My sister and I used to have a small boutique in downtown Bend. We had several regular customers who were memorable in their own right but there is one, in particular, I’ll never forget. At least I hope I don’t!
Crazy Hat Lady (we’ll call her CHL)is a striking woman. She was always impeccably dressed and groomed when she came to shop and she radiated positive energy. She was given her special nickname for two reasons. First, she was never without a fine hat on her head and she was always looking for new ones to add to her collection. Only the higher end, highest quality hats would go home with her. Second, she was always talking to her “guides”. I remember her specifically saying that one of them was the archangel Michael, but there were others as well. She spoke of them and to them so confidently and openly that, frankly, it made it hard to doubt their presence. They most certainly were present to her and they made her happy which is all that really matters.
One afternoon, my sister and I were in the shop with a friend/customer who was looking for some new clothes to take on a trip to the beach. Her husband had recently passed and she was in a pretty fragile state. As she was trying on clothes, understandably not really feeling excited about anything, in walks CHL. She proceeds to involve herself in our friend’s shopping experience and, seeing that she’s feeling down, offers her solution for the doldrums. I don’t know that it did much for our friend who was truly grieving, but it’s something I think of often and have really taken to heart. She said that, when she’s feeling down, all she has to to is put on Michael Buble (she must have a thing for the name Michael)and dance, NAKED!, in front of the mirror. She even demonstrated a bit of the dancing – not the naked part, thank god.
As you might correctly imagine, it took some doing for my sister and I to contain ourselves, trying to remain sensitive to our friend and enthusiastic for CHL. We couldn’t look at each other until they were both gone. I have to say though, that as hysterical as the situation was, I found great wisdom in the advice of CHL.
I avoided the mirror for years. I would say that during my early thirties I barely knew what I actually looked like. My mom passed about a month before my thirtieth birthday and it set off a downward spiral. We were also in the beginning years of the business and there was no personal time to speak of. So, I just sort of left myself behind. I worked (a lot), ate (a lot), and rode on the super fun roller-coaster of feeling like crap because I wasn’t smoking, then feeling even worse because I was smoking and lying about it (a lot). You get the picture. I finally saw myself on a friend’s home video and freaked out enough to make some changes but that’s a story for another blog.
CHL’s advice reinforced a message I am still in the process of learning. One of my favorite authors, Louise Hay, gives a lesson in her book “You Can Heal Your Life” that has you look in the mirror and say that you love yourself unconditionally. It’s a very powerful exercise that may provoke some surprising emotion. I try to practice it often and it actually gets easier every time. I no longer avoid the mirror and, more importantly, I try not to avoid myself. I know you may be rolling your eyes right now (you know who you are) but the simple fact is that really looking at yourself and liking what you see, no matter what, is a very important key to happiness.
Think of how happy you’ll be when you can dance, NAKED!, in front of the mirror!! Thank you Crazy Hat Lady… I think you’re the best kind of crazy!
There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good. ~Edwin Denby