My hair saga continues. This is a longer process than I thought, but not as difficult as I was told. Let’s go back a few weeks: I had a haircut just before Christmas. Not totally in agreement because I liked the length of my hair . What to do. Some of the blond had to go and that required cutting it. I thought it was too short, but it turned out very easy to manage and style.
Christmas came and went. I was using a special shampoo for blond/white hair. Slowly, but surely, my hair started to become too light. In photos, it looks like a halo around my face and that was not very flattering!! I started wearing darker colors and fancy necklaces and scarves to draw attention away from it. It was getting tiresome. Something had to be done and I was just delaying the inevitable.
My family and friends have been very supportive, but I do think they were not telling me what they really thought of this change. I saw myself in the mirror and wasn’t that happy. I had to do something…..
My roots were about 41/2 inches and cutting my hair shorter was not an option. It will take me forever to grow it again. So I needed a solution and I needed it fast. Of course, besides accessories I thought of losing weight. Why do women think losing weight is the answer? Whatever. I mostly kept my hair styled and ignore the looks. Didn’t I tell you? I have started to be noticed again…..
Finally, I found out a few things: the need for a new round at the stylist was necessary and we had to add a bit of color. The answer was simple: lowlights!!! That is the second phase of the process. Lowlights are darkening strands of hair achieved by using colors that are darker than your natural color. Remember, highlights are the exact opposite! The things I have learned during this time…..
An appointment was made and the day arrived. Little did I know I was going to have even less length and a different look. My hair was again separated into strands, colored a greyish-brown (if that is a color at all!!!). Again my head looked as if I could get signals from Mars, but I spent half the time waiting. The stylist declared all had worked out, cut about an inch off my hair and styled it again. A new look: the third in as many months. What to do.
I am not sure this is what I expected. My hair is darker in places and my roots are still grey. It looks as if I colored it, but it has bounce and shine and that is important. I have learned that the process is going to take longer than I thought. There is no way to get through this quickly, unless I cut my hair short. I don’t want to do that, so I’ll wait. I can’t avoid the two-tone effect, unless I keep doing lowlights and highlights. I am not interested in keep coloring my hair, no matter what it’s called. That was the point: I wanted to go natural. I wanted to stop the time and expense, the damage and the irritation that come from coloring my hair.
So there you have it. I am going to do this the hard way, apparently. Will continue to draw attention away from my multicolored hair, will try to lose some weight (which will be a wonderful thing!!!) and will ignore the looks and stares. The latter will be the easiest part!!! I will keep you posted.
For those who know me well, this would be a very strange post. Adriana, my mother-in-law, and I had the kind of relationship that people write jokes about, the kind most people are afraid of when they marry or warn their daughters about. You do not see eye to eye or have opposite views on most everything or she is just so difficult. In my case, all of the above!!!
Yes, when I got married, I had already met her. Knew exactly what to expect……and I was wrong. It was actually worse and it didn’t get much better all the years she was alive after our marriage. This is not to say that we didn’t have our moments; I made an effort from time to time and she adored my children, which made a big difference in our relationship. It was stormy to say the least and I am sure people felt sorry for me, she was just difficult with everyone around her. Not a walk in the park, but a learning experience for me. Absolutely, I am admitting I learned from her. This is something I would have never done even a few years ago…….much less write about for everyone to read!!! It is the truth, though, and it’s never too late to accept that fact.
Adriana was very true to herself. She knew what she wanted and got it most of the time. Her opinions and views were firm, unquestionable and never abandoned. You might not have agreed with them, but you could not have been but in awe of her perseverance. Having an argument with her was useless. She never lost her cool, never raised her voice. It could be infuriating!!! Still, I learned that if you want to make a point, getting hysterical and losing your cool was NOT the way to go. Here is lesson Number One: know who you are and be true to yourself.
She knew how to take care of herself. Since she was in her teens, when she spent a year without being able to walk, she learned the value of exercise. Yes, she took care of getting some exercise everyday, rain or shine. Be it a swim in the ocean or a walk in her yard. Her friends told me that she went on a diet for three months before her wedding, so she could fit in the dress she had designed….This was in 1945!!! When I met her, she was 52, slim and impeccably groomed: just right, never overdone. Later in life, she would take a day off a week and she didn’t work! She would go swimming, have lunch by herself or with friends and return home in the early afternoon. I have walked and lifted my 5 pound weights for years and learned to enjoy traveling on my own and to play bridge. Here is lesson Number Two: take care of your body and make time for yourself.
Adriana knew how to get the best service everywhere she went. From restaurants to boutiques, from airports to hotels, she always got someone to do her bidding. She got the best table or the room with the best view. She could convince sales staff to bring her clothing or shoes to her car for her to try at home. Then return what she didn’t want and pay for the rest!!! Would ask for a wheelchair at the airport when it wasn’t the thing to do and would hand over her carry-on to some stranger to handle for her. Never lost anything……Not there yet, but I have learned to get the best table and change rooms if I am not pleased. Here is lesson Number Three: it’s all in the way you ask and the way you present yourself.
She was not interested in housework, but knew how entertain. Something we had in common, I don’t like housework, as you know by now. Adriana had a flair for ignoring the whole thing, never letting a little dust or an unswept floor get in the way of her day. I am still trying to learn that one. She’d rather entertain and when she decided to, she would get organized: whipped a few munchies or a full dinner in a matter of hours, called everyone she wanted to see and practically ordered them to come. Most people would just come and ended up enjoying themselves!! I learned to take it easy with housework, still working on entertaining. Did learn from her to make a mean roast-beef. Here is lesson Number Four: learn to live the day, don’t stress about housework, it can wait.
Adriana passed away in 2001, after a short illness. In the years since, I have slowly realized that without meaning to, I learned a lot from her. I find myself, at times, appreciating the way she did things. Who would have known…..maybe it means I am getting older!!!
TIME magazine dedicated this week’s cover to mindful breathing. The article is fabulous, a must read. TIME editor, Radhika Jones, says “multitasking is affecting our concentration and mindfulness can sharpen our focus“. Well, who would have thought? We have been told for years that multitasking was something to be proud of. The ability to do several things at a time proved what organized human beings we were, capable of achieving anything. It seems now that we were confusing movement with achievement: running this way and that did not mean we were accomplishing much!!!
I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better about this. I could never, really, do more than a couple of things at a time comfortably and then, I wasn’t sure I was completing or doing them right. In the meantime, I have discovered that we have to do things mindfully. This involves breathing properly and I wasn’t….Yes, it all comes down to that: breathing!!!
Frequently, we are told or we tell our friends to breathe. I was just telling a friend a few days ago to do just that. She responded that she was too tired to breathe!! Since we usually mean an inhale/exhale motion when we are flustered, frazzled or upset, that is not enough to produce all the benefits people are talking about. Here is an article that would explain those benefits better than I ever could: Benefits of Deep Breathing
We know that situations in our lives can make us stressed, tense, nervous. In this modern world, when we think of fighting stress, we think of changing our diet or our exercise routine. We even think of medication! Very seldom do we think about changing the way we breathe. We take breathing for granted and think we are doing it right, but we are mistaken. This is what I have learned and tried on and off for years. Unfortunately, I only tried it when I was upset and ready to scream….you understand what I mean. The trick is to do it all the time. From now on, I will try to do this on a regular basis, until this becomes my breathing pattern: breathe slowly, deeply in your abdomen not your chest. Holding the air in your lungs and exhaling through your nose or slightly parted mouth. Keep an even rhythm. It is definitely a learning process, but one we must learn. Soon!!!
Breathing properly makes us powerful because it makes us concentrate and focus. When we learned to do this, we can apply mindfulness to all aspects of our lives. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, on the task at hand, on our present goal. A statement I found on the Psychology Today website says: “when you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience”
So it’s back to basics: BREATHE, so we can achieve, live better, be healthy and enjoy life!!!
I am afraid of flying, something I don’t see changing in the near future, but that is another post, another challenge. It gets so bad, just buying my ticket gets me into a panic mode. Short trips are the worst, all the anxiety without time in between to relax for the next leg of the trip. So our weekend trip to Baltimore presented its challenges. Fortunately, I have decided to Toss and Listen. In other words, a time for learning and I did.
These are simple and obvious lessons that I never spent time considering before. What was I thinking?
I don’t have to take part in any planning to enjoy the trip!! Camille and Frankie planned the whole thing with Frank’s help. After years of involvement in planning vacations, this was the best lesson. Yes, they can plan and execute without me having to decide or arrange anything. Tickets were bought, hotel reservations made, where were we going for dinner or what attractions to visit: all planned to the last detail. Splendid! All I had to do was pack my suitcase. There was something to learn from that as well.
You can take everything you need for a weekend trip in just a carry-on bag. You might think this was a given…..but then you don’t know me well. I dislike dragging a bag, pass all the TSA inspectors at the airport and then take it on board, lift the thing up to the overhead compartment, take it down when you arrive. I have refused to do this for ages. On a short trip, I’ve learned finally, this is better. Who would have known? Now, there is a trick in the packing for a short trip.
Pack only what you need. Yes, another news flash. Mix and match clothing, shoes that are comfortable and stylish, preferably two pairs only. I always pack so much, for every trip. The reality is: do not carry three sweaters if two are enough! Nowadays, all toiletries come in travel sizes: take advantage!!! If not, use the ones offered by the hotel. Travel size make-up and perfume are also available! Time to accept the inevitable.
These three seem so obvious, you might be laughing at this point. For me, these were lessons I had refused to learned for years. Leaving the planning to others was the easiest to learn. I can get used to that AND probably will. The carry-on bag and the selective packing were a bit harder, but I can do that as well. After all, if I have to carry the suitcase, I might as well pack light!!
Once we got past the planning and packing, there was the flight and the hotel. Relax with a drink as soon as you get on the plane and if the flight is bumpy……you’d not feel a thing! The hotel is another thing: I like nice, fluffy pillows and enough covers to keep me warm. The bed should not be hard and I am picky about the room, the size, the temperature, what to do?. So you will not be surprised by what’s next.
I am too old to give up my comforts!!! This is not a lesson in itself, just a realization, but it is SO important. For years, I have been a bit accepting, telling myself: it’s a short trip, I only go to the room to sleep, we can compromise. Well, I finally accepted that there are things in life you don’t compromise on. Let’s change rooms if we don’t like the first one we get. Ask for fresh towels everyday, sorry about the environment! Once you have the room you need, make good use of it.
Go back to the hotel during the day and take a nap. I am sure some of you think this is a given. It usually is on long trips, but never on short trips. After all, we are there for a short time, let us walk and visit and do as much as possible…we’ll rest later. Not anymore: if I walk all day and visit every museum and attraction, I’d be in NO condition to go out and enjoy my dinner….and I’ll be cranky! Logically, get back, kick off your shoes and take a power nap before going out again. It works beautifully, especially if the weather is not to your liking. Age has it benefits, don’t forget it. You don’t have to look old or feel old, you just have to take advantage of the age thing.
Slow down and sit down if needed!!! Where is it written that you have to keep up? Traveling is a pleasure, not a marathon. Walk ahead and sit on that comfortable bench, they will come to you in time. Put your feet up while admiring a painting or sculpture. Sit down and have a cup of tea or a drink while others wander around. These are nothing new, but before, I felt a bit guilty doing them: not anymore. Accept your limitations and you’ll enjoy yourself more, trust me! I have nothing to prove to anyone and it feels great.
In keeping with my early proposal of taking each moment and make it the best it can be, I will apply these lessons when I travel from now on. Who knows, traveling might be easier and less stressful for me and whoever travels with me. That is the best lesson I learned in Baltimore!!!
Between Christmas and New Year’s we had a weekend celebration for Camille’s birthday…in Baltimore!!! Absolutely understand your surprised look, but remember, Frank is working there and couldn’t make it for the Holidays. Seemed perfectly natural to travel there…..and what a great idea this was!
Baltimore is a small city, but very welcoming and has been selected as one of the Coziest Cities in the US. It’s a walking city, full of life and friendly people. We were happy to find imaginative and different places to visit. Important lesson learned: Baltimore is surprisingly interesting and true to its moniker, it’s Charming!!! Be open to enjoy any place you visit and you’ll find wonder.
This is what we found. From our hotel, we walked to the Emerson Tower, also known as the Bromo Seltzer Tower. It was built in 1911 for Captain Issac E. Emerson…….he of bromo seltzer fame. Remember that? It’s a copy of the famous tower at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. In 2007 it was converted into 33 artist studios by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts. A fabulous concept to help promote local artists. We met Kathryn Holt, a visual artist, who showed us her studio and gave us a brief history of the tower and some of the artists in residence. Her work is amazing!
Another excellent find was the American Visionary Art Museum. It specializes in the preservation and display of visionary art (known as outsider art, “raw art,” or “art brut”). It is a place of wonder not to be missed if you visit the city. Here you can see the many, vibrant and unusual faces of art……quite unique!!!
Last, but not least the National Aquarium. It is connected to the National Aquarium in Washington D.C., hence the name. Beautifully constructed, it shows you all the water habitats: from the reefs, to the coastal marshes, to the rainforest. Perfect visit on a rainy day to learn how to preserve each ecosystem
We visited quaint neighborhoods, like Fells Point. This historical waterfront part of the city has cobblestone streets and it’s listed in the National Register of Historic Districts. There are 120 pubs in this area and a sense of old-fashioned seafaring town that is very appealing. Lots of antique shops, boutiques and small restaurants to keep you busy. This was also a port of entry into the US. You can still visit the building where immigrants were processed all those years ago. This is a must visit spot, for sure. Fells Point can be reached by water taxis, small barges that transport people around the Inner Harbor. You buy your day-ticket and go around the harbor….so convenient!
Along the way, you take a good look at the USS Constellation, a sloop commissioned in 1854; and the USS Torsk, a WWII submarine commissioned in 1944. Of course, you can go up Federal Hill. Nowadays, it’s a park. It has the best view of the Inner Harbor. The picture of us at the top was taken here.
On Camille’s birthday, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant: La Scala Ristorante. Located in Baltimore’s Little Italy, it was an experience. Family owned, it features an indoors bocce ball court and a wine tasting room. Relaxed atmosphere, excellent food and gracious service, we will go back!
The weekend was a resounding success. The city has a lot to offer and I think we only scratched the surface. We still need to explore what there is to know about Chessy!!!
It’s a New Year and as in every year, we make resolutions. We tell ourselves that we have been given the chance to start over and make things work out this time around. Unfortunately, it is a small minority sticking to their resolutions. I often wondered why…such good intentions and nothing to show for them at the end of the year. There must be a reason, I said, and what I found was: we take the big picture, trying to carry out too much and failing in doing so. Try one thing at a time, one day at a time.
There is also that we are not taking the real meaning of the word into consideration. I might be absolutely wrong on this one, won’t be the first time. Still, a small voice tells me I might be unto something this year. What are resolutions, after all? Here is the definition:
It is fairly clear, isn’t it? Resolutions are good intentions, aims we mean to meet….but wait….there is another meaning. Resolutions are actions of solving problems!!! Now things get clear. We need to take action to achieve, we need to act to solve. With this in mind, let the New Year begin.
Writing things down always helps me. Making lists is still very much a part of my life, let’s write what we want from this New Year. I don’t know about you, but I believe we must know what we want before we can have it. If you don’t know, you will wander aimlessly, wasting time and energy.
Please do not write things like: I want to lose weight, I want a new job, I want to travel. Being vague will get you nowhere. Be specific: I need to get in shape, so I am signing up for yoga or Pilates this week. Same thing applies when you want to travel: I will visit my friend in Holland in the Spring. Then start making this possible: investigate ticket prices, dates you can go. Or if you want a new job: how much you want to earn, are you ready to get into something you really love? Make inquiries about the possibility of changing jobs. Be positive and do your research!
We also tend to ignore our inner selves. We don’t pay attention anymore to what makes us happy. That is a big mistake. Our younger selves used to take risks and try new things. Nowadays, we are more serious and cautious, more careful….and not happy!! Listen and make yourself do small things at the beginning: change your hair color or get a new haircut, buy that dress that makes you feel sexy, treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure. A visit to the salon will do wonders for your self-esteem, I should know. The new me is going grey and my hair has movement and shine. Have a drink with a girlfriend on a week night…small steps. Follow your intuition.
In this time and age, we tend to be so negative. Always focusing in what is wrong with our lives, with our jobs, with our family…..maybe it is the fact that what is wrong is what sells. Everyone focuses on the negative. Toss all that: how about finding out what are you doing right that is making you healthier? or what is happening in your life that is making you happy? Seems nobody is interested, well, you should be. Sit and write these positive things. I am starting a diary about the positive changes I will be making this year and how my life becomes better!!! I will be sure I keep up my Gratitude Journal. Remember the craze about this in the 1990s? It was a brilliant idea, we should start the trend again!!!
Finally, remain in the present. There is nothing we can do about the past, except learn from it!! Some of us just don’t want to look too far into the future, it can be uncertain. That is true, but we can do things now to shape it to our advantage. Take time to get to know what you want, it’s never too late. Trust yourself and follow your passion. Enjoy every day and every moment. This year is a blank book, fill it with the best stories you have written yet and keep making memories…..
Christmas has come and gone. As most everyone else, I love this time of the year. On the other hand, I never know what to do: just let go and enjoy every minute or just reminisce. Those are not mutually exclusive, you would tell me, but they are in my mind. What to do!
My family loves Christmas and I have made it special throughout the years. I kept traditions, cooked, wrapped presents, decorated…I was exhausted by the time the Big Day arrived. Everyone seemed to enjoy the season, and I guess I did too. We all know this fact: Christmas is made of memories. These memories can be sad and happy, all at the same time. I am usually nostalgic at this time, as if I am thrilled and upset about having to celebrate. I have been told this is normal, whatever that means. Have never strived to be normal!!!
To be truthful, I tend to dwell on my past lives more than some during these days. Friends and family and celebrations we shared. From my earliest memories, back in Panama, when celebrations were not at all like the ones I learned to put together later on in life. Everything centered in the birth of Jesus, the manger in a place of honor with beautiful porcelain figurines. Family dinner on Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass and exchange of presents before going to bed. Everyone got enough presents to be happy, but never too many to appear wasteful. My parents were very good at this. Some days, I find myself humming Christmas carols I haven’t heard in years!!! In Spanish and very sentimental, these carols were part of my mother’s repertoire when she used to sing with us. Wonderful times.
Then I came to school in the States. Completely different culture, not unknown, but not totally familiar either. Santa and stories of snowy celebrations, carols that were joyful hymns about sleighing and frightful weather and jingle bells became favorites!! I added them up to my traditions. During this time I met and married Frankie. His traditions were different, so when we had children, we adjusted and took from one and from the other and made new ones for our new family. Our children grew up with them and I have to say, it has been successful!
We settled in Curaçao and our Christmases became more than special. Most of Frankie’s family on the island is Jewish, so our celebration was very family oriented…very much only for ourselves! My in-laws, the children and us: dinner, presents, watching some special movies, carols. Morning Mass on Christmas Day. Those were the days when, I think, Christmas became such an important part of our family traditions: a time really for ourselves only. In many ways, it still is….but we are changing!
Since moving to Miami, new traditions have been started. We share Christmas Eve with my family and Frankie’s when we are here. He has enough cousins to make this celebration huge! We go there first. Then we go to Ana and Laura and her children. It is family, relaxed and fun. Some years, we have traveled and we have shared with friends. Of course, we have also been know to suffer from FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Missing the reunions with family and friends, missing the traditions, missing not sharing….just plain missing.
This year, Frank couldn’t be here for Christmas. He came the week before to celebrate with us. Dinner celebration for our anniversary and presents exchange afterwards. Worked beautifully!! The house was decorated: a real tree with all our ornaments, the ones we have bought along the years of being together, the ones the children have given us or made themselves all those years ago. Poinsettias, lights on the balcony, candles. It’s been a while since I did this.
Then there were the messages from friends all around the world. In these days when people are so stressed and so busy, it is wonderful to see that my friends take the time to keep in touch. Some of them do during the year, but others only touch base at this Joyous time. Never mind, all the news are important, all messages answered, good news celebrated and sympathy went out to those with not so good news…thankfully these were few and far between. These remnants of previous lives, of years spent abroad when your friends were your family and ties were formed that will always be there, make a good part of our cheer…every Christmas!
Christmas Eve was very peaceful, my family only at my sister Ana’s beautiful home….with delicious food and gift exchange. This is a time to celebrate being together and so we did. Laughter and enjoyable recollections of times past. It is wonderful to see that after all these years, my sisters and I still can make each other laugh. Unfortunately, I was under the weather, so Camille, Frankie and I went home early.
Next year, we will get together again and celebrate our similarities and our differences!! After all that is the real Spirit of Christmas!!!
This is me a few days ago. …..It has been three months, one week and 4 days, since I last colored my hair, but who is counting…..well, maybe the people who see me everyday and do not know me well enough to ask what is happening, strangers I meet when I run my errands. The ones that know me well enough are either impressed I have lasted this long or are silently hoping I would come to my senses and color my hair again!! No cheering section yet.
I have to say it’s been easier than I thought, maybe because my hair grows fast and I had become a blonde a while ago….roots blend better, sort of. I also had a new haircut and keep it styled more than I used to. In the end, it’s been easier, I believe, because most of the time I don’t care what people think!! Do not get me wrong, even not caring about what they say, I have found myself doubting my decision a couple of times. Not enough to give up yet, but enough to consider wearing a hat when I went out! Why not? Love hats and they are fashionable, are they not? Seriously, the reward will be amazing, but the way there is paved with doubts and impatience, you need to keep convincing yourself. You need help!
One very good idea is to read about others that have embarked on this journey. So far, I have read everything I found about letting your hair go natural, looking for encouragement and finding it. There are Facebook pages and older women sites that give tips and advise: Vibrant Nation, Zest Now and Sixty and Me. There are also Going Grey – Google Search, I couldn’t believe the amount of information you can find! This is how I have discovered that many women have decided to do this, more than I would have ever imagined. Reasons go from being tired of coloring to the cost, the time and the aggravation. Maybe it’s that they do not need to prove anything to anyone, or the fact that so many celebrities are going grey. There are now examples of glamorous women flaunting their grey locks everywhere!!! Not a moment to soon, I say.
Now, there are women that simply cannot let their hair go grey; either their white hair turns yellow, it’s too coarse and dry or the color just doesn’t go with their complexion. What to do. You would need to try it before you are sure it’s not for you. There is also that you need to be your best when you let your hair go grey. You might need to change your make-up, your hairstyle, your clothes style and your attitude. I know, too much work…..but it will be so worth it… I am sure!!!
I have about three and a half inches of growth already and the Holidays are coming. Christmas is a special time in our home and five days before it’s our anniversary: 40 years!!! Something needed to be done. Enter my beautiful daughter. Camille has a most wonderful stylist….leave it to her to find the best in her new city: Europa Hair Studio. Yesterday, I went to see him and had a whole afternoon worth of work on my hair. Fernando, the stylist, did almost white highlights all over. I looked as if my head could receive signals from Mars! After that, he applied heat to make the hair-lightener work, a violet mask to take away as much of the blonde as possible and a toner to give the hair an even color. When I tell you my hair hurt, trust me, that’s an understatement. It was a long day….
In the end….. voilá, totally worth it! Thank you, Camille!!!!