounding the stages of grief.

We’re collectively grieving life as we knew it, even as many of us bask in more comfort and ease than some citizens will experience in their lifetimes. Still, whatever we did and how we did it before stay-at-home orders paved the path is gone.

We’re in a new normal. The old lifestyle died. Enter denial. Denial in a worldwide pandemic is almost comical. This isn’t happening. It’s made up.

Will we dare to face the truth in this worldwide crisis? Or will we stick to these early stages of grief—denial and anger?

We tend to cling to old ways even when they’re not working, like in failing relationships or unfulfilling jobs. We hold tight to what’s threatened for fear of loss.

Then, we bargain for balance amid our resistance as we teeter into the new unknown.

In seasons of grief and loss, I try to stop, turn off the voices of the world, and the louder ones in my head, the ones chattering in the night.

Shhh. I need to get quiet and move into my heart. What do I feel? What do I know to be true in the depths of my being (far below my ego)? What’s right for me and how do I weight that with what’s good for others?

As the doors of salons and restaurants welcome us again, we each have the freedom to choose. Freedom comes with responsibility.

On May 7th, reporters asked Dr. Amy Acton, Governor DeWine, and Lt. Governor Jon Husted if they’d be eating at the restaurants when they open. Governor DeWine said he and his wife Fran would continue supporting restaurants and ordering takeout. He went on to name a few of his favorites. Well fielded, Governor.

Dr. Acton said her life is so busy that’s not what she’s craving. When she gets time, she’s hoping for a walk in the woods. And sure, of course, down the line, she’ll dine out, but it’s not on her radar now. Way to walk the line, doctor.

Lt. Governor Husted said yes, indeed, he’d take his wife out for Mother’s Day, although dining in restaurants didn’t present as an option then.

I said to my sister, “I bet Amy Acton isn’t going to get her hair done.” Jayne said she didn’t think Dr. Acton would support opening if she didn’t believe it’s safe.

I agree in theory, based on Acton’s exemplary character and expertise. However, as DeWine says, opening isn’t without risk. None of the medical experts insist this phase is completely safe. In fact, a spike is likely.

We’re making the transitions as safe as possible, as a worldwide pandemic touches close to even the most protected, tested, and powerful.

Vice President Pence’s press secretary Kate Miller tested positive for coronavirus, as did a personal valet of the president’s, along with Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant.

Back to the important question: my hair. At our salon, temperatures will be taken before we can enter, and then only individually. Taking care of clients presents a risk for the stylists. too. They weigh this with the prospect of being out of work. We all have bills to pay.

Yes, we can do two things. Can we acknowledge business profits and people processes can be both contradictory and complimentary? We don’t like juxtapositions. We stomp our feet for concrete answers.

Maturity means facing the multiple aspects of decisions to navigate wisely.

I don’t want all this work just to decide if it’s safe to get my hair done! I want my yesterday!

So, my sister and I call our research-minded father for his take. He says he’s just realizing this coronavirus season may go on for another 18 months. Gulp. In that case, he says, we can’t keep in our homes.

Jayne tells about the temperature taking, and she and the stylist wearing masks. I trust our stylist, but it’s not a matter of trust. She has a husband who works as safely as he can. My concern revolves around the expansion of our so-far safe circle.

You know how if you have sex with someone, you’re sleeping with all the people they’ve slept with? Now, when you’re in someone’s breathing space, you’re sharing it with all those they’ve been in contact with. Cooties!

My dad says the risk is minimized by the precautions. Yet, you’re very close. The man with all the answers can’t say for certain, the way he did when I intended to work the voting polls. “That,” he said, “is not a good idea.” It turned out DeWine agreed. Thank goodness for the simple answer of vote by mail.

As far as getting my hair done, I’m chicken. For years, I fought an undiagnosed illness which affected the quality of my life. I found some answers and steadied, but I haven’t forgotten the feeling of not being able to breathe normally or being in pain consistently. Now, I cherish my health. I’m not ready to take extra bets on my immune system.

My ego hates this decision! My rebellious heart resists rules. Self-regulation isn’t my strong suit. And yet, this time, I say no.

My sister will return home from the salon looking fabulous. Besides, if she’s going and we live together, I’m going to get whatever she gets, so why not go? Hello, bargaining.

Shhh, quiet. Right now, for me, my gut says no. B*tch. I’ll keep practicing safe distancing. My sister will support our stylist, come home looking fly, and land a job she likes, if she likes, because we each get to choose.

May we all choose wisely, for ourselves and for each other.

How to Be a Tree.

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to us to merit the face you have at fifty.” ~ Coco Chanel

This tree, she is a woman. I’ve walked beside her and put my hands on her, exchanging energies for seven years. I never tire of her, through all the seasons, atmospherically and metaphorically.

I’ve brought special people to meet her. Kindred spirits recognize her before I introduce them. “That tree is a woman,” said one boyfriend walking with me in my grief, trying damn hard to make me love him. In that moment, looking at her, he forgot. We loved her together.

She greets me and calls to me whichever way I walk on trails through the woods. The other day, I noticed, from a certain angle, she appears pregnant. When I face her from the other side, where the bark is bare and my handprints lay, she’s a woman’s legs reaching upwards, her head buried beneath the ground. She holds her center between those long legs reaching to the everything, her privates so clear and public.

My sister and I once spotted baby racoons peaking out and hiding there, from their tree mama’s womb. They ran back down into her for safety, solid and wide, a condominium complex to creatures, in her body.

Today, I merged with her. I felt the rings of history traced and expanding within me. Bark like skin has endured and grown through a thousand seasons, rainstorms, and children’s laughter on the path beside her.

She adjusted her stance and deepened her roots years ago when people came close and carried electronics into her vibrational field. Most recently, she startled with so many human voices released into her arena. She’s come to welcome them as kindly as the deer and little masked thieves. She holds a sense of humor about humans bearing masks, only matched by her compassion.

This tree is a queen. No one tries to overthrow her. Little ones bend before her. Grass gathers at her feet in spring. A white blanket snuggles close in winter. She’s in love with the river running at her back. Like her, he’s ever-changing and always remaining. Her strength is indisputable. If she were a poem, she’d be titled Phenomenal Woman.

She sways and radiates her vibrant lime-green leaves with the wind in celebration for life. Yes, on blue sky days, but also under gray clouds, starry nights, and times when she finds herself naked again.

This tree stands at a crossroads of several paths which intertwine and encircle her, along the river, through the field, across to the cemetery where old trees salute, and home to neighborhoods where visitors live.

Today, I embody her. When I asked, she said, “I’ve been waiting.” She’s as sexy as any wide-open woman. She houses many and cares for all. All are welcome, like the Lady Liberty of our united nature. She hears and feels it when other trees fall in her forest. She nourishes the collective air and peers at the fish performing. She’s regal, standing at grace with everything. She sings with the all the birds and lets owls perch on her arms.

Nothing deters her from her purpose. To be a tree.

Who We Are When Society Stops.

“Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk. ~ Antonio Machado

Here’s to the book burning party in my soul.

Goodbye to the agenda society smudged into me.

I’m a pink lotus flower. My crown is a cotton candy headdress. My belly a river rolling.

I’m a baby forming in the Universe’s womb.

A free being. I float. I do not know agenda.

How could I write lists when I gave my words to the earth?

Mother nature rocks me. I am new life, a mysterious seedling of divine flowering cells.

I know nothing. Thank God.

I’m not the books my mother wrote or the words she spoke or screamed.

I am love. Loved. Loving. It’s my thing.

I’m not my sister’s grief or her keeper. She’s not my savior.

I don’t owe her. I love her.

I love me, too. And our sweet destiny intertwined by mystery.

I’m not competition. I’m a feather floating.

Rose quartz, Tanzanite, and a coyote.

I cost nothing. Charge nothing.

I am the wind, the dirt, the knife my grandfather created with shiny metal and dappled colored scraps, carving my path the way rivers erode the earth.

I smell of lavender and rose petals and sage.

I don’t count my worthiness from words on pages. They take their own form.

I’m not commander-in-chief. Nor do I want to be.

I’m song and chant and freedom dance.

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo. I bow to the divine teacher within.

I am Sat Nam. Truth is my identity.

Watch me, a full moon at dawn. Hear me, gratitude laced with laughter.

We are blessed and blessing. We bless as we take breath.

I’m a smooth stone and a child’s handprint in wet cement.

I don’t mind being a misfit.

It was all that fitting in, proving, planning, getting over, waking up, trying, deciding, failing…so damn tiring!

Now, we just are. Nothing. From which everything forms.

A blank canvas of dark night where stars blaze and amaze and awaken imagination.

We are a society stopped, the breath in between the notes of a song not yet written.

We are harmony rising.

How We Can Unite Rather Than Divide.

“But there is a good chance that we will all keep bashing each other anyway.” ~ Van Jones, Beyond the Messy Truth

Let the media and political pundits divide.

Let truth and love unite.

Yes, but those MFs and idiots on the other side!

Admit it. That kind of thinking is part of the problem and it’s pervasive in our society, even in some families and friendships.

Ouch. Own it. Who do you disagree with?

If you’re Republican, it’s the damn Democrats—the Libs.

If you’re a Democrat, it’s the Trump rats.

If you’re apolitical, it’s all that noise.

Now, who do you disagree with and also love and respect in other aspects?

Let’s meet there—in the love in our hearts, even when we disagree. Quiet your mind and the proving of things you know.

Take a different approach.

Why the hell would you, when they are so clearly wrong and won’t listen?!

None of us wants to be told how to think or that we’re wrong or stupid.

We want to be right!

Yes, but underneath that we each want to be seen, heard, and respected.

It’s not easy to give what we want to receive.

Recently, I went to lunch with a gal I used to babysit, who’s now a completely legit grown-up with kids of her own. She’s also a Trumper.

Full disclosure, I’m a Democrat. In my soul. Please don’t hate me. Or, even if you do, read on and see how I learned to listen to a Trumper I’ll call Marie.

I babysat her when I was in high school and later, in college, I lived with and helped her family during a crisis. Marie’s mom is my friend, mostly out of loyalty because she saved my big sister’s self-esteem and confidence at a critical juncture as a teenager.

So, off to lunch I go with Marie, a gal I only kinda-sorta know, no longer the little girl I babysat, but the woman I’d later learn hesitated meeting me because we so disagree politically.

I get it. Sometimes it’s easier to keep our distance, not engage in conversation, and resist confrontation.

One of my favorite words is juxtaposition. That’s where Marie and I met for lunch.

Sitting in my Prius before I went in, I prayed for a hand on my shoulder and one over my mouth.

I took a minute to remember Marie’s innocence, and how I let her, as a young girl, ride (and crash) on my brother’s skateboard, back when I babysat for fudgesicles and money to afford Outward Bound.

I was once 15 and Marie was once lost in the shuffle. In those days, Marie had a sister and I had a brother.

In between then and now, we’ve each held a thousand broken pieces.

And we’ve risen, as women do.

So, from that place, I listened when she said bad things about Obama and raved about Trump’s greatness, while stating the fact of his lack of character.

I breathed deep and it seemed so did she.

We had an adult conversation where we found common ground without either of us turning the other one around.

In those moments that went political, it felt like work, but worth it. 

Not because I won. Not because she convinced me.

Because I listened with my heart. Although, trust me, my brain and ego wanted to take that girl on!

I turned them off. I trusted I’d be given the words to say and the ability to keep my mouth closed without resentment.

The rest of our lunch, we discussed her new job and my writing career.

I learned she didn’t remember my brother Bill, who died at age 27.

I assured her, I think, without ideal words, I understand what she’s missing in a sister. I have mine and I can’t imagine having lost her when I was little, like Marie was when her sister had a life-altering car accident that crashed their family and forever shattered the solid foundation Marie had previously been raised on.

I feel compassion, not pity, for her.

I love the woman she’s become.

Both of us earned our living in sales for decades and came close to selling our souls. But we didn’t. Deep down we value our lives and ourselves.

From that place, as women (and men), we can honor one another. Unity starts in the heart.

Sometimes it’s hardest to go there, to the space of juxtaposition with loved ones, the people we otherwise like or love, but don’t want to dance with in the political divide.

Be brave. Be an adult. Refuse to engage in rhetoric and bullsh*t. Be willing to lean in for meaningful conversation. Remember: everyone has reasons for their beliefs.

If we listen to each other we may not agree, but we can build a bridge of mutual respect. These days, we could use some new bridges.

Who I Want to Be When This is Over.

When this is over, in time too far from our liking, we’ll give oxytocin hugs and look into the eyes of strangers, knowing they’ve endured something similar in the hunkering down.

They’ve worried and missed people, resisted touch, and changed habits.

In those eyes we’ll see sadness, compassion, and in many cases, resurrection of humanity’s soul.

We’ll know something akin to what people who’ve been to war or prison or watched loved ones taken by cancer: both our smallness and our essence.

If we’re brave, we’ll change more than habits and mindsets.

We’ve been given an opportunity to reset our priorities.

Some will continue to play the games online and work away their time.

In many ways, my life as a writer remains consistent, while I recognize the reshaping of the environment and outside noise.

The world grows both louder and quieter.

Shhh, can you hear your soul?

Can you feel the collective rearrangement of reality, the realignment of the divine, the righting of wrongs, as so often happens in the face of tragedy?

It’s the worst of times; it’s the best of times.

Welcome to the resetting of society. Baby, it starts with you and me.

When I come out on the other side of this, I want to stand witness to a better world.

How dare I call this potential good when it’s obviously bad?

The same way vitality rose in me when my brother died, and I was just 25.

Five years later, compassion became my companion after cancer took my mother.

Amid my divorce(s), I understood more about who I was, who I was not, and what kind of woman I intended to become.

When we succeed—in business, careers, and relationships, it’s a joy ride.

When we fail, lose, are forced to change habits, and foundations fall, we get to choose.

We get to question, resurrect our character, and redraw our boundaries.

When I walked, awake, into my second marriage, I knew full well what I wanted and what that man offered. Hell, I manifested it!

A decade later, during the worst financial crisis to hit the United States since the Great Depression, I called upon my courage and voiced my goodbye to a man I still loved, my husband. Because I knew for certain what I did not want.

Sometimes we only learn that by getting it.

In America, our actions and policies prove we wanted money to be the bottom line.

We wanted profit and power, if only for the next cycle.

We wanted to believe the bubble wouldn’t pop again.

Didn’t we all know, deep down, the emperor had no clothes?

When this is over, many of us will have looked in the mirror to find more than lines we don’t like. We’ll find the lies we’ve been telling ourselves.

Like, we’re in control and everything is good.

That’s it. That’s the one I had to learn repeatedly.

Every time, it’s helped me to surrender to something bigger—a bigger picture, a greater purpose, a larger love for myself and others.

Our cities and societies, even humanity, is experiencing her own dark night of the soul.

It’s just beginning. Like the day you finally admit I don’t want to live like this.

Or your partner speaks some truth you resist or deny.

The way I did when a friend of a friend kept talking about Coronavirus back in February. Enough already!

We shut him down, even made fun of the conversation, as if we could avoid its bigness.

We did, the way we tend to do at first when relationships, lifestyle changes, or abrupt bad news reveals what we don’t like.

At first, I thought Corona-virus a punchline to pair with Lime Disease. Funny!

It wasn’t until a conversation with my father that the enormity began to hit me.

As a career, my father worked in nuclear nonproliferation, and in his final years investigated and analyzed Iran’s weapons stockpiles. As a retiree, he researches cancer information, studies, and trials for friends contending with the disease.

Days before the intended Ohio elections, my father made a special call to tell me he didn’t think I should volunteer as a poll worker.

What? He was serious. “Any other time. It’s not worth your health,” he said. My dad does a lot of things, but drama doesn’t typically describe him.

At first, I thought maybe he’d been reading too much. Then, I reminded myself he’s trained on statistics, facts, and validating sources.

I started doing my own research, although soon I didn’t have to. Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, began giving afternoon news briefings.

This woman deserves a medal for her exceptional work and the way she explains science with clarity, compassion and facts.

Then, the closings came. Day by day. Schools. Restaurants and bars. Barber shops and salons. Daycare centers. Life as we knew it fell away.

Panic, the low-level buzz brewing below the surface, came crashing like waves.

Now, I feel the need to confess my part in the mess. My sister and I went to the movies the last night they were open. Because we could, but wouldn’t be able to the next day.

Last week, when I already knew better, I hugged a friend. I don’t regret that one.

I’ve also hugged my sister. And two new friends in their home recently after we didn’t sit six feet apart.

I also bought extra toilet paper. That was an accident, I promise. (I thought the rolls in the garage were paper towels.)

My sister and I live together and typically hug each other every morning when she goes to work, every night when we go to bed, and whenever we say goodbye. She’s no longer going to work. We’re no longer hugging goodnight. When she left to go see her fiancé we said, “Virtual hug.” This sucks.

I’m not very good with rules, but I want to follow these because the last thing I want to do is accidently, or unknowingly, cause someone to be sick, hospitalized or die. That someone could be a stranger, a loved one, or me.

I choose to be educated, aware, and take right action in this critical time. So, I’m home, resisting trips to the grocery store or even around the corner for beer.

I’m here, trying to listen to my soul and let something better than the chatter rise. We’re going to get to the other side. When we come out, people will ask what we did.

I’m more interested in who we’ll become. Who will each of us, and all of us, those of us who live through this, become?

Four Ways to Look at Coronavirus.

“Life was more innocent for all of us not so long ago.” ~ Marianne Williamson, The Gift of Change

1. Denial

I don’t want to hear this!

Why do you keep talking about this?

Everything is fine.

This doesn’t affect me.

It’s not that bad.

It’s just like the flu.

Get me a Corona!

2. Hype

This is horrible!

We’re all going to die!

Why is this happening?!

It’s transferred through the eyes so the masks don’t help.

3. Spiritual Bypassing

This is all about bringing people to a higher order. So, if people die, it’s their soul’s contract, just as everything is intended. La-la-la.

4. Maturity: the ability to see beyond black and white and take responsibility

This is a pandemic of proportions we’ve never experienced in our lifetime.

It’s challenging individuals, families, and societal structures.

Like every crisis, good things will be born from it and character will be revealed.

May I do my part, small or large, and be a force for good.

How to Be Brave Again.

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” ~ Anne Frank

I used to be brave. I climbed in canyons alone and hitchhiked when I was a kid. I rode a bus across the country at 14 to go to Outward Bound. I rock climbed blindfolded.

I knocked on doors and did in-home sales for decades, going into strangers’ homes unafraid of anything but flubbing my closing lines.

I drove across the country numerous times and moved to Mexico once. 

Even after being raped by a boss at age 24, I held an invincibility at my core.

Things are different now. I’m different, but so is my country.

Years ago, my sister and I went to the Bahamas. On a walk along the beach, local men laid like lizards on cement walls and leered at us like we were meat. Their eyes on us felt animalistic.

I’ve seen that look in the eyes of some American men more often in the past few years.

There was the guy in the parking lot at the Mexican restaurant when I walked to get my jacket from my car parked next to him. I said hi and his eyes met me with hatred, enough to make me sprint back to the restaurant. I’d like to say he was the only one, a rarity.

But, in today’s society, being female is a vulnerability. Yes, it always has been, but not to this extent, not for a long time.

You can tell me I’m paranoid, or just devoid of logic. Logic isn’t what’s guiding our society. Even when it was, that left out female knowing.

I know too much, see too much, and feel too much fear.

It’s not just about the men who leer. It’s about knowing, due to our hyper-vigilant gun ownership, any altercation could turn dangerous. And it’s not just altercations. It’s concerts, movies, and children going to school gunned down in innocence.

This isn’t to point blame or suggest maybe we have a problem with violence. It’s acknowledging that the overwhelming presence of guns most places I go can make me want to stay home, to hide in safety.

My mom owned a gun and believed in gun rights and the NRA. Oh, what I’d give to have a conversation with her today.

Just like with pizza or beer, a little isn’t bad, but as a lifestyle too much can be devastating.

I’ve altered my lifestyle for safety and security. Certainly, this is in part due to growing out of youth’s invincibility.

However, even as an adult, I used to feel freer, just a few years back.

Isn’t America about freedom? I don’t feel as free and fear it will get worse.

Too many of our heroes have been revealed as dangerous predators. Too many more roam free, eager, and now, emboldened.

What’s a woman to do, but be afraid? Be brave! You say?

Yes, but not in the way of denial of danger. Not, for me, in grabbing a gun to be part of the society hell bent on rights beyond legitimate concerns.

We all agree mass shootings are bad, as well as individual ones. Cop killings are bad. Cops killing? Really bad.

What I fear is the structures we’ve come to count like the ground we stand on are crumbling. The rules have changed in every area. Truth is disputed.

Serious journalists, the likes of the New York Times and Washington Post, once the bastions of our civil society, who took down Nixon, have been framed as enemies.

Roger Stone has a tattoo of Nixon on his chest and the guy in the White House defends him.

No, I’m not bashing. I’m looking clearly.

As a nation, can we see, or shall we continue to be as blind as Camille Cosby?

No matter the facts, she chose loyalty to what she perceived as truth, to the man she knew as good. Who can blame her?

We love who we love. We put our faith in them. We lower bars to make way for them.

When it’s personal, like a marriage and family, it takes time to see a reality so in conflict with what we’ve been told and shown and believe in our core.

As a county, do we have time?

I’m fearful. I’m told to think positive. I try not to be cynical.

Shall we wait until global warming becomes unbearable?

Geez, this gal’s negative! Turn away. Or don’t. I understand the impulse.

What are you grappling with? Where is the collective personal and the personal societal?

Apparently, we need to learn from personal experience and until it touches us, let’s turn off the TV, call the truth fake, and for God’s sake, take care of ourselves.

Yes, I’ll take care of myself to the best of my ability. I’ll also care for loved ones and strangers when and where I can. I’ll speak and write truth.

I’ll be brave again. Courage is revealed in the face of fear.

To call upon mine, I’ll reread Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl and Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Like Frank and Frankl, even if the worst is upon us, we can be diligent in our faith, seek purpose, and imagine ourselves being a part of a better world, or at least paving a path for future generations.

We can be brave again. We must be brave again.