Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ichthyosis Awareness Month: May 2017

As May rolls around each year I question what I can do different this year from last to raise awareness about Icthyosis, the genetic skin disease my daughter was born with.  It has, over the more recent years, become important to me to help raise awareness as my love/hate relationship with Ichthyosis has become more about love and less about hate.

In the early years of Ashlynne's life, I couldn't have cared less about raising awareness.  All I wanted was for these doctors to get on the ball and find a cure for my kid, and the other children and adults that were affected by this disease.  But as I have found an inner peace with our situation, I have realized that by raising awareness about Ichthyosis, I am not only educating people on our particular situation, but hopefully spreading awareness about compassion in general.  Ichthyosis is by far not the only disease that carries with it a visual difference.  There is the more common ones, such as cleft pallets, and Down Syndrome.  But there are also the more uncommon ones such as Progeria, and Trisomy 18.  And while some are more well known than others, and are all very different diseases, they all carry something in common:  They all present with visual physical differences.  And MOST of the kids and adults affected with these various diseases know they are different.  And they know you're staring.  And it stings. 

I know most people don't mean to be rude.  They don't mean to stare.  If it's something you've never seen, it's a natural reaction to do a double take.  You're curious.  Maybe you want to get educated.  Maybe you want to go home, and google and try to figure out why the little girl in the mall had such red, dry skin.  It looked like a burn, but maybe it wasn't?   Maybe you have the best of intentions.  I think most people do.  Most people's hearts go out to those with differences.  We, as adults, know what a tough world this is, and we hate this for these kiddos.  But the kiddos getting the stares don't know that.   They just know that yet another person looked a little too long, or stopped in their tracks, or whispered to their friends, and tried not to make it obvious they were talking about them.  They just know that yet another person noticed they were different than the other kids on the playground.  They just became a little more self conscious.  They just pulled into their shell a little more.

So how long is too long to look?  I guess I don't have the magic answer for that.  If my kid wasn't "different" I don't know that I would even think about these scenarios.  But I do know there are gentle ways to handle it if you do notice a kiddo with a difference.  Smile.  Don't rush your child away if they become curious.  It's ok to ask.  You're children are learning from you how to handle diversity in people.  Be the person you want them to grow to be.  Don't just stand there with your jaw on the ground.  Don't stop dead in your tracks.  Don't point.  Don't whisper.  They can see you.  Their parents can see you.  Their siblings, and friends, can see you.  And we all know our loved one is different.  So just smile.  Say hi.  Ask.  Get educated.

Become aware. 

WWW.FIRSTSKINFOUNDATION.ORG

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Hair Emporium... revised

I just realized that other than announcing that I was buying The Hair Emporium, I haven't updated on how everything is going!  So here it is:  The past week has been one of the most exhausting of my life.  More mentally than physically.  We gave the salon a facelift.  And I was terrified!

We closed on the sale on December 12, and I officially became a salon owner.  I waited to get through the process of getting everything switched over, the craziness of the holidays, my first round of taxes, and issuing W2s (and yes, I survived it all) before I put my own touch on the salon.  And it was quite the undertaking.  I mean, this is a BIG space.  It was very well maintained, and in very good shape, but it is huge, and if I wanted to get all of this done in one weekend, I was going to have to bust my butt.  That was a lot of wall space to paint! And to top matters off, I had already signed on to do a 5K race on the same weekend that the salon wasn't booked up, and available for the remodel, and at the last minute, one of my stylists found out she was closing on the sale of her house that weekend, and would be moving, so she would be unavailable to help.  That left it up to me, and a few of my friends and family to get that salon taken apart, flipped, put back together, and ready for reopening in 58 hours.  So bust our butts we did.  And it was so worth it! 

When I say I was mentally exhausted, I'm not being dramatic (believe it or not).  This was a big deal for me.  The salon has a very wide range with our clientele's age, tastes, styles, etc.  So trying to figure out a theme that would appeal to the younger generation and try to pull more of that clientele in, without offending the senses of the current clientele was a big deal for me.  So I started thinking about things that are timeless.  Old Hollywood Glam came to mind.  One of the most classy, timeless movie stars I could think of was Audrey Hepburn.  And Tiffany Blue is one of the most popular colors throughout all generations.  So there we had it: a theme.  Now I just had to figure out what to do with it.  That came together in pieces.  As I found pieces I wanted on the wall, I had a vision for where they would go, and before I knew it, I had a vision in my mind.  Breakfast at Tiffany's theme.  With black, white, and Tiffany blue, pearls, and chandeliers. 

The biggest challenge as far as the painting goes, was by far, the black and white stripes on the bottom.  I had this grand vision that I was not budging from, but this was a huge undertaking filled with measuring, chalk lines, taping, and multiple coats of paint, and trying to keep a steady hand.  Thank God for my friend Kesa, she kind of took charge on this front and we got it done.  It took 2 days for just the stripes, but it looked amazing when it was done.  And surprisingly, unless you look really close in one area, they are all fairly straight!  And I'm not telling where they are slightly off  ;).

I absolutely love the chandelier decal we put
on the wall by the nail station.  So I ordered
another for the front desk :)
When it all came together, it looked even better than I could have imagined.  I had a vision in my head, but seeing it on its canvas made it come to life, and made it real.  The whole weekend, it kept hitting me in waves, I am finally chasing my dream, and with each brush stroke, I was watching it come to life.  I could not have done this without my family and friends.  Some of them devoted their entire weekend to helping me at that shop, and all they got out of it was a few slices of pizza.  My mom, with her bad leg, was up and down off of ladders.  My sister, I mean, she just gets stuff done, whatever I needed, she was on it.  And my friends, that showed up without asking a single question, in their paint clothes.  This is what friendship and love is all about.  Doing something for someone, not expecting a single thing in return.  All of them were so happy to be there, and so happy to help, and excited for me.  It is overwhelming, and humbling when I look and see the love they all showed me.   I hope each and every person that yielded a paint brush, or used a putty knife, or fired a nail gun this weekend knows how deeply I appreciate it.  I could not have done it, let alone on time, without each and every one of them.


But mostly, I need to thank Vicki, the former owner.   None of this would have been possible for me without her.  She paved the way for me.  She got this salon established, with an amazing reputation, and when she was time to hand it over, she chose me.  She could have very easily said no to this sale.  She could have said it didn't feel right, and chose someone else for the buyer, but she said yes to me.  And for this, I owe her so much gratitude.  She made it possible for me to chase my dream.  She made it possible for me to see a vision come to life that I have had since I was 19 years old.  She will never know how much that means to me.

And by the way, as far as my 5K goes, I shaved a minute and 30 seconds off of my personal record.