48, hairstylist/salon owner
divorced, two kids (age 10,13)
What does “having it all” mean to you? How has this changed as over the years? In the past it was having material items and lifestyle conveniences: beautiful homes, nanny, home chef, housekeepers, landscapers, decorators, luxury vehicles and vacation homes. Those things all seemed essential to having it all while I was married with small children. Leaving that lifestyle and entering into a simple and minimalist way of life freed me on every level. I was able to focus on my feelings and on my children without the distraction of so many people. All of these people in our lives prevented me from enjoying the life I wanted. Instead of simply enjoying my children, cooking, gardening, picking out the fruits and vegetables I wanted from the store, playing fetch with our dog—I had to spend hours delegating and negotiating with these various people in my life. It often included what was on the weekly menu, where the children should to go, when the dog should be walked, how the yard should be maintained, what events I would do with either child—you name it. I was constantly being told to go relax, but all I wanted to do were the very things they were hired to do for me.
Years later I got rid of everyone and moved into a smaller house taking only the nanny. At the time I thought that was pretty close to heaven. However, the husband was still there—needy like a hungry puppy, but less cute. Soon after I got rid of him too and I once again left everything of “value,” the car, the house, the nanny—I said, “see ya” to all of it. I moved into a small studio apartment where the children and I laughed, talked, and cared for each other. We were free to spend our days going to the beach and just being together, without all the external stress and chaos. Three years later I made one more move into the lovely home that I now own. In this home my children and I have everything we need and we live simply. I have structured a life that only has people and things in it that are supportive and life giving. There is no more nanny, chef, landscaper, housecleaner, or husband. It is heaven.
What do you find most fulfilling about your work as a hairstylist? Hair is very much like everything else I do. Much like with my children, it is the process of setting myself aside, being attuned into the needs of the other, and finding a way to support that need. People share their life with me and in return I try to give them something that is meaningful and makes them feel powerful. It is the part of them that seeks to achieve and thrive in this world that deserves the care I give.
I believe a well-supported woman can achieve anything. They say, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well it also takes a village in times of need to support women in thriving. I know this first hand in my own life. The women I have come to know inspire me and I am privileged to be part of their village of support. I often leave the salon feeling like I have been to an empowerment retreat. We owe it to ourselves to help one another grow—it’s wonderful.
Portrait by Vivian Johnson