the value equivalent to that of someone or something under consideration; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.

What are you worth? And I’m not talking about financial worth here, although if you feel really worthy you can feel really wealthy.  While on the other hand, you can have a whole lot of moola and feel dirt poor.

How do we measure our worth? What I recently learned was this: By what we are willing to spend our time doing and who we are willing to spend it with.

I have a license to do hair. Believe it or not you actually need one. It’s not like a gun license, those are easier to get! And some hairdressers, just like people with guns, shouldn’t be given either.

In a weeks time frame I witnessed a couple of hair disasters (mine being one of them). Let me preface this by saying I am very easy going. Not much ruffles me. Okay, a few things but they have to do with cruelty and injustice. I digress.

I got a bad haircut. It’s awful! My hair is my look. I have hundreds of photos that are sent out to casting directors that say, “This is Gretchen.” Now I look like a…well I’m not going say it. Let’s just say, it doesn’t resemble my photos.

Anyway, I started thinking about how I should cut hair. Why not? I could probably do better and if not, at least I only have myself to blame and I won’t be upset for spending a few hundred dollars to wear a hat.

You would think I could cut hair. I mean, how hard is it? I colored hair for years, but never cut it. I cannot get my mind around the technicality of it all. It somehow eludes me. I know when a cut is bad, I just don’t know how to fix it.

Here’s a secret: I taught at Aveda and when I checked the haircuts, I didn’t know what I was doing! I pulled the hair in many directions, graced my scissors over a few strands and said it looked great. It’s part of the reason the students loved me-I always said everything looked great. I hope you didn’t come to the school to get a haircut when I was teaching! On the other hand, if I was there and you had a hair color disaster, I probably helped fix it.

Well, since this is a new year and new years are about resolutions and doing things differently, I decided this is the year I am going to learn to cut and style hair really well.  I looked for classes (which are hard to find and not cheap) but I got a break -someone cancelled and I got a spot. To me this is a sign, to someone else it might be called luck.

Then I ordered shears (Japanese are the best, so I ordered Kamisori). They are really cute and have dragons on them. I love dragons! They are called Diablo and well, who doesn’t have a little devil in them? I ordered a mannequin head (she scares you if you walk in the room at night), a stand for her, a fancy blow dryer (there is a difference) and subscribed to on line videos from Vidal Sassoon.

Then I started thinking, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands (I’m an actress-we all have boat loads of it!).  Why not get a job assisting a stylist who is really good, a few days a week? So I went on line, applied to a few places and got many calls.

One salon in particular emailed me the next day and I was ecstatic. “Learn to cut the French way.”  Honestly, they had me at French! I had to have lived there in another life! The salon was on Madison Avenue. I was a bit put off because this was where I used to work and wanted to venture down a different road, like the East Village. But the Universe had a different plan, so I went along.

Anyway, I went to the salon and as I was opening the door, a woman behind me said, “Gretchen!” I turned to see someone I used to work with “back in the day” but couldn’t remember her name or where we worked, but she reminded me.

She went to the manager and said, “Hire her!” So he did. While I was there I saw a student I used to teach who was really nice, so I thought  “another sign!”

Boy was I wrong! Actually they were signs, but not for the reason I thought they were. They were signs that I was headed into dark waters; a murky place where my shadow side still existed.

But I didn’t listen. A part of me needed to learn this lesson; to own this darkness once and for all. I thought I had overcome this lesson but it was still lingering in the background, waiting to surface, waiting to be healed.

This is how the game works. You work on yourself, evolve as a spiritual being and think you’re good. How much more work can you possibly do? You stop focusing on it and just let it ride. you do the best you can, but still you wonder why you aren’t manifesting the things you desire most, but are at a loss about what to do about it.

And then the Universe steps in. It sends you a sign. A gift actually. The chance to finally heal that which has eluded you and your self-worth being stellar.

I started work Wednesday, stayed for the day and never went back. The staff wasn’t friendly, there was clearly something going on with everyone emotionally, the student I taught was now teaching me and boy did she ever!

She was me! All of the things I questioned in myself, all of the insecurities, the doubts, the ugly committee that resides in my head with their pathetic little thoughts that undermine me and my abilities. “They picked you !  You should be greatful! You’re lucky they did, since no one else will have you!”

She began telling me how the staff had made her cry for two weeks straight. That she had gone to the manager and told him but he said, “That’s how girls are in a salon.”

The mother in me went into overdrive. I’m not her mother, but I was her teacher, her mom away from home. I went to bat for her at school one day, so I went to bat for her then.

“You do not need to put up with this. You are better than this, better than most of the people working here. You are talented beyond belief and do not need to assist. You already have these skills, you just need to believe you do. You are just trying to find the right place and be given an opportunity to express your creative talents. These people cannot give you what they cannot give themselves, that’s why they are mean.  Not to mention they are threatened by you.”

“I am so glad you came here today.”  She said, and she let out a heavy sigh.

I found out they were not buying her lunch or tipping her out for the week. That she was cleaning floors, doing laundry, dusting, taking out the trash and shampooing for everyone who worked there.

She wasn’t learning anything but she was doing a bang up job of keeping the salon immaculate and they were letting her. They didn’t care that she wasn’t being taught, they only cared that their needs were being met, not hers.

When people feel threatened by someone they have a unique way of making them feel like they don’t belong. Like they are beneath them. This is done in a number of ways. For the student I taught it was admonishment. I watched in horror as a colorist grabbed the blow dryer from her hand and told her she wasn’t doing it right, then proceeded to re-do it and make it look like shit.

At the end of the day I gave her a pep talk on the way to the station. I reminded her of her worth and told her she was amazing. That there was a salon that would suit her if this one didn’t work out and to know that she deserved to be treated better. While I cannot take the journey of self love for her, I hope that I shortened it for her a bit.

I came home and reflected on everything that had happened. How could it be? I thought it was going to be fantastic. All of the signs said “This is it.”  Then I remembered the woman and the salon I worked at her with.  I recalled her being a heavy presence. A negative Nancy.  And it all made sense.

The salon itself had a heaviness to it, like death. She even told me this was the last salon she was going to work at before she left the business.  The owner, although super nice, seemed tired and while I was there he had told me he wanted to start a school. One girl never smiled and the others didn’t even say hello or goodbye at the end of the day.

My energy did not fit there and I knew it after only a few hours. It was a purgatory of sorts; a place to learn a lesson of self worth and I finally got it!  Finally!

I wrote the salon the next day and said I wasn’t returning. I felt so liberated when I sent the email. I knew that what had taken place was so valuable to me and that I had finally learned, owned and honored my worth.

Within the hour I received an email from one of my agents about a television pilot and I smiled to the Gods. “Thank you!”  I said, “For giving me this lesson”  And then I paused for a moment and smiled at myself for having learned it so quickly.

I know the audition was a reward. Just as I knew when I got into character, memorized the lines and had fun, that I had finally turned a corner. My acting was more authentic because I had finally stepped into the real me. The one I came her to be, not the one I bought into.

Know your worth! And if you don’t, the Universe will surely show you. It may come in an unexpected way, but just know that once you get it, it’s like Christmas or your birthday, every single day.



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Gretchen Allison

Actress, Animal Lover and All over the f$%^@!* place in general.

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