Random Thoughts…and otherwise

In Search of Kathy Harder (AKA La Goddess of Coiffdome)


After nearly completing an archeological dig (and mostly-turf) of all my crap, I came across this piece I’d written about 20 years ago, and welled up with, raw, long-suppressed emotion. Maybe, I am vain? Still, she should know, since she’s been gone, I’ve never again committed: Once there is real, true love, it can never be replaced.

On what could be the 21st anniversary of our last (sniff, sniff) appointment, I give you this.


Kathy Harder, where are you? Whatever happened? How could you leave me without saying goodbye?

This is a story, in a certain sense, no less tragic than Romeo and Juliet. It is true, very personal and cuts deeply. I know that I don’t stand alone in the tragedy of it. There are women the world over who will only need to scratch their surface and look in the mirror to relate and find the compassion to understand. It’s a story of an apparent one-sided connection that has sent me on a seemingly lifelong search for answers.

I’m not a vain person. At least, I try very hard not to be. My standard uniform is my comfy Calvin Klien’s topped off with a t-shirt and a belt. My ‘jewels’ are minimal, and in the make-up department my philosophy is a little-dab-will-do-ya. Sometimes I even greet the world au naturel! However, the one aspect of vanity that affects me like the fate of the world depends upon it is my HAIR. It’s my own personal barometer of how the day will be: An unruly doo screams to prepare for an unruly, disorganized and depressing day, as opposed to days when every lock is luster lovely, in perfect harmony with its neighbor, spelling out only blue skies and sunshine, no mountain I can’t climb.

Enter Kathy. We met somewhere around 13 years ago. It was pure fate that brought us together. I was a young, small town girl in search of guidance des cheveux, and she was La Goddess of Coiffdome, practicing her craft at a shishi-poopoo, city salon where I was willing to gamble my heard-earned pesos. I made an appointment, was placed in her gifted hands, and the rest is, what I thought, a mark in history.

Our first appointment together was a transcending moment. I remember entering the salon, being greeted and handed a silky smock to change into. After a short, anticipation-filled wait, we were introduced and it was truly the start of something beautiful. Kathy could instinctively work hair like a maestro directs an orchestra: She needed only to take one look to know what needed to be done. With a quick flash of her trusty shears and what seemed like a sprinkling of magical fairy dust, I was transformed, all at one once beautiful, confident, ready to conquer.

Throughout the year that Kathy was a vital part of my life, I never once told her what to do. I would sit high upon her throne and watch spellbound as she wove her special brand of magic. She taught me what to do, how to do it and what to never have done (specifically the then-trendy, horrific curly perm).

She taught me how to go from start to finish without ever having to touch a brush: scrunch, blow, spritz, voila! I would walk in knowing that when she was finished, I would leave seemingly floating, my head held high, beautifully betressed and ready for any challenge the world dared to lay on my plate.

Then one day the unthinkable happened. I called to make an appointment and she was gone. “I’m sorry but Kathy doesn’t work here anymore.” Huh? I was no less stunned than if Evander Holyfield had come from behind me with his best left jab to my stomach. She left me? She’s gone? No explanation. No Dear Jane letter. No fond or lingering goodbyes. She had simply vanished, seemingly carried off to the abyss by the same fairies whose dust I knew she sprinkled.

I begged to know where she was, had gone, but they wouldn’t tell me. I called over and over and over, trying to muster up the accent of every foreign language catalogued by the United Nations. All I wanted was an answer: Click, dial tone, ouch! I later heard a rumour she may have married and moved to Sweden. Sweden, Kathy? Too far from home, too far from me.

Needless to say, the ensuing years have been like riding the rollercoaster of coiffdome. I’ve been relentless in my search for a replacement, extremely open-minded as I’ve cruised the salon circuit: It’s challenging to succeed the sweet perfections of first time love. You see, Kathy and I had an unspoken communication I can’t begin to explain, a certain sixth sense. I know that most in her wake have tried their very best and I’m sure that I’m partly (completely?) to blame. I’ve taken them pictures, gone step-by-step through every intricate detail. Conclusion—there’s just no second best.

I’ve had cuts from borderline perfection, to those requiring of me to lie about an intruder with garden shears then holing up in self-imposed quarantine with windows covered until something grew. I’ve had colours bordering on spectacular, to zebra stripes and those that have triggered people’s suppressed cravings for caramel ripple ice cream. I’ve even been talked into Kathy’s don’t-you-dare-even-go-there perms and been left to feel like someone’s ungroomed poodle was sleeping on my head.

I apologize to those of you whom I have stared in the face and exclaimed It’s perfect, I love it, then with lightning speed booted it out to my car to frantically muss and spray, eventually letting out a wail and donning a toque in July. You tried, and I simply didn’t have the heart to tell you you’d failed. You did. You failed.

In the age of find-your-lost-everyone—first grade teacher, first love, birth family, Great Aunt Lulla-Belle, twice removed—there just isn’t a Stylist-Find, or, at least, a Stylist-Find that I can find.

As I pray to the Wish Fairy, all I ask is for one more time with those magic shears and fairy dust, so I might relive the euphoria of betressed perfection.

Kathy Harder, wherever you are, I wish you only great things and happiness, and that once more in this lifetime our paths will cross again.

Kathy Harder practiced her magic in the mid-1980’s at Shear Talent on 8th Street in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Minimize Me, Maximize Me


I’m in the midst of a ginormous purge, and the growing To-Go pile of stuff in my dining room is becoming something of an epic monument, symbolic of an evolution, impending freedom. Think, Lady Liberty. Think, ahhhhhhh!

I began this purge a week ago, in honour of a vow my husband and I made together as we spent the last days of 2016 in Mexico.

2017 will be different, we said. Our focus will be changed, mindset tweaked: Simple, joyful, grateful. Pared down. Light. And, really, it’s the light. This is about that light.

2016 was abysmal, cast perpetually dark by fear and sadness and worry that spread like a cancer, metastasizing, paralyzing: Work and money, or lack thereof; diminished motivation, little adventure; death and grieving; hopelessness and loss of faith, in the seemingly imploding entire world, our world, ourselves.

Dramatic? Perhaps. Truth? Absolutely. Abysmal can be a runaway train.

But, who wants abysmal when by nature your outlook is that of an optimistic dreamer who closes her eyes in the quiet, and through rose-coloured glasses views this world, her world, with endless possibility and goodness, a playground in which to entertain her wanderlust? Not I. Not I.

Stuff, what is stuff?

The Macmillan Dictionary defines the word stuff as: a variety of objects or things (things being an item). Very benign, very inanimate. Kind of.

Stuff has never really mattered to me, not in a consumeristic, have-to-have sort of way. I’m not a shopper. Au contraire. In fact, most days I would rather visit the dentist than the mall, the gynecologist than any big box store. Still, there is stuff. It’s emotional, accumulated over a lifetime, from this and that, him and her, gifts, treasures, memories. Things you need, things you want. Stuff you believe serves a purpose, fills you up, says “This is me,” is you.

Until you think about it. Really think about it, feel its weight. Stuff becomes a problem, becomes clutter. It clutters your mind, weighs you down. Stuff becomes a life force of its very own that is heavy, draining, demanding, noisy, exhausting. It turns dark, becomes a shackle. It blocks your path ahead until you wake up and one day realize the Macmillan Dictionary’s alternative definition of stuff: things that are not important.

Does it add value to your life?

Last week, exhausted by procrastination, I was scrolling through Netflix looking for a documentary to watch before bed, when I came across The Minimalists: A Documentary. It’s an inspiring and insightful account of two millennials, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, who radically changed their lives for the better after having achieved the “American Dream,” yet were unhappy and unfulfilled, depressed, deceived and depleted.

It was A-HA! It was I-can’t-wait-to-go-to-sleep-so-I-can-wake-up-and-get-started. To. Wake. Up. It was seven words that have potentially exorcized me, gifted forward momentum, changed my life: “Does it add value to your life?”

As in:

Do the ‘good dishes’ in your dust-filled china hutch add value to your life?

Does that lamp that you have literally never turned on in two years, sitting on that table in the middle of nowhere, add value to your life?

Do the bags of maybe 100 shampoos, conditioners and lotions you’ve collected from hotel rooms, store under your bathroom sink and never use, add value to your life?

Does the packet of (not embarrassed to say this) your daughter’s wisdom teeth, which she had removed roughly three years ago, sitting in your desk drawer, add value to your life?

What about that Chantilly Body Lotion and Oscar perfume, from 1984, buried in the basket in your bedside table drawer, do they add value to your life?

Or those barely dented bulk packs of 10 Multigrain Rice, Organic Ancient Grains and Black Bean Pasta sitting in your pantry? Despite how righteous purchasing them two years ago made you feel, do they add value to your life?

And those boxes in your garage, black-markered Childhood Memories, sealed shut for years, lugged along with you for some 20-some moves just in your adult life, do they add value to your life?

Those unread books piled high on your nightstand? The clothes from 10 pounds and 20 years ago stuffed in the back of your closet? The knick-knacky thingies all over the place? The boxes of old writing? The framed photo you took in Mexico 5 years ago of two kids you don’t even know? Get the picture? Value?

Not at all. Which is why all of the above now provide a solid foundation for the growing To-Go pile in the middle of my dining room. And I can’t wait to complete this glorious task and escort it all out the door.

It’s about time and about me. It’s about living one’s truth, not the Joneses. And that truth is I’ve never coveted stuff to begin with. I’ve never wanted for anything. I’d much rather do than have: be, than be had. And that’s what my stuff has done: It’s had me.

Now, as I travel from room-to-room, closet-to-closet, drawer-to-drawer, considering value and adding to my pile, I feel untethered, free, un-had. I feel simple, joyful, grateful. Pared down. Light.

I feel light. And this, this is about the light.

Less Will Be More in 2017
The Gift of ‘Ah’ of My Journey to Minimize
The Minimalists
Our 21-Day Journey into Minimalism

We’re All Just Dreamers