Walking in the door, there are two black wagging tails, four eyes looking up, and eight paws padding back and forth and jumping off the ground. Sabbie especially will jump and jump and jump, careful not to land against us, but unable to stay on mother earth. They wiggle and snort, sometimes pouncing on each other in their excitement. There are groans and growls, all to distract me from putting away my coat and purse.
It’s like watching the crowd at a Taylor Swift concert. In my dogs’ eyes, I’ve achieved celebrity status. I’ve arrived. I’m kind of a big deal around here.
If you walked into my house it wouldn’t be any different. I’ve seen the pizza delivery man get a pretty good reception too. So let’s all walk around this week like we’re a big deal.
Cesar Millan is a well-known dog behaviorist, author and television personality. He teaches humans how to be the pack leader for their dog with calm assertive energy. If you watch carefully, you’ll learn everything you need to know to lead a pretty well-balanced human life.
Here are his 10 Principles for Achieving Balance, adapted for humans.
Be aware of your energy – Walk with ease and confidence, your shoulders back and head up. Greet the world with calm assertive energy, not aggression. Take a moment to relax before your meal.
Live in the moment – Be present. The past has gone and the future is yet to be. The only thing that exists is now.
Know the difference between story and truth – What is the story you are telling yourself? What is the truth? Believe in yourself. Know your true value.
Work with Mother Nature – Nature does not achieve balance. It works with ebbs and flows. Growth after death; flood after drought; winter after summer. Imbalance is a necessary part of balance.
Honor your [dog’s] instincts – Trust yourself. Honor your feelings, emotions and body.
Nose, eyes, ears – Use your senses to bring you into the present. What do you smell? What do you see? What do you hear?
Know your [dog’s] natural pack position – Are you an introvert? Creative? Innovative? Intellectual? Know who you are and where you fit in to the world. Don’t try to be something you aren’t.
Create the [dog’s] calm submissive state – Meditate to learn what it feels like when you are relaxed so that it is easier to recreate when you need it.
Be the Pack Leader – You do you, okay? When you’re authentic, you’re at your best, and others are inspired by that. Don’t be surprised if people want to follow you. Then be the leader they deserve.
Life is simple; we make it complicated– Love. Peace. A nice bowl of kibble. It all pretty much comes down to that.
If you want to know more about Cesar Millan, Cesar’s Way, and his 10 Principles for Achieving Balance, click here.
One of my earliest memories is that of sitting at story time in nursery school. I was a young 4-year old with hair so long I often found myself sitting on it. To free it, I leaned forward, bowing my head until it came loose, then rolled back to listen to the rest of the story. Men called me Blondie. Women cooed over my golden locks.
We had an old black and silver hair dryer that could either sit on the counter or be held like blow-dryers of today. We used that until it started to emit electrical shocks, then finally updated to an orange plastic model in the seventies. Mom would sit me down in front of it, working the boar’s-bristle brush through the long maze of snarled nests. If her patience wavered, I never knew it. Although years later I learned how much she hated that task.
The Powder Pouf Beauty Salon was a cornerstone of the *Moon Plaza for many years, along with Buzz’s Barber shop, Dave’s Sport Shop, the Marine recruitment office, a dance school, and the Alcohol Anonymous meeting room in Fridley, Minnesota. Every Saturday morning, for several years, I packed coloring books and crayons in a small bag, and scrambled into the back of my mother’s white Chevy with red interior. No seat belt. No video games. I remember the smell of hairspray, the hum of the dryers, and looked forward to the attention from all the ladies in curlers and lipstick. It was a very pink place, as you can imagine.
If business was slow, sometimes Sandi, my mother’s beautician (they weren’t stylists back then), turned a dryer on a low setting and let me feel the tiny jets of air tickle my scalp. The warmth gave me goosebumps. The white noise lulled me into a trance. Sometimes I got a bottle of pop, pulled out of a coin-operated machine, that clinked and clunked as the money fell, the mechanism unlocked, and the bottles rolled into place. It was a magical place where my mom transformed from Saturday morning bed-head into a ravishing washed, curled, teased, and sprayed helmet-clad angel.
Then one day it was my turn. Mom turned up the hype. This was my rite of passage. I would be beautiful.
Upon arrival, my woman-friend, Sandi, sat me in a booster seat and wrapped me in a cape. In her hands she held scissors, a rubber band, and my faith. She bound my hair in a pony tail, and in one snip her scissors removed from my head the very essence of my being. Sandi held the bound hair up like a dead rabbit at the end of a day’s hunt, then curled it into a plastic bag that my mother tucked into her perfume-scented purse.
I was Sampson. Stunned. Powerless. My mother sat in the chair next to me, chatting and smiling with Delilah, seemingly oblivious to my loss. Several snips and one Saf-T-Pop later, I was on my way home in the back of the Chev. Mom chatted about the usual things, none of which were important to me in my grief.
At home, I sat on the kitchen floor playing with dolls, or coloring, or something. I have a lot of memories of playing on the kitchen floor for some reason. Gramma and Grampa came through the back door to say hello. Gramma’s eyes shifted from me to my mother and back again. I felt like a specimen. Mom explained that this was a Pixie Cut. It was very popular in those days. Feeling their stares like hot fire on the top of my head, I looked up at Gramma’s speechless face. Never being one to say anything if she couldn’t say something nice, she finally announced, “Well, she’s so homely she’s cute!”
“Well she is, isn’t she?”
I didn’t know what homely meant back then, but I knew from my mom’s reaction it wasn’t good. I filed that word into a special place in my memory called, “Things I don’t want to ask about, but want to know someday.” And when I looked back at my school photo many, many years later, it all came back to me. Mainly, because I thought to myself, “My God. I’m so homely, I’m cute.” Like a frog or a bug.
The following Christmas I got a play wig. It was a long blonde play wig, and it was as if someone had reattached a lost limb. I wore it all the time, glamorously flipping it back with my hands, or whisking it off my shoulder with a toss of my head. Eventually, when I had more voice in the matter, I grew my hair out. Mom chiding, “As long as I don’t have to brush out the knots, you can do whatever you want with it.” Later I cut it again, and permed it. Later yet I grew it out and now still wear it long.
The one thing I have never done is color it. I have few vanities with this old body of mine, so let me have this one. Oh, there is some grey in there, but it’s harder to see against the blonde. Men still call me Blondie and more often Sunshine. Women still ogle, although I suspect they’re looking for roots. And someday I’ll be too old to pull off this long, straight Thirty-something style. But I’m going to rock it as long as I’m able, and maybe a little after that.
In my golden years
I imagine I’ll it cut short again. Maybe if I’m lucky they’ll say I’m so homely I’m cute.
Peace . . .
*Moon Plaza still stands. Although updated, it is much the same.
Buzz the barber celebrated his 50th year in business in 2015, although he quit racing motorcycles at the age of 67.
I’m sad to say that Sandi the beautician died in 2008 at the age of 60. She was eventually the owner of The Powder Pouf and another location in the northeast suburbs of the Twin Cities.
There was a WordPress daily prompt some time ago asking what one would say to one’s 14-year old self. The prompts make me think, and maybe one of these days I will even join in.
This particular prompt I found very intriguing. In the days that passed, I found myself thinking more about it. No answer to the question really moved me, until this morning. I felt like listening to music, and I set my iPod to play anything it damn well wanted to. The first song that came up was Bruno Mars, Just The Way You Are.
I was already looking in the mirror, and smiled at myself. I hadn’t realized how seldom I see my own smile. That’s not to say I don’t smile, but I rarely do it genuinely in the mirror. The way my eyes lit up and the lines turned to joy surprised me. It has taken a half of a lifetime to accomplish, but I do like myself just the way I am. I thought about my young self, sans the fine lines of the years, with soft, silky hair, stronger, nimbler. How did that young girl lack appreciation for her beauty? Where was her confidence in body and spirit?
I thought of singing that song to her . . . and my face turned to sorrow. I cried for the love I should have given her; for the mental abuse she suffered from herself. Lastly, I smiled for the long-overdue love I can now give this youngster, residing deep inside me.
Ignore the kissing the lips part, it’s just weird in this context. And if my two daughters are reading this . . . Girls, you are amazing just the way your are . . .
Oh, her eyes, her eyes Make the stars look like they’re not shinin’ Her hair, her hair Falls perfectly without her trying She’s so beautiful And I tell her everyday Yeahh
I know, I know When I compliment her she won’t believe me And it’s so, it’s so Sad to think that she don’t see what I see But every time she asks me “Do I look okay? “ I say
[Chorus:] When I see your face (face face…) There’s not a thing that I would change ‘Cause you’re amazing (amazing) Just the way you are (are) And when you smile (smile smile…) The whole world stops and stares for a while ‘Cause girl you’re amazing (amazing) Just the way you are (are) Yeah
[Verse 2:] Her lips, her lips I could kiss them all day if she’d let me Her laugh, her laugh She hates but I think it’s so sexy She’s so beautiful And I tell her everyday
Oh you know, you know, you know I’d never ask you to change If perfect’s what you’re searching for Then just stay the same So don’t even bother asking if you look okay You know I’ll say
[Chorus:] When I see your face (face face…) There’s not a thing that I would change ‘Cause you’re amazing (amazing) Just the way you are (are) And when you smile (smile smile…) The whole world stops and stares for a while ‘Cause girl you’re amazing (amazing) Just the way you are (are)
The way you are The way you are Girl you’re amazing (amazing) Just the way you are (are)
[Chorus:] When I see your face There’s not a thing that I would change Cause you’re amazing (amazing) Just the way you are (are) And when you smile The whole world stops and stares for awhile Cause girl you’re amazing Just the way you are