Saturday, March 29, 2014


I spend a lot of time thinking about how I struggle to take care of myself. How did I get here? So here’s the thing: I show up this morning at my all time favorite salon The Alchemist. A friend had recommended it a few years back. She didn’t tell me anything about it, just that, “It’s great!”

I walk into this oasis.  Where I am asked if I want herbal tea or water.  Jamie, my stylist takes the time to find out what I want and is not afraid to make suggestions.  “Do you mind if I give you a head massage?”

“No.” I respond thinking what kind of question is that?  Who in their right mind would refuse!

Minutes go by.  I close my eyes and begin to relax. A half hour later I think, Could these foil squares be used to wrap sandwiches? Those are the thoughts that tend to rumble on the conveyer belt in my mind. I am the mother of multiple teenaged boys, what can I say? My head is covered with foil neatly folded here and there. This is my time.

“Do you mind, if I give you a hand massage after I clean up at bit?”  

I feel the smoothness of her hands press against mine. “Jamie, take me, I’m yours.  I’ll do anything you want.” I am nearly drooling, I am SO relaxed.

My neck always hold painful memories of washing my hair.  The sink that cradles my head must harmonize with the height of the chair.  Jamie adjusts it perfectly.  The water temperature is well not to be redundant, but perfect as well.  Then more massaging.   My head is covered in foamy suds.  I think back to my mother.  Washcloth on my eyes blinking away the sting, my head titled back at an angle, it was never suppose to be. Then the SCRUB.  Oh, Jamie, I think, this is such an improvement!

At Jamie’s station, my back is to the mirror.  I chat. She cuts, blow-dries and cuts some more. She’s almost done. Jamie applies a little cheek color and lip color spinning my chair around for the unveiling. Looking in the mirror I well up.  I don’t feel vain, but I feel beautiful.  I blink back tears.  

-Photo courtesy of Jamie at The Alchemist

Sometimes I don’t see my beauty-inner or outer.  Allowing others to help me discover me-that is part of self-care, isn’t it?

(If you are a neighbor, I cannot say enough about the girls at The Alchemist in Ellsworth, Maine.  They are compassionate woman who truly care. Of course, a special thank you to Jamie.  I always look forward to seeing you!)


Louise Guerin said...

I think it's okay to find that oasis and feel beautiful for a while. It's a nice escape from the travails of life. It is a great haircut, BTW. Enjoy it. Have fun with it. Make sure you tip Jamie. People like that are hard to find (I feel the same way about Jay - but he never offers massages).

Jackie said...

Oh wow...I want to go there! I, too, remember my mother washing my hair as I held a washcloth to my eyes. Your picture is absolutely wonder you go there. Too bad I live in Ohio. Jamie seems to not only do the hair part, but knows that maybe the muscles in the head and hands need to relax. Enjoy and feel no guilt! Jackie

travelinma said...

Jackie, I wish you were closer! The washcloth thing is universal. And Louise, I am a heavy tipper!

Claudette Guay said...

You look so much younger , you look terrific.

travelinma said...

Thank you Mrs. Guay.

Jamie Kowalski said...

Barbara, I want to thank you for posting! I was pleasantly surprised today when the girls read the link aloud while I was massaging another one of my dear clients. Your amazingly well written depiction of your experience in my chair brought tears to my eyes as well! I am so glad that you get the chance to take a break from all of the world that demands a piece of your energy on a daily basis. You are an amazing woman, inside and out! I firmly believe that our self image dictates our destiny! I did not always view myself as a woman of worth, but someone lead me to discover what I am truly made of. I hope to be available to unveil that glimpse to all the others who can step into this oasis! Barbara, you are beautiful :)

travelinma said...

Oh Jamie, As I read your comment, I was overcome by emotion. I am just so grateful to have found you at The Alchemist. I feel privileged to be able to go and wish this experience for every woman. Thank you to all the girls at The Alchemist for what you do.